The International MVNO operators start arriving in Africa – more competition on international calling
This week international MVNO operator Lycamobile announced that it has got a licence in Cameroon where it has set up a subsidiary. Others are in the wings and this could bring a new wave of competition on international calling. Russell Southwood looks at what might develop.
In the bad old days, when the Government-owned telcos ruled the roost, they usually had monopolies on international calling and rates were very high. However, international companies offering cheap calling to diasporas were nearly always able to buy a “backdoor” connection internally. As a result, there was a vigorous grey market in international calling, either initially through call-back and then through VoIP.
As markets liberalised, there was much more competition between the former incumbent telcos and the new mobile operators. In many countries, this competition drove down prices from several dollars to tens of cents. But although the grey market shrank in size, its calling rates were still cheaper and it has persisted to this day.
In the last five years, there has been a parallel trend where Governments and regulators seek to control international calling through a single gateway so that they can add taxes to incoming calls. This has added a significant premium to those wishing to call home from the diaspora.
So why has the grey market in international calling persisted? Because the price of buying wholesale minutes – particularly to popular destinations – is now down to fractions of a cent per minute. But mainstream carriers are still charging tens of cents a minute to retail customers. In other words, things are back to where they started: there’s a significant arbitrage opportunity between the wholesale price and the retail prices being charged.
Any attention to international calling and the sale of minutes has been rather overtaken by the focus on new data markets. But the margins made by all operators from international calling are a significant contributor to overall revenues.
But this market segment has been bought back into sharp focus by the news this week that UK-based international MVNO Lycamobile has had prior notification of approval from the Cameroonian regulator ART for the provision of public electronic communications services. According to the order signed by the Director General of Art, Jean-Louis Beh Mengue, the receipt given to Lyca Mobile Cameroon Sarl entitles the services of "resale of telephone traffic, supply Internet service to the public, provision to the public value-added services. "
Created in 2006, Lycamobile operates in 17 countries internationally but thus far all of these countries have been in developed markets: Cameroon is the first market it has entered outside and its first African market presence.
If it operates as elsewhere, it will be able to offer cheaper international calling rates and this will compete with existing operators. There are issues of interconnection but it could also use VoIP and simply avoid them. It is hard to imagine that it will not roll-out in other African countries before too long. We have heard of a couple of other international MVNOs who are looking seriously at entering the African market.
The impact will be to bring the cost of wholesale and retail international minute prices closer together, squeezing out some of the generous margins that currently exist. All mainstream operators will resist these kinds of MVNO licences but if they get a foothold in one country then they will become inevitable.
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3D Printing in Africa – A Slow Burn Movement with huge potential that has yet to find its growth path
Separating Hype from Reality in the Fizzy World of Africa Start-Ups – VC4Africa survey findings
Education entrepreneur Obinna Ukwuani, Exposure Robotics’ plans to launch the first African STEM secondary school in Nigeria
Videos interviews to watch:
Ryan Yoder, ActivSpaces on the challenges faced by start-ups in Cameroon
Sacha Poingnonnec, Africa Internet Group on the challenges of running an online business in Africa
Felix Kimaru, Totohealth on empowering mothers with health information via SMS on their mobile
Fernando de Sousa, Microsoft on what the business model is for TV White Spaces in Africa
Dominic Vergine, ARM on Literacy Bridge's talking book with advice for farmers in Northern Ghana
Dominic Vergine, ARM on Literacy Bridge's talking book with advice for farmers in Northern Ghana
Emma Kaye, Bozza on raising GBP0.5 million its African content marketplace
Stephen Lee on what Tigo Music (in partnership with Deezer) is doing in Africa
GSMA's Claire Sibthorpe on a study on the gap between men and women's use of mobile phones in Africa
Francis Dufay on breaking down the mistrust barrier to make a success of Jumia in Cote d'Ivoire
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The explosion of mobile phone usage, internet data, and other technologies has expanded rapidly into traditionally underserved markets and customer segments, changing the way people transact and communicate.
Ugandan banks seem to have realised the threat as more of them are partnering telecoms to swiftly roll out mobile banking products to boost their customer base and increase revenue streams.
Bank of Africa, for example, recently launched its first mobile banking app dubbed 'Tap Tap', which allows its customers access their accounts and withdraw cash across all the banks with whom it has partnered on the Inter-switch platform, and selected mobile money outlets across the country.
Similarly, one can pay utility bills such as electricity, water, DStv/GOtv, school fees, and money transfers, among others. This means that their mobile money accounts will no longer be just about money transfer. Instead, they will become virtual bank accounts.
According to Claver Serumaga, the general manager, business development, at Bank of Africa, mobile banking is poised to offer more sophisticated banking services, which can make a difference in people's lives.
"The mobile phone has revolutionised the way we access funds and it's becoming the preferred banking hall for many of the future majority users," he said.
"As banks, we just can't sit back; investment in brick and mortar is quite expensive for us. What we are saying is let's partner with the telecoms that have very wide coverage and be able to provide more financial services," he added.
According to data from the central bank, Ugandans are embracing mobile banking faster than they did with ATMs. For instance, the number of mobile money account holders grew faster than those opening up traditional bank accounts, hitting 18.8 million as of December 2014, up from 13.2 million in 2013.
The number of mobile money agents shot to 79,000, up from 51,000 agents in December 2013, while there were 861 ATMs as of late December 2014, up from 786 in 2013. The growth signifies a narrowing space for banks as the majority of the unbanked Ugandans show interest in mobile money services.
Source: The Observer 24 June 2015
Tigo Rwanda has partnered with Bank of Kigali (BK) to enable customers to send money seamlessly between any Tigo Cash wallet and any Bank of Kigali bank account. To move money from a Tigo Cash wallet to a BK account, Tigo Cash customers dial *200*11# from their mobile phone.
Tigo Cash customers are already able to send money directly from their wallet to Tigo Pesa in Tanzania. Moreover, the integration with Tigo Cash enables customers on BK's mobile banking service Mobiserve to send money directly to any Tigo cash wallet in Rwanda.
This has opened up all the Tigo service centers and their over 8,000 Tigo Cash agents to BK customers and equally, all BK Branches and MobiBanks will continue to offer Tigo cash services.
Source: Telecompaper 23 June 2015
Kenya’s Chase Bank has announced it has launched SME Biz Hubs in Nairobi and Mombasa, providing a physical setting for entrepreneurs to meet and obtain access to advisory services.
Chase Bank, which hopes to become the bank of choice for Kenyan small and medium enterprises (SMEs), says the SME Biz Hub is its way of promoting Kenyan entrepreneurs.
The hubs – located at Hurlingham Branch, Nairobi and Moi Avenue Branch, Mombasa – will allow Chase Bank clients and non-clients to hold meetings, while offering financial and non-financial advisory services from dedicated relationship and portfolio managers. Internet access and meeting rooms are also available.
“Entrepreneurs do not have a forum where they can meet and exchange their experiences with other entrepreneurs. They do not have a forum to engage with their financial partners. What if there was a way that they could meet together with their financial partner to share their knowledge and get financial and business advisory? Welcome to our SME Biz Hub,” Chase Bank said.
The bank said it had also streamlined its business product propositions and simplified service offerings to better suit SMEs, which it said are vital to growth, especially in developing countries.
“They are at the heart of developing countries’ entrepreneurship and the source of most new employment opportunities and productive investment,” Chase Bank said.
“SMEs also help in growth and poverty reduction around the globe. They bring innovation into the economy, despite their size, they are good in embracing new trends in the innovation industry, therefore, driving the innovation within their respective sectors. This allows SMEs to be pioneers in emerging technologies, paving the way for bigger and braver investments.”
Chase Bank has already proved to be active in the Kenyan tech startup ecosystem, recently partnering the iHub incubator in Nairobi in an arrangement that will see the two organisations collaborate on advancing the country’s tech ecosystem and offering more innovative services to the bank’s customers and the general public.
Source: Disrupt Africa 22 June 2015
Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is to separate its customers’ value added services (VAS) charging system from its main billing platform following complaints of unwanted automatic service registrations, multiple billing, VAS spamming and missing balances. Although the cellco says the move follows threats from the regulator POTRAZ to close down its VAS activities, News Day reports a POTRAZ spokesperson as saying that no such threat was made.
Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator by subscribers said in a letter to its VAS partners: ‘Econet has made a pro-active decision to create a separate Dedicated Account where customers will deposit money for all VAS they are subscribed.’ The separation of the billing accounts is designed to improve visibility and customer control, the firm says. Econet’s VAS offerings include third-party services such as ringtones, games, news headlines and job ads.
Source: Telegeography 24 June 2015
Orange Kenya estimates smartphone penetration in the country to be between 20-25%. That means that a majority of Kenyans still don’t have a smartphone and as a result are either locked from accessing mobile internet powered apps and services like social media and news or they can still do the same but from feature phones. So what is needed to get more Kenyans buying and using smartphones? They need to be affordable, of course. Affordability is what has driven Orange Kenya’s other low cost offerings in the market so far. For instance its Kaduda feature phone has sold over half a million units since February according to Vincent Camadro, the Chief Marketing Officer.
Affordability is the main drive towards the launch of the first Firefox operating system smartphone in Kenya, the Orange Klif. Firefox OS is being pushed by the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organization. They are not after the money, they say. Their main aim is to provide users with a device that serves their needs perfectly without breaking the bank. Actually, the main target of the Orange Klif smartphone is those Kenyans who currently don’t own a smartphone.
The Orange Klif will go for Ksh 4,000.
Source: Techweez 24 June 2015
Telecom Malagasy (Telma) has launched 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in more than 50 cities across Madagascar.
The operator offers 4G coverage to Toliara, Taolagnaro, Mananjary, Ihosy, Antananarivo, Sainte Marie, Sambava and Mahajanga, among other cities.
The service can be accessed via a number of compatible smartphones, as well as via USB dongles and wireless router devices.
Source: Commsmea.com 23 June 2015
The Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) yesterday (Tuesday) announced that number of mobile subscribers in Nigeria has exceeded 143 million. According to the agency, there are 143.05 million registered lines in Nigeria, at the end of the first quarter of the year.
According to the bureau, the Nigerian telecoms sector recorded a significant growth from 2.27 million subscribers in 2002, when the first mobile license was issued, to 143.05 million. It noted that MTN is still the dominant operator in terms of the number of subscriptions with 61.21 million subscribers representing 42.84% of the total number of subscribers in Nigeria.
The second largest operator is Globacom with 30.03 million (21%), followed by Airtel with a subscriber base of 28.6 million or 20.4 per cent and Etisalat with 22.3 million or 15.69 per cent followed in that order respectively.
In terms of contribution to the economy, the report said the telecoms sector in real terms recorded a growth rate of 5.26 per cent in the opening quarter of this year with a contribution of N134 billion to economic output.
It said annual growth in the sector averaged 46.29 per cent between 2002 and 2014, with the highest rate recorded in 2004 at 153.65 per cent while the lowest rise of 8.53 per cent was recorded in 2011.
It said, “Since May 2014, monthly growth in GSM subscribers has averaged 0.95 per cent with the greatest increase being recorded in December 2014 at 1.97 per cent and the lowest in July of the same year at 0.43 per cent.
“The growth in subscribers was mainly driven by Globacom, which recorded an average rate of 1.45 per cent over the period, followed by Etisalat with 1.37 per cent and Airtel with 1.29 per cent while MTN recorded the lowest average monthly growth in subscribers at 0.44%.”
Source: Techmoran 23 June 2015
A trademark dispute over mobile money transfer service branding, advertising and promotion had seen Safaricom take its rival Airtel to Court. In its suit filed on June 8th 2015, Safaricom claimed that Airtel was infringing on its M-pesa trademark by including symbols on its advertising. Safaricom further alleged that Airtel was riding on the M-pesa’s extensive marketing to gain advantage in the market.
The two firms told a High Court Judge that they are settling the matter out of court . The Judge further issued orders that barred Airtel from using any of the materials that led to the suit until the talks are concluded. Safaricom presented in Court pictures as evidence, showing Airtel’s usage of signs similar to M-pesa trademarks for the promotion of its Airtel Money service. The two trademarks infringed are registration number 60093 used in advertising and business management administration, which includes a mobile phone between M and Pesa letters. The other is registration number 62612 used in branding of clothing, footwear and headgear with a hyphen between M and Pesa.
Safaricom wrote a cease and desist letter to Airtel on the same, with the latter promising to investigate. In reply, Airtel wrote to Safaricom seeking the way forward with regards to the branding of agents shared by both Telcos. The sharing of agents, was a decision made by the Competition Authority of Kenya seeking to open up Safaricom’s M-pesa agent network which numbers to over 85,000 to its rivals. In its Court filings, Safaricom says the reply showed Airtel intended to engage in misrepresentation with regards to its mobile money service and that which is run by Safaricom.
Currently, Safaricom’s M-pesa has 20.1 million mobile money users with 13 million active subscribers ahead of other mobile money providers that include Airtel Money with 3 Million subscribers 300,000 active subscribers. MobiKash has 1.5 Million subscribers, Tangaza Money with 504,000 customers. Latest entrant Equity Bank, through its MNVO Finserve Africa Limited has 394,606 subscribers while Orange Money 190,129 customers.
Source: Techweez 23 June 2015
The arrival of innovation in the satellite technology space will continue to deliver significant value to trade and commerce…
This is the view of management at Q-KON, an established specialist service provider focusing on providing ready to use communication solutions and managed network services for the African market.
Q-KON remains ahead of technology trends and best practices by adopting innovative solutions to improve communication needs. “Our influence and achievements to date are due to our long-term partnerships with leading solution manufacturers and respected customers across Africa,” says Dr Dawie de Wet, CEO of Q-KON.
Are all satellites created alike?
As a communication technology, satellite networks are powerful, flexible and very diverse. Because of its “over-the-air” nature plus the advances in recent technologies, satellite networks have become much more flexible, cost effective and dynamic solutions than fibre or copper cable networks.
“As a reference to this point, consider that cabled networks are fundamentally fixed point-to-point installations often from a central point to multiple customer sites. The flexibility offered by this type of fixed point-to-point network can simply not be compared with the dynamic and flexible nature offered by satellite networks,” Dr de Wet continues.
From this flexibility and dynamic nature of satellite technologies follows the additional benefit that different satellite networks can be designed for completely different user requirements. In this way satellite technology can similarly be used to provide consumer grade broadband services or high availability mission critical connections for remote oil and gas operations. As the technology evolves and the applications thereof grows, it becomes increasingly important that user groups appreciate this dynamic power of satellite networks and differentiate between different satellite networks for different user requirements.
Customized Private Networks
“One market sector which has seen significant growth is the deployment of custom-built satellite networks which are designed, implemented and operated to address very specific customer needs,” he adds.
Customer needs such as mitigation of unexpected power losses to branch offices, interim communication to a sales office in a new territory or mission critical communication to a network of remote monitoring points are all specific applications that can be resolved efficiently and cost effectively using satellite networks.
For these types of requirements it is more effective to develop networks that address the customer’s specific requirements than providing service from a generic satellite access network. This customization can mostly be achieved by leveraging the technical advantages linked with Q-KON’s system engineering skills and capabilities to develop a user specific network.
“Because these networks are implemented using proven technologies and secure satellite services it can offer both the reliability and cost points required by the business; which results in a “best of both” worlds scenario,” says Dr de Wet.
When is a Private VSAT Network better?
A private VSAT Network is an ideal solution for a customer who needs reliable anywhere and anytime communication from multiple remotes sites to a central core network. This could be a banking network to provide connectivity to large numbers of branch, ATM and POS sites, or a mining network that requires high capacity links between a couple of remote operations in a mining region. Private satellite networks operate independent from any other local telco infrastructure (no integration between ADSL, 3G or wireless) which makes these networks elegant and effective to operate. Q-KON takes control of the operation, support and maintenance – this makes the process seamless and much more effective because there are no 3rd parties to blame when something goes wrong.
“By integrating the power of today’s satellite technologies with customer demands through an structured system engineering process we are able to both enable business growth for our customers as well as wider adoption of satellite technology within the Africa landscape,” Dr de Wet concludes.
Source: Company Press Release
Angola is improving the experience for all internet users by launching Angonix, which is a neutral Internet traffic exchange platform situated in Luanda, the capital of the country, in West Africa. It interconnects global networks, content providers and network operators to keep local traffic local and offers international content providers and networks a basis for peering on the African continent.
"Angonix is a key element of the Internet ecosystem," says Antonio Nunes, CEO of Angola Cables, operator of Angonix. "The traffic that flows over this exchange serves all users in Angola and in the SADC (South African Development Community) region. Today, if an end user tries to access a website or content hosted outside the country, the experience is less than optimal because the latency is quite high. With Angonix, it is now different. The platform allows global content to be cached in-region and enables multiple network providers to exchange that traffic and to keep the content in-region, which greatly enhances the user experience."
"Angonix will also guarantee non-commercial DNS services and more than 300 TLDs (Top Level Domains). The main goal is to guarantee that every member connected into the platform, will be able to benefit from lower latency and will be able to instantly access the content they are looking for," explains Darwin Costa, Angonix project manager.
The platform was launched on March 16, 2015, and the first members in Angola are now being connected. Angonix welcomes international service providers to the exchange, as well as global ISPs, CDNs and other network operators. The goal is to create traffic gravity and to enable peering agreements between national and international providers.
Angola Cables also manages the participation of Angola in the management and development of the West Africa Cable System (WACS) a submarine fiber cable system that connects South Africa to London with landing stations in 14 countries. The company provides the international telecommunications services to global operators to increase the interconnection between Angola and the world. Angola Cables' two main projects are the development of two new submarine cables, the SACS (South Atlantic Cable System) that will link Luanda to Fortaleza, in Brazil, and Monet, which will link Brazil to the United States. Both cables are expected to be RFS (ready for service) in late 2016.
Source: PR Newswire 24 June 2015
Pan-African telecom enabler and network provider SEACOM has added the Deutscher Commercial Internet Exchange (DE-CIX) in Frankfurt, Germany to the growing list of European Internet exchange points at which it peers. This new peering agreement will mean that SEACOM clients will enjoy better performance and less latency when they connect to Web services in central Europe.
DE-CIX Frankfurt is the leading Internet exchange point in the heart of Europe. The carrier-neutral exchange has the world's largest and most advanced Ethernet-based platform, DE-CIX Apollon, delivering high-availability peering with full 100Gbps Ethernet capabilities.
“Our peering arrangement at DE-CIX means that African carriers and service providers will be able to efficiently and securely exchange Internet traffic with many major providers in central and Western Europe,” says Mark Tinka, Head of Engineering at SEACOM. “Since we have a full-service IP/MPLS point of presence in Frankfurt and control the experience from end to end, SEACOM can offer its customers high levels of service availability and quality at an affordable cost.”
“With the strong growth in Internet traffic between Africa and Europe, we want to help African Internet users reach the services they want to access with as few hops as possible,” says Tinka.
Source: Company Press Release
Luanda — Angolan minister of Family and Women Promotion, Filomena Delgado said Monday that the newly launched national free Internet service "internet.org", by mobile operator Movicel in partnership with the social network Facebook will help the low-income families get information on child care, particularly newborn.
Filomena Delgado was speaking at the ceremony to launch free internet service.
The minister stressed that the initiative follows the women requests made at the Rural Women's Forum held in 2014, during which they asked more access to information with female content.
The initiative brings together technology leaders and local communities to help people with free internet access.
The platform contains 15 main items drawn by the Ministry of Family and Women Promotion in partnership with UNICEF to provide the families with 50 suggestions.
The suggestions are divided into 12 family responsibilities, including pregnancy and prenatal visits, childbirth and care of newborns and registration at birth and breastfeeding.
Source: ANGOLA PRESS 22 June 2015
About 200,000 TAXPAYERS sign up on KRA’s online tax filing system iTax in May 2015, bringing the total number of users to 1.6 million.
In May 2015 alone, 200,000 taxpayers signed up with the iTax system, bringing the total to 1.6 million, a development aimed at boosting the taxman’s efforts in collecting tax and tracking down the non-complying cases.
According to KRA Commissioner-General John Njiraini, the taxman is using data from iTax to design and implement effective compliance strategies for tax payment.
“The authority is leveraging on the iTax system to improve client service and promote voluntary compliance,” Mr Njiraini said.
The iTax system was launched in October 2013 in a bid to increase efficiency and ensure better compliance with tax laws.
It accords taxpayers the leeway of filing returns from any location with internet connection, without having to physically to the taxman’s premises to pay up or make returns.
Taxpayers are now required to start filing their individual income tax returns using the iTax system starting today in time for the June 30, 2015 deadline.
Source: Daily Nation 24 June 2015
On Tuesday, June 23, the agreement between the company Microsoft, a multinational company of the computer programming sector, and the Government of Equatorial Guinea, was closed to carry out the project of computerization of public administration.
On behalf of the Equatorial Guinean Government, the agreement was signed by the Prime Minister of the Government for Administrative Coordination, Vicente Ehate Tomi. For Microsoft, the delegation was led by Fabrice E. K. Boevi, one of the key executives of the commercial area of the company on the African continent, who signed the agreement its behalf.
The event took place in the presence of several members of the Government and the heads of the Board of the National Center for Public Administration of the Computerization of Equatorial Guinea (CNIAPGE), an entity which is presided over by Ehate Tomi.
The Prime Minister asked the Microsoft team for the implementation of the project to be carried out in a short time and with good results, as this is a fundamental step for the Horizon 2020 Development Plan, in which the Government is working hard to make Equatorial Guinea an emerging economy by that year through a major plan of economic and productive activities.
Source: Press Release
At Cisco One Africa Partner Summit held in Johannseburg South Africa, Cisco announced it aims to work with partners to help them build sustainable business models for cloud, software and services in Africa and beyond.
The firm discussed ways on how it capture opportunity for its partners in its now 30-year old partner program.
“If you want go fast travel alone if you want go far travel together,” said Meghan McCathy, Director, Partner Organization and Commercial MEAR at Cisco. “Our 30 year partner program has come a long way and is headed far. We’ll help you build sustainable business models for cloud, software and services. We are creating a thriving ecosystem for your long term success. We’re committed to offering the right programs, incentives, and enablement for you to add customer value and profitably grow your business.”
McCathy added that Cisco provides thought leadership, an industry leading brand, a collaborative model, and a steadfast commitment to its partners and together they can move customers from traditional to digital and beyond to capture the opportunity in Africa. McCathy said Africa was an opportunity because its highly skilled partner base contributes 6% of Cisco’s EMEAR bookings FYTD, Africa’s Premier & Select Partners represent 29% of African Business and high number of DC Specialised partners are ready to capture CY16 growth in DC TAM of 10++%. She added that Collaboration & Security share of overall business greater in Africa than EMEAR and there’s a $400M Cloud Services addressable market in Africa over the next 3 years which is a huge opportunity for existing and new partners to capitalise on business.
With the increasing mobile revolution globally where 91 percent of mobile owners sleep within their devices amrs range, 95 percent of networks face a security risk, an increasing uptake of the cloud services and Internet of everything globally, 95% of data in organizations remain untapped, 74 percent of firms have a cloud strategy and 66 percent of digital content is user-generated.
Cisco has seen 7,908 individuals from 950 partners enrolled in training in Q3 and the firm also offers partner help Pre-sales technical support with over 11,286 Partner Help cases opened in Q3 across EMEAR. Cisco typically sees 1-3 points higher growth from partners who leverage Partner Help pre-sales and aims to see more partners join this year. The firm also launched its Cisco One to its Africa partners to help leverage their already existing networks to increase their yields.
The firm also launched a low-rate SME financing product dubbed EasyLease for mid market SME’s to help them increase their deal size, close business more easily, differiantiate their offering, accleleate tech adoption and lower cash flow pressures.
“100% of cisco’s mid market business comes from its partners that’s why we’re launching our Partner Plus Program with incentives and training to help our partners sign up more clients,” said John Donovan, Vice President, Global Virtual Sales Organization. “The Partner Plus program has over 7,908 individuals from 950 partners enrolled in training last year in Q3.”
Donovan called on Cisco’s Partners to plan to target the Midmarket for their business success by either talking to their Cisco Partner Account Manager or Commercial Sales Team representative for resources to build their Midmarket practice. Cisco estimates that the worldwide product total addressable market (TAM) for the commercial space, which includes the midmarket at $60, twice the estimated TAM of Public Sector and Enterprise segments.
According to Cisco Annual Profitability Survey 2013,the midmarket is a key investment area for the entire company to drive profitable growth with services $30B total addressable market in Midmarket is 113% or 1.13 the total addressable market for Product in Midmarket of $26,5B in 2017. The comparable commercial Services TAM is 113% of the $60B in product total addressable market, so Services Commercial total addressable marketestimated at $67.8B using this assumption. Services now account for more than 50% of the average Cisco Certified Partners’ business, up from 20% seven years ago.
Source: Techmoran 24 June 2015
In what appears to, largely, be an experiment of sorts, iROKOtv is on the verge of killing off its streaming service in Africa and focus on a mobile download experience for the continent’s movie subscribers.
According to CEO Jason Njoku on his Tumblr blog, the company will, starting from July 2015, discontinue its website and streaming service in Africa, although several thousands of its existing African-based subscribers will continue to have access to the site, while new users will be unable to experience the movies on their desktops.
In a move that will retire the company’s .com presence, at least for African consumers, it could open up a whole new experience for iROKOtv’s subscribers in Africa, allowing them to discover and download movies via its Android app to watch offline, thereby making iROKOtv a movie discovery and download app, instead of its online movie streaming service mantra which it launched at the back of.
As more and more online movie streaming services are launching in Africa every month, I think it’s a good way for iROKOtv to differentiate itself along the way to becoming the Internet TV platform of choice for African entertainment.
However, this could all be an experiment that could be reversed back as quickly as it was started, especially if users begin complaining about their inability to use the service due to app crashes, etc. For example, its current Android app screams buggy and force closes each time I tap on the Movies tab or try to do something else and eventually signs me out, so I’m hoping this doesn’t happen when the app has been optimized for downloads.
Remember when in 2012 the company was criticised for launching a buggy and slow music streaming service, especially as experienced with its mobile apps.
After what appeared to be a hasty launch of a flurry of iROKING mobile apps on Android, iOS, Symbian and Windows Phone devices which were in most cases buggy, the company later got its groove back with a easy to use mobile site that allowed users to download tracks on the go.
Still, the move could be in response to an earlier experiment with movie downloads for offline viewing launched early this year, which has apparently caught on very well, and perhaps paved the way for the company’s new direction. Yeah, I signed up as an iROKOtv user for the first time ever, right after the movie download feature launched in March this year.
So iROKOtv could be up to something good here. Besides, Africa has been described as a mobile-only continent, and Njoku notes that 76% of iROKOtv’s users are via mobile internet.
“If Nigerian Internet is mobile, the Internet TV company which wins needs to go mobile,” he stated.
That’s why iROKOtv is rethinking its strategy to build content, pricing, access, product development, distribution, etc around mobile and the operating system that matters most in Africa and Nigeria: Android.
But, as Njoku noted, it will also mean resetting and relearning new perspectives within iROKO, since its existing competencies, infrastructure and team are desktop in nature.
Source: TechLoy 23 June 2015
Team Namibia, the non-profit organisation which has been tasked with advancing the country's economically sustainable future by promoting the use of local products and services, yesterday announced its own smartphone mobile application. What makes the application worth mentioning is that besides focussing on being interactive, the app is being fine tuned to activate a specific sound when a consumer is in a supermarket aisle containing Team Namibia products. The feature, which received a huge ovation at Team Namibia's Annual General Meeting yesterday, is expected to greatly improve the awareness of locally manufactured products available at local retailers.
The smartphone application, which was developed by Green Enterprise Solutions, is a free download for Android and IOS devices. According to Lizette Foot, Team Namibia Board Director, the app is aimed at keeping a younger audience informed about Team Namibia members and their products. "All our members will be listed on the app, including their contact details and a map to their location," said Foot. She added that once launched the app will be able to be downloaded from either Google or Facebook free of charge.
Providing a demonstration of the app, Michel Onwordi from Green Enterprise Solutions, explained that it consists of a directory, membership information, a link to Team Namibia TV on Youtube as well as general information on Team Namibia and its approach to promote locally manufactured goods.
The directory on the app contains a direct telephone and email link to any of the members as well as a map to find the specific member. The membership information includes the different categories of Team Namibia, information about the different members as well as an application form for prospective members. "Going forward, we can transform this into a more interactive process," said Onwordi. He added that the app's software will be able to track the number of people using it and how many people use the app to directly contact Team Namibia members.
The information on members will include how much they invest in Namibia and how much of their procurement is done locally. "We have done quite a bit of groundwork to ensure that Team Namibia members invest locally and procure locally so customers can confidently spend their money with these members," added Daisry Mathias, outgoing Chief Executive Officer of Team Namibia.
Source: New Era 24 June 2015
Nigerians online are criticising an alleged "wardrobe allowance" proposal for MPs
Nigerians are venting their frustration online after reports of an alleged proposal to pay huge wardrobe allowances to lawmakers.
Politicians's salaries are a sore point in Nigeria - a country where the minimum wage only amounts to about £680 (or $1080) per year, yet members of the National Assembly are among the highest paid legislators in the world, with a basic annual salary of about £120,000 ($189,500).
So when local media reported that a total of nearly 9 billion naira (£28 million or $45 million) might be offered to lawmakers as "wardrobe allowances", Twitter exploded. Hashtags #9billion, #UndressNass, #OpenNass and #OccupyNass have been mentioned thousands of times week ("Nass" being short for "National Assembly").
The government has since denied the reports, with officials saying that the actual yearly allowance would amount to only £1,600 ($2,500) for each senator. But the issue has become a springboard to raise larger concerns about transparency and government spending.
"Whether 500,000 or 5,000, 100% of these legislators don't need 'wardrobe allowance'. We are in an austerity season. Stop wastage," read one tweet, while another comment said: "Nigeria, 17th least prosperous country, has highest paid legislature. How is that not obscene?!" On Facebook, a post calculating that it will take an average Nigerian worker 1,638 years to earn the annual salary of a Nigerian senator has been shared by thousands.
Some of the posts were humorous in tone, but the underlying sentiment was a sense of injustice. "The hashtag #UndressNass conveys my frustrations of funding an inactive and inefficient National Assembly for the past 16 years. For a minority of individuals to expect to be clothed by the working public is absurd," Ijeoma Ezeasor, one of the first to use the hashtag, told BBC Trending.
Those criticising the allowance online initially planned to take their protest to the streets later this week, but the plan has been put on hold for now. Columnist Japheth Omojuwa, who was organising the march, told BBC Trending that they are instead giving a three-month deadline for authorities to reform the pay system.
"The National Assembly is not living in the current economic reality. It is important for us as citizens to let them understand that they are living in a different reality," Omojuwa told Trending. He also noted that money could be used, for instance, to help the estimated millions of Nigerian children who don't attend school.
"Nigeria has very high maternal and child mortality rates. The economy is not sophisticated and cash is limited. We need MP salaries to be reviewed and the spending of the budget to be open and transparent," he said.
Source: BBC Trending 19 June 2015
Safaricom has sued a local blogger claiming that he has defamed the company by authoring and posting a number of unsubstantiated and unsupported claims on his blog about the telco.
Through its lawyer Ogetto, Otachi and Company Advocates, Safaricom says Cyprian Nyakundi has defamed it in three articles that are part of a 15-part series that he has written.
Part 1 of the series ‘How Safaricom steals from Kenyans with third parties’, portrays the telco as a “thief and a fraud, obtaining money and profits in form of airtime from its subscribers through non-existent subscriptions,” read part of a suit notice.
In the second part, Mr Nyakundi is alleged to have written and posted an article, ‘Your privacy and Safaricom are two different things’, where he claimed that the company is infringing on its customers’ privacy and getting away with it.
In the third part, the telco says the blogger wrote an article dubbed ‘Time to put Safaricom back in its box before it seriously hurts Kenyans,’ where he discusses the plight of Kenyans who he claims were laid off after falling ill.
The hearing of the case is set for the July 14.
Safaricom argues that the allegations are unsubstantiated and baseless. It further argued that the defendant has failed to apologize and withdraw the defamatory statements from his blog.
Safaricom states that he can continue to do it in future, which will negatively impact Safaricom’ s popularity and customer base.
The mobile communications firm says the matter Mr Nyakundi was referring to with regard to treatment of some of it former employees is before the courts.
Justice Mabeya has ordered Mr Nyakundi to pull down all posts in his blog that are defamatory to Safaricom.
A permanent injunction has been issued against him, his blog, agents or any other blog, publish any posts on his blog on Safaricom that border on the litigation matters.
The injunction also applied to future publications on his blog that would be deemed defamatory to Safaricom.
Source: Business Daily 24 June 2015
Following her sharp questions for Zimbabwe’s president, Adeola Fayehun is being hailed as part of a new generation of African journalists holding leaders to account. Daily Maverick reports
Adeola Fayehun’s ambush of ageing Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe has catapulted the queen of Nigerian satire, already a star in many countries in Africa, into the international spotlight.
In a clip which has received 270,000 views on YouTube, Fayehun and her colleague Omoyele Sowore question Mugabe as he makes his way to and from new Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari’s inauguration on 29 May.
Sowore initially disarms Mugabe by asking: “Mr Mugabe, how are you?”
Smiling uncomfortably, he replies: “I am well, thanks”.
“Well, you know they also want elections in your country, when is it happening next in your country?” Sowore asks.
“In my country? Well, we had our elections…” He tapers off as an aide comes to his rescue.
After Buhari’s speech, as Mugabe made his way back to the car Fayehun delivers the next barrage of questions.
“Mr President, don’t you think it is time to step down?” “Is there a time limit?” “How’s your health?’ “When will there be change in Zimbabwe?” “Is there democracy in Zimbabwe?”
She ends the clip looking for her next victim, asking: “Is [South African president] Jacob Zuma here?”
Keeping it real
While many Africans across the continent have been aware of the refreshing talents of Fayehun, who has presented around 150 episodes of her weekly satirical news show Keeping It Real since it launched on Sahara TV in November 2011, it took the daring ambush of Robert Mugabe for her to be noticed in internationally.
After the incident, The Telegraph’s chief political correspondent Colin Freeman wrote: “compared the BBC’s John Simpson or CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Adeola Fayehun from Nigeria is not exactly a global name in the world of television reporting. This week, though, she made broadcasting history as she did something that few African reporters have ever dared do: ask one their ageing dictators when the hell he is going to quit.”
On the African continent, shows like South Africa’s e.TV Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola, Kenya’s XYZ show, and Zanews’s Puppet Nation show an appetite for satirical news programmes, but slow bandwidth, connectivity issues and expensive internet costs have also proved prohibitive in the circulation of online TV programmes.
With around 77 million internet users, Nigeria offers the largest potential audience for young journalists who are challenging the way news is delivered to the continent. Not only do these journalists challenge traditional methods of news delivery but in so doing manage to circumvent potential government censorship or pressure. They represent a new generation of writers and citizen reporters who are unafraid to hold leaders to account.
Read the full story and see the footage in The Daily Maverick.
#BeingGhanaianHasTaughtMe is a trending Twitter hashtag for humorous descriptions of lessons learned from being a Ghanaian.
Konga Online Shopping Limited (Konga) today finalized its acquisition of Zinternet Nigeria Limited (Zinternet). The transaction was finalized upon consent from the Central Bank of Nigeria with Konga now owning 100% of Zinternet’s assets, including its mobile money license.
Given its stated motto of being an engine of commerce for Nigeria, Konga constantly seeks to facilitate trade and commerce. In April 2014, the company opened up its platform to SMEs and enabled them to sell alongside Konga. Today, Konga is home to over 15,000 small businesses that trade on the Konga.com domain. In November 2014, the company engaged the services of third-party logistics companies and spurred the creation of dozens of delivery franchises across the nation. With the acquisition of this mobile money license, Konga is poised to offer payment solutions to merchants on and off the Konga.com platform.
Responding to news of the acquisition, Sim Shagaya, Konga CEO, said, “We are excited to work with our banking partners to extend the reach of their services in driving the adoption of cashless payment solutions. As merchants ourselves,” he added, “we know firsthand the frictions involved in transactions processing and we look forward to exploring how our banking partnerships could eliminate this friction not just for Konga, but also for SMEs around the country.”
Konga hopes to play a major role in realizing the Central Bank’s vision of driving Nigeria towards a cashless society. Often named as one of Nigeria’s most innovative, indigenous companies, Konga plans to bring its high levels of innovation and energy to advancing the Nigerian financial services landscape.
Source: Tech Cabal
South Africa is in advanced talks about the terms of the sale of some or all of its 27.7 billion rand ($2.3 billion) stake in Vodafone Group Plc’s African unit and a deal could be announced as early as this week, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The state-owned Public Investment Corp Ltd., Africa’s biggest money manager with about 1.6 trillion rand in assets, will probably buy all of the government’s 13.91 percent shareholding in Johannesburg-based Vodacom Group Ltd., said the people, who asked not to be identified as the deal is yet to be announced. The purchase will likely be completed in stages, according to one of the people.
“We are not commenting on what non-core assets are going to be sold to raise money,” Treasury spokeswoman Phumza Macanda said by text message on Tuesday. Vodacom declined to comment.
Proceeds from the stake sale will go toward a rescue package for South African state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which needs to build or develop new plants to resolve an electricity shortage in Africa’s most industrialized nation. The utility has a 225 billion-rand funding shortfall, and has been carrying out regular blackouts as demand exceeds supply from aging power stations.
Vodacom shares were little changed at 133.63 rand as of 11:27 a.m in Johannesburg on Wednesday, while the year’s increase is 4 percent. That compares with a 6.2 percent gain on the FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index.
The company has more than 61 million customers across Tanzania, Lesotho, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.
The PIC already owns shares in Vodacom, and could become the company’s second-largest shareholder after U.K. carrier Vodafone, which has a 65 percent stake. The fund manager handles the majority of South African government worker pension funds.
Source: Bloomberg 23 June 2015
Controversy has erupted over mobile operator MTN Zambia's decision to list its shares on the Lusaka Stock Exchange using a special purpose vehicle called Ikulileni Investments Plc.
Prospective shareholders have raised concerns that allowing MTN to list through Ikulileni will be a breach of listing rules which stipulate that a company needs a minimum of three years profitability history.
Ikulileni Investments Plc was only incorporated in October last year and, under the rules of listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange, the company does not qualify.
There is also concern over potential conflict of interest because some MTN Zambia directors, including board chairman Valentine Chitalu, are also shareholders in- and board members of Ikulileni.
Others feel that MTN is trying to avoid scrutiny by minority shareholders who will invest in the operator if it lists directly as MTN Zambia.
Lawyer and a prospective shareholder in MTN Zambia Kelvin Fube is now threatening to take legal action if the planned listing strategy goes ahead.
Fube said, "the listing of Ikulileni should be halted as it is against the spirit of empowering Zambians".
He said a condition of the mobile operator's license is that Zambians have an opportunity to buy shares directly in MTN Zambia and not through Ikulileni Investment Plc.
However, the minister of Communications and Transport Yamfwa Mukanga has said as far as he was concerned, there was nothing irregular about the share offer and that he was one of the Zambians looking forward to buying shares in the company.
"As far as government is concerned, both MTN and Ikulileni have met the listing requirements as stipulated in the Securities and Exchange Commission Act," Mukanga said.
The process of listing is,however, subject to final regulatory approvals by all regulators in the country including the Lusaka Stock Exchange, Securities and Exchange Commission and Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) itself.
The final approvals for listing have not yet been granted by the regulators.
MTN is so far the only mobile phone operator in Zambia that has for years failed to comply with ZICTA's regulation that all foreign-owned telecom operators should have 10% of shares held by Zambians through the stock exchange.
ZICTA has threatened the operator with sanctions for being in breach of the regulation. This has forced MTN to take the steps to list on the stock exchange, however progress in this regard has been slow.
MTN is currently Zambia's largest mobile operator with 51.4% of the country's mobile market that has a total of 10.5 million subscribers.
Source: ITWeb Africa 10 June 2015
Shola Taylor appointed secretary-general of the CTO
Shola Taylor has been appointed secretary-general of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), an international treaty organisation headquartered in London. Mr Taylor is expected to start in this new role on 17 September this year.
A Nigerian citizen, Mr Taylor is currently the chief executive officer of Kemilinks International, a global ICT consultancy firm based in Lagos. A telecommunications engineer by training, he brings to the CTO over 35 years of global experience in ICTs with government and the private sector. Previous positions held include regional director for Africa at Inmarsat (1994 - 1999), space technology coordinator for developing countries at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU, 1993 - 1994) and project director, also at the ITU (1987 - 1993).
Twice elected as a member of the ITU’s Radio Regulations Board (vice-chair in 2004, and chair in 2005), Mr Taylor has a rich inside knowledge of international organisations. Early in his career, he worked in telecommunication engineering, including as senior engineer at Nigerian Telecommunications (1981 - 1985) and spectrum engineer at Intelsat (1985 - 1987).
“I am both excited and honoured at being appointed as secretary-general of the CTO, a community of diverse membership, and one that has accrued tremendous strengths over a hundred years. Given the impact of ICTs in our lives and the enormous opportunities for the socio-economic development of nations, I have accepted this challenge to make a positive contribution towards improved access to ICTs for all. I look forward to working closely with the CTO’s members, the Secretariat staff and other stakeholders, to ensure that the CTO remains the preferred partner for sustainable ICT development for all its members.” Mr Taylor said following the announcement of his appointment earlier today.
Over the years, Mr Taylor has developed a strong interest in the use of ICTs in sustainable development and has supported many governments in their development agenda for ICTs.
Secretaries-general of the Organisation are appointed for four-year terms. Previous heads of the prestigious organisation include outgoing secretary-general Professor Tim Unwin (UK), preceded by then chief executive officers Ekwow Spio-Garbrah (Ghana) and Dr David Souter (UK).
Francis Wangusi will continue serving as the director general of the Communication Authority of Kenya till 2019. This comes after the CA board of directors renewed his term for another 4 years. Wangusi’s current term at CA begun in 2012 and is set to expire on August 22. According to a statement by the board of directors, Wangusi emerged as the best candidate in interviews conducted, to which 29 candidates applied.
25 Startups make it to PIVOT East 2015 finals
After an intense evaluation process by a panel involving over 15 investors, PIVOT East is happy to announce the top 25 exceptional startups that will participate in PIVOT East 2015.
The finalists, 5 from each category were selected from the 50 semifinalists announced two weeks ago. The finalists from across the region will compete to win market recognition and investor interest during the pitching conference which will be held on 22nd July in Nairobi, Kenya.
Kenya is represented by 16 startups, Tanzania has six, while Uganda and Rwanda have one each.
The startups that have made it to the finals are;
Hisa Play, BitFinance, Eko Biashara and Shield from Kenya and V-Money from Tanzania
Djuaji Research Limited, Mobu Limited, SaniCMS, Tenderpreneur and Duma Works all from Kenya
Makarao and Game 254 Studios from Kenya and Guumzo, Moview, and Soka from Tanzania
FeedBack-RT – NATKOM from Uganda, Politk, Arifu, Bookex and MySecurity from Kenya
Snapp Builder and ENT-Mobile Labs from Kenya, SafeMotos from Rwanda, Nikweli and Africa Fashion from Tanzania
For each category a sixth best startup has been placed on a waiting list in case any finalists drop out. These are Kenyan startups Bangaiza App, Ekodi, Softballot, SpotMe and Skillence, as well as Yanguwa from Uganda.
Since 2011, PIVOT East has identified and supported 100 mobile startups as finalists, with the m:lab having funded 20 of these startups to the tune of US$200,000 thus far. This year, competitors will have to persuade investors to back them.
“This year, the finalists of the competition will receive training, coaching and mentorship in the weeks preceding the pitching conference and also after the pitching conference. These activities assist the finalists to improve key elements of their business models and the positioning of their startups to the rich audience at the conference. Startups in the waiting list and the other semifinalists who did not make it to the finalists will also benefit from the training, coaching and mentoring given to the finalists,” PIVOT East said.
Source: PC Tech Magazine 25 June 2015
Nairobi Innovation Week
5 -7 August 2015
University of Nairobi
The Nairobi Innovation Week Committee has announced the official commencement of the registration process for the event in August, which will bring together government, academia, startups and other stakeholders for discussions under the theme “Innovate and Prosper”.
For more information and to register vsit the website here.
Broadband World Forum 2015
20-22 October 2015
Excel Centre, London
Broadband World Forum is one of the world’s largest telecoms, media & technology events with over 7,800 senior executives from across the globe.
For more information click here: