South Africa is potentially a large market for home high-speed broadband but a number of factors have held up its implementation. Kenya got there three years ago so Russell Southwood looks at why and talks to Mark Elkins, Posix about what theyve got planned.
Jamii Telecom launched a public Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) network in Kenya in early 2011 but except for a few gated communities and pilots, nothing has happened in South Africa on this front. But 2014 might be the year of all change as the lumbering Telkom promises to turn its FTTH pilot into a public service and Posix goes live with its offer.
South Africa has somewhere between 0.5-1 m households that can probably afford to pay for an FTTH service yet this opportunity has remained the elusive chicken-and-the-egg market. Without someone prepared to invest, there will be no customers. And there will be no customers until someone believes they can make a return and invests.
So why has no-one been prepared to invest? For all the rhetoric of innovation, the South African telecoms and ISP markets have been fairly conservative in their approach. The bigger ISPs like Internet Solutions who might have made the move have clearly thought it was too high-risk and long-term and have remained focused on the more lucrative corporate market. The smaller ISPs have lacked the capital or an appetite for high risk.
But thats not the whole story by any means. The big gorillas MTN, Vodacom and Telkom have been content to offer bandwidth to individual users as if it was being rationed. There is no market on the continent where you can get so little bandwidth in quite so many different ways: with some honorable exceptions, users are capped and operators have tended to make good money from people paying the punitive rates when they burst these caps.
(One business hotel I stayed at last year actually blocked You Tube even though I was paying for capacity not access time. Go figure.)
The big gorillas have thus far controlled the main fibre highways so even if you felt inclined to hurl yourself at this opportunity, you meet the pricing and quality walls of what the big operators will give you to move data on a wholesale basis.
And then theres another twist to the story that comes from the dominant position of an operator that is not in the telecoms field. Elsewhere insurgent challengers have offered triple play and fibre delivery. But in South Africa, DStv has effectively dominated this market to the point where local companies will tell you:You cant take on DStv. Its not true but DStv has a psychological lock on the market. But theres a brave new world approaching with Video-On-Demand and who knows, maybe the dam will burst at this point.
I just happened to notice on Facebook that Mark Elkins, owner of a small ISP called Posix Systems in Midrand is offering potential customers FTTH. Thus far Elkins, who has between 1,500-2,000 customers nationally, has been selling ADSL supplied by MTN and Telkom.
So if aint broke, why change?:All ADSL is reliant on what Telkom has. It depends on how far you are from the exchange and that doesnt give very fast speeds for many people. Theres also contention issues because of multiple exchanges and the network is not designed for whats happening. Telkom is rolling out fibre-to-the-curb but its a very slow process.
To overcome these obstacles, Elkins is planning to build his own fibre backhaul route between Pretoria and Johannesburg: Our FTTH route is from Rosebank to Midrand, Isando to Midrand and then from Midrand to Pretoria via Midstream Estate/Highveld, Irene, Cornwall Hill, Elarduspark, Menlyn, Lynnwood, The Willows, Equestria, Silver Lakes, Wapadrand, Faerie Glen and Garsfontein. He will be offering customers off of this route FTTH services.
If you are in, close to or between these areas, we can provide a 100Mbps or 1Gbps fibre connection. You can then get blindingly fast access to the majority of South African Content and a fixed contention ratio link to the rest of the Internet. No Caps, no Data shaping, just Pure Internet. Additional services can include Dial Tone (Telephone), TV Signal, Video on Demand, offsite backup and Cloud based services. We are currently asking you for your expressions of interest in taking a connection to assist with our planning of supplementary routing.
So what will it cost? Residential pricing will be around R600 (US$57) a month for a 100Mbps local connection which includes 3Mbps International connectivity and static IPv4 and IPv6 addresses. Businesses will pay R2300 (US$218) per month, includes 1Gbps Local and 10Mbps International. Additional International Internet access will cost about R30 (US$2.84) per Mbps at a 20:1 contention ratio.
African Internet users elsewhere on the continent might not understand the idea of buying international connectivity separately when theres an almost endless supply cheaply at the landing station but lets leave the peculiarities of the South African market to one side for a moment.
Thus far Elkins calculates that 1 in 20 of those expressing interest get to the point of making a positive commitment and that interest is building. There are particular niches of interest like security:I would supply FTTH to cameras. These currently are on Wi-Fi and dont always work that well. There is some scepticism based on price because thus far people cannot see what they would be getting for the extra money: back to the chicken-and-egg again. But once you see flawless high speed broadband it begins to sell itself.
