Nigeria’s Medallion Communications makes interconnection in a complex liberalised market much easier and will offer facilities in 4 more cities
Liberalised markets create competition and that creates more operators in the market. But all those voice and data operators don’t usually operate in isolation: nearly all of them have to connect together to deliver voice and data. Russell Southwood spoke to Ike Nnamani, CEO of Medallion Communications about the the “carrier hotel” he provides.
The larger and more complex markets in Sub-Saharan Africa may have anything from 50 to several hundred companies providing voice and data services to different parts of the market. If you try and draw what it would be like if each one connected individually to each other, you end up with a very messy ball of spaghetti.
In South Africa, independent data centre Teraco provides a “meet point” for operators so that it can exchange traffic with others in one place. Also national IXPs allow local data traffic to be exchanged between members, an increasingly important role as the volume of local African content increases. With cloud-based, value-added services on the rise, the situation can only get more complex.
Ike Nnamani came home in 2003 and by 2006 had set up Medallion Communications with a couple of friends. He had seen what happened elsewhere and knew it would be needed in Nigeria:”The idea came from my global experience in Canada and the USA. All over the world there are telehouses which are the ‘meet points’ for the industry. For example, you have Telehouse in London and similar ones in the USA.”
So Mediallion Communications provides four core services: interconnection between operators; a clearinghouse for interconnected calls; co-location in either private or meet-me rooms; and an aggregation of VAS providers (including bulk SMS aggregators, mobile money service providers, .ng servers, the Nigerian Internet Exchange and Google). It has almost every carrier or operator of any significance as its customer.
All international fibre capacity is distributed through its facilities. Some people buy into all of its services, whilst others may only choose one. It has two physical facilities, one on Victoria Island in Lagos and the other in Abuja. It has expansion plans to set up facilities in other cities including Port Harcourt, Enugu, Ibadan and Kano and these will be completed before the end of the year.
Its clearinghouse service creates independent call records for interconnected calls. Therefore if there is a dispute between carriers it can be settled on the basis of these records:”We charge per minute of the call and it's at a cost base plus rate agreed with the companies. It’s the same with data but it’s megabytes instead of minutes.’ Voice traffic has increased over 1000% per cent as more operators have come in and seen the need to share infrastructure.
This kind of facility is essential for the new emerging online space in Nigeria using smartphones:”What we’ve done is make it cheaper and more efficient for them to operate. Firstly, the ISPs can interface with the local Google cache and this saves a lot of money on international bandwidth which is a major advantage”.
“Secondly, we’ve put infrastructure in that can serve content to local carriers and there’s lots of that. There’s also lots of commercialisation of e-commerce. You can’t pay with Visa or Mastercard but things can be done locally, using Interswitch. The important part is the convergence of technology, creating an enabling environment for everyone to do their core business.”
These kind of “meet points” are essential for any market that has operators that need to interconnect and will be an essential hub for serving local content and e-commerce services. A transition will take place in more mature markets from individual “meet points” between operators to the creation of independent, trusted facilities of this kind. It’s another form of privately run, shared infrastructure that will save costs and time.
Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act’s web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has launched a new e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it will cover online film, music, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 20 issues and these can be viewed on this link:
Essential reading for those in mobile VAS to anyone just interested in what African and relevant international content they can now get online. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to email@example.com with Digital Content Africa in the title line. Some examples of past issues below:
Digital Content Africa Z24: The South African TV announcer who runs a fashion blog from Moscow which she is going to turn into a business
Digital Content Africa Z19 – The Mobile Deal that is keeping Africans from having more music, film and TV on their mobiles
Digital Content Africa Z16 - MTN Play Côte d’Ivoire is looking for digital content that will play well on mobile phones
Videos interviews to watch:
Nicola D'Elia on Facebook as an "on-ramp" for Africa's first-time Internet users
For breaking news, follow us on Twitter: @BalancingActAfr
Ecobank Transnational Inc. and MasterCard customers will now be able to use their MasterCard prepaid, debit and credit cards at Ecobank’s ATMs and Point of Sale terminals in 28 African countries, significantly boosting card acceptance on the continent.
“Expanding MasterCard’s acceptance in 28 countries across Ecobank’s network is a significant milestone for us as we work together to accelerate the adoption of electronic payments and create a cashless society in Africa,” said Daniel Monehin, division president, Sub-Saharan Africa, MasterCard. “Through this partnership, we have combined MasterCard’s global payment technology with Ecobank’s unrivalled pan-African footprint to give our cardholders more convenient, secure and reliable ways to pay.”
Ecobank subsidiaries now accept MasterCard-branded cards in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“This partnership forms part of our broader retail banking strategy of providing Ecobank customers with enhanced service levels, which exceed their expectations,” explained Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s group executive, Head of Domestic Bank. “Our unique platform gives our customers easy access to their Ecobank accounts when travelling, be it on business or for pleasure, without the need for carrying cash.”
The combination of a rapidly expanding middle class and steadily improving financial literacy, supported by robust technology, is increasing the appetite for card usage in Africa.
Governments are rapidly driving the conversion from cash to electronic payments as they too realise the benefits of a cashless society, namely increased transparency, cost effectiveness, financial inclusion, foreign investment and economic growth.
“The increased number of MasterCard acceptance locations in Africa means that more cardholders and merchants will be introduced to the security and convenience of electronic payments, while enjoying protection from the risks and costs associated with cash. This is especially important in many African countries where cash has been the prevalent or only payment option,” Monehin said.
