Issue no 571 9th September 2011

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Top story

  • In most African countries, mobile users are spoiled with attractive mobile promotion on voice services. In Kenya and Uganda, a price war has however left the mobile operators dubious on this approach being the right on. While African mobile operators try to retain their mobile users attention, differentiating their mobile offering from the competitors’ ones remains vital tool for them. Isabelle Gross spoke to Kevin Coleman, Business Development Director EMEA at Digitata and Hilton Goodhead, CTO at Rorotika Technologies about their dynamic billing product/platform for mobile voice services and theirs plans to launch a similar product/platform for data services.

    The launch of the “Glo Flexi” tariff plan by Globacom at the beginning of September marks the entry of Digitata dynamic billing platform in the Nigerian telecoms market. According to Kevin Coleman, Globacom is the first mobile operator offering dynamic billing in Nigeria although MTN which is the largest mobile operator in Nigeria has a similar offer “MTN Zone” but the tariff plan is not operational in the country. Digitata dynamic billing platform gives the ability to a mobile operator to offer discounts on voice calls according the time of the day and/or the location of the mobile subscribers. In Nigeria for example, Glo Flexi tariff has been launched with an offering of up to 99% discounts on voice calls for its subscribers. It is still too early to forecast the uptake of the new tariff plan in Nigeria but Digitata has seen at the past some massive uptake to up 80% of the subscriber base in some African markets. The level and the pace of the uptake depend also on how the mobile operator decides to communicate the new offering to its subscribers and while some African mobile operators have relied on the traditional flyers, SMS and word of mouth to promote the new tariffs others have rolled more aggressive information campaigns like sending on the street “road warriors” in charge of explaining and educating subscribers on the benefits of the new tariff plan.

    The Digitata’s dynamic billing platform is currently active across 16 mobile networks in Africa and the company is looking further to increasing it footprint on the continent. In a couple of week, there will be further launches in the Southern African region. Kevin Coleman explains further that the product is well suited for prepaid markets where calling costs remain high and customers are very price sensitive. The billing platform often sells well with the number two mobile operator in a country or the ones that want to be more innovative. There are also no limitations on the size of the mobile subscriber base. Digitata’s dynamic billing platform works with a subscriber base as small as 100,000 up to several millions. Although Kevin Coleman didn’t want to give too many details on the price of the billing platform, he added that the technology is competitively priced and that mobile operators can acquire a licence for a one-off fee or chose to make recurring payments based on the number of mobile users registered to the service. According to him, investing in a dynamic billing platform offers to mobile operators good returns on investment in terms of customer churn reduction, network congestion management and additional voice revenue from customers signing up for the service. Hilton Goodhead points out that it can help further mobile operators to reduce capital costs through a more streamlined utilisation of the existing network facilities.

    I met Kevin Coleman last November at AfriCom in Cape Town and at that time he already told me that Digitata’s R&D team was working hard on expanding their dynamic billing platform to include mobile data services. Today, we have an official launch date: Q1-2012. According to him, the development of a dynamic billing platform for data services presented quite some technical challenges to overcome. He explains for example that once a data connection is established it is not obvious with what or who the dynamic billing interface interacts with. It could be the device only since most 3G phones keep looking for a connection or a human being holding the device. There were also issues to solve regarding the type of data and their prioritisation. Kevin Coleman is confident that this new product which is aimed at mobile operators in developed and emerging markets will quickly gain traction because across the world (and in Africa), mobile operators that have launched mobile Internet services on their 3G network face and will face more serious network congestions because of the growing number data hungry smartphones hooking up on their networks. Further today mobile data pricing models are pretty dull. They come either unlimited or capped and therefore a pricing model based on time and location will definitely provide a different way to sell mobile data services in Africa and in the rest of the world. 
     

     


     

    New video clips on Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel:

    Jason Njoku, CEO, Iroko Partners
    on distributing Nollywood and Nigerian Music using You Tube

    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza on South African townships creating their own online content

    Julian VanPlato, CEO, Trans Digital Media on a new live streaming mobile service for Africa

    Sami Leino, COO, Spinlet
    on the launch of an "iTunes" for Africa

    Ofer Ronen, Business Development Director
    - Broadcast, Gilat Satcom on its move into African broadcast services

    South Africa: Styli Charalambous, Managing Director, The Daily Maverick on its new iPad subscription service

    Steve Vosloo, mLabs on supporting mobile innovation in South Africa

    Arun Nagar, CEO, Spice VAS Africa on launching its African platforms and live streaming

    Robert Aouad, CEO Isocel Benin on opening a carrier-neutral data centre in Benin

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

More

  • Nigeria Com
    20 - 21 September, 2011, Lagos, Nigeria

    The 2nd annual Nigeria Com returns to Lagos. Gain unique market perspectives and insights from a 40 strong speaker-line up including 25+ Operator leaders. The 2 day agenda equips you to capitalise on new networks and services, while the 60 stand networking exhibition will showcase the world’s foremost technology and solutions available for your business. With 700+ attendees, if you do telecoms business in the region, this is an event you cannot afford to miss!
    For more information visit here:

    Mozambique National ICT Congress
    5-6 October 2011, Centro Internacional de Conferencia Joaquim Chissano, Maputo

    Held under the auspices of the Mozambique Ministry of Science & Technology and organised by AITEC Africa, this is the annual gathering of Mozambique’s rapidly growing ICT community, with a two-day conference and industry expo. Users and vendors of ICT systems and solutions will be sharing challenges, knowledge and ideas in the stimulating conference programme, with high-level local and international speakers. There is simultaneous translation between English and Portuguese to facilitate international participation. The event will also include the second annual National Communications Roundtable, providing operators, ISPs, users and service providers with an opportunity to discuss the country’s national communications strategy with the regulator. For the full programme log on to the organiser’s website here:  To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    North Africa Com
    11 - 12 October, 2011, Tunis, Tunisia

    Now in its 6th year, the ONLY conference and exhibition dedicated to the North African telecoms market moves to Tunisia to address the dynamic French-speaking markets.
    The expanded conference agenda is now in development and will feature a host of new topics led by a speaker panel featuring some of North Africa's leading telcos.  Contact us today to apply to speak in the conference, or reserve your sponsorship or exhibition package. Be one of the first to see the 2011 agenda and sign up for your copy.
    For more information visit here:

    CDN World Summit 2011
    26 - 28 October 2011, Hilton Hotel Paddington, London.

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most
    comprehensive CDN event ever.The full value chain is represented including content providers,broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information visit here:

    Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    29 October to 01 November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya.

    For more informtion visit here:

    Africa Com
    9 - 10 November, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    Join 5,000 of Africa’s leading telcos in Cape Town this November for what is set to be the biggest and best AfricaCom yet.  The conference agenda has doubled to incorporate a record 150+ speakers presenting across 4 strategic keynotes, 11 in-depth focus sessions and 2 co-located events – AfricaCast and Enterprise ICT Africa.  What’s more 250+ international solutions providers will be showcasing their latest products in the networking exhibition. For more information visit here:


    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9–11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who’s who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here:  or contact Vivian at vivian.ho@olygen.com

    AITEC East Africa East Africa Summit
    2-3 November, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    East Africa has become one of the fastest growing ICT investment markets and the region’s ICT Summit it designed as the region’s forum to bring together users and vendors of ICT technology in a stimulating educational and business networking environment. The 2011 Summit programme will focus on the following themes:
    •    Data Security
    •    Mobile Apps
    •    Cloud Computing
    For the conference programme, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011,
    Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2

    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

    AfriHealth
    30 November – 1 December 2011, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    The leading continental forum on e-health, m-health, health management systems and capacity development. AfriHealth 2011 will focus on current research, development and implementation of ICT technology and resources in the African Healthcare arena. A key objective of the conference, now in its fourth year, will be to share knowledge and experience from practical mobilization of ICT-based healthcare systems and projects, to showcase best practice through practical case studies and highlight potential for scaling up success stories at national and regional levels. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money COMESA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Now in its sixth year, this has become the leading educational, networking and marketing event for Eastern and Southern Africa’s financial services sector. In addition to the conference’s established intensive education programme covering core banking, mobile money and microfinance topics (over 100 speakers in 2011). For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    InsureAFRICA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Insurers seeking effective performance in service delivery, cost reduction and profit levels need to embrace technology, viewing it not as a support function but as a key enabler of competitive advantage at all levels of operation. InsureAFRICA is the first specialised conference for the African insurance and pensions industry to evaluate the systems and innovative channels needed to compete and thrive in a rapidly expanding industry. With the theme “Effective management strategies and systems for a new era of expansion and inclusion”, the conference will be the continent’s first forum to gather knowledge and experience for a rapidly growing industry. For the Call for Papers, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012
    14 - 15 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012 will bring together industry experts and representatives from leading financial institutions, mobile operators and solutions providers to provide a strategic insight into mobile VAS while exploring collaborative business models, innovative applications, technologies and straegies. For more information visit here:

    Roaming & Interconnect
    16 - 17 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    RIC Africa 2012 will uncover new strategies to boost roaming traffic and retain existing roamers. During the conference we will look at the innovative roaming solutions and pricing, supplementing roaming with alternative revenue streams, the latest EU regulations and their impact on operations in Africa, as well as the importance of hubbing and convergence.  For more information please visit here:

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa
    6 June 2012, Accra International Conference Centre

    Now in its fifth year, the conference will cover a wide range of strategic and technology topics to empower West Africa’s banking, microfinance and insurance professionals with the knowledge they need to lead their organisation effectively through the turbulent market and regulatory conditions they face. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

  • - Rene Meza has quit as CEO of Airtel Kenya after a three year stint at the second largest mobile phone service provider locally. Meza who joined Airtel Kenya on July 7th 2008 has now joined Tanzania's Vodacom in the same capacity. Airtel had in July denied unofficial reports that the MD had left the company. Airtel has been undergoing a restructuring program and in recent months has seen the exit of some senior managers.

    - Shivan Bhargava has been appointed Airtel Kenya Managing Director to replace Rene Meza who has quit to join Vodacom Tanzania in the same capacity. Bhargava was the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, a position he occupied until his appointment.

  • IT- Account Management Reference Number:
    AJS0011422

    Preferred Degree: Relevant Qualifications
    Job Type: Permanent/Full Time
    Job Country: South Africa
    Job Location: Pretoria-South Africa
    Experience (Years): 2-4
    Job Description

    Title: IT Advisory Analyst

    Business Unit: IT Advisory

    Reporting to: ITA Directors

    Purpose of the Job:

    Working as part of a national team of professionals to advise clients in managing risks associated with IT infrastructure, information management, information technology governance, business systems, projects, information security and strategic IT consulting.

    Key job duties or responsibilities:

    Forming part of a team responsible for client service delivery to scope on various IT
    Advisory and Assurance engagements;
    Extensive client liaison, working mainly off-site at client premises (travel is involved)
    Building a solid of understanding of the clients we service – the issues they face, key developments in their industry sector, etc.
    Conducting reviews of clients general and application controls, documenting findings and compiling reports
    Working to deadlines
    Act as a peer advisor to new / junior team members
    Developing areas of specialisation in line with the division's objectives;
    Building sustainable business relationships with both internal and external clients.

    Critical Technical Skills or Competencies

    IT audit experience – reviewing diverse application and general control environments
    IT Risk Management interest and understanding.
    Experience in business process analysis
    Understanding of tools and audit process methodologies
    Effective written and verbal communication
    Ability to spot problems and recommend solutions
    Interest in IT Consulting, and a desire to build a long term career in one or more of the following areas:
    IT Audit
    IT Performance and ROI
    IT Risk and Compliance
    IT Governance
    IT Security and Privacy
    ERP Implementation a

    Critical Interpersonal or Interactive skills

    Potential candidates must demonstrate strong business acumen, analytical skills, good client relationship development aptitude, high energy, an enquiring mind and professional integrity.
    Good time management skills
    Conscientious approach to delivering results on engagements
    Ability to follow instructions accurately
    Ability to work well in a team environment
    Able to remain calm and focused, even when under pressure
    Proactively evaluate own skills and knowledge, able to identify own strengths and areas for development

    Qualifications and experience

    Minimum of 2 to 3 years relevant experience in an IT Audit or IT risk consulting environment
    Completed B degree (B com / B Sc) is required
    Further relevant qualifications/certifications desirable (PMP, CISA, CISSP, CGEIT, etc)

    For further information please visit here


    The deadline for submitting projects for the Orange African Social Venture Prize has now been extended to 30 September.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize, which was launched in June 2011, will be part of the prestigious AfricaCom Awards. In this context, the prize-giving will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, on November, 9th.
    Through the establishment of this Award, Orange is actively supporting dynamic, youngentrepreneurs and start-ups across its footprint in Africa. The prize aims to offer support to entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas for promoting social development by using IT and telecommunications technology, but do not necessarily have the financial or technical resources to put their ideas into action.
    Following numerous requests by interested candidates and to allow entrepreneurs to complete their file, the deadline for submitting projects has now been extended by two weeks. Candidates are invited to submit their dossiers via www.starafrica.com by 30 September to be eligible for the award.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize will be awarded to three entrepreneurs or start-ups that offer solutions based on mobile networks or IT systems that are designed to address various social and welfare issues faced by Africans across the continent. Projects may range from banking or payment services to applications in essential areas such as healthcare, education and agriculture.
    In addition to the prestige of winning the award, Orange is committed to financially supporting and offering expert assistance to the winning entrepreneurs or start-ups. The three prize winners will receive an endowment of between EUR 10,000 and 25,000, and will benefit from six months of support from management and ICT experts at Orange.
    Any entrepreneur or company that has been in existence since June 2008 may participate at no cost and with no restriction on nationality. Submitted projects must be designed to be deployed in at least one of the 17 African countries in which Orange operates.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize is coherent both with the Group’s strategy for development and with its Corporate Social Responsibility policy. By encouraging social entrepreneurship, Orange hopes to underscore the role that telecommunications technologies can play in the economic and social development of emerging countries.

telecoms

  • India's Bharti Airtel has announced that it has been awarded a GSM and 3G license in Rwanda, expanding its African continental footprint to 17 countries.

    The company added that it plans to invest over US$100 million in the country over the next three years. According to the statement, this also marks the largest investment out of India into Rwanda.

    Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD, Bharti Airtel said, "Rwanda is a key telecom market with immense growth potential and will strengthen Bharti Airtel's footprint in East Africa."

    According to the National Statistics Institute of Rwanda, the mobile penetration in the country was 38.4%, as of July 2011.

    Last year, the regulator, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) said that it would award a fourth mobile license when conditions were correct. However, last month, the regulator cancelled the mobile network operating license held by another network operator, Rwandatel for allegedly failing to meet its license conditions.

    The market now has just two networks, until Airtel launches its network.

    The company may have the option of buying the defunct Rwandatel network to speed its launch into the country.

  • Communications minister Roy Padayachie has downplayed recent statements by his deputy, Obed Bapela, that government may seek to allow law enforcement agencies, through the courts, to get access to the records of people using the popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.

    In a strongly worded statement on Thursday, Padayachie says he aligns himself with a statement issued by justice minister Jeff Radebe, who is the coordinator of the justice cluster in government that the state has “no intention to regulate or legislate against BlackBerry encryption messenger services”.

    “Government is still working on a policy statement on cyber matters, which policy will review current regulatory and legislative instruments with respect to cyberspace matters,” he says.

    Bapela made the comments about BBM at Telkom’s annual Satnac conference in East London earlier this week, saying “a lot of criminality” was happening using the BlackBerry service. “We might have to follow Britain and Saudi Arabia to say we need to have [access to] a decryption system if crimes are committed [using the BlackBerry service],” Bapela said.

    He later clarified that government wasn’t specifically targeting BlackBerry, but any communications platform that could be used to commit crime.

    In his statement, Padayachie says he “welcomes the willingness of [BlackBerry maker] Research in Motion to work closely with government to prevent the abuse of the encrypted messenger services by criminals for unlawful purposes”. But, he says, “government has no intention to intercede or interfere with the privacy of communications between private citizens for lawful purposes.”

  • After criticising the direction of the telecoms industry in Uganda, South Africa-backed MTN Uganda has increased its on-net and off-net tariff to UGX4 (USD0.0014) per second. MTN Uganda’s chief executive Themba Khumalo said that in light of the country’s economic condition, the tariff structure needed to be adjusted to prevent the industry from ‘self-destruction’.

    For most of 2011, operators in Uganda’s cramped telecom sector have been offering calls at below cost rates; a practice which the regulator is in the process of taking steps to restrict. During a visit to Kampala last week, Sifiso Dabengwa, MTN’s CEO described the direction of the market as unsustainable, and said that it would likely be to the detriment of the industry as it would hamper investment in the sector. He went on to say that MTN is spending to upgrade its mobile money offerings, which have been suffering from ‘technical issues’.

  • The recent cellphones blackout has given birth to a fresh war of words between giant companies, the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (SPTC) and Swazi MTN.

    The two companies are currently embroiled in a legal battle over the One Fixed mobile phones launched by SPTC. MTN is contesting that SPTC cannot run a similar project as theirs before clearing certain things that involve sale of its (SPTC) shares with MTN. Last weekend, the country experienced a blackout that somehow was placed squarely on SPTC’s laps. MTN further apologised to its customers over the blackout.

    “SPTC wishes to unequivocally disassociate itself from Swazi MTN’s network outage experienced on Saturday. The statement issued by Swazi MTN imputing that the outage was as a result of a break in the SPTC backbone link between Mbabane and Matsapha is wholly inaccurate and lacks any basis whatsoever,” reads the statement in part.

    SPTC management stated that they were not privy to reasons behind Swazi MTN’s unfounded assertion.
    “However, we are cognisant of the detrimental effects the statement has on the image of SPTC as a telecommunications service provider both domestically and globally”. There was no immediate comment from MTN.

    In April High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala declared that there is not a conflict of interest in the SPTC entering the retail market as it was no longer a shareholder in MTN Swaziland, having recently transferred its 41% shareholding to the Ministry of Finance. Further, Maphalala indicated that the SPTC has shed its regulatory responsibilities, handing them over to the government’s Ministry of Communications. In January the SPTC provoked MTN’s ire when it denied the cellco a 3G licence despite the fact that the network had successfully been trialled during the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) summit in August 2010. No reason was provided for the licence refusal.

internet

  • Kenya will soon be hooked to yet another undersea fibre optic cable following the near completion of the laying of a France Telecom funded Lower Indian Ocean Network 2 (LION2).

    The ship laying the LION 2 — which is set to be Kenya’s fourth undersea fibre optic cable — arrived in Mombasa last Tuesday, marking the completion of actual cable laying.

    The cable will now be connected to a main submarine cable in international waters for testing, and is expected to go live in the course of the first half of next year.

    The 56.5 million euros (Sh7.5 billion) LION2 will connect Kenya to Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius and La Reunion Islands.

    LION2 is an extension of LION, which connects the Indian Ocean Islands to the world. The initial LION was laid in March last year.

    France Telecom, through its subsidiaries in the region — Mauritius Telecom, Orange Madagascar and Telkom Kenya — is a major investor in the second phase of the cable and has put in Sh4.18 billion of the Sh7.5 billion.

    The new cable will be a boost to Telkom Kenya, which is actively pursuing deployment of Internet infrastructure in Kenya after it launched a high speed 3G network last week.

  • FNB Connect has announced that it will be offering its ADSL customers free access to YouTube. This means that customers who are registered for FNB Connect Surf can now browse the world’s most popular video viewing site between 7pm and 11pm until August 2012 at no cost. Registration is free and newly registered users also get 1 (one) free GB of ADSL data to browse other sites.

    FNB Connect previously launched a free YouTube promotion for a period of 2 (two) months and has now decided to re-launch this promotion based on customer uptake and demand.

    Farren Roper, Head of Products and Markets at FNB Connect says “This has been very popular amongst our clients and we achieved a 70% growth rate base on our last promotion. We would like to offer this to our ADSL customers to thank them for their continued patronage as well as attract a new base of customers who want to enjoy this data indulgence.”

    FNB has in the past month made strides into the digital world with the launch of South Africa’s first banking App. Roper goes on to say “The increased emphasis on digital is deliberate and in line with our overall approach.  We have taken a customer centric view, championing the cause for low cost internet access and an increased digital presence.”

    With the free YouTube promotion, FNB Connect now offers their ADSL clients free data in order to access popular social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube respectively. FNB Connect offers unshaped data for ADSL, which means that users can expect a faster experience. “Our customers can expect quality free surfing at great speeds,” concludes Roper.

  • President Paul Kagame will, this week, host members of the Global Broadband Commission for Digital Development, to a two-day event that starts September 8, in Kigali.

    The broadband commission brings together some of the world's top leaders in governments, industry and international community to devise strategies for accelerated deployment and access to broadband technology globally.

    President Kagame co-chairs the commission alongside Mexican Billionaire, Carlos Slim.

    "The Commission brings together some of the world's leading figures in government,industry,academia and development community to draw strategies for using technology to address some of the world's most intricate and complex developmental challenges facing mankind," David Kanamugire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, said in an interview.

    He added that despite the proven benefits of broadband technology, there is always a risk of these technologies taking decades before benefits trickle down to the billions of people in the world that need them.

    "Failure to timely seize the technological opportunities renders nations and their societies trapped in poverty and unable to effectively compete on the global arena."

    The two day meeting will also bring together African Ministers of ICT, regulators as well as youth from around the continent.

    The first day of the meeting will see the commissioners and African policy makers interact with the African youth on broadband opportunities and challenges faced by the youth. On the second day, President Kagame will co-host the commission meeting together with Slim.

computing

  • Kenya Data Network  (KDN) has unveiled a multimillion-dollar state-of-the art data center to be used for hosting data and software applications.

    Speaking at the launch this week, KDN Chief Executive Officer Rikus Matthyser said the Data Center, now ready for occupation, is a unique facility offering reliability and convenience for corporate clients and financial institutions looking for international standard facilities.

    “This Data Center is testament to our commitment to provide world class services in the field of ICT in this part of the World.  The unique facility will enable our clients achieve their business objectives while cutting down on their overheads in telecommunications and data storage infrastructure,” said Matthyser.

    “As KDN, we are committed to providing convenient service through innovative products in telecoms in the region and are looking to develop our clients’ efficiency.  The center is a facility set up to provide physical environment that will ensure the day-to-day running of various communication equipment and application systems with a main objective of ensuring availability levels meet clients expectations at an affordable costs,” he added.

    He said the center was designed with a typical KDN customer in mind and offers world-class services while guaranteeing safety of the data stored in it.

    It is proposed that the data centre, located at Sameer Park off Mombasa road, will host applications to serve international and local businesses.
It is expected that the centre will relieve the region from the task of seeking back-up services in Europe and America.

    Breaking ground for the Sh600 million (about $US 6.4 million) centre in December 2009 Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga said government was keen to make Kenya a green economy by 2020.

    The solar powered energy data centre will serve Kenya and other African countries willing to safeguard essential data under a secure environment.
 Technology employed in building the centre will ensure the structure can withstand even a bomb attack.

    The centre is classified at security level seven, which is the highest in the world and similar to that of the United Nations and top intelligence agencies across the world where secure data is vital.
ICT experts say many companies spend between two to four per cent of their budget on disaster recovery planning.

    Completion of the data storage facility is therefore expected to save the companies from losses and damage resulting from interruptions of their infrastructure and data. 
KDN partnered with Teldor Cables and Systems to supply and deploy a fibre optic network to be used in the new data centre.

    Matthyser said that the center is targeted at a global market focusing mainly on offering of hosting services to clients in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

  • Admire Bio has the reassured presence of a successful businesswoman, with an edge that reveals she is still hungry for more. Bio, 28, a single mother living with her parents, set up her first internet cafe in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, only a year ago. She has expanded with two more branches, and plans to go national if she can secure a bank loan.

    "My biggest motivation is challenging men," she says, "to [get women to] say: 'Yes! I can be successful without you'."

    But things aren't easy. "Men make you dependent," says Bio. "Women only get loans with collateral from male relatives. My fiance offered his land. Worse, it's common to be pressured into sex by bank staff, if there isn't a man's backing, when women apply for loans. I'm angry women can't succeed alone."

    The swell of internet users in her cafe tells Bio she is on a winning road. Access to the internet and computer literacy is an area of much needed growth and investment. Only around 0.3% of the population are described as internet users, while fibre-optic broadband will not arrive until next year. Bio offers women evening computer courses "to make them stronger".

    Meanwhile, mobile phones are ubiquitous, in urban areas at least, with around 26% of people owning one. In the absence of widespread internet access, mobiles have been seen as something of a panacea for development in Africa.

    Kenya's M-Pesa money-transfer is hailed by technology gurus and development experts alike as an example of how poverty can be bypassed and development hastened. However, "banking the unbanked" has been questioned by some, as mobile money often caters for already affluent groups.

    M-Pesa's success inspired Sheka Forna back to his homeland, Sierra Leone, to start Splash. Since it launched in 2009, Splash has convinced around 100,000 people to forsake real money for the virtual kind, effectively using their sim cards as bank accounts.

    Airtel's Zap cash transfer service has changed the way Sierra Leone's city dwellers buy a coffee or receive their salaries. But Splash's growth has been slower than the company's projections, says Forna. "We're a new brand, and phone coverage is low and expensive. Getting nationwide agents to deal in Splash cash has been hard, with poor literacy and a limited mobile-savvy market."

    Facilitating microcredit repayments through mobiles was the initial spur for M-Pesa. In Sierra Leone though, the technological leap with microcredit has so far been more of a stumble.

    Hope Micro was among the largest microfinance institutions in the country. But it suffered a 20% portfolio loss (around $300,000) when half its customers defaulted in 2009. "With no credit-rating agency, customers held the equivalent of multiple credit cards. It's a blow for women – they're 85% of our clients," says SD Kanu, the institution's director.

    Hope Micro embarked on a six-month pilot with Splash to reduce interest rates (currently 36%) and add a competitive edge. "It wasn't successful," says Kanu. "Few of our customers are mobile-literate. Splash agents are small shopkeepers and their revenue wasn't enough to be committed."

    To build mobile literacy, Splash and Hope Micro have started a new pilot: dispersing loans "to get customers used to the idea that their money is actually there", explains Kanu. In just one month, the pilot has already dispersed $30,000.

    The Sierra Leone technology market is still in its infancy, says Trina DasGupta, director of the mWomen programme, which aims to boost female phone ownership with a view to improving access to services and increasing economic empowerment.

    Part of the problem is a gender gap in phone ownership; in Sierra Leone, women are 43% less likely than men to own a mobile. "This means poor women are kept in the financial and information dark ages – relying on men who are the primary phone owners," she says.

    This year, the US state department sent a fact-finding mission of women technology experts and entrepreneurs to see how technology can reduce poverty and close the gender gap.

    "There wasn't a businesswomen's group to introduce the delegation to," says Naasu Fofanah of Unipsil, the UN's peacebuilding office. "This was a startling gap. We know effective development comes when women are targeted. The same has to be true when improving women's ability to do business, for example, with women's unfettered access to finance and improving their technological knowhow."

    "There's a need to nurture a culture of real entrepreneurship to allow women to grow. As a first step, we need to put businesswomen on the map," she says.

    Unipsil and local NGO Afford-SL are working with women across the country to establish a national business network. "Once we have this kind of structure we can begin to bridge the gap between urban and rural businesses, for example, through technology, networking and training," says Manja Kargbo of Afford-SL.

    "Yes, I'll join a women's network," says Admire Bio. "I always tell women they can be like me - stronger by saving, investing and doing business with technology."

  • With this new approach to learning, the children will become more creative and innovative as the laptops help enhance what they are taught in schools in a more practical way.

    The country has invested a lot in technology, as evidenced by the completion of the laying of the fiber optic.

    According to the OLPC programme coordinator, Rwanda targets to have half a million laptops in primary schools across the country.

    The benefits of such an investment may not be in the short term, however, by starting to impart technology skills to the children at a young age, they will grow to become the future IT experts.

    Various sectors including health, banking, transport, infrastructure, telecommunication and local government are adopting modern technology into their daily operations. The country has, in the past, relied on foreign expertise to develop, run and maintain these systems.

    But, with programmes like the OLPC, the will be a vast human resource base that is technologically advanced to foster the much needed expertise to propel the country to greater heights.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has confirmed that France Telecom (FT) is the only bidder for its 49% stake in Congo Chine Telecom (CCT). Already in talks with Chinese vendor ZTE for its 51% share of the company, FT is expected to pay around EUR300 million (USD) in total for the operator, a reflection of its level of debt, rather than its value. Reuter reports that, Elie Girard, FT’s executive director said that this is an ‘important step, but not the final step of the process of the withdrawal of the state from CCT and the acquisition’. The move is part of a broader strategy from FT to increase its presence in emerging markets to offset increasing competition and declining revenues in Europe. France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard said that the company also looks to bolster its leadership in Egypt.

  • The government expects consumers and smaller operators to benefit from the formation of a new private/public organisation that will build and manage Long Term Evolution (LTE) infrastructure, commonly known as 4G.

    The move by the Ministry of Information and Communication is seen as an admission of flaws in the licensing and allocation of 3G spectrum, where operators have been unable to fully roll out infrastructure because of expensive licence fees ($15 million or Sh1.4 billion) and high capital expenditure.

    Currently, Safaricom has the most extensive 3G infrastructure with 1,500 base stations on 3G compared to about 2,500 base stations country wide. Telkom Kenya has 220 sites on 3G while Airtel is currently testing its 3G network.

    Globally, technology has moved to LTE, which is seen as an answer to connecting rural and under-served areas though the cost of rolling out the infrastructure is prohibitive for operators who are yet to take 3G out of major towns to rural areas.

    The expense and slow roll out even by bigger operators prompted the government to invite bids for public private partnership to build, operate and maintain a national open access network, which will bring together operators and equipment vendors.

    In the public-private partnership, the government hopes to set a global precedent, where operators can share both active and passive components in the network.

    "This will be a first in the world where operators will share both passive and active infrastructure, the benefits will be passed on to the consumer in form of cheaper broadband," said Dr Bitange Ndemo permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication.

    Ideally, an open access platform will benefit small and big companies that will have an opportunity to provide services without worrying much about expensive licence fees or the capital expenditure of rolling out the network.

    "In principle, having a single (large) network should not be a problem, normally the concern arises around who is going to manage or maintain it and how will it be managed," said Mr Dobek Pater, senior telecoms analyst at Africa Analysis, an ICT consultancy firm.

    There has been discontent in the industry over the advert requirement that the private partner must be tier 1 network operator, 20 per cent Kenyan owned and ability to roll out to 47 counties within a year.

    Some players feel that the requirements were skewed in favour of the largest mobile network but Mr Ndemo sees the move as a savior to smaller ISPs which have been unable to compete with mobile networks.

    "This is the only way to salvage Internet Service Providers owned by small businesses to be able to compete; people need to understand open access and shared infrastructure," said Mr Ndemo.

    Globally, there is no uniformity on the spectrum band for use in LTE. For instance, Safaricom is testing LTE on its GSM band, which may interfere with other services already on offer like voice, 3G and 2G.

    Globally, LTE is optimised for 2.6GHz but Kenya faces a bigger trick because that spectrum is currently being used by the military.

    The Communications Commission of Kenya has been in discussions with the military to migrate its services to fibre and release the spectrum, even though CCK has also maintained that there are other available mechanisms like utilising the analogue spectrum, which will be released by the television stations, once Kenya migrates to the digital platform. The spectrum, commonly known as digital dividend is on 700 MHz band, is expected to be reallocated on a competitive basis.

  • Is French telecommunications giant Orange, the mobile subsidiary of France Telecom, buying JSE-listed IT services company Business Connexion (BCX)? Three separate industry sources, none of whom is employed by either company, have told TechCentral they understand the two parties are in discussions about a deal.

    Orange has long been rumoured to be sniffing around the SA market for an acquisition. A couple of years ago, it was rumoured to be interested in Cell C, though that speculation was never firmed up.

    A purchase of BCX, one of the largest listed IT companies on the JSE, would cost the French operator — which owns networks in a range of francophone countries in Africa — billions of rand, assuming it swallows the whole company.

    BCX CEO Benjamin Mophatlane says he can’t confirm or deny the two companies are in talks. “We do not comment on a cautionary [notice],” he says. An Orange spokesman in France says the company has “no official comment”.

    BCX — which is trading under a cautionary notice because it is in discussions that could affect its share price — has a market capitalisation of R2,2bn. An acquisition would be the biggest foreign direct investment in SA’s technology sector since last year’s blockbuster R24,4bn acquisition by Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone of Dimension Data.

    Orange is the world’s fifth largest mobile phone operator, with more than 210m customers. In Africa, it has businesses in Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal, Madagascar, Reunion, Tunisia, Uganda, Botswana, Mauritius, the Central African Republic, Mali, Niger, Equatorial Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

    BCX, meanwhile, has stated it is keen to expand more aggressively in Africa and analysts polled by TechCentral say a tie-up with Orange would allow it to grow into new markets on the continent where the French company already has operations.

    If market speculation is correct — and one source believes a deal between Orange and BCX could be concluded within weeks, pending regulatory approvals — it could send tremors through the local IT services industry.

    As telecoms operators and IT services firms increasingly converge on each other’s markets, mergers are becoming more commonplace. Telecoms firms see IT services as a new growth area and IT companies are increasingly considering it necessary to align themselves with operators.

    If a deal between Orange and BCX is on the cards, it will be the second time in recent years that the SA company has been courted by an operator. In 2006, Telkom offered R2,4bn to buy the company, but was thwarted by the competition authorities over concerns the deal could have a deleterious effect on competition in the IT market.

  • Airtel Uganda has suspended plans to stop accepting inbound calls from Uganda Telecom following intervention from the government.

    Airtel has been in dispute with Uganda Telecom for some time over a US$2.3 million debt that Telecom is struggling to pay.

    "They have agreed a new payments plan and so will not to switch off Uganda Telecom calls," Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) told the East African Business Week. "Both UCC and the ministry of information and communication technology have agreed with Airtel not to go ahead and lock out Uganda Telecom subscribers from accessing their network." he added. The details of the settlement and the debt repayment plan are being kept confidential.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • -  In South Africa, First National Bank has launched a new service called Pay2Cell that allows its accountholders to make payments to other FNB accountholders using only the recipient’s cellphone number. To make a payment, customers must be registered for cellphone banking. To receive payments, they only need to be registered for inContact, FNB’s SMS notification service. There is a limit of R1 500/transaction.

    - Mozambique's publicly owned mobile phone operator, M-Cel, has announced that it is launching onto the market a cell phone that will cost only 449 meticais (about 16.5 US dollars). This phone, which M-Cel claims will be the cheapest on the market, is an Alcatel OT208 multi-functional handset. In June, Vodacom launched what was then the cheapest cell phone on the Mozambican market - the Chinese-made model ZTE S512, which sells for 499 meticais.

    - South Africa’s mobile service provider Vodacom has unveiled a new step to protect its customers from cellphone fraud by automatically locking a SIM card if any irregular call activity is detected. Vodacom stated that they saw an increase in the number of cases relating to International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF), and with this fraud a syndicate steals handsets or SIM cards from victims and uses them to dial international premium numbers which could result in cellphone bills as high as R120 000.

    - Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S II smartphone in Kenya. Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S II, Samsung Electronics East Africa Business Leader, Robert Ngeru confirmed that the Android powered smartphone would be hitting the market to further enhance Samsung’s local offering.

    - Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator, Econet Wireless, will at end of the month launch a mobile payment system that makes it possible for Zimbabweans to pay bills using their cellphones. The company said it had spent millions of dollars on developing the system, which will be launched to its over 5 million customers, completely eliminating the need for any notes for purchases below USD20.

    - In Liberia, mobile operators Cellcom and Lonestar/MTN have launched mobile banking services. Cellcom has joined ranks with UBA Bank while Lonestar/MTN has partnered with Ecobank. Statistics also show that just about only 10% of Liberians have bank accounts while over 40% of the population has mobile phones. So, with difficult roads and limited formal banking facilities around Liberia mobile banking services will provide the opportunity for more Liberians, particularly in the rural areas to have access to cash, transfer money, pay bills, do business and improve their lives economically.

    - News24 and Samsung South Africa have combined to produce the first local Smart TV application. The News24 app can be accessed from any Samsung Smart TV and offers the hooked-in user news reports, the latest sports results, financial indicators, celebrity gossip and much more. The move mirrors the recent UK launch of the BBC News app on Samsung TVs.

    - Mobile operator, Cell C has deployed its HSPA+ network in Welkom, Kroonstad and Koppies, extending its coverage in the Free State. The latest expansion of the network now puts Cell C's national coverage at 63% of the South African population.

Digital Content

  • Technology company, Google, plans to reduce the cost of smart phones in Africa to an affordable range in order to boost the use of the internet.

    The company intends to sell genuine smart phones at prices below Shs225,000 ($80) to encourage more Africans to abandon basic phones with a few functions, according to Mr Nelson Mattos, the vice president for Google Europe, Middle East and Africa.

    Smart phones are those designed with the internet and thousands of applications to enable their users to rely on them as mini-computers.

    Genuine smart phones from companies like; Nokia, Samsung, Apple, LG and Huawei cost between $90 and $800 a range that is out of reach for ordinary Africans and other developing markets.

    “When you look at the disposable income in Africa compared to that in Europe, the price (of smart phones) in Africa today is 100 times more. So, it’s not surprising that the uptake of smart phones in Europe is taking off and not in Africa,” Mr Mattos told Daily Monitor in interview yesterday during the Google conference in Kampala.

    He added that Google’s planned partnership with US firm Motorola, maker of Motorola phones, is aimed at creating affordable smart phones for its emerging markets including Africa and Asia.
    “We know that majority of people in Africa access the internet via the mobile phone, Motorola being a player in that industry will allow us to speed up access to the internet through the uptake of smart phones,” he said.

    Uganda has about 4 million internet users who access the internet at least once a month, according to the Uganda Communications Commission.

    Google, which has operations in Uganda is playing a key role to promote the use of the internet through creating local content for internet users.

    For instance, the company has mapped most key and relevant places in Uganda and has also translated its search engine to Luganda, Kiswahili, Luo and Runyakitara.

  • Social media has moved incredibly quickly from a specialist tool to a must-have channel of engagement with customers.

    Building on the unique one on one conversation that social media makes possible, Vodacom has increased the number of people working in its specialist dedicated customer care team and increased their hours of operation.

    The customer care team are now live on Twitter (@vodacom111) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/Vodacom) from 7am to 10pm every day, including weekends.

    “I don’t think any of us had an inkling what we were letting ourselves in for back in early 2010 when we kicked off our social media activity on Twitter. We made two key decisions which are really paying dividends.

    First, we set up the dedicated Twitter channel for customer care, @vodacom111, and made sure that the people resolving the queries were frontline on Twitter with nowhere to hide. We then added to that same team and put them on to the Facebook page as well, scouring customer posts for issues to resolve,” said Portia Maurice, Chief Officer Corporate Affairs.

    With more than 27 million customers in South Africa, Vodacom’s social media team were always going to have their work cut out for them. From starting up a year and a half ago, the reality has been beyond any expectations.

    The company now has more than 20,000 followers on its two main Twitter channels and is rapidly approaching 100,000 Facebook fans, giving the team a huge volume of customer care queries to handle.

    “There’s always a challenge separating customer care activities from all the other engagements that happen via our social media channels but with the structure we’ve put in place, I think we’ve found a good balance,” Maurice added.

Issue no 571 9th September 2011

node ref id: 22940

Top story

  • In most African countries, mobile users are spoiled with attractive mobile promotion on voice services. In Kenya and Uganda, a price war has however left the mobile operators dubious on this approach being the right on. While African mobile operators try to retain their mobile users attention, differentiating their mobile offering from the competitors’ ones remains vital tool for them. Isabelle Gross spoke to Kevin Coleman, Business Development Director EMEA at Digitata and Hilton Goodhead, CTO at Rorotika Technologies about their dynamic billing product/platform for mobile voice services and theirs plans to launch a similar product/platform for data services.

    The launch of the “Glo Flexi” tariff plan by Globacom at the beginning of September marks the entry of Digitata dynamic billing platform in the Nigerian telecoms market. According to Kevin Coleman, Globacom is the first mobile operator offering dynamic billing in Nigeria although MTN which is the largest mobile operator in Nigeria has a similar offer “MTN Zone” but the tariff plan is not operational in the country. Digitata dynamic billing platform gives the ability to a mobile operator to offer discounts on voice calls according the time of the day and/or the location of the mobile subscribers. In Nigeria for example, Glo Flexi tariff has been launched with an offering of up to 99% discounts on voice calls for its subscribers. It is still too early to forecast the uptake of the new tariff plan in Nigeria but Digitata has seen at the past some massive uptake to up 80% of the subscriber base in some African markets. The level and the pace of the uptake depend also on how the mobile operator decides to communicate the new offering to its subscribers and while some African mobile operators have relied on the traditional flyers, SMS and word of mouth to promote the new tariffs others have rolled more aggressive information campaigns like sending on the street “road warriors” in charge of explaining and educating subscribers on the benefits of the new tariff plan.

    The Digitata’s dynamic billing platform is currently active across 16 mobile networks in Africa and the company is looking further to increasing it footprint on the continent. In a couple of week, there will be further launches in the Southern African region. Kevin Coleman explains further that the product is well suited for prepaid markets where calling costs remain high and customers are very price sensitive. The billing platform often sells well with the number two mobile operator in a country or the ones that want to be more innovative. There are also no limitations on the size of the mobile subscriber base. Digitata’s dynamic billing platform works with a subscriber base as small as 100,000 up to several millions. Although Kevin Coleman didn’t want to give too many details on the price of the billing platform, he added that the technology is competitively priced and that mobile operators can acquire a licence for a one-off fee or chose to make recurring payments based on the number of mobile users registered to the service. According to him, investing in a dynamic billing platform offers to mobile operators good returns on investment in terms of customer churn reduction, network congestion management and additional voice revenue from customers signing up for the service. Hilton Goodhead points out that it can help further mobile operators to reduce capital costs through a more streamlined utilisation of the existing network facilities.

    I met Kevin Coleman last November at AfriCom in Cape Town and at that time he already told me that Digitata’s R&D team was working hard on expanding their dynamic billing platform to include mobile data services. Today, we have an official launch date: Q1-2012. According to him, the development of a dynamic billing platform for data services presented quite some technical challenges to overcome. He explains for example that once a data connection is established it is not obvious with what or who the dynamic billing interface interacts with. It could be the device only since most 3G phones keep looking for a connection or a human being holding the device. There were also issues to solve regarding the type of data and their prioritisation. Kevin Coleman is confident that this new product which is aimed at mobile operators in developed and emerging markets will quickly gain traction because across the world (and in Africa), mobile operators that have launched mobile Internet services on their 3G network face and will face more serious network congestions because of the growing number data hungry smartphones hooking up on their networks. Further today mobile data pricing models are pretty dull. They come either unlimited or capped and therefore a pricing model based on time and location will definitely provide a different way to sell mobile data services in Africa and in the rest of the world. 
     

     


     

    New video clips on Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel:

    Jason Njoku, CEO, Iroko Partners
    on distributing Nollywood and Nigerian Music using You Tube

    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza on South African townships creating their own online content

    Julian VanPlato, CEO, Trans Digital Media on a new live streaming mobile service for Africa

    Sami Leino, COO, Spinlet
    on the launch of an "iTunes" for Africa

    Ofer Ronen, Business Development Director
    - Broadcast, Gilat Satcom on its move into African broadcast services

    South Africa: Styli Charalambous, Managing Director, The Daily Maverick on its new iPad subscription service

    Steve Vosloo, mLabs on supporting mobile innovation in South Africa

    Arun Nagar, CEO, Spice VAS Africa on launching its African platforms and live streaming

    Robert Aouad, CEO Isocel Benin on opening a carrier-neutral data centre in Benin

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

More

  • Nigeria Com
    20 - 21 September, 2011, Lagos, Nigeria

    The 2nd annual Nigeria Com returns to Lagos. Gain unique market perspectives and insights from a 40 strong speaker-line up including 25+ Operator leaders. The 2 day agenda equips you to capitalise on new networks and services, while the 60 stand networking exhibition will showcase the world’s foremost technology and solutions available for your business. With 700+ attendees, if you do telecoms business in the region, this is an event you cannot afford to miss!
    For more information visit here:

    Mozambique National ICT Congress
    5-6 October 2011, Centro Internacional de Conferencia Joaquim Chissano, Maputo

    Held under the auspices of the Mozambique Ministry of Science & Technology and organised by AITEC Africa, this is the annual gathering of Mozambique’s rapidly growing ICT community, with a two-day conference and industry expo. Users and vendors of ICT systems and solutions will be sharing challenges, knowledge and ideas in the stimulating conference programme, with high-level local and international speakers. There is simultaneous translation between English and Portuguese to facilitate international participation. The event will also include the second annual National Communications Roundtable, providing operators, ISPs, users and service providers with an opportunity to discuss the country’s national communications strategy with the regulator. For the full programme log on to the organiser’s website here:  To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    North Africa Com
    11 - 12 October, 2011, Tunis, Tunisia

    Now in its 6th year, the ONLY conference and exhibition dedicated to the North African telecoms market moves to Tunisia to address the dynamic French-speaking markets.
    The expanded conference agenda is now in development and will feature a host of new topics led by a speaker panel featuring some of North Africa's leading telcos.  Contact us today to apply to speak in the conference, or reserve your sponsorship or exhibition package. Be one of the first to see the 2011 agenda and sign up for your copy.
    For more information visit here:

    CDN World Summit 2011
    26 - 28 October 2011, Hilton Hotel Paddington, London.

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most
    comprehensive CDN event ever.The full value chain is represented including content providers,broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information visit here:

    Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    29 October to 01 November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya.

    For more informtion visit here:

    Africa Com
    9 - 10 November, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    Join 5,000 of Africa’s leading telcos in Cape Town this November for what is set to be the biggest and best AfricaCom yet.  The conference agenda has doubled to incorporate a record 150+ speakers presenting across 4 strategic keynotes, 11 in-depth focus sessions and 2 co-located events – AfricaCast and Enterprise ICT Africa.  What’s more 250+ international solutions providers will be showcasing their latest products in the networking exhibition. For more information visit here:


    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9–11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who’s who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here:  or contact Vivian at vivian.ho@olygen.com

    AITEC East Africa East Africa Summit
    2-3 November, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    East Africa has become one of the fastest growing ICT investment markets and the region’s ICT Summit it designed as the region’s forum to bring together users and vendors of ICT technology in a stimulating educational and business networking environment. The 2011 Summit programme will focus on the following themes:
    •    Data Security
    •    Mobile Apps
    •    Cloud Computing
    For the conference programme, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011,
    Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2

    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

    AfriHealth
    30 November – 1 December 2011, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    The leading continental forum on e-health, m-health, health management systems and capacity development. AfriHealth 2011 will focus on current research, development and implementation of ICT technology and resources in the African Healthcare arena. A key objective of the conference, now in its fourth year, will be to share knowledge and experience from practical mobilization of ICT-based healthcare systems and projects, to showcase best practice through practical case studies and highlight potential for scaling up success stories at national and regional levels. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money COMESA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Now in its sixth year, this has become the leading educational, networking and marketing event for Eastern and Southern Africa’s financial services sector. In addition to the conference’s established intensive education programme covering core banking, mobile money and microfinance topics (over 100 speakers in 2011). For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    InsureAFRICA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Insurers seeking effective performance in service delivery, cost reduction and profit levels need to embrace technology, viewing it not as a support function but as a key enabler of competitive advantage at all levels of operation. InsureAFRICA is the first specialised conference for the African insurance and pensions industry to evaluate the systems and innovative channels needed to compete and thrive in a rapidly expanding industry. With the theme “Effective management strategies and systems for a new era of expansion and inclusion”, the conference will be the continent’s first forum to gather knowledge and experience for a rapidly growing industry. For the Call for Papers, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012
    14 - 15 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012 will bring together industry experts and representatives from leading financial institutions, mobile operators and solutions providers to provide a strategic insight into mobile VAS while exploring collaborative business models, innovative applications, technologies and straegies. For more information visit here:

    Roaming & Interconnect
    16 - 17 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    RIC Africa 2012 will uncover new strategies to boost roaming traffic and retain existing roamers. During the conference we will look at the innovative roaming solutions and pricing, supplementing roaming with alternative revenue streams, the latest EU regulations and their impact on operations in Africa, as well as the importance of hubbing and convergence.  For more information please visit here:

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa
    6 June 2012, Accra International Conference Centre

    Now in its fifth year, the conference will cover a wide range of strategic and technology topics to empower West Africa’s banking, microfinance and insurance professionals with the knowledge they need to lead their organisation effectively through the turbulent market and regulatory conditions they face. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

  • - Rene Meza has quit as CEO of Airtel Kenya after a three year stint at the second largest mobile phone service provider locally. Meza who joined Airtel Kenya on July 7th 2008 has now joined Tanzania's Vodacom in the same capacity. Airtel had in July denied unofficial reports that the MD had left the company. Airtel has been undergoing a restructuring program and in recent months has seen the exit of some senior managers.

    - Shivan Bhargava has been appointed Airtel Kenya Managing Director to replace Rene Meza who has quit to join Vodacom Tanzania in the same capacity. Bhargava was the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, a position he occupied until his appointment.

  • IT- Account Management Reference Number:
    AJS0011422

    Preferred Degree: Relevant Qualifications
    Job Type: Permanent/Full Time
    Job Country: South Africa
    Job Location: Pretoria-South Africa
    Experience (Years): 2-4
    Job Description

    Title: IT Advisory Analyst

    Business Unit: IT Advisory

    Reporting to: ITA Directors

    Purpose of the Job:

    Working as part of a national team of professionals to advise clients in managing risks associated with IT infrastructure, information management, information technology governance, business systems, projects, information security and strategic IT consulting.

    Key job duties or responsibilities:

    Forming part of a team responsible for client service delivery to scope on various IT
    Advisory and Assurance engagements;
    Extensive client liaison, working mainly off-site at client premises (travel is involved)
    Building a solid of understanding of the clients we service – the issues they face, key developments in their industry sector, etc.
    Conducting reviews of clients general and application controls, documenting findings and compiling reports
    Working to deadlines
    Act as a peer advisor to new / junior team members
    Developing areas of specialisation in line with the division's objectives;
    Building sustainable business relationships with both internal and external clients.

    Critical Technical Skills or Competencies

    IT audit experience – reviewing diverse application and general control environments
    IT Risk Management interest and understanding.
    Experience in business process analysis
    Understanding of tools and audit process methodologies
    Effective written and verbal communication
    Ability to spot problems and recommend solutions
    Interest in IT Consulting, and a desire to build a long term career in one or more of the following areas:
    IT Audit
    IT Performance and ROI
    IT Risk and Compliance
    IT Governance
    IT Security and Privacy
    ERP Implementation a

    Critical Interpersonal or Interactive skills

    Potential candidates must demonstrate strong business acumen, analytical skills, good client relationship development aptitude, high energy, an enquiring mind and professional integrity.
    Good time management skills
    Conscientious approach to delivering results on engagements
    Ability to follow instructions accurately
    Ability to work well in a team environment
    Able to remain calm and focused, even when under pressure
    Proactively evaluate own skills and knowledge, able to identify own strengths and areas for development

    Qualifications and experience

    Minimum of 2 to 3 years relevant experience in an IT Audit or IT risk consulting environment
    Completed B degree (B com / B Sc) is required
    Further relevant qualifications/certifications desirable (PMP, CISA, CISSP, CGEIT, etc)

    For further information please visit here


    The deadline for submitting projects for the Orange African Social Venture Prize has now been extended to 30 September.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize, which was launched in June 2011, will be part of the prestigious AfricaCom Awards. In this context, the prize-giving will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, on November, 9th.
    Through the establishment of this Award, Orange is actively supporting dynamic, youngentrepreneurs and start-ups across its footprint in Africa. The prize aims to offer support to entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas for promoting social development by using IT and telecommunications technology, but do not necessarily have the financial or technical resources to put their ideas into action.
    Following numerous requests by interested candidates and to allow entrepreneurs to complete their file, the deadline for submitting projects has now been extended by two weeks. Candidates are invited to submit their dossiers via www.starafrica.com by 30 September to be eligible for the award.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize will be awarded to three entrepreneurs or start-ups that offer solutions based on mobile networks or IT systems that are designed to address various social and welfare issues faced by Africans across the continent. Projects may range from banking or payment services to applications in essential areas such as healthcare, education and agriculture.
    In addition to the prestige of winning the award, Orange is committed to financially supporting and offering expert assistance to the winning entrepreneurs or start-ups. The three prize winners will receive an endowment of between EUR 10,000 and 25,000, and will benefit from six months of support from management and ICT experts at Orange.
    Any entrepreneur or company that has been in existence since June 2008 may participate at no cost and with no restriction on nationality. Submitted projects must be designed to be deployed in at least one of the 17 African countries in which Orange operates.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize is coherent both with the Group’s strategy for development and with its Corporate Social Responsibility policy. By encouraging social entrepreneurship, Orange hopes to underscore the role that telecommunications technologies can play in the economic and social development of emerging countries.

telecoms

  • India's Bharti Airtel has announced that it has been awarded a GSM and 3G license in Rwanda, expanding its African continental footprint to 17 countries.

    The company added that it plans to invest over US$100 million in the country over the next three years. According to the statement, this also marks the largest investment out of India into Rwanda.

    Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD, Bharti Airtel said, "Rwanda is a key telecom market with immense growth potential and will strengthen Bharti Airtel's footprint in East Africa."

    According to the National Statistics Institute of Rwanda, the mobile penetration in the country was 38.4%, as of July 2011.

    Last year, the regulator, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) said that it would award a fourth mobile license when conditions were correct. However, last month, the regulator cancelled the mobile network operating license held by another network operator, Rwandatel for allegedly failing to meet its license conditions.

    The market now has just two networks, until Airtel launches its network.

    The company may have the option of buying the defunct Rwandatel network to speed its launch into the country.

  • Communications minister Roy Padayachie has downplayed recent statements by his deputy, Obed Bapela, that government may seek to allow law enforcement agencies, through the courts, to get access to the records of people using the popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.

    In a strongly worded statement on Thursday, Padayachie says he aligns himself with a statement issued by justice minister Jeff Radebe, who is the coordinator of the justice cluster in government that the state has “no intention to regulate or legislate against BlackBerry encryption messenger services”.

    “Government is still working on a policy statement on cyber matters, which policy will review current regulatory and legislative instruments with respect to cyberspace matters,” he says.

    Bapela made the comments about BBM at Telkom’s annual Satnac conference in East London earlier this week, saying “a lot of criminality” was happening using the BlackBerry service. “We might have to follow Britain and Saudi Arabia to say we need to have [access to] a decryption system if crimes are committed [using the BlackBerry service],” Bapela said.

    He later clarified that government wasn’t specifically targeting BlackBerry, but any communications platform that could be used to commit crime.

    In his statement, Padayachie says he “welcomes the willingness of [BlackBerry maker] Research in Motion to work closely with government to prevent the abuse of the encrypted messenger services by criminals for unlawful purposes”. But, he says, “government has no intention to intercede or interfere with the privacy of communications between private citizens for lawful purposes.”

  • After criticising the direction of the telecoms industry in Uganda, South Africa-backed MTN Uganda has increased its on-net and off-net tariff to UGX4 (USD0.0014) per second. MTN Uganda’s chief executive Themba Khumalo said that in light of the country’s economic condition, the tariff structure needed to be adjusted to prevent the industry from ‘self-destruction’.

    For most of 2011, operators in Uganda’s cramped telecom sector have been offering calls at below cost rates; a practice which the regulator is in the process of taking steps to restrict. During a visit to Kampala last week, Sifiso Dabengwa, MTN’s CEO described the direction of the market as unsustainable, and said that it would likely be to the detriment of the industry as it would hamper investment in the sector. He went on to say that MTN is spending to upgrade its mobile money offerings, which have been suffering from ‘technical issues’.

  • The recent cellphones blackout has given birth to a fresh war of words between giant companies, the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (SPTC) and Swazi MTN.

    The two companies are currently embroiled in a legal battle over the One Fixed mobile phones launched by SPTC. MTN is contesting that SPTC cannot run a similar project as theirs before clearing certain things that involve sale of its (SPTC) shares with MTN. Last weekend, the country experienced a blackout that somehow was placed squarely on SPTC’s laps. MTN further apologised to its customers over the blackout.

    “SPTC wishes to unequivocally disassociate itself from Swazi MTN’s network outage experienced on Saturday. The statement issued by Swazi MTN imputing that the outage was as a result of a break in the SPTC backbone link between Mbabane and Matsapha is wholly inaccurate and lacks any basis whatsoever,” reads the statement in part.

    SPTC management stated that they were not privy to reasons behind Swazi MTN’s unfounded assertion.
    “However, we are cognisant of the detrimental effects the statement has on the image of SPTC as a telecommunications service provider both domestically and globally”. There was no immediate comment from MTN.

    In April High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala declared that there is not a conflict of interest in the SPTC entering the retail market as it was no longer a shareholder in MTN Swaziland, having recently transferred its 41% shareholding to the Ministry of Finance. Further, Maphalala indicated that the SPTC has shed its regulatory responsibilities, handing them over to the government’s Ministry of Communications. In January the SPTC provoked MTN’s ire when it denied the cellco a 3G licence despite the fact that the network had successfully been trialled during the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) summit in August 2010. No reason was provided for the licence refusal.

internet

  • Kenya will soon be hooked to yet another undersea fibre optic cable following the near completion of the laying of a France Telecom funded Lower Indian Ocean Network 2 (LION2).

    The ship laying the LION 2 — which is set to be Kenya’s fourth undersea fibre optic cable — arrived in Mombasa last Tuesday, marking the completion of actual cable laying.

    The cable will now be connected to a main submarine cable in international waters for testing, and is expected to go live in the course of the first half of next year.

    The 56.5 million euros (Sh7.5 billion) LION2 will connect Kenya to Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius and La Reunion Islands.

    LION2 is an extension of LION, which connects the Indian Ocean Islands to the world. The initial LION was laid in March last year.

    France Telecom, through its subsidiaries in the region — Mauritius Telecom, Orange Madagascar and Telkom Kenya — is a major investor in the second phase of the cable and has put in Sh4.18 billion of the Sh7.5 billion.

    The new cable will be a boost to Telkom Kenya, which is actively pursuing deployment of Internet infrastructure in Kenya after it launched a high speed 3G network last week.

  • FNB Connect has announced that it will be offering its ADSL customers free access to YouTube. This means that customers who are registered for FNB Connect Surf can now browse the world’s most popular video viewing site between 7pm and 11pm until August 2012 at no cost. Registration is free and newly registered users also get 1 (one) free GB of ADSL data to browse other sites.

    FNB Connect previously launched a free YouTube promotion for a period of 2 (two) months and has now decided to re-launch this promotion based on customer uptake and demand.

    Farren Roper, Head of Products and Markets at FNB Connect says “This has been very popular amongst our clients and we achieved a 70% growth rate base on our last promotion. We would like to offer this to our ADSL customers to thank them for their continued patronage as well as attract a new base of customers who want to enjoy this data indulgence.”

    FNB has in the past month made strides into the digital world with the launch of South Africa’s first banking App. Roper goes on to say “The increased emphasis on digital is deliberate and in line with our overall approach.  We have taken a customer centric view, championing the cause for low cost internet access and an increased digital presence.”

    With the free YouTube promotion, FNB Connect now offers their ADSL clients free data in order to access popular social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube respectively. FNB Connect offers unshaped data for ADSL, which means that users can expect a faster experience. “Our customers can expect quality free surfing at great speeds,” concludes Roper.

  • President Paul Kagame will, this week, host members of the Global Broadband Commission for Digital Development, to a two-day event that starts September 8, in Kigali.

    The broadband commission brings together some of the world's top leaders in governments, industry and international community to devise strategies for accelerated deployment and access to broadband technology globally.

    President Kagame co-chairs the commission alongside Mexican Billionaire, Carlos Slim.

    "The Commission brings together some of the world's leading figures in government,industry,academia and development community to draw strategies for using technology to address some of the world's most intricate and complex developmental challenges facing mankind," David Kanamugire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, said in an interview.

    He added that despite the proven benefits of broadband technology, there is always a risk of these technologies taking decades before benefits trickle down to the billions of people in the world that need them.

    "Failure to timely seize the technological opportunities renders nations and their societies trapped in poverty and unable to effectively compete on the global arena."

    The two day meeting will also bring together African Ministers of ICT, regulators as well as youth from around the continent.

    The first day of the meeting will see the commissioners and African policy makers interact with the African youth on broadband opportunities and challenges faced by the youth. On the second day, President Kagame will co-host the commission meeting together with Slim.

computing

  • Kenya Data Network  (KDN) has unveiled a multimillion-dollar state-of-the art data center to be used for hosting data and software applications.

    Speaking at the launch this week, KDN Chief Executive Officer Rikus Matthyser said the Data Center, now ready for occupation, is a unique facility offering reliability and convenience for corporate clients and financial institutions looking for international standard facilities.

    “This Data Center is testament to our commitment to provide world class services in the field of ICT in this part of the World.  The unique facility will enable our clients achieve their business objectives while cutting down on their overheads in telecommunications and data storage infrastructure,” said Matthyser.

    “As KDN, we are committed to providing convenient service through innovative products in telecoms in the region and are looking to develop our clients’ efficiency.  The center is a facility set up to provide physical environment that will ensure the day-to-day running of various communication equipment and application systems with a main objective of ensuring availability levels meet clients expectations at an affordable costs,” he added.

    He said the center was designed with a typical KDN customer in mind and offers world-class services while guaranteeing safety of the data stored in it.

    It is proposed that the data centre, located at Sameer Park off Mombasa road, will host applications to serve international and local businesses.
It is expected that the centre will relieve the region from the task of seeking back-up services in Europe and America.

    Breaking ground for the Sh600 million (about $US 6.4 million) centre in December 2009 Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga said government was keen to make Kenya a green economy by 2020.

    The solar powered energy data centre will serve Kenya and other African countries willing to safeguard essential data under a secure environment.
 Technology employed in building the centre will ensure the structure can withstand even a bomb attack.

    The centre is classified at security level seven, which is the highest in the world and similar to that of the United Nations and top intelligence agencies across the world where secure data is vital.
ICT experts say many companies spend between two to four per cent of their budget on disaster recovery planning.

    Completion of the data storage facility is therefore expected to save the companies from losses and damage resulting from interruptions of their infrastructure and data. 
KDN partnered with Teldor Cables and Systems to supply and deploy a fibre optic network to be used in the new data centre.

    Matthyser said that the center is targeted at a global market focusing mainly on offering of hosting services to clients in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

  • Admire Bio has the reassured presence of a successful businesswoman, with an edge that reveals she is still hungry for more. Bio, 28, a single mother living with her parents, set up her first internet cafe in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, only a year ago. She has expanded with two more branches, and plans to go national if she can secure a bank loan.

    "My biggest motivation is challenging men," she says, "to [get women to] say: 'Yes! I can be successful without you'."

    But things aren't easy. "Men make you dependent," says Bio. "Women only get loans with collateral from male relatives. My fiance offered his land. Worse, it's common to be pressured into sex by bank staff, if there isn't a man's backing, when women apply for loans. I'm angry women can't succeed alone."

    The swell of internet users in her cafe tells Bio she is on a winning road. Access to the internet and computer literacy is an area of much needed growth and investment. Only around 0.3% of the population are described as internet users, while fibre-optic broadband will not arrive until next year. Bio offers women evening computer courses "to make them stronger".

    Meanwhile, mobile phones are ubiquitous, in urban areas at least, with around 26% of people owning one. In the absence of widespread internet access, mobiles have been seen as something of a panacea for development in Africa.

    Kenya's M-Pesa money-transfer is hailed by technology gurus and development experts alike as an example of how poverty can be bypassed and development hastened. However, "banking the unbanked" has been questioned by some, as mobile money often caters for already affluent groups.

    M-Pesa's success inspired Sheka Forna back to his homeland, Sierra Leone, to start Splash. Since it launched in 2009, Splash has convinced around 100,000 people to forsake real money for the virtual kind, effectively using their sim cards as bank accounts.

    Airtel's Zap cash transfer service has changed the way Sierra Leone's city dwellers buy a coffee or receive their salaries. But Splash's growth has been slower than the company's projections, says Forna. "We're a new brand, and phone coverage is low and expensive. Getting nationwide agents to deal in Splash cash has been hard, with poor literacy and a limited mobile-savvy market."

    Facilitating microcredit repayments through mobiles was the initial spur for M-Pesa. In Sierra Leone though, the technological leap with microcredit has so far been more of a stumble.

    Hope Micro was among the largest microfinance institutions in the country. But it suffered a 20% portfolio loss (around $300,000) when half its customers defaulted in 2009. "With no credit-rating agency, customers held the equivalent of multiple credit cards. It's a blow for women – they're 85% of our clients," says SD Kanu, the institution's director.

    Hope Micro embarked on a six-month pilot with Splash to reduce interest rates (currently 36%) and add a competitive edge. "It wasn't successful," says Kanu. "Few of our customers are mobile-literate. Splash agents are small shopkeepers and their revenue wasn't enough to be committed."

    To build mobile literacy, Splash and Hope Micro have started a new pilot: dispersing loans "to get customers used to the idea that their money is actually there", explains Kanu. In just one month, the pilot has already dispersed $30,000.

    The Sierra Leone technology market is still in its infancy, says Trina DasGupta, director of the mWomen programme, which aims to boost female phone ownership with a view to improving access to services and increasing economic empowerment.

    Part of the problem is a gender gap in phone ownership; in Sierra Leone, women are 43% less likely than men to own a mobile. "This means poor women are kept in the financial and information dark ages – relying on men who are the primary phone owners," she says.

    This year, the US state department sent a fact-finding mission of women technology experts and entrepreneurs to see how technology can reduce poverty and close the gender gap.

    "There wasn't a businesswomen's group to introduce the delegation to," says Naasu Fofanah of Unipsil, the UN's peacebuilding office. "This was a startling gap. We know effective development comes when women are targeted. The same has to be true when improving women's ability to do business, for example, with women's unfettered access to finance and improving their technological knowhow."

    "There's a need to nurture a culture of real entrepreneurship to allow women to grow. As a first step, we need to put businesswomen on the map," she says.

    Unipsil and local NGO Afford-SL are working with women across the country to establish a national business network. "Once we have this kind of structure we can begin to bridge the gap between urban and rural businesses, for example, through technology, networking and training," says Manja Kargbo of Afford-SL.

    "Yes, I'll join a women's network," says Admire Bio. "I always tell women they can be like me - stronger by saving, investing and doing business with technology."

  • With this new approach to learning, the children will become more creative and innovative as the laptops help enhance what they are taught in schools in a more practical way.

    The country has invested a lot in technology, as evidenced by the completion of the laying of the fiber optic.

    According to the OLPC programme coordinator, Rwanda targets to have half a million laptops in primary schools across the country.

    The benefits of such an investment may not be in the short term, however, by starting to impart technology skills to the children at a young age, they will grow to become the future IT experts.

    Various sectors including health, banking, transport, infrastructure, telecommunication and local government are adopting modern technology into their daily operations. The country has, in the past, relied on foreign expertise to develop, run and maintain these systems.

    But, with programmes like the OLPC, the will be a vast human resource base that is technologically advanced to foster the much needed expertise to propel the country to greater heights.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has confirmed that France Telecom (FT) is the only bidder for its 49% stake in Congo Chine Telecom (CCT). Already in talks with Chinese vendor ZTE for its 51% share of the company, FT is expected to pay around EUR300 million (USD) in total for the operator, a reflection of its level of debt, rather than its value. Reuter reports that, Elie Girard, FT’s executive director said that this is an ‘important step, but not the final step of the process of the withdrawal of the state from CCT and the acquisition’. The move is part of a broader strategy from FT to increase its presence in emerging markets to offset increasing competition and declining revenues in Europe. France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard said that the company also looks to bolster its leadership in Egypt.

  • The government expects consumers and smaller operators to benefit from the formation of a new private/public organisation that will build and manage Long Term Evolution (LTE) infrastructure, commonly known as 4G.

    The move by the Ministry of Information and Communication is seen as an admission of flaws in the licensing and allocation of 3G spectrum, where operators have been unable to fully roll out infrastructure because of expensive licence fees ($15 million or Sh1.4 billion) and high capital expenditure.

    Currently, Safaricom has the most extensive 3G infrastructure with 1,500 base stations on 3G compared to about 2,500 base stations country wide. Telkom Kenya has 220 sites on 3G while Airtel is currently testing its 3G network.

    Globally, technology has moved to LTE, which is seen as an answer to connecting rural and under-served areas though the cost of rolling out the infrastructure is prohibitive for operators who are yet to take 3G out of major towns to rural areas.

    The expense and slow roll out even by bigger operators prompted the government to invite bids for public private partnership to build, operate and maintain a national open access network, which will bring together operators and equipment vendors.

    In the public-private partnership, the government hopes to set a global precedent, where operators can share both active and passive components in the network.

    "This will be a first in the world where operators will share both passive and active infrastructure, the benefits will be passed on to the consumer in form of cheaper broadband," said Dr Bitange Ndemo permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication.

    Ideally, an open access platform will benefit small and big companies that will have an opportunity to provide services without worrying much about expensive licence fees or the capital expenditure of rolling out the network.

    "In principle, having a single (large) network should not be a problem, normally the concern arises around who is going to manage or maintain it and how will it be managed," said Mr Dobek Pater, senior telecoms analyst at Africa Analysis, an ICT consultancy firm.

    There has been discontent in the industry over the advert requirement that the private partner must be tier 1 network operator, 20 per cent Kenyan owned and ability to roll out to 47 counties within a year.

    Some players feel that the requirements were skewed in favour of the largest mobile network but Mr Ndemo sees the move as a savior to smaller ISPs which have been unable to compete with mobile networks.

    "This is the only way to salvage Internet Service Providers owned by small businesses to be able to compete; people need to understand open access and shared infrastructure," said Mr Ndemo.

    Globally, there is no uniformity on the spectrum band for use in LTE. For instance, Safaricom is testing LTE on its GSM band, which may interfere with other services already on offer like voice, 3G and 2G.

    Globally, LTE is optimised for 2.6GHz but Kenya faces a bigger trick because that spectrum is currently being used by the military.

    The Communications Commission of Kenya has been in discussions with the military to migrate its services to fibre and release the spectrum, even though CCK has also maintained that there are other available mechanisms like utilising the analogue spectrum, which will be released by the television stations, once Kenya migrates to the digital platform. The spectrum, commonly known as digital dividend is on 700 MHz band, is expected to be reallocated on a competitive basis.

  • Is French telecommunications giant Orange, the mobile subsidiary of France Telecom, buying JSE-listed IT services company Business Connexion (BCX)? Three separate industry sources, none of whom is employed by either company, have told TechCentral they understand the two parties are in discussions about a deal.

    Orange has long been rumoured to be sniffing around the SA market for an acquisition. A couple of years ago, it was rumoured to be interested in Cell C, though that speculation was never firmed up.

    A purchase of BCX, one of the largest listed IT companies on the JSE, would cost the French operator — which owns networks in a range of francophone countries in Africa — billions of rand, assuming it swallows the whole company.

    BCX CEO Benjamin Mophatlane says he can’t confirm or deny the two companies are in talks. “We do not comment on a cautionary [notice],” he says. An Orange spokesman in France says the company has “no official comment”.

    BCX — which is trading under a cautionary notice because it is in discussions that could affect its share price — has a market capitalisation of R2,2bn. An acquisition would be the biggest foreign direct investment in SA’s technology sector since last year’s blockbuster R24,4bn acquisition by Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone of Dimension Data.

    Orange is the world’s fifth largest mobile phone operator, with more than 210m customers. In Africa, it has businesses in Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal, Madagascar, Reunion, Tunisia, Uganda, Botswana, Mauritius, the Central African Republic, Mali, Niger, Equatorial Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

    BCX, meanwhile, has stated it is keen to expand more aggressively in Africa and analysts polled by TechCentral say a tie-up with Orange would allow it to grow into new markets on the continent where the French company already has operations.

    If market speculation is correct — and one source believes a deal between Orange and BCX could be concluded within weeks, pending regulatory approvals — it could send tremors through the local IT services industry.

    As telecoms operators and IT services firms increasingly converge on each other’s markets, mergers are becoming more commonplace. Telecoms firms see IT services as a new growth area and IT companies are increasingly considering it necessary to align themselves with operators.

    If a deal between Orange and BCX is on the cards, it will be the second time in recent years that the SA company has been courted by an operator. In 2006, Telkom offered R2,4bn to buy the company, but was thwarted by the competition authorities over concerns the deal could have a deleterious effect on competition in the IT market.

  • Airtel Uganda has suspended plans to stop accepting inbound calls from Uganda Telecom following intervention from the government.

    Airtel has been in dispute with Uganda Telecom for some time over a US$2.3 million debt that Telecom is struggling to pay.

    "They have agreed a new payments plan and so will not to switch off Uganda Telecom calls," Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) told the East African Business Week. "Both UCC and the ministry of information and communication technology have agreed with Airtel not to go ahead and lock out Uganda Telecom subscribers from accessing their network." he added. The details of the settlement and the debt repayment plan are being kept confidential.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • -  In South Africa, First National Bank has launched a new service called Pay2Cell that allows its accountholders to make payments to other FNB accountholders using only the recipient’s cellphone number. To make a payment, customers must be registered for cellphone banking. To receive payments, they only need to be registered for inContact, FNB’s SMS notification service. There is a limit of R1 500/transaction.

    - Mozambique's publicly owned mobile phone operator, M-Cel, has announced that it is launching onto the market a cell phone that will cost only 449 meticais (about 16.5 US dollars). This phone, which M-Cel claims will be the cheapest on the market, is an Alcatel OT208 multi-functional handset. In June, Vodacom launched what was then the cheapest cell phone on the Mozambican market - the Chinese-made model ZTE S512, which sells for 499 meticais.

    - South Africa’s mobile service provider Vodacom has unveiled a new step to protect its customers from cellphone fraud by automatically locking a SIM card if any irregular call activity is detected. Vodacom stated that they saw an increase in the number of cases relating to International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF), and with this fraud a syndicate steals handsets or SIM cards from victims and uses them to dial international premium numbers which could result in cellphone bills as high as R120 000.

    - Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S II smartphone in Kenya. Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S II, Samsung Electronics East Africa Business Leader, Robert Ngeru confirmed that the Android powered smartphone would be hitting the market to further enhance Samsung’s local offering.

    - Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator, Econet Wireless, will at end of the month launch a mobile payment system that makes it possible for Zimbabweans to pay bills using their cellphones. The company said it had spent millions of dollars on developing the system, which will be launched to its over 5 million customers, completely eliminating the need for any notes for purchases below USD20.

    - In Liberia, mobile operators Cellcom and Lonestar/MTN have launched mobile banking services. Cellcom has joined ranks with UBA Bank while Lonestar/MTN has partnered with Ecobank. Statistics also show that just about only 10% of Liberians have bank accounts while over 40% of the population has mobile phones. So, with difficult roads and limited formal banking facilities around Liberia mobile banking services will provide the opportunity for more Liberians, particularly in the rural areas to have access to cash, transfer money, pay bills, do business and improve their lives economically.

    - News24 and Samsung South Africa have combined to produce the first local Smart TV application. The News24 app can be accessed from any Samsung Smart TV and offers the hooked-in user news reports, the latest sports results, financial indicators, celebrity gossip and much more. The move mirrors the recent UK launch of the BBC News app on Samsung TVs.

    - Mobile operator, Cell C has deployed its HSPA+ network in Welkom, Kroonstad and Koppies, extending its coverage in the Free State. The latest expansion of the network now puts Cell C's national coverage at 63% of the South African population.

Digital Content

  • Technology company, Google, plans to reduce the cost of smart phones in Africa to an affordable range in order to boost the use of the internet.

    The company intends to sell genuine smart phones at prices below Shs225,000 ($80) to encourage more Africans to abandon basic phones with a few functions, according to Mr Nelson Mattos, the vice president for Google Europe, Middle East and Africa.

    Smart phones are those designed with the internet and thousands of applications to enable their users to rely on them as mini-computers.

    Genuine smart phones from companies like; Nokia, Samsung, Apple, LG and Huawei cost between $90 and $800 a range that is out of reach for ordinary Africans and other developing markets.

    “When you look at the disposable income in Africa compared to that in Europe, the price (of smart phones) in Africa today is 100 times more. So, it’s not surprising that the uptake of smart phones in Europe is taking off and not in Africa,” Mr Mattos told Daily Monitor in interview yesterday during the Google conference in Kampala.

    He added that Google’s planned partnership with US firm Motorola, maker of Motorola phones, is aimed at creating affordable smart phones for its emerging markets including Africa and Asia.
    “We know that majority of people in Africa access the internet via the mobile phone, Motorola being a player in that industry will allow us to speed up access to the internet through the uptake of smart phones,” he said.

    Uganda has about 4 million internet users who access the internet at least once a month, according to the Uganda Communications Commission.

    Google, which has operations in Uganda is playing a key role to promote the use of the internet through creating local content for internet users.

    For instance, the company has mapped most key and relevant places in Uganda and has also translated its search engine to Luganda, Kiswahili, Luo and Runyakitara.

  • Social media has moved incredibly quickly from a specialist tool to a must-have channel of engagement with customers.

    Building on the unique one on one conversation that social media makes possible, Vodacom has increased the number of people working in its specialist dedicated customer care team and increased their hours of operation.

    The customer care team are now live on Twitter (@vodacom111) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/Vodacom) from 7am to 10pm every day, including weekends.

    “I don’t think any of us had an inkling what we were letting ourselves in for back in early 2010 when we kicked off our social media activity on Twitter. We made two key decisions which are really paying dividends.

    First, we set up the dedicated Twitter channel for customer care, @vodacom111, and made sure that the people resolving the queries were frontline on Twitter with nowhere to hide. We then added to that same team and put them on to the Facebook page as well, scouring customer posts for issues to resolve,” said Portia Maurice, Chief Officer Corporate Affairs.

    With more than 27 million customers in South Africa, Vodacom’s social media team were always going to have their work cut out for them. From starting up a year and a half ago, the reality has been beyond any expectations.

    The company now has more than 20,000 followers on its two main Twitter channels and is rapidly approaching 100,000 Facebook fans, giving the team a huge volume of customer care queries to handle.

    “There’s always a challenge separating customer care activities from all the other engagements that happen via our social media channels but with the structure we’ve put in place, I think we’ve found a good balance,” Maurice added.

Issue no 571 9th September 2011

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Top story

  • In most African countries, mobile users are spoiled with attractive mobile promotion on voice services. In Kenya and Uganda, a price war has however left the mobile operators dubious on this approach being the right on. While African mobile operators try to retain their mobile users attention, differentiating their mobile offering from the competitors’ ones remains vital tool for them. Isabelle Gross spoke to Kevin Coleman, Business Development Director EMEA at Digitata and Hilton Goodhead, CTO at Rorotika Technologies about their dynamic billing product/platform for mobile voice services and theirs plans to launch a similar product/platform for data services.

    The launch of the “Glo Flexi” tariff plan by Globacom at the beginning of September marks the entry of Digitata dynamic billing platform in the Nigerian telecoms market. According to Kevin Coleman, Globacom is the first mobile operator offering dynamic billing in Nigeria although MTN which is the largest mobile operator in Nigeria has a similar offer “MTN Zone” but the tariff plan is not operational in the country. Digitata dynamic billing platform gives the ability to a mobile operator to offer discounts on voice calls according the time of the day and/or the location of the mobile subscribers. In Nigeria for example, Glo Flexi tariff has been launched with an offering of up to 99% discounts on voice calls for its subscribers. It is still too early to forecast the uptake of the new tariff plan in Nigeria but Digitata has seen at the past some massive uptake to up 80% of the subscriber base in some African markets. The level and the pace of the uptake depend also on how the mobile operator decides to communicate the new offering to its subscribers and while some African mobile operators have relied on the traditional flyers, SMS and word of mouth to promote the new tariffs others have rolled more aggressive information campaigns like sending on the street “road warriors” in charge of explaining and educating subscribers on the benefits of the new tariff plan.

    The Digitata’s dynamic billing platform is currently active across 16 mobile networks in Africa and the company is looking further to increasing it footprint on the continent. In a couple of week, there will be further launches in the Southern African region. Kevin Coleman explains further that the product is well suited for prepaid markets where calling costs remain high and customers are very price sensitive. The billing platform often sells well with the number two mobile operator in a country or the ones that want to be more innovative. There are also no limitations on the size of the mobile subscriber base. Digitata’s dynamic billing platform works with a subscriber base as small as 100,000 up to several millions. Although Kevin Coleman didn’t want to give too many details on the price of the billing platform, he added that the technology is competitively priced and that mobile operators can acquire a licence for a one-off fee or chose to make recurring payments based on the number of mobile users registered to the service. According to him, investing in a dynamic billing platform offers to mobile operators good returns on investment in terms of customer churn reduction, network congestion management and additional voice revenue from customers signing up for the service. Hilton Goodhead points out that it can help further mobile operators to reduce capital costs through a more streamlined utilisation of the existing network facilities.

    I met Kevin Coleman last November at AfriCom in Cape Town and at that time he already told me that Digitata’s R&D team was working hard on expanding their dynamic billing platform to include mobile data services. Today, we have an official launch date: Q1-2012. According to him, the development of a dynamic billing platform for data services presented quite some technical challenges to overcome. He explains for example that once a data connection is established it is not obvious with what or who the dynamic billing interface interacts with. It could be the device only since most 3G phones keep looking for a connection or a human being holding the device. There were also issues to solve regarding the type of data and their prioritisation. Kevin Coleman is confident that this new product which is aimed at mobile operators in developed and emerging markets will quickly gain traction because across the world (and in Africa), mobile operators that have launched mobile Internet services on their 3G network face and will face more serious network congestions because of the growing number data hungry smartphones hooking up on their networks. Further today mobile data pricing models are pretty dull. They come either unlimited or capped and therefore a pricing model based on time and location will definitely provide a different way to sell mobile data services in Africa and in the rest of the world. 
     

     


     

    New video clips on Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel:

    Jason Njoku, CEO, Iroko Partners
    on distributing Nollywood and Nigerian Music using You Tube

    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza on South African townships creating their own online content

    Julian VanPlato, CEO, Trans Digital Media on a new live streaming mobile service for Africa

    Sami Leino, COO, Spinlet
    on the launch of an "iTunes" for Africa

    Ofer Ronen, Business Development Director
    - Broadcast, Gilat Satcom on its move into African broadcast services

    South Africa: Styli Charalambous, Managing Director, The Daily Maverick on its new iPad subscription service

    Steve Vosloo, mLabs on supporting mobile innovation in South Africa

    Arun Nagar, CEO, Spice VAS Africa on launching its African platforms and live streaming

    Robert Aouad, CEO Isocel Benin on opening a carrier-neutral data centre in Benin

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

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  • Nigeria Com
    20 - 21 September, 2011, Lagos, Nigeria

    The 2nd annual Nigeria Com returns to Lagos. Gain unique market perspectives and insights from a 40 strong speaker-line up including 25+ Operator leaders. The 2 day agenda equips you to capitalise on new networks and services, while the 60 stand networking exhibition will showcase the world’s foremost technology and solutions available for your business. With 700+ attendees, if you do telecoms business in the region, this is an event you cannot afford to miss!
    For more information visit here:

    Mozambique National ICT Congress
    5-6 October 2011, Centro Internacional de Conferencia Joaquim Chissano, Maputo

    Held under the auspices of the Mozambique Ministry of Science & Technology and organised by AITEC Africa, this is the annual gathering of Mozambique’s rapidly growing ICT community, with a two-day conference and industry expo. Users and vendors of ICT systems and solutions will be sharing challenges, knowledge and ideas in the stimulating conference programme, with high-level local and international speakers. There is simultaneous translation between English and Portuguese to facilitate international participation. The event will also include the second annual National Communications Roundtable, providing operators, ISPs, users and service providers with an opportunity to discuss the country’s national communications strategy with the regulator. For the full programme log on to the organiser’s website here:  To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    North Africa Com
    11 - 12 October, 2011, Tunis, Tunisia

    Now in its 6th year, the ONLY conference and exhibition dedicated to the North African telecoms market moves to Tunisia to address the dynamic French-speaking markets.
    The expanded conference agenda is now in development and will feature a host of new topics led by a speaker panel featuring some of North Africa's leading telcos.  Contact us today to apply to speak in the conference, or reserve your sponsorship or exhibition package. Be one of the first to see the 2011 agenda and sign up for your copy.
    For more information visit here:

    CDN World Summit 2011
    26 - 28 October 2011, Hilton Hotel Paddington, London.

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most
    comprehensive CDN event ever.The full value chain is represented including content providers,broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information visit here:

    Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    29 October to 01 November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya.

    For more informtion visit here:

    Africa Com
    9 - 10 November, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    Join 5,000 of Africa’s leading telcos in Cape Town this November for what is set to be the biggest and best AfricaCom yet.  The conference agenda has doubled to incorporate a record 150+ speakers presenting across 4 strategic keynotes, 11 in-depth focus sessions and 2 co-located events – AfricaCast and Enterprise ICT Africa.  What’s more 250+ international solutions providers will be showcasing their latest products in the networking exhibition. For more information visit here:


    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9–11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who’s who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here:  or contact Vivian at vivian.ho@olygen.com

    AITEC East Africa East Africa Summit
    2-3 November, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    East Africa has become one of the fastest growing ICT investment markets and the region’s ICT Summit it designed as the region’s forum to bring together users and vendors of ICT technology in a stimulating educational and business networking environment. The 2011 Summit programme will focus on the following themes:
    •    Data Security
    •    Mobile Apps
    •    Cloud Computing
    For the conference programme, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011,
    Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2

    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

    AfriHealth
    30 November – 1 December 2011, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    The leading continental forum on e-health, m-health, health management systems and capacity development. AfriHealth 2011 will focus on current research, development and implementation of ICT technology and resources in the African Healthcare arena. A key objective of the conference, now in its fourth year, will be to share knowledge and experience from practical mobilization of ICT-based healthcare systems and projects, to showcase best practice through practical case studies and highlight potential for scaling up success stories at national and regional levels. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money COMESA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Now in its sixth year, this has become the leading educational, networking and marketing event for Eastern and Southern Africa’s financial services sector. In addition to the conference’s established intensive education programme covering core banking, mobile money and microfinance topics (over 100 speakers in 2011). For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    InsureAFRICA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Insurers seeking effective performance in service delivery, cost reduction and profit levels need to embrace technology, viewing it not as a support function but as a key enabler of competitive advantage at all levels of operation. InsureAFRICA is the first specialised conference for the African insurance and pensions industry to evaluate the systems and innovative channels needed to compete and thrive in a rapidly expanding industry. With the theme “Effective management strategies and systems for a new era of expansion and inclusion”, the conference will be the continent’s first forum to gather knowledge and experience for a rapidly growing industry. For the Call for Papers, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012
    14 - 15 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012 will bring together industry experts and representatives from leading financial institutions, mobile operators and solutions providers to provide a strategic insight into mobile VAS while exploring collaborative business models, innovative applications, technologies and straegies. For more information visit here:

    Roaming & Interconnect
    16 - 17 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    RIC Africa 2012 will uncover new strategies to boost roaming traffic and retain existing roamers. During the conference we will look at the innovative roaming solutions and pricing, supplementing roaming with alternative revenue streams, the latest EU regulations and their impact on operations in Africa, as well as the importance of hubbing and convergence.  For more information please visit here:

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa
    6 June 2012, Accra International Conference Centre

    Now in its fifth year, the conference will cover a wide range of strategic and technology topics to empower West Africa’s banking, microfinance and insurance professionals with the knowledge they need to lead their organisation effectively through the turbulent market and regulatory conditions they face. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

  • - Rene Meza has quit as CEO of Airtel Kenya after a three year stint at the second largest mobile phone service provider locally. Meza who joined Airtel Kenya on July 7th 2008 has now joined Tanzania's Vodacom in the same capacity. Airtel had in July denied unofficial reports that the MD had left the company. Airtel has been undergoing a restructuring program and in recent months has seen the exit of some senior managers.

    - Shivan Bhargava has been appointed Airtel Kenya Managing Director to replace Rene Meza who has quit to join Vodacom Tanzania in the same capacity. Bhargava was the firm’s Chief Operating Officer, a position he occupied until his appointment.

  • IT- Account Management Reference Number:
    AJS0011422

    Preferred Degree: Relevant Qualifications
    Job Type: Permanent/Full Time
    Job Country: South Africa
    Job Location: Pretoria-South Africa
    Experience (Years): 2-4
    Job Description

    Title: IT Advisory Analyst

    Business Unit: IT Advisory

    Reporting to: ITA Directors

    Purpose of the Job:

    Working as part of a national team of professionals to advise clients in managing risks associated with IT infrastructure, information management, information technology governance, business systems, projects, information security and strategic IT consulting.

    Key job duties or responsibilities:

    Forming part of a team responsible for client service delivery to scope on various IT
    Advisory and Assurance engagements;
    Extensive client liaison, working mainly off-site at client premises (travel is involved)
    Building a solid of understanding of the clients we service – the issues they face, key developments in their industry sector, etc.
    Conducting reviews of clients general and application controls, documenting findings and compiling reports
    Working to deadlines
    Act as a peer advisor to new / junior team members
    Developing areas of specialisation in line with the division's objectives;
    Building sustainable business relationships with both internal and external clients.

    Critical Technical Skills or Competencies

    IT audit experience – reviewing diverse application and general control environments
    IT Risk Management interest and understanding.
    Experience in business process analysis
    Understanding of tools and audit process methodologies
    Effective written and verbal communication
    Ability to spot problems and recommend solutions
    Interest in IT Consulting, and a desire to build a long term career in one or more of the following areas:
    IT Audit
    IT Performance and ROI
    IT Risk and Compliance
    IT Governance
    IT Security and Privacy
    ERP Implementation a

    Critical Interpersonal or Interactive skills

    Potential candidates must demonstrate strong business acumen, analytical skills, good client relationship development aptitude, high energy, an enquiring mind and professional integrity.
    Good time management skills
    Conscientious approach to delivering results on engagements
    Ability to follow instructions accurately
    Ability to work well in a team environment
    Able to remain calm and focused, even when under pressure
    Proactively evaluate own skills and knowledge, able to identify own strengths and areas for development

    Qualifications and experience

    Minimum of 2 to 3 years relevant experience in an IT Audit or IT risk consulting environment
    Completed B degree (B com / B Sc) is required
    Further relevant qualifications/certifications desirable (PMP, CISA, CISSP, CGEIT, etc)

    For further information please visit here


    The deadline for submitting projects for the Orange African Social Venture Prize has now been extended to 30 September.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize, which was launched in June 2011, will be part of the prestigious AfricaCom Awards. In this context, the prize-giving will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, on November, 9th.
    Through the establishment of this Award, Orange is actively supporting dynamic, youngentrepreneurs and start-ups across its footprint in Africa. The prize aims to offer support to entrepreneurs who have innovative ideas for promoting social development by using IT and telecommunications technology, but do not necessarily have the financial or technical resources to put their ideas into action.
    Following numerous requests by interested candidates and to allow entrepreneurs to complete their file, the deadline for submitting projects has now been extended by two weeks. Candidates are invited to submit their dossiers via www.starafrica.com by 30 September to be eligible for the award.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize will be awarded to three entrepreneurs or start-ups that offer solutions based on mobile networks or IT systems that are designed to address various social and welfare issues faced by Africans across the continent. Projects may range from banking or payment services to applications in essential areas such as healthcare, education and agriculture.
    In addition to the prestige of winning the award, Orange is committed to financially supporting and offering expert assistance to the winning entrepreneurs or start-ups. The three prize winners will receive an endowment of between EUR 10,000 and 25,000, and will benefit from six months of support from management and ICT experts at Orange.
    Any entrepreneur or company that has been in existence since June 2008 may participate at no cost and with no restriction on nationality. Submitted projects must be designed to be deployed in at least one of the 17 African countries in which Orange operates.
    The Orange African Social Venture Prize is coherent both with the Group’s strategy for development and with its Corporate Social Responsibility policy. By encouraging social entrepreneurship, Orange hopes to underscore the role that telecommunications technologies can play in the economic and social development of emerging countries.

telecoms

  • India's Bharti Airtel has announced that it has been awarded a GSM and 3G license in Rwanda, expanding its African continental footprint to 17 countries.

    The company added that it plans to invest over US$100 million in the country over the next three years. According to the statement, this also marks the largest investment out of India into Rwanda.

    Sunil Bharti Mittal, CMD, Bharti Airtel said, "Rwanda is a key telecom market with immense growth potential and will strengthen Bharti Airtel's footprint in East Africa."

    According to the National Statistics Institute of Rwanda, the mobile penetration in the country was 38.4%, as of July 2011.

    Last year, the regulator, the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) said that it would award a fourth mobile license when conditions were correct. However, last month, the regulator cancelled the mobile network operating license held by another network operator, Rwandatel for allegedly failing to meet its license conditions.

    The market now has just two networks, until Airtel launches its network.

    The company may have the option of buying the defunct Rwandatel network to speed its launch into the country.

  • Communications minister Roy Padayachie has downplayed recent statements by his deputy, Obed Bapela, that government may seek to allow law enforcement agencies, through the courts, to get access to the records of people using the popular BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.

    In a strongly worded statement on Thursday, Padayachie says he aligns himself with a statement issued by justice minister Jeff Radebe, who is the coordinator of the justice cluster in government that the state has “no intention to regulate or legislate against BlackBerry encryption messenger services”.

    “Government is still working on a policy statement on cyber matters, which policy will review current regulatory and legislative instruments with respect to cyberspace matters,” he says.

    Bapela made the comments about BBM at Telkom’s annual Satnac conference in East London earlier this week, saying “a lot of criminality” was happening using the BlackBerry service. “We might have to follow Britain and Saudi Arabia to say we need to have [access to] a decryption system if crimes are committed [using the BlackBerry service],” Bapela said.

    He later clarified that government wasn’t specifically targeting BlackBerry, but any communications platform that could be used to commit crime.

    In his statement, Padayachie says he “welcomes the willingness of [BlackBerry maker] Research in Motion to work closely with government to prevent the abuse of the encrypted messenger services by criminals for unlawful purposes”. But, he says, “government has no intention to intercede or interfere with the privacy of communications between private citizens for lawful purposes.”

  • After criticising the direction of the telecoms industry in Uganda, South Africa-backed MTN Uganda has increased its on-net and off-net tariff to UGX4 (USD0.0014) per second. MTN Uganda’s chief executive Themba Khumalo said that in light of the country’s economic condition, the tariff structure needed to be adjusted to prevent the industry from ‘self-destruction’.

    For most of 2011, operators in Uganda’s cramped telecom sector have been offering calls at below cost rates; a practice which the regulator is in the process of taking steps to restrict. During a visit to Kampala last week, Sifiso Dabengwa, MTN’s CEO described the direction of the market as unsustainable, and said that it would likely be to the detriment of the industry as it would hamper investment in the sector. He went on to say that MTN is spending to upgrade its mobile money offerings, which have been suffering from ‘technical issues’.

  • The recent cellphones blackout has given birth to a fresh war of words between giant companies, the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunication Corporation (SPTC) and Swazi MTN.

    The two companies are currently embroiled in a legal battle over the One Fixed mobile phones launched by SPTC. MTN is contesting that SPTC cannot run a similar project as theirs before clearing certain things that involve sale of its (SPTC) shares with MTN. Last weekend, the country experienced a blackout that somehow was placed squarely on SPTC’s laps. MTN further apologised to its customers over the blackout.

    “SPTC wishes to unequivocally disassociate itself from Swazi MTN’s network outage experienced on Saturday. The statement issued by Swazi MTN imputing that the outage was as a result of a break in the SPTC backbone link between Mbabane and Matsapha is wholly inaccurate and lacks any basis whatsoever,” reads the statement in part.

    SPTC management stated that they were not privy to reasons behind Swazi MTN’s unfounded assertion.
    “However, we are cognisant of the detrimental effects the statement has on the image of SPTC as a telecommunications service provider both domestically and globally”. There was no immediate comment from MTN.

    In April High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala declared that there is not a conflict of interest in the SPTC entering the retail market as it was no longer a shareholder in MTN Swaziland, having recently transferred its 41% shareholding to the Ministry of Finance. Further, Maphalala indicated that the SPTC has shed its regulatory responsibilities, handing them over to the government’s Ministry of Communications. In January the SPTC provoked MTN’s ire when it denied the cellco a 3G licence despite the fact that the network had successfully been trialled during the Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa (COMESA) summit in August 2010. No reason was provided for the licence refusal.

internet

  • Kenya will soon be hooked to yet another undersea fibre optic cable following the near completion of the laying of a France Telecom funded Lower Indian Ocean Network 2 (LION2).

    The ship laying the LION 2 — which is set to be Kenya’s fourth undersea fibre optic cable — arrived in Mombasa last Tuesday, marking the completion of actual cable laying.

    The cable will now be connected to a main submarine cable in international waters for testing, and is expected to go live in the course of the first half of next year.

    The 56.5 million euros (Sh7.5 billion) LION2 will connect Kenya to Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius and La Reunion Islands.

    LION2 is an extension of LION, which connects the Indian Ocean Islands to the world. The initial LION was laid in March last year.

    France Telecom, through its subsidiaries in the region — Mauritius Telecom, Orange Madagascar and Telkom Kenya — is a major investor in the second phase of the cable and has put in Sh4.18 billion of the Sh7.5 billion.

    The new cable will be a boost to Telkom Kenya, which is actively pursuing deployment of Internet infrastructure in Kenya after it launched a high speed 3G network last week.

  • FNB Connect has announced that it will be offering its ADSL customers free access to YouTube. This means that customers who are registered for FNB Connect Surf can now browse the world’s most popular video viewing site between 7pm and 11pm until August 2012 at no cost. Registration is free and newly registered users also get 1 (one) free GB of ADSL data to browse other sites.

    FNB Connect previously launched a free YouTube promotion for a period of 2 (two) months and has now decided to re-launch this promotion based on customer uptake and demand.

    Farren Roper, Head of Products and Markets at FNB Connect says “This has been very popular amongst our clients and we achieved a 70% growth rate base on our last promotion. We would like to offer this to our ADSL customers to thank them for their continued patronage as well as attract a new base of customers who want to enjoy this data indulgence.”

    FNB has in the past month made strides into the digital world with the launch of South Africa’s first banking App. Roper goes on to say “The increased emphasis on digital is deliberate and in line with our overall approach.  We have taken a customer centric view, championing the cause for low cost internet access and an increased digital presence.”

    With the free YouTube promotion, FNB Connect now offers their ADSL clients free data in order to access popular social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube respectively. FNB Connect offers unshaped data for ADSL, which means that users can expect a faster experience. “Our customers can expect quality free surfing at great speeds,” concludes Roper.

  • President Paul Kagame will, this week, host members of the Global Broadband Commission for Digital Development, to a two-day event that starts September 8, in Kigali.

    The broadband commission brings together some of the world's top leaders in governments, industry and international community to devise strategies for accelerated deployment and access to broadband technology globally.

    President Kagame co-chairs the commission alongside Mexican Billionaire, Carlos Slim.

    "The Commission brings together some of the world's leading figures in government,industry,academia and development community to draw strategies for using technology to address some of the world's most intricate and complex developmental challenges facing mankind," David Kanamugire, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of ICT, said in an interview.

    He added that despite the proven benefits of broadband technology, there is always a risk of these technologies taking decades before benefits trickle down to the billions of people in the world that need them.

    "Failure to timely seize the technological opportunities renders nations and their societies trapped in poverty and unable to effectively compete on the global arena."

    The two day meeting will also bring together African Ministers of ICT, regulators as well as youth from around the continent.

    The first day of the meeting will see the commissioners and African policy makers interact with the African youth on broadband opportunities and challenges faced by the youth. On the second day, President Kagame will co-host the commission meeting together with Slim.

computing

  • Kenya Data Network  (KDN) has unveiled a multimillion-dollar state-of-the art data center to be used for hosting data and software applications.

    Speaking at the launch this week, KDN Chief Executive Officer Rikus Matthyser said the Data Center, now ready for occupation, is a unique facility offering reliability and convenience for corporate clients and financial institutions looking for international standard facilities.

    “This Data Center is testament to our commitment to provide world class services in the field of ICT in this part of the World.  The unique facility will enable our clients achieve their business objectives while cutting down on their overheads in telecommunications and data storage infrastructure,” said Matthyser.

    “As KDN, we are committed to providing convenient service through innovative products in telecoms in the region and are looking to develop our clients’ efficiency.  The center is a facility set up to provide physical environment that will ensure the day-to-day running of various communication equipment and application systems with a main objective of ensuring availability levels meet clients expectations at an affordable costs,” he added.

    He said the center was designed with a typical KDN customer in mind and offers world-class services while guaranteeing safety of the data stored in it.

    It is proposed that the data centre, located at Sameer Park off Mombasa road, will host applications to serve international and local businesses.
It is expected that the centre will relieve the region from the task of seeking back-up services in Europe and America.

    Breaking ground for the Sh600 million (about $US 6.4 million) centre in December 2009 Kenya Prime Minister Raila Odinga said government was keen to make Kenya a green economy by 2020.

    The solar powered energy data centre will serve Kenya and other African countries willing to safeguard essential data under a secure environment.
 Technology employed in building the centre will ensure the structure can withstand even a bomb attack.

    The centre is classified at security level seven, which is the highest in the world and similar to that of the United Nations and top intelligence agencies across the world where secure data is vital.
ICT experts say many companies spend between two to four per cent of their budget on disaster recovery planning.

    Completion of the data storage facility is therefore expected to save the companies from losses and damage resulting from interruptions of their infrastructure and data. 
KDN partnered with Teldor Cables and Systems to supply and deploy a fibre optic network to be used in the new data centre.

    Matthyser said that the center is targeted at a global market focusing mainly on offering of hosting services to clients in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

  • Admire Bio has the reassured presence of a successful businesswoman, with an edge that reveals she is still hungry for more. Bio, 28, a single mother living with her parents, set up her first internet cafe in the Sierra Leone capital, Freetown, only a year ago. She has expanded with two more branches, and plans to go national if she can secure a bank loan.

    "My biggest motivation is challenging men," she says, "to [get women to] say: 'Yes! I can be successful without you'."

    But things aren't easy. "Men make you dependent," says Bio. "Women only get loans with collateral from male relatives. My fiance offered his land. Worse, it's common to be pressured into sex by bank staff, if there isn't a man's backing, when women apply for loans. I'm angry women can't succeed alone."

    The swell of internet users in her cafe tells Bio she is on a winning road. Access to the internet and computer literacy is an area of much needed growth and investment. Only around 0.3% of the population are described as internet users, while fibre-optic broadband will not arrive until next year. Bio offers women evening computer courses "to make them stronger".

    Meanwhile, mobile phones are ubiquitous, in urban areas at least, with around 26% of people owning one. In the absence of widespread internet access, mobiles have been seen as something of a panacea for development in Africa.

    Kenya's M-Pesa money-transfer is hailed by technology gurus and development experts alike as an example of how poverty can be bypassed and development hastened. However, "banking the unbanked" has been questioned by some, as mobile money often caters for already affluent groups.

    M-Pesa's success inspired Sheka Forna back to his homeland, Sierra Leone, to start Splash. Since it launched in 2009, Splash has convinced around 100,000 people to forsake real money for the virtual kind, effectively using their sim cards as bank accounts.

    Airtel's Zap cash transfer service has changed the way Sierra Leone's city dwellers buy a coffee or receive their salaries. But Splash's growth has been slower than the company's projections, says Forna. "We're a new brand, and phone coverage is low and expensive. Getting nationwide agents to deal in Splash cash has been hard, with poor literacy and a limited mobile-savvy market."

    Facilitating microcredit repayments through mobiles was the initial spur for M-Pesa. In Sierra Leone though, the technological leap with microcredit has so far been more of a stumble.

    Hope Micro was among the largest microfinance institutions in the country. But it suffered a 20% portfolio loss (around $300,000) when half its customers defaulted in 2009. "With no credit-rating agency, customers held the equivalent of multiple credit cards. It's a blow for women – they're 85% of our clients," says SD Kanu, the institution's director.

    Hope Micro embarked on a six-month pilot with Splash to reduce interest rates (currently 36%) and add a competitive edge. "It wasn't successful," says Kanu. "Few of our customers are mobile-literate. Splash agents are small shopkeepers and their revenue wasn't enough to be committed."

    To build mobile literacy, Splash and Hope Micro have started a new pilot: dispersing loans "to get customers used to the idea that their money is actually there", explains Kanu. In just one month, the pilot has already dispersed $30,000.

    The Sierra Leone technology market is still in its infancy, says Trina DasGupta, director of the mWomen programme, which aims to boost female phone ownership with a view to improving access to services and increasing economic empowerment.

    Part of the problem is a gender gap in phone ownership; in Sierra Leone, women are 43% less likely than men to own a mobile. "This means poor women are kept in the financial and information dark ages – relying on men who are the primary phone owners," she says.

    This year, the US state department sent a fact-finding mission of women technology experts and entrepreneurs to see how technology can reduce poverty and close the gender gap.

    "There wasn't a businesswomen's group to introduce the delegation to," says Naasu Fofanah of Unipsil, the UN's peacebuilding office. "This was a startling gap. We know effective development comes when women are targeted. The same has to be true when improving women's ability to do business, for example, with women's unfettered access to finance and improving their technological knowhow."

    "There's a need to nurture a culture of real entrepreneurship to allow women to grow. As a first step, we need to put businesswomen on the map," she says.

    Unipsil and local NGO Afford-SL are working with women across the country to establish a national business network. "Once we have this kind of structure we can begin to bridge the gap between urban and rural businesses, for example, through technology, networking and training," says Manja Kargbo of Afford-SL.

    "Yes, I'll join a women's network," says Admire Bio. "I always tell women they can be like me - stronger by saving, investing and doing business with technology."

  • With this new approach to learning, the children will become more creative and innovative as the laptops help enhance what they are taught in schools in a more practical way.

    The country has invested a lot in technology, as evidenced by the completion of the laying of the fiber optic.

    According to the OLPC programme coordinator, Rwanda targets to have half a million laptops in primary schools across the country.

    The benefits of such an investment may not be in the short term, however, by starting to impart technology skills to the children at a young age, they will grow to become the future IT experts.

    Various sectors including health, banking, transport, infrastructure, telecommunication and local government are adopting modern technology into their daily operations. The country has, in the past, relied on foreign expertise to develop, run and maintain these systems.

    But, with programmes like the OLPC, the will be a vast human resource base that is technologically advanced to foster the much needed expertise to propel the country to greater heights.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has confirmed that France Telecom (FT) is the only bidder for its 49% stake in Congo Chine Telecom (CCT). Already in talks with Chinese vendor ZTE for its 51% share of the company, FT is expected to pay around EUR300 million (USD) in total for the operator, a reflection of its level of debt, rather than its value. Reuter reports that, Elie Girard, FT’s executive director said that this is an ‘important step, but not the final step of the process of the withdrawal of the state from CCT and the acquisition’. The move is part of a broader strategy from FT to increase its presence in emerging markets to offset increasing competition and declining revenues in Europe. France Telecom CEO Stéphane Richard said that the company also looks to bolster its leadership in Egypt.

  • The government expects consumers and smaller operators to benefit from the formation of a new private/public organisation that will build and manage Long Term Evolution (LTE) infrastructure, commonly known as 4G.

    The move by the Ministry of Information and Communication is seen as an admission of flaws in the licensing and allocation of 3G spectrum, where operators have been unable to fully roll out infrastructure because of expensive licence fees ($15 million or Sh1.4 billion) and high capital expenditure.

    Currently, Safaricom has the most extensive 3G infrastructure with 1,500 base stations on 3G compared to about 2,500 base stations country wide. Telkom Kenya has 220 sites on 3G while Airtel is currently testing its 3G network.

    Globally, technology has moved to LTE, which is seen as an answer to connecting rural and under-served areas though the cost of rolling out the infrastructure is prohibitive for operators who are yet to take 3G out of major towns to rural areas.

    The expense and slow roll out even by bigger operators prompted the government to invite bids for public private partnership to build, operate and maintain a national open access network, which will bring together operators and equipment vendors.

    In the public-private partnership, the government hopes to set a global precedent, where operators can share both active and passive components in the network.

    "This will be a first in the world where operators will share both passive and active infrastructure, the benefits will be passed on to the consumer in form of cheaper broadband," said Dr Bitange Ndemo permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication.

    Ideally, an open access platform will benefit small and big companies that will have an opportunity to provide services without worrying much about expensive licence fees or the capital expenditure of rolling out the network.

    "In principle, having a single (large) network should not be a problem, normally the concern arises around who is going to manage or maintain it and how will it be managed," said Mr Dobek Pater, senior telecoms analyst at Africa Analysis, an ICT consultancy firm.

    There has been discontent in the industry over the advert requirement that the private partner must be tier 1 network operator, 20 per cent Kenyan owned and ability to roll out to 47 counties within a year.

    Some players feel that the requirements were skewed in favour of the largest mobile network but Mr Ndemo sees the move as a savior to smaller ISPs which have been unable to compete with mobile networks.

    "This is the only way to salvage Internet Service Providers owned by small businesses to be able to compete; people need to understand open access and shared infrastructure," said Mr Ndemo.

    Globally, there is no uniformity on the spectrum band for use in LTE. For instance, Safaricom is testing LTE on its GSM band, which may interfere with other services already on offer like voice, 3G and 2G.

    Globally, LTE is optimised for 2.6GHz but Kenya faces a bigger trick because that spectrum is currently being used by the military.

    The Communications Commission of Kenya has been in discussions with the military to migrate its services to fibre and release the spectrum, even though CCK has also maintained that there are other available mechanisms like utilising the analogue spectrum, which will be released by the television stations, once Kenya migrates to the digital platform. The spectrum, commonly known as digital dividend is on 700 MHz band, is expected to be reallocated on a competitive basis.

  • Is French telecommunications giant Orange, the mobile subsidiary of France Telecom, buying JSE-listed IT services company Business Connexion (BCX)? Three separate industry sources, none of whom is employed by either company, have told TechCentral they understand the two parties are in discussions about a deal.

    Orange has long been rumoured to be sniffing around the SA market for an acquisition. A couple of years ago, it was rumoured to be interested in Cell C, though that speculation was never firmed up.

    A purchase of BCX, one of the largest listed IT companies on the JSE, would cost the French operator — which owns networks in a range of francophone countries in Africa — billions of rand, assuming it swallows the whole company.

    BCX CEO Benjamin Mophatlane says he can’t confirm or deny the two companies are in talks. “We do not comment on a cautionary [notice],” he says. An Orange spokesman in France says the company has “no official comment”.

    BCX — which is trading under a cautionary notice because it is in discussions that could affect its share price — has a market capitalisation of R2,2bn. An acquisition would be the biggest foreign direct investment in SA’s technology sector since last year’s blockbuster R24,4bn acquisition by Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone of Dimension Data.

    Orange is the world’s fifth largest mobile phone operator, with more than 210m customers. In Africa, it has businesses in Kenya, Cameroon, Senegal, Madagascar, Reunion, Tunisia, Uganda, Botswana, Mauritius, the Central African Republic, Mali, Niger, Equatorial Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

    BCX, meanwhile, has stated it is keen to expand more aggressively in Africa and analysts polled by TechCentral say a tie-up with Orange would allow it to grow into new markets on the continent where the French company already has operations.

    If market speculation is correct — and one source believes a deal between Orange and BCX could be concluded within weeks, pending regulatory approvals — it could send tremors through the local IT services industry.

    As telecoms operators and IT services firms increasingly converge on each other’s markets, mergers are becoming more commonplace. Telecoms firms see IT services as a new growth area and IT companies are increasingly considering it necessary to align themselves with operators.

    If a deal between Orange and BCX is on the cards, it will be the second time in recent years that the SA company has been courted by an operator. In 2006, Telkom offered R2,4bn to buy the company, but was thwarted by the competition authorities over concerns the deal could have a deleterious effect on competition in the IT market.

  • Airtel Uganda has suspended plans to stop accepting inbound calls from Uganda Telecom following intervention from the government.

    Airtel has been in dispute with Uganda Telecom for some time over a US$2.3 million debt that Telecom is struggling to pay.

    "They have agreed a new payments plan and so will not to switch off Uganda Telecom calls," Godfrey Mutabazi, the executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) told the East African Business Week. "Both UCC and the ministry of information and communication technology have agreed with Airtel not to go ahead and lock out Uganda Telecom subscribers from accessing their network." he added. The details of the settlement and the debt repayment plan are being kept confidential.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • -  In South Africa, First National Bank has launched a new service called Pay2Cell that allows its accountholders to make payments to other FNB accountholders using only the recipient’s cellphone number. To make a payment, customers must be registered for cellphone banking. To receive payments, they only need to be registered for inContact, FNB’s SMS notification service. There is a limit of R1 500/transaction.

    - Mozambique's publicly owned mobile phone operator, M-Cel, has announced that it is launching onto the market a cell phone that will cost only 449 meticais (about 16.5 US dollars). This phone, which M-Cel claims will be the cheapest on the market, is an Alcatel OT208 multi-functional handset. In June, Vodacom launched what was then the cheapest cell phone on the Mozambican market - the Chinese-made model ZTE S512, which sells for 499 meticais.

    - South Africa’s mobile service provider Vodacom has unveiled a new step to protect its customers from cellphone fraud by automatically locking a SIM card if any irregular call activity is detected. Vodacom stated that they saw an increase in the number of cases relating to International Revenue Share Fraud (IRSF), and with this fraud a syndicate steals handsets or SIM cards from victims and uses them to dial international premium numbers which could result in cellphone bills as high as R120 000.

    - Samsung has unveiled the Galaxy S II smartphone in Kenya. Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S II, Samsung Electronics East Africa Business Leader, Robert Ngeru confirmed that the Android powered smartphone would be hitting the market to further enhance Samsung’s local offering.

    - Zimbabwe’s largest mobile operator, Econet Wireless, will at end of the month launch a mobile payment system that makes it possible for Zimbabweans to pay bills using their cellphones. The company said it had spent millions of dollars on developing the system, which will be launched to its over 5 million customers, completely eliminating the need for any notes for purchases below USD20.

    - In Liberia, mobile operators Cellcom and Lonestar/MTN have launched mobile banking services. Cellcom has joined ranks with UBA Bank while Lonestar/MTN has partnered with Ecobank. Statistics also show that just about only 10% of Liberians have bank accounts while over 40% of the population has mobile phones. So, with difficult roads and limited formal banking facilities around Liberia mobile banking services will provide the opportunity for more Liberians, particularly in the rural areas to have access to cash, transfer money, pay bills, do business and improve their lives economically.

    - News24 and Samsung South Africa have combined to produce the first local Smart TV application. The News24 app can be accessed from any Samsung Smart TV and offers the hooked-in user news reports, the latest sports results, financial indicators, celebrity gossip and much more. The move mirrors the recent UK launch of the BBC News app on Samsung TVs.

    - Mobile operator, Cell C has deployed its HSPA+ network in Welkom, Kroonstad and Koppies, extending its coverage in the Free State. The latest expansion of the network now puts Cell C's national coverage at 63% of the South African population.

Digital Content

  • Technology company, Google, plans to reduce the cost of smart phones in Africa to an affordable range in order to boost the use of the internet.

    The company intends to sell genuine smart phones at prices below Shs225,000 ($80) to encourage more Africans to abandon basic phones with a few functions, according to Mr Nelson Mattos, the vice president for Google Europe, Middle East and Africa.

    Smart phones are those designed with the internet and thousands of applications to enable their users to rely on them as mini-computers.

    Genuine smart phones from companies like; Nokia, Samsung, Apple, LG and Huawei cost between $90 and $800 a range that is out of reach for ordinary Africans and other developing markets.

    “When you look at the disposable income in Africa compared to that in Europe, the price (of smart phones) in Africa today is 100 times more. So, it’s not surprising that the uptake of smart phones in Europe is taking off and not in Africa,” Mr Mattos told Daily Monitor in interview yesterday during the Google conference in Kampala.

    He added that Google’s planned partnership with US firm Motorola, maker of Motorola phones, is aimed at creating affordable smart phones for its emerging markets including Africa and Asia.
    “We know that majority of people in Africa access the internet via the mobile phone, Motorola being a player in that industry will allow us to speed up access to the internet through the uptake of smart phones,” he said.

    Uganda has about 4 million internet users who access the internet at least once a month, according to the Uganda Communications Commission.

    Google, which has operations in Uganda is playing a key role to promote the use of the internet through creating local content for internet users.

    For instance, the company has mapped most key and relevant places in Uganda and has also translated its search engine to Luganda, Kiswahili, Luo and Runyakitara.

  • Social media has moved incredibly quickly from a specialist tool to a must-have channel of engagement with customers.

    Building on the unique one on one conversation that social media makes possible, Vodacom has increased the number of people working in its specialist dedicated customer care team and increased their hours of operation.

    The customer care team are now live on Twitter (@vodacom111) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/Vodacom) from 7am to 10pm every day, including weekends.

    “I don’t think any of us had an inkling what we were letting ourselves in for back in early 2010 when we kicked off our social media activity on Twitter. We made two key decisions which are really paying dividends.

    First, we set up the dedicated Twitter channel for customer care, @vodacom111, and made sure that the people resolving the queries were frontline on Twitter with nowhere to hide. We then added to that same team and put them on to the Facebook page as well, scouring customer posts for issues to resolve,” said Portia Maurice, Chief Officer Corporate Affairs.

    With more than 27 million customers in South Africa, Vodacom’s social media team were always going to have their work cut out for them. From starting up a year and a half ago, the reality has been beyond any expectations.

    The company now has more than 20,000 followers on its two main Twitter channels and is rapidly approaching 100,000 Facebook fans, giving the team a huge volume of customer care queries to handle.

    “There’s always a challenge separating customer care activities from all the other engagements that happen via our social media channels but with the structure we’ve put in place, I think we’ve found a good balance,” Maurice added.

"Dernières Nouvelles"-Edition Française, 8 septembre 2011, No 166

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Editorial

  • La liste des pays africains qui ont introduit, songe à introduire ou ont renoncé à introduire une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants s’allonge de jour en jour. Cette liste non exhaustive comprend le Congo-Brazzaville, la Guinée, le Niger, la Côte d’Ivoire, le Gabon, la Mauritanie, le Ghana, Madagascar, le Sénégal et le Libéria. Balancing Act a suivi cette affaire depuis la tentative avortée en Côte d’Ivoire en août 2009. Isabelle Gross résume les derniers rebondissements dans cette affaire au Sénégal et revient sur le projet de réglementation de l’Autorité des Télécommunications du Libéria d’introduire une taxe similaire dans l’un des pays les plus pauvres du continent africain.

    Le 24 août 2011 marque le retour de la taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants au Sénégal suite à la signature du décret présidentiel  No 2011-127. Un bien triste jour pour le secteur des télécommunications au Sénégal et la diaspora sénégalaise ! Selon la presse sénégalaise, les prises de position des partisans et des opposants au décret réintroduisant une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrant ont été comme suit durant les derniers dix jours (il s’agit d’une sélection):
    - Seneweb rapporte  le 7 septembre que l’intersyndicale de la Sonatel s’est réunie  pour discuter d’un plan d’action pour faire reculer l’Etat. Selon Ndèye Founé Niang, secrétaire générale du Sntp, l’intersyndicale a décidé de lancer « les mercredis de la honte », qui se feront toutes les semaines.
    - dans son édition du 6 septembre, Sud Quotidien publie que l’Entente nationale des associations de consommateurs (Enac) n’est pas d’accord avec l’attitude de Momar Ndao, président de l’Ascosen (Association des consommateurs du Sénégal) qui défend l’introduction de cette taxe.
    - dans une interview accordée à Rewmi, le Ministre chargé des télécommunications, M Moustapha Guirassy répond aux propos de la Directrice de la Communication de la Sonatel (dont toute l’argumentation est bien sur en défaveur de la taxe)
    - le 6 septembre encore, Dakaractu annonce être en possession d’un document de 33 pages qui développe un argumentaire détaillé en faveur de la surtaxe des appels internationaux entrants.
    - le 30 août, le journal local le Soleil publie que le ministre de la Communication, des Télécommunications et des Tic, porte-parole du Gouvernement, Moustapha Guirassy, a annoncé la mise en place imminente d'une commission nationale de surveillance des appels téléphoniques entrants au Sénégal. Le ministre, qui a d'abord confirmé la signature du décret instituant un système de contrôle et de tarification des appels entrants par le chef de l'Etat, a indiqué que le contrôle sera assuré par l'Agence de régulation des télécommunications et des postes (Artp). La mise en place de cette commission nationale, a dit le ministre Guirassy, prouve la volonté de l'Etat d'assurer « la transparence ».
    - Le 24 août dernier, l'Organisation des professionnels des technologies de l'information et de la communication (Optic), évoquant la question de la surtaxe sur les appels internationaux, invitait à une concertation nationale regroupant tous les professionnels du secteur. Une démarche qui, selon cette organisation, semble être indispensable pour trouver une solution qui agrée toute les parties. Cette invite de l'Optic part du fait que les différents acteurs du secteur sont loin d'avoir un avis favorable sur le sujet qui concerne la surtaxe des appels entrants.

    Alors que la pression continue au Sénégal en faveur du retrait de ce nouveau décret introduisant une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants, la société Global Voice Group (GVG), le leader dans le domaine des systèmes de contrôle n’est plus la seule société offrant de tels services. N’importe quel ingénieur télécoms vous dira qu’il n’y a pas besoin de chercher de « midi à quatorze heures » pour développer un système de contrôle des appels internationaux entrants. Les autres sociétés qui offrent aujourd’hui un service similaire à celui de GVG ont compris qu’il y a de l’argent à faire dans ce créneau et qui plus est c’est de l’argent facile.

    Suivant les traces du Sénégal, du Ghana ou encore de la Guinée, le Libéria s’est décidé à s’engager dans la même voie. Au début du mois d’août, l’Autorité des Télécommunications du Libéria (Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA)) a sorti un projet de réglementation sur le trafic international. Ce document de quatre pages a du être écrit à toute vitesse parce qu’il manque de clarté quant au type de trafic qui sera contrôlé et taxé. Dans son projet de réglementation, LTA fait parfois référence « aux appels internationaux entrants et sortants » tantôt à « tous les appels routés vers le code pays +231 » ou encore « la mise en place d’un système de contrôle et de rétention pour le trafic domestique et le trafic international entrant ».  Le moins que l’on puisse dire c’est que ce projet de réglementation reste bien confus à l’exception de l’article dans lequel LTA prescrit que « tous les appels internationaux entrants terminant sur des numéros d’abonnés avec le code pays +231 sont assujettis à une taxe réglementaire minimum de 0.15 dollars US par minute (en supplément du prix en gros qui est aux alentours de 0.12 dollars US par minute) qui sera collecter par l’opérateur de terminaison pour le compte de LTA ».

    Tandis que les opérateurs télécoms du Libéria vont être transformés en collecteurs d’impôts, il reste toujours d’actualité de rappeler à LTA que cette taxe réglementaire est en contravention avec la Convention de Melbourne de l’Union Internationale des Télécommunications (UIT) de 1988  et l’accord sur le commerce des services de l’Organisation Mondiale du Commerce (OMC) de 1998.

    La convention de Melbourne qui a été signée par une majorité de pays africains comprend un Règlement des Télécommunications Internationales (RTI) qui stipule dans son article 6 intitulé « Taxation et comptabilité » à l’alinéa .1.3 « Quand la législation nationale d'un pays prévoit l'application d'une taxe fiscale sur la taxe de perception pour les services internationaux de télécommunication, cette taxe fiscale n'est normalement perçue que pour les services internationaux facturés aux clients de ce pays, à moins que d'autres arrangements soient conclus pour faire face à des circonstances spéciales. » Il ressort clairement que cette nouvelle taxe sur les appels entrants sera payée par l’appelant à l’étranger et par conséquent elle est en violation directe avec les règles définies par le Règlement des Télécommunications Internationales qui s’appliquent à tous les pays signataires de la convention de Melbourne.

    Par ailleurs l’annexe du quatrième protocole d’Accord sur le Commerce des Services (AGCS), Accord sur les télécommunications de base, négocié sous les auspices de l’Organisation Mondiale du Commerce (OMC) en février 1997, entré en vigueur le 1er janvier 1998, indique que les taxes de répartition telles que les tarifs d’interconnexion nationaux doivent tendre vers les coûts. En d’autres termes, les taxes de répartition ne doivent pas être plus élevées que les tarifs d’interconnexion locaux (sauf prise en compte du coût additionnel minimal du segment international). Au vue de ces deux articles, il apparaît clairement qu’aucune taxe ne doit être appliquée au trafic international entrant.

    Il convient aussi de rappeler la Déclaration de Dakar de novembre dernier dans laquelle les opérateurs télécoms de l’Afrique de l’Ouest réitèrent leur opposition à un tel système de taxation. En parallèle aux violations légales, le Libéria devrait aussi considérer les conséquences économiques de l’introduction d’une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants: elle aura un impact négatif sur la compétitivité du pays en accroissant le coût de faire des affaires durant une période de récession mondiale; l’augmentation du prix de terminaison des appels internationaux entrants aura un effet négatif sur les entreprises de Libéria tourné vers l’import/export; pour les familles au Libéria avec des membres vivant à l’étranger, l’augmentation du prix d’appel vers le pays se traduira par des appels plus courts et moins d’argent disponible pour envoyer au Libéria.

    J’ai récemment échangé par mail avec un Libérien résidant aux USA et sa réponse quant à l’introduction d’une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants a été comme suit « la taxe réglementaire de LTA n’est pas progressive dans mon opinion ». Le point principal s’est l’aspect progressif. Il s’agit bien de développer un cadre réglementaire qui soutient le développement des TICs et non pas une réglementation qui prend les opérateurs télécoms et les consommateurs pour des vaches à lait !

  • Avec l'avènement de plusieurs compagnies de téléphonie mobile, les consommateurs ont vu, avec soulagement, les prix des communications baisser au fil des années et des mois, suite à plusieurs actions menées par la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina (LCB). La concurrence est telle entre les différentes sociétés que c'est à qui écrasera le plus les prix.

    Si au début, cette concurrence a été saluée par les consommateurs, force est de reconnaître que depuis quelques mois, joindre son correspondant au téléphone mobile et entretenir une conversation soutenue sans coupure intempestive relève du miracle.

    Surtout avec un opérateur qui se présente comme le leader du secteur. En effet, la baisse des prix s'est accompagnée, dans presque toutes les compagnies, d'une baisse de qualité telle que les consommateurs ne savent plus vers qui se tourner.

    Pendant cette période également, les campagnes promotionnelles annonçant des remises exceptionnelles, des bonus, des cadeaux, donnent le tournis aux consommateurs. Et là aussi, c'est à qui donnera le plus de « cadeaux » à sa clientèle !

    Tenez ! Vous décidez d'acheter des unités, le plus dur reste à venir, à savoir les utiliser. Vous essayez de joindre votre correspondant, il faudra vous y prendre à plusieurs reprises. Et si par hasard vous parvenez à le joindre, soyez patient car votre communication sera coupée plusieurs fois, vous obligeant ainsi à composer autant de fois la ligne coupée.

    Une pratique récurrente qui laisse croire qu'elle est sciemment entretenue par les opérateurs pour voler leur propre clientèle. Finalement, ne soyez pas surpris si les unités que vous avez achetées ne vous permettent pas de réaliser la durée de communication annoncée à grand renfort de publicité.

    Quant aux clés de connexion à l'internet, le coût d'acquisition et celui de l'abonnement restent élevés pour le consommateur qui, malheureusement, rencontre beaucoup de difficultés quant à leur exploitation.

    Et quand il parvient à se connecter non sans peine, le débit qu'il reçoit sur son ordinateur est nettement en deçà de celui auquel il a souscrit. Lorsque la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina a saisi les différents opérateurs, chacun nous a promis que la situation allait changer en mieux pour les consommateurs, car des travaux étaient en cours.

    Pire, depuis le mois de mai 2011, un communiqué de l'Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) nous annonçait une enquête « pour mesurer la qualité de service vue par les clients et vérifier par la même occasion le respect par les opérateurs des obligations de qualité de service contenues dans leur cahier des charges » (Cf. L'Observateur Paalga du vendredi 13 au dimanche 15 mai 2011).

    Où en sommes-nous plusieurs mois après ? Le constat reste très amer pour le consommateur : la communication téléphonique reste mauvaise, tandis que les opérateurs continuent, à travers des communiqués, d'appeler les consommateurs à la patience.

    Combien de temps ce jeu qui s'apparente à de l'arnaque qui ne dit pas son nom va-t-il durer ? Qu'en est-il des cahiers des charges signés par les prestataires de téléphonie mobile s'engageant à offrir un service de qualité ?

    Les autorités ont, certes, rappelé à l'ordre les responsables de ces sociétés qui ont promis des services de qualité. Malheureusement, aucune sanction n'est prise par l'ARCEP pour contraindre les opérateurs à respecter leurs engagements, si bien qu'elle a une part de responsabilité dans cette attitude désinvolte des opérateurs vis-à-vis des consommateurs.

    Fort de tout ce qui précède, la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina (LCB), en sa qualité de défenseur du droit des consommateurs, estime également qu'il est temps que des actions soient menées pour protéger les consommateurs qui assistent, impuissants, à ces prestations de mauvaise qualité surfacturées.

    C'est pourquoi, elle dénonce le mystère fait par les autorités sur le contenu du cahier des charges ; exige des compagnies de téléphonie un service de qualité et de l'autorité de régulation l'application de sanctions immédiates contre tous ceux qui ne respectent pas le cahier des charges; interpelle les autorités sur la nécessité de la représentation de la Ligue des consommateurs du Burkina au sein de l'autorité de régulation pour une meilleure prise en compte des intérêts des consommateurs ; invite les consommateurs, à rester mobilisés, pour des actions fortes en guise de protestation.

    Le Pays
  • La tension monte à Maroc Telecom (Itissalat Al Maghrib – IAM). Après une série de sit-in et quelques débrayages dont le dernier remonte à juin dernier, le personnel de l'opérateur historique de téléphonie au Maroc en prévoit un nouveau à la fin du mois d'août courant.

    La grève ainsi programmée durera 3 jours, les 29 , 30 et 31 au cas où l'Aid Al Fitr coïnciderait avec le 1erseptembre ou les 29, 30 août et 2 septembre où ladite fête aurait lieu le 31 courant.

    La décision de la grève a été prise le 13 août à Rabat lors de la réunion de la coordination syndicale qui a également appelé à l'organisation de nombreux sit-in de protestation au niveau local, et ce à partir de la semaine prochaine.

    Dans un communiqué émanant de 4 syndicats représentant le secteur, affiliés à la FDT, la CDT, l'UMT et l'UNTM, la coordination nationale exprime son mécontentement de la décision unilatérale de l'administration d'IAM qui a ajouté une demi-heure à l'horaire normal au mois de Ramadan, violant ainsi les articles 11 et 24 du Code du travail.

    Devant la fuite en avant et sa politique pour dissuader le personnel de poursuivre sa lutte jusqu'à satisfaction de ses revendications, l'administration d'Itissalat Al Maghrib a opté, souligne ledit communiqué, pour de viles pratiques qui ont pour dessein de semer la terreur et la zizanie parmi le personnel.

    Appel a été également lancé à l'ensemble du personnel pour faire face aux rumeurs émanant, particulièrement, de certains responsables qui ont préféré prévaloir leurs intérêts personnels sur ceux du personnel.

    Tout en confirmant leur attachement à leur cahier revendicatif et à poursuivre leur lutte par tous les moyens légales, y compris le recours à la justice, la coordination syndicale appelle l'administration d'Itissalat Al Maghrib à opter pour la sagesse et faire prévaloir ses intérêts et ceux de son personnel.

    A rappeler que plusieurs grèves et sit-in avaient été organisés ces derniers temps par le personnel d'IAM, au niveau régional ou devant le siège de l'entreprise à Rabat.

    Libération
  • Le secteur agricole a su profiter de la Révolution Industrielle avec la mécanisation et l’utilisation de produits phytosanitaires, à outrance parfois. Mais il n’a pas encore réellement bénéficié de la révolution numérique, au contraire de la plupart des autres pans de l’économie et tous les types d’organisation.

    L’utilisation d’outils de communication modernes est pourtant déjà répandue dans les grandes exploitations agricoles occidentales : tracteurs équipés d’ordinateurs, consultation par Internet de services météo spécifiques, consultation des cours des matières agricoles sur les marchés financiers et ventes des récoltes, traçabilité sanitaire du bétail assurée par des puces électroniques et scans, etc.

    La vraie révolution ne réside donc pas tant dans la technicité des innovations et services mis à la disposition des agriculteurs, que dans le potentiel de diffusion de ces technologies par le biais d’un outil quotidien devenu banal : le téléphone portable. Avec plus de 4,5 milliards d’utilisateurs dans le monde (contre 2 milliards en 2005), la diffusion du mobile est exceptionnelle, par son ampleur et sa rapidité. Pour les agriculteurs des pays en voie de développement, elle représente l’opportunité d’accéder facilement à des techniques et services simples. Ceux-ci permettent d’améliorer l’ensemble de leur chaîne de valeur, de l’installation jusqu’à l’écoulement des produits en passant par l’approvisionnement et l’exploitation.

    Les technologies de communication, et notamment le mobile ont un rôle immédiat dans la production agricole. En premier lieu, par la diffusion de la connaissance. L’agriculture est affaire de savoir-faire, et la multiplication des contacts entre agriculteurs ainsi que la mise à disposition de conseils aux agriculteurs sur internet permettent de mieux diffuser les techniques les plus efficaces. Les applications du mobile peuvent aussi se révéler plus concrètes comme le prouve l’expérimentation en Inde du module « Raita Mitra ». Ce boîtier, connecté à une pompe hydraulique, repose sur un fonctionnement simple : lorsque que l’électricité est suffisante pour alimenter la pompe, un SMS est envoyé à l’agriculteur. L’agriculteur envoie alors un SMS avec un code basique (ex : ON) pour démarrer la pompe et irriguer son champ. Il lui suffit de renvoyer un SMS (ex : OFF) pour arrêter la pompe. Cette innovation a l’avantage de résoudre 2 problèmes majeurs pour les agriculteurs des pays en voie de développement : la disponibilité de l’eau et de l’électricité. En déclinant cette logique de contrôle à distance par téléphone portable, il est possible d’imaginer de nombreuses autres applications pouvant aider les agriculteurs, y compris des pays occidentaux, à gagner en productivité. L’information envoyée par des modules de type Raita Mitra pourrait ainsi être complétée avec le taux d’humidité du sol, mesurable par capteur, et les prévisions météorologiques. Ainsi, l’agriculteur ne déclenche pas l’irrigation si son champ n’en a pas réellement besoin. L’enjeu de disponibilité de l’eau douce est tel que ces innovations sont nécessairement appelées à se développer.

    L’étude d’Abraham (2007) a montré le rôle de la téléphonie mobile dans l’amélioration de l’efficience des marchés agricoles en Inde ; plus précisément sur les marchés de poissons, au sein desquels le mobile permet aux pêcheurs d’aller débarquer le poisson là où le prix est le plus fort. Les pêcheurs interrogés ont aussi placé le téléphone mobile en 3ème position parmi les améliorations techniques qui ont favorisé leur développement, derrière la mécanisation et l’amélioration des infrastructures de transport. Plus de 80% des mareyeurs, des poissonniers et des transporteurs interrogés reconnaissent également que le mobile a permis de diminuer la volatilité et la dispersion des prix entre les marchés. Le mobile serait donc un outil majeur d’amélioration de l’efficacité des marchés agricoles. Cet impact est également confirmé par l’étude d’Aker (2008), qui démontre que l’utilisation du téléphone portable permet aux céréaliers d’augmenter leur zone de chalandise et donc  leur prix de réserve. En réduisant les monopsones, l’accroissement de la diffusion d’information a initié au Niger un mouvement de lissage des prix sur des zones géographiques étendues.

    De véritables plateformes de négoce en ligne se développent par ailleurs, à l’image de « Esoko » en Afrique. Elle met en relation des producteurs et commerçants via Internet et SMS dans près d’une dizaine de pays essentiellement d’Afrique de l’Ouest (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire…). Les inscrits reçoivent par des SMS ciblés le prix des produits agricoles qui les intéressent sur les différents marchés, les informations météorologiques et à l’avenir l’état des stocks des distributeurs. De telles plateformesrévolutionnent l’accès à l’information sur les prix pour les populations rurales et contribuent à améliorer les revenus des agriculteurs  : ils profitent de nouveaux débouchés et d’une meilleure anticipation des prix. L’offre d’information se complète progressivement par le développement de réseaux de bureaux physiques dédiés aux agriculteurs. Ces bureaux visent à informer et à faciliter l’accès à Internet, à l’image des « PICA » en Afrique de l’Ouest (Point d’Information Commerciale Agricole, issus du projet MISTOWA cofinancé par USAID).

    Outre l’information sur les prix agricoles, l’accélération de l’information permet une meilleure gestion de l’approvisionnement de la chaîne de distribution des produits agricoles et notamment des stocks. Le meilleur écoulement des produits agricoles n’a donc pas qu’un impact sur les revenus des agriculteurs mais également sur la sécurité alimentaire des populations concernées. Les émeutes de la faim à Haïti en 2008 n’étaient par exemple pas seulement dues à une hausse des prix des produits agricoles, mais également à une mauvaise répartition des quelques stocks de nourriture encore disponibles. De même, la diffusion d’informations météorologiques ou sanitaires (épidémies animales…), contribue à mieux anticiper les risques de pénuries ou les excédents de production, et à mieux répartir la production agricole.

    Les technologies de l’information ont donc grâce à Internet et surtout au mobile un rôle primordial de fluidification des marchés agricoles. Ilse traduit concrètement par une hausse des revenus des agriculteurs et une moindre précarité alimentaire pour les populations. Une conséquence évidemment intéressante pour les pays souffrant d’une insuffisance chronique de l’offre alimentaire.

    Une autre innovation permise par les technologies mobiles est la micro-assurance à distance, à l’image de celle proposée dans le programme « Kilimo Salama ». Lancée par la Fondation Syngenta, l’opérateur mobile Safaricom et l’assureur africain UAP, l’opération a permis en 2010 à plus de 9000 agriculteurs d’assurer leur récolte contre la sécheresse. La technologie mobile est présente à toutes les étapes du processus d’assurance : la souscription, la vérification des critères de déclenchement de l’indemnisation et le paiement de l’indemnisation.

    A la souscription, les fournisseurs scannent le code barre des intrants (semences, engrais, phytosanitaires…) achetés par l’agriculteur. La police d’assurance est alors automatiquement enregistrée par l’assureur et confirmée par SMS à l’agriculteur. Le coût de l’assurance est de 5% du prix des intrants scannés. L’indemnisation est déclenchée automatiquement dès lors que des stations météorologiques locales, connectées au réseau 3G, détectent des conditions météorologiques susceptibles de détruire les récoltes (sécheresse ou pluies excessives). Tous les agriculteurs de la zone impactée sont alors immédiatement indemnisés par paiement mobile.

    Là encore on ne peut qu’anticiper un développement massif de cette offre, au bénéfice de toutes les parties prenantes. En effet, la téléphonie mobile dispose de trois caractéristiques illustrant sa capacité de contribution au développement de pans entiers de l’économie en tant que technologies de base ou « technologies polyvalentes »: l’omniprésence (la téléphonie mobile est utilisée dans tous les secteurs), l’amélioration (la technologie ne cesse d’évoluer permettant une baisse des coûts pour les utilisateurs) et l’innovation induite (le mobile contribue à l’amélioration de nouveaux produits ou processus). Les agriculteurs et entreprises qui l’ont compris en tirent déjà profit, tout en contribuant à lutter contre la faim.

    Paradoxalement alors que les enjeux sont essentiels et les cas pratiques bien réels, le croisement entre le monde de l’agrobusiness et des TICs n’est pas encore naturel. Les opérateurs télécoms n’ont pas encore investi ce créneau, alors que les secteurs de la santé ou de la banque sont observés avec intérêt. Pourtant un vrai double relais de croissance commun entre ces secteurs économiques mériterait que les acteurs le regardent de plus près.

  • Le secteur des Technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) dans la région connaît un développement majeur avec la signature d'un accord de principe entre l'African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC) et la Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

    Une collaboration plus étroite entre l'African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC), et la Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). C'est désormais possible après la signature d'un accord de principe entre ces deux organismes le 24 août dernier, à l'Hôtel Hyatt Regency Kilimandjaro à Dar es Salaam, en Tanzanie, lors du 6e Forum Connecting Rural Africa.

    Le protocole d'accord a été signé par Adiel Akplogan, PDG d'AfriNIC, dont le siège à Maurice se situe à Ebène, et le Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, PDG de la CTO.

    Cela qui marque là le début d'une coopération bilatérale entre AfriNIC qui est le registre Internet pour l'Afrique et l'océan Indien et la CTO. L'objectif : améliorer la collaboration sur les différentes actions visant à promouvoir les Technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) et son rôle dans le développement par la recherche conjointe, la formation et le renforcement des capacités sur les questions de haute importance, tels que l'Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

    Ainsi AfriNIC et la CTO pourront participer à des événements et à des conférences pour améliorer la diffusion des messages importants et en même temps créer une plateforme pour partager leurs connaissances et développer de nouveaux partenariats.

    Pour le PDG d'AfriNIC, Adiel Akplogan : « C'est une étape très importante dans notre mission à AfriNIC à contribuer activement au renforcement des capacités individuelles et institutionnelles sur tout ce qui concerne l'Internet dans notre région. L'Internet n'est pas seulement un outil de communication mais est aussi un outil économique qui a ses propres pratiques et règles.

    En Afrique, nous n'avons d'autre choix que d'adapter notre environnement à cela. Une synergie durable entre les acteurs et parties prenantes est la seule façon pour procéder avec succès au changement pour un brillant futur socio-économique », a-t-il souligné.

    Cette initiative a été concrétisée en ligne avec les objectifs et buts communs d'AfriNIC et de la CTO considérant les avantages que peuvent en tirer leurs différents partenaires à la suite des synergies réalisées grâce à cette collaboration.

    L’Express
  • Le portail interactif des Ressources éducatives libres de (REL) de l’Université virtuelle africaine (UVA) vient de remporter le premier prix de la catégorie Meilleure initiative émergente du site Education-Portal des Etats-Unis d’Amérique (USA).

    ‘’Plus de 4.000 personnes ont voté et décerné aux Ressources éducatives libres (REL) de l’UVA le premier prix dans la catégorie Meilleure Initiative Émergente. Le prix a été organisé par le site Education-Portal.com basé aux Etats-Unis’’, indique un communiqué de l’UVA reçu à l’APS.

    Le portail est accessible dans 142 pays, ‘’bien au-delà de l’Afrique, avec une majorité d’accès provenant du Brésil et des États-Unis. Le site, lancé en janvier 2011, est conçu pour accueillir du contenu gratuit et libre, développé en partenariat avec 10 pays africains et adapté aux besoins des étudiants africains’’, explique le communiqué.

    ‘’Du point de vue éducationnel, ce prix démontre que l’Afrique est en train de changer un modèle de développement qui prend des ressources de la communauté internationale en un modèle qui donne du contenu pertinent et intéressant, qui contribue au dialogue international en éducation’’, a dit Bakary Diallo, recteur de l’UVA, basée à Nairobi (Kenya).

    Le portail REL de l’UVA est financé par la Banque africaine de développement (BAD) et héberge 219 modules éducationnels libres, divisés en plusieurs thèmes (manuels en mathématiques et en sciences, formation des enseignants, compétences de base en TIC, etc.).

    Créée en 1997, l’UVA est une institution d’enseignement supérieur qui fait appel aux techniques d’information et de communication moderne pour ‘’offrir au continent africain des ressources éducatives de haute qualité, en provenance du monde entier’’.

    APS
  • «Designée en Californie par Apple, assemblée en Chine». Cette inscription sur chaque produit de la marque à la pomme est désormais devenue mythique, voire chic, tant elle pourrait résumer une facette de la globalisation.

    Le congolais Verone Mankou, 25 ans, s’apprête à lancer à la rentrée la première tablette «Conçue au Congo, assemblée en Chine». Ce jeune entrepreneur de Brazzaville a fondé sa start-up de communication 2.0, VMK, en 2009 tout en étant conseiller du ministre des Télécommunications congolais Thierry Moungalla. Et il a développé au cours de ces deux dernières années une tablette tactile «pensée et désignée en Afrique».

    Un projet coûteux et audacieux qui lui a valu un certain nombre de critiques. Avec pour toile de fonds l’affaire de l’ordinateur portable Nhava, soi-disant conçu et fabriqué au Zimbabwe. Mais cette année, les consommateurs enthousiastes à l’idée de soutenir une initiative innovante africaine ont déchanté lorsqu’ils ont appris qu’il s’agissait en fait d’une vulgaire copie fabriquée en Chine et importée. Rien d’innovant, et rien d’africain donc.

    Face à cette vague de suspicion, Verone Mankou a adapté sa stratégie de communication et joue la carte de la transparence. Il assume, défend son projet mordicus et s’explique sur le fait que sa tablette soit fabriquée en Chine et développée avec un partenaire au Canada. Il a d’ailleurs publié sur son site des photographies de l’usine de fabrication située dans les environs de Shenzhen, réputée être le paradis de la contrefaçon. Mais alors en quoi cette tablette est-elle africaine, s’interrogent les sceptiques qui soupçonnent une copie chinoise de plus, commercialisée en Afrique avec une rhétorique publicitaire locale qui vise à mettre en avant un projet «made in Congo» . A 25 ans, ce jeune patron fait fi de ces polémiques et revient sur la genèse de ce projet mais aussi sur la controverse autour de l’origine de sa tablette.

    Comment avez-vous eu l’idée de cette tablette ?

    Vérone Mankou: Fin 2005, je travaillais chez un Fournisseur d’Accès Internet. Et c’est à ce moment là que je me suis mis à chercher une solution pour donner accès à Internet au plus grand nombre. A l’époque, c’était un luxe, car les ordinateurs coûtaient excessivement cher. Au départ j’avais imaginé un ordinateur tout-en-un. Ensuite, j’ai travaillé sur un projet d’ordinateur portable pour finir par une tablette. J’ai laissé dormir le projet car à l’époque c’était quasiment impossible ! J’ai vraiment commencé à travailler sur cette tablette à partir premier semestre de 2010.

    Vous avez une formation d’ingénieur, comment avez-vous travaillé pour concevoir cette tablette, notamment la partie «hardware» ?

    Je ne suis pas encore ingénieur car j’ai fait une pause dans ma formation pour des raisons professionnelles.  Je me suis occupé seul de la partie hardware, ce qui m’a pris beaucoup de temps et de travail car ce n’est pas mon métier de base. Du coup j’étais obligé de demande l’aide d’un ami congolais expatrié au Canada qui est ingénieur, spécialiste en Java. Il m’a beaucoup aidé notamment pour la conception de «l’App Store» de la tablette. J’ai aussi demandé l’aide d’un autre développeur que je connais, basé en Asie. Lui m’a conçu une interface (un launcher) Android adaptée pour une tablette de 7 pouces.

    Quelle est la particularité de votre tablette par rapport à l’iPad ou aux autres tablettes Android ?

    Il s’agit d’une tablette d’entrée de gamme, donc une comparaison avec l’iPad ou la Xoom, qui sont des produits haut de gamme, serait assez difficile. Mais je reste persuadé que son coût bas et sa très bonne qualité  restent des atouts non-négligeables. Et puis, les autres tablettes mises sur le marché, rien que par le nombre d’unités produites, font d’elles des produits grand public en occident. Et les grandes marques qui les produisent ne s’intéressent pas vraiment à l’Afrique. Moi, je n’ai pas les moyens d’en produire assez, du coup, la tablette VMK est plutôt un produit de niche.

    Techniquement, quelles sont ses caractéristiques ?

    Elle a la même capacité qu’un iPad. La tablette fonctionne sous le système d’exploitation Android 2.3 avec un écran 7 pouces sous un processeur de 1 gigahertz et un espace disque de 4 gigaoctets avec 512 mégaoctets de RAM.

    Quel a été le coût d’élaboration ?

    Sans compter la phase de production, de bout en bout, ce projet a coûté près 114 000 euros sans apport d’un investisseur, juste par autofinancement. Mais pour la phase de production qui démarre au début du mois de septembre, nous avons déjà les garantis d’investissements, c’est juste une question de temps !

    Son prix de vente?

    Au Congo elle sera vendue autour de 150 000 Francs CFA (soit près de 200 euros).

    Elle sera en vente qu’au Congo ?

    Non mais sa présentation officielle se fera au Congo en septembre lors de l’Africa Web Summit que j’organise. Et la commercialisation est prévue fin septembre au Congo mais aussi dans plusieurs autres pays africains via un réseau de partenaires que nous sommes en train de monter. Le but à moyen terme est d’offrir la possibilité à tous d’avoir une tablette.

    Votre tablette est fabriquée en Chine, pensée et développée au Congo avec des relais au Canada, en Asie…En quoi est-ce une tablette africaine, comme vous l’affirmez ?
     
    L’iPad est une tablette pensée par une entreprise américaine mais assemblée en chine. Or, on dit bien d’elle que c’est une tablette américaine, n’est-ce pas ? Idem pour les tablettes d’Archos, qui est une entreprise française, qui assemble ses tablettes en Chine, on dit bien d’elles qu’elles sont des tablettes française voire européennes, n’est-ce pas ? Alors pourquoi  une tablette, imaginée par une entreprise congolaise, donc africaine, assemblée en chine, comme les 90% des tablettes sur le marché, qui sera distribuée dans plusieurs pays africain, ne serait-elle pas une tablette Africaine ? Rien que pour ça !

    Que répondez-vous aux accusations de contrefaçon voire d’escroquerie industrielle porté à l’encontre de votre projet ?

    Je pense que c’est un mélange d’afropessimisme et de mauvaise foi. On dit que c’est impossible qu’un tel projet puisse venir d’une si petite entreprise quand on voit les sommes importantes qu’injectent les grandes entreprises dans la Recherche et le Développement pour des produits équivalents.  C’est une preuve de mauvaise  foi. Il suffit de lire l’article, « TC Teardown: 13 Ways To Get To $10 Million In Revenues », de Steven Carpenter, publié sur le site d’information tech californien Techcrunch. Ce spécialiste de l’industrie y explique simplement : «Il y a trois facteurs pour lesquels je pense qu’on verra une explosion d’innovation dans le hardware ces prochaines années: 1) les coûts de fabrication vont continuer à diminuer en Chine en même temps que leur potentiel de produire des petites séries augmente, …».  Ce qui est fondé car en connaisseur de la Chine j’ai pu toucher  de près cette réalité.

    Mais certains disent que les caractéristiques de votre tablette sont proches des contrefaçons chinoises…

    Mais ce que certains ignorent c’est que j’ai défini ces «specs» depuis mai 2010 pour un produit qui devait sortir en Septembre 2011. Ce qui prouve que j’ai vu juste car c’est devenu la norme aujourd’hui. On dépeint la ville de Shenzhen en disant qu’elle est la plaque tournante de la piraterie en Asie, ce qui n’est pas faux, mais on omet de dire que c’est de Shenzhen que nous viennent les produits Apple, les ordinateurs HP, les téléphones portable & Smartphones ( Huawei, ZTE, HTC,…), les consoles de Jeux Playstation et bien d’autres ! Est-ce par oubli ? Non, je pense qu’il y a bien une mauvaise volonté derrière tout ça !

    Avec cette tablette, votre start-up VMK se lance dans le «hardware», ce qui est rare en Afrique, pourquoi selon vous ?

    Pour la simple raison que les infrastructures pour le hardware coutent très chères, ce qui que fait que beaucoup  de pays et d’entreprises privées n’osent pas se lancer dans de tels investissement quand on sait qu’il nous manquent encore des hôpitaux, des routes, des écoles,…

    Slate Afrique
  • Madagascar peut-elle devenir une destination phare des services informatiques ? Nombreux sont les opérateurs qui croient réellement à cet avenir. Surtout que la Grande île est reliée à deux câbles optiques sous-marins, Eassy et Lion.

    Le secteur du service informatique transforme petit à petit le paysage économique malgache. La plupart des jeunes entrepreneurs se tournent actuellement vers le « business process outsourcing » ou bien le service de sous-traitance.

    Le nombre de services offerts par les sociétés implantées durant ces dernières années varient : service clientèle, vente, prise de rendez-vous, campagne de promotion, finance, e-business, et tout autre métier autour du Web, comme rédacteur web, développeur ou télé-opérateur. Il suffit de faire un petit tour sur les sites d'emplois comme jobmada.com pour se rendre compte du développement réél du secteur.

    Madagascar représente une menace réelle pour les autres destinations de l'Océan indien. L'arrivée des câbles optiques a fait trembler les entreprises mauriciennes, l'une des destinations phares du marché francophone.

    Si « le manque d'infrastructure représente un réel obstacle au développement du secteur des nouvelles technologie », ainsi que le confie un responsable d'une société de service et d'ingénierie en informatique (SSII) locale, la connexion de Madagascar avec le reste du monde aux câbles optiques sous-marins Eassy et Lion.

    « L'installation de ces fibres optiques a toujours eu un impact positif sur l' économie des pays où cela est arrivé, avec la création de plus de sociétés travaillant dans le secteur de la nouvelle technologie de l'information et de la communication (NTIC), la présence des investisseurs étrangers, et la création de milliers d'emplois.

    L'e-banking se développe grâce à ce type de connexion plus fiable. Il faut s'attendre à une hausse du taux de croissance et du produit intérieur brut (PIB), à la fois par les activités directes du secteur et par les effets indirects sur la facilitation des activités dans les autres secteurs.

    Désormais, Madagascar peut figurer sur la carte des destinations des offshores et services informatiques », a déclaré Olivier Robinson, un grand spécialiste du secteur TIC dans une interview accordée à L'Express en décembre 2010.

    Pour les opérateurs regroupés au sein du groupement des opérateurs en technologie de l'information et de la communication (Goticom), leur position est claire. « La destination Madagascar est et reste toujours une destination à fort potentiel pour les Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication, d'autant que les crises qui se sont succédé - mondiale et nationale - n'ont eu que peu d'impacts sur les entreprises du secteur ».

    Si Maurice est très connue dans le domaine de l'offshore informatique, elle a un problème de ressources humaines qualifiées actuellement. Elle se voit obligée de recruter des compétences, non seulement malgaches mais aussi sur le continent africain. Madagascar est le vivier de ressources humaines de la sous-région. Chaque année, 50 à 100 ingénieurs sortent des grandes écoles malgaches.

    A cela s'ajoutent les techniciens formés par les différents instituts privés. « Madagascar représente un réel danger pour l'offshore mauricienne. Le manque de personnel inquiète beaucoup les investisseurs », explique un autre opérateur.

    Mais à chaque problème, une solution. Si dans un premier temps, les opérateurs ont importé leur main-d'oeuvre de la Grande île, ils privilégient aujourd'hui l'option de délocaliser leurs activités dans la Grande île. Madagascar est donc une plaque tournante, un nouveau carrefour pour les services informatiques. En mars dernier, Maurice se voit obligée de tisser un partenariat avec la grande île.

    C'est ainsi que le Goticom et son homologue mauricien l'Outsourcing and telecommunications association Mauritius (OTAM) ont signé un protocole d'accord visant à promouvoir la destination Tic dans l'Océan indien.

  • L'ICT Academy, le centre de formation pour les nouvelles technologies, ne fait pas l'unanimité auprès des opérateurs privés. Ces derniers reprochent au ministère de l'Information de l'Information et des Technologies (TIC) de ne pas consulter les différents acteurs du secteur Business Process Outsourcing dans le cadre de ce projet informatique.

    Annoncée, au départ, pour le mois d'août, l'ouverture de l'ICT Academy devrait se faire vers la deuxième semaine du mois de septembre. Toutefois, ce centre de formation dédié aux professionnels du secteur des TIC fait froncer les sourcils aux acteurs du Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Ces derniers déplorent le manque de dialogue entre ministère des TIC et les opérateurs.

    « Il ne faut pas oublier que nous sommes des acteurs importants du secteur des TIC. Or, nous constatons qu'au niveau du ministère, on refuse de nous communiquer les informations », avance une source de l'Outsourcing & Telecommunications Association of Mauritius (OTAM).

    « Nous sommes sollicités au niveau du ministère uniquement lorsqu'on a besoin de nous, et nous n'hésitons jamais à collaborer, mais nous regrettons que cette collaboration se fasse uniquement dans un seul sens », affirme cette même source.

    Le président de l'OTAM, Roshan Seetohul indique, pour sa part, soutenir le projet de l'ICT Academy pleinement, il laisse toutefois entendre que cette institution pourrait être appelé à mieux fonctionner, s'il y avait une volonté au niveau du ministère des TIC, de concerter avec les différents acteurs du secteur.

    Du côté du ministère des TIC, un proche collaborateur du ministre Chedumbrum Pillay indique qu'il constate que plusieurs acteurs du BPO sont en train de tout faire pour mettre des bâtons dans les roues.

    « Nous voyons qu'il y a une certaine frustration du côté de ces chefs d'entreprises qui auraient souhaité jouer un rôle plus important au niveau de l'ICT Academy, mais ce projet implique une connaissance plus vaste », explique-t-il.

    L’Express
  • Le chiffre d'affaires de la Sonatel a connu une hausse si l'on compare le 1er semestre 2011 à la même période en 2010. La société est passée de 295 milliards de francs Cfa à 312 milliards, soit 5,76 % de plus.

    La Sonatel a réalisé, au cours du 1e semestre 2011, un chiffre d'affaires de 312 milliards de francs Cfa, soit une hausse de 5,76 % par rapport à la même période en 2010 (295 milliards de francs Cfa), révèle la Lettre mensuelle de la Cgf-Bourse parvenue à notre rédaction.

    Le Sénégal, avec 63 %, a été le principal contributeur à ce chiffre d'affaires global de l'entreprise, viennent ensuite le Mali avec 31 %, la Guinée (5 %) et la Guinée-Bissau (1 %).

    La Sonatel, indique le document de Cgf-Bourse, estime cependant que les marges, restées à un niveau appréciable, sont en baisse sous l'effet de la concurrence, des mesures fiscales défavorables (hausse de la taxe Rutel de 2 à 5 %) et du développement des charges réseaux induit par l'abondance (trafic en hausse du fait des offres promotionnelles).
     
    Selon la Lettre mensuelle, la marge nette globale a été impactée par la fin de l'exonération de l'impôt sur les sociétés au Mali. Ce qui a eu comme conséquence de voir le résultat net, sur la période, reculer de 20,21 %, à 75 milliards de francs Cfa, comparativement au 1e semestre 2010.

    Néanmoins, ajoute-t-on, les perspectives de croissance restent favorables et la pression sur les marges devrait être bien contenue avec le programme renforcé d'optimisation des charges que la Sonatel va dérouler à partir du second semestre 2011.

    Il s'y ajoute que la fin de l'exonération de l'impôt sur les sociétés au Mali a été bien anticipée dans la politique de dividende et n'aura pas d'impact sur celle-ci, rassure la Sonatel.

    Le Soleil
  • Des contrats-programmes ont été signés, mardi à Rabat, entre l'Etat et quatre clusters marocains, sélectionnés suite au premier appel à projets, lancé en février 2011, dans le cadre de la mise en oeuvre de la "Stratégie Maroc Innovation" pour sa composante "promotion des clusters".

    Les clusters sélectionnés sont TIC (Maroc Numeric Cluster), qui s'inscrit également dans le cadre de la stratégie Maroc Numeric 2013, le Cluster microélectronique (Morocco Microelectronics Cluster), le Cluster électronique (Mécatronique et Mécanique du Maroc- CE3M) et le Cluster Océan pô le TAN TAN (valorisation des produits de la mer).

    Ces contrats définissent les obligations de l'Etat et des clusters, ainsi que les modalités d'attribution, de versement et d'évaluation du soutien étatique qui consiste en l'octroi, sur une période de trois années, d'une subvention annuelle pour la mise en place et le fonctionnement des structures d'animation de ces clusters. Le montant de cette subvention, qui sera allouée par l'Etat aux quatre clusters, s'élève à 17 millions de dirhams (MDH).

    Les contrats-programmes engagent les clusters sur des indicateurs précis, tels que le nombre de projets de R&D collaboratifs, le nombre de brevets, le nombre de start-up créées, le nombre d'emplois en R&D créés et le nombre de formations réalisées.

    A ce titre, les quatre clusters sélectionnés s'engagent, au bout de trois ans, à produire 81 projets de R&D collaboratifs et 28 brevets, ainsi qu'à créer 24 start-up et 266 emplois en R&D.

    Le ministre de l'Industrie, du Commerce et des Nouvelles technologies, M. Ahmed Reda Chami, qui présidait la cérémonie de signature des contrats programmes, a souligné l'importance de la "Stratégie Maroc Innovation" qui permettra d'accélérer le développement du Maroc et de l'inscrire durablement dans l'économie du savoir.

    Pour leur part, les représentants des clusters sélectionnés ont affirmé que cette stratégie vise l'éclosion d'une économie à forte valeur ajoutée et permet d'attirer davantage d'investissements.

    La promotion des clusters figure parmi les chantiers phares de la stratégie Maroc Innovation qui a fixé comme objectifs la production de 1.000 brevets marocains à partir de 2014 et la création de 200 start-up à l'horizon 2014.

    La promotion des clusters constitue un levier important pour produire de la propriété intellectuelle et favoriser l'émergence des start-up, à travers les projets collaboratifs innovants orientés marché et impliquant aussi bien les entreprises que les universités, les centres de recherche et les institutions de formation.

    Les objectifs du ministère de l'Industrie, du Commerce et des Nouvelles technologies, à travers la stratégie de promotion des clusters est de stimuler et accompagner 15 clusters industriels et technologiques et de favoriser l'émergence de 100 projets collaboratifs innovants à l'horizon 2013.

    Pour l'opérationnalisation de cette stratégie, un Fonds d'appui aux clusters, doté d'une enveloppe de 62 MDH pour la période 2011-2013, a été mis en place pour le financement des clusters sélectionnés.

    Le deuxième appel à projets est prévu pour novembre 2011 dans le but de labelliser six autres clusters dans les secteurs industriels et technologiques, au titre de l'année 2012.

    MAP
  • Epouser l'air du temps. C'est le sens de la révolution que le Groupe Fraternité Matin veut apporter dans le domaine de l'information en Côte d'Ivoire en innovant avec FratMat Mobile.

    Il s'agira, pour les abonnés de la société de téléphonie mobile, Orange Ci, d'avoir toute l'actualité en temps réel. La mise en service de FratMat Mobile démarre aujourd'hui. Les nombreux abonnés d'Orange devront taper #129# pour être informés en temps réel sur leur téléphone portable.

    Pour ce qui est de la tarification, il convient de préciser que la première consultation de ce service coûte la somme de 250F comme frais d'abonnement pour quinze jours. Ce montant est prélevé sur le crédit de l'intéressé.

    Quant aux consultations du support, elles se font à raison de 25F par consultation. Dans la journée, trois alertes (matin, midi et soir) sont données à l'abonné pour l'inviter à consulter FratMat Mobile qui met à sa disposition l'information en temps réel et de façon continue.

    Pour le reste du temps, il lui revient de consulter son support quand bon lui semble et il découvrira toujours une information à caractère politique, sportif, culturel, économique, social, international et régional.

    De même que des nouvelles relatives aux offres d'emplois. C'est donc cette panoplie d'informations qui est mise à la disposition des abonnés au support FratMat Mobile mis en service dès ce lundi et dont le lancement officiel se fera d'ici à la fin du mois en cours.

  • Sur les 16 pays de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, seulement une minorité s’est véritablement engagée à adopter la radiodiffusion numérique – même si tous les États africains ont accepté de prendre ce virage d’ici juin 2015.

    Le coût du processus a découragé certains pays. Il existe pourtant des pays comme le Ghana, la Guinée et le Nigeria qui en sont à l’étape préalable au lancement public. Et trois autres – le Bénin, le Mali et le Niger – vont bientôt créer des groupes de travail pour superviser la transition. Mais en réalité, presque la moitié des États ouest-africains n’ont même pas encore commencé la formulation des politiques nécessaires pour engager le processus de transition.

    Une nouvelle étude de Russell Southwood, publiée au début de cette année pour APC et Balancing Act dans le cadre de notre initiative commune sur la Migration numérique en Afrique de l’Ouest donne un aperçu de l‘état actuel de la transition dans chaque pays et formule des recommandations pour les pays qui n’ont pas encore commencé le processus de transition.

    Les décideurs et les régulateurs ont du mal à croire qu’un processus qui implique l’achat d’un nouveau décodeur par tous ceux qui possèdent un téléviseur soit faisable dans le contexte africain », explique Southwood.

    L’achat d’une nouvelle technologie peut sembler un trop lourd fardeau financier à imposer, mais les études sur le Ghana, le Nigeria et le Sénégal montrent que la réduction de la taxe sur les nouveaux téléviseurs les rend presque aussi abordables « qu’un téléphone bas de gamme », indique le rapport Southwood, ces décisions nécessitant une directive prioritaire du ministère des Télécommunications.

    Le processus nécessite de nouvelles actions politiques et « les ministères ont souvent du mal à mobiliser les ressources supplémentaires pour accomplir cette tâche », commente Southwood. Mais pour la plupart, il s’agit de reporter à demain ce qui pourrait être fait aujourd’hui, dit-il.

    Southwood exhorte les pays à ne pas laisser la transition pour la dernière minute. « En Europe, ce processus a pris de trois à quatorze ans » indique-t-il. « Que le secteur privé participe ou non, le gouvernement ou le régulateur doit entamer le processus en produisant un document de politique portant sur les principales questions d’intérêt public. Et le document doit faire l’objet de consultations – en particulier auprès de l’industrie de la radiodiffusion qui sera la première touchée par les décisions qui seront prises ».

    Dans la plupart des pays, on commence par mettre en place un comité ou un groupe de travail qui comprend un représentant de chaque groupe de parties prenantes. Les groupes de travail contribuent à aplanir les détails de la politique du gouvernement, notamment la mise en œuvre, obtenir l’engagement formel des parties concernées, se mettre d’accord sur un calendrier de transition. Il sera également chargé de la promotion du processus auprès de la population.

    Les gouvernements devraient assumer un rôle de chef de file clair et d’autres parties prenantes devraient faciliter le processus. Par exemple, le gouvernement peut fixer une date précise pour l’arrêt de l’analogique, et un régulateur peut donner des conseils sur l’attribution des fréquences.

    Southwood fait observer que les meilleures pratiques utilisées ailleurs montrent qu’il est préférable de procéder à un déploiement direct dirigé par le marché. Le gouvernement prend des décisions qui apportent une certitude sur le marché et incitent à l’accélération du processus – comme le choix des normes techniques. Le gouvernement peut également imposer un changement par une loi ou un règlement, mais en travaillant avec toutes les parties prenantes, il assurera le succès du processus.

    Le processus est ensuite prêt pour des essais pour voir si les signaux numériques fonctionnent, pour un lancement public et pour la vente des nouveaux téléviseurs numériques. Mais ce n’est fini – le gouvernement, les régulateurs et les diffuseurs devront lancer des campagnes de sensibilisation pour encourager l’adoption par le grand public, ce qui peut également prendre du temps.

    Compte tenu des coûts et du travail en cause, les gouvernements, les régulateurs et les diffuseurs se demandent évidemment « quel est l’avantage pour le pays ? »

    Pour que le processus de transition réussisse, les gens doivent comprendre pourquoi c’est important. Southwood l’explique plus en détail dans son document, mais en quelques mots…

    Dans de nombreux pays africains, la télévision est essentiellement un phénomène urbain. Les radiodiffuseurs privés ont tendance à coller aux zones urbaines où vivent ceux qui intéressent les publicitaires, alors que les radiodiffuseurs publics ont tendance à rejoindre les communautés rurales.

    La diffusion numérique permettra aux gouvernements et aux régulateurs de faire de l’accès à la télévision un objectif d’accès universel (par exemple si la télévision atteint actuellement 55 % de la population, on pourrait fixer un nouvel objectif de 70 % dans les cinq ans, en adoptant une politique). Pour ce faire, on pourrait avoir une seule porteuse indépendante partagée par tous les diffuseurs ou plusieurs porteuses de signaux indépendantes offrant des infrastructures à louer ou même plusieurs consortiums de radiodiffuseurs partageant des porteuses de signaux différentes.

    Comme Southwood l’explique : « Dans chaque cas, le but des diffuseurs est d’élargir la couverture pour atteindre le plus grand nombre de personnes intéressant les publicitaires, en particulier pur des biens comme l’alimentation et les boissons ».

    Les nouvelles chaînes de la télévision numérique permettent d’offrir plus de choix dans un large éventail de langues, plus de chaînes éducatives et de chaînes haute définition. « Les utilisateurs seront séduits par une plus grande diversité de contenus, à la fois des diffuseurs existants et des nouveaux venus », explique Southwood.

    Southwood recommande que les chaînes supplémentaires soient proposées au public d’une manière équitable et transparente. Comme avec l’attribution du spectre (lien), les chaînes reçoivent de l’espace – si les radiodiffuseurs n’utilisent pas les chaînes dans un certain laps de temps, ils devraient renoncer à leur droit de les utiliser et elles devraient être mises à la disposition des radiodiffuseurs qui ont une programmation à offrir.

    Une autre incitatif consiste à réallouer du spectre de la radiodiffusion aux télécoms pour permettre des services internet et mobiles abordables offerts par les câblodistributeurs.

    Que ce soit par la publicité, la télévision payante, les revenus d’abonnement, les revenus de licences ou les subventions publiques, ajout de chaînes devrait faire rentrer des revenus dans les coffres de l’État. Les revenus doivent correspondre aux dépenses engagées pour l’obtention des nouvelles chaînes, et les radiodiffuseurs privés sont les mieux équipés pour ce faire.

    Avec la nouvelle demande d‘émissions de télévision, les gouvernements et les régulateurs peuvent poursuivre des objectifs économiques en encourageant la croissance d’un secteur de production locale, ce qui peut se faire facilement en créant une forme de quota production locale comme mesure de transitoire (p. ex., seule la programmation locale est diffusée entre 19 h et 23 h ou 40 % de la programmation doit être locale.

    Les agences cinématographiques locales pourraient recevoir un financement approuvé par le gouvernement – comme c’est actuellement le cas au Kenya, au Maroc et en Afrique du Sud). Les gouvernements peuvent également aider la production cinématographique locale en décourageant la piraterie individuelle et en réprimant la diffusion d’émissions pirates.

    Cet article a été adapté du rapport de Russell Southwood « Migration vers la radiodiffusion numérique en Afrique de l’Ouest : Un survol et des stratégies pour accélérer la transition », rédigé pour APC. L’étude est publiée en anglais et en français .

    Afrik
  • Africa Web Summit
    17-18 septembre 2011, Brazaville, Congo

    Brazzaville sera au cœur de l’actualité des nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication en Afrique à travers un grand rendez-vous d’échange, d’apprentissage et de vulgarisation des nouveaux outils du domaine. Un panel d’experts de haut niveau provenant d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Asie et d’Afrique procédera au développement des thématiques liées au secteur. Des sociétés spécialisées exposeront leurs œuvres et services web en marge du sommet.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

  • Le gouvernement du Swaziland vient de démissionner l’intégralité du conseil d’administration de Swaziland Post and Telecommunication Corporation, l’opérateur historique/régulateur. Nelisiwe Shongwe, le ministre des TICs n’a pas indiqué les raisons de cette démission mais elle intervient une semaine après que les accusations du premier ministre disant que la société est dirigée par un cartel de criminels.

  • Chef de projet mobile banking – Sénégal
    Le Chef de Projet Mobile Banking est responsable de l'ensemble du projet dans l'établissement; - Il coordonne toutes les activités y afférentes (vente, marketing et développement produits, cross selling, compilance, évolution du contrat, etc...) en lien étroit avec chacun des managers en Charge directe de ces sujets; - Il est l'interlocuteur de la Direction pour tous les aspects de ce projet.

    Qualification / Formation : Bac+ 4/5 Marketing - Agé(e) de 30 à 35 ans et vous justifiez d'une expérience bancaire pertinente (minimum 5 ans).
    Pour plus d’informations ou pour poser votre candidature cliquez ici

"Dernières Nouvelles"-Edition Française, 8 septembre 2011, No 166

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Editorial

  • La liste des pays africains qui ont introduit, songe à introduire ou ont renoncé à introduire une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants s’allonge de jour en jour. Cette liste non exhaustive comprend le Congo-Brazzaville, la Guinée, le Niger, la Côte d’Ivoire, le Gabon, la Mauritanie, le Ghana, Madagascar, le Sénégal et le Libéria. Balancing Act a suivi cette affaire depuis la tentative avortée en Côte d’Ivoire en août 2009. Isabelle Gross résume les derniers rebondissements dans cette affaire au Sénégal et revient sur le projet de réglementation de l’Autorité des Télécommunications du Libéria d’introduire une taxe similaire dans l’un des pays les plus pauvres du continent africain.

    Le 24 août 2011 marque le retour de la taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants au Sénégal suite à la signature du décret présidentiel  No 2011-127. Un bien triste jour pour le secteur des télécommunications au Sénégal et la diaspora sénégalaise ! Selon la presse sénégalaise, les prises de position des partisans et des opposants au décret réintroduisant une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrant ont été comme suit durant les derniers dix jours (il s’agit d’une sélection):
    - Seneweb rapporte  le 7 septembre que l’intersyndicale de la Sonatel s’est réunie  pour discuter d’un plan d’action pour faire reculer l’Etat. Selon Ndèye Founé Niang, secrétaire générale du Sntp, l’intersyndicale a décidé de lancer « les mercredis de la honte », qui se feront toutes les semaines.
    - dans son édition du 6 septembre, Sud Quotidien publie que l’Entente nationale des associations de consommateurs (Enac) n’est pas d’accord avec l’attitude de Momar Ndao, président de l’Ascosen (Association des consommateurs du Sénégal) qui défend l’introduction de cette taxe.
    - dans une interview accordée à Rewmi, le Ministre chargé des télécommunications, M Moustapha Guirassy répond aux propos de la Directrice de la Communication de la Sonatel (dont toute l’argumentation est bien sur en défaveur de la taxe)
    - le 6 septembre encore, Dakaractu annonce être en possession d’un document de 33 pages qui développe un argumentaire détaillé en faveur de la surtaxe des appels internationaux entrants.
    - le 30 août, le journal local le Soleil publie que le ministre de la Communication, des Télécommunications et des Tic, porte-parole du Gouvernement, Moustapha Guirassy, a annoncé la mise en place imminente d'une commission nationale de surveillance des appels téléphoniques entrants au Sénégal. Le ministre, qui a d'abord confirmé la signature du décret instituant un système de contrôle et de tarification des appels entrants par le chef de l'Etat, a indiqué que le contrôle sera assuré par l'Agence de régulation des télécommunications et des postes (Artp). La mise en place de cette commission nationale, a dit le ministre Guirassy, prouve la volonté de l'Etat d'assurer « la transparence ».
    - Le 24 août dernier, l'Organisation des professionnels des technologies de l'information et de la communication (Optic), évoquant la question de la surtaxe sur les appels internationaux, invitait à une concertation nationale regroupant tous les professionnels du secteur. Une démarche qui, selon cette organisation, semble être indispensable pour trouver une solution qui agrée toute les parties. Cette invite de l'Optic part du fait que les différents acteurs du secteur sont loin d'avoir un avis favorable sur le sujet qui concerne la surtaxe des appels entrants.

    Alors que la pression continue au Sénégal en faveur du retrait de ce nouveau décret introduisant une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants, la société Global Voice Group (GVG), le leader dans le domaine des systèmes de contrôle n’est plus la seule société offrant de tels services. N’importe quel ingénieur télécoms vous dira qu’il n’y a pas besoin de chercher de « midi à quatorze heures » pour développer un système de contrôle des appels internationaux entrants. Les autres sociétés qui offrent aujourd’hui un service similaire à celui de GVG ont compris qu’il y a de l’argent à faire dans ce créneau et qui plus est c’est de l’argent facile.

    Suivant les traces du Sénégal, du Ghana ou encore de la Guinée, le Libéria s’est décidé à s’engager dans la même voie. Au début du mois d’août, l’Autorité des Télécommunications du Libéria (Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA)) a sorti un projet de réglementation sur le trafic international. Ce document de quatre pages a du être écrit à toute vitesse parce qu’il manque de clarté quant au type de trafic qui sera contrôlé et taxé. Dans son projet de réglementation, LTA fait parfois référence « aux appels internationaux entrants et sortants » tantôt à « tous les appels routés vers le code pays +231 » ou encore « la mise en place d’un système de contrôle et de rétention pour le trafic domestique et le trafic international entrant ».  Le moins que l’on puisse dire c’est que ce projet de réglementation reste bien confus à l’exception de l’article dans lequel LTA prescrit que « tous les appels internationaux entrants terminant sur des numéros d’abonnés avec le code pays +231 sont assujettis à une taxe réglementaire minimum de 0.15 dollars US par minute (en supplément du prix en gros qui est aux alentours de 0.12 dollars US par minute) qui sera collecter par l’opérateur de terminaison pour le compte de LTA ».

    Tandis que les opérateurs télécoms du Libéria vont être transformés en collecteurs d’impôts, il reste toujours d’actualité de rappeler à LTA que cette taxe réglementaire est en contravention avec la Convention de Melbourne de l’Union Internationale des Télécommunications (UIT) de 1988  et l’accord sur le commerce des services de l’Organisation Mondiale du Commerce (OMC) de 1998.

    La convention de Melbourne qui a été signée par une majorité de pays africains comprend un Règlement des Télécommunications Internationales (RTI) qui stipule dans son article 6 intitulé « Taxation et comptabilité » à l’alinéa .1.3 « Quand la législation nationale d'un pays prévoit l'application d'une taxe fiscale sur la taxe de perception pour les services internationaux de télécommunication, cette taxe fiscale n'est normalement perçue que pour les services internationaux facturés aux clients de ce pays, à moins que d'autres arrangements soient conclus pour faire face à des circonstances spéciales. » Il ressort clairement que cette nouvelle taxe sur les appels entrants sera payée par l’appelant à l’étranger et par conséquent elle est en violation directe avec les règles définies par le Règlement des Télécommunications Internationales qui s’appliquent à tous les pays signataires de la convention de Melbourne.

    Par ailleurs l’annexe du quatrième protocole d’Accord sur le Commerce des Services (AGCS), Accord sur les télécommunications de base, négocié sous les auspices de l’Organisation Mondiale du Commerce (OMC) en février 1997, entré en vigueur le 1er janvier 1998, indique que les taxes de répartition telles que les tarifs d’interconnexion nationaux doivent tendre vers les coûts. En d’autres termes, les taxes de répartition ne doivent pas être plus élevées que les tarifs d’interconnexion locaux (sauf prise en compte du coût additionnel minimal du segment international). Au vue de ces deux articles, il apparaît clairement qu’aucune taxe ne doit être appliquée au trafic international entrant.

    Il convient aussi de rappeler la Déclaration de Dakar de novembre dernier dans laquelle les opérateurs télécoms de l’Afrique de l’Ouest réitèrent leur opposition à un tel système de taxation. En parallèle aux violations légales, le Libéria devrait aussi considérer les conséquences économiques de l’introduction d’une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants: elle aura un impact négatif sur la compétitivité du pays en accroissant le coût de faire des affaires durant une période de récession mondiale; l’augmentation du prix de terminaison des appels internationaux entrants aura un effet négatif sur les entreprises de Libéria tourné vers l’import/export; pour les familles au Libéria avec des membres vivant à l’étranger, l’augmentation du prix d’appel vers le pays se traduira par des appels plus courts et moins d’argent disponible pour envoyer au Libéria.

    J’ai récemment échangé par mail avec un Libérien résidant aux USA et sa réponse quant à l’introduction d’une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants a été comme suit « la taxe réglementaire de LTA n’est pas progressive dans mon opinion ». Le point principal s’est l’aspect progressif. Il s’agit bien de développer un cadre réglementaire qui soutient le développement des TICs et non pas une réglementation qui prend les opérateurs télécoms et les consommateurs pour des vaches à lait !

  • Avec l'avènement de plusieurs compagnies de téléphonie mobile, les consommateurs ont vu, avec soulagement, les prix des communications baisser au fil des années et des mois, suite à plusieurs actions menées par la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina (LCB). La concurrence est telle entre les différentes sociétés que c'est à qui écrasera le plus les prix.

    Si au début, cette concurrence a été saluée par les consommateurs, force est de reconnaître que depuis quelques mois, joindre son correspondant au téléphone mobile et entretenir une conversation soutenue sans coupure intempestive relève du miracle.

    Surtout avec un opérateur qui se présente comme le leader du secteur. En effet, la baisse des prix s'est accompagnée, dans presque toutes les compagnies, d'une baisse de qualité telle que les consommateurs ne savent plus vers qui se tourner.

    Pendant cette période également, les campagnes promotionnelles annonçant des remises exceptionnelles, des bonus, des cadeaux, donnent le tournis aux consommateurs. Et là aussi, c'est à qui donnera le plus de « cadeaux » à sa clientèle !

    Tenez ! Vous décidez d'acheter des unités, le plus dur reste à venir, à savoir les utiliser. Vous essayez de joindre votre correspondant, il faudra vous y prendre à plusieurs reprises. Et si par hasard vous parvenez à le joindre, soyez patient car votre communication sera coupée plusieurs fois, vous obligeant ainsi à composer autant de fois la ligne coupée.

    Une pratique récurrente qui laisse croire qu'elle est sciemment entretenue par les opérateurs pour voler leur propre clientèle. Finalement, ne soyez pas surpris si les unités que vous avez achetées ne vous permettent pas de réaliser la durée de communication annoncée à grand renfort de publicité.

    Quant aux clés de connexion à l'internet, le coût d'acquisition et celui de l'abonnement restent élevés pour le consommateur qui, malheureusement, rencontre beaucoup de difficultés quant à leur exploitation.

    Et quand il parvient à se connecter non sans peine, le débit qu'il reçoit sur son ordinateur est nettement en deçà de celui auquel il a souscrit. Lorsque la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina a saisi les différents opérateurs, chacun nous a promis que la situation allait changer en mieux pour les consommateurs, car des travaux étaient en cours.

    Pire, depuis le mois de mai 2011, un communiqué de l'Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) nous annonçait une enquête « pour mesurer la qualité de service vue par les clients et vérifier par la même occasion le respect par les opérateurs des obligations de qualité de service contenues dans leur cahier des charges » (Cf. L'Observateur Paalga du vendredi 13 au dimanche 15 mai 2011).

    Où en sommes-nous plusieurs mois après ? Le constat reste très amer pour le consommateur : la communication téléphonique reste mauvaise, tandis que les opérateurs continuent, à travers des communiqués, d'appeler les consommateurs à la patience.

    Combien de temps ce jeu qui s'apparente à de l'arnaque qui ne dit pas son nom va-t-il durer ? Qu'en est-il des cahiers des charges signés par les prestataires de téléphonie mobile s'engageant à offrir un service de qualité ?

    Les autorités ont, certes, rappelé à l'ordre les responsables de ces sociétés qui ont promis des services de qualité. Malheureusement, aucune sanction n'est prise par l'ARCEP pour contraindre les opérateurs à respecter leurs engagements, si bien qu'elle a une part de responsabilité dans cette attitude désinvolte des opérateurs vis-à-vis des consommateurs.

    Fort de tout ce qui précède, la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina (LCB), en sa qualité de défenseur du droit des consommateurs, estime également qu'il est temps que des actions soient menées pour protéger les consommateurs qui assistent, impuissants, à ces prestations de mauvaise qualité surfacturées.

    C'est pourquoi, elle dénonce le mystère fait par les autorités sur le contenu du cahier des charges ; exige des compagnies de téléphonie un service de qualité et de l'autorité de régulation l'application de sanctions immédiates contre tous ceux qui ne respectent pas le cahier des charges; interpelle les autorités sur la nécessité de la représentation de la Ligue des consommateurs du Burkina au sein de l'autorité de régulation pour une meilleure prise en compte des intérêts des consommateurs ; invite les consommateurs, à rester mobilisés, pour des actions fortes en guise de protestation.

    Le Pays
  • La tension monte à Maroc Telecom (Itissalat Al Maghrib – IAM). Après une série de sit-in et quelques débrayages dont le dernier remonte à juin dernier, le personnel de l'opérateur historique de téléphonie au Maroc en prévoit un nouveau à la fin du mois d'août courant.

    La grève ainsi programmée durera 3 jours, les 29 , 30 et 31 au cas où l'Aid Al Fitr coïnciderait avec le 1erseptembre ou les 29, 30 août et 2 septembre où ladite fête aurait lieu le 31 courant.

    La décision de la grève a été prise le 13 août à Rabat lors de la réunion de la coordination syndicale qui a également appelé à l'organisation de nombreux sit-in de protestation au niveau local, et ce à partir de la semaine prochaine.

    Dans un communiqué émanant de 4 syndicats représentant le secteur, affiliés à la FDT, la CDT, l'UMT et l'UNTM, la coordination nationale exprime son mécontentement de la décision unilatérale de l'administration d'IAM qui a ajouté une demi-heure à l'horaire normal au mois de Ramadan, violant ainsi les articles 11 et 24 du Code du travail.

    Devant la fuite en avant et sa politique pour dissuader le personnel de poursuivre sa lutte jusqu'à satisfaction de ses revendications, l'administration d'Itissalat Al Maghrib a opté, souligne ledit communiqué, pour de viles pratiques qui ont pour dessein de semer la terreur et la zizanie parmi le personnel.

    Appel a été également lancé à l'ensemble du personnel pour faire face aux rumeurs émanant, particulièrement, de certains responsables qui ont préféré prévaloir leurs intérêts personnels sur ceux du personnel.

    Tout en confirmant leur attachement à leur cahier revendicatif et à poursuivre leur lutte par tous les moyens légales, y compris le recours à la justice, la coordination syndicale appelle l'administration d'Itissalat Al Maghrib à opter pour la sagesse et faire prévaloir ses intérêts et ceux de son personnel.

    A rappeler que plusieurs grèves et sit-in avaient été organisés ces derniers temps par le personnel d'IAM, au niveau régional ou devant le siège de l'entreprise à Rabat.

    Libération
  • Le secteur agricole a su profiter de la Révolution Industrielle avec la mécanisation et l’utilisation de produits phytosanitaires, à outrance parfois. Mais il n’a pas encore réellement bénéficié de la révolution numérique, au contraire de la plupart des autres pans de l’économie et tous les types d’organisation.

    L’utilisation d’outils de communication modernes est pourtant déjà répandue dans les grandes exploitations agricoles occidentales : tracteurs équipés d’ordinateurs, consultation par Internet de services météo spécifiques, consultation des cours des matières agricoles sur les marchés financiers et ventes des récoltes, traçabilité sanitaire du bétail assurée par des puces électroniques et scans, etc.

    La vraie révolution ne réside donc pas tant dans la technicité des innovations et services mis à la disposition des agriculteurs, que dans le potentiel de diffusion de ces technologies par le biais d’un outil quotidien devenu banal : le téléphone portable. Avec plus de 4,5 milliards d’utilisateurs dans le monde (contre 2 milliards en 2005), la diffusion du mobile est exceptionnelle, par son ampleur et sa rapidité. Pour les agriculteurs des pays en voie de développement, elle représente l’opportunité d’accéder facilement à des techniques et services simples. Ceux-ci permettent d’améliorer l’ensemble de leur chaîne de valeur, de l’installation jusqu’à l’écoulement des produits en passant par l’approvisionnement et l’exploitation.

    Les technologies de communication, et notamment le mobile ont un rôle immédiat dans la production agricole. En premier lieu, par la diffusion de la connaissance. L’agriculture est affaire de savoir-faire, et la multiplication des contacts entre agriculteurs ainsi que la mise à disposition de conseils aux agriculteurs sur internet permettent de mieux diffuser les techniques les plus efficaces. Les applications du mobile peuvent aussi se révéler plus concrètes comme le prouve l’expérimentation en Inde du module « Raita Mitra ». Ce boîtier, connecté à une pompe hydraulique, repose sur un fonctionnement simple : lorsque que l’électricité est suffisante pour alimenter la pompe, un SMS est envoyé à l’agriculteur. L’agriculteur envoie alors un SMS avec un code basique (ex : ON) pour démarrer la pompe et irriguer son champ. Il lui suffit de renvoyer un SMS (ex : OFF) pour arrêter la pompe. Cette innovation a l’avantage de résoudre 2 problèmes majeurs pour les agriculteurs des pays en voie de développement : la disponibilité de l’eau et de l’électricité. En déclinant cette logique de contrôle à distance par téléphone portable, il est possible d’imaginer de nombreuses autres applications pouvant aider les agriculteurs, y compris des pays occidentaux, à gagner en productivité. L’information envoyée par des modules de type Raita Mitra pourrait ainsi être complétée avec le taux d’humidité du sol, mesurable par capteur, et les prévisions météorologiques. Ainsi, l’agriculteur ne déclenche pas l’irrigation si son champ n’en a pas réellement besoin. L’enjeu de disponibilité de l’eau douce est tel que ces innovations sont nécessairement appelées à se développer.

    L’étude d’Abraham (2007) a montré le rôle de la téléphonie mobile dans l’amélioration de l’efficience des marchés agricoles en Inde ; plus précisément sur les marchés de poissons, au sein desquels le mobile permet aux pêcheurs d’aller débarquer le poisson là où le prix est le plus fort. Les pêcheurs interrogés ont aussi placé le téléphone mobile en 3ème position parmi les améliorations techniques qui ont favorisé leur développement, derrière la mécanisation et l’amélioration des infrastructures de transport. Plus de 80% des mareyeurs, des poissonniers et des transporteurs interrogés reconnaissent également que le mobile a permis de diminuer la volatilité et la dispersion des prix entre les marchés. Le mobile serait donc un outil majeur d’amélioration de l’efficacité des marchés agricoles. Cet impact est également confirmé par l’étude d’Aker (2008), qui démontre que l’utilisation du téléphone portable permet aux céréaliers d’augmenter leur zone de chalandise et donc  leur prix de réserve. En réduisant les monopsones, l’accroissement de la diffusion d’information a initié au Niger un mouvement de lissage des prix sur des zones géographiques étendues.

    De véritables plateformes de négoce en ligne se développent par ailleurs, à l’image de « Esoko » en Afrique. Elle met en relation des producteurs et commerçants via Internet et SMS dans près d’une dizaine de pays essentiellement d’Afrique de l’Ouest (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire…). Les inscrits reçoivent par des SMS ciblés le prix des produits agricoles qui les intéressent sur les différents marchés, les informations météorologiques et à l’avenir l’état des stocks des distributeurs. De telles plateformesrévolutionnent l’accès à l’information sur les prix pour les populations rurales et contribuent à améliorer les revenus des agriculteurs  : ils profitent de nouveaux débouchés et d’une meilleure anticipation des prix. L’offre d’information se complète progressivement par le développement de réseaux de bureaux physiques dédiés aux agriculteurs. Ces bureaux visent à informer et à faciliter l’accès à Internet, à l’image des « PICA » en Afrique de l’Ouest (Point d’Information Commerciale Agricole, issus du projet MISTOWA cofinancé par USAID).

    Outre l’information sur les prix agricoles, l’accélération de l’information permet une meilleure gestion de l’approvisionnement de la chaîne de distribution des produits agricoles et notamment des stocks. Le meilleur écoulement des produits agricoles n’a donc pas qu’un impact sur les revenus des agriculteurs mais également sur la sécurité alimentaire des populations concernées. Les émeutes de la faim à Haïti en 2008 n’étaient par exemple pas seulement dues à une hausse des prix des produits agricoles, mais également à une mauvaise répartition des quelques stocks de nourriture encore disponibles. De même, la diffusion d’informations météorologiques ou sanitaires (épidémies animales…), contribue à mieux anticiper les risques de pénuries ou les excédents de production, et à mieux répartir la production agricole.

    Les technologies de l’information ont donc grâce à Internet et surtout au mobile un rôle primordial de fluidification des marchés agricoles. Ilse traduit concrètement par une hausse des revenus des agriculteurs et une moindre précarité alimentaire pour les populations. Une conséquence évidemment intéressante pour les pays souffrant d’une insuffisance chronique de l’offre alimentaire.

    Une autre innovation permise par les technologies mobiles est la micro-assurance à distance, à l’image de celle proposée dans le programme « Kilimo Salama ». Lancée par la Fondation Syngenta, l’opérateur mobile Safaricom et l’assureur africain UAP, l’opération a permis en 2010 à plus de 9000 agriculteurs d’assurer leur récolte contre la sécheresse. La technologie mobile est présente à toutes les étapes du processus d’assurance : la souscription, la vérification des critères de déclenchement de l’indemnisation et le paiement de l’indemnisation.

    A la souscription, les fournisseurs scannent le code barre des intrants (semences, engrais, phytosanitaires…) achetés par l’agriculteur. La police d’assurance est alors automatiquement enregistrée par l’assureur et confirmée par SMS à l’agriculteur. Le coût de l’assurance est de 5% du prix des intrants scannés. L’indemnisation est déclenchée automatiquement dès lors que des stations météorologiques locales, connectées au réseau 3G, détectent des conditions météorologiques susceptibles de détruire les récoltes (sécheresse ou pluies excessives). Tous les agriculteurs de la zone impactée sont alors immédiatement indemnisés par paiement mobile.

    Là encore on ne peut qu’anticiper un développement massif de cette offre, au bénéfice de toutes les parties prenantes. En effet, la téléphonie mobile dispose de trois caractéristiques illustrant sa capacité de contribution au développement de pans entiers de l’économie en tant que technologies de base ou « technologies polyvalentes »: l’omniprésence (la téléphonie mobile est utilisée dans tous les secteurs), l’amélioration (la technologie ne cesse d’évoluer permettant une baisse des coûts pour les utilisateurs) et l’innovation induite (le mobile contribue à l’amélioration de nouveaux produits ou processus). Les agriculteurs et entreprises qui l’ont compris en tirent déjà profit, tout en contribuant à lutter contre la faim.

    Paradoxalement alors que les enjeux sont essentiels et les cas pratiques bien réels, le croisement entre le monde de l’agrobusiness et des TICs n’est pas encore naturel. Les opérateurs télécoms n’ont pas encore investi ce créneau, alors que les secteurs de la santé ou de la banque sont observés avec intérêt. Pourtant un vrai double relais de croissance commun entre ces secteurs économiques mériterait que les acteurs le regardent de plus près.

  • Le secteur des Technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) dans la région connaît un développement majeur avec la signature d'un accord de principe entre l'African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC) et la Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

    Une collaboration plus étroite entre l'African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC), et la Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). C'est désormais possible après la signature d'un accord de principe entre ces deux organismes le 24 août dernier, à l'Hôtel Hyatt Regency Kilimandjaro à Dar es Salaam, en Tanzanie, lors du 6e Forum Connecting Rural Africa.

    Le protocole d'accord a été signé par Adiel Akplogan, PDG d'AfriNIC, dont le siège à Maurice se situe à Ebène, et le Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, PDG de la CTO.

    Cela qui marque là le début d'une coopération bilatérale entre AfriNIC qui est le registre Internet pour l'Afrique et l'océan Indien et la CTO. L'objectif : améliorer la collaboration sur les différentes actions visant à promouvoir les Technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) et son rôle dans le développement par la recherche conjointe, la formation et le renforcement des capacités sur les questions de haute importance, tels que l'Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

    Ainsi AfriNIC et la CTO pourront participer à des événements et à des conférences pour améliorer la diffusion des messages importants et en même temps créer une plateforme pour partager leurs connaissances et développer de nouveaux partenariats.

    Pour le PDG d'AfriNIC, Adiel Akplogan : « C'est une étape très importante dans notre mission à AfriNIC à contribuer activement au renforcement des capacités individuelles et institutionnelles sur tout ce qui concerne l'Internet dans notre région. L'Internet n'est pas seulement un outil de communication mais est aussi un outil économique qui a ses propres pratiques et règles.

    En Afrique, nous n'avons d'autre choix que d'adapter notre environnement à cela. Une synergie durable entre les acteurs et parties prenantes est la seule façon pour procéder avec succès au changement pour un brillant futur socio-économique », a-t-il souligné.

    Cette initiative a été concrétisée en ligne avec les objectifs et buts communs d'AfriNIC et de la CTO considérant les avantages que peuvent en tirer leurs différents partenaires à la suite des synergies réalisées grâce à cette collaboration.

    L’Express
  • Le portail interactif des Ressources éducatives libres de (REL) de l’Université virtuelle africaine (UVA) vient de remporter le premier prix de la catégorie Meilleure initiative émergente du site Education-Portal des Etats-Unis d’Amérique (USA).

    ‘’Plus de 4.000 personnes ont voté et décerné aux Ressources éducatives libres (REL) de l’UVA le premier prix dans la catégorie Meilleure Initiative Émergente. Le prix a été organisé par le site Education-Portal.com basé aux Etats-Unis’’, indique un communiqué de l’UVA reçu à l’APS.

    Le portail est accessible dans 142 pays, ‘’bien au-delà de l’Afrique, avec une majorité d’accès provenant du Brésil et des États-Unis. Le site, lancé en janvier 2011, est conçu pour accueillir du contenu gratuit et libre, développé en partenariat avec 10 pays africains et adapté aux besoins des étudiants africains’’, explique le communiqué.

    ‘’Du point de vue éducationnel, ce prix démontre que l’Afrique est en train de changer un modèle de développement qui prend des ressources de la communauté internationale en un modèle qui donne du contenu pertinent et intéressant, qui contribue au dialogue international en éducation’’, a dit Bakary Diallo, recteur de l’UVA, basée à Nairobi (Kenya).

    Le portail REL de l’UVA est financé par la Banque africaine de développement (BAD) et héberge 219 modules éducationnels libres, divisés en plusieurs thèmes (manuels en mathématiques et en sciences, formation des enseignants, compétences de base en TIC, etc.).

    Créée en 1997, l’UVA est une institution d’enseignement supérieur qui fait appel aux techniques d’information et de communication moderne pour ‘’offrir au continent africain des ressources éducatives de haute qualité, en provenance du monde entier’’.

    APS
  • «Designée en Californie par Apple, assemblée en Chine». Cette inscription sur chaque produit de la marque à la pomme est désormais devenue mythique, voire chic, tant elle pourrait résumer une facette de la globalisation.

    Le congolais Verone Mankou, 25 ans, s’apprête à lancer à la rentrée la première tablette «Conçue au Congo, assemblée en Chine». Ce jeune entrepreneur de Brazzaville a fondé sa start-up de communication 2.0, VMK, en 2009 tout en étant conseiller du ministre des Télécommunications congolais Thierry Moungalla. Et il a développé au cours de ces deux dernières années une tablette tactile «pensée et désignée en Afrique».

    Un projet coûteux et audacieux qui lui a valu un certain nombre de critiques. Avec pour toile de fonds l’affaire de l’ordinateur portable Nhava, soi-disant conçu et fabriqué au Zimbabwe. Mais cette année, les consommateurs enthousiastes à l’idée de soutenir une initiative innovante africaine ont déchanté lorsqu’ils ont appris qu’il s’agissait en fait d’une vulgaire copie fabriquée en Chine et importée. Rien d’innovant, et rien d’africain donc.

    Face à cette vague de suspicion, Verone Mankou a adapté sa stratégie de communication et joue la carte de la transparence. Il assume, défend son projet mordicus et s’explique sur le fait que sa tablette soit fabriquée en Chine et développée avec un partenaire au Canada. Il a d’ailleurs publié sur son site des photographies de l’usine de fabrication située dans les environs de Shenzhen, réputée être le paradis de la contrefaçon. Mais alors en quoi cette tablette est-elle africaine, s’interrogent les sceptiques qui soupçonnent une copie chinoise de plus, commercialisée en Afrique avec une rhétorique publicitaire locale qui vise à mettre en avant un projet «made in Congo» . A 25 ans, ce jeune patron fait fi de ces polémiques et revient sur la genèse de ce projet mais aussi sur la controverse autour de l’origine de sa tablette.

    Comment avez-vous eu l’idée de cette tablette ?

    Vérone Mankou: Fin 2005, je travaillais chez un Fournisseur d’Accès Internet. Et c’est à ce moment là que je me suis mis à chercher une solution pour donner accès à Internet au plus grand nombre. A l’époque, c’était un luxe, car les ordinateurs coûtaient excessivement cher. Au départ j’avais imaginé un ordinateur tout-en-un. Ensuite, j’ai travaillé sur un projet d’ordinateur portable pour finir par une tablette. J’ai laissé dormir le projet car à l’époque c’était quasiment impossible ! J’ai vraiment commencé à travailler sur cette tablette à partir premier semestre de 2010.

    Vous avez une formation d’ingénieur, comment avez-vous travaillé pour concevoir cette tablette, notamment la partie «hardware» ?

    Je ne suis pas encore ingénieur car j’ai fait une pause dans ma formation pour des raisons professionnelles.  Je me suis occupé seul de la partie hardware, ce qui m’a pris beaucoup de temps et de travail car ce n’est pas mon métier de base. Du coup j’étais obligé de demande l’aide d’un ami congolais expatrié au Canada qui est ingénieur, spécialiste en Java. Il m’a beaucoup aidé notamment pour la conception de «l’App Store» de la tablette. J’ai aussi demandé l’aide d’un autre développeur que je connais, basé en Asie. Lui m’a conçu une interface (un launcher) Android adaptée pour une tablette de 7 pouces.

    Quelle est la particularité de votre tablette par rapport à l’iPad ou aux autres tablettes Android ?

    Il s’agit d’une tablette d’entrée de gamme, donc une comparaison avec l’iPad ou la Xoom, qui sont des produits haut de gamme, serait assez difficile. Mais je reste persuadé que son coût bas et sa très bonne qualité  restent des atouts non-négligeables. Et puis, les autres tablettes mises sur le marché, rien que par le nombre d’unités produites, font d’elles des produits grand public en occident. Et les grandes marques qui les produisent ne s’intéressent pas vraiment à l’Afrique. Moi, je n’ai pas les moyens d’en produire assez, du coup, la tablette VMK est plutôt un produit de niche.

    Techniquement, quelles sont ses caractéristiques ?

    Elle a la même capacité qu’un iPad. La tablette fonctionne sous le système d’exploitation Android 2.3 avec un écran 7 pouces sous un processeur de 1 gigahertz et un espace disque de 4 gigaoctets avec 512 mégaoctets de RAM.

    Quel a été le coût d’élaboration ?

    Sans compter la phase de production, de bout en bout, ce projet a coûté près 114 000 euros sans apport d’un investisseur, juste par autofinancement. Mais pour la phase de production qui démarre au début du mois de septembre, nous avons déjà les garantis d’investissements, c’est juste une question de temps !

    Son prix de vente?

    Au Congo elle sera vendue autour de 150 000 Francs CFA (soit près de 200 euros).

    Elle sera en vente qu’au Congo ?

    Non mais sa présentation officielle se fera au Congo en septembre lors de l’Africa Web Summit que j’organise. Et la commercialisation est prévue fin septembre au Congo mais aussi dans plusieurs autres pays africains via un réseau de partenaires que nous sommes en train de monter. Le but à moyen terme est d’offrir la possibilité à tous d’avoir une tablette.

    Votre tablette est fabriquée en Chine, pensée et développée au Congo avec des relais au Canada, en Asie…En quoi est-ce une tablette africaine, comme vous l’affirmez ?
     
    L’iPad est une tablette pensée par une entreprise américaine mais assemblée en chine. Or, on dit bien d’elle que c’est une tablette américaine, n’est-ce pas ? Idem pour les tablettes d’Archos, qui est une entreprise française, qui assemble ses tablettes en Chine, on dit bien d’elles qu’elles sont des tablettes française voire européennes, n’est-ce pas ? Alors pourquoi  une tablette, imaginée par une entreprise congolaise, donc africaine, assemblée en chine, comme les 90% des tablettes sur le marché, qui sera distribuée dans plusieurs pays africain, ne serait-elle pas une tablette Africaine ? Rien que pour ça !

    Que répondez-vous aux accusations de contrefaçon voire d’escroquerie industrielle porté à l’encontre de votre projet ?

    Je pense que c’est un mélange d’afropessimisme et de mauvaise foi. On dit que c’est impossible qu’un tel projet puisse venir d’une si petite entreprise quand on voit les sommes importantes qu’injectent les grandes entreprises dans la Recherche et le Développement pour des produits équivalents.  C’est une preuve de mauvaise  foi. Il suffit de lire l’article, « TC Teardown: 13 Ways To Get To $10 Million In Revenues », de Steven Carpenter, publié sur le site d’information tech californien Techcrunch. Ce spécialiste de l’industrie y explique simplement : «Il y a trois facteurs pour lesquels je pense qu’on verra une explosion d’innovation dans le hardware ces prochaines années: 1) les coûts de fabrication vont continuer à diminuer en Chine en même temps que leur potentiel de produire des petites séries augmente, …».  Ce qui est fondé car en connaisseur de la Chine j’ai pu toucher  de près cette réalité.

    Mais certains disent que les caractéristiques de votre tablette sont proches des contrefaçons chinoises…

    Mais ce que certains ignorent c’est que j’ai défini ces «specs» depuis mai 2010 pour un produit qui devait sortir en Septembre 2011. Ce qui prouve que j’ai vu juste car c’est devenu la norme aujourd’hui. On dépeint la ville de Shenzhen en disant qu’elle est la plaque tournante de la piraterie en Asie, ce qui n’est pas faux, mais on omet de dire que c’est de Shenzhen que nous viennent les produits Apple, les ordinateurs HP, les téléphones portable & Smartphones ( Huawei, ZTE, HTC,…), les consoles de Jeux Playstation et bien d’autres ! Est-ce par oubli ? Non, je pense qu’il y a bien une mauvaise volonté derrière tout ça !

    Avec cette tablette, votre start-up VMK se lance dans le «hardware», ce qui est rare en Afrique, pourquoi selon vous ?

    Pour la simple raison que les infrastructures pour le hardware coutent très chères, ce qui que fait que beaucoup  de pays et d’entreprises privées n’osent pas se lancer dans de tels investissement quand on sait qu’il nous manquent encore des hôpitaux, des routes, des écoles,…

    Slate Afrique
  • Madagascar peut-elle devenir une destination phare des services informatiques ? Nombreux sont les opérateurs qui croient réellement à cet avenir. Surtout que la Grande île est reliée à deux câbles optiques sous-marins, Eassy et Lion.

    Le secteur du service informatique transforme petit à petit le paysage économique malgache. La plupart des jeunes entrepreneurs se tournent actuellement vers le « business process outsourcing » ou bien le service de sous-traitance.

    Le nombre de services offerts par les sociétés implantées durant ces dernières années varient : service clientèle, vente, prise de rendez-vous, campagne de promotion, finance, e-business, et tout autre métier autour du Web, comme rédacteur web, développeur ou télé-opérateur. Il suffit de faire un petit tour sur les sites d'emplois comme jobmada.com pour se rendre compte du développement réél du secteur.

    Madagascar représente une menace réelle pour les autres destinations de l'Océan indien. L'arrivée des câbles optiques a fait trembler les entreprises mauriciennes, l'une des destinations phares du marché francophone.

    Si « le manque d'infrastructure représente un réel obstacle au développement du secteur des nouvelles technologie », ainsi que le confie un responsable d'une société de service et d'ingénierie en informatique (SSII) locale, la connexion de Madagascar avec le reste du monde aux câbles optiques sous-marins Eassy et Lion.

    « L'installation de ces fibres optiques a toujours eu un impact positif sur l' économie des pays où cela est arrivé, avec la création de plus de sociétés travaillant dans le secteur de la nouvelle technologie de l'information et de la communication (NTIC), la présence des investisseurs étrangers, et la création de milliers d'emplois.

    L'e-banking se développe grâce à ce type de connexion plus fiable. Il faut s'attendre à une hausse du taux de croissance et du produit intérieur brut (PIB), à la fois par les activités directes du secteur et par les effets indirects sur la facilitation des activités dans les autres secteurs.

    Désormais, Madagascar peut figurer sur la carte des destinations des offshores et services informatiques », a déclaré Olivier Robinson, un grand spécialiste du secteur TIC dans une interview accordée à L'Express en décembre 2010.

    Pour les opérateurs regroupés au sein du groupement des opérateurs en technologie de l'information et de la communication (Goticom), leur position est claire. « La destination Madagascar est et reste toujours une destination à fort potentiel pour les Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication, d'autant que les crises qui se sont succédé - mondiale et nationale - n'ont eu que peu d'impacts sur les entreprises du secteur ».

    Si Maurice est très connue dans le domaine de l'offshore informatique, elle a un problème de ressources humaines qualifiées actuellement. Elle se voit obligée de recruter des compétences, non seulement malgaches mais aussi sur le continent africain. Madagascar est le vivier de ressources humaines de la sous-région. Chaque année, 50 à 100 ingénieurs sortent des grandes écoles malgaches.

    A cela s'ajoutent les techniciens formés par les différents instituts privés. « Madagascar représente un réel danger pour l'offshore mauricienne. Le manque de personnel inquiète beaucoup les investisseurs », explique un autre opérateur.

    Mais à chaque problème, une solution. Si dans un premier temps, les opérateurs ont importé leur main-d'oeuvre de la Grande île, ils privilégient aujourd'hui l'option de délocaliser leurs activités dans la Grande île. Madagascar est donc une plaque tournante, un nouveau carrefour pour les services informatiques. En mars dernier, Maurice se voit obligée de tisser un partenariat avec la grande île.

    C'est ainsi que le Goticom et son homologue mauricien l'Outsourcing and telecommunications association Mauritius (OTAM) ont signé un protocole d'accord visant à promouvoir la destination Tic dans l'Océan indien.

  • L'ICT Academy, le centre de formation pour les nouvelles technologies, ne fait pas l'unanimité auprès des opérateurs privés. Ces derniers reprochent au ministère de l'Information de l'Information et des Technologies (TIC) de ne pas consulter les différents acteurs du secteur Business Process Outsourcing dans le cadre de ce projet informatique.

    Annoncée, au départ, pour le mois d'août, l'ouverture de l'ICT Academy devrait se faire vers la deuxième semaine du mois de septembre. Toutefois, ce centre de formation dédié aux professionnels du secteur des TIC fait froncer les sourcils aux acteurs du Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Ces derniers déplorent le manque de dialogue entre ministère des TIC et les opérateurs.

    « Il ne faut pas oublier que nous sommes des acteurs importants du secteur des TIC. Or, nous constatons qu'au niveau du ministère, on refuse de nous communiquer les informations », avance une source de l'Outsourcing & Telecommunications Association of Mauritius (OTAM).

    « Nous sommes sollicités au niveau du ministère uniquement lorsqu'on a besoin de nous, et nous n'hésitons jamais à collaborer, mais nous regrettons que cette collaboration se fasse uniquement dans un seul sens », affirme cette même source.

    Le président de l'OTAM, Roshan Seetohul indique, pour sa part, soutenir le projet de l'ICT Academy pleinement, il laisse toutefois entendre que cette institution pourrait être appelé à mieux fonctionner, s'il y avait une volonté au niveau du ministère des TIC, de concerter avec les différents acteurs du secteur.

    Du côté du ministère des TIC, un proche collaborateur du ministre Chedumbrum Pillay indique qu'il constate que plusieurs acteurs du BPO sont en train de tout faire pour mettre des bâtons dans les roues.

    « Nous voyons qu'il y a une certaine frustration du côté de ces chefs d'entreprises qui auraient souhaité jouer un rôle plus important au niveau de l'ICT Academy, mais ce projet implique une connaissance plus vaste », explique-t-il.

    L’Express
  • Le chiffre d'affaires de la Sonatel a connu une hausse si l'on compare le 1er semestre 2011 à la même période en 2010. La société est passée de 295 milliards de francs Cfa à 312 milliards, soit 5,76 % de plus.

    La Sonatel a réalisé, au cours du 1e semestre 2011, un chiffre d'affaires de 312 milliards de francs Cfa, soit une hausse de 5,76 % par rapport à la même période en 2010 (295 milliards de francs Cfa), révèle la Lettre mensuelle de la Cgf-Bourse parvenue à notre rédaction.

    Le Sénégal, avec 63 %, a été le principal contributeur à ce chiffre d'affaires global de l'entreprise, viennent ensuite le Mali avec 31 %, la Guinée (5 %) et la Guinée-Bissau (1 %).

    La Sonatel, indique le document de Cgf-Bourse, estime cependant que les marges, restées à un niveau appréciable, sont en baisse sous l'effet de la concurrence, des mesures fiscales défavorables (hausse de la taxe Rutel de 2 à 5 %) et du développement des charges réseaux induit par l'abondance (trafic en hausse du fait des offres promotionnelles).
     
    Selon la Lettre mensuelle, la marge nette globale a été impactée par la fin de l'exonération de l'impôt sur les sociétés au Mali. Ce qui a eu comme conséquence de voir le résultat net, sur la période, reculer de 20,21 %, à 75 milliards de francs Cfa, comparativement au 1e semestre 2010.

    Néanmoins, ajoute-t-on, les perspectives de croissance restent favorables et la pression sur les marges devrait être bien contenue avec le programme renforcé d'optimisation des charges que la Sonatel va dérouler à partir du second semestre 2011.

    Il s'y ajoute que la fin de l'exonération de l'impôt sur les sociétés au Mali a été bien anticipée dans la politique de dividende et n'aura pas d'impact sur celle-ci, rassure la Sonatel.

    Le Soleil
  • Des contrats-programmes ont été signés, mardi à Rabat, entre l'Etat et quatre clusters marocains, sélectionnés suite au premier appel à projets, lancé en février 2011, dans le cadre de la mise en oeuvre de la "Stratégie Maroc Innovation" pour sa composante "promotion des clusters".

    Les clusters sélectionnés sont TIC (Maroc Numeric Cluster), qui s'inscrit également dans le cadre de la stratégie Maroc Numeric 2013, le Cluster microélectronique (Morocco Microelectronics Cluster), le Cluster électronique (Mécatronique et Mécanique du Maroc- CE3M) et le Cluster Océan pô le TAN TAN (valorisation des produits de la mer).

    Ces contrats définissent les obligations de l'Etat et des clusters, ainsi que les modalités d'attribution, de versement et d'évaluation du soutien étatique qui consiste en l'octroi, sur une période de trois années, d'une subvention annuelle pour la mise en place et le fonctionnement des structures d'animation de ces clusters. Le montant de cette subvention, qui sera allouée par l'Etat aux quatre clusters, s'élève à 17 millions de dirhams (MDH).

    Les contrats-programmes engagent les clusters sur des indicateurs précis, tels que le nombre de projets de R&D collaboratifs, le nombre de brevets, le nombre de start-up créées, le nombre d'emplois en R&D créés et le nombre de formations réalisées.

    A ce titre, les quatre clusters sélectionnés s'engagent, au bout de trois ans, à produire 81 projets de R&D collaboratifs et 28 brevets, ainsi qu'à créer 24 start-up et 266 emplois en R&D.

    Le ministre de l'Industrie, du Commerce et des Nouvelles technologies, M. Ahmed Reda Chami, qui présidait la cérémonie de signature des contrats programmes, a souligné l'importance de la "Stratégie Maroc Innovation" qui permettra d'accélérer le développement du Maroc et de l'inscrire durablement dans l'économie du savoir.

    Pour leur part, les représentants des clusters sélectionnés ont affirmé que cette stratégie vise l'éclosion d'une économie à forte valeur ajoutée et permet d'attirer davantage d'investissements.

    La promotion des clusters figure parmi les chantiers phares de la stratégie Maroc Innovation qui a fixé comme objectifs la production de 1.000 brevets marocains à partir de 2014 et la création de 200 start-up à l'horizon 2014.

    La promotion des clusters constitue un levier important pour produire de la propriété intellectuelle et favoriser l'émergence des start-up, à travers les projets collaboratifs innovants orientés marché et impliquant aussi bien les entreprises que les universités, les centres de recherche et les institutions de formation.

    Les objectifs du ministère de l'Industrie, du Commerce et des Nouvelles technologies, à travers la stratégie de promotion des clusters est de stimuler et accompagner 15 clusters industriels et technologiques et de favoriser l'émergence de 100 projets collaboratifs innovants à l'horizon 2013.

    Pour l'opérationnalisation de cette stratégie, un Fonds d'appui aux clusters, doté d'une enveloppe de 62 MDH pour la période 2011-2013, a été mis en place pour le financement des clusters sélectionnés.

    Le deuxième appel à projets est prévu pour novembre 2011 dans le but de labelliser six autres clusters dans les secteurs industriels et technologiques, au titre de l'année 2012.

    MAP
  • Epouser l'air du temps. C'est le sens de la révolution que le Groupe Fraternité Matin veut apporter dans le domaine de l'information en Côte d'Ivoire en innovant avec FratMat Mobile.

    Il s'agira, pour les abonnés de la société de téléphonie mobile, Orange Ci, d'avoir toute l'actualité en temps réel. La mise en service de FratMat Mobile démarre aujourd'hui. Les nombreux abonnés d'Orange devront taper #129# pour être informés en temps réel sur leur téléphone portable.

    Pour ce qui est de la tarification, il convient de préciser que la première consultation de ce service coûte la somme de 250F comme frais d'abonnement pour quinze jours. Ce montant est prélevé sur le crédit de l'intéressé.

    Quant aux consultations du support, elles se font à raison de 25F par consultation. Dans la journée, trois alertes (matin, midi et soir) sont données à l'abonné pour l'inviter à consulter FratMat Mobile qui met à sa disposition l'information en temps réel et de façon continue.

    Pour le reste du temps, il lui revient de consulter son support quand bon lui semble et il découvrira toujours une information à caractère politique, sportif, culturel, économique, social, international et régional.

    De même que des nouvelles relatives aux offres d'emplois. C'est donc cette panoplie d'informations qui est mise à la disposition des abonnés au support FratMat Mobile mis en service dès ce lundi et dont le lancement officiel se fera d'ici à la fin du mois en cours.

  • Sur les 16 pays de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, seulement une minorité s’est véritablement engagée à adopter la radiodiffusion numérique – même si tous les États africains ont accepté de prendre ce virage d’ici juin 2015.

    Le coût du processus a découragé certains pays. Il existe pourtant des pays comme le Ghana, la Guinée et le Nigeria qui en sont à l’étape préalable au lancement public. Et trois autres – le Bénin, le Mali et le Niger – vont bientôt créer des groupes de travail pour superviser la transition. Mais en réalité, presque la moitié des États ouest-africains n’ont même pas encore commencé la formulation des politiques nécessaires pour engager le processus de transition.

    Une nouvelle étude de Russell Southwood, publiée au début de cette année pour APC et Balancing Act dans le cadre de notre initiative commune sur la Migration numérique en Afrique de l’Ouest donne un aperçu de l‘état actuel de la transition dans chaque pays et formule des recommandations pour les pays qui n’ont pas encore commencé le processus de transition.

    Les décideurs et les régulateurs ont du mal à croire qu’un processus qui implique l’achat d’un nouveau décodeur par tous ceux qui possèdent un téléviseur soit faisable dans le contexte africain », explique Southwood.

    L’achat d’une nouvelle technologie peut sembler un trop lourd fardeau financier à imposer, mais les études sur le Ghana, le Nigeria et le Sénégal montrent que la réduction de la taxe sur les nouveaux téléviseurs les rend presque aussi abordables « qu’un téléphone bas de gamme », indique le rapport Southwood, ces décisions nécessitant une directive prioritaire du ministère des Télécommunications.

    Le processus nécessite de nouvelles actions politiques et « les ministères ont souvent du mal à mobiliser les ressources supplémentaires pour accomplir cette tâche », commente Southwood. Mais pour la plupart, il s’agit de reporter à demain ce qui pourrait être fait aujourd’hui, dit-il.

    Southwood exhorte les pays à ne pas laisser la transition pour la dernière minute. « En Europe, ce processus a pris de trois à quatorze ans » indique-t-il. « Que le secteur privé participe ou non, le gouvernement ou le régulateur doit entamer le processus en produisant un document de politique portant sur les principales questions d’intérêt public. Et le document doit faire l’objet de consultations – en particulier auprès de l’industrie de la radiodiffusion qui sera la première touchée par les décisions qui seront prises ».

    Dans la plupart des pays, on commence par mettre en place un comité ou un groupe de travail qui comprend un représentant de chaque groupe de parties prenantes. Les groupes de travail contribuent à aplanir les détails de la politique du gouvernement, notamment la mise en œuvre, obtenir l’engagement formel des parties concernées, se mettre d’accord sur un calendrier de transition. Il sera également chargé de la promotion du processus auprès de la population.

    Les gouvernements devraient assumer un rôle de chef de file clair et d’autres parties prenantes devraient faciliter le processus. Par exemple, le gouvernement peut fixer une date précise pour l’arrêt de l’analogique, et un régulateur peut donner des conseils sur l’attribution des fréquences.

    Southwood fait observer que les meilleures pratiques utilisées ailleurs montrent qu’il est préférable de procéder à un déploiement direct dirigé par le marché. Le gouvernement prend des décisions qui apportent une certitude sur le marché et incitent à l’accélération du processus – comme le choix des normes techniques. Le gouvernement peut également imposer un changement par une loi ou un règlement, mais en travaillant avec toutes les parties prenantes, il assurera le succès du processus.

    Le processus est ensuite prêt pour des essais pour voir si les signaux numériques fonctionnent, pour un lancement public et pour la vente des nouveaux téléviseurs numériques. Mais ce n’est fini – le gouvernement, les régulateurs et les diffuseurs devront lancer des campagnes de sensibilisation pour encourager l’adoption par le grand public, ce qui peut également prendre du temps.

    Compte tenu des coûts et du travail en cause, les gouvernements, les régulateurs et les diffuseurs se demandent évidemment « quel est l’avantage pour le pays ? »

    Pour que le processus de transition réussisse, les gens doivent comprendre pourquoi c’est important. Southwood l’explique plus en détail dans son document, mais en quelques mots…

    Dans de nombreux pays africains, la télévision est essentiellement un phénomène urbain. Les radiodiffuseurs privés ont tendance à coller aux zones urbaines où vivent ceux qui intéressent les publicitaires, alors que les radiodiffuseurs publics ont tendance à rejoindre les communautés rurales.

    La diffusion numérique permettra aux gouvernements et aux régulateurs de faire de l’accès à la télévision un objectif d’accès universel (par exemple si la télévision atteint actuellement 55 % de la population, on pourrait fixer un nouvel objectif de 70 % dans les cinq ans, en adoptant une politique). Pour ce faire, on pourrait avoir une seule porteuse indépendante partagée par tous les diffuseurs ou plusieurs porteuses de signaux indépendantes offrant des infrastructures à louer ou même plusieurs consortiums de radiodiffuseurs partageant des porteuses de signaux différentes.

    Comme Southwood l’explique : « Dans chaque cas, le but des diffuseurs est d’élargir la couverture pour atteindre le plus grand nombre de personnes intéressant les publicitaires, en particulier pur des biens comme l’alimentation et les boissons ».

    Les nouvelles chaînes de la télévision numérique permettent d’offrir plus de choix dans un large éventail de langues, plus de chaînes éducatives et de chaînes haute définition. « Les utilisateurs seront séduits par une plus grande diversité de contenus, à la fois des diffuseurs existants et des nouveaux venus », explique Southwood.

    Southwood recommande que les chaînes supplémentaires soient proposées au public d’une manière équitable et transparente. Comme avec l’attribution du spectre (lien), les chaînes reçoivent de l’espace – si les radiodiffuseurs n’utilisent pas les chaînes dans un certain laps de temps, ils devraient renoncer à leur droit de les utiliser et elles devraient être mises à la disposition des radiodiffuseurs qui ont une programmation à offrir.

    Une autre incitatif consiste à réallouer du spectre de la radiodiffusion aux télécoms pour permettre des services internet et mobiles abordables offerts par les câblodistributeurs.

    Que ce soit par la publicité, la télévision payante, les revenus d’abonnement, les revenus de licences ou les subventions publiques, ajout de chaînes devrait faire rentrer des revenus dans les coffres de l’État. Les revenus doivent correspondre aux dépenses engagées pour l’obtention des nouvelles chaînes, et les radiodiffuseurs privés sont les mieux équipés pour ce faire.

    Avec la nouvelle demande d‘émissions de télévision, les gouvernements et les régulateurs peuvent poursuivre des objectifs économiques en encourageant la croissance d’un secteur de production locale, ce qui peut se faire facilement en créant une forme de quota production locale comme mesure de transitoire (p. ex., seule la programmation locale est diffusée entre 19 h et 23 h ou 40 % de la programmation doit être locale.

    Les agences cinématographiques locales pourraient recevoir un financement approuvé par le gouvernement – comme c’est actuellement le cas au Kenya, au Maroc et en Afrique du Sud). Les gouvernements peuvent également aider la production cinématographique locale en décourageant la piraterie individuelle et en réprimant la diffusion d’émissions pirates.

    Cet article a été adapté du rapport de Russell Southwood « Migration vers la radiodiffusion numérique en Afrique de l’Ouest : Un survol et des stratégies pour accélérer la transition », rédigé pour APC. L’étude est publiée en anglais et en français .

    Afrik
  • Africa Web Summit
    17-18 septembre 2011, Brazaville, Congo

    Brazzaville sera au cœur de l’actualité des nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication en Afrique à travers un grand rendez-vous d’échange, d’apprentissage et de vulgarisation des nouveaux outils du domaine. Un panel d’experts de haut niveau provenant d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Asie et d’Afrique procédera au développement des thématiques liées au secteur. Des sociétés spécialisées exposeront leurs œuvres et services web en marge du sommet.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

  • Le gouvernement du Swaziland vient de démissionner l’intégralité du conseil d’administration de Swaziland Post and Telecommunication Corporation, l’opérateur historique/régulateur. Nelisiwe Shongwe, le ministre des TICs n’a pas indiqué les raisons de cette démission mais elle intervient une semaine après que les accusations du premier ministre disant que la société est dirigée par un cartel de criminels.

  • Chef de projet mobile banking – Sénégal
    Le Chef de Projet Mobile Banking est responsable de l'ensemble du projet dans l'établissement; - Il coordonne toutes les activités y afférentes (vente, marketing et développement produits, cross selling, compilance, évolution du contrat, etc...) en lien étroit avec chacun des managers en Charge directe de ces sujets; - Il est l'interlocuteur de la Direction pour tous les aspects de ce projet.

    Qualification / Formation : Bac+ 4/5 Marketing - Agé(e) de 30 à 35 ans et vous justifiez d'une expérience bancaire pertinente (minimum 5 ans).
    Pour plus d’informations ou pour poser votre candidature cliquez ici

"Dernières Nouvelles"-Edition Française, 8 septembre 2011, No 166

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Editorial

  • La liste des pays africains qui ont introduit, songe à introduire ou ont renoncé à introduire une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants s’allonge de jour en jour. Cette liste non exhaustive comprend le Congo-Brazzaville, la Guinée, le Niger, la Côte d’Ivoire, le Gabon, la Mauritanie, le Ghana, Madagascar, le Sénégal et le Libéria. Balancing Act a suivi cette affaire depuis la tentative avortée en Côte d’Ivoire en août 2009. Isabelle Gross résume les derniers rebondissements dans cette affaire au Sénégal et revient sur le projet de réglementation de l’Autorité des Télécommunications du Libéria d’introduire une taxe similaire dans l’un des pays les plus pauvres du continent africain.

    Le 24 août 2011 marque le retour de la taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants au Sénégal suite à la signature du décret présidentiel  No 2011-127. Un bien triste jour pour le secteur des télécommunications au Sénégal et la diaspora sénégalaise ! Selon la presse sénégalaise, les prises de position des partisans et des opposants au décret réintroduisant une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrant ont été comme suit durant les derniers dix jours (il s’agit d’une sélection):
    - Seneweb rapporte  le 7 septembre que l’intersyndicale de la Sonatel s’est réunie  pour discuter d’un plan d’action pour faire reculer l’Etat. Selon Ndèye Founé Niang, secrétaire générale du Sntp, l’intersyndicale a décidé de lancer « les mercredis de la honte », qui se feront toutes les semaines.
    - dans son édition du 6 septembre, Sud Quotidien publie que l’Entente nationale des associations de consommateurs (Enac) n’est pas d’accord avec l’attitude de Momar Ndao, président de l’Ascosen (Association des consommateurs du Sénégal) qui défend l’introduction de cette taxe.
    - dans une interview accordée à Rewmi, le Ministre chargé des télécommunications, M Moustapha Guirassy répond aux propos de la Directrice de la Communication de la Sonatel (dont toute l’argumentation est bien sur en défaveur de la taxe)
    - le 6 septembre encore, Dakaractu annonce être en possession d’un document de 33 pages qui développe un argumentaire détaillé en faveur de la surtaxe des appels internationaux entrants.
    - le 30 août, le journal local le Soleil publie que le ministre de la Communication, des Télécommunications et des Tic, porte-parole du Gouvernement, Moustapha Guirassy, a annoncé la mise en place imminente d'une commission nationale de surveillance des appels téléphoniques entrants au Sénégal. Le ministre, qui a d'abord confirmé la signature du décret instituant un système de contrôle et de tarification des appels entrants par le chef de l'Etat, a indiqué que le contrôle sera assuré par l'Agence de régulation des télécommunications et des postes (Artp). La mise en place de cette commission nationale, a dit le ministre Guirassy, prouve la volonté de l'Etat d'assurer « la transparence ».
    - Le 24 août dernier, l'Organisation des professionnels des technologies de l'information et de la communication (Optic), évoquant la question de la surtaxe sur les appels internationaux, invitait à une concertation nationale regroupant tous les professionnels du secteur. Une démarche qui, selon cette organisation, semble être indispensable pour trouver une solution qui agrée toute les parties. Cette invite de l'Optic part du fait que les différents acteurs du secteur sont loin d'avoir un avis favorable sur le sujet qui concerne la surtaxe des appels entrants.

    Alors que la pression continue au Sénégal en faveur du retrait de ce nouveau décret introduisant une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants, la société Global Voice Group (GVG), le leader dans le domaine des systèmes de contrôle n’est plus la seule société offrant de tels services. N’importe quel ingénieur télécoms vous dira qu’il n’y a pas besoin de chercher de « midi à quatorze heures » pour développer un système de contrôle des appels internationaux entrants. Les autres sociétés qui offrent aujourd’hui un service similaire à celui de GVG ont compris qu’il y a de l’argent à faire dans ce créneau et qui plus est c’est de l’argent facile.

    Suivant les traces du Sénégal, du Ghana ou encore de la Guinée, le Libéria s’est décidé à s’engager dans la même voie. Au début du mois d’août, l’Autorité des Télécommunications du Libéria (Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA)) a sorti un projet de réglementation sur le trafic international. Ce document de quatre pages a du être écrit à toute vitesse parce qu’il manque de clarté quant au type de trafic qui sera contrôlé et taxé. Dans son projet de réglementation, LTA fait parfois référence « aux appels internationaux entrants et sortants » tantôt à « tous les appels routés vers le code pays +231 » ou encore « la mise en place d’un système de contrôle et de rétention pour le trafic domestique et le trafic international entrant ».  Le moins que l’on puisse dire c’est que ce projet de réglementation reste bien confus à l’exception de l’article dans lequel LTA prescrit que « tous les appels internationaux entrants terminant sur des numéros d’abonnés avec le code pays +231 sont assujettis à une taxe réglementaire minimum de 0.15 dollars US par minute (en supplément du prix en gros qui est aux alentours de 0.12 dollars US par minute) qui sera collecter par l’opérateur de terminaison pour le compte de LTA ».

    Tandis que les opérateurs télécoms du Libéria vont être transformés en collecteurs d’impôts, il reste toujours d’actualité de rappeler à LTA que cette taxe réglementaire est en contravention avec la Convention de Melbourne de l’Union Internationale des Télécommunications (UIT) de 1988  et l’accord sur le commerce des services de l’Organisation Mondiale du Commerce (OMC) de 1998.

    La convention de Melbourne qui a été signée par une majorité de pays africains comprend un Règlement des Télécommunications Internationales (RTI) qui stipule dans son article 6 intitulé « Taxation et comptabilité » à l’alinéa .1.3 « Quand la législation nationale d'un pays prévoit l'application d'une taxe fiscale sur la taxe de perception pour les services internationaux de télécommunication, cette taxe fiscale n'est normalement perçue que pour les services internationaux facturés aux clients de ce pays, à moins que d'autres arrangements soient conclus pour faire face à des circonstances spéciales. » Il ressort clairement que cette nouvelle taxe sur les appels entrants sera payée par l’appelant à l’étranger et par conséquent elle est en violation directe avec les règles définies par le Règlement des Télécommunications Internationales qui s’appliquent à tous les pays signataires de la convention de Melbourne.

    Par ailleurs l’annexe du quatrième protocole d’Accord sur le Commerce des Services (AGCS), Accord sur les télécommunications de base, négocié sous les auspices de l’Organisation Mondiale du Commerce (OMC) en février 1997, entré en vigueur le 1er janvier 1998, indique que les taxes de répartition telles que les tarifs d’interconnexion nationaux doivent tendre vers les coûts. En d’autres termes, les taxes de répartition ne doivent pas être plus élevées que les tarifs d’interconnexion locaux (sauf prise en compte du coût additionnel minimal du segment international). Au vue de ces deux articles, il apparaît clairement qu’aucune taxe ne doit être appliquée au trafic international entrant.

    Il convient aussi de rappeler la Déclaration de Dakar de novembre dernier dans laquelle les opérateurs télécoms de l’Afrique de l’Ouest réitèrent leur opposition à un tel système de taxation. En parallèle aux violations légales, le Libéria devrait aussi considérer les conséquences économiques de l’introduction d’une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants: elle aura un impact négatif sur la compétitivité du pays en accroissant le coût de faire des affaires durant une période de récession mondiale; l’augmentation du prix de terminaison des appels internationaux entrants aura un effet négatif sur les entreprises de Libéria tourné vers l’import/export; pour les familles au Libéria avec des membres vivant à l’étranger, l’augmentation du prix d’appel vers le pays se traduira par des appels plus courts et moins d’argent disponible pour envoyer au Libéria.

    J’ai récemment échangé par mail avec un Libérien résidant aux USA et sa réponse quant à l’introduction d’une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants a été comme suit « la taxe réglementaire de LTA n’est pas progressive dans mon opinion ». Le point principal s’est l’aspect progressif. Il s’agit bien de développer un cadre réglementaire qui soutient le développement des TICs et non pas une réglementation qui prend les opérateurs télécoms et les consommateurs pour des vaches à lait !

  • Avec l'avènement de plusieurs compagnies de téléphonie mobile, les consommateurs ont vu, avec soulagement, les prix des communications baisser au fil des années et des mois, suite à plusieurs actions menées par la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina (LCB). La concurrence est telle entre les différentes sociétés que c'est à qui écrasera le plus les prix.

    Si au début, cette concurrence a été saluée par les consommateurs, force est de reconnaître que depuis quelques mois, joindre son correspondant au téléphone mobile et entretenir une conversation soutenue sans coupure intempestive relève du miracle.

    Surtout avec un opérateur qui se présente comme le leader du secteur. En effet, la baisse des prix s'est accompagnée, dans presque toutes les compagnies, d'une baisse de qualité telle que les consommateurs ne savent plus vers qui se tourner.

    Pendant cette période également, les campagnes promotionnelles annonçant des remises exceptionnelles, des bonus, des cadeaux, donnent le tournis aux consommateurs. Et là aussi, c'est à qui donnera le plus de « cadeaux » à sa clientèle !

    Tenez ! Vous décidez d'acheter des unités, le plus dur reste à venir, à savoir les utiliser. Vous essayez de joindre votre correspondant, il faudra vous y prendre à plusieurs reprises. Et si par hasard vous parvenez à le joindre, soyez patient car votre communication sera coupée plusieurs fois, vous obligeant ainsi à composer autant de fois la ligne coupée.

    Une pratique récurrente qui laisse croire qu'elle est sciemment entretenue par les opérateurs pour voler leur propre clientèle. Finalement, ne soyez pas surpris si les unités que vous avez achetées ne vous permettent pas de réaliser la durée de communication annoncée à grand renfort de publicité.

    Quant aux clés de connexion à l'internet, le coût d'acquisition et celui de l'abonnement restent élevés pour le consommateur qui, malheureusement, rencontre beaucoup de difficultés quant à leur exploitation.

    Et quand il parvient à se connecter non sans peine, le débit qu'il reçoit sur son ordinateur est nettement en deçà de celui auquel il a souscrit. Lorsque la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina a saisi les différents opérateurs, chacun nous a promis que la situation allait changer en mieux pour les consommateurs, car des travaux étaient en cours.

    Pire, depuis le mois de mai 2011, un communiqué de l'Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) nous annonçait une enquête « pour mesurer la qualité de service vue par les clients et vérifier par la même occasion le respect par les opérateurs des obligations de qualité de service contenues dans leur cahier des charges » (Cf. L'Observateur Paalga du vendredi 13 au dimanche 15 mai 2011).

    Où en sommes-nous plusieurs mois après ? Le constat reste très amer pour le consommateur : la communication téléphonique reste mauvaise, tandis que les opérateurs continuent, à travers des communiqués, d'appeler les consommateurs à la patience.

    Combien de temps ce jeu qui s'apparente à de l'arnaque qui ne dit pas son nom va-t-il durer ? Qu'en est-il des cahiers des charges signés par les prestataires de téléphonie mobile s'engageant à offrir un service de qualité ?

    Les autorités ont, certes, rappelé à l'ordre les responsables de ces sociétés qui ont promis des services de qualité. Malheureusement, aucune sanction n'est prise par l'ARCEP pour contraindre les opérateurs à respecter leurs engagements, si bien qu'elle a une part de responsabilité dans cette attitude désinvolte des opérateurs vis-à-vis des consommateurs.

    Fort de tout ce qui précède, la Ligue des Consommateurs du Burkina (LCB), en sa qualité de défenseur du droit des consommateurs, estime également qu'il est temps que des actions soient menées pour protéger les consommateurs qui assistent, impuissants, à ces prestations de mauvaise qualité surfacturées.

    C'est pourquoi, elle dénonce le mystère fait par les autorités sur le contenu du cahier des charges ; exige des compagnies de téléphonie un service de qualité et de l'autorité de régulation l'application de sanctions immédiates contre tous ceux qui ne respectent pas le cahier des charges; interpelle les autorités sur la nécessité de la représentation de la Ligue des consommateurs du Burkina au sein de l'autorité de régulation pour une meilleure prise en compte des intérêts des consommateurs ; invite les consommateurs, à rester mobilisés, pour des actions fortes en guise de protestation.

    Le Pays
  • La tension monte à Maroc Telecom (Itissalat Al Maghrib – IAM). Après une série de sit-in et quelques débrayages dont le dernier remonte à juin dernier, le personnel de l'opérateur historique de téléphonie au Maroc en prévoit un nouveau à la fin du mois d'août courant.

    La grève ainsi programmée durera 3 jours, les 29 , 30 et 31 au cas où l'Aid Al Fitr coïnciderait avec le 1erseptembre ou les 29, 30 août et 2 septembre où ladite fête aurait lieu le 31 courant.

    La décision de la grève a été prise le 13 août à Rabat lors de la réunion de la coordination syndicale qui a également appelé à l'organisation de nombreux sit-in de protestation au niveau local, et ce à partir de la semaine prochaine.

    Dans un communiqué émanant de 4 syndicats représentant le secteur, affiliés à la FDT, la CDT, l'UMT et l'UNTM, la coordination nationale exprime son mécontentement de la décision unilatérale de l'administration d'IAM qui a ajouté une demi-heure à l'horaire normal au mois de Ramadan, violant ainsi les articles 11 et 24 du Code du travail.

    Devant la fuite en avant et sa politique pour dissuader le personnel de poursuivre sa lutte jusqu'à satisfaction de ses revendications, l'administration d'Itissalat Al Maghrib a opté, souligne ledit communiqué, pour de viles pratiques qui ont pour dessein de semer la terreur et la zizanie parmi le personnel.

    Appel a été également lancé à l'ensemble du personnel pour faire face aux rumeurs émanant, particulièrement, de certains responsables qui ont préféré prévaloir leurs intérêts personnels sur ceux du personnel.

    Tout en confirmant leur attachement à leur cahier revendicatif et à poursuivre leur lutte par tous les moyens légales, y compris le recours à la justice, la coordination syndicale appelle l'administration d'Itissalat Al Maghrib à opter pour la sagesse et faire prévaloir ses intérêts et ceux de son personnel.

    A rappeler que plusieurs grèves et sit-in avaient été organisés ces derniers temps par le personnel d'IAM, au niveau régional ou devant le siège de l'entreprise à Rabat.

    Libération
  • Le secteur agricole a su profiter de la Révolution Industrielle avec la mécanisation et l’utilisation de produits phytosanitaires, à outrance parfois. Mais il n’a pas encore réellement bénéficié de la révolution numérique, au contraire de la plupart des autres pans de l’économie et tous les types d’organisation.

    L’utilisation d’outils de communication modernes est pourtant déjà répandue dans les grandes exploitations agricoles occidentales : tracteurs équipés d’ordinateurs, consultation par Internet de services météo spécifiques, consultation des cours des matières agricoles sur les marchés financiers et ventes des récoltes, traçabilité sanitaire du bétail assurée par des puces électroniques et scans, etc.

    La vraie révolution ne réside donc pas tant dans la technicité des innovations et services mis à la disposition des agriculteurs, que dans le potentiel de diffusion de ces technologies par le biais d’un outil quotidien devenu banal : le téléphone portable. Avec plus de 4,5 milliards d’utilisateurs dans le monde (contre 2 milliards en 2005), la diffusion du mobile est exceptionnelle, par son ampleur et sa rapidité. Pour les agriculteurs des pays en voie de développement, elle représente l’opportunité d’accéder facilement à des techniques et services simples. Ceux-ci permettent d’améliorer l’ensemble de leur chaîne de valeur, de l’installation jusqu’à l’écoulement des produits en passant par l’approvisionnement et l’exploitation.

    Les technologies de communication, et notamment le mobile ont un rôle immédiat dans la production agricole. En premier lieu, par la diffusion de la connaissance. L’agriculture est affaire de savoir-faire, et la multiplication des contacts entre agriculteurs ainsi que la mise à disposition de conseils aux agriculteurs sur internet permettent de mieux diffuser les techniques les plus efficaces. Les applications du mobile peuvent aussi se révéler plus concrètes comme le prouve l’expérimentation en Inde du module « Raita Mitra ». Ce boîtier, connecté à une pompe hydraulique, repose sur un fonctionnement simple : lorsque que l’électricité est suffisante pour alimenter la pompe, un SMS est envoyé à l’agriculteur. L’agriculteur envoie alors un SMS avec un code basique (ex : ON) pour démarrer la pompe et irriguer son champ. Il lui suffit de renvoyer un SMS (ex : OFF) pour arrêter la pompe. Cette innovation a l’avantage de résoudre 2 problèmes majeurs pour les agriculteurs des pays en voie de développement : la disponibilité de l’eau et de l’électricité. En déclinant cette logique de contrôle à distance par téléphone portable, il est possible d’imaginer de nombreuses autres applications pouvant aider les agriculteurs, y compris des pays occidentaux, à gagner en productivité. L’information envoyée par des modules de type Raita Mitra pourrait ainsi être complétée avec le taux d’humidité du sol, mesurable par capteur, et les prévisions météorologiques. Ainsi, l’agriculteur ne déclenche pas l’irrigation si son champ n’en a pas réellement besoin. L’enjeu de disponibilité de l’eau douce est tel que ces innovations sont nécessairement appelées à se développer.

    L’étude d’Abraham (2007) a montré le rôle de la téléphonie mobile dans l’amélioration de l’efficience des marchés agricoles en Inde ; plus précisément sur les marchés de poissons, au sein desquels le mobile permet aux pêcheurs d’aller débarquer le poisson là où le prix est le plus fort. Les pêcheurs interrogés ont aussi placé le téléphone mobile en 3ème position parmi les améliorations techniques qui ont favorisé leur développement, derrière la mécanisation et l’amélioration des infrastructures de transport. Plus de 80% des mareyeurs, des poissonniers et des transporteurs interrogés reconnaissent également que le mobile a permis de diminuer la volatilité et la dispersion des prix entre les marchés. Le mobile serait donc un outil majeur d’amélioration de l’efficacité des marchés agricoles. Cet impact est également confirmé par l’étude d’Aker (2008), qui démontre que l’utilisation du téléphone portable permet aux céréaliers d’augmenter leur zone de chalandise et donc  leur prix de réserve. En réduisant les monopsones, l’accroissement de la diffusion d’information a initié au Niger un mouvement de lissage des prix sur des zones géographiques étendues.

    De véritables plateformes de négoce en ligne se développent par ailleurs, à l’image de « Esoko » en Afrique. Elle met en relation des producteurs et commerçants via Internet et SMS dans près d’une dizaine de pays essentiellement d’Afrique de l’Ouest (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire…). Les inscrits reçoivent par des SMS ciblés le prix des produits agricoles qui les intéressent sur les différents marchés, les informations météorologiques et à l’avenir l’état des stocks des distributeurs. De telles plateformesrévolutionnent l’accès à l’information sur les prix pour les populations rurales et contribuent à améliorer les revenus des agriculteurs  : ils profitent de nouveaux débouchés et d’une meilleure anticipation des prix. L’offre d’information se complète progressivement par le développement de réseaux de bureaux physiques dédiés aux agriculteurs. Ces bureaux visent à informer et à faciliter l’accès à Internet, à l’image des « PICA » en Afrique de l’Ouest (Point d’Information Commerciale Agricole, issus du projet MISTOWA cofinancé par USAID).

    Outre l’information sur les prix agricoles, l’accélération de l’information permet une meilleure gestion de l’approvisionnement de la chaîne de distribution des produits agricoles et notamment des stocks. Le meilleur écoulement des produits agricoles n’a donc pas qu’un impact sur les revenus des agriculteurs mais également sur la sécurité alimentaire des populations concernées. Les émeutes de la faim à Haïti en 2008 n’étaient par exemple pas seulement dues à une hausse des prix des produits agricoles, mais également à une mauvaise répartition des quelques stocks de nourriture encore disponibles. De même, la diffusion d’informations météorologiques ou sanitaires (épidémies animales…), contribue à mieux anticiper les risques de pénuries ou les excédents de production, et à mieux répartir la production agricole.

    Les technologies de l’information ont donc grâce à Internet et surtout au mobile un rôle primordial de fluidification des marchés agricoles. Ilse traduit concrètement par une hausse des revenus des agriculteurs et une moindre précarité alimentaire pour les populations. Une conséquence évidemment intéressante pour les pays souffrant d’une insuffisance chronique de l’offre alimentaire.

    Une autre innovation permise par les technologies mobiles est la micro-assurance à distance, à l’image de celle proposée dans le programme « Kilimo Salama ». Lancée par la Fondation Syngenta, l’opérateur mobile Safaricom et l’assureur africain UAP, l’opération a permis en 2010 à plus de 9000 agriculteurs d’assurer leur récolte contre la sécheresse. La technologie mobile est présente à toutes les étapes du processus d’assurance : la souscription, la vérification des critères de déclenchement de l’indemnisation et le paiement de l’indemnisation.

    A la souscription, les fournisseurs scannent le code barre des intrants (semences, engrais, phytosanitaires…) achetés par l’agriculteur. La police d’assurance est alors automatiquement enregistrée par l’assureur et confirmée par SMS à l’agriculteur. Le coût de l’assurance est de 5% du prix des intrants scannés. L’indemnisation est déclenchée automatiquement dès lors que des stations météorologiques locales, connectées au réseau 3G, détectent des conditions météorologiques susceptibles de détruire les récoltes (sécheresse ou pluies excessives). Tous les agriculteurs de la zone impactée sont alors immédiatement indemnisés par paiement mobile.

    Là encore on ne peut qu’anticiper un développement massif de cette offre, au bénéfice de toutes les parties prenantes. En effet, la téléphonie mobile dispose de trois caractéristiques illustrant sa capacité de contribution au développement de pans entiers de l’économie en tant que technologies de base ou « technologies polyvalentes »: l’omniprésence (la téléphonie mobile est utilisée dans tous les secteurs), l’amélioration (la technologie ne cesse d’évoluer permettant une baisse des coûts pour les utilisateurs) et l’innovation induite (le mobile contribue à l’amélioration de nouveaux produits ou processus). Les agriculteurs et entreprises qui l’ont compris en tirent déjà profit, tout en contribuant à lutter contre la faim.

    Paradoxalement alors que les enjeux sont essentiels et les cas pratiques bien réels, le croisement entre le monde de l’agrobusiness et des TICs n’est pas encore naturel. Les opérateurs télécoms n’ont pas encore investi ce créneau, alors que les secteurs de la santé ou de la banque sont observés avec intérêt. Pourtant un vrai double relais de croissance commun entre ces secteurs économiques mériterait que les acteurs le regardent de plus près.

  • Le secteur des Technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) dans la région connaît un développement majeur avec la signature d'un accord de principe entre l'African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC) et la Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

    Une collaboration plus étroite entre l'African Network Information Centre (AfriNIC), et la Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO). C'est désormais possible après la signature d'un accord de principe entre ces deux organismes le 24 août dernier, à l'Hôtel Hyatt Regency Kilimandjaro à Dar es Salaam, en Tanzanie, lors du 6e Forum Connecting Rural Africa.

    Le protocole d'accord a été signé par Adiel Akplogan, PDG d'AfriNIC, dont le siège à Maurice se situe à Ebène, et le Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, PDG de la CTO.

    Cela qui marque là le début d'une coopération bilatérale entre AfriNIC qui est le registre Internet pour l'Afrique et l'océan Indien et la CTO. L'objectif : améliorer la collaboration sur les différentes actions visant à promouvoir les Technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) et son rôle dans le développement par la recherche conjointe, la formation et le renforcement des capacités sur les questions de haute importance, tels que l'Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

    Ainsi AfriNIC et la CTO pourront participer à des événements et à des conférences pour améliorer la diffusion des messages importants et en même temps créer une plateforme pour partager leurs connaissances et développer de nouveaux partenariats.

    Pour le PDG d'AfriNIC, Adiel Akplogan : « C'est une étape très importante dans notre mission à AfriNIC à contribuer activement au renforcement des capacités individuelles et institutionnelles sur tout ce qui concerne l'Internet dans notre région. L'Internet n'est pas seulement un outil de communication mais est aussi un outil économique qui a ses propres pratiques et règles.

    En Afrique, nous n'avons d'autre choix que d'adapter notre environnement à cela. Une synergie durable entre les acteurs et parties prenantes est la seule façon pour procéder avec succès au changement pour un brillant futur socio-économique », a-t-il souligné.

    Cette initiative a été concrétisée en ligne avec les objectifs et buts communs d'AfriNIC et de la CTO considérant les avantages que peuvent en tirer leurs différents partenaires à la suite des synergies réalisées grâce à cette collaboration.

    L’Express
  • Le portail interactif des Ressources éducatives libres de (REL) de l’Université virtuelle africaine (UVA) vient de remporter le premier prix de la catégorie Meilleure initiative émergente du site Education-Portal des Etats-Unis d’Amérique (USA).

    ‘’Plus de 4.000 personnes ont voté et décerné aux Ressources éducatives libres (REL) de l’UVA le premier prix dans la catégorie Meilleure Initiative Émergente. Le prix a été organisé par le site Education-Portal.com basé aux Etats-Unis’’, indique un communiqué de l’UVA reçu à l’APS.

    Le portail est accessible dans 142 pays, ‘’bien au-delà de l’Afrique, avec une majorité d’accès provenant du Brésil et des États-Unis. Le site, lancé en janvier 2011, est conçu pour accueillir du contenu gratuit et libre, développé en partenariat avec 10 pays africains et adapté aux besoins des étudiants africains’’, explique le communiqué.

    ‘’Du point de vue éducationnel, ce prix démontre que l’Afrique est en train de changer un modèle de développement qui prend des ressources de la communauté internationale en un modèle qui donne du contenu pertinent et intéressant, qui contribue au dialogue international en éducation’’, a dit Bakary Diallo, recteur de l’UVA, basée à Nairobi (Kenya).

    Le portail REL de l’UVA est financé par la Banque africaine de développement (BAD) et héberge 219 modules éducationnels libres, divisés en plusieurs thèmes (manuels en mathématiques et en sciences, formation des enseignants, compétences de base en TIC, etc.).

    Créée en 1997, l’UVA est une institution d’enseignement supérieur qui fait appel aux techniques d’information et de communication moderne pour ‘’offrir au continent africain des ressources éducatives de haute qualité, en provenance du monde entier’’.

    APS
  • «Designée en Californie par Apple, assemblée en Chine». Cette inscription sur chaque produit de la marque à la pomme est désormais devenue mythique, voire chic, tant elle pourrait résumer une facette de la globalisation.

    Le congolais Verone Mankou, 25 ans, s’apprête à lancer à la rentrée la première tablette «Conçue au Congo, assemblée en Chine». Ce jeune entrepreneur de Brazzaville a fondé sa start-up de communication 2.0, VMK, en 2009 tout en étant conseiller du ministre des Télécommunications congolais Thierry Moungalla. Et il a développé au cours de ces deux dernières années une tablette tactile «pensée et désignée en Afrique».

    Un projet coûteux et audacieux qui lui a valu un certain nombre de critiques. Avec pour toile de fonds l’affaire de l’ordinateur portable Nhava, soi-disant conçu et fabriqué au Zimbabwe. Mais cette année, les consommateurs enthousiastes à l’idée de soutenir une initiative innovante africaine ont déchanté lorsqu’ils ont appris qu’il s’agissait en fait d’une vulgaire copie fabriquée en Chine et importée. Rien d’innovant, et rien d’africain donc.

    Face à cette vague de suspicion, Verone Mankou a adapté sa stratégie de communication et joue la carte de la transparence. Il assume, défend son projet mordicus et s’explique sur le fait que sa tablette soit fabriquée en Chine et développée avec un partenaire au Canada. Il a d’ailleurs publié sur son site des photographies de l’usine de fabrication située dans les environs de Shenzhen, réputée être le paradis de la contrefaçon. Mais alors en quoi cette tablette est-elle africaine, s’interrogent les sceptiques qui soupçonnent une copie chinoise de plus, commercialisée en Afrique avec une rhétorique publicitaire locale qui vise à mettre en avant un projet «made in Congo» . A 25 ans, ce jeune patron fait fi de ces polémiques et revient sur la genèse de ce projet mais aussi sur la controverse autour de l’origine de sa tablette.

    Comment avez-vous eu l’idée de cette tablette ?

    Vérone Mankou: Fin 2005, je travaillais chez un Fournisseur d’Accès Internet. Et c’est à ce moment là que je me suis mis à chercher une solution pour donner accès à Internet au plus grand nombre. A l’époque, c’était un luxe, car les ordinateurs coûtaient excessivement cher. Au départ j’avais imaginé un ordinateur tout-en-un. Ensuite, j’ai travaillé sur un projet d’ordinateur portable pour finir par une tablette. J’ai laissé dormir le projet car à l’époque c’était quasiment impossible ! J’ai vraiment commencé à travailler sur cette tablette à partir premier semestre de 2010.

    Vous avez une formation d’ingénieur, comment avez-vous travaillé pour concevoir cette tablette, notamment la partie «hardware» ?

    Je ne suis pas encore ingénieur car j’ai fait une pause dans ma formation pour des raisons professionnelles.  Je me suis occupé seul de la partie hardware, ce qui m’a pris beaucoup de temps et de travail car ce n’est pas mon métier de base. Du coup j’étais obligé de demande l’aide d’un ami congolais expatrié au Canada qui est ingénieur, spécialiste en Java. Il m’a beaucoup aidé notamment pour la conception de «l’App Store» de la tablette. J’ai aussi demandé l’aide d’un autre développeur que je connais, basé en Asie. Lui m’a conçu une interface (un launcher) Android adaptée pour une tablette de 7 pouces.

    Quelle est la particularité de votre tablette par rapport à l’iPad ou aux autres tablettes Android ?

    Il s’agit d’une tablette d’entrée de gamme, donc une comparaison avec l’iPad ou la Xoom, qui sont des produits haut de gamme, serait assez difficile. Mais je reste persuadé que son coût bas et sa très bonne qualité  restent des atouts non-négligeables. Et puis, les autres tablettes mises sur le marché, rien que par le nombre d’unités produites, font d’elles des produits grand public en occident. Et les grandes marques qui les produisent ne s’intéressent pas vraiment à l’Afrique. Moi, je n’ai pas les moyens d’en produire assez, du coup, la tablette VMK est plutôt un produit de niche.

    Techniquement, quelles sont ses caractéristiques ?

    Elle a la même capacité qu’un iPad. La tablette fonctionne sous le système d’exploitation Android 2.3 avec un écran 7 pouces sous un processeur de 1 gigahertz et un espace disque de 4 gigaoctets avec 512 mégaoctets de RAM.

    Quel a été le coût d’élaboration ?

    Sans compter la phase de production, de bout en bout, ce projet a coûté près 114 000 euros sans apport d’un investisseur, juste par autofinancement. Mais pour la phase de production qui démarre au début du mois de septembre, nous avons déjà les garantis d’investissements, c’est juste une question de temps !

    Son prix de vente?

    Au Congo elle sera vendue autour de 150 000 Francs CFA (soit près de 200 euros).

    Elle sera en vente qu’au Congo ?

    Non mais sa présentation officielle se fera au Congo en septembre lors de l’Africa Web Summit que j’organise. Et la commercialisation est prévue fin septembre au Congo mais aussi dans plusieurs autres pays africains via un réseau de partenaires que nous sommes en train de monter. Le but à moyen terme est d’offrir la possibilité à tous d’avoir une tablette.

    Votre tablette est fabriquée en Chine, pensée et développée au Congo avec des relais au Canada, en Asie…En quoi est-ce une tablette africaine, comme vous l’affirmez ?
     
    L’iPad est une tablette pensée par une entreprise américaine mais assemblée en chine. Or, on dit bien d’elle que c’est une tablette américaine, n’est-ce pas ? Idem pour les tablettes d’Archos, qui est une entreprise française, qui assemble ses tablettes en Chine, on dit bien d’elles qu’elles sont des tablettes française voire européennes, n’est-ce pas ? Alors pourquoi  une tablette, imaginée par une entreprise congolaise, donc africaine, assemblée en chine, comme les 90% des tablettes sur le marché, qui sera distribuée dans plusieurs pays africain, ne serait-elle pas une tablette Africaine ? Rien que pour ça !

    Que répondez-vous aux accusations de contrefaçon voire d’escroquerie industrielle porté à l’encontre de votre projet ?

    Je pense que c’est un mélange d’afropessimisme et de mauvaise foi. On dit que c’est impossible qu’un tel projet puisse venir d’une si petite entreprise quand on voit les sommes importantes qu’injectent les grandes entreprises dans la Recherche et le Développement pour des produits équivalents.  C’est une preuve de mauvaise  foi. Il suffit de lire l’article, « TC Teardown: 13 Ways To Get To $10 Million In Revenues », de Steven Carpenter, publié sur le site d’information tech californien Techcrunch. Ce spécialiste de l’industrie y explique simplement : «Il y a trois facteurs pour lesquels je pense qu’on verra une explosion d’innovation dans le hardware ces prochaines années: 1) les coûts de fabrication vont continuer à diminuer en Chine en même temps que leur potentiel de produire des petites séries augmente, …».  Ce qui est fondé car en connaisseur de la Chine j’ai pu toucher  de près cette réalité.

    Mais certains disent que les caractéristiques de votre tablette sont proches des contrefaçons chinoises…

    Mais ce que certains ignorent c’est que j’ai défini ces «specs» depuis mai 2010 pour un produit qui devait sortir en Septembre 2011. Ce qui prouve que j’ai vu juste car c’est devenu la norme aujourd’hui. On dépeint la ville de Shenzhen en disant qu’elle est la plaque tournante de la piraterie en Asie, ce qui n’est pas faux, mais on omet de dire que c’est de Shenzhen que nous viennent les produits Apple, les ordinateurs HP, les téléphones portable & Smartphones ( Huawei, ZTE, HTC,…), les consoles de Jeux Playstation et bien d’autres ! Est-ce par oubli ? Non, je pense qu’il y a bien une mauvaise volonté derrière tout ça !

    Avec cette tablette, votre start-up VMK se lance dans le «hardware», ce qui est rare en Afrique, pourquoi selon vous ?

    Pour la simple raison que les infrastructures pour le hardware coutent très chères, ce qui que fait que beaucoup  de pays et d’entreprises privées n’osent pas se lancer dans de tels investissement quand on sait qu’il nous manquent encore des hôpitaux, des routes, des écoles,…

    Slate Afrique
  • Madagascar peut-elle devenir une destination phare des services informatiques ? Nombreux sont les opérateurs qui croient réellement à cet avenir. Surtout que la Grande île est reliée à deux câbles optiques sous-marins, Eassy et Lion.

    Le secteur du service informatique transforme petit à petit le paysage économique malgache. La plupart des jeunes entrepreneurs se tournent actuellement vers le « business process outsourcing » ou bien le service de sous-traitance.

    Le nombre de services offerts par les sociétés implantées durant ces dernières années varient : service clientèle, vente, prise de rendez-vous, campagne de promotion, finance, e-business, et tout autre métier autour du Web, comme rédacteur web, développeur ou télé-opérateur. Il suffit de faire un petit tour sur les sites d'emplois comme jobmada.com pour se rendre compte du développement réél du secteur.

    Madagascar représente une menace réelle pour les autres destinations de l'Océan indien. L'arrivée des câbles optiques a fait trembler les entreprises mauriciennes, l'une des destinations phares du marché francophone.

    Si « le manque d'infrastructure représente un réel obstacle au développement du secteur des nouvelles technologie », ainsi que le confie un responsable d'une société de service et d'ingénierie en informatique (SSII) locale, la connexion de Madagascar avec le reste du monde aux câbles optiques sous-marins Eassy et Lion.

    « L'installation de ces fibres optiques a toujours eu un impact positif sur l' économie des pays où cela est arrivé, avec la création de plus de sociétés travaillant dans le secteur de la nouvelle technologie de l'information et de la communication (NTIC), la présence des investisseurs étrangers, et la création de milliers d'emplois.

    L'e-banking se développe grâce à ce type de connexion plus fiable. Il faut s'attendre à une hausse du taux de croissance et du produit intérieur brut (PIB), à la fois par les activités directes du secteur et par les effets indirects sur la facilitation des activités dans les autres secteurs.

    Désormais, Madagascar peut figurer sur la carte des destinations des offshores et services informatiques », a déclaré Olivier Robinson, un grand spécialiste du secteur TIC dans une interview accordée à L'Express en décembre 2010.

    Pour les opérateurs regroupés au sein du groupement des opérateurs en technologie de l'information et de la communication (Goticom), leur position est claire. « La destination Madagascar est et reste toujours une destination à fort potentiel pour les Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication, d'autant que les crises qui se sont succédé - mondiale et nationale - n'ont eu que peu d'impacts sur les entreprises du secteur ».

    Si Maurice est très connue dans le domaine de l'offshore informatique, elle a un problème de ressources humaines qualifiées actuellement. Elle se voit obligée de recruter des compétences, non seulement malgaches mais aussi sur le continent africain. Madagascar est le vivier de ressources humaines de la sous-région. Chaque année, 50 à 100 ingénieurs sortent des grandes écoles malgaches.

    A cela s'ajoutent les techniciens formés par les différents instituts privés. « Madagascar représente un réel danger pour l'offshore mauricienne. Le manque de personnel inquiète beaucoup les investisseurs », explique un autre opérateur.

    Mais à chaque problème, une solution. Si dans un premier temps, les opérateurs ont importé leur main-d'oeuvre de la Grande île, ils privilégient aujourd'hui l'option de délocaliser leurs activités dans la Grande île. Madagascar est donc une plaque tournante, un nouveau carrefour pour les services informatiques. En mars dernier, Maurice se voit obligée de tisser un partenariat avec la grande île.

    C'est ainsi que le Goticom et son homologue mauricien l'Outsourcing and telecommunications association Mauritius (OTAM) ont signé un protocole d'accord visant à promouvoir la destination Tic dans l'Océan indien.

  • L'ICT Academy, le centre de formation pour les nouvelles technologies, ne fait pas l'unanimité auprès des opérateurs privés. Ces derniers reprochent au ministère de l'Information de l'Information et des Technologies (TIC) de ne pas consulter les différents acteurs du secteur Business Process Outsourcing dans le cadre de ce projet informatique.

    Annoncée, au départ, pour le mois d'août, l'ouverture de l'ICT Academy devrait se faire vers la deuxième semaine du mois de septembre. Toutefois, ce centre de formation dédié aux professionnels du secteur des TIC fait froncer les sourcils aux acteurs du Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Ces derniers déplorent le manque de dialogue entre ministère des TIC et les opérateurs.

    « Il ne faut pas oublier que nous sommes des acteurs importants du secteur des TIC. Or, nous constatons qu'au niveau du ministère, on refuse de nous communiquer les informations », avance une source de l'Outsourcing & Telecommunications Association of Mauritius (OTAM).

    « Nous sommes sollicités au niveau du ministère uniquement lorsqu'on a besoin de nous, et nous n'hésitons jamais à collaborer, mais nous regrettons que cette collaboration se fasse uniquement dans un seul sens », affirme cette même source.

    Le président de l'OTAM, Roshan Seetohul indique, pour sa part, soutenir le projet de l'ICT Academy pleinement, il laisse toutefois entendre que cette institution pourrait être appelé à mieux fonctionner, s'il y avait une volonté au niveau du ministère des TIC, de concerter avec les différents acteurs du secteur.

    Du côté du ministère des TIC, un proche collaborateur du ministre Chedumbrum Pillay indique qu'il constate que plusieurs acteurs du BPO sont en train de tout faire pour mettre des bâtons dans les roues.

    « Nous voyons qu'il y a une certaine frustration du côté de ces chefs d'entreprises qui auraient souhaité jouer un rôle plus important au niveau de l'ICT Academy, mais ce projet implique une connaissance plus vaste », explique-t-il.

    L’Express
  • Le chiffre d'affaires de la Sonatel a connu une hausse si l'on compare le 1er semestre 2011 à la même période en 2010. La société est passée de 295 milliards de francs Cfa à 312 milliards, soit 5,76 % de plus.

    La Sonatel a réalisé, au cours du 1e semestre 2011, un chiffre d'affaires de 312 milliards de francs Cfa, soit une hausse de 5,76 % par rapport à la même période en 2010 (295 milliards de francs Cfa), révèle la Lettre mensuelle de la Cgf-Bourse parvenue à notre rédaction.

    Le Sénégal, avec 63 %, a été le principal contributeur à ce chiffre d'affaires global de l'entreprise, viennent ensuite le Mali avec 31 %, la Guinée (5 %) et la Guinée-Bissau (1 %).

    La Sonatel, indique le document de Cgf-Bourse, estime cependant que les marges, restées à un niveau appréciable, sont en baisse sous l'effet de la concurrence, des mesures fiscales défavorables (hausse de la taxe Rutel de 2 à 5 %) et du développement des charges réseaux induit par l'abondance (trafic en hausse du fait des offres promotionnelles).
     
    Selon la Lettre mensuelle, la marge nette globale a été impactée par la fin de l'exonération de l'impôt sur les sociétés au Mali. Ce qui a eu comme conséquence de voir le résultat net, sur la période, reculer de 20,21 %, à 75 milliards de francs Cfa, comparativement au 1e semestre 2010.

    Néanmoins, ajoute-t-on, les perspectives de croissance restent favorables et la pression sur les marges devrait être bien contenue avec le programme renforcé d'optimisation des charges que la Sonatel va dérouler à partir du second semestre 2011.

    Il s'y ajoute que la fin de l'exonération de l'impôt sur les sociétés au Mali a été bien anticipée dans la politique de dividende et n'aura pas d'impact sur celle-ci, rassure la Sonatel.

    Le Soleil
  • Des contrats-programmes ont été signés, mardi à Rabat, entre l'Etat et quatre clusters marocains, sélectionnés suite au premier appel à projets, lancé en février 2011, dans le cadre de la mise en oeuvre de la "Stratégie Maroc Innovation" pour sa composante "promotion des clusters".

    Les clusters sélectionnés sont TIC (Maroc Numeric Cluster), qui s'inscrit également dans le cadre de la stratégie Maroc Numeric 2013, le Cluster microélectronique (Morocco Microelectronics Cluster), le Cluster électronique (Mécatronique et Mécanique du Maroc- CE3M) et le Cluster Océan pô le TAN TAN (valorisation des produits de la mer).

    Ces contrats définissent les obligations de l'Etat et des clusters, ainsi que les modalités d'attribution, de versement et d'évaluation du soutien étatique qui consiste en l'octroi, sur une période de trois années, d'une subvention annuelle pour la mise en place et le fonctionnement des structures d'animation de ces clusters. Le montant de cette subvention, qui sera allouée par l'Etat aux quatre clusters, s'élève à 17 millions de dirhams (MDH).

    Les contrats-programmes engagent les clusters sur des indicateurs précis, tels que le nombre de projets de R&D collaboratifs, le nombre de brevets, le nombre de start-up créées, le nombre d'emplois en R&D créés et le nombre de formations réalisées.

    A ce titre, les quatre clusters sélectionnés s'engagent, au bout de trois ans, à produire 81 projets de R&D collaboratifs et 28 brevets, ainsi qu'à créer 24 start-up et 266 emplois en R&D.

    Le ministre de l'Industrie, du Commerce et des Nouvelles technologies, M. Ahmed Reda Chami, qui présidait la cérémonie de signature des contrats programmes, a souligné l'importance de la "Stratégie Maroc Innovation" qui permettra d'accélérer le développement du Maroc et de l'inscrire durablement dans l'économie du savoir.

    Pour leur part, les représentants des clusters sélectionnés ont affirmé que cette stratégie vise l'éclosion d'une économie à forte valeur ajoutée et permet d'attirer davantage d'investissements.

    La promotion des clusters figure parmi les chantiers phares de la stratégie Maroc Innovation qui a fixé comme objectifs la production de 1.000 brevets marocains à partir de 2014 et la création de 200 start-up à l'horizon 2014.

    La promotion des clusters constitue un levier important pour produire de la propriété intellectuelle et favoriser l'émergence des start-up, à travers les projets collaboratifs innovants orientés marché et impliquant aussi bien les entreprises que les universités, les centres de recherche et les institutions de formation.

    Les objectifs du ministère de l'Industrie, du Commerce et des Nouvelles technologies, à travers la stratégie de promotion des clusters est de stimuler et accompagner 15 clusters industriels et technologiques et de favoriser l'émergence de 100 projets collaboratifs innovants à l'horizon 2013.

    Pour l'opérationnalisation de cette stratégie, un Fonds d'appui aux clusters, doté d'une enveloppe de 62 MDH pour la période 2011-2013, a été mis en place pour le financement des clusters sélectionnés.

    Le deuxième appel à projets est prévu pour novembre 2011 dans le but de labelliser six autres clusters dans les secteurs industriels et technologiques, au titre de l'année 2012.

    MAP
  • Epouser l'air du temps. C'est le sens de la révolution que le Groupe Fraternité Matin veut apporter dans le domaine de l'information en Côte d'Ivoire en innovant avec FratMat Mobile.

    Il s'agira, pour les abonnés de la société de téléphonie mobile, Orange Ci, d'avoir toute l'actualité en temps réel. La mise en service de FratMat Mobile démarre aujourd'hui. Les nombreux abonnés d'Orange devront taper #129# pour être informés en temps réel sur leur téléphone portable.

    Pour ce qui est de la tarification, il convient de préciser que la première consultation de ce service coûte la somme de 250F comme frais d'abonnement pour quinze jours. Ce montant est prélevé sur le crédit de l'intéressé.

    Quant aux consultations du support, elles se font à raison de 25F par consultation. Dans la journée, trois alertes (matin, midi et soir) sont données à l'abonné pour l'inviter à consulter FratMat Mobile qui met à sa disposition l'information en temps réel et de façon continue.

    Pour le reste du temps, il lui revient de consulter son support quand bon lui semble et il découvrira toujours une information à caractère politique, sportif, culturel, économique, social, international et régional.

    De même que des nouvelles relatives aux offres d'emplois. C'est donc cette panoplie d'informations qui est mise à la disposition des abonnés au support FratMat Mobile mis en service dès ce lundi et dont le lancement officiel se fera d'ici à la fin du mois en cours.

  • Sur les 16 pays de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, seulement une minorité s’est véritablement engagée à adopter la radiodiffusion numérique – même si tous les États africains ont accepté de prendre ce virage d’ici juin 2015.

    Le coût du processus a découragé certains pays. Il existe pourtant des pays comme le Ghana, la Guinée et le Nigeria qui en sont à l’étape préalable au lancement public. Et trois autres – le Bénin, le Mali et le Niger – vont bientôt créer des groupes de travail pour superviser la transition. Mais en réalité, presque la moitié des États ouest-africains n’ont même pas encore commencé la formulation des politiques nécessaires pour engager le processus de transition.

    Une nouvelle étude de Russell Southwood, publiée au début de cette année pour APC et Balancing Act dans le cadre de notre initiative commune sur la Migration numérique en Afrique de l’Ouest donne un aperçu de l‘état actuel de la transition dans chaque pays et formule des recommandations pour les pays qui n’ont pas encore commencé le processus de transition.

    Les décideurs et les régulateurs ont du mal à croire qu’un processus qui implique l’achat d’un nouveau décodeur par tous ceux qui possèdent un téléviseur soit faisable dans le contexte africain », explique Southwood.

    L’achat d’une nouvelle technologie peut sembler un trop lourd fardeau financier à imposer, mais les études sur le Ghana, le Nigeria et le Sénégal montrent que la réduction de la taxe sur les nouveaux téléviseurs les rend presque aussi abordables « qu’un téléphone bas de gamme », indique le rapport Southwood, ces décisions nécessitant une directive prioritaire du ministère des Télécommunications.

    Le processus nécessite de nouvelles actions politiques et « les ministères ont souvent du mal à mobiliser les ressources supplémentaires pour accomplir cette tâche », commente Southwood. Mais pour la plupart, il s’agit de reporter à demain ce qui pourrait être fait aujourd’hui, dit-il.

    Southwood exhorte les pays à ne pas laisser la transition pour la dernière minute. « En Europe, ce processus a pris de trois à quatorze ans » indique-t-il. « Que le secteur privé participe ou non, le gouvernement ou le régulateur doit entamer le processus en produisant un document de politique portant sur les principales questions d’intérêt public. Et le document doit faire l’objet de consultations – en particulier auprès de l’industrie de la radiodiffusion qui sera la première touchée par les décisions qui seront prises ».

    Dans la plupart des pays, on commence par mettre en place un comité ou un groupe de travail qui comprend un représentant de chaque groupe de parties prenantes. Les groupes de travail contribuent à aplanir les détails de la politique du gouvernement, notamment la mise en œuvre, obtenir l’engagement formel des parties concernées, se mettre d’accord sur un calendrier de transition. Il sera également chargé de la promotion du processus auprès de la population.

    Les gouvernements devraient assumer un rôle de chef de file clair et d’autres parties prenantes devraient faciliter le processus. Par exemple, le gouvernement peut fixer une date précise pour l’arrêt de l’analogique, et un régulateur peut donner des conseils sur l’attribution des fréquences.

    Southwood fait observer que les meilleures pratiques utilisées ailleurs montrent qu’il est préférable de procéder à un déploiement direct dirigé par le marché. Le gouvernement prend des décisions qui apportent une certitude sur le marché et incitent à l’accélération du processus – comme le choix des normes techniques. Le gouvernement peut également imposer un changement par une loi ou un règlement, mais en travaillant avec toutes les parties prenantes, il assurera le succès du processus.

    Le processus est ensuite prêt pour des essais pour voir si les signaux numériques fonctionnent, pour un lancement public et pour la vente des nouveaux téléviseurs numériques. Mais ce n’est fini – le gouvernement, les régulateurs et les diffuseurs devront lancer des campagnes de sensibilisation pour encourager l’adoption par le grand public, ce qui peut également prendre du temps.

    Compte tenu des coûts et du travail en cause, les gouvernements, les régulateurs et les diffuseurs se demandent évidemment « quel est l’avantage pour le pays ? »

    Pour que le processus de transition réussisse, les gens doivent comprendre pourquoi c’est important. Southwood l’explique plus en détail dans son document, mais en quelques mots…

    Dans de nombreux pays africains, la télévision est essentiellement un phénomène urbain. Les radiodiffuseurs privés ont tendance à coller aux zones urbaines où vivent ceux qui intéressent les publicitaires, alors que les radiodiffuseurs publics ont tendance à rejoindre les communautés rurales.

    La diffusion numérique permettra aux gouvernements et aux régulateurs de faire de l’accès à la télévision un objectif d’accès universel (par exemple si la télévision atteint actuellement 55 % de la population, on pourrait fixer un nouvel objectif de 70 % dans les cinq ans, en adoptant une politique). Pour ce faire, on pourrait avoir une seule porteuse indépendante partagée par tous les diffuseurs ou plusieurs porteuses de signaux indépendantes offrant des infrastructures à louer ou même plusieurs consortiums de radiodiffuseurs partageant des porteuses de signaux différentes.

    Comme Southwood l’explique : « Dans chaque cas, le but des diffuseurs est d’élargir la couverture pour atteindre le plus grand nombre de personnes intéressant les publicitaires, en particulier pur des biens comme l’alimentation et les boissons ».

    Les nouvelles chaînes de la télévision numérique permettent d’offrir plus de choix dans un large éventail de langues, plus de chaînes éducatives et de chaînes haute définition. « Les utilisateurs seront séduits par une plus grande diversité de contenus, à la fois des diffuseurs existants et des nouveaux venus », explique Southwood.

    Southwood recommande que les chaînes supplémentaires soient proposées au public d’une manière équitable et transparente. Comme avec l’attribution du spectre (lien), les chaînes reçoivent de l’espace – si les radiodiffuseurs n’utilisent pas les chaînes dans un certain laps de temps, ils devraient renoncer à leur droit de les utiliser et elles devraient être mises à la disposition des radiodiffuseurs qui ont une programmation à offrir.

    Une autre incitatif consiste à réallouer du spectre de la radiodiffusion aux télécoms pour permettre des services internet et mobiles abordables offerts par les câblodistributeurs.

    Que ce soit par la publicité, la télévision payante, les revenus d’abonnement, les revenus de licences ou les subventions publiques, ajout de chaînes devrait faire rentrer des revenus dans les coffres de l’État. Les revenus doivent correspondre aux dépenses engagées pour l’obtention des nouvelles chaînes, et les radiodiffuseurs privés sont les mieux équipés pour ce faire.

    Avec la nouvelle demande d‘émissions de télévision, les gouvernements et les régulateurs peuvent poursuivre des objectifs économiques en encourageant la croissance d’un secteur de production locale, ce qui peut se faire facilement en créant une forme de quota production locale comme mesure de transitoire (p. ex., seule la programmation locale est diffusée entre 19 h et 23 h ou 40 % de la programmation doit être locale.

    Les agences cinématographiques locales pourraient recevoir un financement approuvé par le gouvernement – comme c’est actuellement le cas au Kenya, au Maroc et en Afrique du Sud). Les gouvernements peuvent également aider la production cinématographique locale en décourageant la piraterie individuelle et en réprimant la diffusion d’émissions pirates.

    Cet article a été adapté du rapport de Russell Southwood « Migration vers la radiodiffusion numérique en Afrique de l’Ouest : Un survol et des stratégies pour accélérer la transition », rédigé pour APC. L’étude est publiée en anglais et en français .

    Afrik
  • Africa Web Summit
    17-18 septembre 2011, Brazaville, Congo

    Brazzaville sera au cœur de l’actualité des nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication en Afrique à travers un grand rendez-vous d’échange, d’apprentissage et de vulgarisation des nouveaux outils du domaine. Un panel d’experts de haut niveau provenant d’Europe, d’Amérique, d’Asie et d’Afrique procédera au développement des thématiques liées au secteur. Des sociétés spécialisées exposeront leurs œuvres et services web en marge du sommet.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

  • Le gouvernement du Swaziland vient de démissionner l’intégralité du conseil d’administration de Swaziland Post and Telecommunication Corporation, l’opérateur historique/régulateur. Nelisiwe Shongwe, le ministre des TICs n’a pas indiqué les raisons de cette démission mais elle intervient une semaine après que les accusations du premier ministre disant que la société est dirigée par un cartel de criminels.

  • Chef de projet mobile banking – Sénégal
    Le Chef de Projet Mobile Banking est responsable de l'ensemble du projet dans l'établissement; - Il coordonne toutes les activités y afférentes (vente, marketing et développement produits, cross selling, compilance, évolution du contrat, etc...) en lien étroit avec chacun des managers en Charge directe de ces sujets; - Il est l'interlocuteur de la Direction pour tous les aspects de ce projet.

    Qualification / Formation : Bac+ 4/5 Marketing - Agé(e) de 30 à 35 ans et vous justifiez d'une expérience bancaire pertinente (minimum 5 ans).
    Pour plus d’informations ou pour poser votre candidature cliquez ici

Issue No 112, 31 August 2011

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  • Nigeria’s Iroko Partners has hit upon a way of distributing Nollywood content legally, making money and giving some of that money back to the artists who made it. In under a year it has generated around US$1 million in advertising revenues from 2.2 million views and is now expanding into offering music video clips on the same basis. Russell Southwood spoke to its CEO and founder Jason Chukwuma Njoku at Mobile Entertainment World in Cape Town last week. (see the interview video clip link at the bottom of this article).

    Jason Njoku is Nigerian-British and noticed how things were changing:” “Suddenly my mother stopped watching British TV and started watching Nollywood.” So Jason decided to go back to Lagos and set up a You Tube site to distribute Nollywood content legally, launching in November 2010. He now has 47 people working for him and has reached agreements for distributing over 800 movies:”We are buying more on a weekly basis.”

    Previously there were around 30 illegal sites distributing pirated copies:”We are the only legal guys.” When Njoku first approached the producers and directors they were extremely suspicious, but Njoku persuaded them to give it a try and they became really convinced when the first cheques started arriving.

    There were no digital copies and often the master copies of movies had to be re-mastered. Furthermore, there were no descriptions of the movies or cast lists. So Iroko Partners has 13 people employed watching movies to provide these things and to create a descriptions database.

    It has attracted 2.2 million unique viewers and 16 million views from 231 countries and all without any marketing. 20% of traffic is from mobiles and 60% of search enquiries come from mobiles in Nigeria. The really telling statistic is that the 6th biggest market is Malaysia and 11th biggest is Nigeria (around 30,000 unique views). With better bandwidth, viewer numbers will inevitably increase in the home of Nollywood. 

    94% of the advertising income comes from 5 countries with the big markets including USA, UK and Canada. Almost all of these views (even in Malaysia) are from the widely distributed Nigerian diaspora. The biggest movie is Blackberry Babes which is a 60 minute movie that has had 900,000 views: “Blackberry didn’t even know it had been made.”

    Njoku noticed that there were a lot of e-mails asking for Genevieve Nnaji movies. She is now so famous that she is only makes a couple of films a year. So he put out a call to producers and directors for Nnaji movies. Within a week, he was running a season of movies with two new movies a day, which was very successful:”Only the Internet could have that kind of immediacy.”

    His next project is expanding into Nigerian music video clips:”The music entertainment space in Nigeria is an absolute mess. One song can be uploaded as many as 20 times. Music sales cannot be verified. We can do that on You Tube (with views). We can tap into a global audience and give money back to the artists. He has signed 40 artists (so far including  El Dee, Kefee, P Square and Bez) and has plans to sign 100 more.

    According to Ayite Gaba, Business Development, Google who is responsible for developing You Tube partners in Sub-Saharan Africa, the advertising income paid to African partners varies between US$10,000-US$1 million:”Views and revenues are largely coming from outside Africa at the moment and we have no sales offices (for You Tube) in Africa at the moment.”

    This business model will only work if you can reach audiences in the low millions, with the majority of them coming from the diaspora. Nollywood is unique content and there is perhaps no other African content that has this kind of “pull” globally or that scale of diaspora.

    However, those that want to prepare themselves for the future (let’s call that the next three years) need to start positioning themselves now. If we use Facebook as proxy for Internet users in Nigeria, only 30,000 of 2.9 million people currently view movies on Iroko but within the next 1-3 years bandwidth will improve to the point where the numbers will go up to at least a million. With better 3G and LTE not far off, many of those will view music clips on their mobile phones (feature and smart).

    One of the early lessons from this platform are that you need to stop using the worst of African business methods (take the money and pay nobody) and start giving money back to those who make content. Another lesson is that it pays to have properly described content in depth that allows you to exploit the “long tail” by curating seasons or special presentations. These opportunities can spotted through feedback via e-mail and SMS.

    At this point, the African business temptation is to see the launch of endless copy-cat sites like this. It won’t work unless you can persuade the content producers that you’re serious and have the means to connect to diaspora audiences. Iroko’s money comes from the large number of viewers it gets without marketing: other content will need to fight for its place with different kinds of marketing to achieve these numbers. But if you have access to archive catalogues, now is the moment to start thinking about whether there is a platform that could distribute your content successfully online.


    New video clips on Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel:

    Jason Njoku, CEO, Iroko Partners on distributing Nollywood and Nigerian Music using You Tube

    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza on South African townships creating their own online content

    Julian VanPlato, CEO, Trans Digital Media on a new live streaming mobile service for Africa

    Sami Leino, COO, Spinlet on the launch of an "iTunes" for Africa

    Ofer Ronen, Business Development Director - Broadcast, Gilat Satcom on its move into African broadcast services

    South Africa: Styli Charalambous, Managing Director, The Daily Maverick on its new iPad subscription service

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

     

  • Nigeria recently hosted the semi-final of the 2011 international Emmy Awards for the first time. Catherine Agbo writes on the relevance of that milestone to the motion picture industry

    The profile of Nigeria was taken a notch higher recently when the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) secured the right for the country to host the semi-final events of the 39th edition of the international Emmy awards.

    The international Emmy Award is a membership based organisation with headquarters in New York. The organisation was formed to recognise excellence in television and global showcase of television talent.

    The event hosted by Nigeria forms an integral part of award’s judging process.
    Director-general of NFVCB, a member of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (IATAS), who secured the right to host the award on behalf of the country said that the platform would provide a platform to lift the Nigerian industry’s fortunes.

    According to the NFVCB, films produced in the country account for a considerable per cent of the box office takings in Africa. Only last year, President Goodluck Jonathan, provided a $200 million grant for the entertainment industry in recognition of the importance of the industry to the growth and development of Nigeria.

    The award of the hosting right to the country through NFVCB for the prestigious 2011 International Emmy Awards Semi-Final is therefore perceived as a fall-out of that recognition.

    While screenings are very much the heart of the international Emmy awards, thousands of industry heavyweights enter the award for the benefits derivable from it.
    The coming of the semi-final judging events to Nigeria, according to Mba, is to involve Nigeria as a country in the scheme of IATAS, particularly with a view to increasing membership of Nigerians and their entries for the Emmy awards. The right to host the event is an implication that the academy has recognised the country as a thriving home entertainment industry and/or market and also realises that there are great opportunities to be harnessed therein.
    Speaking at the event, Mba said that the time had come for Nigeria which prides herself as the second largest producer of films in Africa to begin to produce for the world as people would judge their works according to what they see.

    He called on producers to take advantage of such international opportunities to showcase themselves to the world. Speaking on the benefits of hosting the event, Emmy Awards representative, Anikka Sellz, said that it would increase the profile of the country among contemporaries in international television and also expose producers to programmes they would ordinarily not see.

    Being a member of IATAS allows the producers of a country to see what work is going on in other parts of the world. It also makes it easier to look for co-production opportunities as they interact with their counterparts from other countries. During such interactions, new possibilities can emerge, more areas of cooperation can be discovered, better exchange of ideas can happen-in terms of techniques and also finance. And there must also be a reversal of roles.

    Going by this opportunity, if Nigeria eventually becomes a member of the academy, the country could also have a day with the academy, following one of IATAS initiatives, which is the Academy Day. On such a day, 100 members of the academy could be taken to Nigeria where they would get a chance to learn about Nigerian TV, government and the performing arts in the country. The Academy has done same in Mexico and Beijing and did one in Berlin recently.

    Through the hosting of the event, it is expected that Nigeria will be exposed to a wider global audience, just as the judges who were picked from professionals within the country would also have the opportunity to meet and interact with their counterparts in other parts of the world and also help up their game in the practice.
    According to Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, Assistant Director Corporate Affairs, NFVCB and Coordinator, International Emmy Awards semi-final judging event, the size of TV production in Nigeria is considerable and the NFVCB would like to see this number rise many folds in the near future, so that there will be more exchange of ideas from Nigeria with players from the rest of the world.

    Usually, the Academy has about 700 jurors to judge regional content from around the world, from beginning of March to end of September. And they go through a rigorous process to select the semi-finalists. Then, a new set of judges selects the finalists and you have four nominees from each category out of which the winner comes out. Sometimes, an Emmy can be won merely on the basis of good acting. And for now, no one can say there is a dearth of talent in Nollywood.

    Although broadcast television remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment and information, the sub-sector is faced with a myriad of challenges which range from poor programme packages to poor editing and poor picture quality. Despite this, the average Nigerian still spends an average of 20 hours a week, watching their favourite television programmes.

    The question often is why has Nigeria remained in this deplorable state despite many years of local content programming? Gone with the wind are the days when people looked forward to and followed closely television series such as ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’, ‘Village Headmaster’, ‘The New Masquerade’, ‘Samanja’, ‘Ichoku’, and many more, which were produced and funded by the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). The times were later to change as many producers were forced to stop ongoing series midway and close shop as NTA doubled the price of airtime for programmes it had not commissioned.

    With the event just concluded in Nigeria, Nigerians will be exposed to the modern trends in television programming as well as new techniques. The hosting of this event, therefore, is to open the eyes of Nigerian industry players, corporate or individual, to the need for a change in the practice to avoid having low production as documentaries, operas, films or videos on Nigerian Television for a long time to come.

    Chairman, NTA board of directors, Ibrahim Buba, who was one of the judges, described the hosting of the event as the best thing to happen to television programming in Nigeria. He said that for him, it was the highest point of his career in television journalism, which spans several decades. Buba advised Nigerians to take motion picture production seriously as from the screening of the entries received for the 2011 awards, he had come to realise that Nigeria was still several notches below where it deserved to be in motion picture production.

  • Movie producers are expected to submit their work for second Ghana Movie Awards ceremony which is slated for 25 December 2011. The closing date for the submission of entries is 15 October 2011.

    Speaking at the launch of the awards, ace Actor and President of the Ghana Movie Awards committee David Dontoh said even though the maiden edition of the awards was fraught with challenges, this year’s event will see a marked improvement.

    “We are very much aware that most people were not very pleased with the award system last year and the fact that, three people were supposed to share one car as a prize. That is expected in the beginning of every project. This year promises to be exciting. Instead of the normal one day event, we will be holding the event for three days to enable us meet the expectations of all," he said.

    He noted that the categories for this year’s event will be broadened to cover many deserved areas. To make the event even richer, Multi TV’s Cine Afrik channel is partnering this year’s event. Programmes Director for Multi TV, Abdulai Awudu said Multi TV was proud to be associated with this year’s event explaining that “it’s the dawn of a new day for the African Film Industry as more and more creative minds are showcasing their artistic works in the Production of great African Films and Content – a passion Cine Afrik shares”.

    He expressed optimism that the station’s association with the events will go a long way to promote Ghanaian movies across the West African sub-region where Multi TV is readily available to over 250 million viewers and counting.

    Last year’s event saw actor and comedian, Agya Koo and his contemporary Rose Mensah popularly known as Kyeiwaa wining the top awards in the local language category, with Majid Michel and Jackie Appiah leading the pack for the English category. The launch was attended by leading actors and actresses like Nadia Buari, Van Vicker, Majid Michel, Rose Mensah and other industry players.

  • In order to advance professionalism and develop the industry in the country, media practitioners have been advised to critically publish and broadcast well researched and balanced news stories to attract readers and listeners

    The advice was offered by Alphonse Nkusi, a media and political analyst at the Rwanda Governance Advisory Council (RGAC), in an interview with The New Times at the sidelines of a meeting to discuss self regulation of the media as one of the factors in the development of the industry.

    During the meeting at Telecom house in Kigali, some participants pointed out that some media houses in the country are crippled by lack of finances, swaying some reporters to publish stories in exchange for bribes.

    They mentioned that when a reporter is bribed, he or she cannot publish a well balanced story as this would mean that the story is in favour of those offering inducements.

    “You should engage in research and publish well-balanced news. You need to value what you’re producing because if you produce things that are not worthwhile, you will not get clients to advertise with your media house.

    “If readers or listeners realise that your news is poor, your media house will lose the market. Therefore, media houses should know that nationals have the capacity to differentiate what is news and what is not”.

    The media expert further challenged reporters who do not research for quality stories and instead resort to covering conferences and workshops. He added that this degrades the value of the media.

  • Mukunda Michael Dewil, whose screenplay Vehicle 19 made it on to Hollywood's 2010 hit list for the year's 'best original screenplay', is directing the action thriller in Johannesburg with international star Paul Walker (Fast and Furious) in the lead. Walker is also the executive producer.

    Walker's character 'Michael' unwittingly pick up the wrong rental vehicle, having just got off a long haul flight. He soon realises that he is the target of a police force that will use any means necessary to stop him and the tied-up female 'passenger' he discovers in the trunk, from getting to the courthouse to testify against the corrupt chief.

    K5 International is handling all international rights and Rena Ronson at UTA is handling North American rights. K5 has already sold the film to Optimum Releasing in the UK, Kinowelt in Germany, MadMen in Australia and Falcon Films in the Middle East.

    Producer Peter Safran and Ryan Haidarian, former head of production and development at the National Film and Video Foundation, joins Dewil, who directed Retribution. The producers will use Safran Company and Forefront Media Group respectively. Gary King of Picture Tree Films (which represents Dewil's commercial work) co-produces. Miles Goodall is director of photography. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa is financing the production.

    The cast includes Owen Sejake (Tsotsi, Shake Hands with the Devil), Naima McLean (BBC's Wild at Heart) and Tshepo Maseko (More Than Just a Game).

    The film will be shot on location in and around Johannesburg for five weeks, during which time Dewil's debut feature film 'Retribution' opens on the Ster-Kinekor theatrical circuit on 19 August 2011.

  • Vision Group's investment in broadcast is growing tremendously following the launch of an English television station, Urban TV. The new television channel went on air on Saturday.

    Urban is a free-to-air channel available on Channel 43. Scheduled programming will start in November.

    Vision Groups now boasts of three TV stations; TV West, Bukedde TV and now Urban TV. It also owns five radio stations; Bukedde Radio, Etop Radio, Radio Rupiny, Radio West and Xfm.

  • Minister for Information Samuel Poghisho has defended the licensing of vernacular radio saying they are useful in promoting culture and languages in the country.

    Poghisho said those running vernacular stations should hire qualified personnel who ensure professionalism and adhere to ethics, to avoid misuse of the stations to cause ethnic differences. He said the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation will by the end of this year launch 10 vernacular stations in the country.

    Poghisho said the channels will be used to sensitize people on government issues and other development matters which promote national cohesion and unity. Poghisho was speaking during the launch of Kitwek FM at Eldoret 64 stadium in Eldoret. The station broadcasting in Kalenjin is run by KBC. "It's the content of what is aired that can be a problem. Language is not a problem because even English and Kiswahili can be misused", said Poghisho. He said KBC would launch the first digital broadcasting signal this year as Kenya moves from analogue to digital broadcasting.

    The minister said migration to digital migration from analogue was an international requirement to be met by the year 2015. Poghisho said the media is aware of the changes taking place in the industry. He said each county will be able to set up its own channel for promoting development initiatives like tourism.

    Poghisio said vernacular stations will act as an important tool for conserving people's culture and will also teach young people their languages. He called on KBC, by virtue of being the national broadcaster, to ensure that it has more than the 40 per cent local content as required of all media houses. KBC managing director Waithaka Waihenya said the station is the cheapest in advertising rates.

  • On 17 August 2011, four privately-owned radio stations went off the air for most of the day, on the third climactic day of protests against the government.

    In the early hours of 17 August, only static could be heard from the four stations' assigned frequencies. The situation had Christian broadcaster Harvest FM and independent music and current affairs stations People's Choice FM (PC FM), MoAfrika FM and Thaha-Khube FM (TK FM) off the air. This happened a day after the government held an unusual meeting with at least two of the affected stations.

    At the close of the business day, at least of the two stations' signals had been restored.
    The radio stations had been providing live coverage of protests by factory workers that started on 15 August. The interruptions started less than 24 hours after a meeting between privately-owned radio station managers, the Acting Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Communications and the Chief Executive Officer of the Lesotho Communications Authority.

    During a visit by MISA-Lesotho, Harvest FM Station Manager 'Malichaba Lekhoaba said she was called to the meeting by the Acting Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Communications, Ratokelo Nkoka, who made what she termed "threats", saying that her radio station was going to be "shut down" if it did not "mend (its) ways" as this was a sensitive issue.

    According to Lekhoaba, Nkoka did not specify which areas needed to be "mended". He just said the radio station would be shut down if it continued to broadcast disrespectfully.

    In response to a MISA-Lesotho inquiry, Nkoka said it was just a "bad coincidence" that the radio stations went off the air after their meeting and during the protests. He said that it was a technical issue and that even the national broadcaster Radio Lesotho was affected as the problem was with new FM transmitter equipment, although Radio Lesotho's FM broadcasting was uninterrupted from well before noon.

    Since 15 August, Lesotho has experienced a protest movement headed by striking textile workers demanding higher wages. Opposition leaders were at the forefront of the demonstrations, which turned violent as several people were shot when police opened fire following a clash with protesters.

    MISA-Lesotho calls on the government to respect its repeated promises to abide by press freedom standards, and to both ensure that the four stations are allowed to broadcast without interruptions and to prevent similar situations in the future. The organisation also calls on the government to fully inform the public as to the reasons why the stations went off the air and to allow all parties to fully investigate government claims that the interruptions were due to "technical" failures.

  • Picture this scenario: A wealthy holidaymaker checks their chihuahua into a 'dog hotel' before jetting off into the sun, meanwhile you have to work long hours doing a crummy job and your entire village back home expects you to pay for funerals, weddings and new jeans.

    That's the European reality for hopeful African immigrants. Or so says television series 'Surprising Europe', which is being aired on Al Jazeera English starting this week until October.

    'No more lies about paradise' is the tagline of the TV series. A remarkable choice, because when you watch the first few episodes, you get the impression that lies are the only way to survive in Europe. A man who tries to get a cleaning job, advertises himself as a woman. Another man poses in front of somebody else's car to show his family back home how well he's doing.

    "We're showing people in Africa what life is really like over here," says the presenter of the series, Kenyan-born hiphop artist K-Nel. "We're not showing false pretexts. All the stories in the series are true life experiences. It could happen to any African coming this way."

    If reality means working in underpaid jobs, getting unfriendly stares off people in the street and living in grim housing, has the series made it its mission to scare people off? "Not at all, quite the opposite actually," K-Nel is quick to clarify. "But people have to know what to expect. We filmed in Africa and people literally told us they thought Europe is a paradise. That's not the case. Life isn't all shiny and easy over here. You can expect a couple of surprises. They will happen regardless whether you want or not. So you better be psychologically prepared."

    Somebody who clearly wasn't prepared when she came to Europe is Rose from Nigeria. Her story is the almost stereotypical account of a naïve young woman thinking she'll get a good job but ends up being exploited as a prostitute on the streets of Genoa, Italy. "But I have no other choice, because in Nigeria, they're looking up to me," she says. "Me being in Europe means they will have a future. If my mom knew what I am doing here though, it would kill her."

    Rose claims she never heard about forced prostitution in Europe when she was still in Nigeria. "Out of a hundred girls, perhaps ten will have heard a rumour. I certainly hadn't. But even the girls who might suspect they'd end up working on the streets, decide to come to Europe anyway because there are no jobs in Nigeria. Now that I'm in Italy, I see things much clearer. Europe is nothing. It's just for prostitution, that's all."

    Not that Surprising Europe only focuses on the darker side of coming to Europe, K-Nel insists. "We also show the stories of people who've made it and retrace their way to success. And we've tried to put some humour in the series as well. Take the hotel for dogs. In Africa dogs are considered a security measure. They guard your home or shop. Imagine an African coming to Holland and finding that there are proper hotels for dogs, and dogs even have their own passports. When I first came to Europe, my jaw dropped."

  • Kiss TV on Friday won the exclusive live soccer rights for the world famous Barclays English Premier League (EPL), the Uefa Champions League, Bundesliga and the Europa League.

    The multi-million shilling deal signed this weekend, gives Kiss TV access to five live games every week including two major live matches every Saturday in the English Premier League and Bundesliga, as well as three weekday games - two Uefa Champions League matches and one Europa Cup match. This is the first time any TV station in the country has won such extensive rights for live football screening.

    Speaking from Old Trafford, Manchester, Martin Khafafa, Group general manager said: "We are firmly pushing Kiss TV to become the station of choice for the average Kenyan. Kenyans love great football and to be able to make the world's best leagues free to Kenyans has been our dream. It's truly amazing." Last season, Kiss TV screened the Uefa Champions League games from January through March and was the Number One most viewed programme on television in it's time segment.

    "Now Kenyans will have all the football in the world available. We are making the properties available for sponsorship and advertising immediately as they are the biggest properties on Kenyan TV, Khafafa added. The live games, pre-game analysis, highlights of all the leagues including even the Spanish La Liga are available for immediate sponsorship as Kiss TV starts airing games this week.

  • South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) has awarded a $277 million, five year television rights deal to the country’s SuperSport satellite channel, operated by media conglomerate Naspers. The deal, which begins in a year’s time, extends the arrangement SuperSport entered into with PSL in 2007, covering the five years to May 2012 at a cost of $200 million (1.6 billion rand).

    “The winning tender…offered composite package that includes internet and mobile rights,” Irvin Khoza, chairman, PSL said. “We need to be clear that it wasn’t just the money that influenced us but [we] looked at the growth and enhancement of our product on our current deal, where we moved from being 30th ranked league in the world to the top 10.”

    Broadcasting about seven live football matches a week, SuperSport sub licenses certain games to the state TV network, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

    This news follows SuperSport’s recent acquisition of broadcasting rights from the Ugandan Super League (USL) for a reported US$5million (sh13 billion) for five years. Coverage of the USL will begin on SuperSports on 9 September.

    The top football leagues in Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Kenya and Zambia – as well as South Africa – are already covered by the Naspers-owned satellite TV channel.

  • Africa’s first commercial operations using the next generation Digital Video Broadcast standard - DVB-T2 - have been rolled out with the launch of GOtv in Lusaka, Zambia (29 June 2011) and Entebbe/Kampala, Uganda ( 29 August 2011). These launches represent two of the most advanced digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcast systems and infrastructures established in Africa and the rest of the world. The DVB-T2 technology used is an upgrade of the outdated T1 technology which was used by first movers in the digital migration.

    GOtv, a product of MultiChoice, is a new digital pay television offering which provides great family entertainment - with channels ranging from news, children’s programming, documentaries, series, sport and movies, its launch signifies the opening up of a new world of digital television entertainment in Africa. Most importantly, GOtv will showcase in digital quality free to air channels in each country of operation.

    Significant investments are being made by MultiChoice Africa and its partners to ensure the latest technology is deployed. GOtv is delivered using new technology which enables the offering to be regionalized - thus delivering a different channel line-up per country in order to truly suit the viewing needs of subscribers in each country.

    GOtv is delivered via satellite to each country where it is redistributed by DTT transmitters. The GOtv roll out are on the DVB-T2 technology standard which allows for up to 20 channels per frequency, this is different from DVB-T1 technology which only allows for 12 channels per frequency. Thus, there is a dramatic improvement on the use of terrestrial frequencies available to countries when DVB-T2 is deployed.

    President of MultiChoice Africa – Collins Khumalo said: “We are investing in the future of the African continent. Together with our partners, we are financing and developing leading DTT technologies and infrastructure to support the development of African economies. Our commitment - as a company born and bred in Africa, and as a pioneer in digital pay media - is to work with our various governments in ensuring that we achieve the developmental goals as well as meet Africa’s goals and objectives as regard to bridging the digital divide and achieving the digital dividend.”

    Ian Barnard, Project Manager for GOtv said “our aim is to deliver digital television for everyone as we roll out DTT networks on the continent. GOtv is an affordable digital pay television offering with exciting local and international channels in great picture and sound quality.”

    Barnard added “As an African business we are truly committed to achieving the best possible roll out of DTT and are working closely with governments and free to air broadcasters in each country. We aim to assist Governments in achieving a speedy migration from analogue to digital by 2015, by increasing the attractiveness and appetite for digital television offering. By using the DVB-T2 standard we are not only ensuring that Africa has the latest technology, but also ensuring that Governments achieve the best possible use of their countries frequencies.”

  • $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production and/or post-production on narrative short films has been granted in continental Africa.

    The Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program was conceived to be a unique initiative, with funds earmarked specifically for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence. Once again in 2011, Africa First will be offering participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa which taps into the resources of the film industry there.

    In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers of Africa First also participate in a weekend of workshops in New York City with board members. The workshops entail one-on-one discussions with such Focus executives as CEO James Schamus and president of production John Lyons, covering such topics as international distribution and the economics of studio financing; members of the program’s international advisory board of experts in African cinema; producer and Program Director Kisha Cameron-Dingle and Focus Director of Production Matthew Plouffe.

    All filmmakers selected for Africa First retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.

    The Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program was created to foster and develop long-term relationships with some of the most promising up-and-coming filmmakers from continental Africa. Through the financial support of the fund and the mentorship support provided by the Focus Features Africa First Advisory Board, we aim to bring filmmakers into an environment that will allow them to grow as filmmakers with an international audience.

    For more please click here:  and here:

  • The South African Football Association (Safa) values its television rights at between R130-million and R150-million a year, an official revealed this week.

    "The figure is the association's own evaluation after having obviously viewed audience potential," said the official, who asked not to be named.

    "It's difficult because before we couldn't make evaluations based on real figures, and cannot use the previous deal that we had with the SABC as a benchmark for the new one."

    The package would include 60 matches a year for all national teams, including Bafana Bafana, and a proposed magazine programme called Safa TV.

    Safa was hoping to renew its rights with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), after their expiry of their previous deal in March.

    That deal was worth about R30-million, a figure which has risen considerably since South Africa hosted the 2009 Confederations Cup, the 2010 World Cup and the team's climb in the world rankings over the last year.

    The national U-23 team -- Baby Bafana -- and the women's side Banyana Banyana were also impressive over the period, and both stand a strong chance of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

    Safa thought the financially challenged SABC would not be to afford the full amount, and had proposed different packages to suit broadcaster's pocket, the official said.

    The first contained "premium properties", which gave the broadcaster exclusive rights to Bafana, Banyana and the U-23 team.

    The second would add new media and would include working alongside the continental soccer body, the Confederation of African Football (Caf), for the rights of the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifying matches.

    The official said the proposal was in the hands of the SABC and that Safa was waiting for a reply. It could take months to finalise the new deal following management changes at the national broadcaster. "We gave them a package and they asked us to give them time to value it," he said.

    "So, the association said 'fine no problem, come back to us and then we can argue over price. We are offering them about 60 matches, so it's about how many of those they would like."

    Safa had dismissed the idea of moving the national team's matches to satellite television -- following a similar path as the Premier Soccer League (PSL) -- as it wanted to reach a larger audience.

    The multi-billion rand PSL deal was signed with SuperSport International in 2007. A new contract is also reportedly being negotiated. "The money is with SuperSport, but the audience is with the SABC and the target is to reach a broader market in the events of national interest," said the official.

    In a statement issued by Safa on Friday, the association's president Kirsten Nematandani said "principle matters" had been agreed with the national broadcaster. "We await a final quotation on the total revenue to be expected by the association through this exciting new venture," Nematandani said.

    SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told City Press on Sunday that Safa had asked for "a lot of money". The newspaper reported that the live broadcast of Bafana's friendly international against Burkina Faso in Johannesburg on Wednesday could hang in the balance after Safa demanded R5-million from the SABC to broadcast the game. The SABC has already advertised the broadcast of the match's 8.15pm kick-off on SABC 1.

  • The SA Revenue Service (Sars) has come out in strong defence of a new ad valorem duty on computer monitors, saying it’s meant to protect the television industry, despite strong opposition to the new tax.

    Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay says it is government policy to protect the local TV industry in “an effort to achieve domestic investment, value addition and employment”.

    In April, a 7% ad valorem tax, which previously only applied to imported television sets and which was scrapped seven years ago, was reintroduced on computer monitors, because some companies were importing them without TV components and adding these locally to avoid the tax.

    The result is more expensive monitors in an industry that’s meant to be trying to make its products as cheap as possible to get more South Africans online.

    Lackay says that due to constant changes in technology, monitors and TVs have “largely become interchangeable in their application”.

    “This poses challenges from a legislative and administrative point of view and it makes it difficult to give effect to trade and tax policy,” he says. “Different duty structures in this instance led to the abuse of legislation, which undermined government policy.”

    Lackay says “unscrupulous importers” were found to be declaring imports as computer monitors to avoid the duty. These devices then made their way into the local TV market “to the detriment of the local television industry”.

    The ad valorem duty for monitors and TVs of a specified size “was aligned” in the hope of preventing “further abuse”. Lackay says that because there is no longer any tax benefit in clearing televisions as monitors “this alignment is a step closer to giving effect to government policy”.

    The changes, he says, might “lead to the payment of ad valorem duty on larger monitors on one hand and the non-payment of ad valorem duty on smaller TVs. However, this is due to the convergence of technologies in these particular industries.”

    On 13 May, the International Trade Administration Commission of SA invited the computer and TV industries “to engage with government agencies, including Sars, with regard to the payment of unintended taxes – that is, on goods not manufactured locally — provided that a clear distinction could be made between computer equipment and television equipment”.

    Lackay says that from Sars’s discussions it appears that some industry players are “reorganising their business and are considering importing parts for assembling computer monitors and televisions”.

    “This shift in the industry indicates that the legislative changes may positively impact domestic investment and employment,” he says. “Aligned with this natural development in the industry, government is willing to consider the development of the computer monitor industry in a similar way as the television industry.”

  • President Jacob Zuma today, 5 August 2011, held his first consultative meeting with media owners, representing both print and the broadcasting industry. The meeting took place in Pretoria.

    President Zuma welcomed the interaction with this important sector of South Africa's society, remarking that their "products from newspapers, magazines, to radio stations and television channels, provided a platform and mirror to project South African life and society."

    A number of issues were discussed including government's proposal to withdraw alcohol advertising. The President said government was concerned about the negative impact of alcohol abuse on society, especially on the poor, and needed to act to mitigate the problem. The industry leaders felt the advertising withdrawal might seriously impact on jobs and business. It was agreed that this matter needs to be debated further between the two parties.

    There had also been some concerns regarding government's centralised advertising. Government clarified that such a decision was a cost saving measure on the part of government and not a punitive one based on the content of print media. It was explained that the bulk buying decision was made as early as 1998.

    The media owners appraised the President of their own challenges in the industry including regulatory constraints which they wanted to discuss further. It was agreed that another session would be held soon, focusing on the media as a business, hosted by the Department of Communications.

    The meeting appreciated a presentation by Economic Development Minister, Mr Ebrahim Patel on the New Growth Path and several ideas were put forward on how to implement and communicate the programme better, and to mobilise society to ensure success.

    The meeting was introductory and set the tone for future engagements between the two parties, which would focus more on pressing issues such as media diversity and transformation, development and training as well as how media and government would work together to further strengthen Brand South Africa.

    The meeting was attended by more than 30 media owners and managers, led by Print Media SA Chairperson, Prakash Desai and National Association of Broadcasters Chairperson, Karen Willenberg.

    President Zuma was accompanied by the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Collins Chabane, Deputy Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Dina Pule and Deputy Communications Minister, Obed Bapela.


    In a BuaNews article on 5 August 2011, it was reported that President Jacob Zuma has stressed the importance of diversity and transformation in the country's media industry, saying ownership should reflect the country's demographics.
  • The Ugandan government has halted a USD74 million loan from the Import and Export Bank of China (EXIM) that was to be used to fund a digital migration project. Although the Ugandan government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese government, the deputy secretary to the treasury announced the cessation of the deal, citing instructions from the Prime Minister.

    The terms of the loan stipulate that Huawei must be the vendor to supply the equipment and complete the installation, side stepping the tender process that would allow other companies to compete for the contract. The prices quoted by Huawei and the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) were called into question by the leader of the opposition Nandala Mafabi, who claims that the total amount quoted is more than double needed, and for some items more than four times more expensive than it should be.

    Mafabi claimed that an independent industry expert estimated the deal to be worth between USD20 million and USD28 million, rising to USD30 million if the ‘very best’ equipment is used. UBC claimed that the cost of setting up a system to handle TV for Kampala and upcountry areas was USD5.8 million, but Mafabi argued the amount was closer to USD1.2 million. Local paper New Vision claims that other TV operators have spent the equivalent of UGX1 billion (USD365,000) to migrate to a digital technology.

    Uganda is due to migrate from analogue to digital television by the end of 2012 but the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) believes that UBC, the country’s sole national operator, and the only licensed digital broadcaster, will not be ready in time for the deadline.

    The Ugandan government has become increasingly wary of dealing with the Chinese government after a recent controversy surrounding a similar deal to install fibre-optic cabling, also funded by EXIM and carried out by Huawei, was discovered to have been overpriced and utilised incorrect equipment.

  • Kenyan pay television service provider Multichoice Kenya has launched a new mobile decoder into the Kenyan market that will enable its subscribers have access to mobile television services.

    The new mobile decoder dubbed Drifta, targeted at mobile television enthusiasts will see subscribers within the firm's mobile network coverage areas in Nairobi, Mombasa and their environs have access to various DStv channels.

    The launch of the new mobile service by Multichoice Kenya comes on the background of stiffening competition in the Kenyan pay television market. The entry of players like Wananchi Group through its Zuku brand and giant telecoms operator Bharti Airtel who have announced their intention to enter into the Pay TV market once a monopoly of the South African Pay TV subsidiary has seen the race for pay TV subscribers in Kenya hot up.

    Felix Onyango, General manager of Digital Mobile Television Kenya limited (DMTV) which has partnered with Multichoice Kenya to provide the new product, said it was unveiled as a response to the need for Kenyans to get traditional pay TV services 'on-the-go'.

    "We are responding to Kenyans' increasingly mobile culture. Kenyans can now enjoy television anytime, anywhere," he said. Onyango said the new product would ride on the success of earlier introduced mobile television services in the country by DStv and DMTV.

    In 2008, DStv in partnership with DMTV introduced DStv Mobile on the Digital Video Broadcast - Hand held (DVB-H), which is a broadcast medium that allows for the digital terrestrial broadcast of live television channels to mobile phones.

    Stephen Isaboke, the general manager of Multichoice Kenya hailed the new product saying it would enable subscribers enjoy Pay TV services better by controlling their television viewing. He noted that new technology was key to enhancing Pay TV viewership.

    "The development and introduction of new technology is key to ensuring that DStv subscribers get more enjoyment and control of their television viewing," he said.

    There are two types of the Drifta mobile TV decorder: one which works like an internet modem and connects laptops and PCs and the second type which works with a variety of devices such as iPhones and iPads.

  • July - Sept. 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC

    Venue: NYC, USA
    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information please visit here:

    27 August - 4 September 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw

    31 August - 10 September 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information please visit here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11 - 14 Septembre 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. For more information please visit here:

    3 - 8 Octobre 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    5 - 9 October 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information please visit here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 29 October 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue: 78, av. du Pirée - 34000 Montpellier - France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 30 October 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)

    P.O. Box 76417 – 00508
    Nairobi
    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information please visit here:

    25-28 October 2011
    CDN WORLD SUMMIT 2011
    Venue, Hilton Paddington Hotel, London

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most comprehensive CDN event ever. We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which will include over 80 speakers.The full value chain is represented including content providers, broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information please visit here:

    26 - 31 October 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival

    27 Palmer Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town, 7945 – South Africa
    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information please visit here:

    29 October - 6 November 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information please visit here:
    info@amakula.com

    27 October – 6 November 2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival
    For more information please visit here:

    31 October - 7 November 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information please visit here:

    1st & 2nd November, 2011
    IP&TV Forum MENA 2011
    Venue: Dubai

    The advantages that potential IP&TV operators in the Middle East and Africa have over their Western counterparts are the opportunities to build the most up-to-date and effective networks, the common language and tradition for much of the region and a culture that encourages high rates of TV consumption. By attending the conference you will not only learn about the latest developments in the TV industry, but also make deals face to face, do business, partner and network with senior decision makers from regional and international operators, satellite providers, cable providers, content aggregators and broadcasters.
    For further information or to download a brochure please click here:

    9th - 10th November, 2011
    Africa Cast
    Venue: Cape Town, South Africa

    AfricaCast is a new event organised jointly by Informa’s Com World Series and IP&TV World Series to address the challenges and opportunities in Africa’s broadcasting market. The two day summit will bring decision makers from the entire value chain, including broadcasters, satellite providers, cable companies, regulators, content providers & producers, and production facilities.
    For further information please click here:

    16th - 17th November, 2011
    OTTtv World Summit
    Venue: London

    Building on the success of the 2010 Summit, the OTTtv World Summit 2011 will grow further and look into the future of TV delivery as well as the positioning of OTTtv to help monetise the “premium TV models”. This Summit is the only dedicated event addressing the strategic opportunities in the OTT space in the world where you can hear from directors of projects and first hand testimonials about the mounting success of OTT platforms and strategies to penetrate pay TV markets.For further information please click here:

    25 November - 4- December of 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP
    (theatre auditorium de Poitiers) in Poitiers (France).
    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information please visit here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT, 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT - (exhibition & conference) in dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information please visit here:

    4-5 July 2012,
    Broadcast & Film Africa,
    Venue: Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    The conference provides the platform for industry leaders shaping broadcast and film industries to share their knowledge and perspectives with peers from throughout the region. The exhibition provides manufacturers and dealers the opportunity to showcase their latest products and services and connect with the decision-makers in the African broadcast and film-making markets. For the conference Call for Papers log on to the organiser’s website here and to book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

  • Gagasi 99.5FM has appointed Vukile Zondi as its new Programmes Manager with effect from 01 September 2011. The station has also announced that it is getting an additional transmitter that will cover areas like Ladysmith, Greytown, Mooi River and other surrounding towns. It's going to be the first time that Gagasi 99.5FM will be able to broadcast in these areas.

    Ashlea Evans joined the CNBC Africa Cape Town bureau, where she has taken over the position of reporter.

    President Goodluck Jonathan, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola and his Edo state counterpart Adams Oshiomhole, described the death of the veteran actor, Sam Loco-Efe, as a great loss to the state and the nation’s movie industry. Condoling with the family of Sam Loko over the death of the veteran actor, Jonathan said the deceased was the leading figure in the country’s film industry and assisted in boosting the profile of Nigerian actors on the contemporary scenario.

  • SAFTAS - NFVF Call for entry

    The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) organizers of the popular industry awards, South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAS) calls for local productions to submit their entries for 2012. The entries open on Wednesday 3rd of August 2011 and will close on Monday 5th of September 2011.
    .Only South African films or television productions/programmes that have been produced and publicly exhibited or broadcast between 1st of April 2010 until the 31st of July 2011 are eligible for entry.

    Since its official launch in 2005, the SAFTAS has been successfully managed under the custodianship of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). The broadcasters M-Net, e.tv, Top TV and SABC; distributors, Ster Kinekor, indigenous Films and Nu Metro play an important role in supporting the awards.

    The SAFTA are an industry initiative governed by a body of industry representatives SASFED, SABC, e.tv, M-Net and the NFVF and is managed by the custodianship of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) under whose values the essence of the awards are encapsulated, those of Creativity, Freedom of expression, Entrepreneurship and Equitable redress.

    "The SAFTAS has truly become the premiere platform for recognizing talent in the industry. Since its inception the awards have grown from strength to strength attracting representatives from government, private sector and the industry. We encourage all eligible productions to participate in order to continue elevating the film and television status of our country," says Karen Son NFVF Acting CEO.

    The SAFTAS has since its inception honoured individuals and productions in the following categories: TV Non-fiction, TV Fiction, Feature Films, Short Films Student Films and Animation with Special Lifetime achievement awards given to those esteemed individuals who have long served the industry in various categories.

    As with the previous years the public will play a pivotal role in the Soapie category by voting for their best soapie. Previous winners of this category include Generations and Seven de Laan.
    Click here to obtain the Rules and Guidelines. All the entries should be submitted through an online entry system which can be found on the SAFTA Entries website. Closing date 05th of September 2011 16h00.

    The judging panels will this year be made up of previous SAFTAS winners and nominees from the past 5 years. This is in a bid to begin the development of the SA Film & TV Academy. As with previous years, the judging process will be overseen and verified by independent auditors.

    The winners will be presented with the official SAFTA trophy, the Golden Horn, at a glittering ceremony in February 2012 that will host the cream of South African talent, leading personalities, key government and private sector, VIP's and media.

    The SAFTAS honour, celebrate and promote the creativity, quality and excellence of South African Film and Television talent and productions, and encourage entrepreneurship and the development of new talent within the industry.

    For more information email Communications & Public Affairs Naomi Mokhele or project coordinator Carla Dias.

    Call for entry: 84th Annual Academy Awards - Best Foreign Language Film Award

    Call for South African Entries – Deadline for submissions: 31 August 2011 16h00
    South African filmmakers are invited to submit their feature films for consideration into the 84th Annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards for Best Foreign Language Film Category.
    .

    Entries for Filminute - the international one-minute film festival that challenges filmmakers, writers, animators, artists, designers, and creative producers to develop and submit the world's best one-minute films - close on 20 August 2011.
    View the posts on www.facebook.com/filminute and download entry forms click here:

Issue no 570 2nd September 2011

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Top story

  • Last week’s Mobile Entertainment World in Cape Town began to crystallize the beginning of successful, business-worthy African online content. It bought together a handful of mobile operators, mobile platform operators and content companies offering things as diverse as music, gaming and Nollywood. Russell Southwood picks over the lessons from this emerging content market.

    It’s a hazard of doing what we do that we attend (and sometimes even programme) conferences. The standard pattern is that everyone senior turns up for the first half day to network and by the end of the conference you’re left with a handful of people listening to ever-less compelling presentations. Speakers make seemingly endless speeches promoting whatever it is they’re selling to audiences in low-lit rooms at too greater length. Interaction comes down to a couple of questions at each session.

    Hats off to Matthew Dawes of All Amber who manages to combine really interesting programmes with entertaining panelists who actually say things that might make you think about what you do with your business. At last week’s event, many of them were very funny about the failures they endured along the way and some were even honest enough to say that they hadn’t entirely worked out how to make money out of something (for example, mobile TV). And the real test was that on day 2 there were as many participants as there were on day one. Furthermore, it was a conference in South Africa that managed to talk about Africa rather than just about South Africa.

    The first Mobile Entertainment World conference in Cape Town last week bought together all of the people who need to be doing business together if there is to be an online content and services sector in Africa: media owners; mobile platform operators; services and social networking sites; gaming companies; and….well, there were two mobile companies, more of which, later. There was even the less attractive side of the industry represented by an adult chat service.

    Out of this interesting mixture of people came the first sight of a content industry that might both command an audience and get paid for doing it. The stand-out amongst all of these was Nigeria’s Iroko Partners (see video interview link below). It has hit upon a way of distributing Nollywood content legally (over 800 movies), making money and giving some of that money back to the artists who made it. In under a year it has generated around US$1 million in advertising revenues from 2.2 million views and is now expanding into offering music video clips on the same basis.

    It has attracted 2.2 million unique viewers and 16 million views from 231 countries and all without any marketing. 20% of traffic is from mobiles and 60% of search enquiries come from mobiles in Nigeria. The really telling statistic is that the 6th biggest market is Malaysia and 11th biggest is Nigeria (around 30,000 unique views). With better bandwidth, viewer numbers will inevitably increase in the home of Nollywood.

    94% of the advertising income comes from 5 countries with the big markets including USA, UK and Canada. Almost all of these views (even in Malaysia) are from the widely distributed Nigerian diaspora. The biggest movie is Blackberry Babes which is a 60 minute movie that has had 900,000 views: “Blackberry didn’t even know it had been made.”

    Njoku noticed that there were a lot of e-mails asking for Genevieve Nnaji movies. She is now so famous that she is only makes a couple of films a year. So he put out a call to producers and directors for Nnaji movies. Within a week, he was running a season of movies with two new movies a day, which was very successful:”Only the Internet could have that kind of immediacy.”

    His next project is expanding into Nigerian music video clips:”The music entertainment space in Nigeria is an absolute mess. One song can be uploaded as many as 20 times. Music sales cannot be verified. We can do that on You Tube (with views). We can tap into a global audience and give money back to the artists. He has signed 40 artists (so far including  El Dee, Kefee, P Square and Bez) and has plans to sign 100 more.

    According to Ayite Gaba, Business Development, Google who is responsible for developing You Tube partners in Sub-Saharan Africa, the advertising income paid to African partners varies between US$10,000-US$1 million:”Views and revenues are largely coming from outside Africa at the moment and we have no sales offices (for You Tube) in Africa at the moment.”

    However, those that want to prepare themselves for the future (let’s call that the next three years) need to start positioning themselves now. If we use Facebook as proxy for Internet users in Nigeria, only 30,000 of 2.9 million people currently view movies on Iroko but within the next 1-3 years bandwidth will improve to the point where the numbers will go up to at least a million. With better 3G and LTE not far off, many of those will view music clips on their mobile phones (feature and smart).

    But there were other interesting green shoots offering new ways of connecting with audiences:

    *    Julian Van Plato, CEO, Trans Digital Media
    was live streaming the conference content both to PCs and mobiles. An event with around 150 people – a small number of whom were tweeting- soon attracted 700 streams for what was a fairly specialist subject. For a relatively small sum it can live stream to 95% of mobile phones (and VOD if required) but better still, it can deliver this stream into a large number of Sub-Saharan African countries. It is currently working on sports events, music and comedy club nights and has signed a deal with Congolese music star Fally Ipupa who currently gets 300,000-1.5 million hits for his music videos. Interestingly, he sees himself as potentially competing with television. The business model? Sponsorship or charging for large, well-promoted events.

    *    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza hit on the idea of training people in Khayelitsha township to make movies using a Nokia N8 with an HD camera. She showed a variety of clips including one about the consequences of a rape, the daily train commute, mobile TV news and a cooking programme. The latter was not for the faint-hearted as a sheep’s head was cleaned up with a blowtorch and cooked split in half, braai-style. In the pilot phase of what Kaye describes as a “mobihood”, it attracted 40,000 subscribers in three months and 170,000 by the end of the pilot period with just word of mouth. So what? Well it goes to show that there are large numbers of Africans (formerly known as viewers) out there who do not see their lives reflected in the more mainstream media.

    *    A number of people spoke about IVR radio including Starfish Mobile. The phone owner dials in to a short code and is offered a menu of musical genres. S/he chooses a genre and then chooses a track and gets to hear 90 seconds before being asked to pay. The service is already being offered by Vodacom Tanzania and in the “you do it, I do it:dog eat dog world”, MTN is about to follow suit with others trailing behind. Many handsets already have built in radios (and some Free-To-Air analogue TV receivers) that local radio stations need to include as part of their strategy to get listeners.

    *    Vincent Maher, Co-Founder, Motribe and Gavin Marshall, Head of Innovation, MXit,
    spoke about trying to understand what audiences wanted in terms of specialist social communities and gaming. The former produces social networking sites globally with names like Moonbase (320,000 users) and Cabango (280,000 users) and has 3,500 tribes with 1.6 million users. Interestingly, South Africa is only its 8th biggest market with 75,000 users but it’s big in Nigeria where it does work for Guinness.

    African mobile operators at local opco level are inclined to say that local content is not out there and when it is, the owners are difficult to deal with. Translation: We don’t really understand the content market on our doorstep and the income splits we’re offering do not encourage things that attract major audiences on other media. The key players in this new African content ecology are the continent’s film-makers, broadcasters, gamers, music stars, local niche social communities and local niche content producers (think hundreds of thousands rather than millions).

    The most successful existing local African online content is newspapers. The sites of print newspapers are up in the top 20 of all the African countries covered by Alexa.com. However, one East African newspaper gets 30,000 print readers but 2 million local online users. Even if you assume optimistically that 10 people read each paid copy, the online version still outstrips the print version. A relatively small number of people pay for the print version and it attracts 97% of the advertising revenues. This cannot last as advertisers wake up to the shift that is underway. Meanwhile few media owners have yet begun to craft a strategy to help them survive this transition.

    But as Mark Rayner, CEO, DStv Mobile observed that the upward suck of bandwidth required to use this content will continue to grow:”LTE will come and make the lives of content owners vastly different. But the new bandwidth will bring more demands like HD. So we will still need to be fighting for bandwidth and fighting for it at the right price.” Mobile operators have networks that started as narrow pipes but the future is content and services that require an ever increasing capacity for data. Rayner explained that its 3G live feed of the British Royal wedding crashed because too many people accessed it at once. Mobile operators have to provision a network where this does not occur if they are serious about a content-rich future.

    And they will also have to do something about the revenue splits. At present one operator is offering 80/20 in its favour: this is no way breed a local content ecosystem. Furthermore, the complicated chain of people who take percentages mean that the current minimum price possible is probably higher than is affordable by a mass audience. And in this the mobile operators are not the only guilty party. Music and film rights holders (particularly international ones) do not understand that what they are demanding will cut off the development of the market before it starts. (Puts me in mind of a Spike Lee aphorism:”A US$50 million Hollywood movie is a US$10 million movie once everybody got through stealing.”)

    But what do you do about the mobile operators who don’t seem to care about the very content on which their future revenues hang? I’ve attended three of Matthew Dawes conferences and the number of mobile operators attending can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Sadly the VAS Managers are not at senior management level in the country opco’s. There are some exceptional VAS managers but they are in the minority. There are endless millions in investment for network but more or less nothing for content development.

    In content terms, mobile operators have to decide whether to stick or twist: they can do either but they should choose decisively rather than saying our indecision is final. The ghost haunting this discussion is that the vastly over-charged SMS service revenues will be eaten at the edges by cheaper services used in the data bundle.(Note the Skype acquisition of GroupMe.)

    The “get into content” route is the setting up of an opco that lives on its own revenues in which you invest real money that removes the SMS aggregator from an already over-crowded value chain. The “stay-out of content” route is to give better revenue splits and encourage the take-up of local content. There’s nothing wring with being “dumb-pipe” operators if you make a decent return and perhaps someone should make the T-shirt that says so. Build decent networks and get paid for doing so.

    The problem is the testosterone-driven, “masters of the universe” view that Africa’s mobile operators should go round eating everyone else’s lunch on the precautionary principle that someone might eat theirs in the near future. But who else in Africa is going to build properly functioning networks and charge for them?



    New video clips on Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel:


    Jason Njoku, CEO, Iroko Partners
    on distributing Nollywood and Nigerian Music using You Tube

    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza
    on South African townships creating their own online content

    Julian VanPlato, CEO, Trans Digital Media on a new live streaming mobile service for Africa

    Sami Leino, COO, Spinlet on the launch of an "iTunes" for Africa

    Ofer Ronen, Business Development Director - Broadcast, Gilat Satcom on its move into African broadcast services

    South Africa: Styli Charalambous, Managing Director, The Daily Maverick on its new iPad subscription service

    Steve Vosloo, mLabs
    on supporting mobile innovation in South Africa

    Arun Nagar, CEO, Spice VAS Africa on launching its African platforms and live streaming

    Robert Aouad, CEO Isocel Benin on opening a carrier-neutral data centre in Benin

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • After Globacom was handed the license to operate as the fifth telecoms company in the Ghanaian market for a fee of $50 million, there was an unavailability of spectrum for the Nigerian company to start operations in Ghana, says Ghana’s Minister of Communications. Yes, you read that correctly: Glo was give a licence for which the spectrum to deliver it was not available.

    In addition to this, the review of regime guidelines for the citing of telecoms cell sites by Ghanaian authorities for the purpose of assurance on structural integrity of masts also affected the early deployment of Glo.

    Haruna Iddrisu attributed these reasons to why the telecoms company, owned by Mike Adenuga, Nigeria’s second richest person according to Forbes Magazine could not start operations in Ghana as expected.

    According to the Minister, at the time Glo was issued a license August 2008 to operate in Ghana for a fee in the region of $50 million, the spectrum available for use by Glo was unavailable. “Glo was licensed August 2008 and again at the time that Glo was issued a license for a fee in the region of $50 million. The spectrum for Glo was unavailable on the 1900 megahertz,” he revealed in an interview on TV Africa’s Bare Facts last Tuesday August 23, 2011 which was monitored by ghanabusinessnews.com.

    According to Iddrisu, the Bureau of National Communications (BNC) and the National Security who were using the spectrum were moved unto another megahertz. “…Now what we have to do upon assuming office in 2009 is to facilitate a migration of the Bureau of National Communications (BNC) who were sitting on that spectrum and we have to move National Security and BNC into the 450 megahertz in order to free the spectrum for the use of Glo,” Iddrisu told the host of the show.

    The Minister indicated that Sherry Ayittey, Minister for Environment, Science and Technology wanted some assurance on the structural integrity of the telecom masts to have some sanity in the environment hence the need to review the regime of guidelines of these citing which eventually affected the immediate deployment of Glo.

    Happily by the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, Glo had at least up to a thousand cell sites approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Iddrisu said adding “I know another operator in the industry who does have less cell sites.” Their challenges have to do with the cell sites, he added.

    He also disclosed on the show that the National Communications Authority (NCA) at one time wrote to Glo as to when they will start operations in Ghana but a definite answer was not given.

    “The regulator wrote to them in March 2011 and they responded in April but were not definite in terms of when they will launch. I’m sure it’s just their marketing strategy. They want to penetrate the Ghanaian market well.” But Ghanaian authorities have given some policy directives that between September 15 and October 15, 2011, Glo must show physical presence or face appropriate sanctions.

  • Pieter Uys, Vodacom CEO, has announced that Vodacom will be providing a mobile app store to consumers in September 2011. The announcement came after an extensive inquiry into the local mobile app ecosystem through a multi-phased market research project conducted by Columinate. Vodacom shared the results of the Columinate research with industry stakeholders at a special event held at the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg on Friday, 26 August.

    On Friday, 26 August, Columinate and Vodacom hosted a special breakfast event to share the findings from a multi-phased research inquiry into the local mobile app ecosystem.

    Pieter Uys, Vodacom CEO, announced that he was so excited about Columinate's research that he wanted to share it with the world. Before sharing the results, Uys spoke briefly about Vodacom's intentions for the mobile app ecosystem in South Africa, and went on to announce the launch of Vodacom's app store in September 2011.

    Thereafter, Henk Pretorius, Columinate director, presented the findings from the market research. This represented a collation of the multi-phased project conducted by Columinate which looked at how industry experts and stakeholders, as well as developers and consumers of apps, felt about the local ecosystem and its possibilities.

    Overall, 11 industry professionals, 407 smartphone owners who have downloaded apps in the past 6 months, and 35 developers took part in the research. The research was also preceded and continuously checked against an in-depth desk research phase that looked at international nuances compared to those evident in the local ecosystem.

    One finding in the report suggests that networks are considered to be in a favourable position to act as enablers, as they have the ability to drive app demand, interact with consumers and provide a gateway for developers to get their apps to the market. This finding can be linked to Uys's statement that, "The launch of this app store is just the beginning. We're building an entire community that will supply home-grown apps relevant to the South African environment. With all the talent available in this country, there's no reason why we can't create our own application industry."

    According to Elna Smit, Columinate director, "The research presented a challenge for Columinate as it was the first of its kind in South Africa. There are no formal or public sources that have looked at the apps ecosystem locally, and we had to take an innovative and fresh perspective to provide Vodacom with the insight needed”.

    “The approach was a 360 degree view of the ecosystem and, from a researcher's point of view, the opportunity to do this depth of research was very rewarding." She also added, "Vodacom's willingness to openly share the market research findings, something that is rarely done, represents a move that challenges all players in the industry to work together in order to nurture, enable and develop the local app ecosystem. "


    Vodacom’s announcement about launching an apps store follows a similar announcement in July by Zantel about the rollout of  Blackberry powered apps store. Mobile operators Orange and Tunisiana have already launched apps stores in Tunisia. The pace of launching apps store in Africa is picking up and if you need to know more to what extent mobile applications will play a role in the development of mobile content on the continent, you need to read the recently published report by Balancing Act: “Mobile apps for Africa: Strategies to make sense of free and paid apps”. The report analyses the nascent apps ecosystem in Africa while providing an analytical framework that will allow African mobile operators, content providers, apps developers and handset manufacturers to decide on what strategy to adopt regarding mobile apps. To find out more about the report please click here:

  • Ethiopian Electric Power Cooperation (EEPCo) and ethio-telecom, which reported losses of US$4.2 million and US$3.6 million, respectively, due to theft and intentional damages on their infrastructure this year, appealed to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for stringent legal measures on those accused of committing these acts.

    The two institutions presented the reported loss they had incurred during the second Joint National Justice Forum held at Haile Resort in Hawassa, 273km from the capital in Southern Regional State, last weekend. They appealed to judges of the Supreme Court as well as Tegene Getaneh, president of the Supreme Court, for a speedy and severe sentencing on those proclaimed guilty of the act of committing these offences.

    Out of this loss, 28 million Br was due to cutting and theft of fibre optic cables. Another 53 million Br was spent on maintaining and repairing these damages.

    "Since the damage that occurs doesn't affect just one institution, the punishment should also be severe," Abdurahim said. "So far, none of the punishments levied on offenders has been enough of a deterrent."

    The state owned ethio-telecom alone lost 10.6 million Br which it would have gained had data traffic not been interrupted due to cuttings of fibre optic cables. In the past two months, 23 telecom lines were damaged and service disruption had occurred 46 times of which 15 were due to intentional cutting of the optic cables.

    It used to be that this frequency of theft would happen in a year, which shows the increase in these intentional acts, according to Abdurahim. Both institutions appealed to the prosecutors and relevant officials in the MoJ to charge offenders using the more stringent proclamation.

  • The final appeal committee of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of South Africa has dismissed a last attempt by Cell C to have a ruling that the "4Gs" term it used in its advertising was in breach of the authority's advertising codes overturned. The committee has awarded costs to complainants Vodacom and MTN.

    In a decision handed down by the committee's Mervyn King on Monday, 29 August 2011, it says the appeal is "dismissed with costs, which shall include the costs of counsel on behalf of Vodacom, taxed on the party-and-party basis as if this matter had been heard in the high court".

    The decision is a blow to Cell C, which had initially claimed it had a fourth-generation (4G) mobile network. It later changed its advertising from "4G" to "4Gs", claiming the abbreviation stood for "for great speed" and "for great service".

    Other African countries (particularly Nigeria) have operators who claim to be providing 4G services but are not challenged by any advertising standards body.

internet

  • Facebook Check-in Deals launched in South Africa with Cell C offering two deals to potential customers through the platform Earlier this week Facebook’s official sales partner in South Africa, Habari Media, revealed that it would be launching Facebook Check-in Deals in South Africa today (1 September 2011) with Avis, Chevrolet, and Cell C.

    In a press statement issued today (1 September 2011), Cell C revealed that it would be offering two deals through the platform. Deal 1: R129/month for 24 months with Nokia C3 handset, 100 off-peak minutes per month on Casual Chat 100, 24GB of data (2GB of data per month over 12 months) and a 7.2Mbps USB “speedstick.”

    Deal 2: R99/month for 24 months with Nokia E5 handset, 100 off-peak minutes per month on Casual Chat 100, 7.2Mbps capable Cell C “speedstick” with 3GB of once-off data (valid for 365 days).

    Simon Camerer, Cell C’s Executive Head of Marketing, said that the two deals would be available through Check-in Deals from 1 September 2011 to 30 November 2011 at Cell C stores countrywide.

  • The government has developed an automated system to verify the authenticity of transport vehicle licences, putting the brakes on cartels that have thrived from the sale of counterfeits.

    Supported by mobile phone technology, the system is already on trial among vehicles registered by the Transport Licensing Board (TLB). The registrar of motor vehicles, Francis Meja, said Tuesday that those seeking to confirm the authenticity of their documents can send their licence serial numbers to a short text message (SMS) number 5456.

    The automated system would then provide a feedback on the status of the licence, based on the official records at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). "Response from TLB registered vehicles is fabulous and we hope to launch the system soon and extend it to all categories of vehicles and driving licences," Meja told a meeting in Nairobi between the Transport ministry and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing.

    Transport Minister Amos Kimunya said the new system has triggered a rush among transport vehicle owners seeking authentic documents."In the past one month alone we have received applications for about 200,000 vehicles, which points to the effectiveness of the system," he told the forum.

    Cartels have been reaping from the sale of counterfeit documents such as road and drivers' licences, with motorists acquiring fake driving licences for as little as Sh1,000 without formal training.

    Corruption has been blamed for the high number of accidents on major roads and highways across the country. Meja said all applications would be uploaded into a centralised database to assist in the transition towards the smart-card technology based second generation driving licences. The database already has 2.9 million registered drivers and 1.4 million vehicles. "It will be easier to transfer the information we already have into the digital cards," he said.

  • Eutelsat Communications has announced a 6-year distribution agreement valued at EUR20 million between its Skylogic subsidiary and Egyptsat. The agreement enables Egyptsat to use the new-generation Tooway satellite service to provide broadband services to users beyond reach of terrestrial or wireless networks across Egypt.

    With download speeds of up to 10 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 4 Mbps, Tooway satellite broadband will bring fast, reliable and affordable Internet access for Egyptsat customers in areas with limited alternative solutions for broadband. The Tooway solution consists of a satellite dish and a modem connected to the PC via Ethernet, giving customers Internet access with no need for a telephone line.

    Set up in 2000, Egyptsat is a leading VSAT service provider in the Middle East and Africa. The company is a licensed VSAT operator in Egypt, providing Internet services to oil companies in Egypt and outside of Egypt for offshore locations. Tooway™ will complement the company's product portfolio by offering satellite Internet solutions at competitive prices for small offices and home users in industrial and economic centres in the north of the country who can be served through the KA-SAT spotbeam allocated specifically for Egypt.

    "Tooway is the best fit for Egypt's new era, with Internet users increasing from 21 million to 25.4 million just after the 25th January revolution. With a price comparable to ADSL, Tooway is the passcode for this new era," said Dr. Mohamed Elghamry, CEO of Egyptsat."The service is expected to meet the significant demand in the Egyptian territory and the region, where too many places are in deep need for high speed Internet at reasonable cost".

    Arduino Patacchini, CEO of Skylogic, added: "Tooway is the ideal broadband service to meet the needs of Egyptsat's customers in rural and difficult to reach areas of the region. We are delighted to work with Egyptsat to extend broadband availability, and look forward to building a close and longstanding partnership which contributes to achieving a high-quality broadband environment in Egypt."

    The new-generation Tooway service is provided via Eutelsat's KA-SAT High Throughput Satellite, which went into commercial service in May. With its total capacity of more than 70 Gbps, KA-SAT brings a new era of competitively-priced, satellite-delivered services for homes and small businesses across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. The satellite forms the cornerstone of an infrastructure, which includes eight main satellite gateways connected to the Internet by a fibre backbone ring.

computing

  • Government is expected to spend between $10 to $25 million within the next five years, under the e-school project to procure laptops and desktop computers for schools, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications said on Tuesday.

    He expressed the hope that the project, which was a co-operation between the sector and Ministry of Education, would help demystify the use of computers by Ghanaian children in schools.

    Iddrisu made the disclosure when a five-member delegation from Samsung Ghana Limited paid a courtesy call on him in Accra. He made a “special request” to the delegation to establish a Samsung assembling plant to enable the corporate entity to take advantage of government’s e-project earmarked for 2016.

    Iddrisu said: “Those establishments that would be able to set up plants to assemble phones, laptops and desk top computers would enjoy incentives and other support budget line for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the purpose of procuring laptops and desk top computers.”

    He called on the delegation to take advantage of some business opportunities that existed in the ICT sector stressing that government was seeking partners to help the country migrate from the analogue radio and television to digital.

    Iddrisu said: “This will give the country some spectrum dividend and also some advantage of improvement in sound and picture quality”. He said other areas of investment included building a secondary data centre in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region to serve the business enclave in the region.

    Iddrisu said as part of government’s effort to address growing unemployment challenges in the country and to provide Information Technology related jobs; it was seeking to partner a business entity to establish two ICT parks slated for Tema and Cape Coast. He called on the delegation to explore business opportunities that existed in rural communities so they could provide solutions to help bridge the digital divide.

    Iddrisu said Ghana had an enabling environment for both legal and regulatory provisions to facilitate the safety and security of businesses. He expressed the hope that Samsung Ghana Limited would provide appreciable corporate social responsibility to address the needs of Ghanaians.

    Brovo Kim, Managing Director of Samsung Ghana, expressed commitment to support government to establish the ICT parks and help develop the communication sector in general. He said management had rolled out a programme to identify and harness the talents of young Ghanaian consumers and entrepreneurs for development.

  • By 2017, Rwanda intends to distribute half a million laptops to primary school students across the country through the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program. However, as Nkubito Bakuramutsa, Rwanda's OLPC coordinator explains to The Independent's Matthew Stein, the program is expected to revolutionise a lot more than the country's education system.

    Q: What progress has the OLPC program made to date?

    A: In 2008-09 our pilot project started with the distribution of 10,000 laptops. We followed that up with a contact of 100,000 laptops. In 2010 we distributed 65,000 of these to P4, P5 and P6 students in 128 schools. And since this past June, we have been in the midst of distributing the remaining 35,000 laptops in an additional 70 schools.

    Q: What is your ultimate goal?

    We want to reach all one million students between P4 and P6. We have now placed an order for another 60,000 laptops and with the distribution of these we will have reached about 17 percent of the P4-P6 population by June 2012. However, we are currently doing a lot of research on how we can increase these numbers drastically to reach our goal by 2017.

    Q: What's the process of importing OLPC into the schools?

    The first step is to wire all these schools to ensure that they have power plugs in the classroom, and we also add light in the classroom at the same time. So this program is also about improving the infrastructure of the schools. If they're too far from the electricity grid we are using solar panels. The second phase is connecting them to our servers and local area networks, which they can connect to through a wireless local area network that we install as well. Once students access the server, they can download the Rwandan curriculum in its digital form as well as books and other learning material to improve their skills

    Q: How do the students learn to use the computers and its programs?

    A: The teachers have to be at the centre of this transformation. First we selected 150 schools and asked that the headmaster and a teacher of their choice come to Kigali for one week of training. The first two days is spent on how to use the laptops and the other three days on the methodology of teaching the material with a computer. Then they go back and teach other teachers in the school. We then visit each school individually. We spend five days working with the teachers and students and we spare one day of training for the community so that it can understand why we're putting these laptops in the school, the impact it should have on the students and why it's important for Rwanda. We're trying to deploy ICT in such a way that it participate not only in the enhancement of learning but it also contributes to the development of the country.

    Q: Have you encountered any challenges?

    A: There have been some natural consequences: for the student it's a new approach to learn, to access knowledge; for a teacher, teaching with the laptops and digital software becomes more challenging because they are no longer providing the students with content to memorise. Instead, they are trying to enhance the understanding of concepts, so more than memorizing the children focus on innovation and creativity. Inserting technology in school is a fundamental change to classic education. It's not just enabling books to be in a digital format--it's a really new way of learning. We don't want them to repeat just what's on the board. We want them to demonstrate that they've really understood the concept. It's called constructionism--learning by doing.

    Q: Do the laptops belong to the students?

    A: No, it's school property. The students can take the laptops home with them but before we distribute them we add a security feature that allows our server to do a roll call every three weeks to check if the computers are inside the school. If they are not there, the laptops are disabled. Once the students graduate from P6, they leave the laptops behind for the next batch of students.

    Q: The government is now spending more than $200 on each computer. Is this expense really justified given the amount of challenges Rwanda, as a developing country, face?

    A: In Rwanda we are using more and more ICT in our hospitals, airports, for all kinds of infrastructure projects to develop every part of our country. Who are the people that are going to man this infrastructure? Who are the people that are going to integrate or customise this infrastructure to our environment?

    These are the people we are training today. We need them to help us reduce the level of ICT consultancy we require with the outside world. Rwanda can invest in other sectors too, but through OLPC we are increasing our independence from all these external dependencies, which are extremely expensive. We are investing in the future, not in the present. We need all these skills to be brought into Rwanda and primary school is really the foundation. If you are well-trained in primary school then it will be easier to succeed. We want all children in Rwanda to have the same level of understanding and knowledge as a kid from Singapore, Finland or California.

  • Electronics firm Samsung plans to establish a research and development centre focused on planning, design and development of electronics suited to the Kenyan market.

    Samsung Deputy Managing Director Robert Ngeru said the centre will be operational by 2013 and is aimed at practical skills transfer to enable the local talent contribute to product innovation.

    "Our aim is to promote co-operation, innovation and the exchange of new ideas in technology so that our products and technologies continue to respond to the felt needs and conditions of the continent," said Ngeru.

    Ngeru said the firm is using materials, components and solutions to meet the quality, protection and performance needs of the electronics operating in the continent.

    "We have a visionary pillar of developing technology that is built in Africa, for Africa, by Africa to create sustainable opportunities that empower people to live their dreams," added Ngeru.

    Samsung aims to post US$10 billion (Sh93 million) in revenue by 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa with its consumer electronics and mobile products built for the market.

    The firm is focusing on Africa's top 10 economies, which together generate 79 per cent of the continent's wealth and house almost 47 pert cent of the population.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • MTN is opposed to President Museveni's idea of telecoms selling some of their shares to Ugandans through the domestic stock market, according to Sifiso Dabengwa, the group's president and CEO.

    "You go to capital markets for capital reasons not for regulatory reasons. You can have a political view about listing but listing is fundamentally a corporate finance decision,"  Dabengwa said at a news conference in Kampala on Wednesday.

    The MTN group boss was reacting to President Museveni's demand for all telecommunication firms to float shares through the capital markets so as to give Ugandans an opportunity to get a share of their profits.

    The President made the demand in July while meeting members of the ruling National Resistance Movement caucus. Citing South African-owned MTN as an example, President Museveni argued that it is unfair that telecommunication firms are repatriating much of the "abnormal profits" they make.

    Going forward, he said, the mobile companies must declare the amount of money they make in each year so that the government makes regulations like setting threshold amounts they must invest within the country.

    The MTN group earned up to Shs783 billion in profits last year, going by the 1 per cent (Shs7.8 billion) contribution that the firm contributed to the Uganda Communications Commission, the industry regulator.

    All telecoms are required by law to contribute 1 per cent of their profits to the Rural Communication Development Fund, to finance the development of communication in rural areas.

    MTN is the most profitable telecom of all the major five telecoms including; Airtel, Uganda Telecom Limited, Orange and Smile Telecom. MTN supports the principle of spreading out shareholding of the firm but is opposed to the way the government wants it to be done.

    "That principle we support. But how you do it, I don't believe it should be regulated by the industry regulator. The regulator should concentrate on regulating the industry and not how we fund the business."

    However, MTN is open to options like the acquisition of its shares by institutions such as the National Social Security Fund. According to Mr, the MTN Group discusses the issue of listing its subsidiaries on annual basis looking at various markets.

    According to Mr The key issues the firm looks at are the financial benefit of listing its shares in the market, whether the locals have the ability to take up the shares and if the domestic stock market is vibrant and effective.

    "It's an ongoing discussion and an on-going debate that we will always be having," he told journalists on his business review meeting.

  • Telkom is still keen to expand its operations elsewhere on the African continent despite the sensational failure of Multi-Links, its Nigerian business, says chairman Lazarus Zim.
    He was speaking at the group’s 2011 annual general meeting of shareholders on Tuesday in Midrand.

    “We need to remain the wholesaler of choice and build a sustainable African business,” Zim says. Just because the group has had “challenges” in Nigeria, doesn’t mean it’s lost interest in seeking opportunities elsewhere on the continent outside its home market of SA. Zim doesn’t say if the group is already considering specific investments.

    “There were expensive and important lessons that we learnt [from Multi-Links],” Zim says. “We are fully committed to building a sustainable, good and profitable African business.”

    Telkom lost more than R7bn through its decision to buy and invest in Multi-Links, which operates a CDMA (code division multiple access) wireless network in Nigeria. Multi-Links was brought to its knees through a combination of bad management decisions and investment in the wrong technology — the West African nation is dominated by operators that use the competing GSM technology.

    Telkom reached an agreement recently to sell Multi-Links to an affiliate company of Helios Towers Nigeria for US$10m, “which may increase depending on the achievement of certain conditions”. 

  • In this interview with Vanguard Hi-Tech, the Managing Director, Terminal, West Africa of Huawei Technologies Co. Nigeria Limited unfolded the company’s plans for the market.

    Q: How long have you been in the Nigerian market?

    A: My name is Jacky Lee, the Managing Director, Terminal, West Africa of Huawei Technologies Co. Nigeria Limited. This is my third year in Nigeria. We have been here for ten years doing business with the operators.

    We started manufacturing mobile phones in 2003 and we came to Nigeria in 2005. We are the biggest vendor to MTN, Etisalat, Airtel, Globacom, Visafone and Starcomms.

    We have established end-to-end advantages in telecom networks, devices and cloud computing. We are committed to creating maximum value for telecom operators, enterprises and consumers by providing competitive solutions and services. Our products and solutions have been deployed in over 140 countries, serving more than one third of the world’s population

    Q: Do you have after sales support?

    Yes, we have after sales supports here. We have trained engineers working in-house to take care of after sales support. We are committed to introducing our customer-satisfaction-centered service to the telecom market of Nigeria. Huawei has been recognized for its quality products, professional after-sales service, and comprehensive business support. We are offering warranty on our products in such a way no brand has done before to give authencity to the devices that we manufacture.

    Q: There are other competing brands in the market. What edge do Huawei devices have against other brands to stay in the market?

    A: Huawei devices are crafted with precision, and offered at very affordable prices. What the rich enjoy in smart devices at high cost/ prices, same features and services are what we are taking to all and sundry at affordable prices too. All our products are innovative, and designed to meet their various needs.

    Q: What are the products to be unveiled in the open market this September?

    A: The products to be unveiled in this market will demonstrate Huawei’s commitment to providing Nigerian consumers with innovative yet affordable devices. We will be introducing our entry level phones, feature phones, QWERTY phones, and Android smart phones, broadband modems, fixed wireless terminal, Internet Tablets, among others.

    Q: Five years down the line, what are your expansion and marketing plans?

    A: Huawei announced the company’s intention to be one of the top three handset vendors worldwide by 2015. We will embark on a marketing campaign to create the Brand awareness that is needed to create the buzz around the brand.

    Benefiting from the rising popularity of Android, we will compete with other OEMs who use the operating system. Huawei’s push into the Nigerian open market marks the company’s biggest step into the world of mobile devices in West African sub-region.

    Q: What are the plans put in place to achieve this?

    A: That is why our products are designed to offer a solution that meets the needs of mobile phone users. We are currently in discussion with our customers and partners. We have innovative products that appeal to every market

    Q: Computer Village is the largest ICT market in the West African sub-region. Any plans to be there?

    A: Yes. No OEM Brand can exist in Nigeria without playing the game at Computer village. Through our distributor, we will reach all mobile phone dealers not only in computer village, but Pan Nigeria. The market which has been the toast of international vendors is very important to us.

    Q: What about prices of your devices? Are you targeting specific consumers or wide range of consumers?

    A: We are targeting all mobile phone users from entry level to mid range level and the premium level. Huawei’s vision is to enrich life through communication. The products we will be unveiling will show our commitment to providing Nigerian consumers with innovative yet affordable devices.

    By leveraging our experience and expertise in the ICT sector, we help bridge the digital divide by providing opportunities to enjoy broadband services, regardless of geographic location.

    Contributing to the sustainable development of the society, economy, and the environment, Huawei creates green solutions that enable customers to reduce power consumption, carbon emissions and resource costs.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - At a media demonstration of its soon to-be-launched 3G network, Zamtel Managing Director Hans Paulsen said that it would lay and switch on 185 3G mobile sites along the line of rail and another 485 sites of 2.5G network across the country to eat into the market that it was not servicing with advanced network.

    - Nigeria’s CDMA operator, Visafone said that plans are underway for it to deploy additional 200 new retail outlets across the six geopolitical zones of the country to bring its services nearer to the people.

    - Kenneth Oyolla, the Nokia general manager for East and Southern Africa, said that 30 per cent of all mobile phones sold in Uganda are counterfeits, compared to 10 per cent in Kenya. Nokia, he said losses about $15 million monthly in the Kenyan market while the figure is higher in Uganda and Tanzania. "Counterfeits are putting a lot of pressure on our sales," Mr Oyolla said. For instance, a genuine Nokia E71 costs $230 while the counterfeited one goes for about $50.

    - Nigeria’s mobile operator, Globacom has launched a new dynamic tariff plan that offers discounts to subscribers anytime, anywhere across the country. Glo Flexi, the new tariff plan offers up to 99 per cent discount on calls made, depending on the time of day and geographical location of the subscriber. Glo’s dynamic pricing scheme will compete with market leader MTN Zone product.

    - LG Electronics (LG) has unveiled its new Android Smartphone, LG Optimus Black into the Kenyan market. According to George Mudhune, LG Regional Marketing Manager, East and Central Africa the P970 LG Optimus Black is now trading at Ksh.40,000 (US$439) and available in all major shop outlets across Kenya.

    - South Africa’s third cellular network operator Virgin Mobile says low data tariffs and voice calls charges were not sustainable and warned charges would rise. Responding to questions, Virgin Mobile Chief Strategist and Marketing Officer, Jonathan Newman, said that the current low voice call and data tariffs were a result of promotional competition among mobile companies, arguing that prices would go up soon.

Digital Content

  • Mi-Fone, one of Africa's fastest growing mobile device brands, has done it again. Listening to their target audience and keeping up with demand, Mi-Fone has released a range of low-cost, high quality Android phones, retailing from as little as sub $80

    Mi-Fone's range of stylish and affordable Android phones includes the Mi-A100, the Mi-A150, the Mi-A160, the Mi-A350 and the Mi-A300 . The company has gone further to offer various form and specification factors in terms of Touchscreen and Qwerty Touchscreen versions for both EDGE networks and full 3G HSDPA networks.

    In addition all Mi-Fone Android handsets will come pre- embedded with Opera Mini browsers as well as the innovative Mi-Apps portal offering users the best of local and international applications and content.

    The introduction of the Android phone is in line with Mi-Fone's strategy of developing affordable, world class mobile devices for the aspirational market who want the latest technology without the exorbitant price tags.

    Says Alpesh Patel, CEO of Mi-Fone: "Our new low cost range of Android phones will enable our African consumers to achieve higher levels of productivity simply by having a more efficient user experience in terms of Hardware technology coupled with the Android operating system." Patel adds: "Right now in Africa, Mi-Fone caters for the ultra low cost 2G featurephone market and with the Android Edge/3G additions we believe we add an extra dimension to ensuring we deliver the ultimate mass market user experience."

    Mi-Fone's full Android Range will be available from September onwards at select retail stores in countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria and Tanzania to name a few.

  • South Africa's mobile phone consumers are overwhelmingly loyal to their network providers, with 95 percent having been with their current provider for an average of 4.2 years.

    What's more, 81 percent said they recommend their network providers to friends and family, reinforcing the importance of word-of-mouth and reputation in the mobile industry. These and other findings were released today as part of Nielsen's inaugural Mobile Insights syndicated study in South Africa, which examined consumers' usage of and attitudes towards mobile phones, networks and services.

    While they may be inclined to remain loyal, a quarter of subscribers indicated that they could switch from pre-paid to contract packages within the next year. More than one quarter (27%) said they left their previous provider due to poor network quality. Subscribers across all four of the major networks were generally content with staying with them, although those using Virgin Mobile were happiest.

    "The mobile market continues to morph into an increasingly complex ecosystem of voice, text, video, Internet, games, applications and audio, and it is critical for industry players to have access to independent metrics to analyse and respond to the new, 'always connected' consumer," said Jan Hutton, Director Telecoms, Nielsen Southern Africa.

    Nokia is the handset brand of choice for more than half (52%) of respondents, followed by Samsung and Blackberry. Even those subscribers (56%) who currently use other brands said that a Nokia handset is likely to be their next purchase.

    Today's smartphones and feature phones offer users a range of functions. When asked about the mobile media services accessed from the devices, the majority (21%) said they download ringtones and almost an equal number (20%) download music tracks. The balance of subscribers said they download wallpapers, screensavers and pictures. A very small percentage stream online radio or watch video mobile TV.

    Accessing the Internet from mobiles is also picking up steam, with 11 percent of respondents having done so. The highest mobile internet usage recorded among consumers aged 25-34 years old with 35-44 year olds coming in a close second. The youth group of 19-24 years of age, who are growing up with the internet, spend a number of hours online per week. One-quarter of those surveyed in LSM 8-10 said they browse the Internet while just 6 percent of those in LSM 1-5 have done so.

    It is interesting to note 69 percent of men and women prefer sending SMS/texts as it is cheaper than calling and 10 percent firmly believe it is faster to text than call.

    Spaza store is the most popular channel for consumers to buy mobile "air time", followed by Supermarkets/Grocers. Facebook is the most popular social media platform used by mobile phone subscribers (85%), followed by MXIT (61%). 21% of people aware of mobile banking make use of these services.

    With Cell C, MTN and Vodacom, the majority of subscribers consider price to be the most important driver, whereas with Virgin Mobile, customer service is the driver
    "These and the other findings present a comprehensive benchmark against which we can measure the changes occurring in the rapidly evolving telecom sector going forward. It's the only survey of its kind in the country that provides a 360 degree view of the sector in terms of what services consumers are using, how they feel about their network providers and handset manufacturers. Furthermore, in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association, we are [among] the first to gauge the effectiveness of mobile advertising and providing marketers with accurate data and insight with respect to ROI in this medium," said Hutton.

    To ensure alignment of the study, Nielsen weighted up the findings against universe proportions using AMPS. The sample size was 2,000 respondents, with quotas based on age, gender and all LSM levels across each metropolitan area in South Africa. The survey was conducted in urban South Africa through a Computer Aided Personal Interview (CAPI) and was scientifically weighted to be representative of the South African population, having a maximum margin of error of 2.19%, resulting in it being a very close reflection of actual events.

More

  • ­The government of Swaziland has sacked the entire Board of Directors at the state-owned telco/regulator, the Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC). Although no reason was given by the Minister of Information Communications and Technology, Nelisiwe Shongwe, the decision comes a week after the Prime Minister accused the company of being run by a criminal cartel.

    - Industry veteran Mark Simpson has been named the new CEO of undersea cable firm Seacom. The appointment will come into effect on 5 September, with Brian Herlihy taking on the new role of strategic director.

    - Acer named Lilia Wang as the chief financial officer for the company's operation in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

  • TDR Deputy PM / Database Manager – Rwanda
    Pact is a non-profit international development organization with a purpose to enable poor and marginalized people in the developing world to earn a dignified living, be healthy, and take part in the benefits that nature provides. We do this by developing people’s capacity to make informed choices about their life and future, improving governance systems, and transforming markets into a force for development.

    Roles and Responsibilities:
    Description: Under the supervision of the Pact Project Manager, the Deputy Project Manager / Database Manager is responsible for leading the management of project data for iTSCi Rwanda, and in the absence of Project Manager, he will manage the administrative, financial and programmatic aspects of the project. As such, the Database Manager will assist the Project Manager by providing technical assistance to any project team and ensure their ability to fulfill their role. She/he will help in checking the accuracy of reporting sites, including the monitoring of all the dynamics relating to mining in the country, as well as issues working with various stakeholders.
    He will be based in Kigali and will work throughout the country
    Role and Responsibilities:
    Database Manager:
    • Ensure quick and accurate recording of data in the database.
    • Keeping pace with data collection through the "log books" of mines, traders and trading posts, and immediately address all questions to the Project Manager
    • The manager of the database will work closely with other team members (including staff ITRI) to ensure that appropriate and effective system of data collection is being and maintained.
    • Identify and report all data missing or fraudulent
    • Produce regular reports by using the tools of data analysis in the existing database.
    • Recommend changes or improvements to the design or operation of the database if necessary.
    • Attend and participate in the training of staffs of OGMR if necessary, to ensure that the data are clearly and properly recorded in the log books. The manager of the database must comment on and recommend improvements to the system if necessary.
    Deputy Project Manager:
    In the absence or at the request of Project Manager
    • To be the focal point for contact with the authorities, counters, offices and other stakeholders involved in the project
    • Ensure compliance with work plans and timing for submission of internal and external reports
    • Work with all stakeholders in the supply chain (artisanal miners, merchants, counters, OGMR, government) to ensure proper understanding of their roles in the success of the project.
    • Identify opportunities for ITRI to improve contacts and engagement with stakeholders
    • Participate in key meetings related to the project,
    Of Administrative and Financial Management
    • Manage the daily administration office in Kigali
    • Strengthen the programmatic needs, administrative and financial project
    • Enforce policies and procedures of decision making related to management;
    • Supervise direct field geologists, the accounting and ensure that other staffs perform their role properly,
    • Be responsible for all office supplies, maintenance and equipment inventory
    • Standardize the management and use of vehicles and motorbikes of the project, checking planning needs fuel and maintenance, while giving priority to field teams
    • Allow office expenses on the basis of approved Work Plan
    • Coordinated withdrawals of funds and payments of taxes
    • To manage the safety, health and emergencies on land urgently informing the Program Manager for major cases.

    Reports
    Monthly reports on or before the 25th of each month to send to the Program Manager, report included:
    • Narrative Report of project progress based on the work plan,
    • Financial Reports
    • Problems, needs, success stories, and next steps,
    • Report of circumstances (in any event not ordinary)

    Qualifications:
    qualification in computer science

    Education and Experience Requirements:
    previous experience required
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Mi-Fone and Opera - Africa
    Mi-Fone and Opera Software have partnered. The agreement will see all data capable Mi-Fones pre installed with the Opera Mini browser. Mi- Fone is one of Africa’s fastest growing mobile device brands. In only three years, more than one million of the company’s handsets have been sold. Mi-Fone has developed strategic partnerships with respected distributors and GSM carriers to ensure continent-wide availability of its devices. Already, selected handsets with Opera Mini preloaded have been distributed into key markets including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya.  Mi-Fone is planning to increase the availability of its devices during the December and January holidays in all key markets.

  • Nigeria Com
    20 - 21 September, 2011, Lagos, Nigeria

    The 2nd annual Nigeria Com returns to Lagos. Gain unique market perspectives and insights from a 40 strong speaker-line up including 25+ Operator leaders. The 2 day agenda equips you to capitalise on new networks and services, while the 60 stand networking exhibition will showcase the world’s foremost technology and solutions available for your business. With 700+ attendees, if you do telecoms business in the region, this is an event you cannot afford to miss!
    For more information visit here:

    Mozambique National ICT Congress
    5-6 October 2011, Centro Internacional de Conferencia Joaquim Chissano, Maputo

    Held under the auspices of the Mozambique Ministry of Science & Technology and organised by AITEC Africa, this is the annual gathering of Mozambique’s rapidly growing ICT community, with a two-day conference and industry expo. Users and vendors of ICT systems and solutions will be sharing challenges, knowledge and ideas in the stimulating conference programme, with high-level local and international speakers. There is simultaneous translation between English and Portuguese to facilitate international participation. The event will also include the second annual National Communications Roundtable, providing operators, ISPs, users and service providers with an opportunity to discuss the country’s national communications strategy with the regulator. For the full programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    North Africa Com
    11 - 12 October, 2011, Tunis, Tunisia

    Now in its 6th year, the ONLY conference and exhibition dedicated to the North African telecoms market moves to Tunisia to address the dynamic French-speaking markets.
    The expanded conference agenda is now in development and will feature a host of new topics led by a speaker panel featuring some of North Africa's leading telcos.  Contact us today to apply to speak in the conference, or reserve your sponsorship or exhibition package.
    Be one of the first to see the 2011 agenda and sign up for your copy.
    For more information visit here:

    CDN World Summit 2011
    26 - 28 October 2011, Hilton Hotel Paddington, London.

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most
    comprehensive CDN event ever.The full value chain is represented including content providers,broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information visit here:

    Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    29 October to 01 November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya.

    For more informtion visit here:

    Africa Com
    9 - 10 November, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    Join 5,000 of Africa’s leading telcos in Cape Town this November for what is set to be the biggest and best AfricaCom yet.  The conference agenda has doubled to incorporate a record 150+ speakers presenting across 4 strategic keynotes, 11 in-depth focus sessions and 2 co-located events – AfricaCast and Enterprise ICT Africa.  What’s more 250+ international solutions providers will be showcasing their latest products in the networking exhibition.
    For more information visit here:

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9–11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who’s who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here: or contact Vivian at vivian.ho@olygen.com

    AITEC East Africa East Africa Summit
    2-3 November, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    East Africa has become one of the fastest growing ICT investment markets and the region’s ICT Summit it designed as the region’s forum to bring together users and vendors of ICT technology in a stimulating educational and business networking environment. The 2011 Summit programme will focus on the following themes:
    •    Data Security
    •    Mobile Apps
    •    Cloud Computing
    For the conference programme, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011, Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2

    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

    AfriHealth
    30 November – 1 December 2011, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    The leading continental forum on e-health, m-health, health management systems and capacity development. AfriHealth 2011 will focus on current research, development and implementation of ICT technology and resources in the African Healthcare arena. A key objective of the conference, now in its fourth year, will be to share knowledge and experience from practical mobilization of ICT-based healthcare systems and projects, to showcase best practice through practical case studies and highlight potential for scaling up success stories at national and regional levels. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money COMESA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Now in its sixth year, this has become the leading educational, networking and marketing event for Eastern and Southern Africa’s financial services sector. In addition to the conference’s established intensive education programme covering core banking, mobile money and microfinance topics (over 100 speakers in 2011). For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    InsureAFRICA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Insurers seeking effective performance in service delivery, cost reduction and profit levels need to embrace technology, viewing it not as a support function but as a key enabler of competitive advantage at all levels of operation. InsureAFRICA is the first specialised conference for the African insurance and pensions industry to evaluate the systems and innovative channels needed to compete and thrive in a rapidly expanding industry. With the theme “Effective management strategies and systems for a new era of expansion and inclusion”, the conference will be the continent’s first forum to gather knowledge and experience for a rapidly growing industry. For the Call for Papers, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012
    14 - 15 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012 will bring together industry experts and representatives from leading financial institutions, mobile operators and solutions providers to provide a strategic insight into mobile VAS while exploring collaborative business models, innovative applications, technologies and straegies. For more information visit here:

    Roaming & Interconnect
    16 - 17 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    RIC Africa 2012 will uncover new strategies to boost roaming traffic and retain existing roamers. During the conference we will look at the innovative roaming solutions and pricing, supplementing roaming with alternative revenue streams, the latest EU regulations and their impact on operations in Africa, as well as the importance of hubbing and convergence.  For more information please visit here:

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa
    6 June 2012, Accra International Conference Centre

    Now in its fifth year, the conference will cover a wide range of strategic and technology topics to empower West Africa’s banking, microfinance and insurance professionals with the knowledge they need to lead their organisation effectively through the turbulent market and regulatory conditions they face. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

Issue no 570 2nd September 2011

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Top story

  • Last week’s Mobile Entertainment World in Cape Town began to crystallize the beginning of successful, business-worthy African online content. It bought together a handful of mobile operators, mobile platform operators and content companies offering things as diverse as music, gaming and Nollywood. Russell Southwood picks over the lessons from this emerging content market.

    It’s a hazard of doing what we do that we attend (and sometimes even programme) conferences. The standard pattern is that everyone senior turns up for the first half day to network and by the end of the conference you’re left with a handful of people listening to ever-less compelling presentations. Speakers make seemingly endless speeches promoting whatever it is they’re selling to audiences in low-lit rooms at too greater length. Interaction comes down to a couple of questions at each session.

    Hats off to Matthew Dawes of All Amber who manages to combine really interesting programmes with entertaining panelists who actually say things that might make you think about what you do with your business. At last week’s event, many of them were very funny about the failures they endured along the way and some were even honest enough to say that they hadn’t entirely worked out how to make money out of something (for example, mobile TV). And the real test was that on day 2 there were as many participants as there were on day one. Furthermore, it was a conference in South Africa that managed to talk about Africa rather than just about South Africa.

    The first Mobile Entertainment World conference in Cape Town last week bought together all of the people who need to be doing business together if there is to be an online content and services sector in Africa: media owners; mobile platform operators; services and social networking sites; gaming companies; and….well, there were two mobile companies, more of which, later. There was even the less attractive side of the industry represented by an adult chat service.

    Out of this interesting mixture of people came the first sight of a content industry that might both command an audience and get paid for doing it. The stand-out amongst all of these was Nigeria’s Iroko Partners (see video interview link below). It has hit upon a way of distributing Nollywood content legally (over 800 movies), making money and giving some of that money back to the artists who made it. In under a year it has generated around US$1 million in advertising revenues from 2.2 million views and is now expanding into offering music video clips on the same basis.

    It has attracted 2.2 million unique viewers and 16 million views from 231 countries and all without any marketing. 20% of traffic is from mobiles and 60% of search enquiries come from mobiles in Nigeria. The really telling statistic is that the 6th biggest market is Malaysia and 11th biggest is Nigeria (around 30,000 unique views). With better bandwidth, viewer numbers will inevitably increase in the home of Nollywood.

    94% of the advertising income comes from 5 countries with the big markets including USA, UK and Canada. Almost all of these views (even in Malaysia) are from the widely distributed Nigerian diaspora. The biggest movie is Blackberry Babes which is a 60 minute movie that has had 900,000 views: “Blackberry didn’t even know it had been made.”

    Njoku noticed that there were a lot of e-mails asking for Genevieve Nnaji movies. She is now so famous that she is only makes a couple of films a year. So he put out a call to producers and directors for Nnaji movies. Within a week, he was running a season of movies with two new movies a day, which was very successful:”Only the Internet could have that kind of immediacy.”

    His next project is expanding into Nigerian music video clips:”The music entertainment space in Nigeria is an absolute mess. One song can be uploaded as many as 20 times. Music sales cannot be verified. We can do that on You Tube (with views). We can tap into a global audience and give money back to the artists. He has signed 40 artists (so far including  El Dee, Kefee, P Square and Bez) and has plans to sign 100 more.

    According to Ayite Gaba, Business Development, Google who is responsible for developing You Tube partners in Sub-Saharan Africa, the advertising income paid to African partners varies between US$10,000-US$1 million:”Views and revenues are largely coming from outside Africa at the moment and we have no sales offices (for You Tube) in Africa at the moment.”

    However, those that want to prepare themselves for the future (let’s call that the next three years) need to start positioning themselves now. If we use Facebook as proxy for Internet users in Nigeria, only 30,000 of 2.9 million people currently view movies on Iroko but within the next 1-3 years bandwidth will improve to the point where the numbers will go up to at least a million. With better 3G and LTE not far off, many of those will view music clips on their mobile phones (feature and smart).

    But there were other interesting green shoots offering new ways of connecting with audiences:

    *    Julian Van Plato, CEO, Trans Digital Media
    was live streaming the conference content both to PCs and mobiles. An event with around 150 people – a small number of whom were tweeting- soon attracted 700 streams for what was a fairly specialist subject. For a relatively small sum it can live stream to 95% of mobile phones (and VOD if required) but better still, it can deliver this stream into a large number of Sub-Saharan African countries. It is currently working on sports events, music and comedy club nights and has signed a deal with Congolese music star Fally Ipupa who currently gets 300,000-1.5 million hits for his music videos. Interestingly, he sees himself as potentially competing with television. The business model? Sponsorship or charging for large, well-promoted events.

    *    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza hit on the idea of training people in Khayelitsha township to make movies using a Nokia N8 with an HD camera. She showed a variety of clips including one about the consequences of a rape, the daily train commute, mobile TV news and a cooking programme. The latter was not for the faint-hearted as a sheep’s head was cleaned up with a blowtorch and cooked split in half, braai-style. In the pilot phase of what Kaye describes as a “mobihood”, it attracted 40,000 subscribers in three months and 170,000 by the end of the pilot period with just word of mouth. So what? Well it goes to show that there are large numbers of Africans (formerly known as viewers) out there who do not see their lives reflected in the more mainstream media.

    *    A number of people spoke about IVR radio including Starfish Mobile. The phone owner dials in to a short code and is offered a menu of musical genres. S/he chooses a genre and then chooses a track and gets to hear 90 seconds before being asked to pay. The service is already being offered by Vodacom Tanzania and in the “you do it, I do it:dog eat dog world”, MTN is about to follow suit with others trailing behind. Many handsets already have built in radios (and some Free-To-Air analogue TV receivers) that local radio stations need to include as part of their strategy to get listeners.

    *    Vincent Maher, Co-Founder, Motribe and Gavin Marshall, Head of Innovation, MXit,
    spoke about trying to understand what audiences wanted in terms of specialist social communities and gaming. The former produces social networking sites globally with names like Moonbase (320,000 users) and Cabango (280,000 users) and has 3,500 tribes with 1.6 million users. Interestingly, South Africa is only its 8th biggest market with 75,000 users but it’s big in Nigeria where it does work for Guinness.

    African mobile operators at local opco level are inclined to say that local content is not out there and when it is, the owners are difficult to deal with. Translation: We don’t really understand the content market on our doorstep and the income splits we’re offering do not encourage things that attract major audiences on other media. The key players in this new African content ecology are the continent’s film-makers, broadcasters, gamers, music stars, local niche social communities and local niche content producers (think hundreds of thousands rather than millions).

    The most successful existing local African online content is newspapers. The sites of print newspapers are up in the top 20 of all the African countries covered by Alexa.com. However, one East African newspaper gets 30,000 print readers but 2 million local online users. Even if you assume optimistically that 10 people read each paid copy, the online version still outstrips the print version. A relatively small number of people pay for the print version and it attracts 97% of the advertising revenues. This cannot last as advertisers wake up to the shift that is underway. Meanwhile few media owners have yet begun to craft a strategy to help them survive this transition.

    But as Mark Rayner, CEO, DStv Mobile observed that the upward suck of bandwidth required to use this content will continue to grow:”LTE will come and make the lives of content owners vastly different. But the new bandwidth will bring more demands like HD. So we will still need to be fighting for bandwidth and fighting for it at the right price.” Mobile operators have networks that started as narrow pipes but the future is content and services that require an ever increasing capacity for data. Rayner explained that its 3G live feed of the British Royal wedding crashed because too many people accessed it at once. Mobile operators have to provision a network where this does not occur if they are serious about a content-rich future.

    And they will also have to do something about the revenue splits. At present one operator is offering 80/20 in its favour: this is no way breed a local content ecosystem. Furthermore, the complicated chain of people who take percentages mean that the current minimum price possible is probably higher than is affordable by a mass audience. And in this the mobile operators are not the only guilty party. Music and film rights holders (particularly international ones) do not understand that what they are demanding will cut off the development of the market before it starts. (Puts me in mind of a Spike Lee aphorism:”A US$50 million Hollywood movie is a US$10 million movie once everybody got through stealing.”)

    But what do you do about the mobile operators who don’t seem to care about the very content on which their future revenues hang? I’ve attended three of Matthew Dawes conferences and the number of mobile operators attending can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Sadly the VAS Managers are not at senior management level in the country opco’s. There are some exceptional VAS managers but they are in the minority. There are endless millions in investment for network but more or less nothing for content development.

    In content terms, mobile operators have to decide whether to stick or twist: they can do either but they should choose decisively rather than saying our indecision is final. The ghost haunting this discussion is that the vastly over-charged SMS service revenues will be eaten at the edges by cheaper services used in the data bundle.(Note the Skype acquisition of GroupMe.)

    The “get into content” route is the setting up of an opco that lives on its own revenues in which you invest real money that removes the SMS aggregator from an already over-crowded value chain. The “stay-out of content” route is to give better revenue splits and encourage the take-up of local content. There’s nothing wring with being “dumb-pipe” operators if you make a decent return and perhaps someone should make the T-shirt that says so. Build decent networks and get paid for doing so.

    The problem is the testosterone-driven, “masters of the universe” view that Africa’s mobile operators should go round eating everyone else’s lunch on the precautionary principle that someone might eat theirs in the near future. But who else in Africa is going to build properly functioning networks and charge for them?



    New video clips on Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel:


    Jason Njoku, CEO, Iroko Partners
    on distributing Nollywood and Nigerian Music using You Tube

    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza
    on South African townships creating their own online content

    Julian VanPlato, CEO, Trans Digital Media on a new live streaming mobile service for Africa

    Sami Leino, COO, Spinlet on the launch of an "iTunes" for Africa

    Ofer Ronen, Business Development Director - Broadcast, Gilat Satcom on its move into African broadcast services

    South Africa: Styli Charalambous, Managing Director, The Daily Maverick on its new iPad subscription service

    Steve Vosloo, mLabs
    on supporting mobile innovation in South Africa

    Arun Nagar, CEO, Spice VAS Africa on launching its African platforms and live streaming

    Robert Aouad, CEO Isocel Benin on opening a carrier-neutral data centre in Benin

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

telecoms

  • After Globacom was handed the license to operate as the fifth telecoms company in the Ghanaian market for a fee of $50 million, there was an unavailability of spectrum for the Nigerian company to start operations in Ghana, says Ghana’s Minister of Communications. Yes, you read that correctly: Glo was give a licence for which the spectrum to deliver it was not available.

    In addition to this, the review of regime guidelines for the citing of telecoms cell sites by Ghanaian authorities for the purpose of assurance on structural integrity of masts also affected the early deployment of Glo.

    Haruna Iddrisu attributed these reasons to why the telecoms company, owned by Mike Adenuga, Nigeria’s second richest person according to Forbes Magazine could not start operations in Ghana as expected.

    According to the Minister, at the time Glo was issued a license August 2008 to operate in Ghana for a fee in the region of $50 million, the spectrum available for use by Glo was unavailable. “Glo was licensed August 2008 and again at the time that Glo was issued a license for a fee in the region of $50 million. The spectrum for Glo was unavailable on the 1900 megahertz,” he revealed in an interview on TV Africa’s Bare Facts last Tuesday August 23, 2011 which was monitored by ghanabusinessnews.com.

    According to Iddrisu, the Bureau of National Communications (BNC) and the National Security who were using the spectrum were moved unto another megahertz. “…Now what we have to do upon assuming office in 2009 is to facilitate a migration of the Bureau of National Communications (BNC) who were sitting on that spectrum and we have to move National Security and BNC into the 450 megahertz in order to free the spectrum for the use of Glo,” Iddrisu told the host of the show.

    The Minister indicated that Sherry Ayittey, Minister for Environment, Science and Technology wanted some assurance on the structural integrity of the telecom masts to have some sanity in the environment hence the need to review the regime of guidelines of these citing which eventually affected the immediate deployment of Glo.

    Happily by the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, Glo had at least up to a thousand cell sites approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Iddrisu said adding “I know another operator in the industry who does have less cell sites.” Their challenges have to do with the cell sites, he added.

    He also disclosed on the show that the National Communications Authority (NCA) at one time wrote to Glo as to when they will start operations in Ghana but a definite answer was not given.

    “The regulator wrote to them in March 2011 and they responded in April but were not definite in terms of when they will launch. I’m sure it’s just their marketing strategy. They want to penetrate the Ghanaian market well.” But Ghanaian authorities have given some policy directives that between September 15 and October 15, 2011, Glo must show physical presence or face appropriate sanctions.

  • Pieter Uys, Vodacom CEO, has announced that Vodacom will be providing a mobile app store to consumers in September 2011. The announcement came after an extensive inquiry into the local mobile app ecosystem through a multi-phased market research project conducted by Columinate. Vodacom shared the results of the Columinate research with industry stakeholders at a special event held at the Melrose Arch Hotel in Johannesburg on Friday, 26 August.

    On Friday, 26 August, Columinate and Vodacom hosted a special breakfast event to share the findings from a multi-phased research inquiry into the local mobile app ecosystem.

    Pieter Uys, Vodacom CEO, announced that he was so excited about Columinate's research that he wanted to share it with the world. Before sharing the results, Uys spoke briefly about Vodacom's intentions for the mobile app ecosystem in South Africa, and went on to announce the launch of Vodacom's app store in September 2011.

    Thereafter, Henk Pretorius, Columinate director, presented the findings from the market research. This represented a collation of the multi-phased project conducted by Columinate which looked at how industry experts and stakeholders, as well as developers and consumers of apps, felt about the local ecosystem and its possibilities.

    Overall, 11 industry professionals, 407 smartphone owners who have downloaded apps in the past 6 months, and 35 developers took part in the research. The research was also preceded and continuously checked against an in-depth desk research phase that looked at international nuances compared to those evident in the local ecosystem.

    One finding in the report suggests that networks are considered to be in a favourable position to act as enablers, as they have the ability to drive app demand, interact with consumers and provide a gateway for developers to get their apps to the market. This finding can be linked to Uys's statement that, "The launch of this app store is just the beginning. We're building an entire community that will supply home-grown apps relevant to the South African environment. With all the talent available in this country, there's no reason why we can't create our own application industry."

    According to Elna Smit, Columinate director, "The research presented a challenge for Columinate as it was the first of its kind in South Africa. There are no formal or public sources that have looked at the apps ecosystem locally, and we had to take an innovative and fresh perspective to provide Vodacom with the insight needed”.

    “The approach was a 360 degree view of the ecosystem and, from a researcher's point of view, the opportunity to do this depth of research was very rewarding." She also added, "Vodacom's willingness to openly share the market research findings, something that is rarely done, represents a move that challenges all players in the industry to work together in order to nurture, enable and develop the local app ecosystem. "


    Vodacom’s announcement about launching an apps store follows a similar announcement in July by Zantel about the rollout of  Blackberry powered apps store. Mobile operators Orange and Tunisiana have already launched apps stores in Tunisia. The pace of launching apps store in Africa is picking up and if you need to know more to what extent mobile applications will play a role in the development of mobile content on the continent, you need to read the recently published report by Balancing Act: “Mobile apps for Africa: Strategies to make sense of free and paid apps”. The report analyses the nascent apps ecosystem in Africa while providing an analytical framework that will allow African mobile operators, content providers, apps developers and handset manufacturers to decide on what strategy to adopt regarding mobile apps. To find out more about the report please click here:

  • Ethiopian Electric Power Cooperation (EEPCo) and ethio-telecom, which reported losses of US$4.2 million and US$3.6 million, respectively, due to theft and intentional damages on their infrastructure this year, appealed to Ministry of Justice (MoJ) for stringent legal measures on those accused of committing these acts.

    The two institutions presented the reported loss they had incurred during the second Joint National Justice Forum held at Haile Resort in Hawassa, 273km from the capital in Southern Regional State, last weekend. They appealed to judges of the Supreme Court as well as Tegene Getaneh, president of the Supreme Court, for a speedy and severe sentencing on those proclaimed guilty of the act of committing these offences.

    Out of this loss, 28 million Br was due to cutting and theft of fibre optic cables. Another 53 million Br was spent on maintaining and repairing these damages.

    "Since the damage that occurs doesn't affect just one institution, the punishment should also be severe," Abdurahim said. "So far, none of the punishments levied on offenders has been enough of a deterrent."

    The state owned ethio-telecom alone lost 10.6 million Br which it would have gained had data traffic not been interrupted due to cuttings of fibre optic cables. In the past two months, 23 telecom lines were damaged and service disruption had occurred 46 times of which 15 were due to intentional cutting of the optic cables.

    It used to be that this frequency of theft would happen in a year, which shows the increase in these intentional acts, according to Abdurahim. Both institutions appealed to the prosecutors and relevant officials in the MoJ to charge offenders using the more stringent proclamation.

  • The final appeal committee of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of South Africa has dismissed a last attempt by Cell C to have a ruling that the "4Gs" term it used in its advertising was in breach of the authority's advertising codes overturned. The committee has awarded costs to complainants Vodacom and MTN.

    In a decision handed down by the committee's Mervyn King on Monday, 29 August 2011, it says the appeal is "dismissed with costs, which shall include the costs of counsel on behalf of Vodacom, taxed on the party-and-party basis as if this matter had been heard in the high court".

    The decision is a blow to Cell C, which had initially claimed it had a fourth-generation (4G) mobile network. It later changed its advertising from "4G" to "4Gs", claiming the abbreviation stood for "for great speed" and "for great service".

    Other African countries (particularly Nigeria) have operators who claim to be providing 4G services but are not challenged by any advertising standards body.

internet

  • Facebook Check-in Deals launched in South Africa with Cell C offering two deals to potential customers through the platform Earlier this week Facebook’s official sales partner in South Africa, Habari Media, revealed that it would be launching Facebook Check-in Deals in South Africa today (1 September 2011) with Avis, Chevrolet, and Cell C.

    In a press statement issued today (1 September 2011), Cell C revealed that it would be offering two deals through the platform. Deal 1: R129/month for 24 months with Nokia C3 handset, 100 off-peak minutes per month on Casual Chat 100, 24GB of data (2GB of data per month over 12 months) and a 7.2Mbps USB “speedstick.”

    Deal 2: R99/month for 24 months with Nokia E5 handset, 100 off-peak minutes per month on Casual Chat 100, 7.2Mbps capable Cell C “speedstick” with 3GB of once-off data (valid for 365 days).

    Simon Camerer, Cell C’s Executive Head of Marketing, said that the two deals would be available through Check-in Deals from 1 September 2011 to 30 November 2011 at Cell C stores countrywide.

  • The government has developed an automated system to verify the authenticity of transport vehicle licences, putting the brakes on cartels that have thrived from the sale of counterfeits.

    Supported by mobile phone technology, the system is already on trial among vehicles registered by the Transport Licensing Board (TLB). The registrar of motor vehicles, Francis Meja, said Tuesday that those seeking to confirm the authenticity of their documents can send their licence serial numbers to a short text message (SMS) number 5456.

    The automated system would then provide a feedback on the status of the licence, based on the official records at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). "Response from TLB registered vehicles is fabulous and we hope to launch the system soon and extend it to all categories of vehicles and driving licences," Meja told a meeting in Nairobi between the Transport ministry and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing.

    Transport Minister Amos Kimunya said the new system has triggered a rush among transport vehicle owners seeking authentic documents."In the past one month alone we have received applications for about 200,000 vehicles, which points to the effectiveness of the system," he told the forum.

    Cartels have been reaping from the sale of counterfeit documents such as road and drivers' licences, with motorists acquiring fake driving licences for as little as Sh1,000 without formal training.

    Corruption has been blamed for the high number of accidents on major roads and highways across the country. Meja said all applications would be uploaded into a centralised database to assist in the transition towards the smart-card technology based second generation driving licences. The database already has 2.9 million registered drivers and 1.4 million vehicles. "It will be easier to transfer the information we already have into the digital cards," he said.

  • Eutelsat Communications has announced a 6-year distribution agreement valued at EUR20 million between its Skylogic subsidiary and Egyptsat. The agreement enables Egyptsat to use the new-generation Tooway satellite service to provide broadband services to users beyond reach of terrestrial or wireless networks across Egypt.

    With download speeds of up to 10 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 4 Mbps, Tooway satellite broadband will bring fast, reliable and affordable Internet access for Egyptsat customers in areas with limited alternative solutions for broadband. The Tooway solution consists of a satellite dish and a modem connected to the PC via Ethernet, giving customers Internet access with no need for a telephone line.

    Set up in 2000, Egyptsat is a leading VSAT service provider in the Middle East and Africa. The company is a licensed VSAT operator in Egypt, providing Internet services to oil companies in Egypt and outside of Egypt for offshore locations. Tooway™ will complement the company's product portfolio by offering satellite Internet solutions at competitive prices for small offices and home users in industrial and economic centres in the north of the country who can be served through the KA-SAT spotbeam allocated specifically for Egypt.

    "Tooway is the best fit for Egypt's new era, with Internet users increasing from 21 million to 25.4 million just after the 25th January revolution. With a price comparable to ADSL, Tooway is the passcode for this new era," said Dr. Mohamed Elghamry, CEO of Egyptsat."The service is expected to meet the significant demand in the Egyptian territory and the region, where too many places are in deep need for high speed Internet at reasonable cost".

    Arduino Patacchini, CEO of Skylogic, added: "Tooway is the ideal broadband service to meet the needs of Egyptsat's customers in rural and difficult to reach areas of the region. We are delighted to work with Egyptsat to extend broadband availability, and look forward to building a close and longstanding partnership which contributes to achieving a high-quality broadband environment in Egypt."

    The new-generation Tooway service is provided via Eutelsat's KA-SAT High Throughput Satellite, which went into commercial service in May. With its total capacity of more than 70 Gbps, KA-SAT brings a new era of competitively-priced, satellite-delivered services for homes and small businesses across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. The satellite forms the cornerstone of an infrastructure, which includes eight main satellite gateways connected to the Internet by a fibre backbone ring.

computing

  • Government is expected to spend between $10 to $25 million within the next five years, under the e-school project to procure laptops and desktop computers for schools, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications said on Tuesday.

    He expressed the hope that the project, which was a co-operation between the sector and Ministry of Education, would help demystify the use of computers by Ghanaian children in schools.

    Iddrisu made the disclosure when a five-member delegation from Samsung Ghana Limited paid a courtesy call on him in Accra. He made a “special request” to the delegation to establish a Samsung assembling plant to enable the corporate entity to take advantage of government’s e-project earmarked for 2016.

    Iddrisu said: “Those establishments that would be able to set up plants to assemble phones, laptops and desk top computers would enjoy incentives and other support budget line for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for the purpose of procuring laptops and desk top computers.”

    He called on the delegation to take advantage of some business opportunities that existed in the ICT sector stressing that government was seeking partners to help the country migrate from the analogue radio and television to digital.

    Iddrisu said: “This will give the country some spectrum dividend and also some advantage of improvement in sound and picture quality”. He said other areas of investment included building a secondary data centre in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region to serve the business enclave in the region.

    Iddrisu said as part of government’s effort to address growing unemployment challenges in the country and to provide Information Technology related jobs; it was seeking to partner a business entity to establish two ICT parks slated for Tema and Cape Coast. He called on the delegation to explore business opportunities that existed in rural communities so they could provide solutions to help bridge the digital divide.

    Iddrisu said Ghana had an enabling environment for both legal and regulatory provisions to facilitate the safety and security of businesses. He expressed the hope that Samsung Ghana Limited would provide appreciable corporate social responsibility to address the needs of Ghanaians.

    Brovo Kim, Managing Director of Samsung Ghana, expressed commitment to support government to establish the ICT parks and help develop the communication sector in general. He said management had rolled out a programme to identify and harness the talents of young Ghanaian consumers and entrepreneurs for development.

  • By 2017, Rwanda intends to distribute half a million laptops to primary school students across the country through the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program. However, as Nkubito Bakuramutsa, Rwanda's OLPC coordinator explains to The Independent's Matthew Stein, the program is expected to revolutionise a lot more than the country's education system.

    Q: What progress has the OLPC program made to date?

    A: In 2008-09 our pilot project started with the distribution of 10,000 laptops. We followed that up with a contact of 100,000 laptops. In 2010 we distributed 65,000 of these to P4, P5 and P6 students in 128 schools. And since this past June, we have been in the midst of distributing the remaining 35,000 laptops in an additional 70 schools.

    Q: What is your ultimate goal?

    We want to reach all one million students between P4 and P6. We have now placed an order for another 60,000 laptops and with the distribution of these we will have reached about 17 percent of the P4-P6 population by June 2012. However, we are currently doing a lot of research on how we can increase these numbers drastically to reach our goal by 2017.

    Q: What's the process of importing OLPC into the schools?

    The first step is to wire all these schools to ensure that they have power plugs in the classroom, and we also add light in the classroom at the same time. So this program is also about improving the infrastructure of the schools. If they're too far from the electricity grid we are using solar panels. The second phase is connecting them to our servers and local area networks, which they can connect to through a wireless local area network that we install as well. Once students access the server, they can download the Rwandan curriculum in its digital form as well as books and other learning material to improve their skills

    Q: How do the students learn to use the computers and its programs?

    A: The teachers have to be at the centre of this transformation. First we selected 150 schools and asked that the headmaster and a teacher of their choice come to Kigali for one week of training. The first two days is spent on how to use the laptops and the other three days on the methodology of teaching the material with a computer. Then they go back and teach other teachers in the school. We then visit each school individually. We spend five days working with the teachers and students and we spare one day of training for the community so that it can understand why we're putting these laptops in the school, the impact it should have on the students and why it's important for Rwanda. We're trying to deploy ICT in such a way that it participate not only in the enhancement of learning but it also contributes to the development of the country.

    Q: Have you encountered any challenges?

    A: There have been some natural consequences: for the student it's a new approach to learn, to access knowledge; for a teacher, teaching with the laptops and digital software becomes more challenging because they are no longer providing the students with content to memorise. Instead, they are trying to enhance the understanding of concepts, so more than memorizing the children focus on innovation and creativity. Inserting technology in school is a fundamental change to classic education. It's not just enabling books to be in a digital format--it's a really new way of learning. We don't want them to repeat just what's on the board. We want them to demonstrate that they've really understood the concept. It's called constructionism--learning by doing.

    Q: Do the laptops belong to the students?

    A: No, it's school property. The students can take the laptops home with them but before we distribute them we add a security feature that allows our server to do a roll call every three weeks to check if the computers are inside the school. If they are not there, the laptops are disabled. Once the students graduate from P6, they leave the laptops behind for the next batch of students.

    Q: The government is now spending more than $200 on each computer. Is this expense really justified given the amount of challenges Rwanda, as a developing country, face?

    A: In Rwanda we are using more and more ICT in our hospitals, airports, for all kinds of infrastructure projects to develop every part of our country. Who are the people that are going to man this infrastructure? Who are the people that are going to integrate or customise this infrastructure to our environment?

    These are the people we are training today. We need them to help us reduce the level of ICT consultancy we require with the outside world. Rwanda can invest in other sectors too, but through OLPC we are increasing our independence from all these external dependencies, which are extremely expensive. We are investing in the future, not in the present. We need all these skills to be brought into Rwanda and primary school is really the foundation. If you are well-trained in primary school then it will be easier to succeed. We want all children in Rwanda to have the same level of understanding and knowledge as a kid from Singapore, Finland or California.

  • Electronics firm Samsung plans to establish a research and development centre focused on planning, design and development of electronics suited to the Kenyan market.

    Samsung Deputy Managing Director Robert Ngeru said the centre will be operational by 2013 and is aimed at practical skills transfer to enable the local talent contribute to product innovation.

    "Our aim is to promote co-operation, innovation and the exchange of new ideas in technology so that our products and technologies continue to respond to the felt needs and conditions of the continent," said Ngeru.

    Ngeru said the firm is using materials, components and solutions to meet the quality, protection and performance needs of the electronics operating in the continent.

    "We have a visionary pillar of developing technology that is built in Africa, for Africa, by Africa to create sustainable opportunities that empower people to live their dreams," added Ngeru.

    Samsung aims to post US$10 billion (Sh93 million) in revenue by 2015 in Sub-Saharan Africa with its consumer electronics and mobile products built for the market.

    The firm is focusing on Africa's top 10 economies, which together generate 79 per cent of the continent's wealth and house almost 47 pert cent of the population.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • MTN is opposed to President Museveni's idea of telecoms selling some of their shares to Ugandans through the domestic stock market, according to Sifiso Dabengwa, the group's president and CEO.

    "You go to capital markets for capital reasons not for regulatory reasons. You can have a political view about listing but listing is fundamentally a corporate finance decision,"  Dabengwa said at a news conference in Kampala on Wednesday.

    The MTN group boss was reacting to President Museveni's demand for all telecommunication firms to float shares through the capital markets so as to give Ugandans an opportunity to get a share of their profits.

    The President made the demand in July while meeting members of the ruling National Resistance Movement caucus. Citing South African-owned MTN as an example, President Museveni argued that it is unfair that telecommunication firms are repatriating much of the "abnormal profits" they make.

    Going forward, he said, the mobile companies must declare the amount of money they make in each year so that the government makes regulations like setting threshold amounts they must invest within the country.

    The MTN group earned up to Shs783 billion in profits last year, going by the 1 per cent (Shs7.8 billion) contribution that the firm contributed to the Uganda Communications Commission, the industry regulator.

    All telecoms are required by law to contribute 1 per cent of their profits to the Rural Communication Development Fund, to finance the development of communication in rural areas.

    MTN is the most profitable telecom of all the major five telecoms including; Airtel, Uganda Telecom Limited, Orange and Smile Telecom. MTN supports the principle of spreading out shareholding of the firm but is opposed to the way the government wants it to be done.

    "That principle we support. But how you do it, I don't believe it should be regulated by the industry regulator. The regulator should concentrate on regulating the industry and not how we fund the business."

    However, MTN is open to options like the acquisition of its shares by institutions such as the National Social Security Fund. According to Mr, the MTN Group discusses the issue of listing its subsidiaries on annual basis looking at various markets.

    According to Mr The key issues the firm looks at are the financial benefit of listing its shares in the market, whether the locals have the ability to take up the shares and if the domestic stock market is vibrant and effective.

    "It's an ongoing discussion and an on-going debate that we will always be having," he told journalists on his business review meeting.

  • Telkom is still keen to expand its operations elsewhere on the African continent despite the sensational failure of Multi-Links, its Nigerian business, says chairman Lazarus Zim.
    He was speaking at the group’s 2011 annual general meeting of shareholders on Tuesday in Midrand.

    “We need to remain the wholesaler of choice and build a sustainable African business,” Zim says. Just because the group has had “challenges” in Nigeria, doesn’t mean it’s lost interest in seeking opportunities elsewhere on the continent outside its home market of SA. Zim doesn’t say if the group is already considering specific investments.

    “There were expensive and important lessons that we learnt [from Multi-Links],” Zim says. “We are fully committed to building a sustainable, good and profitable African business.”

    Telkom lost more than R7bn through its decision to buy and invest in Multi-Links, which operates a CDMA (code division multiple access) wireless network in Nigeria. Multi-Links was brought to its knees through a combination of bad management decisions and investment in the wrong technology — the West African nation is dominated by operators that use the competing GSM technology.

    Telkom reached an agreement recently to sell Multi-Links to an affiliate company of Helios Towers Nigeria for US$10m, “which may increase depending on the achievement of certain conditions”. 

  • In this interview with Vanguard Hi-Tech, the Managing Director, Terminal, West Africa of Huawei Technologies Co. Nigeria Limited unfolded the company’s plans for the market.

    Q: How long have you been in the Nigerian market?

    A: My name is Jacky Lee, the Managing Director, Terminal, West Africa of Huawei Technologies Co. Nigeria Limited. This is my third year in Nigeria. We have been here for ten years doing business with the operators.

    We started manufacturing mobile phones in 2003 and we came to Nigeria in 2005. We are the biggest vendor to MTN, Etisalat, Airtel, Globacom, Visafone and Starcomms.

    We have established end-to-end advantages in telecom networks, devices and cloud computing. We are committed to creating maximum value for telecom operators, enterprises and consumers by providing competitive solutions and services. Our products and solutions have been deployed in over 140 countries, serving more than one third of the world’s population

    Q: Do you have after sales support?

    Yes, we have after sales supports here. We have trained engineers working in-house to take care of after sales support. We are committed to introducing our customer-satisfaction-centered service to the telecom market of Nigeria. Huawei has been recognized for its quality products, professional after-sales service, and comprehensive business support. We are offering warranty on our products in such a way no brand has done before to give authencity to the devices that we manufacture.

    Q: There are other competing brands in the market. What edge do Huawei devices have against other brands to stay in the market?

    A: Huawei devices are crafted with precision, and offered at very affordable prices. What the rich enjoy in smart devices at high cost/ prices, same features and services are what we are taking to all and sundry at affordable prices too. All our products are innovative, and designed to meet their various needs.

    Q: What are the products to be unveiled in the open market this September?

    A: The products to be unveiled in this market will demonstrate Huawei’s commitment to providing Nigerian consumers with innovative yet affordable devices. We will be introducing our entry level phones, feature phones, QWERTY phones, and Android smart phones, broadband modems, fixed wireless terminal, Internet Tablets, among others.

    Q: Five years down the line, what are your expansion and marketing plans?

    A: Huawei announced the company’s intention to be one of the top three handset vendors worldwide by 2015. We will embark on a marketing campaign to create the Brand awareness that is needed to create the buzz around the brand.

    Benefiting from the rising popularity of Android, we will compete with other OEMs who use the operating system. Huawei’s push into the Nigerian open market marks the company’s biggest step into the world of mobile devices in West African sub-region.

    Q: What are the plans put in place to achieve this?

    A: That is why our products are designed to offer a solution that meets the needs of mobile phone users. We are currently in discussion with our customers and partners. We have innovative products that appeal to every market

    Q: Computer Village is the largest ICT market in the West African sub-region. Any plans to be there?

    A: Yes. No OEM Brand can exist in Nigeria without playing the game at Computer village. Through our distributor, we will reach all mobile phone dealers not only in computer village, but Pan Nigeria. The market which has been the toast of international vendors is very important to us.

    Q: What about prices of your devices? Are you targeting specific consumers or wide range of consumers?

    A: We are targeting all mobile phone users from entry level to mid range level and the premium level. Huawei’s vision is to enrich life through communication. The products we will be unveiling will show our commitment to providing Nigerian consumers with innovative yet affordable devices.

    By leveraging our experience and expertise in the ICT sector, we help bridge the digital divide by providing opportunities to enjoy broadband services, regardless of geographic location.

    Contributing to the sustainable development of the society, economy, and the environment, Huawei creates green solutions that enable customers to reduce power consumption, carbon emissions and resource costs.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - At a media demonstration of its soon to-be-launched 3G network, Zamtel Managing Director Hans Paulsen said that it would lay and switch on 185 3G mobile sites along the line of rail and another 485 sites of 2.5G network across the country to eat into the market that it was not servicing with advanced network.

    - Nigeria’s CDMA operator, Visafone said that plans are underway for it to deploy additional 200 new retail outlets across the six geopolitical zones of the country to bring its services nearer to the people.

    - Kenneth Oyolla, the Nokia general manager for East and Southern Africa, said that 30 per cent of all mobile phones sold in Uganda are counterfeits, compared to 10 per cent in Kenya. Nokia, he said losses about $15 million monthly in the Kenyan market while the figure is higher in Uganda and Tanzania. "Counterfeits are putting a lot of pressure on our sales," Mr Oyolla said. For instance, a genuine Nokia E71 costs $230 while the counterfeited one goes for about $50.

    - Nigeria’s mobile operator, Globacom has launched a new dynamic tariff plan that offers discounts to subscribers anytime, anywhere across the country. Glo Flexi, the new tariff plan offers up to 99 per cent discount on calls made, depending on the time of day and geographical location of the subscriber. Glo’s dynamic pricing scheme will compete with market leader MTN Zone product.

    - LG Electronics (LG) has unveiled its new Android Smartphone, LG Optimus Black into the Kenyan market. According to George Mudhune, LG Regional Marketing Manager, East and Central Africa the P970 LG Optimus Black is now trading at Ksh.40,000 (US$439) and available in all major shop outlets across Kenya.

    - South Africa’s third cellular network operator Virgin Mobile says low data tariffs and voice calls charges were not sustainable and warned charges would rise. Responding to questions, Virgin Mobile Chief Strategist and Marketing Officer, Jonathan Newman, said that the current low voice call and data tariffs were a result of promotional competition among mobile companies, arguing that prices would go up soon.

Digital Content

  • Mi-Fone, one of Africa's fastest growing mobile device brands, has done it again. Listening to their target audience and keeping up with demand, Mi-Fone has released a range of low-cost, high quality Android phones, retailing from as little as sub $80

    Mi-Fone's range of stylish and affordable Android phones includes the Mi-A100, the Mi-A150, the Mi-A160, the Mi-A350 and the Mi-A300 . The company has gone further to offer various form and specification factors in terms of Touchscreen and Qwerty Touchscreen versions for both EDGE networks and full 3G HSDPA networks.

    In addition all Mi-Fone Android handsets will come pre- embedded with Opera Mini browsers as well as the innovative Mi-Apps portal offering users the best of local and international applications and content.

    The introduction of the Android phone is in line with Mi-Fone's strategy of developing affordable, world class mobile devices for the aspirational market who want the latest technology without the exorbitant price tags.

    Says Alpesh Patel, CEO of Mi-Fone: "Our new low cost range of Android phones will enable our African consumers to achieve higher levels of productivity simply by having a more efficient user experience in terms of Hardware technology coupled with the Android operating system." Patel adds: "Right now in Africa, Mi-Fone caters for the ultra low cost 2G featurephone market and with the Android Edge/3G additions we believe we add an extra dimension to ensuring we deliver the ultimate mass market user experience."

    Mi-Fone's full Android Range will be available from September onwards at select retail stores in countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria and Tanzania to name a few.

  • South Africa's mobile phone consumers are overwhelmingly loyal to their network providers, with 95 percent having been with their current provider for an average of 4.2 years.

    What's more, 81 percent said they recommend their network providers to friends and family, reinforcing the importance of word-of-mouth and reputation in the mobile industry. These and other findings were released today as part of Nielsen's inaugural Mobile Insights syndicated study in South Africa, which examined consumers' usage of and attitudes towards mobile phones, networks and services.

    While they may be inclined to remain loyal, a quarter of subscribers indicated that they could switch from pre-paid to contract packages within the next year. More than one quarter (27%) said they left their previous provider due to poor network quality. Subscribers across all four of the major networks were generally content with staying with them, although those using Virgin Mobile were happiest.

    "The mobile market continues to morph into an increasingly complex ecosystem of voice, text, video, Internet, games, applications and audio, and it is critical for industry players to have access to independent metrics to analyse and respond to the new, 'always connected' consumer," said Jan Hutton, Director Telecoms, Nielsen Southern Africa.

    Nokia is the handset brand of choice for more than half (52%) of respondents, followed by Samsung and Blackberry. Even those subscribers (56%) who currently use other brands said that a Nokia handset is likely to be their next purchase.

    Today's smartphones and feature phones offer users a range of functions. When asked about the mobile media services accessed from the devices, the majority (21%) said they download ringtones and almost an equal number (20%) download music tracks. The balance of subscribers said they download wallpapers, screensavers and pictures. A very small percentage stream online radio or watch video mobile TV.

    Accessing the Internet from mobiles is also picking up steam, with 11 percent of respondents having done so. The highest mobile internet usage recorded among consumers aged 25-34 years old with 35-44 year olds coming in a close second. The youth group of 19-24 years of age, who are growing up with the internet, spend a number of hours online per week. One-quarter of those surveyed in LSM 8-10 said they browse the Internet while just 6 percent of those in LSM 1-5 have done so.

    It is interesting to note 69 percent of men and women prefer sending SMS/texts as it is cheaper than calling and 10 percent firmly believe it is faster to text than call.

    Spaza store is the most popular channel for consumers to buy mobile "air time", followed by Supermarkets/Grocers. Facebook is the most popular social media platform used by mobile phone subscribers (85%), followed by MXIT (61%). 21% of people aware of mobile banking make use of these services.

    With Cell C, MTN and Vodacom, the majority of subscribers consider price to be the most important driver, whereas with Virgin Mobile, customer service is the driver
    "These and the other findings present a comprehensive benchmark against which we can measure the changes occurring in the rapidly evolving telecom sector going forward. It's the only survey of its kind in the country that provides a 360 degree view of the sector in terms of what services consumers are using, how they feel about their network providers and handset manufacturers. Furthermore, in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association, we are [among] the first to gauge the effectiveness of mobile advertising and providing marketers with accurate data and insight with respect to ROI in this medium," said Hutton.

    To ensure alignment of the study, Nielsen weighted up the findings against universe proportions using AMPS. The sample size was 2,000 respondents, with quotas based on age, gender and all LSM levels across each metropolitan area in South Africa. The survey was conducted in urban South Africa through a Computer Aided Personal Interview (CAPI) and was scientifically weighted to be representative of the South African population, having a maximum margin of error of 2.19%, resulting in it being a very close reflection of actual events.

More

  • ­The government of Swaziland has sacked the entire Board of Directors at the state-owned telco/regulator, the Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC). Although no reason was given by the Minister of Information Communications and Technology, Nelisiwe Shongwe, the decision comes a week after the Prime Minister accused the company of being run by a criminal cartel.

    - Industry veteran Mark Simpson has been named the new CEO of undersea cable firm Seacom. The appointment will come into effect on 5 September, with Brian Herlihy taking on the new role of strategic director.

    - Acer named Lilia Wang as the chief financial officer for the company's operation in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

  • TDR Deputy PM / Database Manager – Rwanda
    Pact is a non-profit international development organization with a purpose to enable poor and marginalized people in the developing world to earn a dignified living, be healthy, and take part in the benefits that nature provides. We do this by developing people’s capacity to make informed choices about their life and future, improving governance systems, and transforming markets into a force for development.

    Roles and Responsibilities:
    Description: Under the supervision of the Pact Project Manager, the Deputy Project Manager / Database Manager is responsible for leading the management of project data for iTSCi Rwanda, and in the absence of Project Manager, he will manage the administrative, financial and programmatic aspects of the project. As such, the Database Manager will assist the Project Manager by providing technical assistance to any project team and ensure their ability to fulfill their role. She/he will help in checking the accuracy of reporting sites, including the monitoring of all the dynamics relating to mining in the country, as well as issues working with various stakeholders.
    He will be based in Kigali and will work throughout the country
    Role and Responsibilities:
    Database Manager:
    • Ensure quick and accurate recording of data in the database.
    • Keeping pace with data collection through the "log books" of mines, traders and trading posts, and immediately address all questions to the Project Manager
    • The manager of the database will work closely with other team members (including staff ITRI) to ensure that appropriate and effective system of data collection is being and maintained.
    • Identify and report all data missing or fraudulent
    • Produce regular reports by using the tools of data analysis in the existing database.
    • Recommend changes or improvements to the design or operation of the database if necessary.
    • Attend and participate in the training of staffs of OGMR if necessary, to ensure that the data are clearly and properly recorded in the log books. The manager of the database must comment on and recommend improvements to the system if necessary.
    Deputy Project Manager:
    In the absence or at the request of Project Manager
    • To be the focal point for contact with the authorities, counters, offices and other stakeholders involved in the project
    • Ensure compliance with work plans and timing for submission of internal and external reports
    • Work with all stakeholders in the supply chain (artisanal miners, merchants, counters, OGMR, government) to ensure proper understanding of their roles in the success of the project.
    • Identify opportunities for ITRI to improve contacts and engagement with stakeholders
    • Participate in key meetings related to the project,
    Of Administrative and Financial Management
    • Manage the daily administration office in Kigali
    • Strengthen the programmatic needs, administrative and financial project
    • Enforce policies and procedures of decision making related to management;
    • Supervise direct field geologists, the accounting and ensure that other staffs perform their role properly,
    • Be responsible for all office supplies, maintenance and equipment inventory
    • Standardize the management and use of vehicles and motorbikes of the project, checking planning needs fuel and maintenance, while giving priority to field teams
    • Allow office expenses on the basis of approved Work Plan
    • Coordinated withdrawals of funds and payments of taxes
    • To manage the safety, health and emergencies on land urgently informing the Program Manager for major cases.

    Reports
    Monthly reports on or before the 25th of each month to send to the Program Manager, report included:
    • Narrative Report of project progress based on the work plan,
    • Financial Reports
    • Problems, needs, success stories, and next steps,
    • Report of circumstances (in any event not ordinary)

    Qualifications:
    qualification in computer science

    Education and Experience Requirements:
    previous experience required
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Mi-Fone and Opera - Africa
    Mi-Fone and Opera Software have partnered. The agreement will see all data capable Mi-Fones pre installed with the Opera Mini browser. Mi- Fone is one of Africa’s fastest growing mobile device brands. In only three years, more than one million of the company’s handsets have been sold. Mi-Fone has developed strategic partnerships with respected distributors and GSM carriers to ensure continent-wide availability of its devices. Already, selected handsets with Opera Mini preloaded have been distributed into key markets including Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana and Kenya.  Mi-Fone is planning to increase the availability of its devices during the December and January holidays in all key markets.

  • Nigeria Com
    20 - 21 September, 2011, Lagos, Nigeria

    The 2nd annual Nigeria Com returns to Lagos. Gain unique market perspectives and insights from a 40 strong speaker-line up including 25+ Operator leaders. The 2 day agenda equips you to capitalise on new networks and services, while the 60 stand networking exhibition will showcase the world’s foremost technology and solutions available for your business. With 700+ attendees, if you do telecoms business in the region, this is an event you cannot afford to miss!
    For more information visit here:

    Mozambique National ICT Congress
    5-6 October 2011, Centro Internacional de Conferencia Joaquim Chissano, Maputo

    Held under the auspices of the Mozambique Ministry of Science & Technology and organised by AITEC Africa, this is the annual gathering of Mozambique’s rapidly growing ICT community, with a two-day conference and industry expo. Users and vendors of ICT systems and solutions will be sharing challenges, knowledge and ideas in the stimulating conference programme, with high-level local and international speakers. There is simultaneous translation between English and Portuguese to facilitate international participation. The event will also include the second annual National Communications Roundtable, providing operators, ISPs, users and service providers with an opportunity to discuss the country’s national communications strategy with the regulator. For the full programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    North Africa Com
    11 - 12 October, 2011, Tunis, Tunisia

    Now in its 6th year, the ONLY conference and exhibition dedicated to the North African telecoms market moves to Tunisia to address the dynamic French-speaking markets.
    The expanded conference agenda is now in development and will feature a host of new topics led by a speaker panel featuring some of North Africa's leading telcos.  Contact us today to apply to speak in the conference, or reserve your sponsorship or exhibition package.
    Be one of the first to see the 2011 agenda and sign up for your copy.
    For more information visit here:

    CDN World Summit 2011
    26 - 28 October 2011, Hilton Hotel Paddington, London.

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most
    comprehensive CDN event ever.The full value chain is represented including content providers,broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information visit here:

    Digital Migration and Spectrum Policy Summit
    29 October to 01 November 2011, Nairobi, Kenya.

    For more informtion visit here:

    Africa Com
    9 - 10 November, 2011, Cape Town, SA

    Join 5,000 of Africa’s leading telcos in Cape Town this November for what is set to be the biggest and best AfricaCom yet.  The conference agenda has doubled to incorporate a record 150+ speakers presenting across 4 strategic keynotes, 11 in-depth focus sessions and 2 co-located events – AfricaCast and Enterprise ICT Africa.  What’s more 250+ international solutions providers will be showcasing their latest products in the networking exhibition.
    For more information visit here:

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9–11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

    World Telecom Summit 2011 is the must-attend event of the year. Bringing together top level executives and key decision makers of preeminent telecommunications companies from around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to meet the who’s who of the telecommunications and mobile industry.  It is the summit that addresses the evolving needs of telecommunications and mobile community. Get up to date with the latest innovations and technological advancements in the industry and gain access to the minds of the movers and shakers of the industry.
    Take advantage of the Limited Early Bird Rates for Operator Pass!
    For more information please visit here: or contact Vivian at vivian.ho@olygen.com

    AITEC East Africa East Africa Summit
    2-3 November, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    East Africa has become one of the fastest growing ICT investment markets and the region’s ICT Summit it designed as the region’s forum to bring together users and vendors of ICT technology in a stimulating educational and business networking environment. The 2011 Summit programme will focus on the following themes:
    •    Data Security
    •    Mobile Apps
    •    Cloud Computing
    For the conference programme, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011, Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2

    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

    AfriHealth
    30 November – 1 December 2011, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    The leading continental forum on e-health, m-health, health management systems and capacity development. AfriHealth 2011 will focus on current research, development and implementation of ICT technology and resources in the African Healthcare arena. A key objective of the conference, now in its fourth year, will be to share knowledge and experience from practical mobilization of ICT-based healthcare systems and projects, to showcase best practice through practical case studies and highlight potential for scaling up success stories at national and regional levels. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money COMESA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Now in its sixth year, this has become the leading educational, networking and marketing event for Eastern and Southern Africa’s financial services sector. In addition to the conference’s established intensive education programme covering core banking, mobile money and microfinance topics (over 100 speakers in 2011). For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    InsureAFRICA
    7-8 March 2012, Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    Insurers seeking effective performance in service delivery, cost reduction and profit levels need to embrace technology, viewing it not as a support function but as a key enabler of competitive advantage at all levels of operation. InsureAFRICA is the first specialised conference for the African insurance and pensions industry to evaluate the systems and innovative channels needed to compete and thrive in a rapidly expanding industry. With the theme “Effective management strategies and systems for a new era of expansion and inclusion”, the conference will be the continent’s first forum to gather knowledge and experience for a rapidly growing industry. For the Call for Papers, log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012
    14 - 15 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    Mobile VAS Africa 2012 will bring together industry experts and representatives from leading financial institutions, mobile operators and solutions providers to provide a strategic insight into mobile VAS while exploring collaborative business models, innovative applications, technologies and straegies. For more information visit here:

    Roaming & Interconnect
    16 - 17 May 2012, Johannesburg, South Africa

    RIC Africa 2012 will uncover new strategies to boost roaming traffic and retain existing roamers. During the conference we will look at the innovative roaming solutions and pricing, supplementing roaming with alternative revenue streams, the latest EU regulations and their impact on operations in Africa, as well as the importance of hubbing and convergence.  For more information please visit here:

    AITEC Banking & Mobile Money West Africa
    6 June 2012, Accra International Conference Centre

    Now in its fifth year, the conference will cover a wide range of strategic and technology topics to empower West Africa’s banking, microfinance and insurance professionals with the knowledge they need to lead their organisation effectively through the turbulent market and regulatory conditions they face. For the conference programme log on to the organiser’s website here: To book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

Issue No 112, 31 August 2011

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  • Nigeria’s Iroko Partners has hit upon a way of distributing Nollywood content legally, making money and giving some of that money back to the artists who made it. In under a year it has generated around US$1 million in advertising revenues from 2.2 million views and is now expanding into offering music video clips on the same basis. Russell Southwood spoke to its CEO and founder Jason Chukwuma Njoku at Mobile Entertainment World in Cape Town last week. (see the interview video clip link at the bottom of this article).

    Jason Njoku is Nigerian-British and noticed how things were changing:” “Suddenly my mother stopped watching British TV and started watching Nollywood.” So Jason decided to go back to Lagos and set up a You Tube site to distribute Nollywood content legally, launching in November 2010. He now has 47 people working for him and has reached agreements for distributing over 800 movies:”We are buying more on a weekly basis.”

    Previously there were around 30 illegal sites distributing pirated copies:”We are the only legal guys.” When Njoku first approached the producers and directors they were extremely suspicious, but Njoku persuaded them to give it a try and they became really convinced when the first cheques started arriving.

    There were no digital copies and often the master copies of movies had to be re-mastered. Furthermore, there were no descriptions of the movies or cast lists. So Iroko Partners has 13 people employed watching movies to provide these things and to create a descriptions database.

    It has attracted 2.2 million unique viewers and 16 million views from 231 countries and all without any marketing. 20% of traffic is from mobiles and 60% of search enquiries come from mobiles in Nigeria. The really telling statistic is that the 6th biggest market is Malaysia and 11th biggest is Nigeria (around 30,000 unique views). With better bandwidth, viewer numbers will inevitably increase in the home of Nollywood. 

    94% of the advertising income comes from 5 countries with the big markets including USA, UK and Canada. Almost all of these views (even in Malaysia) are from the widely distributed Nigerian diaspora. The biggest movie is Blackberry Babes which is a 60 minute movie that has had 900,000 views: “Blackberry didn’t even know it had been made.”

    Njoku noticed that there were a lot of e-mails asking for Genevieve Nnaji movies. She is now so famous that she is only makes a couple of films a year. So he put out a call to producers and directors for Nnaji movies. Within a week, he was running a season of movies with two new movies a day, which was very successful:”Only the Internet could have that kind of immediacy.”

    His next project is expanding into Nigerian music video clips:”The music entertainment space in Nigeria is an absolute mess. One song can be uploaded as many as 20 times. Music sales cannot be verified. We can do that on You Tube (with views). We can tap into a global audience and give money back to the artists. He has signed 40 artists (so far including  El Dee, Kefee, P Square and Bez) and has plans to sign 100 more.

    According to Ayite Gaba, Business Development, Google who is responsible for developing You Tube partners in Sub-Saharan Africa, the advertising income paid to African partners varies between US$10,000-US$1 million:”Views and revenues are largely coming from outside Africa at the moment and we have no sales offices (for You Tube) in Africa at the moment.”

    This business model will only work if you can reach audiences in the low millions, with the majority of them coming from the diaspora. Nollywood is unique content and there is perhaps no other African content that has this kind of “pull” globally or that scale of diaspora.

    However, those that want to prepare themselves for the future (let’s call that the next three years) need to start positioning themselves now. If we use Facebook as proxy for Internet users in Nigeria, only 30,000 of 2.9 million people currently view movies on Iroko but within the next 1-3 years bandwidth will improve to the point where the numbers will go up to at least a million. With better 3G and LTE not far off, many of those will view music clips on their mobile phones (feature and smart).

    One of the early lessons from this platform are that you need to stop using the worst of African business methods (take the money and pay nobody) and start giving money back to those who make content. Another lesson is that it pays to have properly described content in depth that allows you to exploit the “long tail” by curating seasons or special presentations. These opportunities can spotted through feedback via e-mail and SMS.

    At this point, the African business temptation is to see the launch of endless copy-cat sites like this. It won’t work unless you can persuade the content producers that you’re serious and have the means to connect to diaspora audiences. Iroko’s money comes from the large number of viewers it gets without marketing: other content will need to fight for its place with different kinds of marketing to achieve these numbers. But if you have access to archive catalogues, now is the moment to start thinking about whether there is a platform that could distribute your content successfully online.


    New video clips on Balancing Act’s You Tube Channel:

    Jason Njoku, CEO, Iroko Partners on distributing Nollywood and Nigerian Music using You Tube

    Emma Kaye, CEO, Bozza on South African townships creating their own online content

    Julian VanPlato, CEO, Trans Digital Media on a new live streaming mobile service for Africa

    Sami Leino, COO, Spinlet on the launch of an "iTunes" for Africa

    Ofer Ronen, Business Development Director - Broadcast, Gilat Satcom on its move into African broadcast services

    South Africa: Styli Charalambous, Managing Director, The Daily Maverick on its new iPad subscription service

    Balancing Act's Twitter feed provides a combination of breaking news for telecoms, Internet and broadcast in Africa, direct tweets from countries visited and access to the occasional rumours circulating. You can follow us on:
    @BalancingActAfr

     

  • Nigeria recently hosted the semi-final of the 2011 international Emmy Awards for the first time. Catherine Agbo writes on the relevance of that milestone to the motion picture industry

    The profile of Nigeria was taken a notch higher recently when the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) secured the right for the country to host the semi-final events of the 39th edition of the international Emmy awards.

    The international Emmy Award is a membership based organisation with headquarters in New York. The organisation was formed to recognise excellence in television and global showcase of television talent.

    The event hosted by Nigeria forms an integral part of award’s judging process.
    Director-general of NFVCB, a member of the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (IATAS), who secured the right to host the award on behalf of the country said that the platform would provide a platform to lift the Nigerian industry’s fortunes.

    According to the NFVCB, films produced in the country account for a considerable per cent of the box office takings in Africa. Only last year, President Goodluck Jonathan, provided a $200 million grant for the entertainment industry in recognition of the importance of the industry to the growth and development of Nigeria.

    The award of the hosting right to the country through NFVCB for the prestigious 2011 International Emmy Awards Semi-Final is therefore perceived as a fall-out of that recognition.

    While screenings are very much the heart of the international Emmy awards, thousands of industry heavyweights enter the award for the benefits derivable from it.
    The coming of the semi-final judging events to Nigeria, according to Mba, is to involve Nigeria as a country in the scheme of IATAS, particularly with a view to increasing membership of Nigerians and their entries for the Emmy awards. The right to host the event is an implication that the academy has recognised the country as a thriving home entertainment industry and/or market and also realises that there are great opportunities to be harnessed therein.
    Speaking at the event, Mba said that the time had come for Nigeria which prides herself as the second largest producer of films in Africa to begin to produce for the world as people would judge their works according to what they see.

    He called on producers to take advantage of such international opportunities to showcase themselves to the world. Speaking on the benefits of hosting the event, Emmy Awards representative, Anikka Sellz, said that it would increase the profile of the country among contemporaries in international television and also expose producers to programmes they would ordinarily not see.

    Being a member of IATAS allows the producers of a country to see what work is going on in other parts of the world. It also makes it easier to look for co-production opportunities as they interact with their counterparts from other countries. During such interactions, new possibilities can emerge, more areas of cooperation can be discovered, better exchange of ideas can happen-in terms of techniques and also finance. And there must also be a reversal of roles.

    Going by this opportunity, if Nigeria eventually becomes a member of the academy, the country could also have a day with the academy, following one of IATAS initiatives, which is the Academy Day. On such a day, 100 members of the academy could be taken to Nigeria where they would get a chance to learn about Nigerian TV, government and the performing arts in the country. The Academy has done same in Mexico and Beijing and did one in Berlin recently.

    Through the hosting of the event, it is expected that Nigeria will be exposed to a wider global audience, just as the judges who were picked from professionals within the country would also have the opportunity to meet and interact with their counterparts in other parts of the world and also help up their game in the practice.
    According to Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, Assistant Director Corporate Affairs, NFVCB and Coordinator, International Emmy Awards semi-final judging event, the size of TV production in Nigeria is considerable and the NFVCB would like to see this number rise many folds in the near future, so that there will be more exchange of ideas from Nigeria with players from the rest of the world.

    Usually, the Academy has about 700 jurors to judge regional content from around the world, from beginning of March to end of September. And they go through a rigorous process to select the semi-finalists. Then, a new set of judges selects the finalists and you have four nominees from each category out of which the winner comes out. Sometimes, an Emmy can be won merely on the basis of good acting. And for now, no one can say there is a dearth of talent in Nollywood.

    Although broadcast television remains one of the most popular forms of entertainment and information, the sub-sector is faced with a myriad of challenges which range from poor programme packages to poor editing and poor picture quality. Despite this, the average Nigerian still spends an average of 20 hours a week, watching their favourite television programmes.

    The question often is why has Nigeria remained in this deplorable state despite many years of local content programming? Gone with the wind are the days when people looked forward to and followed closely television series such as ‘Cock Crow at Dawn’, ‘Village Headmaster’, ‘The New Masquerade’, ‘Samanja’, ‘Ichoku’, and many more, which were produced and funded by the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). The times were later to change as many producers were forced to stop ongoing series midway and close shop as NTA doubled the price of airtime for programmes it had not commissioned.

    With the event just concluded in Nigeria, Nigerians will be exposed to the modern trends in television programming as well as new techniques. The hosting of this event, therefore, is to open the eyes of Nigerian industry players, corporate or individual, to the need for a change in the practice to avoid having low production as documentaries, operas, films or videos on Nigerian Television for a long time to come.

    Chairman, NTA board of directors, Ibrahim Buba, who was one of the judges, described the hosting of the event as the best thing to happen to television programming in Nigeria. He said that for him, it was the highest point of his career in television journalism, which spans several decades. Buba advised Nigerians to take motion picture production seriously as from the screening of the entries received for the 2011 awards, he had come to realise that Nigeria was still several notches below where it deserved to be in motion picture production.

  • Movie producers are expected to submit their work for second Ghana Movie Awards ceremony which is slated for 25 December 2011. The closing date for the submission of entries is 15 October 2011.

    Speaking at the launch of the awards, ace Actor and President of the Ghana Movie Awards committee David Dontoh said even though the maiden edition of the awards was fraught with challenges, this year’s event will see a marked improvement.

    “We are very much aware that most people were not very pleased with the award system last year and the fact that, three people were supposed to share one car as a prize. That is expected in the beginning of every project. This year promises to be exciting. Instead of the normal one day event, we will be holding the event for three days to enable us meet the expectations of all," he said.

    He noted that the categories for this year’s event will be broadened to cover many deserved areas. To make the event even richer, Multi TV’s Cine Afrik channel is partnering this year’s event. Programmes Director for Multi TV, Abdulai Awudu said Multi TV was proud to be associated with this year’s event explaining that “it’s the dawn of a new day for the African Film Industry as more and more creative minds are showcasing their artistic works in the Production of great African Films and Content – a passion Cine Afrik shares”.

    He expressed optimism that the station’s association with the events will go a long way to promote Ghanaian movies across the West African sub-region where Multi TV is readily available to over 250 million viewers and counting.

    Last year’s event saw actor and comedian, Agya Koo and his contemporary Rose Mensah popularly known as Kyeiwaa wining the top awards in the local language category, with Majid Michel and Jackie Appiah leading the pack for the English category. The launch was attended by leading actors and actresses like Nadia Buari, Van Vicker, Majid Michel, Rose Mensah and other industry players.

  • In order to advance professionalism and develop the industry in the country, media practitioners have been advised to critically publish and broadcast well researched and balanced news stories to attract readers and listeners

    The advice was offered by Alphonse Nkusi, a media and political analyst at the Rwanda Governance Advisory Council (RGAC), in an interview with The New Times at the sidelines of a meeting to discuss self regulation of the media as one of the factors in the development of the industry.

    During the meeting at Telecom house in Kigali, some participants pointed out that some media houses in the country are crippled by lack of finances, swaying some reporters to publish stories in exchange for bribes.

    They mentioned that when a reporter is bribed, he or she cannot publish a well balanced story as this would mean that the story is in favour of those offering inducements.

    “You should engage in research and publish well-balanced news. You need to value what you’re producing because if you produce things that are not worthwhile, you will not get clients to advertise with your media house.

    “If readers or listeners realise that your news is poor, your media house will lose the market. Therefore, media houses should know that nationals have the capacity to differentiate what is news and what is not”.

    The media expert further challenged reporters who do not research for quality stories and instead resort to covering conferences and workshops. He added that this degrades the value of the media.

  • Mukunda Michael Dewil, whose screenplay Vehicle 19 made it on to Hollywood's 2010 hit list for the year's 'best original screenplay', is directing the action thriller in Johannesburg with international star Paul Walker (Fast and Furious) in the lead. Walker is also the executive producer.

    Walker's character 'Michael' unwittingly pick up the wrong rental vehicle, having just got off a long haul flight. He soon realises that he is the target of a police force that will use any means necessary to stop him and the tied-up female 'passenger' he discovers in the trunk, from getting to the courthouse to testify against the corrupt chief.

    K5 International is handling all international rights and Rena Ronson at UTA is handling North American rights. K5 has already sold the film to Optimum Releasing in the UK, Kinowelt in Germany, MadMen in Australia and Falcon Films in the Middle East.

    Producer Peter Safran and Ryan Haidarian, former head of production and development at the National Film and Video Foundation, joins Dewil, who directed Retribution. The producers will use Safran Company and Forefront Media Group respectively. Gary King of Picture Tree Films (which represents Dewil's commercial work) co-produces. Miles Goodall is director of photography. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) of South Africa is financing the production.

    The cast includes Owen Sejake (Tsotsi, Shake Hands with the Devil), Naima McLean (BBC's Wild at Heart) and Tshepo Maseko (More Than Just a Game).

    The film will be shot on location in and around Johannesburg for five weeks, during which time Dewil's debut feature film 'Retribution' opens on the Ster-Kinekor theatrical circuit on 19 August 2011.

  • Vision Group's investment in broadcast is growing tremendously following the launch of an English television station, Urban TV. The new television channel went on air on Saturday.

    Urban is a free-to-air channel available on Channel 43. Scheduled programming will start in November.

    Vision Groups now boasts of three TV stations; TV West, Bukedde TV and now Urban TV. It also owns five radio stations; Bukedde Radio, Etop Radio, Radio Rupiny, Radio West and Xfm.

  • Minister for Information Samuel Poghisho has defended the licensing of vernacular radio saying they are useful in promoting culture and languages in the country.

    Poghisho said those running vernacular stations should hire qualified personnel who ensure professionalism and adhere to ethics, to avoid misuse of the stations to cause ethnic differences. He said the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation will by the end of this year launch 10 vernacular stations in the country.

    Poghisho said the channels will be used to sensitize people on government issues and other development matters which promote national cohesion and unity. Poghisho was speaking during the launch of Kitwek FM at Eldoret 64 stadium in Eldoret. The station broadcasting in Kalenjin is run by KBC. "It's the content of what is aired that can be a problem. Language is not a problem because even English and Kiswahili can be misused", said Poghisho. He said KBC would launch the first digital broadcasting signal this year as Kenya moves from analogue to digital broadcasting.

    The minister said migration to digital migration from analogue was an international requirement to be met by the year 2015. Poghisho said the media is aware of the changes taking place in the industry. He said each county will be able to set up its own channel for promoting development initiatives like tourism.

    Poghisio said vernacular stations will act as an important tool for conserving people's culture and will also teach young people their languages. He called on KBC, by virtue of being the national broadcaster, to ensure that it has more than the 40 per cent local content as required of all media houses. KBC managing director Waithaka Waihenya said the station is the cheapest in advertising rates.

  • On 17 August 2011, four privately-owned radio stations went off the air for most of the day, on the third climactic day of protests against the government.

    In the early hours of 17 August, only static could be heard from the four stations' assigned frequencies. The situation had Christian broadcaster Harvest FM and independent music and current affairs stations People's Choice FM (PC FM), MoAfrika FM and Thaha-Khube FM (TK FM) off the air. This happened a day after the government held an unusual meeting with at least two of the affected stations.

    At the close of the business day, at least of the two stations' signals had been restored.
    The radio stations had been providing live coverage of protests by factory workers that started on 15 August. The interruptions started less than 24 hours after a meeting between privately-owned radio station managers, the Acting Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Communications and the Chief Executive Officer of the Lesotho Communications Authority.

    During a visit by MISA-Lesotho, Harvest FM Station Manager 'Malichaba Lekhoaba said she was called to the meeting by the Acting Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Communications, Ratokelo Nkoka, who made what she termed "threats", saying that her radio station was going to be "shut down" if it did not "mend (its) ways" as this was a sensitive issue.

    According to Lekhoaba, Nkoka did not specify which areas needed to be "mended". He just said the radio station would be shut down if it continued to broadcast disrespectfully.

    In response to a MISA-Lesotho inquiry, Nkoka said it was just a "bad coincidence" that the radio stations went off the air after their meeting and during the protests. He said that it was a technical issue and that even the national broadcaster Radio Lesotho was affected as the problem was with new FM transmitter equipment, although Radio Lesotho's FM broadcasting was uninterrupted from well before noon.

    Since 15 August, Lesotho has experienced a protest movement headed by striking textile workers demanding higher wages. Opposition leaders were at the forefront of the demonstrations, which turned violent as several people were shot when police opened fire following a clash with protesters.

    MISA-Lesotho calls on the government to respect its repeated promises to abide by press freedom standards, and to both ensure that the four stations are allowed to broadcast without interruptions and to prevent similar situations in the future. The organisation also calls on the government to fully inform the public as to the reasons why the stations went off the air and to allow all parties to fully investigate government claims that the interruptions were due to "technical" failures.

  • Picture this scenario: A wealthy holidaymaker checks their chihuahua into a 'dog hotel' before jetting off into the sun, meanwhile you have to work long hours doing a crummy job and your entire village back home expects you to pay for funerals, weddings and new jeans.

    That's the European reality for hopeful African immigrants. Or so says television series 'Surprising Europe', which is being aired on Al Jazeera English starting this week until October.

    'No more lies about paradise' is the tagline of the TV series. A remarkable choice, because when you watch the first few episodes, you get the impression that lies are the only way to survive in Europe. A man who tries to get a cleaning job, advertises himself as a woman. Another man poses in front of somebody else's car to show his family back home how well he's doing.

    "We're showing people in Africa what life is really like over here," says the presenter of the series, Kenyan-born hiphop artist K-Nel. "We're not showing false pretexts. All the stories in the series are true life experiences. It could happen to any African coming this way."

    If reality means working in underpaid jobs, getting unfriendly stares off people in the street and living in grim housing, has the series made it its mission to scare people off? "Not at all, quite the opposite actually," K-Nel is quick to clarify. "But people have to know what to expect. We filmed in Africa and people literally told us they thought Europe is a paradise. That's not the case. Life isn't all shiny and easy over here. You can expect a couple of surprises. They will happen regardless whether you want or not. So you better be psychologically prepared."

    Somebody who clearly wasn't prepared when she came to Europe is Rose from Nigeria. Her story is the almost stereotypical account of a naïve young woman thinking she'll get a good job but ends up being exploited as a prostitute on the streets of Genoa, Italy. "But I have no other choice, because in Nigeria, they're looking up to me," she says. "Me being in Europe means they will have a future. If my mom knew what I am doing here though, it would kill her."

    Rose claims she never heard about forced prostitution in Europe when she was still in Nigeria. "Out of a hundred girls, perhaps ten will have heard a rumour. I certainly hadn't. But even the girls who might suspect they'd end up working on the streets, decide to come to Europe anyway because there are no jobs in Nigeria. Now that I'm in Italy, I see things much clearer. Europe is nothing. It's just for prostitution, that's all."

    Not that Surprising Europe only focuses on the darker side of coming to Europe, K-Nel insists. "We also show the stories of people who've made it and retrace their way to success. And we've tried to put some humour in the series as well. Take the hotel for dogs. In Africa dogs are considered a security measure. They guard your home or shop. Imagine an African coming to Holland and finding that there are proper hotels for dogs, and dogs even have their own passports. When I first came to Europe, my jaw dropped."

  • Kiss TV on Friday won the exclusive live soccer rights for the world famous Barclays English Premier League (EPL), the Uefa Champions League, Bundesliga and the Europa League.

    The multi-million shilling deal signed this weekend, gives Kiss TV access to five live games every week including two major live matches every Saturday in the English Premier League and Bundesliga, as well as three weekday games - two Uefa Champions League matches and one Europa Cup match. This is the first time any TV station in the country has won such extensive rights for live football screening.

    Speaking from Old Trafford, Manchester, Martin Khafafa, Group general manager said: "We are firmly pushing Kiss TV to become the station of choice for the average Kenyan. Kenyans love great football and to be able to make the world's best leagues free to Kenyans has been our dream. It's truly amazing." Last season, Kiss TV screened the Uefa Champions League games from January through March and was the Number One most viewed programme on television in it's time segment.

    "Now Kenyans will have all the football in the world available. We are making the properties available for sponsorship and advertising immediately as they are the biggest properties on Kenyan TV, Khafafa added. The live games, pre-game analysis, highlights of all the leagues including even the Spanish La Liga are available for immediate sponsorship as Kiss TV starts airing games this week.

  • South Africa’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) has awarded a $277 million, five year television rights deal to the country’s SuperSport satellite channel, operated by media conglomerate Naspers. The deal, which begins in a year’s time, extends the arrangement SuperSport entered into with PSL in 2007, covering the five years to May 2012 at a cost of $200 million (1.6 billion rand).

    “The winning tender…offered composite package that includes internet and mobile rights,” Irvin Khoza, chairman, PSL said. “We need to be clear that it wasn’t just the money that influenced us but [we] looked at the growth and enhancement of our product on our current deal, where we moved from being 30th ranked league in the world to the top 10.”

    Broadcasting about seven live football matches a week, SuperSport sub licenses certain games to the state TV network, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

    This news follows SuperSport’s recent acquisition of broadcasting rights from the Ugandan Super League (USL) for a reported US$5million (sh13 billion) for five years. Coverage of the USL will begin on SuperSports on 9 September.

    The top football leagues in Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Kenya and Zambia – as well as South Africa – are already covered by the Naspers-owned satellite TV channel.

  • Africa’s first commercial operations using the next generation Digital Video Broadcast standard - DVB-T2 - have been rolled out with the launch of GOtv in Lusaka, Zambia (29 June 2011) and Entebbe/Kampala, Uganda ( 29 August 2011). These launches represent two of the most advanced digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcast systems and infrastructures established in Africa and the rest of the world. The DVB-T2 technology used is an upgrade of the outdated T1 technology which was used by first movers in the digital migration.

    GOtv, a product of MultiChoice, is a new digital pay television offering which provides great family entertainment - with channels ranging from news, children’s programming, documentaries, series, sport and movies, its launch signifies the opening up of a new world of digital television entertainment in Africa. Most importantly, GOtv will showcase in digital quality free to air channels in each country of operation.

    Significant investments are being made by MultiChoice Africa and its partners to ensure the latest technology is deployed. GOtv is delivered using new technology which enables the offering to be regionalized - thus delivering a different channel line-up per country in order to truly suit the viewing needs of subscribers in each country.

    GOtv is delivered via satellite to each country where it is redistributed by DTT transmitters. The GOtv roll out are on the DVB-T2 technology standard which allows for up to 20 channels per frequency, this is different from DVB-T1 technology which only allows for 12 channels per frequency. Thus, there is a dramatic improvement on the use of terrestrial frequencies available to countries when DVB-T2 is deployed.

    President of MultiChoice Africa – Collins Khumalo said: “We are investing in the future of the African continent. Together with our partners, we are financing and developing leading DTT technologies and infrastructure to support the development of African economies. Our commitment - as a company born and bred in Africa, and as a pioneer in digital pay media - is to work with our various governments in ensuring that we achieve the developmental goals as well as meet Africa’s goals and objectives as regard to bridging the digital divide and achieving the digital dividend.”

    Ian Barnard, Project Manager for GOtv said “our aim is to deliver digital television for everyone as we roll out DTT networks on the continent. GOtv is an affordable digital pay television offering with exciting local and international channels in great picture and sound quality.”

    Barnard added “As an African business we are truly committed to achieving the best possible roll out of DTT and are working closely with governments and free to air broadcasters in each country. We aim to assist Governments in achieving a speedy migration from analogue to digital by 2015, by increasing the attractiveness and appetite for digital television offering. By using the DVB-T2 standard we are not only ensuring that Africa has the latest technology, but also ensuring that Governments achieve the best possible use of their countries frequencies.”

  • $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production and/or post-production on narrative short films has been granted in continental Africa.

    The Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program was conceived to be a unique initiative, with funds earmarked specifically for emerging filmmakers of African nationality and residence. Once again in 2011, Africa First will be offering participating filmmakers the chance to be awarded $10,000 in financing for pre-production, production and/or post-production on their narrative short film made in continental Africa which taps into the resources of the film industry there.

    In addition to on-site work in Africa, the winning filmmakers of Africa First also participate in a weekend of workshops in New York City with board members. The workshops entail one-on-one discussions with such Focus executives as CEO James Schamus and president of production John Lyons, covering such topics as international distribution and the economics of studio financing; members of the program’s international advisory board of experts in African cinema; producer and Program Director Kisha Cameron-Dingle and Focus Director of Production Matthew Plouffe.

    All filmmakers selected for Africa First retain the copyrights and the distribution rights to their completed shorts, with the exception of North American rights; Focus retains those, as well as the right of first negotiation to productions derived from the shorts, such as a feature-length expansion.

    The Focus Features Africa First Short Film Program was created to foster and develop long-term relationships with some of the most promising up-and-coming filmmakers from continental Africa. Through the financial support of the fund and the mentorship support provided by the Focus Features Africa First Advisory Board, we aim to bring filmmakers into an environment that will allow them to grow as filmmakers with an international audience.

    For more please click here:  and here:

  • The South African Football Association (Safa) values its television rights at between R130-million and R150-million a year, an official revealed this week.

    "The figure is the association's own evaluation after having obviously viewed audience potential," said the official, who asked not to be named.

    "It's difficult because before we couldn't make evaluations based on real figures, and cannot use the previous deal that we had with the SABC as a benchmark for the new one."

    The package would include 60 matches a year for all national teams, including Bafana Bafana, and a proposed magazine programme called Safa TV.

    Safa was hoping to renew its rights with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), after their expiry of their previous deal in March.

    That deal was worth about R30-million, a figure which has risen considerably since South Africa hosted the 2009 Confederations Cup, the 2010 World Cup and the team's climb in the world rankings over the last year.

    The national U-23 team -- Baby Bafana -- and the women's side Banyana Banyana were also impressive over the period, and both stand a strong chance of qualifying for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

    Safa thought the financially challenged SABC would not be to afford the full amount, and had proposed different packages to suit broadcaster's pocket, the official said.

    The first contained "premium properties", which gave the broadcaster exclusive rights to Bafana, Banyana and the U-23 team.

    The second would add new media and would include working alongside the continental soccer body, the Confederation of African Football (Caf), for the rights of the Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifying matches.

    The official said the proposal was in the hands of the SABC and that Safa was waiting for a reply. It could take months to finalise the new deal following management changes at the national broadcaster. "We gave them a package and they asked us to give them time to value it," he said.

    "So, the association said 'fine no problem, come back to us and then we can argue over price. We are offering them about 60 matches, so it's about how many of those they would like."

    Safa had dismissed the idea of moving the national team's matches to satellite television -- following a similar path as the Premier Soccer League (PSL) -- as it wanted to reach a larger audience.

    The multi-billion rand PSL deal was signed with SuperSport International in 2007. A new contract is also reportedly being negotiated. "The money is with SuperSport, but the audience is with the SABC and the target is to reach a broader market in the events of national interest," said the official.

    In a statement issued by Safa on Friday, the association's president Kirsten Nematandani said "principle matters" had been agreed with the national broadcaster. "We await a final quotation on the total revenue to be expected by the association through this exciting new venture," Nematandani said.

    SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told City Press on Sunday that Safa had asked for "a lot of money". The newspaper reported that the live broadcast of Bafana's friendly international against Burkina Faso in Johannesburg on Wednesday could hang in the balance after Safa demanded R5-million from the SABC to broadcast the game. The SABC has already advertised the broadcast of the match's 8.15pm kick-off on SABC 1.

  • The SA Revenue Service (Sars) has come out in strong defence of a new ad valorem duty on computer monitors, saying it’s meant to protect the television industry, despite strong opposition to the new tax.

    Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay says it is government policy to protect the local TV industry in “an effort to achieve domestic investment, value addition and employment”.

    In April, a 7% ad valorem tax, which previously only applied to imported television sets and which was scrapped seven years ago, was reintroduced on computer monitors, because some companies were importing them without TV components and adding these locally to avoid the tax.

    The result is more expensive monitors in an industry that’s meant to be trying to make its products as cheap as possible to get more South Africans online.

    Lackay says that due to constant changes in technology, monitors and TVs have “largely become interchangeable in their application”.

    “This poses challenges from a legislative and administrative point of view and it makes it difficult to give effect to trade and tax policy,” he says. “Different duty structures in this instance led to the abuse of legislation, which undermined government policy.”

    Lackay says “unscrupulous importers” were found to be declaring imports as computer monitors to avoid the duty. These devices then made their way into the local TV market “to the detriment of the local television industry”.

    The ad valorem duty for monitors and TVs of a specified size “was aligned” in the hope of preventing “further abuse”. Lackay says that because there is no longer any tax benefit in clearing televisions as monitors “this alignment is a step closer to giving effect to government policy”.

    The changes, he says, might “lead to the payment of ad valorem duty on larger monitors on one hand and the non-payment of ad valorem duty on smaller TVs. However, this is due to the convergence of technologies in these particular industries.”

    On 13 May, the International Trade Administration Commission of SA invited the computer and TV industries “to engage with government agencies, including Sars, with regard to the payment of unintended taxes – that is, on goods not manufactured locally — provided that a clear distinction could be made between computer equipment and television equipment”.

    Lackay says that from Sars’s discussions it appears that some industry players are “reorganising their business and are considering importing parts for assembling computer monitors and televisions”.

    “This shift in the industry indicates that the legislative changes may positively impact domestic investment and employment,” he says. “Aligned with this natural development in the industry, government is willing to consider the development of the computer monitor industry in a similar way as the television industry.”

  • President Jacob Zuma today, 5 August 2011, held his first consultative meeting with media owners, representing both print and the broadcasting industry. The meeting took place in Pretoria.

    President Zuma welcomed the interaction with this important sector of South Africa's society, remarking that their "products from newspapers, magazines, to radio stations and television channels, provided a platform and mirror to project South African life and society."

    A number of issues were discussed including government's proposal to withdraw alcohol advertising. The President said government was concerned about the negative impact of alcohol abuse on society, especially on the poor, and needed to act to mitigate the problem. The industry leaders felt the advertising withdrawal might seriously impact on jobs and business. It was agreed that this matter needs to be debated further between the two parties.

    There had also been some concerns regarding government's centralised advertising. Government clarified that such a decision was a cost saving measure on the part of government and not a punitive one based on the content of print media. It was explained that the bulk buying decision was made as early as 1998.

    The media owners appraised the President of their own challenges in the industry including regulatory constraints which they wanted to discuss further. It was agreed that another session would be held soon, focusing on the media as a business, hosted by the Department of Communications.

    The meeting appreciated a presentation by Economic Development Minister, Mr Ebrahim Patel on the New Growth Path and several ideas were put forward on how to implement and communicate the programme better, and to mobilise society to ensure success.

    The meeting was introductory and set the tone for future engagements between the two parties, which would focus more on pressing issues such as media diversity and transformation, development and training as well as how media and government would work together to further strengthen Brand South Africa.

    The meeting was attended by more than 30 media owners and managers, led by Print Media SA Chairperson, Prakash Desai and National Association of Broadcasters Chairperson, Karen Willenberg.

    President Zuma was accompanied by the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Collins Chabane, Deputy Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Dina Pule and Deputy Communications Minister, Obed Bapela.


    In a BuaNews article on 5 August 2011, it was reported that President Jacob Zuma has stressed the importance of diversity and transformation in the country's media industry, saying ownership should reflect the country's demographics.
  • The Ugandan government has halted a USD74 million loan from the Import and Export Bank of China (EXIM) that was to be used to fund a digital migration project. Although the Ugandan government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Chinese government, the deputy secretary to the treasury announced the cessation of the deal, citing instructions from the Prime Minister.

    The terms of the loan stipulate that Huawei must be the vendor to supply the equipment and complete the installation, side stepping the tender process that would allow other companies to compete for the contract. The prices quoted by Huawei and the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) were called into question by the leader of the opposition Nandala Mafabi, who claims that the total amount quoted is more than double needed, and for some items more than four times more expensive than it should be.

    Mafabi claimed that an independent industry expert estimated the deal to be worth between USD20 million and USD28 million, rising to USD30 million if the ‘very best’ equipment is used. UBC claimed that the cost of setting up a system to handle TV for Kampala and upcountry areas was USD5.8 million, but Mafabi argued the amount was closer to USD1.2 million. Local paper New Vision claims that other TV operators have spent the equivalent of UGX1 billion (USD365,000) to migrate to a digital technology.

    Uganda is due to migrate from analogue to digital television by the end of 2012 but the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) believes that UBC, the country’s sole national operator, and the only licensed digital broadcaster, will not be ready in time for the deadline.

    The Ugandan government has become increasingly wary of dealing with the Chinese government after a recent controversy surrounding a similar deal to install fibre-optic cabling, also funded by EXIM and carried out by Huawei, was discovered to have been overpriced and utilised incorrect equipment.

  • Kenyan pay television service provider Multichoice Kenya has launched a new mobile decoder into the Kenyan market that will enable its subscribers have access to mobile television services.

    The new mobile decoder dubbed Drifta, targeted at mobile television enthusiasts will see subscribers within the firm's mobile network coverage areas in Nairobi, Mombasa and their environs have access to various DStv channels.

    The launch of the new mobile service by Multichoice Kenya comes on the background of stiffening competition in the Kenyan pay television market. The entry of players like Wananchi Group through its Zuku brand and giant telecoms operator Bharti Airtel who have announced their intention to enter into the Pay TV market once a monopoly of the South African Pay TV subsidiary has seen the race for pay TV subscribers in Kenya hot up.

    Felix Onyango, General manager of Digital Mobile Television Kenya limited (DMTV) which has partnered with Multichoice Kenya to provide the new product, said it was unveiled as a response to the need for Kenyans to get traditional pay TV services 'on-the-go'.

    "We are responding to Kenyans' increasingly mobile culture. Kenyans can now enjoy television anytime, anywhere," he said. Onyango said the new product would ride on the success of earlier introduced mobile television services in the country by DStv and DMTV.

    In 2008, DStv in partnership with DMTV introduced DStv Mobile on the Digital Video Broadcast - Hand held (DVB-H), which is a broadcast medium that allows for the digital terrestrial broadcast of live television channels to mobile phones.

    Stephen Isaboke, the general manager of Multichoice Kenya hailed the new product saying it would enable subscribers enjoy Pay TV services better by controlling their television viewing. He noted that new technology was key to enhancing Pay TV viewership.

    "The development and introduction of new technology is key to ensuring that DStv subscribers get more enjoyment and control of their television viewing," he said.

    There are two types of the Drifta mobile TV decorder: one which works like an internet modem and connects laptops and PCs and the second type which works with a variety of devices such as iPhones and iPads.

  • July - Sept. 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC

    Venue: NYC, USA
    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information please visit here:

    27 August - 4 September 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw

    31 August - 10 September 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information please visit here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11 - 14 Septembre 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. For more information please visit here:

    3 - 8 Octobre 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    5 - 9 October 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information please visit here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 29 October 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue: 78, av. du Pirée - 34000 Montpellier - France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information please visit here:

    21 - 30 October 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)

    P.O. Box 76417 – 00508
    Nairobi
    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information please visit here:

    25-28 October 2011
    CDN WORLD SUMMIT 2011
    Venue, Hilton Paddington Hotel, London

    The 3rd annual CDN World Summit promises to be the largest and most comprehensive CDN event ever. We are pleased to announce our partnership with BT Wholesale as the host operator and those already confirmed to the stellar line up which will include over 80 speakers.The full value chain is represented including content providers, broadcast operators, traditional and telco CDNs, represented by industry leaders such as; FilmFlex Movies, BT Wholesale and AT&T.
    For more information please visit here:

    26 - 31 October 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival

    27 Palmer Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town, 7945 – South Africa
    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information please visit here:

    29 October - 6 November 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information please visit here:
    info@amakula.com

    27 October – 6 November 2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival
    For more information please visit here:

    31 October - 7 November 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information please visit here:

    1st & 2nd November, 2011
    IP&TV Forum MENA 2011
    Venue: Dubai

    The advantages that potential IP&TV operators in the Middle East and Africa have over their Western counterparts are the opportunities to build the most up-to-date and effective networks, the common language and tradition for much of the region and a culture that encourages high rates of TV consumption. By attending the conference you will not only learn about the latest developments in the TV industry, but also make deals face to face, do business, partner and network with senior decision makers from regional and international operators, satellite providers, cable providers, content aggregators and broadcasters.
    For further information or to download a brochure please click here:

    9th - 10th November, 2011
    Africa Cast
    Venue: Cape Town, South Africa

    AfricaCast is a new event organised jointly by Informa’s Com World Series and IP&TV World Series to address the challenges and opportunities in Africa’s broadcasting market. The two day summit will bring decision makers from the entire value chain, including broadcasters, satellite providers, cable companies, regulators, content providers & producers, and production facilities.
    For further information please click here:

    16th - 17th November, 2011
    OTTtv World Summit
    Venue: London

    Building on the success of the 2010 Summit, the OTTtv World Summit 2011 will grow further and look into the future of TV delivery as well as the positioning of OTTtv to help monetise the “premium TV models”. This Summit is the only dedicated event addressing the strategic opportunities in the OTT space in the world where you can hear from directors of projects and first hand testimonials about the mounting success of OTT platforms and strategies to penetrate pay TV markets.For further information please click here:

    25 November - 4- December of 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP
    (theatre auditorium de Poitiers) in Poitiers (France).
    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information please visit here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT, 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT - (exhibition & conference) in dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information please visit here:

    4-5 July 2012,
    Broadcast & Film Africa,
    Venue: Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi

    The conference provides the platform for industry leaders shaping broadcast and film industries to share their knowledge and perspectives with peers from throughout the region. The exhibition provides manufacturers and dealers the opportunity to showcase their latest products and services and connect with the decision-makers in the African broadcast and film-making markets. For the conference Call for Papers log on to the organiser’s website here and to book exhibition space, email info@aitecafrica.com

  • Gagasi 99.5FM has appointed Vukile Zondi as its new Programmes Manager with effect from 01 September 2011. The station has also announced that it is getting an additional transmitter that will cover areas like Ladysmith, Greytown, Mooi River and other surrounding towns. It's going to be the first time that Gagasi 99.5FM will be able to broadcast in these areas.

    Ashlea Evans joined the CNBC Africa Cape Town bureau, where she has taken over the position of reporter.

    President Goodluck Jonathan, Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola and his Edo state counterpart Adams Oshiomhole, described the death of the veteran actor, Sam Loco-Efe, as a great loss to the state and the nation’s movie industry. Condoling with the family of Sam Loko over the death of the veteran actor, Jonathan said the deceased was the leading figure in the country’s film industry and assisted in boosting the profile of Nigerian actors on the contemporary scenario.

  • SAFTAS - NFVF Call for entry

    The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) organizers of the popular industry awards, South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAS) calls for local productions to submit their entries for 2012. The entries open on Wednesday 3rd of August 2011 and will close on Monday 5th of September 2011.
    .Only South African films or television productions/programmes that have been produced and publicly exhibited or broadcast between 1st of April 2010 until the 31st of July 2011 are eligible for entry.

    Since its official launch in 2005, the SAFTAS has been successfully managed under the custodianship of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). The broadcasters M-Net, e.tv, Top TV and SABC; distributors, Ster Kinekor, indigenous Films and Nu Metro play an important role in supporting the awards.

    The SAFTA are an industry initiative governed by a body of industry representatives SASFED, SABC, e.tv, M-Net and the NFVF and is managed by the custodianship of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) under whose values the essence of the awards are encapsulated, those of Creativity, Freedom of expression, Entrepreneurship and Equitable redress.

    "The SAFTAS has truly become the premiere platform for recognizing talent in the industry. Since its inception the awards have grown from strength to strength attracting representatives from government, private sector and the industry. We encourage all eligible productions to participate in order to continue elevating the film and television status of our country," says Karen Son NFVF Acting CEO.

    The SAFTAS has since its inception honoured individuals and productions in the following categories: TV Non-fiction, TV Fiction, Feature Films, Short Films Student Films and Animation with Special Lifetime achievement awards given to those esteemed individuals who have long served the industry in various categories.

    As with the previous years the public will play a pivotal role in the Soapie category by voting for their best soapie. Previous winners of this category include Generations and Seven de Laan.
    Click here to obtain the Rules and Guidelines. All the entries should be submitted through an online entry system which can be found on the SAFTA Entries website. Closing date 05th of September 2011 16h00.

    The judging panels will this year be made up of previous SAFTAS winners and nominees from the past 5 years. This is in a bid to begin the development of the SA Film & TV Academy. As with previous years, the judging process will be overseen and verified by independent auditors.

    The winners will be presented with the official SAFTA trophy, the Golden Horn, at a glittering ceremony in February 2012 that will host the cream of South African talent, leading personalities, key government and private sector, VIP's and media.

    The SAFTAS honour, celebrate and promote the creativity, quality and excellence of South African Film and Television talent and productions, and encourage entrepreneurship and the development of new talent within the industry.

    For more information email Communications & Public Affairs Naomi Mokhele or project coordinator Carla Dias.

    Call for entry: 84th Annual Academy Awards - Best Foreign Language Film Award

    Call for South African Entries – Deadline for submissions: 31 August 2011 16h00
    South African filmmakers are invited to submit their feature films for consideration into the 84th Annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards for Best Foreign Language Film Category.
    .

    Entries for Filminute - the international one-minute film festival that challenges filmmakers, writers, animators, artists, designers, and creative producers to develop and submit the world's best one-minute films - close on 20 August 2011.
    View the posts on www.facebook.com/filminute and download entry forms click here:

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