High speed broadband to the home, driven with content and services like voice, has the potential to shake up the rather slow moving South African data market. It will be interesting to see whether David can get in the first blow before the usual South African Goliaths show up.
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Nashua Mobile is hiving off its MTN and Vodacom subscriber bases back to the mobile duopoly in a surprise move that will see it earn R2.26 billion, before eventually shutting down.
That will leave the independent mobile services provider market with only one main contender Altech Autopage.
Autopage, although operating in the same market, has seemingly fared better than Nashua Mobile over recent months, as its strategy of bundling products and value-adding services along with the traditional voice product aided operating profit.
Nashua Mobile's decision comes less than a year after it vowed to fix its reputation in a bid to win over customers. Nashua Mobile has been battling as competition between mobile operators intensified in the saturated market.
Parent company Reunert notes in its latest annual results that the previous cut in mobile termination rates impacted revenue, and operating profit was dampened by reduced margins, because of a lower discount rate from Vodacom.
The service provider has also been affected by bad debts as consumers continue to face difficult financial conditions, noted Reunert. Its average revenue per user has also been declining, because of lower network tariffs and less out of bundle spending.
Nashua Mobile, which has around 950 000 customers in total, was formed in 2000 after Nedtel Cellular and Nashua Cellular merged. It currently employs 601 staff and has 94 stores, the bulk of which are owned by franchisees.
The company also has a deal with Orange to create a limited brick-and-mortar presence. Currently, Orange has "Orange Corners" in Nashua Mobile stores in Sandton (Johannesburg), Brooklyn (Pretoria) and Canal Walk (Cape Town).
However, the future of this deal and the fate of its staff is now in the balance as Nashua Mobile will, over time, cease to exist. The entity has started negotiations with staff, who were informed of its move this morning.
Independent providers like Nashua Mobile are no more than resellers, argues Ovum analyst Richard Hurst.
Independent providers like Nashua Mobile are no more than resellers, argues Ovum analyst Richard Hurst.
Orange Horizons MD Sbastien Crozier says Nashua Mobile's decision to get rid of its entire subscriber base is not material to its business as the company is looking into other ways to expand its presence.
JSE-listed Reunert said the company is also looking at ways to sell its Cell C subscriber base to a third party.
Reunert explains its decision to sell its subscriber base was driven by the expiry of the service agreement between Nashua Mobile and Vodacom, and the expiry of the incentive deal with MTN.
On the back of those two events, Reunert and Nashua Mobile pondered the long-term prospects for Nashua Mobile and "concluded that it is unlikely that this business would generate acceptable returns".
Mark Taylor, Nashua Mobile CEO, says: "This was a strategic decision on our part. Our priority now is to ensure that we maintain our service levels to our customers and that they are migrated seamlessly. We are also working hard to ensure that we minimise the impact of this transaction on our employees and we will make them a key focus of ours over the next while."
Reunert says its income from the sale will go to settling Nashua Mobile's liabilities, supporting the parent company's growth strategy and then into either dividends of share repurchases. Disposing of the two subscriber bases is expected to bolster earnings per share by 151.9%, to 1 480.83c.
Absa Investments analyst Chris Gilmour notes Nashua Mobile has a fraction of the total SIM card market, which is currently around 70 million, and never really gained critical mass. He says the impact of its closure will be limited, due to its small size, although it does reduce competition in the sector.
Crozier adds the move is not good for competition in the market, but this trend has been seen internationally as operators want their own retail network.
Orange Horizons is looking at other avenues to boost its local retail presence, says MD Sbastien Crozier.
Orange Horizons is looking at other avenues to boost its local retail presence, says MD Sbastien Crozier.
Gilmour adds this is yet another symptom of the consolidation in the market, a trend he expects to continue. Recently, Telkom Mobile and MTN said they would set up a venture that would see the companies pool base stations.
The independent market is not a profitable space, says Gilmour. He also questions what value these "small guys" offer.
Ovum analyst Richard Hurst says companies such as Nashua Mobile and Autopage are essentially resellers, and add no real value to consumers' lives. He says Nashua Mobile's demise is "inevitable" and questions whether Autopage will follow the same route.