MasterCard and Ecobank are also looking to expand across West, Central, East and Southern Africa and will soon add a further four African markets to those already accepting MasterCard-branded cards, namely Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, São Tomé and Principe and South Sudan.
Local internet access provider Africom has introduced a new product called the Africom MiChoice Package which gives users unlimited access to common social media and messaging platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype and Viber as well as unlimited access to emails.
The package is available with a $5 weekly, $10 fortnightly and a $25 monthly package. According to Africom the monthly package is more expensive than its weekly and fortnightly variant because it comes with a data allowance that subscriber can use for downloads.
For the $5 and $10 bundle a subscriber has unlimited access to websites but cannot download content.
The $25 monthly package is limited to 2G of downloads, which means torrents are out of the question. In case you want to enjoy the benefits of the MiChoice Package and still download content you have the option to top up your Africom account for that.
GLO Prive, a unique club for premium subscribers on the Glo network, will be launched on Wednesday, October 1.The club will offer a unique bouquet of privileges for the top segment of its customer base.
A statement by the company in Lagos, said “Glo Prive, is designed to accord premium recognition and offer special privileges to high value subscribers on the Glo network”
The benefits will be unveiled at a high profile launch ceremony scheduled for the Grand Ball Room of Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Globacom explained that Nigeria’s independence day was chosen for the launch event because it is a public holiday and, as such, offered the ideal setting for guests to relax and soak in the thrilling offers being unveiled.
Although different packages targeted at premium customers already exist in Nigeria’s telecommunications market, Glo Prive is said to be refreshingly different as its offers from both Glo and its partners, comprising leading service providers in other sectors of the economy, are unmatched by any other such product.
Aerzen, 15 September 2014: Onlime announced signing of the contract during the IBC event in Amsterdam with Gazprom Space Systems taking capacity on Yamal-402 satellite to increase Ku offering addressing a growing demand in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Onlime has full Ku and C-Band satellite coverage for VSAT services over the African continent, providing reliable business communications solutions to the enterprise market, whether directly through one of its own offices or via its substantial network of partners and VSAT resellers. Excellent coverage and the reliability of Yamal-402, in combination, with its long expected life, makes it a good fit for further penetration into many markets within its footprint, allowing for small VSAT terminals to be deployed in majority of locations in Africa. Onlime services include enterprise quality VoIP across Africa.
Source: Company Press Release
Vodacom has unveiled the next development in 4G technology, capable of downloading an entire 1Gb movie in less than a minute. This is the first time that this has been achieved on a live mobile network in South Africa using a smartphone, and shows the potential of mobile technology to supply the country’s broadband needs into the future.
During the test, which was conducted directly on a mobile handset and used carrier aggregation technology, download speeds of 270 Mbit/s were achieved. At this speed an entire music album could be downloaded in 10 seconds. This is approximately four times faster than the fastest speed achieved with LTE technology on Vodacom’s network.
Speaking about this test, Vodacom Group’s Chief Technology Officer Andries Delport said: “Vodacom prides itself on innovation and being the first to bring new developments to South Africa, and this next step in 4G technology gives an idea of just how far mobile technology has evolved.”
These trials follow the recent completion of a multi-billion rand six year-long radio network renewal programme which has seen every single Vodacom base station in South Africa replaced with new equipment.
Delport said: “We’ve just completed the longest and probably the most complex engineering project in Vodacom’s history which involved switching out the equipment at every single site across the country. This new equipment means that all of our base stations are 4G ready, meaning that Vodacom is ideally positioned to support Government’s broadband objectives. We’re looking forward to rolling this higher speed technology out as soon as additional spectrum becomes available.
“In addition to this, the new equipment is more easily configured to handle future upgrades and is better for the environment, with reduced energy consumption and a smaller footprint compared to the old technology. Thanks to this project, Vodacom’s South African network is amongst the most advanced in the world.”
The upgrade programme, which began in Mpumalanga in June 2008, was completed on 15 September 2014 in the Free State and consisted of swapping out the equipment in over 10,000 base stations. The net effect of this investment project is that Vodacom customers will have an improved network experience with faster data speeds, more stability and fewer dropped calls.
Delport concluded: “The radio network swap project is about much more than superfast speeds. We’ve also been investing heavily to make sure that we have the capacity to handle the massive growth in call and particularly data volumes in South Africa. Broadband access is one of the keys to economic development and thanks to this project we’re ready and able to play our part.”
Source: Company Press Release 24 September
The Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) plans to roll out its LTE network countrywide next year following successful trials. The company said it is currently pre-testing the 4G network in readiness for a commercial roll-out next year.
Zamtel launched its 4G network in Kitwe in January this year. The company also set also set up a walk-in 4G live experimental centre at its Kitwe office for customers to experience the technology.
But the company has said it plans rolling out the network in other towns next year in order to push for the delivery of advanced mobile communications services.
“Our 4G trials have been successful. We are currently pre-testing the 4G network in readiness for commercial launch next year,” said Zamtel chief executive officer Dr. Mupanga Mwanakatwe.Zambia will join MTN Zambia on the commercial roll-out of the 4G network in the country.
On 20 September 2014 Orange Senegal, the wholly owned subsidiary of Senegalese incumbent Sonatel, announced the latest phase of its on-going LTE deployment, launching a pilot trial in Saly, in Mbour department, less than a year after a successful test in Dakar in October 2013. Orange Senegal is one of the few operators in Africa to have dipped its toe in the 4G pond, and currently holds a permit to test services from the regulator, L’Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes (ARTP). The cellco says its 4G pilot is now live in 40 locations including a dozen in the Petite Cote area (i.e. around Mbour, Saly, Somone and Ndiass Saly). The others are located in Dakar and all provide speeds of up to ten times those available on the operator’s 3G+ network.
Orange Senegal rivals Tigo, a subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular (MIC), and Expresso Telecom (Senegal), have also been granted temporary authorisations by the regulator ARTP to carry out their own 4G trials over the period to 31 December 2014.
PCCW Global, the international operating division of HKT, Hong Kong's premier telecommunications service provider, and Telma the number one national telecommunications operator in Madagascar, have signed the first international MPLS interconnection for Madagascar. Telma is Madagascar’s telecommunications leader in fixed, mobile, Internet, capacity (through the EASSY submarine cable and the 6,000km+ national fiber optic backbone), and mobile money.
This will result in Telma’s Ethernet and IP VPN coverage being extended across PCCW Global's resilient MPLS network, which reaches 3,000 cities in more than 130 countries, plus connectivity to and from Madagascar via major submarine cable systems including EASSY.
In addition, the agreement will give PCCW Global greater local access to Madagascar cities, including Antananarivo the capital city and to the other major hubs. Madagascar is the world’s fourth largest island and is located in the Indian Ocean of the Southeast coast of Africa.
Importantly, this new interconnect agreement will boost business development in Africa, a significant market for both PCCW Global and Telma.
Source: Company Press Release 24 September 2014
Mobile network operator Smart Telecom Burundi (formerly Lacell SU) launched its new 3G service on 5 September in and around the capital Bujumburo, according to its website.
The operator’s ‘Smart Bouquet Internet’ packages are available in a wide range of flavours to provide flexibility to customers, with access prices starting at BIF299 (USD0.195) for a 24-hour pass with 20MB of downloads, rising to BIF38,000 for a 30-day access and a 7GB data cap. It is also offering off-peak (i.e. midnight until 6.00am) access for BIF99 per 200MB and a weekend pass for BIF999, which includes 100 minutes of voice calls, 50 SMS and 200MB of downloads.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Smart Telecom Burundi is a partnership of Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) Kenya (a division of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development [AKFED]) and Cyprus-based, Russian-owned Timeturns Holdings. The cellco was originally wholly-owned by Timeturns, before AKFED/IPS took a majority stake in Timeturns’ portfolio of operations in Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania.
Source: Telecomist 22 September 2014
Mobile operator Vodacom is preparing to extend its network coverage to two underserved central provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), BizTechAfrica reports. The cellco is set to deploy around 61 antennas in remote areas of Kasai-Occidental (Western Kasai) and Kasai-Oriental (Eastern Kasai), which between them are home to a total of around 15 million people. The latter is said to be one of the richest diamond producing regions in the world. According to its website, Vodacom DRC currently offers mobile coverage of all ten Congolese provinces, as well as ‘city-province’ Kinshasa. The cellco currently covers twelve towns in Kasai-Occidental and 19 in Kasai-Oriental.
The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) has released a draft Position Paper on Spectrum, and last week hosted the second Future Wireless Technologies Forum, as part of iWeek, at the Indaba Hotel in Johannesburg. Both these initiatives are for the purpose of giving real-world examples and industry insight to the Regulator and to policymakers. This context will better enable the various government bodies to achieve their stated objectives.
South Africa Connect (SA Connect) outlines broad and ambitious goals for connectivity in order to, among other things, promote the competitiveness of the South African economy. Goals include having access of at least 5Mbps for 50% of the population by 2016 and 90% by 2020.
Within SA Connect there are several elements that are particularly relevant to the Position Paper on Spectrum and the Future Wireless Technologies Forum, which focused on licence-exempt spectrum:
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS, formerly the Department of Communications) issued a directive in SA Connect “to release high demand spectrum in ways that encourage efficient use, wholesale access, and fair competition” (Appendix 2 page 56)
The DTPS will be “issuing the necessary policy directives to the ICASA to expedite the assignment of broadband spectrum.” (page 5)
The DTPS will “undertake a review of all relevant legislation and regulation required to enable implementation of this policy” (Appendix 2 page 56; ‘this policy’ being SA Connect)
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) recently published a Strategic Plan for 2015-2019, which contains a target for 2014-15: “Position Paper on opportunistic spectrum management approved and results gazetted.”
The WAPA Position Paper on Spectrum can be considered a key input to the work ICASA is undertaking.
Licensed spectrum allows service providers exclusive access to certain spectral frequencies, enabling them to deliver services without the concern of interference from other users of the spectrum. Licence-exempt spectrum can be prone to interference from multiple users, but the costs to build and deliver services over these frequencies is lower, enabling new companies and SMMEs to innovate, thereby increasing competition and lowering the cost of communication.
Currently, some spectrum bands are heavily used while other bands are unused or under-utilised. There are many wireless devices which are widely and safely used in other countries, which cannot presently be deployed in South Africa. This limits the abilities of the Internet service providers to innovate with technology in order to drive down the cost of communications. Ways to solve this include:
- More efficient use and management of spectrum that has already been allocated
- Expanding the range of frequencies allowed within existing allocations
- Allocate or re-allocate spectrum based on international best practices and the latest equipment technologies, to relieve pressure in other frequencies
In its Position Paper on Spectrum, WAPA has provided specific recommendations for the most efficient use of individual frequency bands, as well as general principles for allocation, licensing, and management. WAPA promotes spectrum allocation as licence-exempt where practical, because the lower costs involved in delivering services in those bands promotes innovation among SMMEs, including WAPA members.
In the Future Wireless Technologies Forum, industry experts explore technology opportunities and constraints, industry best practices, and suggest changes to existing regulations in order to better enable the policy and regulatory objectives above.
Some of the key discussions at last week’s event included:
Recommendation that 24GHz (currently allocated for short-range devices and field disturbance and Dopplar apparatus) should be allocated for point-to-point backhaul, preferably on a licence-exempt basis, in order to relieve congestion in 2.4GHz and 5.8GHz
Key principles for spectrum policy should include a process to enable rapid assignment, technologies and regulation to enable rapid deployment, and ability to identify interference rapidly and cost-effectively
General consensus that a database approach for spectrum sharing, along the lines of the TVWS approach, will be used in future across multiple frequencies, although the specifics in a South African context have yet to be agreed
WAPA as an industry body, and its members via working groups and the Future Wireless Technologies Forum, hope to provide clear, relevant, and useful feedback to the Regulator and the DTPS.
Source: Company Press Release, 23 September 2014
South African consumers will soon be able to quench their thirst and check their e-mail at the same time. Coca-Cola and BT Global Services have announced plans to offer free Wi-Fi Internet access in impoverished communities using Coke’s vending machines.
BT – formerly British Telecom – will provide connectivity, support and business training as part of the roll-out.
The pilot project has been launched in the rural Eastern Cape and in rural Mpumalanga. Sites were chosen for their accessibility to local communities, the companies said.
The first site is at the Sasol Integrated Energy Centre in Qunu, near Mtata. “This is a popular spot for locals and is in close proximity to a taxi rank, attracting large numbers of people,” they said. The centre is managed by a predominantly female co-operative, which will benefit from the increased flow of people. The second site is located at Thokozane Fast Food situated in Bushbuckridge.
Both outlets are in the vicinity of shopping centres and schools.
Internet access is offered for free via Wi-Fi without any purchase requirement of any kind and is accessible for the duration of the time spent at the outlets.
The companies intend to install “Wi-Fi coolers” in various parts of South Africa over time.
Coca-Cola South Africa chief information officer David Visser said that providing access to free Wi-Fi will allow students and schoolchildren to “increase their knowledge through research while also giving entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community the opportunity to manage some of their business aspects online”.
Kenya has been picked to host a public domain server, in a more than Sh13.2 billion ($150 million) ICT Infrastructure development project that promises faster and cheaper internet access to consumers in Africa. Such a platform enables one’s computer or phone locate addresses of websites and apps that he or she wants to connect to.
Currently, Kenya and other economies in the continent depend on severs by big companies like Google, hosted outside the continent, taking a lot of time to connect to various websites. The new development is expected to lower connection period from 180 milliseconds to slightly lower than 20 milliseconds.
An independent data, voice and IP provider, Liquid Telecom has confirmed it will start rolling out its own domains in Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa over the next three months.
The Econet Wireless Global subsidiary that launched operations in the country last year said it is investing in a project that will deliver data over more efficient fiber optic lines without greater speed restrictions.
“Lack of high speed last mile connectivity still hampers effective uptake of internet services in the country and larger sub-Saharan Africa,” said Liquid Telecom Kenya chief executive officer Ben Roberts.
More houses and corporates are not connected to the fibre network, with the sub-Saharan region having a 36 per cent connection rate. The company has already spent $20 million (Sh1.7 billion) out of $50 million (Sh4.3 billion) budgeted for Kenya in fibre network development and expansion of its data centre.
Angolan cable TV operator TVCabo has sponsored the Angola Music Awards, an annual initiative that rewards local music. Besides being the general sponsor, TVCabo provided internet during the event, which was held during the National Festival of Culture (Fenacult).
A report by Finx tthis week says that Microsoft’s President for Microsoft Middle East & Africa (MEA), Ali Faramawy, is currently in Zimbabwe to forge a partnership with the government so they can “to simplify, standardise as well as integrate [Zimbabwean government ICT] systems.”
On what work the software giant will do, Zimbabwe’s top tax man, Geshem Pasi, is quoted in the report:
“Microsoft will support us to improve efficiency and minimise ICT costs as well as implement centralised and standardise solutions across Government, contributing towards reducing software piracy and that also include security enhancement.”
This, the report say, includes assisting the government with its results based management system, development and maintenance of Ministries’ websites, building ICT knowledge and capacity as well as provision of ICT gadgets for top government officials.
Microsoft is also apparently now considering opening an office officially in the country. During Zimbabwe’s decade of hyperinflation between 2000 and 2010, Microsoft shut down their Zimbabwe official office and only operated in the country through accredited local partners.
Unfortunately, the report doesn’t say much in terms of the specifics of the new partnership on what the government will get in software and service and the size of the deal in cash for licenses Microsoft will get. Globally, Microsoft is facing increased pressure as mobile devices take over consumer computing and increasingly eat away their domination in their enterprise market as well. As the enterprise also increasingly starts experimenting with cloud based solutions for document processing and email, Microsoft is facing stiffer competition from companies like Google.
Prefabricated data centre specialist Flexenclosure says that it has received a second large order from MTN C te d'Ivoire for a customised eCentre. The two technical facilities are the first prefabricated data centre buildings ever to be deployed in the country.
Consisting of an 84sqm hosted data centre, a 168sqm switching centre and an 84sqm energy centre, the facility is to be installed and commissioned in the city of Bingerville in the eastern part of Abidjan - the economic capital of Ivory Coast - in October 2014.
The new eCentre will have the dual role of both a switching centre and a data centre where MTN's data customers can be hosted. The facility has been customised for MTN and will be delivered as a full turnkey project including civil works and installation of the eCentre modules.
Leadcom, a system integrator, is Flexenclosure's local partner in Ivory Coast and will be responsible for the civil works portion of the project, supporting Flexenclosure's team in the installation and commissioning of the eCentre.
Source: Company Press Release
Kenya’s Jubilee Coalition laptop project tender that had been issued has yet again dismissed by judges, now the tendering process will have to start all over again and will take at least six months and in addition to that the first deliveries will be delayed by months.
Justices George Odunga, Francis Gikonyo and Weldon Korir declared the Sh24 billion laptop tender that was awarded to Olive Telecommunications PVT Ltd of India, flawed.
It all started when the public procurement board cancelled the contract awarded to Indian firm Olive Telecommunications PVT Ltd because it had not marched up the financial requirement set in the tender document and was not an original equipment manufacturer.
Jacob Kaimenyi, Education Cabinet Secretary said the Government will abide by the ruling, adding, he hoped this time losing bidders will not launch appeals and stall the process further.
Jubilee had promised to issue the computers in its first year in office. The whole process began last year in august where the Government asked companies to bid for the provision of laptops, printers and projectors for all the public schools in the country, for a sum of Ksh53.2 billion.
Even after the likes of Microsoft, among other companies, had expressed their interest the government cancelled the tender later in October and called for another tender claiming that the bidders had exceeded the budgetary projections.
Later in march Olive was declared the winner of the tender, beating Hewlett Packard and Haier Electrical Appliances Limited.
HP then accused the government of awarding the tender to Olive unfairly since it did not meet the basic tendering requirements as Olive does not manufacture devices on its own and subcontracts Chinese companies to make Olive-branded devices, contrary to the tender rules that required all bidders be original equipment manufacturers.
According to the government, the company was awarded the tender based on the fact that it had placed the lowest bid of Sh22 billion shillings compared to the Sh23 billion bid by HP and Haier’s Sh24 billion.
Music recording firm Candy Records has launched an online channel that seeks to offer exposure and boost upcoming and underground talent.
During its first day after the official launch on Monday, more than 235 upcoming artistes had created their profiles and uploaded their music audios and videos on the platform dubbed Candy Clear Channel. According to the label's artistes and relations manager Winnie Oketch, the signed-up artistes will be treated to the most personalised music experience.
"This platform has been created in order to support the rising need of upcoming artistes who have the talent but lack the support to boost their motivation to succeed in the industry. Not only are we enabling them to get recognition but also providing an opportunity for them to benefit with mentorship and support from established artistes.
One of the artistes Missed Kyal said, "I am so happy as this platform is a fantastic idea and will make my music reach a lot of people."
Talent accelerator, Andela has marked its official launch with a seed round of funding to train another set of developers in Africa.
The bright developers chosen by the startup for the training will earn up to $500 monthly stipend (over N80,000), while they get trained to become world-class developers ready to satisfy the need of top firms globally, who require quality.
The company, which is dedicated to eliminating the global skills gap recognizes that while aptitude is evenly distributed, opportunity is not.
“With the fastest growing and youngest population in the world, Africa is the largest market of untapped talent. Our goal is to tap into this brilliance to bring the world’s brightest minds to firms looking for quality developers,” said Jeremy Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Andela.
A serial education technology entrepreneur and co-founder of 2U, Johnson said the support currently being enjoyed by several seasoned investors attests to the value Andela is capable of bringing partners, including U.S. and European technology and service companies.
Chris Hughes, owner and publisher of The New Republic and Facebook co-founder, who is also an investor in the seed round, also acknowledged the stress technology firms go through while trying to find the skills they need. “Andela promises to give companies access to previously untapped talent while creating an on-ramp to the digital economy for brilliant young people,” Hughes said.
The company, which has been in private (closed) beta since June, connects world-class developers it produces with top employers globally. Coders in Nigeria’s commercial and tech hub Lagos were the first to enjoy Andela’s training. 5,200 applicants competed for the first 28 slots (an acceptance rate of 0.53 percent) for Andela’s inaugural class of developers. The first class which was taught by senior developers in Lagos boasts of 100 percent retention rates and were paid $500 monthly stipend during the program.
As Andela Fellows, students complement their studies with work as remote developers for tech companies during the four-year program. They learn the MEAN stack (Mongo.db, Express, Angular and Node.js) through a combination of individual work and projects in groups of 2-6 students.
Andela coders undergo ongoing professional development and have a minimum of 1,000 hours of coding experience, which is largely responsible for their quality.
“The caliber of talent at Andela ranks in the top 1 percent of all workers being assessed on our systems worldwide,” Neil MacGregor, CEO of Plum.io, an pre-employment assessment company, affirmed.
According to him, an Andela developer ranks among the brightest recruits anywhere.
Andela enjoys immense support from investors, including Steve Case, Omidyar Network, Founder Collective, Rothenberg Ventures, Learn Capital, Melo7 Tech Partners, and Chris Hughes. The size of the round is however undisclosed.
Johnson remains committed to training and mentorship of Africans to prepare them for full-time developers’ role for companies around the world.
He sees the program as a platform that could equip brilliant young African students with the developer skills essential for meeting high demand from tech companies.
“By valuing aptitude, motivation and grit over previous experience, we can connect companies looking for strong technical talent with top students,” the Andela CEO says, adding that, “When students are ready to work with companies, they’re extraordinary.”
In our series of letters from African journalists, writer and novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani looks at the online battle hotting up ahead of next year's elections in Nigeria.
When it comes to providing work for idle minds, the devil seems to have a particular fondness for Nigerian youths, especially around election times.
Most elections conducted in Nigeria over the past decades have been characterised by thuggery.
Politicians turn to the country's pool of unemployed millions to recruit young people who will aid their democratic ambitions.
These youths are then trained and empowered to manipulate the electoral climate.
Their job description includes anything from intimidating political opponents to seizing ballot boxes and clobbering uncooperative electoral officers.
But times are definitely changing.
Rather than supplying them with machetes, missiles and matches, Nigerian politicians are now arming their hirelings with laptops, smart phones and internet connections.
Political thuggery has gone digital.
As Nigeria gears up for the 2015 general elections, squads of young people are being recruited across the nation to storm cyberspace: To harass, intimidate and persecute their employer's opponents or those with views that oppose his ambitions.
Some work from home; others work from an office - many work round the clock.
I spoke to a 28-year-old chemistry graduate who patrols the online war front for one of Nigeria's popular politicians.
Every morning, he gets dressed and embarks on a 20-minute drive to work, where he sits in an office with dozens of other young people on the same mission as himself.
With a burst of laughter, he summarised his job description in three words: "Distort public opinion".
He and his colleagues have about 10 different pseudonyms each for news websites and blogs, but fewer for Facebook and Twitter.
They bombard articles about their politician with positive comments, and blast those of his opponents with negative posts.
"I usually use corruption and ethnicity to attack," he said.
Some months ago, he was engaged in the exact opposite: Maligning his current employer.
At the time, he was working in an enemy camp, but the pay and conditions were not as favourable as those offered him now.
"They had promised us jobs," he said, "but when the time came, they offered all the positions to people from their constituency."
Another young man told me that certain online platforms, especially newspapers, block any comments his team members post in support of their candidate.
Others allow support for his principal, and disallow negativity from enemy camps.
It all depends on whose payroll the newspaper's online editor has been signed.
These internet warriors, while not stealing ballot boxes or bullying electoral officers, are manipulating the electoral climate.
Public opinion is being rigged.
At this rate, the forthcoming elections will be full of many surprises, especially for those who depend on online forums to gauge Nigerians' sentiments on any issue.
Meanwhile, the multitude of Nigerians who actually go out to stand in the rain or sun for hours to vote on election day, often do not have internet connections in their shacks.
Being an internet warrior certainly comes across as a more acceptable form of thuggery than ripping shirts and hurling stones in the streets.
Brain instead of brawn. No bones broken, no limbs amputated, no blood shed, no lives lost.
The pseudonymous adversaries may even be best friends.
At the close of business, they shut their laptops and meet at the pepper-soup joint down the road for a stout, the day's vicious tasks safely behind their screens.
Nigerian voters queue as they wait to cast their ballots on 26 April 2011 at a polling station in Jos Many voters in Nigeria will not have access to the internet
But what will become of all these recruits when the 2015 battles have been lost or won?
Despite the promises that may have been made to them, not all will be given better jobs or government appointments.
The Niger Delta oil militants who terrorised southern Nigeria a few years ago were reported to be thugs used during election campaigning who suddenly found themselves jobless - but adequately armed after the ballots had been cast.
Some of the Boko Haram insurgents currently terrorising the north were also born out of a similarly expired campaign contract.
Increased armed robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in different parts of Nigeria after elections have also been linked to youths with weapons who find an alternative use for them.
I wonder what these armies of young Nigerians will do with their laptops, smart phones and internet connections after the 2015 electoral battle - which many politicians view as Armageddon - is over.
Source: Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani for the BBC 23 September 2014
Samsung Electronics South Africa has announced that it will be adding the SuperSport app to its Smart Hub solution on Samsung Smart TVs. This will allow users to stream and watch highlights of their favourite sports within minutes of the game ending at no cost, other than fees incurred for data. The app also provides Sport News, fixtures, logs and live score updates.
Johan Huyser from DStv Digital Media says, “Our partnership with Samsung SA enables us to take the experience of sport to a level never seen until now. It is all about enhancing people’s enjoyment of what SuperSport has to offer and making sure that we deliver, to some of the world's most passionate fans, the perfect accompaniment.”
Available on all Samsung Smart TVs and selected audio-visual products, Smart Hub allows users to search and access specific content quickly and easily via various apps, which provides users with better control of their entertainment experience.
Ansgar Pabst, business lead for TV/AV at Samsung SA concludes, “We live in an age in which consumer satisfaction is of utter importance and understanding the consumer’s needs and the way they commune around technology and entertainment is essential. A one size fits all approach is doomed to fail. What drives consumers to adopt a concept, a service or a product is all about what’s in it for them - the more relevant to their lifestyle, the higher the value add, the better the deal.”
Millicom has also formed a partnership with one of Africa’s digital music companies, Africori, to fund, acquire and manage music rights through “Africa Music Rights” (AMR) to which Millicom will contribute a significant majority of the initial investment.
Millicom has unveiled Tigo Music and Africa Music Rights, two initiatives that are intended to introduce its digital music experience into Africa. Tigo Music is set to launch across Millicom’s African operations, starting in Ghana in the fourth quarter. Bundled as part of pre-paid data plans, the service will offer unlimited music streaming with instant access to a library of more than 30 million songs.
According to the company, Tigo Music is already present in Latin America with 600,000 subscribers. To add to this, Millicom has also formed a partnership with one of Africa’s digital music companies, Africori, to fund, acquire and manage music rights through “Africa Music Rights” (AMR) to which Millicom will contribute a significant majority of the initial investment. AMR will serve the whole continent, where 70 percent of music consumed is locally produced, and will invest in rights directly from artists, writers, micro-labels and others. Key areas for growth include South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya as well as Millicom’s six Tigo markets.
According to a press releases issued by the company, Africori contributes to the venture Coolspot, one of South Africa’s independent labels. It has a catalogue of over 11,000 songs spanning 25 years and includes more than 70 gold and platinum releases from high-profile South African legacy artists such as Oleseng and Sammy Malete.
To see Yoel Kenan, Africori talk about its acquisition of Cool Spot Records, click on the link here:
Angola’s largest mobile operator by subscribers Unitel plans to invest over USD1.9 billion in the expansion of next-generation fibre-optic and 4G LTE mobile access network infrastructure nationwide over the next ten years, according to its investment contract signed with the National Private Investment Agency (ANIP). The ten-year contract with the state agency guarantees that Unitel will receive ‘incentives and benefits’ which are not quantified in the document, Macauhub reports. The contract, authorised by presidential decree on 18 September 2014, outlined that the investment will support Unitel’s existing 2,198 direct employees in the Angolan mobile business as well as the creation of 850 direct jobs and 11,465 indirect jobs, ‘with a focus on continuing vocational training.’
Delta Partners Corporate Finance Advises Telecom Operators in Deals Totalling More Than $1 Billion in Africa, Asia and the Middle East
Delta Partners Corporate Finance acted as sole strategic and financial advisor on transactions worth more than $1 billion (~€801 million) during the course of 2014 helping telecom operators on the execution of their digital strategy. These transactions resulted in collaborations between the telecom operators and Rocket Internet, one of the largest internet groups outside the USA and China. Rocket Internet has launched more than 100 businesses in over 40 countries to date ranging from e-retailing and online marketplaces to e-payments and finance technology.
The partnerships with the telecom operators will open up many new e-commerce business opportunities in emerging markets. Highlights of the transactions are as follows:
Advising PLDT on the acquisition of a 10% stake (€333 million) in Rocket Internet. The investment allows the establishment of a global partnership with a focus on mobile and online payment solutions.
Advising Ooredoo on their 50% acquisition (€180 million) of Rocket Internet's Asian platform to jointly develop e-commerce and other digital services across emerging countries in Asia excluding China.
Advising MTN on the acquisition of 33% stake in the African platform of Rocket Internet and Millicom and 50% stake in Rocket Internet's Middle Eastern platform. Both stakes are worth €288 million and will help develop e-commerce business across Africa and the Middle East.
Delta Partners Corporate Finance Limited ("DPCF"), based in Dubai, is the corporate finance arm of Delta Partners Group Limited ("DPG"), the leading emerging markets-focused TMD advisory and investment firm. DPCF provides strategic and financial investors with independent advice in transactions and investments throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Fede Membrillera, Delta Partners' Managing Partner and Head of DPCF, said "Our TMD-focused expertise, in-depth market knowledge and understanding of both telecom and digital puts us in an excellent position to successfully help our clients bridge both industries. We are firm believers in the value that can be created in the intersection of both worlds."
Kai-Uwe Ricke, Chairman of DPG, said "These equity partnerships position Delta Partners at the forefront of the telecom-digital convergence as we help our clients venture into the digital space. We expect to see more of such deals in emerging markets as telecom operators and digital players start to see the advantages of leveraging off each other."
Source: Company Press Release 23 September 2014
Dimension Data acquires MWEB’s Connect, Business and Optinet units; establishes new Wi-Fi offshoot WirelessCo
Internet Solutions, the wholly owned division of Dimension Data (Middle East & Africa), has signed a transaction agreement with South African internet service provider (ISP) MWEB to purchase its core network assets division MWEB Connect, in addition to the MWEB Business and Optinet units, for an undisclosed sum. MWEB, however, will retain its consumer ISP business and MWEB Wi-Fi assets. The transaction, which is subject to approval from the Competition Tribunal (South Africa), will involve the transfer of MWEB’s network assets and bandwidth contracts to Internet Solutions.
Dimensions Data CEO Derek Wilcocks said: ‘MWEB Business and Internet Solutions will be able to service this market segment more competitively and ensure that the ICT offerings for the sector are designed and supported in a way that is economically viable and, importantly, support them in operating and growing their business. There is a strong strategic and cultural fit between MWEB Business and Internet Solutions and the combined entities will have the scale to compete in the SME market, whilst the SMEs will benefit from access to a wider range of services, competitive prices, and greater support for their ICT.’
Meanwhile, in a separate announcement Dimension Data has revealed that it will also establish a new company, WirelessCo, to build and operate an open access carrier-grade Wi-Fi network. The new business entity will be 51% owned by Dimension Data, while South African pay-TV provider MultiChoice will retain a 49% stake. WirelessCo will combine the Wi-Fi network assets of Dimension Data-owned Wi-Fi provider AlwaysOn, together with the assets of MWEB Wi-Fi; the AlwaysOn retail consumer business will continue to operate as a separate entity. The deal is subject to approval from South Africa’s Competition Commission (CompCom).
Source: Telegeography 23 September 2014
The 7th edition of DCD Converged Johannesburg
Monday, 13th October 2014
Join us for this engaging learning opportunity and the chance to network with over 250 data center professionals.
- IT & Networking
- Design & Construction
- Power & Cooling
- Cloud & Outsourcing
Hear the very latest thinking on these key topics as well as in-depth analysis of the new trends and technologies impacting the region through practical case studies, interactive debates and thought-leading keynote presentations from those at the forefront of the industry.
Please click here for full details
CFP “IT Sourcing and Development” international workshop
20-21 October 2014
The University of Manchester’s Centre for Development Informatics
The workshop seeks to reflect on the changing context for IT sourcing and socio-economic development: analysing the new forces driving and shaping IT sourcing; characterising the new models of IT sourcing these forces have created; and reassessing the impacts of IT sourcing in light of the new criteria based on inclusive and sustainable development models and on corporate social responsibility.
Prospective presenters are asked to submit an abstract of 200-400 words outlining their proposed paper to firstname.lastname@example.org by 11 July 2014.
Full details here:
TMT World Congress
18 November 2014
TMT World Congress 2014 & Awards will gather the leading industry, finance and advisory executives in London on November 18 to assess the most exceptional investment strategies globally. For more information on the inaugural World Congress 2014 & Awards, visit here:
Digital Migration and Spectrum Management Forum – Africa 2014
25th -27th November 2014
Johannesburg, South Africa
A high-level industry conference, this conference will bring together key stakeholders across the broadcasting, telecoms, broadband and associated industries to assess the latest developments in spectrum technology, applications, standard, services and platforms and the relevance to Africa.
Please click here to access the event website and to register your participation at this event.
ZOL Zimbabwe gets new CEO, Denny Marandure
ZOL Zimbabwe, the Liquid Telecom owned ISP which is one of the largest locally, has just announced the coming in of a new CEO, Denny Marandure. Marandure will take the place of outgoing CEO and founder of the internet company, David Behr, who, we were told by the company will now become chairman of ZOL. The company also said Behr will take on a new regional role with the Liquid Telecom Group.
Before this new appointment, Marandure was Chief Operating Officer at NettCash, the payments company increasingly visible for its new mobile payments product. His role, we’re told, was directly linked to strategy and implementation of this mobile payments project. Before Nettcash Marandure was in the US where he was a senior executive at Verizon, the giant American broadband and telecomms company. His experience at Verizon, where he spent 12 years, looks to be the main driver of the ZOL appointment. Marandure also worked for IBM USA, IBM Europe Middle East & Africa, Lucent Technologies and PriceWaterhouse in various senior roles.
On the new appointment, Marandure told us the company and brand are strong and that strategic changes he will need to make are just “tweaks and enhancements”. He also acknowledged that ZOL’s parent company, Liquid Telecom Group, brings great potential through the vast fiber infrastructure and access to global capital markets – something he said is “really exciting” for him. That would be exciting indeed for anyone in his position seeing how strapped of liquidity the local economy, and therefore competition, are.
Microsoft offers $15,000 bounty for software to help African tech hubs
Members of tech hubs and innovation centres across the African continent are being invited to take part in a $15,000 competition to develop tools and processes for collaboration and knowledge sharing. Developers are being encouraged to find ways which will help smaller and struggling tech centres emulate successful organisations like iHub in Nairobi, which has launched 152 successful startups to date.
The Collaboration Challenge was launched at DEMO Africa this week, and is being run by AfriLabs, an umbrella body which boasts 35 of the 90 or so tech hubs on the continent as its members. "The idea is to promote collaboration between hubs," says Tayo Akinyemi, director of AfriLabs, adding that many hubs struggle to survive beyond their initial funding period. While there's no shortage of innovative ideas, monetising them and making them sustainable presents significant difficulties in many economies.
"Challenges like finding the right partners, determining the correct strategy and sustainability model, having the right team and skills in the hub, and the involvement of government can be difficult to navigate," Akinyemi says.
Microsoft's Innovation Hubs manager Annie Njenga says that successful tech clusters around the world depend on close links between industry, academia and business, and its those kinds of relationships that she's keen to foster throughout the AfriLabs network.
"Collaboration fuels innovation. It encourages people to learn from each other and build on better and bigger ideas," says Njenga. "Innovation hubs give developers a collaborative space where organisations can assist them with the technical and business skills needed to get their businesses off the ground. They bring different people together who otherwise would never have met, and create successful companies that strengthen local economies."
Small businesses and startups are increasingly seen as vital for the future of many African economies where unemployment is high. The World Bank claims that for every high tech job in a community, three more jobs are also created, and its InfoDev arm helps to facilitate investment in entrepreneurial activities on the continent.
The $15,000 prize will come from Microsoft's 4Afrika fund, and the firm will also provide training and support for the winning concept. Developers can submit ideas and vote on other people's using the social network Hylo before 24th October. Only members of an AfriLabs tech hub will be allowed to enter.
There is, of course, a catch. If an entry is application-based it must run on Windows and use Microsoft's Azure service as a back end.
Akinyemi says that AfriLabs is also working on a separate project to put together a "hub in a box" concept, which will be a toolkit of best practices for getting new hubs off the ground.