LTE insurgent challenger Smile does a hard launch in Tanzania and will open its network on a wholesale basis to other operators
Smile Communications has put in place the first public roll-out in Africa of LTE in 800 MHz spectrum in Tanzania and has ambitious plans to roll out in the same spectrum in three more countries. This week it moved from soft to hard launch status in Tanzania and the other 3 countries will follow. Russell Southwood spoke to founder and CEO of the company Irene Charnley.
Smile Communications in Tanzania has been on soft launch status for the last six months, with the sales force quietly selling to commercial customers. Nevertheless it has managed to garner nearly a thousand subscribers before moving to the full hoopla stage of the hard launch. Charnley believes that the potential in 2-3 years will be tens of thousands of subscribers in Tanzania. The subscribers are a mixture of commercial customers and households, with many commercial customers also using the service at home.
It now has 80% coverage of all the commercial areas in the country’s capital Dar es Salaam. By the end of this year it will have coverage in all of the country’s major cities and by 2014 it will have full national coverage. It currently also offers 30 hot-spots.
The service can be accessed in three ways: a router that’s sufficiently small to be called nomadic (US$210 plus 20GB of data); a dongle (US$114 plus 10GB of data) and a Mi-Fi unit (available shortly), which is half the size of a smartphone and can connect up to 10 people. According to Charnley:”This will be a killer app. It has its own battery and allows all household members or the employees of small companies to access the same connection.” She’s also keen to emphasise that there is already an ecosystem of 200-250 LTE access devices out there already. The LTE signal is also much more effective than many of the WiMAX technologies at penetrating buildings.
As in most places in Africa, it’s selling data bundles that last 30 days. At the bottom end of the range 500 MB costs US$5.40 and at the top end of the range 50 GB costs US$192. Before the implementation of LTE, customers were on average using 5GB of data month and for 90% of the customer base this has now doubled to 10 GB a month. Even as numbers go up on the network, they say customers are getting an actual 6 mbps download speed.
As reported in our previous story in December, the big use story is video. No more buffering for live streams and download speeds that are actually achieved in a reasonable time period rather than several hours. And Charnley emphasizes the point that with no technical installation required, it is very easy to get almost instant access.
The company also operations in three other countries: Nigeria, Uganda and DRC. Uganda, which is currently in its soft launch phase (with hundreds of subscribers) will hard launch on 6 June. In Nigeria, it currently has had a soft launch in Ibadan and is rolling out in Lagos, with a hard launch planned for July. The DRC will switch on in December.
Interestingly, Smile will open up its wholesale capacity in Tanzania to both mobile operators and ISPs as a way of accelerating its own growth. It says it has had approaches from operators and is in discussions.
Although the existing network and business strategy is for data, the network is capable of carrying voice using VoLTE and the handsets for this will be available in June. But as Charnley says:”We expect most voice calls will be made by Skype, which as you can see from the call we’re having is crystal clear.”
The propaganda war has already begun (see Tigo story in Telecoms news below). Tigo has also launched HSPA+ (which is usually described as 3.5 or 3.75G) in Tanzania and is calling it 4G. But as the roll-out of LTE accelerates, it will be the customers who make the judgements based on whether video streaming and downloading is better on HSPA+ or LTE.
Video briefings on:
Viewing and talking about football in Africa:
Football, TV viewers and social media:
Gary Rathbone, Founder Sports News Africa (formerly Head of Supersports) on African TV sports watching habits and the rise of the tablet as first screen
Computer gaming in Kenya:
A new online content platform on Intel’s Yolo phone:
Tim Rimbui, Innovative Music on the launch of online music and audio-books platform Waabeh.com in Kenya
Ad agency shifts to digital online spend because of Internet growth:
Shahzad Khan, OgilvyOne on the rapid growth of the Internet in Africa and the rise in digital ad spend
Mobile operator uses social media to hook customers:
Shazad Khan, OgilvyOne on its Nigerian social media campaign for Airtel, Half Dollar
Software package to control telecoms costs in the enterprise:
Morocco: Anas Alhilal, Medina Telecom on UniBox, a device for controlling telecoms costs
A strategy to prepare for Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD):
Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO, Movirtu on its two new products aimed at the BYOD market
A broadband and video rural deployment model from India:
Osama Manzar, Digital Empowerment Foundation on delivering broadband in rural India
To get up-to-the minute news, you need to be on Twitter. Follow us on a@BalancingActAfr
Service providers who provide poor services without explanation to consumers risk a penalty of 5m/- or six months imprisonment, the Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, Prof Makame Mbarawa, has said.
He told the Parliament here yesterday that the companies on entering the country to invest, usually sign service level agreements, where they should be held accountable in case they provide poor service to customers.
He was responding to a question by Temeke MP, Mr Abas Mtemvu (CCM), who cited a failure last year from November 13 at night to November 14 afternoon, when services of a local telecom operating as Tigo stopped without giving any explanation as to what had happened.
The MP had wanted to know what explanation the government would give to the public when services are affected without accountability on the part of service providers. In response, the minister admitted that it was indeed true that the telecom had experienced technical problems on that day, where the company's system was overpowered and burnt systems situated at Sabasaba in Dar es Salaam.
He said some of the destroyed equipment for the company include the home location register, base station controller, radio network controller and mobile switch centre. He said that the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority had, in three days, formally written to the company asking for explanations on how Tigo had prepared itself to confront such a situation if it happens again, to control inconveniences for consumers.
Stakeholders in Nigeria's telecommunication industry are opposing the Nigerian Communications Commission's draft regulation on Lawful Interception of Communications. The Joint Action on ICT Awareness and Development (JACITAD), an umbrella body of technology groups, said lawful interception should be controlled by legislation and not by regulation as currently proposed, the Guardian reported.
The NCC in February issued the draft regulation, which provides the legal framework for the lawful interception of communications in Nigeria and implements provisions of the Nigerian Communications Act. Director of Regulatory Affairs at Airtel Nigeria, Osondu Nwokoro said that in other jurisdictions, lawful interception is made via legislation.
The GSM Association has opened its Africa office in Nairobi to effectively support the growing African telecoms market. The Africa headquarters will be based in Nairobi's iHub and will enable the GSMA to work more closely with its members and other industry stakeholders to extend the reach and soci0-economic benefits to mobile throughout Africa.
Speaking at a media briefing, GSMA's Director General Anne Bouverot said they were excited to launch the new office in Africa as the region is becoming increasingly vibrant and critical market to the mobile industry.
"The rapid pace of mobile adoption has delivered an explosion of innovation and huge economic benefits in the region, directly contributing US$ 32 billion to the Sub-Saharan African economy or 4.4 per cent of GDP. With necessary spectrum allocations and transparent regulation, the mobile industry could also fuel the creation of 14.9 million jobs in the region between 2015 and 2020."
GSMA is an association of mobile telcos and operators across the world with 800 members spread across 220 countries including Kenya. The rapid increase of mobile connections has attracted GSMA to the region, adds Bouverot. Mobile connections in Sub-Saharan Africa increased by 20 per cent to 500 million in 2013 and are expected to increase by an additional 50 per cent by 2018.
The GSMA's permanent presence in Kenya will enable the organisation to work closely with its members to put the conditions in place that will facilitate the expansion of mobile, bringing important connectivity and services to all in the region.
Kenya's strategic location and innovative and regulatory environment were some of the factors that pulled GSMA to Nairobi. Of particular focus for the Africa office will be the development of mobile technologies and platforms to improve health, agriculture and education services and financial inclusion.
About 40 in every 100 mobile telephone users in the country are yet to register their sim cards, with only weeks remaining to the July deadline.
However, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA), the regulator of the telecommunication sector in the country, remains positive that all Sim cards will be registered before expiry of the deadline.
Registration of all mobile phone lines is mandatory and is being carried out by all East Africa Communication Organisation member states as part of the means to minimize telephone-aided crime.
The head of communication at Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency, Jean Baptist Mutabazi said that the registration process that was scheduled to take only six month from February this year is "showing progress."
He said that 60% of the total mobile phone users in the country have been registered so far. Currently, Rwanda has 6,039,615 mobile phone subscribers. "We will be done by July, and in order not to put too much pressure on the telecoms companies on the last day of registration, we at RURA plan the last road shows in June to call upon the unregistered mobile users to register."
Registration of sim cards is expected to make it easy to investigate criminal use of phones. "... for security purposes, once a subscriber is registered, phone criminality is going to be reduced significantly," he said.
- Telecom Egypt has announced plans to launch its mobile services in Egypt by July this year. Egypt’s only fixed-line operator told the market this will happen after it has received its mobile operating licence from the country’s regulator. The company is seeking to commence mobile phone services to help supplement revenues that are under pressure from falling fixed-line payments. It is understood Egyptian government is scheduled to permit Telecom Egypt to offer mobile phone services.
- Morocco added 500,00 mobile lines in the first quarter, increasing the installed base by 1.28 percent to 39.52 million, according to telecom regulator ANRT. Mobile customers grew by 9 percent from 36.24 million at the end of March 2012. The mobile penetration rate reached 121.51 percent in March, compared to 119.97 percent in December 2012 and 112.59 percent in March 2012. There was little movement in market share on the end of 2012. Maroc Telecom’s share dropped to 45.22 percent, Meditel slipped to 29.09 percent, and Wana’s rose to 25.69 percent.
- Cape Verdean telecoms regulator the National Communications Agency (ANAC) has announced the launch of number portability (NP) for fixed and wireless subscribers. NP allows subscribers to keep their number when they switch operators. ANAC noted that it expects the new service to help drive competition and lead to lower prices for end-users as well as improving service quality.
Banjul, Gambia - Owners of internet cafés in The Gambia must register them with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) if they intend to continue with their businesses in the West African nation, according to a new directive from PURA.
The new directive, issued Monday, followed PURA’s 19 April order banning company and individual internet café operators from “offering dating and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services” like Skype or Viper as a “commercially-available service” to Gambians.
According to PURA, 'This latest directive makes its mandatory for internet café owners to complete a registration form in which they are required to give the names of internet cafés, physical addresses, number of computers installed, and services offered.
In a public notice that runs from Monday to Friday, the regulatory authority said that the completed registration forms must be returned to PURA on or before 27 May, 2013, each with a registration fee of 100 Dalasis.
PURA said 'From now on, anyone wishing to establish and operate an internet café in The Gambia must apply to and receive prior authorization from PURA before starting operation.'
It claims that the new directive is in accordance with section 10 (1) (b) of the Information and Communications Act 2009.
Locally, Eiffel's, a VAS company has introduced a bulk sms installer that enables one to create an account even on their laptop to send sms either to a single user or many users.
The Eiffel allows one to create and store over one million numbers in the address or phonebook which they can quickly use to disburse short messages.
Frank Semakula, the proprietor of Eiffel installer, said creating an account costs sh10,000 and one immediately gets 100 free messages.
The system is also connected to the mobile money platform that enables one to transfer money on their own.
"Any computer that has the software from anywhere can load, you can also buy the rights," said Semakula adding that the buyer then shares revenue with owner.
The software can send messages to all networks including international while the platform once installed on the computer allows one to advertise their business on the same site.
But in Uganda, there have been concerns about the level of regulation especially with subscribers getting unsolicited messages.
A total of 32,513,261 Nigerians are accessing the Internet through telecommunications networks, a report obtained by Sunday Punch on Friday has revealed.
This means that out of the estimated population of 45 million Nigerians that have access to the Internet, 72.25 per cent are dependent on telecommunications networks.
This leaves a total of 12,486,739 users or 27.75 per cent depending on other smaller Internet Service Providers that deploy various technologies including Very Small Aperture Terminals.
Statistics provided by the Nigerian Communications Commission showed that as at February 28, 32,335,478 Internet subscribers depended on Global System for Mobile Communications networks while 177,783 Internet users depended on Code Division Multiple Access networks.
Among GSM subscribers, MTN Nigeria Communications Limited had the biggest proportion of Internet users – 21,308,725 or 65.9 per cent of the total number of Internet users that depend on GSM networks.
The closest network was Airtel, with 5,870,670 or 18.16 per cent of the GSM Internet users.
Etisalat had a total of 4,354,845 or 13.47 per cent while Glo had 801,218 or 2.48 per cent.
Among the CDMA operators, Visafone had 87,691 Internet users; Starcomms had 63,198 users while Multi-Links had 26,894.
The statistics also reflected the continued dwindling fortunes of CDMA operators. While some of the GSM subscribers grew their Internet users over a period of time, only Visafone grew the number of its Internet subscribers among CDMA operators.
As at June 30, 2012, Visafone had 82,029 subscribers; Starcomms had 110,438; while Multi-Links had 47,517 Internet users. Airtel had 3.2 million Internet users and MTN had 16,135,672. Glo had 1,014,166 while Etisalat had 5,031,019.
Several reasons account for the increasing dependence of Internet users in the country on mobile telecommunications networks. One of the reasons is the near absence of fixed networks that carry data.
The entry of GSM networks into the Internet provision has also spelt declining fortunes for the traditional ISPs.
The entry cost for most of the original ISPs could only be afforded by the rich and corporate organisations.
For those service providers, Customer Premise Equipment now cost a minimum of about N200, 000. They also charge a monthly subscription that can be about N300, 000 in the minimum. Mostly, they serve corporate clients and cybercafé operators.
On the other hand, the entry cost for individual Internet subscribers that depend on mobile telecommunications networks can be as low as N3, 000 for USB connectors that are just plugged to laptops and desktops, according to the report.
The increasing popularity of smartphones such as Blackberry, Androids and tablets also means that Internet users do not necessarily need a computer or any other equipment (apart from their phones and subscription) to connect to the Internet.
Despite the increasing penetration of Internet in the country, rural dwellers are less privileged than their counterparts in urban communities.
In both rural and urban communities, however, Internet speed remains a major issue as many users are frustrated by slow Internet speed.
Many experts have therefore advocated a broadband policy and strategy that would encourage broadband Internet rollout across the country.
The International Telecommunications Union recently reported that there were 2.75 billion Internet users in the world by the end of March.
On regional basis, there are 140 million users in Africa; 141 million users in Arab States; 1.27 billion in Asia and the Pacific; Commonwealth of Independent States, 145m; Europe, 467 million users and the Americas, 582 million users.
Internet World Stats reports that the total Internet users present a gender divide that is more evident in the less developed countries where more men use the Internet compared to women.
In the developed world, there are only two per cent fewer women than men using the Internet. In the developing world, however, 16 per cent fewer women than men use the Internet.
Last week Tigo Tanzania launched HSPA+ and were describing it as 4G.
"We recognize our customers' ever changing demands and need for better, faster and quality internet services and are constantly seeking to provide them with the best user experience in all our products in the most affordable way possible.
This innovation is part of our on-going network upgrade programme," Tigo's General Manager, Diego Gutierrez said over the weekend.
Gutierrez said that the introduction of HSPA+ was a testament of their pursuit for innovation and need to stay ahead of the rest in delivering top notch customer service experience and satisfaction.
Mercy Swai, a Kimara resident and Tigo subscriber of over three years said that she was thrilled with the news of the launch because it would now mean that downloading files over a wireless network would be quicker, access to the internet would be quicker and she could now conduct video conferences on her mobile phone without a lot of hassle.
Information Technology specialist, Kay Haruna said that he was a little skeptical
because that could also mean higher data prices for consumers and that the new technology will mean having a new device that can support it.
The launch took place via an interactive online Skype video press conference that connected four regions with a keynote speech by Gutierrez who delivered his remarks from his office at the company's headquarters in Dar es Salaam.
A new report – the Symantec Corp.’s Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 18 (ISTR) released yesterday, May 13, 2013, has revealed a 42 percent surge in cyber fraud during 2012 in targeted attacks compared to the prior year.
The report, which lists top 30 countries in Africa in terms of their internet security threat profile, also reveals increase in cyberespionage – including threefold increase in small business attacks.
Designed to steal intellectual property, these targeted cyberespionage attacks are increasingly hitting the manufacturing sector as well as small businesses, which are the target of 31 percent of these attacks.
In addition, consumers remain vulnerable to ransomware and mobile threats, particularly on the Android platform, a statement issued in Dubai by the Symantec Corporation said.
Commenting on the rise in cybercrimes as indicated by the just released report, Sheldon Hand, territory manager, Indian Ocean Islands, West and Central Africa, Symantec, said: “This year’s ISTR shows that cybercriminals aren’t slowing down, and they continue to devise new ways to steal information from organisations of all sizes.”
“The sophistication of attacks coupled with today’s IT complexities, such as virtualisation, mobility and cloud, require organisations to remain proactive and use ‘defense in depth’ security measures to stay ahead of attacks,” he recommended.
According to the statement announcing release of the new report, key highlights are that small businesses are the path of least resistance, the manufacturing sector and knowledge workers become primary targets, while mobile malware put consumers and businesses at risk.
The report indicates that targeted attacks on businesses with fewer than 250 employees are growing, and that small businesses are now the target of 31 percent of all attacks, representing a threefold increase from 2011.
It also indicates that while small businesses may feel they are immune to targeted attacks, cybercriminals are enticed by these organisations’ bank account information, customer data, intellectual property and the knowledge that they often lack adequate security practices and infrastructure.
Further, shifting from governments, manufacturing has moved to the top of the list of industries targeted for attacks in 2012, according to the report.
The Internet Security Threat Report reveals that often by going after manufacturing companies in the supply chain, attackers gain access to sensitive information of a larger company.
In addition, in 2012 the most commonly targeted victims of these types of attacks were knowledge workers, representing 27 percent of victims with access to intellectual property, while those in sales represented 24 percent.
Touching on malware, the report says in 2012 alone, mobile malware increased by 58 percent, and 32 percent of all mobile threats attempted to steal information, such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
Android’s market share, its open platform and the multiple distribution methods available to distribute malicious apps, make it the go-to platform for attackers, the ISTR reveals.
Q-KON has been selected as the preferred provider of connectivity services to Allana Potash Afar PLC, an Ethiopian Subsidiary of a Canadian Corporation focused on the global acquisition of potash assets and relevant concessions.
As the entrusted connectivity services partner, Q-KON was contracted to provide reliable satellite communications from its IBS C-Band Satellite Access Platform to an exploration site based in Dallol, Ethiopia.
This solution ensures that the site is able to leverage off a reliable VSAT link that can grow to a High Availability High Capacity (H-2) link for future mine development and operation. This provides two-way IP communication between the East African country and hosted tier one backbone and terrestrial network in Washington, US.
Q-KON has an established and extensive background in the provision of connectivity and wireless infrastructure services to the global mining sector, one that the company has identified as a key priority and it is in line with the mining focus in Africa.
As a satellite network services provider the company operates more than 1000Mbps from three teleports incorporating four technologies over five satellites using seven different technologies and supporting services to over one thousand remote sites, combined with engineering expertise.
The City of Joburg Broadband Project will go live on 1 July 2013 following a three year build phase, which BWired will operate for 12 years. The completion of the fibre optic network covers all 7 regions of the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) municipality.
The network will deliver a live network that will be able to offer key services to all municipal buildings connected to the network. This fibre optic network was designed by Ericsson South Africa, with a 1.2Tb core capacity and 940km coverage.
The Johannesburg Broadband and Network Project (JBNP) is part of the city’s long term vision of developing the city’s economy.
All civil work was completed at the end of April 2013, with the fibre installation work being at 90% completion at this time. The network build will be completed at the end of May 2013.
When the Network goes live on 1 July 2013, it will offer full WAN accessibility, VPN services, and will bring internet to all of the CoJ buildings in the region.
The JBNP will be ready to transition all of the agreed upon services as of 1 July 2013.
“The CoJ Broadband Project will enable digital inclusion through the provision of affordable broadband to the public,” BWired said in a press statement.
The organizer of a forum on promoting ideas through the Internet accused Sudanese state security agents on Saturday of shutting down the event in Khartoum by cutting off the power.
The local branch of New York-based TED, an independent group that spreads knowledge about the Internet and social media, drew 900 people to its 'Knowledge into Action' conference in a luxury hotel, its founder Anwar Dafa-Alla said.
After the first speech, a security agent came and asked to halt the event, saying there was no permit for it, Dafa-Alla told Reuters. "We informed him that we have a permit from a government agency," he said. "But then a second security person came and asked again to stop the event."
He said security agents then ordered the hotel management to cut off power in the middle of a speech. Another conference participant confirmed this, but the security apparatus could not be immediately reached for comment.
According to its website, TED promotes "ideas worth spreading" by holding events to connect local communities. "It was our third annual event and totally non-political," Dafa-Alla said.
Speakers from the United States, Britain, India and Uganda had travelled to the forum on visas sponsored through a research institute affiliated to the telecommunications ministry, he said.
Sudan's security services have cracked down hard on independent think-tanks, rights groups and local newspapers which are not allowed to report about anti-government protests.
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been facing small protests, mainly from students who have been trying to bring an "Arab spring" to Sudan by using social media.
In December, security agents shut down the Al-Khatim Adlan Center for Enlightenment and Human Development (KACE), a leading independent think-tank to promote democracy.
- Last week all roads led to Cresta Lodge Hotel in Harare where 150 delegates converged for the inaugural Zimbabwe Broadband Forum 2013. Leading the discussion was a panel of experts comprising ZOL CEO and Liquid managing director David Behr and a representative from one of the largest fibre laying consortiums in Africa, WIOCC, James Wekesa. Other panellists included IConnect Zambia's Winston Riston, Telecel marketing director Octivius Kahiya, Gtel's Head of Marketing MRobert Gonye and TechZim's editor Limbikani Kabweza.
Internet Solutions (IS) has announced the company's Public Compute-as-a-Service (CaaS) offering can now be purchased on a pay-as-you-go basis using a credit card.
The IS Public CaaS platform, available through a web-based portal, enables developers, independent software vendors, small-to-medium-sized businesses or large corporations to easily access enterprise-grade cloud services with pro-rata pricing, so users only pay for what they use.
“The IS Public CaaS service offers flexible pricing options for access to IS's highly available, enterprise-grade public server environment, which can now be paid for using a credit card. There is no monthly fee, contract or vendor lock-in with this service,” explains Barry Hatfield, business development manager: Cloud services at IS. “This self-service cloud solution therefore offers enhanced ease-of-use, greater flexibility and unrivalled value to finally deliver true on-demand utility computing to the local market.”
Users are billed based on CPU, RAM and storage hours used, outbound data transfers, software units or multi-location or multi-geographic data centre usage. “Users can also deploy one Cloud Network (VLAN) free, then pay hourly for any additional VLANs. They also only pay for additional public IP addresses added to those already included in a Cloud Network,” continues Hatfield.
“With access to this fully automated environment, clients can be up and running within minutes, with the capacity and processing capabilities of IS's public cloud infrastructure at their immediate disposal,” he says. IS boasts 11 data centres across five countries: six in South Africa, two in London and three in Africa. These data centres enable co-located environments with over 12 000m² of co-location space and 20MW of power in the data centres, all of which run multi-GB connectivity to the core.
Users can set up a virtual server environment with networking and security rules, and rapidly deploy more servers and processing power on the fly. The system can also be controlled through an API, allowing applications to be developed to right-size automatically, based on load and demand. The servers can then be turned off when they aren't required, and spun up again at any time.
The environment has a full, integrated security suite and uptime is guaranteed. Users can connect through the firewall from any Internet-enabled device. The system also supports all major operating systems. “Similar environments can also be cloned and applied around the world, enabling users to carry this capacity with them wherever they go,” says Hatfield. “The REST-based API also allows users to easily integrate systems via the back-end to enable disparate environments to 'talk' to each other.”
Ericsson and mobile operator Airtel have partnered to expand the Connect to Learn Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solution, now enables 600 students to use ICT through cloud-based technology.
The two institutions, St. Anthony and Maera secondary schools in the Malawi Millennium Village of Mwandama, in Zomba district, have now been connected will now be connected to the initiative with students being joined by teachers in benefiting.
Fifty-five laptops, broadband internet access, online educational resources and training are included in the programme.
- The ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU), a sector lobby group was officially launched on Thursday May 16, 2013 at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel during a breakfast meeting. The ICT sector including some sub-sectors like Business Process Outsourcing (BPOs) have been identified as key contributors to dealing with the huge unemployment in the country.
The banking hall remains customers’ most preferred channel for transacting banking business in Ghana, an April 2013 Africa Banking Industry Customer Satisfaction Survey by KPMG, the global accounting firm, has revealed.
The report said, in spite of heavy investment in technology by banks to encourage the use of alternate channels in banking- such as ATMs, Internet banking, Point of Sale terminals (POS), and mobile banking -- consumers prefer to use a bank branch.
Six out of 10 respondents said they withdraw cash using the branch while 83 percent pay their bills at a bank branch. Comparatively, only 8 percent of customers use the Internet for the same purpose.
Customers also prefer to walk into a bank branch to check their balances, with 56 percent of respondents admitting to checking their balances at the branch, while 38 percent use the ATM and only 3 percent use the mobile-banking platform.
There are currently 26 registered commercial banks and 889 bank branches. Banking penetration currently stands at about 30 percent of the Ghanaian population of about 25 million.
The relatively low penetration is attributable to a myriad of reasons, including the multiplicity of bank charges on customer accounts and the lack of products that directly meet the needs of the bulk of the population. Travel distance and the amount of paperwork involved are also among the barriers to adopting banking services.
Ghana’s banking sector had a total asset base of about GH¢25billion (US$13billion) in 2012. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, this is expected to almost US$18billion by 2015.
Though the survey revealed the dominance of branches and the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) over other banking channels in Africa, it also predicted exciting prospects for the adoption of alternative payment channels. Analysts reckon that it costs about US$500,000 to put up a standard branch of a bank.
The cheap cost of using agents and technology -- which translates into lower charges and lower capital expenditure -- is a key benefit that is expected to draw banks into branchless banking.
Branchless banking involves the delivery of banking services outside of conventional bank branches, often using non-bank agents and relying on information and communication technology (ICT) to transmit transactions.
The inaccessibility of certain places and overhead costs associated with establishing branches nationwide, are some key challenges that branchless banking, which integrates alternative channels, is expected to remedy.
However, to achieve the desired results, there is the need to continuously create awareness about the use of alternative channels to increase banking penetration in the country.
According to the report, customer-loyalty and advocacy for local banks is below the overall average in a total of 14 countries surveyed by KPMG. These include Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
For instance, in Ghana 44 percent of respondents said they would repeat business with their bank while 55 and 70 percent of respondents said the same in Kenya and Nigeria respectively.
Fifteen percent of the customers surveyed in Ghana also expressed the likelihood of changing their bank, citing service-quality as the top reason for changing.
The inaugural edition of the KPMG Africa-wide Banking Industry Customer Satisfaction Survey covered over 25,000 retail banking customers from 14 countries across Africa.
Cellulant Corporation and Nigeria’s Bank of Agriculture are set to unveil a joint mobile money services aimed at driving business transaction in the agricultural sector .
According to a statement by the firm on Tuesday, Cellulant Corporation, a value-adding services firm operating in Nigeria and other African countries, is currently implementing the electronic wallet scheme of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture under which farm inputs are distributed to farmers.
Bank of Agriculture is a Federal Government-owned development bank with a mandate to provide low-cost credit to small holders and commercial farmers, and small and medium rural enterprises.
The statement said the mobile money service plan had already reached advanced stages.
The scheme is expected to impact a lot of farmers in the country and to help government to achieve its desire of getting more farmers to access financial support that government has set in place in conjunction with many banks and other financial institutions.
It will be recalled that Cellulant Corporation has been in the forefront of implementing many value-added services using mobile networks.
Already, over one million farmers have benefitted from electronic wallet scheme of the government as subsidised fertilisers and seedlings that government have been battling over the years to deliver to farmers have been done easily since last year.
Commenting on the scheme, the Chief Executive Officer, Cellulant Nigeria, Goke Akinboro, said the firm was working on its mobile money service and it intended to impact the agricultural sector where it had already been playing a leading role in recent times.
He said, “We have been working very hard on our mobile money services and our focus is to ensure that areas where we already have the necessary competence and influence receive proper attention from us in terms of service delivery. Soon, we will come up with our plans and we believe that all Nigerians will be proud and happy at what we will be offering the masses.”
With the new mobile money service, Bank of Agriculture is expected to meet its mandate of providing micro financing to small and medium scale non agricultural enterprises.
- Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore says the government's continued taxation will erode the financial gains made through the platform. Meanwhile the company has embarked on a process to upgrade its Mpesa system.
- Mobile money users now have to pay more to send or receive money following a transaction rate increase by MTN, a leading industry player in mobile money transfer services. The rates which have gone up by between Shs100 and Shs1,200.
- Vendor-neutral data centre operator Teraco Data Environments has secured a R200m medium-term funding facility from Absa’s corporate and investment banking division. Teraco CEO Lex van Wyk says the funding will allow Teraco to meet the demand created by growth of the Internet and cloud computing in the region. In recent years, Teraco has expanded its footprint to three data centres in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, which combined comprise 6,6MW of power plant, powering 4,000sq m of operating data centre space. Teraco is also home to Internet peering exchange NAPAfrica.
The Algerian government is seeking a fresh valuation on the local mobile network, Djezzy before it agrees to buy a 51% stake in the company.
The Algerian government has long wanted to buy the company, and settled on an agreement to take a controlling 51% stake in the company, and coincidentally dropping a number of lawsuits and regulatory barriers to the company.
"There will be a new valuation of Djezzy," a source, who asked not to be named told the Reuters news agency.
Djezzy was owned by Egypt's Orascom Telecom, before that company was bought by Russia's VimpelCom. The Russian purchase was itself nearly cancelled due to the Algerian dispute.
Just over a year ago, VimpelCom then agreed to sell a stake in the company to the Algerian government, but that was conditional on finding an acceptable price and satisfaction of other conditions.
The Algerian government had appointed law firm Shearman & Sterling to advise it on the valuation, but it seems that the government was unhappy with the figure they came up with.
Last November, Egypt's Naguib Sawiris launched a US$5 billion claim against the Algerian government for damages, claiming that repeated harassment cost the Algerian company significant losses prior to its sale to VimpelCom.
The federal government may conclude guided liquidation of the moribund Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) in June, Daily Trust has learnt.
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) would likely come out with preferred liquidator among the five prospective liquidators in July, an official of the privatization agency told our correspondent in Abuja yesterday.
The official, who pleaded anonymity, said the evaluation of expression of interests (EOIs) from five prospective liquidators who had earlier, in February, submitted their EOIs, would be concluded by BPE in three weeks time and thereafter it would be submitted to the court of law.
The NITEL liquidator would be announced a week after the evaluated EOIs have been ratified by the court, the official said. Several attempts had been made in the past by the federal government to sell NITEL to core investors and all these attempts failed woefully.
In 2001, Investors International London Limited, made an attempt to acquire NITEL, but defaulted in paying the bid price of $1.317 billion and lost the attempt.
Thereafter, Pentascope of Netherlands was appointed to revamp the moribund telecoms firm, but that attempt also failed.
Orascom also attempted to acquire NITEL with $256.5 million but lost the bid to Transcorp, which acquired NITEL for $500 million.
Kenya’s biggest network operator Safaricom has posted a pre-tax profit increase to KSh25.5 billion (US$304 million) for 2012/13, an increase of 47 per cent compared to the 2011/12 financial year.
There was also a 31 per cent increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to KSh49.2 billion (US$587 million).
Profit after tax was KSh17.5 billion (US$209 million), up 39 per cent on the year before.
Bob Collymore, Safaricom’s chief executive officer (CEO), said: “The full year results demonstrate our continued strong commercial and financial performance across our service portfolio.
“These solid results re-affirm our strategy to transform lives through the provision of quality services, delivering the best network in Kenya through our continued investment in technology and deepening financial inclusion, with services such as M-Shwari on the M-PESA platform.”
In the breakdown of the results, voice revenue grew by 13 per cent to KSh77.7 billion (US$927 million), with non-voice revenue increasing by 29 per cent to KSh40.4 billion (US$482 million).
Mobile money service M-Pesa continues to increase its revenue. For 2012/13 it produced KSh21.8 billion (US$260 million), a rise of 29.5 per cent and 88 per cent of Safaricom’s customer base is now registered with the service.
There was a 30 per cent growth in SMS revenue to KSh10.13 billion (US$121 million) and 21 per cent rise in revenue from mobile data revenue to KSh6.3 billion (US$75 million).
In the past 12 months there has been a 57 per cent rise in active mobile data customers to 7.1 million, making up 37 per cent of the network’s total customer base.
The Ivorian social media scene is no doubt one of the most active on the continent (search #ci225 or #team225 to see why). In what is a novel idea, a few hundred online users in Côte d’Ivoire have selected a representative for the Ivorian blogosphere. Emmanuel Aswan, the ‘web-mayor’ will now work with a core Ivorian online community to create a safe, welcoming, and productive environment for all Ivorian web users.
Mathieu Olivier of Jeune Afrique best explains the significance of this small-scale pseudo-election. He writes that the blogging community is important for Côte d’Ivoire’s reconstruction. Foreign investors could eventually be impressed by the nation’s digital sector.
A six point plan – essentially the basis for an unofficial ICT policy – will ensure Ivorians have a positive online experience. They are to:
Facilitate dialogue between webmaster and developer.
Educate developers for safe coding.
Supervise and encourage web marketers.
Know the code of conduct on the Internet in order to avoid inconvenience.
Dialogue with operators and Internet service providers for better quality of service at lower cost.
Encourage the sharing of knowledge.
Grassroots efforts such as the unofficial management of a portion of Côte d’Ivoire’s online space could very well find success. For one, many governments (including that of Côte d’Ivoire) have yet to address the six points listed above. There’s little risk in having web-savvy citizens attempt to give structure to the nation’s online space. Efforts taken by the #225 groups will further attract new members who strive to do more online than just social networking. With some persistence (and luck) the Ivorian government could be inspired to work with all stakeholders to form a modern and comprehensive ICT policy.
As their president recovered in Paris from a minor stroke, Algerian internet users mounted a movement to demand better hospitals in their own country.
A new Facebook page urged Algerian citizens to take to the streets on May 4th to demand decent medical facilities for everyone.
The initiative proved to be so popular that even politicians, including Jil Jadid party chief Sofiane Djilali participated in the street demonstrations to demand a "Val-de-Grâce hospital for everyone".
Fella Bouredji notes in his Paroles d'Algériens blog that the May 6th physician strike is part of the fight to improve the health care system in Algeria. "No social truce for Algeria", she writes.
"The crisis is growing in the hospital world," she writes. "Poor patient care, lack of medication and shortage of resources are among the biggest problems."
In his blog, journalist Akram Belkaid quotes excerpts from his book, Un regard calme sur l'Algérie (published by Seuil Publications).
"Even if it was published in 2005, when the country wasn't doing as well economically, many things remain unchanged, especially the hospital situation," Belkaid writes in his blog. "That's why many Algerians, including their leaders, seek treatment abroad."
"At times, Algerians living abroad, in France especially, get crazy requests from friends or family members back home. A windshield, a pressure cooker, a barometer, fine - but surgical thread!" he quotes, describing Algerian hospitals as lacking in all departments: no alcohol, no compresses, an unmotivated paramedical staff, lack of hygiene, discouraged medical professors...
Algerian internet showed a sense of humour about the president's absence.
Not long after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was admitted to the French military hospital, a request surfaced on Facebook: 'The Algerian people want to go to France to visit the president in the hospital."
Property purchasing in South Africa is being driven by a younger generation that relies on the Internet for information, bond originator ooba said.
Its research showed that the average age of first-time property buyers was 33, and that of people applying for an ooba bond 37.
Chief operations officer Rhys Dyer said in a statement most of this younger market had used e-mail addresses for most of their adult lives.
"... [They] have used search engines over any other reference tool when they're looking for information, have Facebook profiles, and interact with friends and brands on Twitter.
"Naturally, when considering buying a house, the internet is the first place they'll look," Dyer said.
The company's online bond affordability calculator recorded a 28 percent increase in page views over the last year, compared with the previous year.
Bond applications through ooba's website increased 48.6 percent in the first quarter of 2013, compared with the previous quarter.
Dyer said this was significant growth, even when an improved property market was taken into account.
"Because of this, we've made sure that our website offers increased visibility and navigability of the services that our clients want to access..."
Since at least 39 percent of urban South Africans used their cellphones to browse the internet, ooba had created a mobile version of its website to cater for this market.
Estate agents also increasingly used online services and social media to market properties.
"A personal referral from a friend is still the most likely way for an estate agent to gain business, but now 'personal' can mean digital, and 'friend' can mean any of your Twitter followers who see your query."
The company offered a service where clients could chat online with home finance experts during business hours.
Clients could make their home loan applications face-to-face, telephonically, or online.
The Somali and Kenyan youth have been cautioned against being recruited to the al Shabbab terror group through the social media.
Speaking at a social media forum that brought together Kenya and Somali youth at Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi yesterday, Somali Ambasador to Senegal Mohamed Hussein Owliyo and Somali's former director of National Security Intelligence Ahmed Moalim said terror groups like al Shabbab have shifted to recruiting youth through social media.
"They can send you a friend request on Facebook, follow you on twitter and get to know more about you. The information you post on twitter or Facebook is never safe," Owliyo said.
Rural Kenyans are now able to access data of various institutions in the fields of agriculture, health and education by sending a text to a smartphone-based data management system application.
The application has been under development for the last two months and holds the data of different companies and institutions, as well as their products, services and prices in case one is looking to buy something or find out the expenses they would incur if they were to undertake a certain project.
Speaking to HumanIPO, the innovator of the application David Obuola said: “This data management system will help rural people as most cannot be able to access the internet, it will work as a mini internet for villagers.”
Reporters Without Borders condemns the government’s blocking of access to Facebook and certain opposition websites since 12 May. The targets include the site of the main opposition party, Convergence For Social Democracy (CPDS), which is fielding candidates for the 26 May parliamentary and municipal elections.
At the same time, the website of the ruling Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE) continues to be fully accessible.
“This act of censorship at President Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s behest is disgraceful and constitutes a grave violation of freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We condemn this presidential offensive against the democratic process, especially in the immediate run-up to elections.”
Agence France-Presse correspondent Samuel Obiang Mbana reported: “Facebook has been deactivated throughout Equatorial Guinea at the request of the president’s office and the government following the announcement of an anti-Obiang demonstration by students and government opponents for 15 May.”
South Africa's Afrihost is reducing the cost of excess web traffic and disk space charges on cloud hosting packages. Additional web traffic usage will now cost ZAR 3.50 per GB, down by 50 percent from the previous rate, while excess disk space will be cut by 64 percent from ZAR 2.50 per GB to 90 cents per GB. As an additional benefit to existing cloud hosting clients, current Gold and Platinum Cloud clients will be upgraded to Enterprise Cloud Bronze and Gold respectively to enjoy more resources and better performance, while still saving ZAR 100 per month. Afrihost will also be dropping its management fee for both regular and enterprise cloud hosting from ZAR 1,000 per month to ZAR 500 per month.
Nigerian operator Globacom has launched Infinitiser, a post-paid product that enables subscribers to use the full range of Glo services with the convenience of a single monthly bill, rather than recharging different voice and data accounts. Also, subscribers can make free calls to 26 million subscribers on the Glo network once the beneficiaries pay the monthly subscription fee of NGN 5,000. It is aimed at existing and new pre-paid and post-paid customers and also offers 1 GB of free monthly data. Calls to other networks will be charged at NGN 0.25 per second, on-net SMS at NGN 4 per message and international calls at NGN 9 per minute to seven destinations, namely the US, UK landlines, Canada, India, China, Singapore and Hong Kong.
MEF Connects Kenya
May 22 2013
Sankara Hotel, Nairobi
MEF brings Kenya's mobile industry leaders to networking event
The first-ever MEF Connects Kenya event is aimed at bringing together the country's leading mobile phone industry leaders.
For more information please contact Jo Crawshaw, General Manager, MEF Africa on email@example.com
Card, ATM & Mobile Expo Africa 2013
11 – 13 June 2013
Eko Hotel & Suites, Lagos, Nigeria
Card, ATM & Mobile Expo 2013 will showcase innovation and new differentiated products, bring about new relationships, brainstorm strategies to increase your competitive advantage, forge lasting partnerships and reach new uncultivated segments. This three-day event will provide a special opportunity for networking and follow up on business leads.
For more information about CardExpo, please contact:
M: +234 8023243412
For more information visit the website here:
TMT Finance & Investment Africa 2013
20 June 2013
Grand Connaught Rooms Covent Garden, London
The conference brings together African telecom CEOs, CFOs and strategy heads with investment bankers, financiers, regulators and advisers, to assess investment opportunities and partnerships. The conference is produced by TMT Finance, publishers of TMT Finance News - the leading news source for telecom financing and investment activity globally. Register for a free subscription here:
For more information on TMT Finance & Investment Africa 2013 visit the website
The Social Media Week Lagos Team is excited to announce that our official schedule is now LIVE and registration is open!
At present we have 84 events scheduled and will be adding some very exciting evening events that will soon be announced. We ask that you please join us in letting your readers, network and the world know that Africa did not disappoint and we are delivering a world-class event. Social Media Week Lagos is truly history in the making and we invite the world to take part.
You can find the SMW Lagos schedule here:
See this link for our 30 second spot that starts airing next week across the continent on Channel O TV: Download Link for SMW Lagos Media Package:
09 - 12 September 2013
Thaba Ya Batswana, Impala Road, Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Now in its second decade, iWeek brings together everybody who matters in the Internet industry—and then some. It provides an important platform for established players to interact with start-ups and visionaries, and for the South African industry to connect with international experts. This year’s event will be focusing on bringing some of the globe’s most important thinkers to South Africa to act as a catalyst for lively discussion and new ideas.
Miriam Altman to head Telkom strategy
Telkom has tapped a member of Trevor Manuel’s National Planning Commission as its new head of strategy. Miriam Altman will join the troubled telecommunications operator on 1 June.
Altman, who will report directly to newly appointed Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko, will support the development and execution of Telkom’s strategy, the company says in a statement.
Nigeria’s First Lady To Champion Global Child Online Protection
Nigeria’s First Lady, Patience Jonathan has been appointed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Multilateral Partnership against Cyber Threats (IMPACT) to champion the union’s Global Child Online Protection (COP).
The Child Online Protection initiative aims to identify risks and vulnerabilities to children in cyberspace, create awareness, develop practical tools to help minimize risk, and share knowledge and experience.
As the new leader of ITU’s COP, Jonathan will work toward creating a safe environment for children while they are on the internet, as well as push for reforms not only in the Africa region but across the globe.