Neither Altech nor Autopage were this morning able to provide comment around what Nashua Mobile's eventual demise means for Autopage.
Hurst says the providers have been able to build on the fact that, in the early days, they inked a few enterprise deals, but have not been able to sustain this momentum. The bulk of Nashua Mobile's clients are on contracts.
Autopage has hinted that its margins are not that great and, without radical change in the segment, it may head the same way, says Hurst.
Hurst says Nashua Mobile's move shows the viability of the sector, which is dominated by large mobile operators to which the smaller players, that offer no value, are beholden. "They're just reselling SIM cards on behalf of the operators."
The deals are subject to regulatory approvals.
Mobile operator Airtel has become the first company to be awarded a 3G and 4G licence in the African nation of Chad.
Mobile devices, using either 3G or even 2.5G EDGE networks, are already the main platform for internet access in Africa, allowing people to bypass the limited reach of the fixed broadband network, said Christian de Faria, chief executive officer (CEO) of Airtel Africa.
With the addition of Chad, Airtel now operates a 3G signal in 16 countries, which is one of the widest footprints for a mobile operator on the continent. The company will also be making use of the latest HSPSA+ technology currently available which is the same technology being used by numerous European countries.
Chadians in Ndjamena and elsewhere need good quality data services. Students expect broadband internet in universities, traders expect high speed internet for their operations and physicians, amongst others, expect to be connected to the various operations that they have with the outside world. Everyone needs reliable connectivity, said Daoussa Deby Itno, minister of posts and new information technologies, during the signing ceremony.
Airtel expressed their gratitude to the Chadian government for granting them the licence. We are very grateful to the political and administrative authorities of Chad for granting the licence through the Ministry of Posts and New Information Technologies, Salia Gbane, managing director of Airtel Chad, said.
We share the same vision on strengthening the countrys telecommunications platform. Airtels 3G network will enhance the social, cultural and commercial participation of the people and will bridge the digital divide with the regional and global community.
Kenya's telecoms regulator has proposed new rules that would mandate the sharing of facilities by the country's mobile networks. The intent is to strengthen the position of the smaller networks against the dominant Safaricom.
The Communications Authority of Kenya said national roaming is the next frontier of "raising the bar on competition" in the sector.
It will however wait for a related court case between Safaricom and Airtel over Airtel's wish that Safaricom be barred from demanding that its mobile money agents only offer Safaricom services.
Airtel wants mobile money agents to be able to offer services from a range of providers, including of course, itself. That would enable it to grow its distributor reach much quicker than if it has to sign up new agents in each town.
The regulator's plans would cover mobile network infrastructure and services.
"What it will mean is that a customer in any part of the country will automatically use any network available, where their primary mobile services provider is unavailable." the director-general Francis Wangusi said.
He did add that the agreements would be at commercial rates agreed between the networks, but there would presumably therefore have to be an arbitration process if the two companies cannot agree on prices.
Smart Telecom Burundi re-launched its mobile network services under the unified Smart brand shared with its East African operators in Uganda and Tanzania.
Industrial Promotion Services (IPS) Kenya backs the Smart brand as part of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) in partnership with Cyprus-based, Russian-owned Timeturns Holdings.
After the late-March launch, Smart Burundi began marketing its revamped services on its Facebook social networking site. Smart Burundi says it will provide comprehensive mobile internet and voice services in order to improve service, value and coverage.
IPS is the majority shareholder of Afghanistan cellco Roshan and a stakeholder in TCell in Tajikistan, while the AKFED division holds the largest investment stake in the SEACOM submarine cable.
Timeturns operational interests include cellular investments in Nepal, Cambodia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Late last month, Timeturns subsidiary in Sierra Leone, InterGroup Telecom SL, launched its commercial mobile network services under the Smart Mobile brand. Smart Mobile (Sierra Leone) switched on services in the capital Freetown on 28 March at its new office headquarters.
The Zimbabwean mobile networks have been allocated LTE radio spectrum the regulator Potraz has announced.
Nicholas Muzhuzha, the manager for networks and standards at Potraz, confirmed that LTE spectrum has already been allocated to operators.
The move follows an LTE trial network set up by Econet Wireless for the UN World Tourism Organization meeting in Victoria Falls last year. At the time, the company's CEO said that work is already in progress to launch 4G in the major cities, including Harare.
Rival network, NetOne has also signed a network upgrade contract with Huawei, which also aims to build LTE cell towers.
- Gambian 3G mobile network operator QCell has released details of its latest network expansion projects, with a new cell site deployed at Kunkujang village, providing wider coverage to Wellingara, Sinchu Alagie, Kunkujang Golf and surrounding towns, according to a report on AllAfrica. Furthermore, the GSM/W-CDMA service operator said that other new base stations are being switched on this week in Farato and Sifoe villages.
- The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has reportedly issued three local firms with mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) licences. According to Standard Media, the concession holders are: Equity Bank, through its subsidiary Finserve Africa, Zioncell Kenya and Mobile Pay. The virtual operators will all piggyback on Airtel Kenyas network, while each firm will be obliged to pay a licence fee of KES100,000 (USD1,134).
South Africa ISP XDSL entered into an agreement with Dark Fibre Africa (DFA) and Conduct, DFA's last-mile fibre network subsidiary. The agreement provides XDSL with access to DFA's 8,000km of installed fibre, increasing the footprint and capacity of its national network. XDSL's clients can also rely on fast turnaround on fibre-to-the door connectivity, with Conduct installing in 2-4 weeks. DFA and Conduct aim to make 10,000 end-points available over the next year. This addition to XDSL's network and service offering supports its offering of firewalls, quality of service, proactive monitoring and support via its data centres, as well as enterprise hosted PABX with reporting and SLAs.
Swaziland has established the first domestic internet exchange point (IXP) in the country, which will result in the faster and more secure exchange of intra-country traffic and eliminate the countrys dependence on international connectivity for local internet services. The IXP was established with the support of the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS), a project endorsed by the African Union and implemented by the Internet Society, in collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (MICT). Swaziland became the third country to be connected under the AXIS initiative, after neighbouring states Namibia and Burundi established their own exchange points in March 2014.
When Ivorian Thierry NDoufou saw local school kids suffering under the weight of their backpacks full of textbooks, it sparked an idea of how to close the digital gap where it is the largest in local schoolrooms.
NDoufou is one of 10 Ivorian IT specialists who developed the Qelasy an 8-inch, Ivorian-engineered tablet that is set to be released next month by his technology company Siregex.
The parent- and teacher-controlled tablet replaces all textbooks, correspondence books, calculators and the individual chalkboards often used in Ivorian classrooms.
It is more than me feeling sorry for them. It is also about filling the digital gap between the south and the north, and bringing Ivorian education into the 21st century, NDoufou tells IPS.
Qelasy means classroom in several African languages, including Akan, Malinke, Lingala and Bamileke.
The Qelasy team began by converting all government-approved Ivorian textbooks into digital format.
We were obligated to process everything in a way to have quality images for high definition screens. It is a lot of work, explains NDoufou, who is CEO of Siregex.
We also enriched the curriculum with images and videos in way to make the educational experience more convivial.
A solution to Ivorian problems
The tablet uses an Android operating system and is resistant to water splashes, dust, humidity and heat.
The Qelasy is protected against everything that an African pupil without transportation might encounter during their walk home from school, says NDoufou.
We knew we needed our own product Our clients needs are very specific, he explained.
The parent- and teacher-controlled tablet replaces all textbooks, correspondence books, calculators and the individual chalkboards often used in Ivorian classrooms.
It can also be programmed to allow kids to surf the web or play games according to a pre-defined timetable. Siregex staff have also developed a store where parents and educators can buy over 1,000 elements like apps, educational materials and books.
While the Qelasy is currently focused on education, its marketing director Fabrice Dan tells IPS that users will soon be able to use it for other things. We believe in technology as a way to create positive changes. And we believe in education. But eventually, we will present solutions in other fields, like agriculture and microcredit, he says.
Qelasy was launched at Barcelonas Mobile World Congress 2014. Exactly how much it will sell for has not yet been determined, but it is expected to be priced between 275 and 315 dollars.
Thats a steep price in a country where, according to government figures, only two million of its 23 million people are classified as middle class, earning between two and 20 dollars a day.
While NDoufou expects the government to purchase a few tablets for use in schools, this product will mostly benefit the countrys middle and upper classes.
For now, it is only available for the Ivorian market, but the firm is targeting Francophone and Anglophone Africa.
However, the biggest challenge to the success of the product remains the electricity deficit. In a country where, according to the World Bank, only 59 percent of the population has access to electricity, a tablet with an eight-hour battery life faces limited penetration.
But NDoufou says There is an 80 percent cellphone penetration rate in Cote d'Ivoire in spite of the low electricity penetration. People find solutions in villages. They will for this too.
While NDoufou says most of the know-how comes from here, the Qelasy was assembled in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Shenzen, where 10,000 units have been produced.
- Cote D'Ivory's YooMee awarded the billing contract for its recently launched LTE network to Broadband Systems.
Shell-branded fuels and lubricants distributor Vivo Energy and Airtel Money have partnered in 16 African markets in an African-wide agreement meant to strengthen both companies' footprint.
Vivo Energy will be hoping to gain from Airtel's footprint in the region that has over 27 million registered users and over 250,000 registered users while the telecom will have a platform to operate from in Vivo's 1430 shell branded service stations in 15 countries.
According to the agreement, Shell and Airtel shall collaborate in usage of Shell service stations as Cash In and Cash Out points for Airtel Money customers, Airtel Money will be an accepted mode of payment in all Shell Service Stations and Shell service stations will stock and sell Airtel airtime.
Shell shall also provide float to Airtel money agents in Uganda, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Kenya that have been earmarked among the starting points.
Leading mobile telecommunications provider, Etisalat Group, through its subsidiary in Nigeria, announced the launch of a new and comprehensive smartphone app that will enable customers to access their mobile money services faster and with more ease. The introduction of the innovative app expands the company's award-winning mobile banking offerings to customers. The app is available for free download from various online app stores.
Since September 2012, Etisalat has partnered with leading international and regional banks including GTBank, Zenith Bank, Stanbic Bank, First Bank Nigeria, as well as Paga Payment Network to allow Etisalat Nigeria customers to conveniently access banking services through their mobile phones. Till date, the service has successfully registered over 15 million SIM 'Tool Kit' application downloads on consumer SIM cards.
Orange announced it has signed up 10 million subscribers for its Orange money service in Africa, which is now available in 13 countries, including Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius, and Egypt (under the name Mobicash). CEO Stephane Richard gave a bonus to the 10 millionth customer of Orange Money in Senegal. Kanny G., who had gone to an Orange Money outlet to open an account, was surprised to learn that she had won a smartphone with an Orange Money credit of EUR 152. In 2013, more than EUR 2.2 billion in transactions were conducted through Orange Money. In some countries, such as Cote d'Ivoire, more than 40 percent of all Orange customers have an Orange Money account.
France Telecom has put Telkom Kenya on sale, becoming the second mobile phone operator to exit the market this year.
yuMobile is also up for sale.
The French conglomerate that owns majority of shares in Telkom, has formally informed the government that they are currently in the middle of negotiations with potential buyers to take control of what was once one of the largest employers in Kenya.
This is seven years after the firm, which operates under the Orange brand, was sold to the French.
Depending on how the negotiations between France Telecom and the new buyer progress- the French investors could be out of the company by June 2014.
France Telecom owns 70 per cent of shares in the company. The government is the other shareholder with a 30 per cent stake.
Well-placed sources exclusively told the Nation that the French had informed the government that they intended to enter into a transition agreement with the new buyers to ensure that the change in ownership was smooth and to maintain the quality of service to subscribers.
Google has launched an online South African Elections Hub as the country gears up to go to the polls.
Google has launched an online South African Elections Hub as the country gears up to go to the polls in three weeks time.
The Internet giant describes the hub as an online portal where voters, journalists and campaigners can easily track all the latest news, trends and information related to the 2014 general election, the fifth since the advent of democracy 20 years ago.
The Internet is playing an increasingly important role in the way that both political parties and citizens participate and engage in the elections across Africa, Google says in a statement. Since 2007, Google has launched more than 40 editions of the Elections platform, resulting in Google elections tools and resources being used over 500 million times by people around the world.
South African voters can use the hub to access election-related information, including party and candidate data, where to vote, real-time election news, search trends and elections-related YouTube videos. The hub is also mobile friendly, it says.
Technology is changing the way voters and politicians share information, debate issues and make informed decisions, says Google South Africa policy and government relations manager Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda in a statement.
It's sometimes said that social media lobbying is the ultimate in armchair activism, but are there lessons to be learnt from Nigeria?
Nigeria is right now in the grip of a string of horrific attacks by suspected Boko Haram militants who've reportedly kidnapped 200 schoolgirls and killed more than 70 in a bomb blast in the capital Abuja. And that's just in the last two days. One of the hashtags trending in response is #CitizenSolutionToEndTerrorism. Ordinary Nigerians have been trying to come up with practical steps to stop the horror and bloodshed.
It is typical of something we've often noted on BBC Trending when it comes to Nigeria; it has a very lively social media activism scene.
No matter where you are in the world, it's easy to "like" a page on Facebook, or hit the retweet button. Whether that translates into anything real is another matter. A recent study, looking at the Save Darfur Cause on Facebook, found social media support is often pretty wafer-thin - with little concrete support, in terms of money or action, in the offline world. But there are success stories too. As we reported on this blog, the #nomakeupselfie campaign raised more than 1 million ($1.6 million) for cancer charities in the UK.
And this weekend saw one example of a success story from Nigeria. Yusuf Siyaka Onimisi had been detained for 12 days apparently for tweets he posted showing an embarrassing jailbreak in the capital Abuja. He was released and is back with his family. On hearing murmurings of his disappearance, Nigerians on social media began to investigate - verifying if the story was true, tracking down his friends and relatives, then launching a campaign for his release using the hashtag #FreeCiaxon (@ciaxon is his username on Twitter). The protest on Twitter went to the streets too, with demonstrations in cities including Lagos, Ibadan, Kano and Kaduna.
As protests got underway, news began to emerge on social media of his release - with photos posted online by a family friend. "I would say with 90% certainty that if we didn't start this campaign, the guy would still be inside," says Fola Lawal, who started the #freeciaxon hashtag. "The government knows the weight of social media," she says.
Journalist Salihu Tanko Yakasai with Freedom Radio in Kano also believes Onimisi would almost certainly still be detained had it not been for the protests on social media. "People often disappear for no reason or with no explanation," he says. "God knows what would have happened to him." Social media, he says, has become "the single most effective way" to hold the government to account in Nigeria.
Nigeria was an "early adopter" of social media says BBC Africa's Miriam Quansah and, together with Kenya, has perhaps the most active social media activism scene on the continent. The #LightUpNigeria campaign - calling for better access to electricity - was an early example and came a full five years ago.
But some Nigerians still don't have access to the technology to get onto social media, points out blogger and high-profile tweeter, Blossom Nnodim, who runs a programme called #AdoptaTweep. She's been vocal and influential in a number of social media campaigns in the country, and says many Nigerians who are online feel a sense of responsibility. "The young who do have access have taken it upon ourselves to be the voice for the ones who don't," she says. "To be the voice of the voiceless."
Regis Bamba is a young Ivorian entrepreneur and engineer who spent 27 years in the IT department at the American University in Towson , Maryland. He is now the founder 's Intelgeo Ivorian startup specializing in cloud and creating solutions and mobile functions. Regis is also the origin of Taxi Tacker, a mobile application whose purpose is to meet the challenge of insecurity in the transport of Abdidjan, especially in taxis. Indeed, Taxi Tracker enables any holder of smartphones to follow and learn in real time on his family traveling by taxi, simply by entering the registration number of the taxi in the application, which records the location and GPS coordinates travelers. Buoyed by a strong pull, Taxi Tracker is already in full development and already eyeing several cities expand internationally. Regis also talks about the development of new technologies in Ctoe d'Ivoire and the role it plays in the local ecosystem through its initiative Code.ci , a training and mentoring accelerated for beginners and developers future Ivorian startupeurs who wish to develop and acquire practical and operational skills, allowing them to move very quickly to the execution: create a new Android application code in Java, etc..
Hello Regis! You just launched a new application that has caused a stir on the African francophone startup scene: Taxi Tacker . Where did the idea you are and can you tell us what is the audience for this application.
This application addresses a real problem every day here in Abidjan and in Africa more generally, that of improving the safety of persons in transport. Taxi Tracker can actually change things. The idea came to me after a discussion with a good friend of mine (Frank Baye) about insecurity in Abidjan public transport and in particular for transport by taxi, a situation that leads regularly on various facts sometimes very serious. We immediately thought of an idea of Android application to identify all the taxi drivers of a city that would be listed in a secure database via a mobile.
This enables customers to identify themselves taxis drivers and make sure they travel in perfect safety. Our discussions continued a few days then we quickly went from idea to execution: in a few days, we already have a testable version Beta Google Android. Very quickly, we had a very strong pull, almost instantly: since March 28, ie less than 20 days, we have approximately 4200 users, with very good feedback and a continuous increase with almost a thousand new Users who download the app every week, and this is only the beginning! Our application is free and the mouth works full here in Cote d'Ivoire: our metrics show that we could surpass the 10,000 users a month.
You plan to extend this application to other international cities?
Yes, we consider the example of cities like Lagos, where the issue of security in public transport is essential. Here we respond clearly to local challenges, bringing an already proven in a large African capital, Abidjan solution. In Francophone we are already thinking about expanding in Dakar where we can meet our solution a strong echo. To carry out these international expansion projects, in addition to potential partnerships we are seeking funds to strengthen our team of developers, also to strengthen our sales and marketing division. Strengthening our human resources is crucial today to accompany our current takeoff.
Can you tell us about your initiative Code.ci : accelerated to teach Ivorian to code and take in the digital is not it training?
In Cote d'Ivoire, there is a huge lack IT skills, particularly in skilled developers. And too many of our IT engineers leave school without really knowing develop applications Code.ci mission to teach these developers to install - very quickly - in range by learning knowledge enabling them to encode their first Android applications and can be used very quickly on the market for digital use: mobile off across Africa and it is also the case in Cote d'Ivoire. We are currently in the Java language and Android.
We have already trained a dozen young developers since our launch a few weeks ago. Our training sessions last two weeks, with supervision by engineers and mentors specialized in information programming, which are all part of Intelgeo, which I direct. Once trained, most of our students want to use their skills to develop their own application ideas and why not launch startups in Ivory Coast!
According to you, Cote d'Ivoire it can become in the coming years a hub for startups West Africa to the image of Kenya for East Africa?
It will take much time, but we can do! We must also acknowledge the government's desire to take better account of the initiatives taken by entrepreneurs administrative demarches are faster than before and was recently organized a competition for young entrepreneurs with the key to almost 75 million CFA Francs price. But we also need more public funding but also private to help us grow and to encourage project sponsors. Nevertheless, challenges remain significant, beginning with the training of engineers due to the lack of skills, Code.ci trying to meet this need. Another important obstacle, the cost of the internet: slow, random, it is still far too expensive and is clearly an obstacle for web entrepreneurs and local digital ecosystem.
- Cameroon's MTN is now enabling purchases of flights from Kenya Airways through its mobile money service.
- Vodacom South Africa has launched bundles to enable prepaid, TopUp, uChoose and contract customers to connect to over 1,500 G-Connect Wi-Fi Hotspots throughout the country, including AlwaysOn hotspots and G-Connect's in-flight Wi-Fi on board Mango Airlines, ITWeb reports. Customers will be able to use either mobile or Wi-Fi data, depending on their location and circumstances, on their Vodacom account. The bundles are priced as follows: ZAR 19 for 100 MB, ZAR 29 for 250 MB, ZAR 39 for 500 MB and ZAR 99 for 2 GB. G-Connect Wi-Fi can also be bundled with new 24 month Vodacom data contracts. When purchasing a G-Connect Wi-Fi bundle, Vodacom customers will automatically be registered as a Wi-Fi user on the G-Connect network or those of any of its third party Wi-Fi networks. The G-Connect Wi-Fi network and footprint is set to consist of over 6,000 national hotspots by 2019.
Bharti Airtel's Ghana subsidiary has named a Vodafone executive as its new Managing Director. Lucy Quist is joining Airtel Ghana from Vodafone Ghana where she has been the Director for the Enterprise Business Unit. She is replacing Philip Sowah, who is understood to have resigned to pursue other interests.
AITEC Banking & Mobile Money
15 - 16 July 2014
Eko Hotel, Lagos Nigeria
For a number of reasons, including the recent dismissal of the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, we have decided to postpone AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa, Lagos, to 15-16 July. 2014 The Central Bank is an important partner for the conference and its current state of transition makes it impossible for them to provide their usual level of input for the event.
We regret any inconvenience this change may cause you. We have set the new dates for Lagos in the week following our Accra conference, which will enable international participants to cover both events with one trip to the region.
Please get back to us with any queries.
tel: +44 (0) 20 8441 1231
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: