Issue no 622 14th September 2012

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Top story

  • South Sudan’s Juba and Eritrea’s Asmara were the only two African capitals without plans to introduce international fibre links. Now the South Sudan Government is moving towards working out what its plans will be. Russell Southwood looks at plans in the wings and what the options are.

    South Sudan’s Government (through the ministry, MoTPS  and the Presidential Commission on Infrastructure) is now beginning to address one of its key communications infrastructure problems: the lack of international fibre connections for its capital Juba. Its three mobile operators (MTN, Vivicell and Zain) and its ISPs currently use expensive satellite connectivity, which the Government estimates it costs US$32,300 a month. 

    Zain is the Kuwaiti owned company that sold its African operations to Airtel and Vivicell is locally owned but has had Lebanese investment. We understand that Zain imported fibre and equipment to roll out national routes but was told to stop by the Government. Furthermore, we’ve been told that one of the mobile companies has a microwave link down to the border. MTN also issued a tender to build a national backbone.

    In an announcement at the end of August, Juma Stephen Lugga, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services said the Government was looking to build three fibre routes to Juba: from Kenya’s Mombasa via Lokichoggio; from Tanzania via Uganda to the border at Nimule; from Djibouti via Ethiopia’s Gambella. There are clearly no plans to connect to northern Sudan. Lugga said that initially it will fund the building of a microwave link (which would cost US$10 million), after which the fibre routes would be put in place.

    The World Bank and the African Development Bank are in discussion with the Ministry to look at how they might make a substantial grant for among other things both national and international fibre links. The World Bank usually looks for Private Public Partnerships based on open access principles and this case looks no different from any other. Later in September it will enter into dialogue with the Government and the private sector to look at options for further study.

    During his announcement at the end of August Juma Stephen Lugga, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services said the Government was looking at Chinese finance for these plans. From a separate source we understand that a Government representative has visited one of the Chinese infrastructure providers and that informally the Chinese have offered a loan of US$5 billion.

    There are clearly a couple of potential options for the development of both the national and international fibre networks. These include:

    * A Chinese-funded build-out by Huawei or ZTE. Both can be very capable infrastructure builders. However, the choice of this option is haunted by the experience of Uganda. The fibre network built there was not dug deep enough and the loan appeared expensive for what was delivered. It seems that the heart of the problem was the lack of capacity to manage the Chinese contractors effectively. The same circumstance would also be found in South Sudan where capacity of this kind is in short supply and there is no incumbent in which such capacity might be found. However, once built, it is unclear who would operate the network: the Chinese on a Build and Transfer basis? A new state entity? A local private entity with links to the Government?

    * World Bank financed fibre infrastructure options have been set up across a wide range of countries and have common elements. The private sector generally gets to sit on the board of the entity that will manage the fibre. Access to the fibre is on open access principles so that all operators get the same access and pricing. Its funding usually ensures that there is greater access: for example, they might insist that South Sudan’s 10 provincial capitals are all connected. However, at present there is only regular electricity in Juba so this may pose significant challenges. We understand that some of the mobile operators have agreed privately in principle to put up some of the funding for the international routes.

    A number of potential network operators have put up plans to the Government and clearly there needs to be an open and transparent process for selecting whoever eventually gets to build and manage the network. Also there should be no confusion between the public interest and the interests of those in Government. 

    A bumper crop of video clips this week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

    Kwabena Smith, Orun Energy on saving diesel costs on base stations

    Justin Hartman, Social Code on South Africa's ICT entrepreneurialism and the failure to support it

    Julian Macharia, Buni TV on this new online video delivery platform

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on its acquisition of Afinis

    Envir Fraser, Convergence Partners on investment opportunities in ICT

    Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga on the mobile money market in Nigeria

    Nigerian ICT blogger Loy Okezi
    e on Nigeria's online successes

    Victor Dibia, CEO, Denvycom.com
     on his games portfolio and plans to monetize

    Oluseye Soyode-Johnson, consultant to Maliyo Games
     on the business model

    A special for Balancing Act readers:

    Kristine Pearson shows how the Lifeplayer, an MP3 player for rural education, works


    Mobile learning Steve Vosloo on how m-learning can support teaching

    Steve Vosloo on edutainment and interactivity in mobile learning, the Yoza mobile story project and other examples of m-learning in Africa

    South African Niall Murphy, Marmalade on multi-platform software distribution for apps based on the ARM chipset

     

     

telecoms

  • Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom will spend $94.8 million to install 2,300 kilometres of fibre-optic cable over the next four years to help serve its growing customer base, reports Reuters quoting CEO Bob Collymore. Vodafone holds a 40% stake in Safaricom, which has 19.1 million subscribers in Kenya, a 67% market share.

     

    Collymore said the operator would fund the investment internally. Collymore added that the company already has 600 kilometres of fibre, while addition of another 800 kilometres will start from November and is expected to conclude within 18 months.

    Collymore said: “In the next three years, we will be working on extending the footprint by up to 500 kilometres a year. With future demand for higher bandwidth, the expansion will continue in the future.”

     

    Kenya saw the number of mobile subscribers increase by 16% in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011 to 29 million

  • The Zimbabwean cellular operator Econet Wireless is targeting 100% network coverage in the country by 2015, up from around 74% currently and just 13% three years ago. The firm says the dollarisation of the economy, which saw the local Zimbabwe dollar replaced by the US dollar under a multi-currency system in 2009, and improving political stability have helped create a sound platform for investment in infrastructure. 

     

    ‘The shift to a multi-currency economy by the minister of finance, and the creation of the national unity government opened up a world of new opportunities for Zimbabwe, and certainly for the ICT sector,’ New Zimbabwe reports Econet chief executive Douglas Mboweni as saying. 

     

    The executive also said that strong ties with Chinese equipment vendors and financial institutions have helped sustain the growth in the telecoms sector: ‘Most of our equipment now comes from China; the infrastructure that we have built for connecting our major cities comes from China, and our major contractor is Huawei.’

  • MTN, Globacom, Airtel, Etisalat and Visafone are losing about N8 billion daily revenue to the recent bombing of their facilities in the northern parts of the country.

    The operators are losing money on their voice, short message service (SMS) and internet data traffic which pass through their network both on the microwave and fibre optic backbones.

    The bombings carried out by Boko Haram, a terrorist group seeking the islamisation of the country led to the collapse of the mobile telecommunications providers' network in north east Nigeria. The group had in April this year threatened to attack any telecommunications service provider working with the security agencies to track their members through the triangulation of the telecom masts to trace the location and use of wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) digital mapping to pinpoint the whereabouts of a phone user.

    According to a Leadership source, "We are losing about N1.5 billion daily to the attacks. Some mobile station controllers (MSCs) which control about 15 to 220 base transceiver stations (BTSs) were knocked out thereby affecting a large number of base stations that were not destroyed by the terrorists' attacks." 

    He said the attacks on the mobile operators' facilities impacted on the data traffic relayed by both fibre optic backbone and microwave backbones which feed the base stations with traffic. A look at the operators' subscriber base show that MTN controls 48 per cent of the telecom market with 43 million subscribers followed by Globacom with 22 million, Airtel with 20 million while Etisalat has 13 million subscribers respectively. 

    This revenue loss excludes the cost of each base station and office that were damaged by the attacks which is estimated to run into hundreds of millions of dollars. An average base station costs about $150,000 while controller stations (MSCs) worth about $500,000 to $1million depending on the number of vertical and parabolic antennas on the masts.

     

  • In a significant move to contribute to reducing the high incidence of domestic violence in the country, the Vodafone Ghana Foundation (VGF), in collaboration with the Ark Foundation, has launched the first ever care line for the reporting of domestic violence in the country. 

    The 24-hour hotline - 5555 - would give victims of abuse and those who live in abusive situations the rare opportunity for first line response. Victims would have access to trained professionals who would provide them with expert advice, counselling, police assistance, legal advice and a wide range of other interventions for women and children at risk of abuse. 

    The hotline 5555 is both an emergency and regular line with both text and voice function, and would be managed by professionals from the Ark Foundation, and funded by the Vodafone Ghana Foundation.

internet

  • Kenya National Integrated Civic Education (K-NICE), a government initiative charged with monitoring civic education, last week unveiled a website for sharing constitutional information ahead of the general elections slated for March next year.

    The new site, Knice.go.ke, makes information on the Constitution accessible to the public, who are free to ask questions which will be answered directly by the K-NICE secretariat members. It in addition gives information on devolved government, land, natural resources, the electoral system and other key areas that have a great impact on Kenyans.

    K-NICE project coordinator Otieno Okero said the initiative is expected to reach out to Kenyans, who can access the site on their mobile devices or desktop PCs.

    Kenya’s justice minister Eugene Wamalwa, speaking during the launch, said: “K-NICE’s idea of embracing ICT is great as it aims to reach out to a larger population.”  

    Wamalwa urged the youth in the country to participate in issues that are of national importance, such as the constitutional implementation process, as the Internet offers limitless potential for participation.

    According to K-NICE, the youth are active users of social media and the sharing of information is now possible on its Facebook page and Twitter handle: @KniceKenya.

    Wamalwa said Kenyans from urban and rural areas should be enlightened on the constitution and allowed to give their views on the its implementation.

    K-NICE was unveiled in March this year to provide a forum where Kenyans can participate in matters of governance. The programme also uses radio and television in addition to non-governmental organisations such as community- or faith-based organisations to reach out to the people.

    Kenya went to the polls on August 4, 2010 and passed the new constitution, with the implementation process having been ongoing since then.

    The initiative is a result of a partnership between the Ministry for Justice and the National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs to educate Kenyans on their constitution.

  • Niger operator Sonitel has started the deployment of a 300 km fibre link between Dosso and Konni at a launch ceremony attended by the country's president, Mahamadou Issoufou, deputies, diplomats and regional officials, Xinhua reports. 

    Communications minister Salifou Labo Bouche reminded attendees that the government aims to raise broadband coverage to 72 percent in 2015 from 54 percent in 2010, and to increase ICT penetration to 50 percent in 2015 from 25 percent in 2010. 

    Work on a second fibre link, running for over 500 km between Konni and Zinder, will begin in October.

     

  • ICTJ joined government officials and civil society in Freetown, Sierra Leone to celebrate the launch of a new website for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone and welcome the prospects for revitalization of Sierra Leone's reconciliation.

    Sierra Leone's 10-year civil conflict was marked by intense violence against civilians, recruitment of child soldiers, corruption, and a bloody struggle for control of diamond mines.

    The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (SL-TRC) was established to produce "an impartial record of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone," and to "address impunity, to respond to the needs of victims, to promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered."

    The final report of the Commission contains a historical record of human rights violations and provides recommendations for the future. However, after its initial release in 2005, the report became largely unavailable for three years due to the close of the Commission's website.

    In response to a dearth of information on the Sierra Leone TRC report and the peace building and reconciliation process, ICTJ joined its partners, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) to support the development and hosting of a reconstructed and improved website of the SL-TRC process.

    The launching of the reconstructed website attracted participants from government, the UN, victims, civil society, and the media. Speakers called for the government to implement the recommendations, including the reparations program.

    The new website of the SL-TRC will be host to comprehensive resources, including the report, audio and video of the TRC, a new page on the Sierra Leone Peace Museum, background information on the relationship of the TRC and Special Court for Sierra Leone, pictures of the TRC and an interactive Recommendations Matrix.

  • Teraco Data Environments, South Africa’s first vendor neutral data centre, has won the bid to host the Durban Internet Exchange (DINX). Teraco is set to make internet history with this announcement by providing Durban-based ISPs with a local exchange for the very first time. Lex van Wyk, Managing Director at Teraco says that the launch of the exchange is a major step towards contributing to the health and growth of the internet in South Africa.

    “The installation of DINX within our Durban facility has been a long time coming and is a big step for the internet in South Africa. Juniper kindly donated the network switches and Teraco the power and space requirements for the internet exchange. We’re proud to say it’s already installed and operational,” says van Wyk.

    Graham Beneke from the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) says that the new exchange is fundamental to furthering economic and societal growth in South Africa. “DINX serves as yet another critical hub for internet data exchange in South Africa minimising our need to send domestic internet traffic onto long-distance international links which ultimately results in higher costs and latency.”

    “DINX will enrich South Africa’s internet ecosystem and pave the way for growth in other areas like cloud applications,” says Van Wyk. 

    Teraco’s Durban facility provides power, security, fire protection, cooling and cable management according to a design level resiliency policy.  Van Wyk says that the data centre is located on the fibre ring of all the major licensed carriers, all of which have fibre nodes within the building, presented in the Teraco Carrier Hotel. Teraco data centre.

    Derek Hershaw, CEO of MWeb ISP says “Teraco, through its continued build of neutral and open access centres, has already positively contributed to the cost of Internet access in South Africa, and I have no doubt their hosting of DINX works towards the same goal of improving the overall Internet economy in our country.” 

    “Internet traffic is increasing in Durban and with the introduction of DINX, we’ll see improved performance for traffic within the metropol, cost-savings and an extra layer of redundancy,” says van Wyk.

  • Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel) has unmasked an impostor that has already planted over 150 km of optical fibre cables along the Douala-Yaounde road. The yet-to-be-identified individual or company has reportedly buried over 70 km of the cables along the Douala-Edea road and 80 km along the Bomnyebel-Yaounde stretch and were about beginning Bomnyebel-Ezeka-Lolodorf.

    According to the Head of the Public Relations and Communication Department at Camtel, Benjamin Gérard Assouzo'o, the story began like a fairytale on Monday September 10 when a group of over 100 people came to Camtel's head office in Yaounde asking to be paid for the work they had done. Quizzed on what work, where and how, they said they had been digging trenches and planting optical fibre along the Douala-Yaounde road and had not been paid for all the work already done.

    When Camtel officials visited the areas, work was visible on the site but the company was no where to be found. "When we contacted them on the telephone numbers given us by the unpaid workers, a voice said "our boss is in the United States and we will pay you when he comes back," Benjamin Gérard Assouzo'o told CT yesterday. He said the people took the impostor for Camtel given that the cables had Camtel inscription on them.

    On this premise, accusing fingers are already being pointed at yet-to-be-identified people within Camtel. "Why are our cables outside with people not of the house and who are not working for us," he wondered. The Public Relations and Communication Director said Camtel has already informed the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications and the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency. "Government has invested over FCFA 45 billion to build the optical fibre backbone and we will know who could be behind the impostor to destabilise all we have done," he said.

    How the process could have gone on for more than a month now without any alert even from local administrative officials and who could have been involved in or is behind the clandestine but expensive activity at a time government and its Chinese partner, Huawei, are almost through with the National Optical Fibre Project, are what investigations that are going on would bring to light.

  • The Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA) yesterday announced that the country's code top-level domain .rw will be run by the government.

    The country code top level domain ccTLD, which is used and reserved for a country or sovereign state, for Rwanda was created around 1996 and was managed by a Swiss citizen named Frédéric Grégoire since its creation. He was managing it along with the country domains for DRC, Congo Brazzaville and Burundi.

    Geoffrey Kayonga, the CEO of RICTA, said, "Now that the domain is managed by Rwandans, it will be done more efficiently."

    The switch from Grégoire to the government was made last week by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) nine months after the request was brought before the corporation in January.

    "We plan to have affordable prices as well as faster services," said Ghislain Nkeramugaba, the coordinator of RICTA, adding that although registering to the domain will no longer be free, their prices will be reasonable and competitive while the time of registration will also be less (six hours).

    Given the fact that people used to register for free and the widespread use of international domain such as .com, RICTA is planning to start a campaign to raise people's awareness to the advantages of using the national domain.

    "Besides the accompanying pride of having a Rwandan domain, it will also facilitate the creation of local content which will speed their search on internet," explained Nkeramugaba, adding that efforts will be put in changing people's perceptions about using the national domain.

    The process to ask the management of the domain by Rwanda was supported by different government and private bodies like RURA, RDB and JICA among others.

  • The British Council in consultation with the Ministry of Education has introduced an internet programme that will enable Namibian students to interact with British students on educational matters.

    During a recent interview with New Era, the British Council Country Director in Namibia Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo said they are working towards connecting Namibian schools to the Global School Programme of the British Council through the Ministry of Education. So far school principals in the Khomas, Karas, Hardap, Erongo, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions have already been trained on the project during a leadership workshop that took place in Windhoek last week, while principals from the Oshana, Oshikoto, Omusati, Ohangwena, Kavango and Caprivi regions are currently going through the same training.

    Although the programme is relatively new, about 12 schools have already been connected through this new initiative called 'Connecting Classrooms', which is aimed at sharing best practices among schools in order to improve the quality of education in Namibia.

    "Three Namibian schools would be connected online using similar criteria. And once that is done we will connect these schools to three other schools in Botswana and thereafter to three others in the UK," explained Ndjoze-Ojo.

    The latest schools to benefit from the 'Connecting Classrooms' project are Nowak Primary School at Tses in the Karas Region, Nossob Primary School at Witvlei in the Omaheke Region and Moses //Garoeb Primary School in the informal settlement of Hakahana in Windhoek.

    "When we select the schools, we always look at criteria. This year's criterion is that the school must be very much disadvantaged. The schools must be very, very disadvantaged in a sense that the children at that school must be from marginalised communities. For Example, we selected Witvlei because we learnt in the newspapers that learners were going to dumping grounds to collect food to eat and we felt that these children needed to be strengthened and supported," said Ndjoze-Ojo.

    Apart from the schools that were connected, the British Council is also providing other schools with information on how to reach out to other schools online and to connect to the web through the 'Connecting Classrooms' project. "For example if you have a very good mathematics teacher in one school, they can connect with another school online to share best practices and experiences," explained Ndjoze-Ojo.

    She said although the British Council will provide computers and internet connectivity to selected schools, government will have to make an effort to ensure that schools are equipped with electricity.

    "We as the British Council are not really responsible for providing electricity to rural schools, nationally. But we hope that the ministry is reaching out in the best way possible to make sure that schools have access to electricity. And I think the ministry is working hard on that. But we cannot roll out nationally, we roll out according to our budget," she said.

    Apart from the 'Connecting Classrooms' project, the British Council is also training thousands of school principals and education inspectors countrywide on management and leadership.

    "Leadership and management is not necessarily the same thing. The leader should provide a vision for the school - he or she should provide direction, while managers manage activities geared toward that end."

    According her, leadership provides vision and ensures that the visions are linked to the national vision, which is Vision 2030. "The kinds of learners or products that you are producing at your school depend on your leadership as the school principal," said Ndjoze-Ojo.

computing

  • Google is assembling 90 students from 12 countries to participate in a 2-week conference through its initiative the Google Student Ambassador programme (GSA), to map out Africa’s campuses and the surrounding communities.

    This activity, which is expected to create thousands of edits on Google Maps, should make it easier moving around campuses, the company says.

    The chosen students will benefit from skills developed by using the mapping tools offered by Google Maps.

    “We can hardly imagine what’s in store as the GSA program expands into new regions and new universities. We hope that bringing these outstanding students together will help them learn more about mapping and its benefits and they can lead in putting their universities on the world’s map,” said Obum Ekeke, Regional Program Manager - University Programs and Outreach, Google Sub-Saharan Africa.

    The mapping will include administrative blocks, cafeterias, accommodation and dining buildings, libraries, laboratories, banks and other useful places. It is unclear if indoor mapping will also be included in the project.

    Over 1,800 students have been trained to undertake the project. The students have received further training in Google Map Maker and the benefits of easily locating facilities around them.

    According to Google, this programme helps students in various universities to make “the Internet relevant to them in their society.”

    The Google Student Ambassador programme was started in 2011 with 28 students from six African countries being selected. It has grown further with more institutions and countries being included in the programme.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Paynet Group, a card processor and electronic payments solutions provider, says it will launch a new chip and PIN card issuing facility in East Africa by early November, in a move designed to boost banks’ anti-fraud measures.

    The firm says the facility will launch EMV Chip Cards by early November. 

    East African Banks lost around US$ 48.3 million to fraud in the eighteen months ended June this year, equivalent to to a full year’s profit for a small or medium-sized Kenyan bank, much of which could have been saved through tougher anti-fraud systems.

    Bernard Matthewman, Paynet Group’s chief executive, said that the Paynet Processing Centre will serve multiple banks within the region at a low cost per card and will be able to support programs by individual banks that may opt for moving their customers to EMV Chip.

    Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) union ensures security and global interoperability. The two partnered to launch the EMV Chip and Pin to counter fraud, card skimming and counterfeiting.

    The firm says it has agreed with a bank to issue the multifunction EMV Chip cards, which it says have been specially manufactured against counterfeiting.

    Matthewman added that the EMV Chip and PIN cards will reduce risk by countering fraud.

  • Essar Telecom Kenya, which operates under the ‘yu’ brand name, has confirmed that it requires a cash injection of up to USD250 million over the next two years to grow its ailing mobile business. However, according to AllAfrica.com, the company has been restricted from borrowing locally by the high interest rates, and is now seeking funding from the likes of Europe and China. 

    Country manager Madhur Taneja commented: ‘We are in business with the aim of keeping costs down, and you know what has been happening to interest rates here. I cannot go around the world looking for financiers, that is why we have tasked BNP Paribas’.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Mobile services provider yuMobile has partnered with Jubilee Insurance and MicroEnsure to launch a unique insurance scheme that rewards yuMobile subscribers with a renewable monthly life and disability cover based on the amount of airtime they recharge each month.

    yuMobile subscribers must dial *555# to gain access to the product dubbed 'yuCover' which MicroEnsure CEO Richard Leftley described as the country's first insurance product to be delivered through mobile phones.

    "The yuCover product rewards subscribers who are loyal to the yuMobile network and so the more airtime subscribers buy in this month will determine how much free insurance they'll earn in the following month. If you spend more on airtime with yu, then you'll earn more free yuCover," he said.

    Jubilee will be the underwriter of the cover that underlines the growing convergence between mobile phone operators and financial services companies, notably banks.

    Customers must top up at least Sh100 each month to be rewarded with free insurance cover worth Sh10,000 shillings the following month.

Digital Content

  • Tired of being fleeced by middlemen who offer them poor prices, the Irish potato farmers have signed up to the social media site where they tweet to engage hotel owners — mainly in Nairobi — access daily commodity prices, and close deals online.

    Through a closed user group aptly named @ViaziNarok; the potato farmers congregate online where they share market intelligence reports and haggle with café managers in real time — creating a virtual distribution chain that bypasses brokers.

    So far, 1,953 potato farmers from Narok and 17 hotels in Nairobi are ‘‘following’’ the mobile-based platform, developed in April, free of charge —wirelessly bridging the more than 150 kilometres between them.

    To sign up to the SokoShambani platform, farmers are required to follow a four-step procedure where one sends the word START to 8988. The next steps involve sending the farmer’s name, location, and crop variety.

    The agri-tweeting venture has already caught the eye of American development agency USAID which is providing funding worth Sh4.3 million.

    The Irish potato is Kenya’s second most important food crop behind maize, involving approximately 790,000 farmers who produced 2.4 million tonnes of the tuber last year from about 123,000 hectares of land.

    SokoShambani joins the league of the increasing number of agriculture-related mobile apps such as M-Farm, iCow, M-Shamba, and FarmPal which seek to provide interventions such as extension services, market information, and value addition

     

  • Abake Adenle is a quantitative analyst who lived alternatively between the US and Nigeria whilst growing up. Now based in London, Adenle has developed a mobile app, SpeakYoruba, aimed at teaching children of the African diaspora the West African Yoruba language.

    How we made it in Africa asked Adenle about the African diaspora, the Yoruba language, and the steady inclusion of African languages in the ICT arena.

    How did the idea for SpeakYoruba come about?

    I came up with SpeakYoruba primarily as a way to help my young nieces and nephews develop basic Yoruba language skills. Having grown up in the States learning Yoruba from my parents I understand the difficulties of learning a language ‘out of context’. Watching them grow up in the diaspora, I wanted to create something that would remove the ‘work’ from learning Yoruba. I wanted to develop an app that was educational and visually stimulating and that makes the Yoruba language engaging, accessible and fun.

    Who are your target customers and why do you think they will be interested in the app?

    SpeakYoruba is primarily aimed at children in the Yoruba-speaking diaspora. However, I’ve found that SpeakYoruba appeals to a wide age demographic, from young children who appreciate the animations and consider the app more of a ‘game’, to young adults and teenagers who are looking to build their Yoruba language skills having grown up not speaking Yoruba. I’ve also found interest from people outside the Yoruba-speaking diaspora who appreciate the Yoruba language and culture.

    Why do you think it is important for children of the African diaspora to learn their traditional language?

    I think Yoruba is a beautiful, rich language and learning the language is a way to enjoy the various layers of Yoruba culture as reflected by the language – the proverbs, poems, literature, art and music of Yorubas all become accessible with knowledge of the language. This is true for all African languages.

    I think language skills are especially important for children of the African diaspora as language allows them to access their culture and history in a deeper, more meaningful way. By understanding/speaking an ancestral language, even at a basic level, I believe they better understand the role their heritage plays in their broader understanding of their cultural identity. This is especially important at a time when many children of the African diaspora are growing up within multiple cultures and across various geographies, mostly outside of Africa. It is quite easy for African culture and language to “get lost in the mix” within this plurality of cultures, especially considering the dominance of Western languages like French, English and Spanish in everyday life, and the increasingly important role of Mandarin.

    SpeakYoruba is the first in a series of apps under my ‘SpeakAfrica Project’ aimed at promoting and preserving African languages, with aim of expanding across a variety of languages and features within the app to include a range of learning tools.

    Why do you think African languages are starting to be more and more represented in the ICT arena?

    As with most segments of society, technology plays an increasingly important role in the way in which we perform everyday tasks. Both Africa and the African diaspora are participants of the global technological revolution; it is only natural that technologists begin to embrace the needs of Africans when creating products. Developing African language apps is a natural progression from the traditional tools in place to learn these languages, enhancing the existing knowledge base with modern technology.

  • Kenya’s mSwali will expand into Tanzania early next year, allowing users to easily survey clients via SMS texts.

    mSwali is a web-based tool that uses mobile technology to survey clients and analyse data in real-time.

    Rachel Brooks, mSwali co-founder and a Kiva Fellow told HumanIPO that the expansion to Tanzania came after they began receiving inquiries from a number of organisations working with communities in the country, as well as the firms in need of feedback from their clients about their services or products.

    The firm released its public version late last year and since then over 70,000 mSwali SMS texts have been sent, with more than 400 being sent a day.

    Presently, organisations working with mSwali in Kenya include farmers’ microfinance institution Juhudi Kilimo, One Degree Solar, Adam Smith International and the Aspen Institute. Brooks told HumanIPO that mSwali has played a part in Juhudi Kilimo’s projects in Nyanza, Rift Valley and Central provinces.

    mSwali was born after Brooks and co-founder Jeremy Gordon were seeking a solution to solve a research need while working as Kiva Fellows at Juhudi Kilimo.

    “We saw how difficult it was to get feedback from the field. Most farmers Juhudi Kilimo was working with were deep in the interior and it took us days to get to them and more days to come and compile the reports. With even delays leading to inaccuracies,” Brooks said.

    She added that they saw many of the farmers with basic mobile phones and thought something could be done.

    “The mSwali idea then began developing. Jeremy, a mechanical engineer from Stanford with a software background and knowledge of python began working on something, then with my exposure at Microsoft and Adobe, I chipped in,” she added.

    Organisations pay from between KSh3 and KSh6 per bulk SMS text messages sent, though the feedback SMS from farmers or clients is free. Those using mSwali to do research can also give farmers incentives in form of airtime.

    mSwali’s dashboard is simple to use, with the client signing up and selecting the name or group of people they wants to reach. They can then decide the type of questions to send to the clients or farmers.

    “You  design a survey, choosing respondents, and send it and get response in just a few minutes,” Brooks said.

    mSwali SMS can also be used to register products, manage after sale services, collect customer feedback, track facility statuses and issues and perform high sample size measurement and evaluation.

    Brooks says they chose SMS as it could be used “anywhere anytime.”

    Challenges exist, however, as many Kenyans have a fear of free SMS and particularly due to fear of frauds. In addition, not everyone uses SMS in Kenya, due to age and gender related issues or illiteracy, she added.

  • Nairobi-based startup Sematime beat off five other technology startups to emerge as winner of The Next Web’s Startup World: Kenya last week. To cater to the growing mobile market in Africa, Sematime makes it easy for people to send bills and invoices to large groups of contacts via SMS.

    The founder of Tusqee Systems, the umbrella company of Sematime, Boniface Githinji – who is also behind the School SMS, an SMS service that lets parents and teachers monitor their students’ performances and school fees payments – said he was ‘pleased with the opportunity it presented’ and will now be invited to compete in the grand final competition in San Francisco in 2013.

    Sematime is available in three packages: Starter, which is free and ideal for individuals with an address book of only 1,000 contacts. Pro, at KSh5999 per month (approx US$71) with unlimited contacts, free SMS branding, support for long SMS of up to 480 characters, and more.

    The third package, Enterprise, is ideal for corporate frims at KSh11,999 (approx. US$142) a month with a dedicated account holder.

    Local judges Joel Macharia CEO and founder of Pesatalk, Martin Nielsen, business development at 88mph and Phares Kariuki, project manager at African Media Initiative listened intently as startups had three minutes to impress them with their pitch and gave two minutes of feedback on the pitches.

More

  • Takealot.com has announced the appointment of Willem van Biljon to its Board and Jacques Van Niekerk to the executive team. Willem van Biljon is one of South Africa’s tech stars, having been with Amazon.com and one of the team leads who started EC2 (Amazon’s Cloud solution).  Willem is South African born and raised and prior to Amazon co-founded Mosaic software.  Most recently, Willem co-founded Nimbula, a Cloud infrastructure software company funded by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners.

    Jacques Van Niekerk is a seasoned Internet executive having been with MIH/Naspers since 2006.   Van Niekerk will replace the current CTO, David Turner.

  •  

    Managed Services World Congress 2012
    18 – 19 September 2012, Maritim Pro Arte Hotel, Berlin, Germany
    With Managed Service business models evolving in new and exciting directions, it’s time to reassess the market and your place in it. Managed Services World Congress – the biggest global MS event – is the perfect place to bring leading players together and address these issues. With a 50% operator audience, and 65% CXO / Director level attendance, there is no better opportunity to meet new and existing clients. It’s a must-attend event for anyone looking to maximise the value of their technology, their networks and their brand in today’s evolving MS world. FREE PASSES FOR OPERATORS. For more information visit here: 

    Broadband World Forum

    16 – 18 October 2012, Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    The event, now in its 12th year, is the most respected in the regions Telecoms calendar and the comprehensive agenda includes breakfast briefings, 3 co-located summits,  keynote plenary sessions and a choice of 4 tracks for delegates each day as well as the world class exhibition area. For more information please click here:

    AfricaCom 2012
    13th-15th November 2012, CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

    The digital ecosystem will take centre stage at AfricaCom 2012, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, 13 – 15 November 2012.  Network with over 7000 industry executives at Africa’s largest event embracing all aspects of the continent’s converging telecoms, media and ICT sectors.  Incorporating 11 co-located events all pertinent to future-proofing your business in the digital era, including cloud computing, OTT, apps, broadband and multiplatform content, see and hear how Africa’s communications market is a hotbed for innovation and long term prosperity. 
    Contact: Subuola.akinkugbe@informa.com
    For more information please click here:

    Telecoms Fraud & Revenue Assurance Forum

    26th - 27th November 2012, Dubai 

    The only event currently in the region dedicated to telecoms fraud and revenue assurance, Tavess' Telecoms Fraud and Revenue Assurance Forum in Dubai has been designed to provide Revenue Assurance and Fraud professionals from across the Middle East, Asia and Africa the opportunity to learn about the latest RA strategies that the operators are adopting to more effectively detect and prevent revenue leakage and fraudulent activities in an increasingly complex scenario. In addition to an in-depth look at the detection and prevention of various types of fraud, the Forum also explores how to evolve the organization, streamline processes, effectively integrate systems and embed revenue assurance into new products. For more information please click here:

     

     

  • Vodacom to launch app development workshop

    Vodacom is planning to launch South Africa’s first multiplatform mobile application development workshop aimed at strengthening the mobile app eco-system in South Africa. This workshop will be launched in partnership with some of the best and leading ICT players in South Africa, including BlackBerry, CSIR, Google, Microsoft, mLab, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Technology Innovation Agency and The Innovation Hub.

    The workshop, which will take place from 03 to 05 October 2012 at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria, forms part of the Vodacom Developer Programme which aims to encourage local developers to design apps that are relevant to the South African market as well as the global market.

    Below is a preview of topics that will be discussed during day one of the workshop:

    Vodacom Developer Programme as a vehicle to drive mobile app ecosystem in South Africa by Prins Mhlanga, Managing Executive at Vodacom.

    The enterprise development opportunities in the mobile space by Paulo Ferreira, Head of Enterprise Mobility at Samsung. Opportunities for mobile applications in government by McLean Sibanda, CEO at The Innovation Hub.

    Developing windows phone games and introduction to developing for Windows 8 by Dave Russell, Technical Developer Evangelist at Microsoft.

    Android, HTML5 and mobile web development by Ato Ulzen-Appiah the Developer Outreach Programme Manager of Sub-Saharan Africa at Google and Toby Kurien, the Android Development Freelancer.

    For full program details and workshop registration, visit www.vodacom.co.za/developer

     

    Africa's Talking Ltd

    Vacancies: 1

    Location: Nairobi, Kenya

    Deadline: 01 Oct, 2012

    http://www.smsvoices.com

    TITLE: HIRE OF SALES & MARKETING HEAD, AFRICA'S TALKING

    REPORTS TO: CEO, AFRICA'S TALKING LTD

    JOB DESCRIPTION: Africa's Talking is a Kenyan IT company that provides a wide variety of mobile communication services such as SMS Short Codes, USSD, IVR, SMS Polling/Surveys, Bulk SMS, dynamic SMS systems as well as an SMS/USSD API for developers. In addition, Africa's Talking runs two SMS applications – SMSLeopard and SMSVoices. Africa's Talking would like to invite job applications for the post of Head of Sales and Marketing. The Head of Sales and Marketing will be responsible for developing and implementing a Marketing and Sales Strategy for Africa's Talking Ltd while leading a team of Marketing Executives and Interns in the Sales and Marketing department.

    RESPONSIBILITIES:

    Senior sales manager in charge of all sales activities, departments and personnel involved in Sales and Marketing for the Company.

    Provides leadership to the day-to-day operations of the sales department, while maintaining focus on the company’s strategic goals.

    Member of the Company’s Senior Executive Staff.

    Reports to the Chief Executive Officer/President.

    Analyze sales statistics to determine business growth potential.

    Establishes performance goals for all sales department employees, and monitors performance on a continual basis.

    Oversees all hiring, training and firing of personnel involved in Sales and Marketing.

    Develops, or participates with the Senior Staff, in the development of the Strategic Marketing Plan for the Company.

    Directs department(s) to achieve objectives established in the Company’s Strategic Plan.

    Coordinates sales operations with all other departments/divisions of the Company.

    Develops and/or maintains and improves business relations with all customers of the Company.

    Seeks out and targets new customers and new sales opportunities, initiates action plan to approach and secure new business for the Company.

    Senior responsibility for all Trade Accounts Receivables. Monitors A/R aging on a proactive basis with his personnel, coordinates with Credit Manager and Accounts Receivable Manager/Controller.

    REQUIREMENTS:

    Bachelors degree in a business related field

    A proven ability of “making the sale”

    Experience in Telecommunications Industry or Software Sales is desirable

    Results focused person with high individual standards

    Proven leadership ability to influence, develop, and empower employees to achieve objectives with a team approach.

    Apply for this position:

    Submit your Resume/CV to jobs@africastalking.com with a paragraph on why you are the best person for the job

Issue no 622 14th September 2012

node ref id: 25920

Top story

  • South Sudan’s Juba and Eritrea’s Asmara were the only two African capitals without plans to introduce international fibre links. Now the South Sudan Government is moving towards working out what its plans will be. Russell Southwood looks at plans in the wings and what the options are.

    South Sudan’s Government (through the ministry, MoTPS  and the Presidential Commission on Infrastructure) is now beginning to address one of its key communications infrastructure problems: the lack of international fibre connections for its capital Juba. Its three mobile operators (MTN, Vivicell and Zain) and its ISPs currently use expensive satellite connectivity, which the Government estimates it costs US$32,300 a month. 

    Zain is the Kuwaiti owned company that sold its African operations to Airtel and Vivicell is locally owned but has had Lebanese investment. We understand that Zain imported fibre and equipment to roll out national routes but was told to stop by the Government. Furthermore, we’ve been told that one of the mobile companies has a microwave link down to the border. MTN also issued a tender to build a national backbone.

    In an announcement at the end of August, Juma Stephen Lugga, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services said the Government was looking to build three fibre routes to Juba: from Kenya’s Mombasa via Lokichoggio; from Tanzania via Uganda to the border at Nimule; from Djibouti via Ethiopia’s Gambella. There are clearly no plans to connect to northern Sudan. Lugga said that initially it will fund the building of a microwave link (which would cost US$10 million), after which the fibre routes would be put in place.

    The World Bank and the African Development Bank are in discussion with the Ministry to look at how they might make a substantial grant for among other things both national and international fibre links. The World Bank usually looks for Private Public Partnerships based on open access principles and this case looks no different from any other. Later in September it will enter into dialogue with the Government and the private sector to look at options for further study.

    During his announcement at the end of August Juma Stephen Lugga, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services said the Government was looking at Chinese finance for these plans. From a separate source we understand that a Government representative has visited one of the Chinese infrastructure providers and that informally the Chinese have offered a loan of US$5 billion.

    There are clearly a couple of potential options for the development of both the national and international fibre networks. These include:

    * A Chinese-funded build-out by Huawei or ZTE. Both can be very capable infrastructure builders. However, the choice of this option is haunted by the experience of Uganda. The fibre network built there was not dug deep enough and the loan appeared expensive for what was delivered. It seems that the heart of the problem was the lack of capacity to manage the Chinese contractors effectively. The same circumstance would also be found in South Sudan where capacity of this kind is in short supply and there is no incumbent in which such capacity might be found. However, once built, it is unclear who would operate the network: the Chinese on a Build and Transfer basis? A new state entity? A local private entity with links to the Government?

    * World Bank financed fibre infrastructure options have been set up across a wide range of countries and have common elements. The private sector generally gets to sit on the board of the entity that will manage the fibre. Access to the fibre is on open access principles so that all operators get the same access and pricing. Its funding usually ensures that there is greater access: for example, they might insist that South Sudan’s 10 provincial capitals are all connected. However, at present there is only regular electricity in Juba so this may pose significant challenges. We understand that some of the mobile operators have agreed privately in principle to put up some of the funding for the international routes.

    A number of potential network operators have put up plans to the Government and clearly there needs to be an open and transparent process for selecting whoever eventually gets to build and manage the network. Also there should be no confusion between the public interest and the interests of those in Government. 

    A bumper crop of video clips this week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

    Kwabena Smith, Orun Energy on saving diesel costs on base stations

    Justin Hartman, Social Code on South Africa's ICT entrepreneurialism and the failure to support it

    Julian Macharia, Buni TV on this new online video delivery platform

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on its acquisition of Afinis

    Envir Fraser, Convergence Partners on investment opportunities in ICT

    Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga on the mobile money market in Nigeria

    Nigerian ICT blogger Loy Okezi
    e on Nigeria's online successes

    Victor Dibia, CEO, Denvycom.com
     on his games portfolio and plans to monetize

    Oluseye Soyode-Johnson, consultant to Maliyo Games
     on the business model

    A special for Balancing Act readers:

    Kristine Pearson shows how the Lifeplayer, an MP3 player for rural education, works


    Mobile learning Steve Vosloo on how m-learning can support teaching

    Steve Vosloo on edutainment and interactivity in mobile learning, the Yoza mobile story project and other examples of m-learning in Africa

    South African Niall Murphy, Marmalade on multi-platform software distribution for apps based on the ARM chipset

     

     

telecoms

  • Kenyan mobile network operator Safaricom will spend $94.8 million to install 2,300 kilometres of fibre-optic cable over the next four years to help serve its growing customer base, reports Reuters quoting CEO Bob Collymore. Vodafone holds a 40% stake in Safaricom, which has 19.1 million subscribers in Kenya, a 67% market share.

     

    Collymore said the operator would fund the investment internally. Collymore added that the company already has 600 kilometres of fibre, while addition of another 800 kilometres will start from November and is expected to conclude within 18 months.

    Collymore said: “In the next three years, we will be working on extending the footprint by up to 500 kilometres a year. With future demand for higher bandwidth, the expansion will continue in the future.”

     

    Kenya saw the number of mobile subscribers increase by 16% in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period of 2011 to 29 million

  • The Zimbabwean cellular operator Econet Wireless is targeting 100% network coverage in the country by 2015, up from around 74% currently and just 13% three years ago. The firm says the dollarisation of the economy, which saw the local Zimbabwe dollar replaced by the US dollar under a multi-currency system in 2009, and improving political stability have helped create a sound platform for investment in infrastructure. 

     

    ‘The shift to a multi-currency economy by the minister of finance, and the creation of the national unity government opened up a world of new opportunities for Zimbabwe, and certainly for the ICT sector,’ New Zimbabwe reports Econet chief executive Douglas Mboweni as saying. 

     

    The executive also said that strong ties with Chinese equipment vendors and financial institutions have helped sustain the growth in the telecoms sector: ‘Most of our equipment now comes from China; the infrastructure that we have built for connecting our major cities comes from China, and our major contractor is Huawei.’

  • MTN, Globacom, Airtel, Etisalat and Visafone are losing about N8 billion daily revenue to the recent bombing of their facilities in the northern parts of the country.

    The operators are losing money on their voice, short message service (SMS) and internet data traffic which pass through their network both on the microwave and fibre optic backbones.

    The bombings carried out by Boko Haram, a terrorist group seeking the islamisation of the country led to the collapse of the mobile telecommunications providers' network in north east Nigeria. The group had in April this year threatened to attack any telecommunications service provider working with the security agencies to track their members through the triangulation of the telecom masts to trace the location and use of wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) digital mapping to pinpoint the whereabouts of a phone user.

    According to a Leadership source, "We are losing about N1.5 billion daily to the attacks. Some mobile station controllers (MSCs) which control about 15 to 220 base transceiver stations (BTSs) were knocked out thereby affecting a large number of base stations that were not destroyed by the terrorists' attacks." 

    He said the attacks on the mobile operators' facilities impacted on the data traffic relayed by both fibre optic backbone and microwave backbones which feed the base stations with traffic. A look at the operators' subscriber base show that MTN controls 48 per cent of the telecom market with 43 million subscribers followed by Globacom with 22 million, Airtel with 20 million while Etisalat has 13 million subscribers respectively. 

    This revenue loss excludes the cost of each base station and office that were damaged by the attacks which is estimated to run into hundreds of millions of dollars. An average base station costs about $150,000 while controller stations (MSCs) worth about $500,000 to $1million depending on the number of vertical and parabolic antennas on the masts.

     

  • In a significant move to contribute to reducing the high incidence of domestic violence in the country, the Vodafone Ghana Foundation (VGF), in collaboration with the Ark Foundation, has launched the first ever care line for the reporting of domestic violence in the country. 

    The 24-hour hotline - 5555 - would give victims of abuse and those who live in abusive situations the rare opportunity for first line response. Victims would have access to trained professionals who would provide them with expert advice, counselling, police assistance, legal advice and a wide range of other interventions for women and children at risk of abuse. 

    The hotline 5555 is both an emergency and regular line with both text and voice function, and would be managed by professionals from the Ark Foundation, and funded by the Vodafone Ghana Foundation.

internet

  • Kenya National Integrated Civic Education (K-NICE), a government initiative charged with monitoring civic education, last week unveiled a website for sharing constitutional information ahead of the general elections slated for March next year.

    The new site, Knice.go.ke, makes information on the Constitution accessible to the public, who are free to ask questions which will be answered directly by the K-NICE secretariat members. It in addition gives information on devolved government, land, natural resources, the electoral system and other key areas that have a great impact on Kenyans.

    K-NICE project coordinator Otieno Okero said the initiative is expected to reach out to Kenyans, who can access the site on their mobile devices or desktop PCs.

    Kenya’s justice minister Eugene Wamalwa, speaking during the launch, said: “K-NICE’s idea of embracing ICT is great as it aims to reach out to a larger population.”  

    Wamalwa urged the youth in the country to participate in issues that are of national importance, such as the constitutional implementation process, as the Internet offers limitless potential for participation.

    According to K-NICE, the youth are active users of social media and the sharing of information is now possible on its Facebook page and Twitter handle: @KniceKenya.

    Wamalwa said Kenyans from urban and rural areas should be enlightened on the constitution and allowed to give their views on the its implementation.

    K-NICE was unveiled in March this year to provide a forum where Kenyans can participate in matters of governance. The programme also uses radio and television in addition to non-governmental organisations such as community- or faith-based organisations to reach out to the people.

    Kenya went to the polls on August 4, 2010 and passed the new constitution, with the implementation process having been ongoing since then.

    The initiative is a result of a partnership between the Ministry for Justice and the National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs to educate Kenyans on their constitution.

  • Niger operator Sonitel has started the deployment of a 300 km fibre link between Dosso and Konni at a launch ceremony attended by the country's president, Mahamadou Issoufou, deputies, diplomats and regional officials, Xinhua reports. 

    Communications minister Salifou Labo Bouche reminded attendees that the government aims to raise broadband coverage to 72 percent in 2015 from 54 percent in 2010, and to increase ICT penetration to 50 percent in 2015 from 25 percent in 2010. 

    Work on a second fibre link, running for over 500 km between Konni and Zinder, will begin in October.

     

  • ICTJ joined government officials and civil society in Freetown, Sierra Leone to celebrate the launch of a new website for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone and welcome the prospects for revitalization of Sierra Leone's reconciliation.

    Sierra Leone's 10-year civil conflict was marked by intense violence against civilians, recruitment of child soldiers, corruption, and a bloody struggle for control of diamond mines.

    The Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission (SL-TRC) was established to produce "an impartial record of violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law related to the armed conflict in Sierra Leone," and to "address impunity, to respond to the needs of victims, to promote healing and reconciliation and to prevent a repetition of the violations and abuses suffered."

    The final report of the Commission contains a historical record of human rights violations and provides recommendations for the future. However, after its initial release in 2005, the report became largely unavailable for three years due to the close of the Commission's website.

    In response to a dearth of information on the Sierra Leone TRC report and the peace building and reconciliation process, ICTJ joined its partners, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) to support the development and hosting of a reconstructed and improved website of the SL-TRC process.

    The launching of the reconstructed website attracted participants from government, the UN, victims, civil society, and the media. Speakers called for the government to implement the recommendations, including the reparations program.

    The new website of the SL-TRC will be host to comprehensive resources, including the report, audio and video of the TRC, a new page on the Sierra Leone Peace Museum, background information on the relationship of the TRC and Special Court for Sierra Leone, pictures of the TRC and an interactive Recommendations Matrix.

  • Teraco Data Environments, South Africa’s first vendor neutral data centre, has won the bid to host the Durban Internet Exchange (DINX). Teraco is set to make internet history with this announcement by providing Durban-based ISPs with a local exchange for the very first time. Lex van Wyk, Managing Director at Teraco says that the launch of the exchange is a major step towards contributing to the health and growth of the internet in South Africa.

    “The installation of DINX within our Durban facility has been a long time coming and is a big step for the internet in South Africa. Juniper kindly donated the network switches and Teraco the power and space requirements for the internet exchange. We’re proud to say it’s already installed and operational,” says van Wyk.

    Graham Beneke from the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) says that the new exchange is fundamental to furthering economic and societal growth in South Africa. “DINX serves as yet another critical hub for internet data exchange in South Africa minimising our need to send domestic internet traffic onto long-distance international links which ultimately results in higher costs and latency.”

    “DINX will enrich South Africa’s internet ecosystem and pave the way for growth in other areas like cloud applications,” says Van Wyk. 

    Teraco’s Durban facility provides power, security, fire protection, cooling and cable management according to a design level resiliency policy.  Van Wyk says that the data centre is located on the fibre ring of all the major licensed carriers, all of which have fibre nodes within the building, presented in the Teraco Carrier Hotel. Teraco data centre.

    Derek Hershaw, CEO of MWeb ISP says “Teraco, through its continued build of neutral and open access centres, has already positively contributed to the cost of Internet access in South Africa, and I have no doubt their hosting of DINX works towards the same goal of improving the overall Internet economy in our country.” 

    “Internet traffic is increasing in Durban and with the introduction of DINX, we’ll see improved performance for traffic within the metropol, cost-savings and an extra layer of redundancy,” says van Wyk.

  • Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel) has unmasked an impostor that has already planted over 150 km of optical fibre cables along the Douala-Yaounde road. The yet-to-be-identified individual or company has reportedly buried over 70 km of the cables along the Douala-Edea road and 80 km along the Bomnyebel-Yaounde stretch and were about beginning Bomnyebel-Ezeka-Lolodorf.

    According to the Head of the Public Relations and Communication Department at Camtel, Benjamin Gérard Assouzo'o, the story began like a fairytale on Monday September 10 when a group of over 100 people came to Camtel's head office in Yaounde asking to be paid for the work they had done. Quizzed on what work, where and how, they said they had been digging trenches and planting optical fibre along the Douala-Yaounde road and had not been paid for all the work already done.

    When Camtel officials visited the areas, work was visible on the site but the company was no where to be found. "When we contacted them on the telephone numbers given us by the unpaid workers, a voice said "our boss is in the United States and we will pay you when he comes back," Benjamin Gérard Assouzo'o told CT yesterday. He said the people took the impostor for Camtel given that the cables had Camtel inscription on them.

    On this premise, accusing fingers are already being pointed at yet-to-be-identified people within Camtel. "Why are our cables outside with people not of the house and who are not working for us," he wondered. The Public Relations and Communication Director said Camtel has already informed the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications and the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency. "Government has invested over FCFA 45 billion to build the optical fibre backbone and we will know who could be behind the impostor to destabilise all we have done," he said.

    How the process could have gone on for more than a month now without any alert even from local administrative officials and who could have been involved in or is behind the clandestine but expensive activity at a time government and its Chinese partner, Huawei, are almost through with the National Optical Fibre Project, are what investigations that are going on would bring to light.

  • The Rwanda Information Communication and Technology Association (RICTA) yesterday announced that the country's code top-level domain .rw will be run by the government.

    The country code top level domain ccTLD, which is used and reserved for a country or sovereign state, for Rwanda was created around 1996 and was managed by a Swiss citizen named Frédéric Grégoire since its creation. He was managing it along with the country domains for DRC, Congo Brazzaville and Burundi.

    Geoffrey Kayonga, the CEO of RICTA, said, "Now that the domain is managed by Rwandans, it will be done more efficiently."

    The switch from Grégoire to the government was made last week by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) nine months after the request was brought before the corporation in January.

    "We plan to have affordable prices as well as faster services," said Ghislain Nkeramugaba, the coordinator of RICTA, adding that although registering to the domain will no longer be free, their prices will be reasonable and competitive while the time of registration will also be less (six hours).

    Given the fact that people used to register for free and the widespread use of international domain such as .com, RICTA is planning to start a campaign to raise people's awareness to the advantages of using the national domain.

    "Besides the accompanying pride of having a Rwandan domain, it will also facilitate the creation of local content which will speed their search on internet," explained Nkeramugaba, adding that efforts will be put in changing people's perceptions about using the national domain.

    The process to ask the management of the domain by Rwanda was supported by different government and private bodies like RURA, RDB and JICA among others.

  • The British Council in consultation with the Ministry of Education has introduced an internet programme that will enable Namibian students to interact with British students on educational matters.

    During a recent interview with New Era, the British Council Country Director in Namibia Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo said they are working towards connecting Namibian schools to the Global School Programme of the British Council through the Ministry of Education. So far school principals in the Khomas, Karas, Hardap, Erongo, Omaheke and Otjozondjupa regions have already been trained on the project during a leadership workshop that took place in Windhoek last week, while principals from the Oshana, Oshikoto, Omusati, Ohangwena, Kavango and Caprivi regions are currently going through the same training.

    Although the programme is relatively new, about 12 schools have already been connected through this new initiative called 'Connecting Classrooms', which is aimed at sharing best practices among schools in order to improve the quality of education in Namibia.

    "Three Namibian schools would be connected online using similar criteria. And once that is done we will connect these schools to three other schools in Botswana and thereafter to three others in the UK," explained Ndjoze-Ojo.

    The latest schools to benefit from the 'Connecting Classrooms' project are Nowak Primary School at Tses in the Karas Region, Nossob Primary School at Witvlei in the Omaheke Region and Moses //Garoeb Primary School in the informal settlement of Hakahana in Windhoek.

    "When we select the schools, we always look at criteria. This year's criterion is that the school must be very much disadvantaged. The schools must be very, very disadvantaged in a sense that the children at that school must be from marginalised communities. For Example, we selected Witvlei because we learnt in the newspapers that learners were going to dumping grounds to collect food to eat and we felt that these children needed to be strengthened and supported," said Ndjoze-Ojo.

    Apart from the schools that were connected, the British Council is also providing other schools with information on how to reach out to other schools online and to connect to the web through the 'Connecting Classrooms' project. "For example if you have a very good mathematics teacher in one school, they can connect with another school online to share best practices and experiences," explained Ndjoze-Ojo.

    She said although the British Council will provide computers and internet connectivity to selected schools, government will have to make an effort to ensure that schools are equipped with electricity.

    "We as the British Council are not really responsible for providing electricity to rural schools, nationally. But we hope that the ministry is reaching out in the best way possible to make sure that schools have access to electricity. And I think the ministry is working hard on that. But we cannot roll out nationally, we roll out according to our budget," she said.

    Apart from the 'Connecting Classrooms' project, the British Council is also training thousands of school principals and education inspectors countrywide on management and leadership.

    "Leadership and management is not necessarily the same thing. The leader should provide a vision for the school - he or she should provide direction, while managers manage activities geared toward that end."

    According her, leadership provides vision and ensures that the visions are linked to the national vision, which is Vision 2030. "The kinds of learners or products that you are producing at your school depend on your leadership as the school principal," said Ndjoze-Ojo.

computing

  • Google is assembling 90 students from 12 countries to participate in a 2-week conference through its initiative the Google Student Ambassador programme (GSA), to map out Africa’s campuses and the surrounding communities.

    This activity, which is expected to create thousands of edits on Google Maps, should make it easier moving around campuses, the company says.

    The chosen students will benefit from skills developed by using the mapping tools offered by Google Maps.

    “We can hardly imagine what’s in store as the GSA program expands into new regions and new universities. We hope that bringing these outstanding students together will help them learn more about mapping and its benefits and they can lead in putting their universities on the world’s map,” said Obum Ekeke, Regional Program Manager - University Programs and Outreach, Google Sub-Saharan Africa.

    The mapping will include administrative blocks, cafeterias, accommodation and dining buildings, libraries, laboratories, banks and other useful places. It is unclear if indoor mapping will also be included in the project.

    Over 1,800 students have been trained to undertake the project. The students have received further training in Google Map Maker and the benefits of easily locating facilities around them.

    According to Google, this programme helps students in various universities to make “the Internet relevant to them in their society.”

    The Google Student Ambassador programme was started in 2011 with 28 students from six African countries being selected. It has grown further with more institutions and countries being included in the programme.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Paynet Group, a card processor and electronic payments solutions provider, says it will launch a new chip and PIN card issuing facility in East Africa by early November, in a move designed to boost banks’ anti-fraud measures.

    The firm says the facility will launch EMV Chip Cards by early November. 

    East African Banks lost around US$ 48.3 million to fraud in the eighteen months ended June this year, equivalent to to a full year’s profit for a small or medium-sized Kenyan bank, much of which could have been saved through tougher anti-fraud systems.

    Bernard Matthewman, Paynet Group’s chief executive, said that the Paynet Processing Centre will serve multiple banks within the region at a low cost per card and will be able to support programs by individual banks that may opt for moving their customers to EMV Chip.

    Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) union ensures security and global interoperability. The two partnered to launch the EMV Chip and Pin to counter fraud, card skimming and counterfeiting.

    The firm says it has agreed with a bank to issue the multifunction EMV Chip cards, which it says have been specially manufactured against counterfeiting.

    Matthewman added that the EMV Chip and PIN cards will reduce risk by countering fraud.

  • Essar Telecom Kenya, which operates under the ‘yu’ brand name, has confirmed that it requires a cash injection of up to USD250 million over the next two years to grow its ailing mobile business. However, according to AllAfrica.com, the company has been restricted from borrowing locally by the high interest rates, and is now seeking funding from the likes of Europe and China. 

    Country manager Madhur Taneja commented: ‘We are in business with the aim of keeping costs down, and you know what has been happening to interest rates here. I cannot go around the world looking for financiers, that is why we have tasked BNP Paribas’.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Mobile services provider yuMobile has partnered with Jubilee Insurance and MicroEnsure to launch a unique insurance scheme that rewards yuMobile subscribers with a renewable monthly life and disability cover based on the amount of airtime they recharge each month.

    yuMobile subscribers must dial *555# to gain access to the product dubbed 'yuCover' which MicroEnsure CEO Richard Leftley described as the country's first insurance product to be delivered through mobile phones.

    "The yuCover product rewards subscribers who are loyal to the yuMobile network and so the more airtime subscribers buy in this month will determine how much free insurance they'll earn in the following month. If you spend more on airtime with yu, then you'll earn more free yuCover," he said.

    Jubilee will be the underwriter of the cover that underlines the growing convergence between mobile phone operators and financial services companies, notably banks.

    Customers must top up at least Sh100 each month to be rewarded with free insurance cover worth Sh10,000 shillings the following month.

Digital Content

  • Tired of being fleeced by middlemen who offer them poor prices, the Irish potato farmers have signed up to the social media site where they tweet to engage hotel owners — mainly in Nairobi — access daily commodity prices, and close deals online.

    Through a closed user group aptly named @ViaziNarok; the potato farmers congregate online where they share market intelligence reports and haggle with café managers in real time — creating a virtual distribution chain that bypasses brokers.

    So far, 1,953 potato farmers from Narok and 17 hotels in Nairobi are ‘‘following’’ the mobile-based platform, developed in April, free of charge —wirelessly bridging the more than 150 kilometres between them.

    To sign up to the SokoShambani platform, farmers are required to follow a four-step procedure where one sends the word START to 8988. The next steps involve sending the farmer’s name, location, and crop variety.

    The agri-tweeting venture has already caught the eye of American development agency USAID which is providing funding worth Sh4.3 million.

    The Irish potato is Kenya’s second most important food crop behind maize, involving approximately 790,000 farmers who produced 2.4 million tonnes of the tuber last year from about 123,000 hectares of land.

    SokoShambani joins the league of the increasing number of agriculture-related mobile apps such as M-Farm, iCow, M-Shamba, and FarmPal which seek to provide interventions such as extension services, market information, and value addition

     

  • Abake Adenle is a quantitative analyst who lived alternatively between the US and Nigeria whilst growing up. Now based in London, Adenle has developed a mobile app, SpeakYoruba, aimed at teaching children of the African diaspora the West African Yoruba language.

    How we made it in Africa asked Adenle about the African diaspora, the Yoruba language, and the steady inclusion of African languages in the ICT arena.

    How did the idea for SpeakYoruba come about?

    I came up with SpeakYoruba primarily as a way to help my young nieces and nephews develop basic Yoruba language skills. Having grown up in the States learning Yoruba from my parents I understand the difficulties of learning a language ‘out of context’. Watching them grow up in the diaspora, I wanted to create something that would remove the ‘work’ from learning Yoruba. I wanted to develop an app that was educational and visually stimulating and that makes the Yoruba language engaging, accessible and fun.

    Who are your target customers and why do you think they will be interested in the app?

    SpeakYoruba is primarily aimed at children in the Yoruba-speaking diaspora. However, I’ve found that SpeakYoruba appeals to a wide age demographic, from young children who appreciate the animations and consider the app more of a ‘game’, to young adults and teenagers who are looking to build their Yoruba language skills having grown up not speaking Yoruba. I’ve also found interest from people outside the Yoruba-speaking diaspora who appreciate the Yoruba language and culture.

    Why do you think it is important for children of the African diaspora to learn their traditional language?

    I think Yoruba is a beautiful, rich language and learning the language is a way to enjoy the various layers of Yoruba culture as reflected by the language – the proverbs, poems, literature, art and music of Yorubas all become accessible with knowledge of the language. This is true for all African languages.

    I think language skills are especially important for children of the African diaspora as language allows them to access their culture and history in a deeper, more meaningful way. By understanding/speaking an ancestral language, even at a basic level, I believe they better understand the role their heritage plays in their broader understanding of their cultural identity. This is especially important at a time when many children of the African diaspora are growing up within multiple cultures and across various geographies, mostly outside of Africa. It is quite easy for African culture and language to “get lost in the mix” within this plurality of cultures, especially considering the dominance of Western languages like French, English and Spanish in everyday life, and the increasingly important role of Mandarin.

    SpeakYoruba is the first in a series of apps under my ‘SpeakAfrica Project’ aimed at promoting and preserving African languages, with aim of expanding across a variety of languages and features within the app to include a range of learning tools.

    Why do you think African languages are starting to be more and more represented in the ICT arena?

    As with most segments of society, technology plays an increasingly important role in the way in which we perform everyday tasks. Both Africa and the African diaspora are participants of the global technological revolution; it is only natural that technologists begin to embrace the needs of Africans when creating products. Developing African language apps is a natural progression from the traditional tools in place to learn these languages, enhancing the existing knowledge base with modern technology.

  • Kenya’s mSwali will expand into Tanzania early next year, allowing users to easily survey clients via SMS texts.

    mSwali is a web-based tool that uses mobile technology to survey clients and analyse data in real-time.

    Rachel Brooks, mSwali co-founder and a Kiva Fellow told HumanIPO that the expansion to Tanzania came after they began receiving inquiries from a number of organisations working with communities in the country, as well as the firms in need of feedback from their clients about their services or products.

    The firm released its public version late last year and since then over 70,000 mSwali SMS texts have been sent, with more than 400 being sent a day.

    Presently, organisations working with mSwali in Kenya include farmers’ microfinance institution Juhudi Kilimo, One Degree Solar, Adam Smith International and the Aspen Institute. Brooks told HumanIPO that mSwali has played a part in Juhudi Kilimo’s projects in Nyanza, Rift Valley and Central provinces.

    mSwali was born after Brooks and co-founder Jeremy Gordon were seeking a solution to solve a research need while working as Kiva Fellows at Juhudi Kilimo.

    “We saw how difficult it was to get feedback from the field. Most farmers Juhudi Kilimo was working with were deep in the interior and it took us days to get to them and more days to come and compile the reports. With even delays leading to inaccuracies,” Brooks said.

    She added that they saw many of the farmers with basic mobile phones and thought something could be done.

    “The mSwali idea then began developing. Jeremy, a mechanical engineer from Stanford with a software background and knowledge of python began working on something, then with my exposure at Microsoft and Adobe, I chipped in,” she added.

    Organisations pay from between KSh3 and KSh6 per bulk SMS text messages sent, though the feedback SMS from farmers or clients is free. Those using mSwali to do research can also give farmers incentives in form of airtime.

    mSwali’s dashboard is simple to use, with the client signing up and selecting the name or group of people they wants to reach. They can then decide the type of questions to send to the clients or farmers.

    “You  design a survey, choosing respondents, and send it and get response in just a few minutes,” Brooks said.

    mSwali SMS can also be used to register products, manage after sale services, collect customer feedback, track facility statuses and issues and perform high sample size measurement and evaluation.

    Brooks says they chose SMS as it could be used “anywhere anytime.”

    Challenges exist, however, as many Kenyans have a fear of free SMS and particularly due to fear of frauds. In addition, not everyone uses SMS in Kenya, due to age and gender related issues or illiteracy, she added.

  • Nairobi-based startup Sematime beat off five other technology startups to emerge as winner of The Next Web’s Startup World: Kenya last week. To cater to the growing mobile market in Africa, Sematime makes it easy for people to send bills and invoices to large groups of contacts via SMS.

    The founder of Tusqee Systems, the umbrella company of Sematime, Boniface Githinji – who is also behind the School SMS, an SMS service that lets parents and teachers monitor their students’ performances and school fees payments – said he was ‘pleased with the opportunity it presented’ and will now be invited to compete in the grand final competition in San Francisco in 2013.

    Sematime is available in three packages: Starter, which is free and ideal for individuals with an address book of only 1,000 contacts. Pro, at KSh5999 per month (approx US$71) with unlimited contacts, free SMS branding, support for long SMS of up to 480 characters, and more.

    The third package, Enterprise, is ideal for corporate frims at KSh11,999 (approx. US$142) a month with a dedicated account holder.

    Local judges Joel Macharia CEO and founder of Pesatalk, Martin Nielsen, business development at 88mph and Phares Kariuki, project manager at African Media Initiative listened intently as startups had three minutes to impress them with their pitch and gave two minutes of feedback on the pitches.

More

  • Takealot.com has announced the appointment of Willem van Biljon to its Board and Jacques Van Niekerk to the executive team. Willem van Biljon is one of South Africa’s tech stars, having been with Amazon.com and one of the team leads who started EC2 (Amazon’s Cloud solution).  Willem is South African born and raised and prior to Amazon co-founded Mosaic software.  Most recently, Willem co-founded Nimbula, a Cloud infrastructure software company funded by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners.

    Jacques Van Niekerk is a seasoned Internet executive having been with MIH/Naspers since 2006.   Van Niekerk will replace the current CTO, David Turner.

  •  

    Managed Services World Congress 2012
    18 – 19 September 2012, Maritim Pro Arte Hotel, Berlin, Germany
    With Managed Service business models evolving in new and exciting directions, it’s time to reassess the market and your place in it. Managed Services World Congress – the biggest global MS event – is the perfect place to bring leading players together and address these issues. With a 50% operator audience, and 65% CXO / Director level attendance, there is no better opportunity to meet new and existing clients. It’s a must-attend event for anyone looking to maximise the value of their technology, their networks and their brand in today’s evolving MS world. FREE PASSES FOR OPERATORS. For more information visit here: 

    Broadband World Forum

    16 – 18 October 2012, Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    The event, now in its 12th year, is the most respected in the regions Telecoms calendar and the comprehensive agenda includes breakfast briefings, 3 co-located summits,  keynote plenary sessions and a choice of 4 tracks for delegates each day as well as the world class exhibition area. For more information please click here:

    AfricaCom 2012
    13th-15th November 2012, CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

    The digital ecosystem will take centre stage at AfricaCom 2012, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, 13 – 15 November 2012.  Network with over 7000 industry executives at Africa’s largest event embracing all aspects of the continent’s converging telecoms, media and ICT sectors.  Incorporating 11 co-located events all pertinent to future-proofing your business in the digital era, including cloud computing, OTT, apps, broadband and multiplatform content, see and hear how Africa’s communications market is a hotbed for innovation and long term prosperity. 
    Contact: Subuola.akinkugbe@informa.com
    For more information please click here:

    Telecoms Fraud & Revenue Assurance Forum

    26th - 27th November 2012, Dubai 

    The only event currently in the region dedicated to telecoms fraud and revenue assurance, Tavess' Telecoms Fraud and Revenue Assurance Forum in Dubai has been designed to provide Revenue Assurance and Fraud professionals from across the Middle East, Asia and Africa the opportunity to learn about the latest RA strategies that the operators are adopting to more effectively detect and prevent revenue leakage and fraudulent activities in an increasingly complex scenario. In addition to an in-depth look at the detection and prevention of various types of fraud, the Forum also explores how to evolve the organization, streamline processes, effectively integrate systems and embed revenue assurance into new products. For more information please click here:

     

     

  • Vodacom to launch app development workshop

    Vodacom is planning to launch South Africa’s first multiplatform mobile application development workshop aimed at strengthening the mobile app eco-system in South Africa. This workshop will be launched in partnership with some of the best and leading ICT players in South Africa, including BlackBerry, CSIR, Google, Microsoft, mLab, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, Technology Innovation Agency and The Innovation Hub.

    The workshop, which will take place from 03 to 05 October 2012 at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria, forms part of the Vodacom Developer Programme which aims to encourage local developers to design apps that are relevant to the South African market as well as the global market.

    Below is a preview of topics that will be discussed during day one of the workshop:

    Vodacom Developer Programme as a vehicle to drive mobile app ecosystem in South Africa by Prins Mhlanga, Managing Executive at Vodacom.

    The enterprise development opportunities in the mobile space by Paulo Ferreira, Head of Enterprise Mobility at Samsung. Opportunities for mobile applications in government by McLean Sibanda, CEO at The Innovation Hub.

    Developing windows phone games and introduction to developing for Windows 8 by Dave Russell, Technical Developer Evangelist at Microsoft.

    Android, HTML5 and mobile web development by Ato Ulzen-Appiah the Developer Outreach Programme Manager of Sub-Saharan Africa at Google and Toby Kurien, the Android Development Freelancer.

    For full program details and workshop registration, visit www.vodacom.co.za/developer

     

    Africa's Talking Ltd

    Vacancies: 1

    Location: Nairobi, Kenya

    Deadline: 01 Oct, 2012

    http://www.smsvoices.com

    TITLE: HIRE OF SALES & MARKETING HEAD, AFRICA'S TALKING

    REPORTS TO: CEO, AFRICA'S TALKING LTD

    JOB DESCRIPTION: Africa's Talking is a Kenyan IT company that provides a wide variety of mobile communication services such as SMS Short Codes, USSD, IVR, SMS Polling/Surveys, Bulk SMS, dynamic SMS systems as well as an SMS/USSD API for developers. In addition, Africa's Talking runs two SMS applications – SMSLeopard and SMSVoices. Africa's Talking would like to invite job applications for the post of Head of Sales and Marketing. The Head of Sales and Marketing will be responsible for developing and implementing a Marketing and Sales Strategy for Africa's Talking Ltd while leading a team of Marketing Executives and Interns in the Sales and Marketing department.

    RESPONSIBILITIES:

    Senior sales manager in charge of all sales activities, departments and personnel involved in Sales and Marketing for the Company.

    Provides leadership to the day-to-day operations of the sales department, while maintaining focus on the company’s strategic goals.

    Member of the Company’s Senior Executive Staff.

    Reports to the Chief Executive Officer/President.

    Analyze sales statistics to determine business growth potential.

    Establishes performance goals for all sales department employees, and monitors performance on a continual basis.

    Oversees all hiring, training and firing of personnel involved in Sales and Marketing.

    Develops, or participates with the Senior Staff, in the development of the Strategic Marketing Plan for the Company.

    Directs department(s) to achieve objectives established in the Company’s Strategic Plan.

    Coordinates sales operations with all other departments/divisions of the Company.

    Develops and/or maintains and improves business relations with all customers of the Company.

    Seeks out and targets new customers and new sales opportunities, initiates action plan to approach and secure new business for the Company.

    Senior responsibility for all Trade Accounts Receivables. Monitors A/R aging on a proactive basis with his personnel, coordinates with Credit Manager and Accounts Receivable Manager/Controller.

    REQUIREMENTS:

    Bachelors degree in a business related field

    A proven ability of “making the sale”

    Experience in Telecommunications Industry or Software Sales is desirable

    Results focused person with high individual standards

    Proven leadership ability to influence, develop, and empower employees to achieve objectives with a team approach.

    Apply for this position:

    Submit your Resume/CV to jobs@africastalking.com with a paragraph on why you are the best person for the job

Issue no. 138 12th September 2012

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  • Piracy has been a curse on African artists, producer and broadcasters who desperately need secondary income from the sale of physical CDs. About 48 hours after a copy of a legitimate CD is in the market, it will be picked up and sold as a pirated version. Until now, Nigeria had no professional distribution system but has relied on the “marketeers”. Russell Southwood talks to Lanre Dabiri, Iman Entertainment about the CD film and music distribution system he has launched.

    Iman Entertainment launched its physical distribution system (called Iman One) in July 2012 and it has signed up 5,000 outlets nationwide. It wants to increase this to 15,000 outlets over a 12-24 month period. The service carries Nollywood films and music videos. Before long it will also carry magazines as Dabiri says Iman is in discussion with several companies already. It wants to add to its portfolio of products and to include things that are easy to distribute like pre-pay cards.

    In tackling piracy, the service aims to do two things other systems don’t do: provide price and convenience. Firstly, it aims to get product into outlets rapidly on a national basis rather than waiting for the ripple effect of the marketeers taking product back. This rapid availability of product will make it much harder for pirates to succeed. Secondly, it aims to provide quality product at the same price point as the pirates.

    The distribution system it’s competing with is uniquely Nigerian. The Alaba Market is where those selling ICT goods like PCs, laptops and TVs can be found. One of its subsidiary functions is to act as a location for the Nigerian marketeers who people sign to sell their films or music videos.

    But these individuals in Alaba Market provide the equivalent of a “cash and carry” warehouse to a series of sub-marketeers who come from different parts of the country. These people collect the videos and then take them around to their geographic area.

    The average retail price point for CD products is N150 (US94 cents) per unit and the wholesalers get around N10 (US6 cents) per unit. It is hardly surprising that on these thin margins, there is a great incentive to cheat the system by pirating copies and not giving money back to the rights holder. Lanre Dabiri (also known as the rapper LD) eloquently describes the rather depressing process of trying to get money and sales information out of his Alaba wholesaler:
     
    Without this information, it’s very difficult to get a clear sense of which music artists or Nollywood film titles are more successful than other titles. Iman One claims it will provide real time sales data from the POS outlets and that customers will have direct access to this data. Furthermore, it wants to be able to try and shift the margins slightly in favour of both the distributor and the rights holder.

    It will be a long road but two things are putting pressure on piracy. Firstly, this kind of physical distribution has only to half-succeed for the retailers and the rights holders to see that there is a better way. The key will be whether the promises about accountability on sales information is kept as the network of outlets grows larger. Secondly, the arrival of online platforms like Buni TV and iROKO/iROKING makes it easier to get product directly to potential buyers at a competitive price and in a convenient form.

    Lanre Dabiri on the launch of national distribution in Nigeria for film and video

    To get up-to-the minute news, you need to be on Twitter. Follow us on @BalancingActAfr.

    A bumper crop of video clips this week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

    Julian Macharia, Buni TV on this new online video delivery platform

    Kezzy Kimoni, CCD on the impact of digital TV on TV

    Deji Awokoya, General Manager of Beat, Classic and Naija FM on radio in

    Envir Fraser, Convergence Partners on investment opportunities in ICT and media

    Nyasha Mutsekwa, CEO, Metvafrica.com on its Pan-African VOD service

    Special for Balancing Act readers:

    Obi Asika on the split of music revenues with the mobile operators and the size of the Nigerian music industry

    Michael Ugwu, iROKING on Nigeria's Spotify-type service

    Stuart Forrest, Triggerfish Studios on South Africa’s first animation feature Adventures in Zambezia

    Out in November 2012: Anthony Abuah on his new film Woolwich Boys about 419 scammers

    Nigerian Mahmoud Ali-Balogun on his film Tango With Me

  • A number of youngsters are slowly but steadily making their marks in the Nigeria’s Hausa film industry Kannywood. Some of them are following the footprints of their parents who are stars in the Hausa movie industry. Here, they tell Weekly Trust what they intend to be when they grow up.

    Ahmad Ali Nuhu, the 5-year-old son of the famous Nigerian actor Ali Nuhu, is in primary one. He said he believes acting is in his blood. Carbinkwai was his first movie in which he starred alongside his father.

    The young actor said the support and encouragement he is getting from his father is what is giving him the push to be where he is today. "I see acting as something running in our family blood that is why I want to become a director and a famous actor like my father when I grow up. I want to showcase new innovations in the movie industry."

    According to the young actor, starring alongside big names in the industry has been his greatest challenge. "When I look at myself and the caliber of the artists around me I always feel like I don't belong there. Many of them are my father's colleagues and I respect them a lot. But over time I have come to understand that we are just acting," said Ahmad.So far Ahmad Ali Nuhu has five movies to his credit and he believes the sky is going to be his limit.

    Another young artist in the making is Maimuna Aminu Shehu, a budding actress with an exception. She has since caught the attention of many with her remarkable performances in many of her movies especially her first film 'Sandar Kiwo'. Maimuna, who is 11 years old and in JSS 1, said her passion for the screen was ignited by her father's role as an actor.

    Maimuna said her role in Sandar Kiwo will forever remain her favourite because, in it, she played the role of a hawker which she had never done in her life. "I had never hawked in my life and the role I played in Sandar Kiwo made me to understand how it feels to be denied education and also the feeling of being subjected to street hawking. That experience has remained with me till date. I get the shivers anytime I see girls of school age hawking on the streets."

    The young actress has movies like Murjanatu 'Yarbaba, Amaliyya, Ciki da Alako, Rashin Sani, Madubin Dubawa among others to her credit. Though Maimuna says she wants to become a medical doctor one, she reaffirmed that her acting zeal will not be neglected. "I want to be a medical doctor; that is why I have focused and concentrated on my science subjects in school. However that does not mean my zeal in acting will be neglected because I would want to be a star in the Hausa movie industry."

    Like her brother, Fatima Ali Nuhu's name is becoming a household one, especially among the millions of Hausa movie fans. She established her presence with her stunning performance in the hit movie 'Rai da Buri' where she starred alongside her father Ali Nuhu. Her role in that movie alone has earned her recognition as a rising star in the industry. She showed her acting potentials through the character she portrayed in the movie.

    Popularly known as Amira, the 8 year girl said "I am proud to be my father's daughter; he allows us to go to good schools and also gives us the opportunity to pursue what we want in our lives. Acting has been in our family and I strongly believe it is a noble profession."

  • Greenpeace last week launched a ground-breaking documentary on the increase of catches by artisanal fishermen, three months after the new Senegalese government cancelled 29 fishing authorizations granted to foreign pelagic trawlers that were plundering West Africa's marine resources.

    This six-minute film entitled "Senegal's catch of the lifetime", which also has accompanying photographs, illustrates the positive impact that the decision by Senegalese President Macky Sall's government has had on the fishing community of Kafoutine in the South of Senegal. The documentary done in Kafoutine includes shots from local fishermen at work in artisanal fishing pirogues as well as Mr Moro Demba, President of the fishing port of Kafoutine and Mr Moustapha Thiam, Director of the Senegalese Fisheries Ministry.

    According to Raoul Monsembula, Oceans campaigner, Greenpeace Africa: "In addition to the increase of catches, some species that had almost disappeared from the artisanal nets are now reappearing."

    West Africa is rich in marine resources - with many people depending on fish for their protein and livelihood. However over the past 30 years, these traditional fishing economies have collapsed, affecting job security for hundreds of thousands. Senegal's decision to put an end to the destructive plunder of these resources is key in ensuring sustainable fishing practices across the region.

    "President Macky Sall has already set the tone, and now decision makers in West Africa urgently need to develop a common vision and ensure proper management of fisheries for the sake of many West Africans", added Monsembula.

    Greenpeace calls on the Senegalese government to keep this momentum in order to preserve the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on fishing.

    " West Africa's industry is under threat, and with it the nutrition of thousands of people. We urge the region's leaders to expeditiously police their waters and establish an integrated regional approach to resource management and fisheries policies", concluded Monsembula.

  • CFI awarded the prize for the 'The Most Promising African Project' at the Durban Film Mart, a gathering of directors, sales agents and lead experts in African films held from 20 to 23 July 2012, on the fringe of the 33rd Durban International Film Festival, in South Africa.

    The award-winner was picked out by a panel of 12 programme directors from CFI's English-language African TV partners. Rwandan director and producer Joël Karekezi received the award for his project The Mercy of the Jungle. The young director received a €5,000 contribution to the creation of his feature film.

    Parallel to this, CFI Managing Director Etienne Fiatte launched Haraka!  This short fiction contest aims to fuel the energies of an upcoming generation of directors. CFI wishes to provide directors under 35 from Sub-Saharan Africa, having already learnt the basics, with an opportunity to enhance their experience. A total of 12 projects will be selected in 2012 and CFI will allocate the sum of €10,000 to each. To facilitate the broad circulation of the selected works, CFI will be offering these shorts to its 80 TV partners across Africa.

  • For its 2012 edition, Open Doors focused on Sub-Saharan francophone Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Niger, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Togo.

    With support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the Swiss Foreign Ministry, for the last eight years the Open Doors section has worked to highlight filmmakers and films from countries whose cinema is still developing, and is committed to enabling them to find co-production partners for their new projects.
    This initiative, focusing on a different region every year, operates in two modes. Open Doors co-production lab brings professionals from the chosen region together with potential partners, mostly from Europe, to foster support for projects that would otherwise be difficult to make. Every year, following a call for submissions, the Festival selects a dozen new projects from the chosen region. At the end of the workshop, the winning projects receive either development or production support. For the public audience, the Open Doors Screenings present a selection of key films from the national cinemas of the chosen region.


    Since its inception, Open Doors has showcased projects from Cuba and Argentina, countries in the Mekong, the Maghreb, South-East Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand), the Near and Middle East (Mashrek), Latin America, Greater China, central Asia and in 2011 India.

    Projects shot in african languages or other languages were eligible for Open Doors 2012.

  • Since the advent of digital satellite television broadcasting in Nigeria in 1994, Nigerians have witnessed a steady growth in the sector with as many as 14 operators licensed to distribute TV content. Of the lot, only DStv, HiTV, MyTV, DaarSat and of recent, StarTimes and GOtv readily come to mind.

    DStv has been the flagship of pay-TV for close to two decades. It is the standard by which satellite TV programming and content is judged. As a premium content provider with compelling programming, DStv became an aspirational brand of television service to many. What makes DStv tick is the uniqueness of its channels and content: The line up include CNN, M-Net's productions (now on AfricaMagic channels), SuperSport's football and other sports, other premium TV franchises from overseas, made available to subscribers of DStv.

    DStv has progressively made pay-TV content available to its subscribers across different economic levels through the unbundling of its bouquet. GOtv is digital terrestrial television (DTT) that operates on a second-generation digital video broadcast technology ("DVB-T2") popularly known as T2. The advent of GOtv coincides with the country's effort to comply with the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) goal of migrating TV broadcasting from an analogue to digital platform by the year 2015. In addition, MultiChoice, the parent company of DStv has gone one step further. They have partnered with Details Nigeria limited, providers of GOtv, to give Nigerians premium TV content at an affordable price.

    GOtv offers many advantages: it is easy to acquire and install, actually a Do It Yourself device with an optional aerial antennae. It does not require a dish to receive signals; neither does it require special expertise to activate. Almost all its channels, about 32, are familiar to DStv subscribers. The DVB-T2 superior technology, that GOtv operates on, offers a broader spectrum than the first generation digital video broadcast technology (DVB-T) popularly known as T1 and is considered more efficient.

    While T1 allows for an upload of about 20 channels on a platform, T2 offers a broad range of about three times that size, meaning about 60 channels on its platform given the same bandwidth. T2 also offers crystal clear picture and sound, giving subscribers a feeling of total enjoyment anytime they watch television. Most importantly it is a leapfrog technology; a cost saver for the discerning Nigerian.

    With less than N10, 000, anyone can acquire a GOtv decoder, install it by himself (a simple process akin to connecting your DVD to your TV) and instantly begin to enjoy premium content for as little as N8, 000 or N9, 500 for GOtv and GOtv Plus respectively. This package comes with a three-month free subscription. At the expiration of the initial three months, GOtv subscribers would have to renew their subscriptions depending on either of the bouquets they choose for N1, 000 and N1, 500 respectively.

    In assembling the channels and the content of GOtv, the providers have achieved the set objective of liberalising the pay-TV terrain in Nigeria. An analyst said that since the subscription is less than 10 percent of the minimum wage, this is the first time premium TV content can be said to have been truly democratised. GOtv bouquet has a total of 25 channels while GOtv Plus has all the 25 channels on GOtv plus additional seven channels, including CNN, Sony Entertainment TV (SET), SuperSport Blitz, NatGeo Wild, Disney Junior, MTV Base and the primary AfricaMagic channel; bringing the total to about 32.

    For lovers of African entertainment, GOtv offers five AfricaMagic channels. These are: AfricaMagic, AfricaMagic Hausa, AfricaMagic Movies, AfricaMagic World and AfricaMagic Yoruba. These are specially packaged channels with strong African content of deep value. They are the channels that help Africans to tell their stories to the world in the best way it could be done. These channels offer varieties of soap operas that families enjoy watching, the likes of: Family Ties, Clinic Matters, Super Story, Doctors' Quarters, and a host of other movies from different parts of the continent. The channels are arranged to cater to subscribers' interests taking into cognisance our diversity, languages and cultures. AfricaMagic channels are emporium for everything African.

    It looks like the pay-tv industry is now fully awake to the needs and wants of its subscribers. Competition is certainly breeding more choice and options to suit the pockets and viewing habits of the Nigerians. From all indications, the growth of competition in the pay TV industry is to the advantage of all interest groups especially the consumer who not only enjoys more content but also has the power to choose a service provider based on affordability and personal preferences.

  • French pay-TV group Canal+ saw a 3.3% year-on-year rise in revenue for the first half of 2012 as parent Vivendi prepares a review of its media and telecoms business.

    Canal+ increased revenue from €2.39bn (US$3bn) to €2.47bn for the first six months of this year.

    In particular, Canal+ France, which includes its pay-TV business in mainland France, overseas French territories and Africa, saw revenue up 2.3% to €2.06bn, driven by rising subscriptions and higher advertising income. This was also in spite of a €20m rise in VAT.

    Canal+ France increased subscriptions by almost 350,000 compared to the end of June 2011, with 140,000 new customers in Africa.

    The acquisition of the Direct 8 and Direct Star DTT channels in France and a proposed partnership with Poland’s ITI/TVN in free- and pay-TV are currently under review by local regulators.

    Canal+ Group is one part of Vivendi, which also owns computer game developer Activision Blizzard and Universal Music Group, among other interests.

    The conglomerate saw its overall revenues drop 1.2% to €14.1bn year-on-year, with adjusted net income down 16.6% to €1.5bn.

    Vivendi’s financial results come days after the group signaled a review of its media and content operations, which will be led by Canal+ chairman Bertrand Méheut.

    This led to suggestions the company could be split after it also ordered a review of its telecoms arm.

    But Vivendi CEO Jean-François Dubos today gave nothing away about the future of the company.

    “All our businesses are focused on developing solid commercial performances and on continuously adapting their cost base,” he said. “We will continue to work … on Vivendi’s strategic development. We will communicate on the group’s necessary evolution as and when appropriate.”

  • Vision Group was on Tuesday recognized for its tremendous contribution towards increasing aspects of change in the agriculture and poverty reduction in Uganda.

    The Farm power@50 Media awards organized by the East and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) and the Food Rights Alliance (FRA) were awarded to New Vision, Bukedde TV and Bukedde Radio.

    Handing over the awards the Food Rights Alliance Coordinator Agnes Kirabo said New Vision was honoured for its articles on agriculture that feature every Tuesdays in the Harvest Money pull out as well as the agricultural shows in Bukedde radio and TV.

    "The Farm Power media awards is in recognition for the efforts Vision Group has put in promoting agricultural sector in Uganda," she said at the function held at Grand Imperial Hotel in Kampala.

    Kirabo said the awards were under the theme; "The power of the media in grooming a vibrant agricultural sector.

    The ESAFF National Coordination Nancy Mugimba said in the past years, the media was viewed as medium for entertainment and spreading of rumours on issues that are hardly pertinent to the development of this country.

    "Today we celebrate the involvement of the press in issues of agriculture development and we appreciate their role in highlighting the issues of the peasant farmers," she said.

    Mugimba said the voice of the small scale farmer needs to be heard by the public and the policy makers and the media is the major channel for this.

    "We cannot separate agricultural sector success from the efforts of the media hence the media and NGOs need to continue to work together to achieve agricultural growth and national development," she said.

    The ESAFF board chairperson Hakim Baliraine said the awards are part of the farm power festival that runs from August 27 to 31 across the country. He said the farm power festival will attract over 10,000 participants from both public and private sector to provide a platform to engage meaningfully on the future of the agriculture sector.

  • The recent strike at the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation has underlined some important issues.

    Obviously, the strike should never have occurred. With unions lowering demands from the original 13 percent and willing to accept 4.4 per cent (even less for the higher salary scales) it should have been a relatively easy matter to resolve the impasse and ensure that employees received their rightful dues. Not a salary increase, but at least a salary increment, keeping up with inflation.

    Indeed, careful planning and budgeting at any organisation would mean that rising personnel costs, as a matter of course, would be budgeted and accounted for. If staff costs in 2011 are, say N$100 million, then in 2012 the organisation will budget for N$105 million, allowing for a 5 per cent rise to allow for cost of living increases. Staff are the most valuable asset - they get paid first, other aspects come afterwards.

    But the strike also led to other, perhaps unintended outcomes. It forced listeners and viewers to go elsewhere for their daily broadcasting fix. Viewers, for instance, switched to the free-to-air commercial One Africa Television news bulletin, and some might have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of this station and its news. Indeed, some might have enjoyed it so much that they will not return to their traditional viewing habits of watching NBC TV and change loyalties for good.

    In South Africa the main evening English news bulletin on the public broadcaster, SABC 3, has lost many viewers (viewership is currently less than one million) to the commercial competitor - e-tv - which now has approximately three million viewers for their evening news.

    Similarly, on the radio side, listeners to the NBC German service were forced to listen to the new German commercial station, Hitradio (99.5Mhz), and Oshiwambo listeners turned to Omulunga Radio or Ohangwena Community Radio. Afrikaans listeners had Kosmos Radio or Kanaal Sewe, and those who understand English had a multitude of commercial and community choices as an alternative to NBC National Radio. Indeed, some listeners were pleasantly surprised at the quality of 'strike radio', and enjoyed the uninterrupted gentle music played on all NBC radio stations, with no interruptions from irritating jingles, adverts or inane chatter from radio presenters!

    Internet websites and social media platforms such as Facebook became even more crucial for those wishing to keep up with news, and they deliver timely reports and photographs of news events, hours if not days before the print media are able to publish.

    Of course, in many rural areas such alternatives are limited or non-existent, and a report in New Era (17 August 2012) outlined the difficulties faced by listeners in the Caprivi Region who, without the NBC Silozi Service were left without news or the essential community marriage, birth and death announcements.

    Unfortunately, the actions of the strike will further result in a loss of credibility and trust in the national broadcaster by advertisers and listeners alike.

    But those who have called for the 'closing down of the entire operation' (one comment which appeared on the SMS page in The Namibian, 20 August 2012) must surely realise the vital need for a public broadcaster. Not all Namibians have access to satellite television and not all have alternative radio stations to listen to.

    The key question facing all public broadcasters globally is not whether they should exist, but how they should be funded. In some countries a small levy is added to electricity accounts, the assumption being that only those with electricity can afford to operate a television set.

    Within a few months, during the process of digitisation, another funding alternative will arrive, one which many Namibians are already familiar with - Pay-tv. The national broadcaster is starting to realise the financial benefits of a steady income flow of monthly payments for pay television as opposed to sporadic annual licence payments or, worse, unreliable government hand-outs.

    NBC Director General Aochamub has indicated a number of between four and six channels in the NBC 'bouquet', and, to make it enticing it will certainly have to be cheaper than the Multichoice option (GO-TV), which currently has 15 channels on its digital terrestrial bouquet (no satellite dish is required) for N$55 per month. At, say, N$30 a month (N$360 a year) many Namibians would understand the benefit of a choice of channels and, of course, NBC revenue would be drastically increased, for no set would be able to receive channels without the digital set top decoder and, obviously, the monthly payment.

    Of course, it would raise the interesting question of what would happen in the event of a future NBC strike. Even if NBC workers went on strike, the alternatives on the NBC 'bouquet' might still be on air, meaning less impact on viewers.

    On 6 Sept. 2012, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) has announced a new-look team for its news and current affairs division.

  • Adventures in Zambezia, the first animated feature film produced by Cape Town-based Triggerfish Animation Studios, opened in Russia last week on over 800 screens in 150 cities across the country, reportedly the widest release ever for a locally produced film.

    Stuart Forrest, Producer and CEO at Triggerfish, says: “This is amazing news for a small studio like ours and a great opportunity to showcase to the world what South Africa is capable of. Our film is competing on the world-stage alongside those of the major studios.”

    The film is entering its eighth week of release in Israel where it has achieved over 60,000 admissions, another record for a locally produced film. “I’m excited about the reception our film has received in Israel and Russia and the enthusiasm shown by our distributors,” says Forrest, “it’s clear that people are ready for a fresh creative voice outside of the major studio system.”

    Adventures in Zambezia’s next release is in Germany on 30 August on over 300 screens, with characters played by famous German comedian, Paul Panzer, and Kaya Yanar.

    It is the first theatrical release from Triggerfish. Their second film, Khumba, is nearing completion and the studio has a third film in development.

  • Rémy Pflimlin, CEO of France Télévisions and Etienne Fiatte, Managing Director of Canal France International (CFI) have signed a new framework agreement which reinforces the existing agreement and defines the general terms and conditions of their collaboration for initiatives set up to share expertise with media operators from the southern hemisphere.

    This agreement specifically covers the conditions governing the participation of France Télévisions employees (journalists, programme managers, producers for the web etc.) in the consultancy initiatives, support and training programmes conducted by CFI. It took effect from 1 July 2012.

  • South African pay-TV broadcaster M-Net has announced that it will not commission a third series of its location-based soapie, The Wild, due to high production costs, unsatisfactory ratings and issues around the location itself. The Wild, which was launched in April 2011, will come to an end on the M-Net channel in March 2013.

    Says Theo Erasmus, M-Net director: General Entertainment Channels: "The difficult decision not to commission another series of The Wild was based on two interrelated factors. Firstly, M-Net ascertained that the monies allocated to The Wild, which is a high-cost production due to the fact that it's a location-based soap, could be spent on other productions that could possibly produce better ratings in a shorter period of time. Soaps take many months to build an audience, while other genres may produce higher ratings quicker. The ratings of The Wild have been growing steadily month on month, but not in line with the vast investment.

    “Secondly, the original land bought for the production of The Wild faced ongoing rezoning challenges which could still take many years to resolve. This left the production with no real 'home'."

    Erasmus notes that since its launch, The Wild has been showered with industry accolades, including four SAFTA awards. Recently, it also received the You Spectacular Award for Most Popular Soap, with actors Ty Keogh and Shona Ferguson also nabbing the awards for Sexiest Male and Best Actor respectively. It even received international recognition with a Rockie Award nomination in a category previously won by soaps such as Days of our Lives.

    “M-Net is very proud of The Wild's achievements,” continues Erasmus: "The Wild has set new standards for soap production in the country. Therefore, the M-Net channels are working on plans to create spin-offs from The Wild in a more settled, urban environment. You will find out more about this and other exciting M-Net plans in due course."

    TV with Thinus reports that M-Net is planning to sell the farm in Northwest Province which served as the location for The Wild.

  • AfricaCast brings together the continent's biggest broadcasters and TV stakeholders and will take place on 14th-15th November 2012 in Cape Town Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa.

    AfricaCast returns for a second year and continues to be the premier event in Sub Saharan Africa for broadcasters. This year - under the theme 'Unlocking the Potential of African TV through Digital Transformation' we have the support of SABC, ABN, Endemol and Multichoice, among many major broadcasters who have provided CXO level speakers to discuss the future opportunities for African broadcasters. We also have Peter Vesterbacka from Rovio who invented Angry Birds and Alex Okosi from Viacom who was responsible for the launch of MTV in Africa.

    The event will provide a vital platform for all stakeholders to engage and debate how best to monetise the future of African broadcasting.

    Last year we had an incredibly successful launch with 228 delegates attending the AfricaCast conference. This year we are expecting more and have developed an agenda to reflect the popularity of this event.
    AfricaCast is once again co-located with AfricaCom, the largest community event in Africa. Register now for a free exhibition pass and you will be able to network with 7,000+ attendees, all sharing their vision for a digital Africa.

    So what is new at the AfricaCast Conference 2012?
    Digital Transfer Focus Day
    Keynotes from international broadcasters including Endemol and MTV
    Debates about future African broadcasting strategies
    Analysis of key financing initiatives behind successful DTT strategies
    Emphasis on Africa’s future OTT opportunity
    AfricaCast is free for those who work for African Service Providers and Broadcaster. To register for free, click here

  • Since 3 July 2012, Canal + has become a unique and accessible offer with or without Canalsat at 10,000 CFA / Month only. In addition and to maxime viewers' comfort zone, Canal + Africa now offers two innovative Canal + channels specifically dedicated to subscribers whether they live in West Africa and Central Africa: "Canal+Ouest" and "Canal+Centre".

    According to Njike Jackson, the Director of Canal + Cameroon talking to the press on July 2, 2012 in Yaoundé, subscribers can now discover 15 new channels across all topics. In addition, customers now have a choice of four options proposed at more affordable prices: Canal+, Canalsat Access, Canalsat Evasion and Tout Canal.

    With more channels, better prices, better value for money, the formulas simply respond to expectations and needs. Additionally, supports the head of Canal + Cameroon, options and technology have been simplified and consist of two channels options and one techno option. Mr. Jackson Njike said that subscribers now have the opportunity to create their own combinations for a custom offer. He adds that this flexibility in the choice of subscription plans comes with a flexible subscription and presubscription period either on a 1, 3.6, or 12 months basis at a single price.

    And to be even closer to its customers, Canal + Africa continues to expand its distribution network with the opening of new Canal + shops, new Canal + licensed outlets and deployment of new payment methods such as card recharge and soon mobile payment solutions.

  • National Chairman of Jamma'ati Izalatil Bid'ah Wa'iqamatis Sunnah (JIBWIS) Shiekh Abdullahi Bala Lau says arrangement has been concluded by the sect to launch its television station to be called 'Sunnah TV' which will be broadcasting through a television channel via satellite for the propagation of Islam.

    The chairman said at the opening ceremony of the 16th JIBWIS National Qur'anic Recitation Competition in Minna, Niger State yesterday that a test run transmission of the channel had already been conducted.

    Some of the programs to be run on the channel are being worked out by experts, saying the programs would be designed with clear preference to the recitation of the Holy Quran and syudy of Hadith, he said.

    He said the channel, if it takes off, would help in no great measure in inculcating the ideals of Islamic values among the youths by making them productive and responsible Muslim youths.

    On the 16th JIBWIS national Qur'anic recitation competition, he said the wisdom for organizing the competition was simply to groom talented Muslim youths.

    In his remark, Governor Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, represented by his deputy Ahmed Musa Ibeto, said he was delighted for his government to have created an enabling environment for the people to practice their religion in the state without hinderance.

  • Authorities in Guinea closed a private radio station on Sunday, preventing the outlet from reporting on the next day’s protests, according to news reports. Liberté FM has been targeted in the past, the reports said.

    Authorities in Guinea’s southeastern N’Zérékoré forested region summarily shut Liberté FM in the evening without providing an explanation to the station’s staff, according to news reports. Local journalists told CPJ they believed the station had been closed to prevent it from broadcasting protests in Conakry, the capital, news reports said. Opposition leaders had called for protests on Monday to demand free and transparent parliamentary elections, which have been repeatedly postponed since 2010, the reports said. The journalists also said the outlet had been targeted because it had allowed opposition leaders to call for protests over the August 3 massacre by security forces of villagers in the Zogota district in the N’Zérékoré region.

    The station was unable to broadcast live coverage of the protests, news reports said. It was allowed to resume broadcasting on Monday afternoon only after rights groups, press unions, and opposition leaders condemned the closure publicly, according to news reports.

    Liberté FM’s director, Alpha Saliou Diallo, told CPJ that the regional governor, Lance Condé(no relation to the president), had told him that the station had been shut down on the orders of the “highest authorities” in Conakry, the capital. But presidential spokesman Mohamed Lamin Soumah told CPJ that the decision to close Liberté FM had been made by the regional governor as a result of the station’s coverage of the killings in Zogota. Soumah called the governor’s decision an “abuse of authority,” and said that it had prompted the government to reverse the order, news reports said.

    Liberté FM has been targeted in the past. Diallo told CPJ that police had shut the outlet in 2010 during a live broadcast and detained two journalists for criticizing President Alpha Condé. In early 2007, military officers vandalized the station’s offices in Conakry and arrested several journalists, news reports said.

    “By censoring news outlets like Liberté FM and intimidating journalists, Guinean authorities continue to undercut democracy,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Mohamed Keita from New York. “President Alpha Condé’s government should stop this trend and allow the press to do its job.”

    Several journalists were harassed and their vehicle damaged during Monday’s protests in Conakry, local journalists told CPJ. Abdourahamane Diallo, a journalist for the local Espace FM, reported that the attacks occurred in the presence of police officers, who did nothing to help the journalists.

    Soumah told CPJ that opposition supporters had attacked the journalists. “It was opposition militants who attacked the journalists because they were unhappy that security blocked the demonstration.”

  • Tanzanian dance music veteran John Kitime has said one of the challenges which cause artistes to lose their rights is because they do not know the copyright law.

    Kitime mentioned the reason when he was speaking to Mlimani TV in a special interview conducted in Dar-es-Salaam.

    According to Tanzania Daily News, the music veteran blamed artistes for not taking time to educate themselves on how copyright law works and how they can use it to protect their works.

    "For example nowadays Bongo movies artistes are crying. They always complain that there is a film piracy. I encourage them to educate themselves on the copyright law which can support their war."

    Despite production of many movies and albums Tanzanian artistes continue to live in poverty due to the increase of fake CDs and DVDs.

  • The Ministry of Information and the Communication Commission of Kenya have defended pay-tv service providers for not offering the free-to-air content for free. The two digital pay-tv providers, StarTimes and GOtv have been criticised by consumers for including the local broadcast channels, supposed to be free, in the paid-for packages.

    Ideally, all consumers with set-top-boxes should be able to watch free-to-air channels even when their subscription has expired but this has not been the case. The ministry and the regulator say they are still consulting and giving the service providers more time as the digital migration is still in its early stages.

    "You see they make their money from subscriptions, so if you are not paying, how will they be in business," said Alfred Ambani, a director of multimedia services at CCK. This has been the only reason given so far. Bruce Madete, senior director of administration at the information ministry said: "We are still consulting with all the stakeholders on the way forward on this recognising that access to information is every Kenyans' constitutional right.

    Last month, CCK announced revision of DVBT2 boxes requirements making the conditional access feature optional for set top boxes intended for free-to-air content and mandatory for devices intended for subscription TV. This is meant to encourage importation of more equipment that exclusively support free-to-air channels so that consumers do not have to be tied up to the subscription based boxes.

    The revision is also expected to cut the cost of free-to-air only boxes by about a half. Ambani said more vendors have recently started selling set-top boxes after this change and CCK will approve more importers soon. Currently, only four vendors are licensed to sell the approved DVB-T2 decoders. These are Professional Digital System, Microville Solutions selling free-to-air boxes and pay-tv providers StarTimes Media and Multichoice.

    Meanwhile the government insists it will not intervene in the pricing of set-top boxes despite concerns that the high cost of the devices may derail migration from analogue to digital TV broadcasting. The boxes were exempted from 25 per cent tax in this year's national budget. The regulator and ministry said it will be left to market forces to bring it down as demand rises.

  • With IPTV subscriber numbers predicted to undergo a huge ten-fold increase, reaching 1.6 million by 2014*, the Middle East and North Africa is undoubtedly a region rich with promise for those within the TV delivery ecosystem. The untapped territory provides the backdrop for this year’s TV Connect Middle East and North Africa, which is set to focus on IPTV, OTTtv, and multiplatform services, and provides the perfect platform to explore the growth opportunity within TV delivery.

    Currently the number of IPTV homes in the Middle East and North Africa is on the rise, and in terms of Pay TV markets as a whole, the region total is predicted to increase to 11 million Pay TV homes by 2014, giving a staggering 15% penetration rate*.

    Telecoms operators in the Middle East and North Africa have begun to realise the huge potential and many have concluded that the best strategy for the future is to combine the security of managed IPTV, with the flexibility and adaptability of OTT delivery. For example, Dubai’s incumbent operator and the official event partner, Etisalat already offers an IPTV offering (for high-end fibre customers) and an OTT offering (for lower ARPU users). Etisalat is hosting its Digital Entertainment Network Zone at the conference and exhibition, where the company will be showcasing its TV activities in the region, as well as leading a pre-event OTT focus session on 29 October.

    Speaking about the growth opportunity in the UAE, Nick Thomas, Principle Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, says: “The country is relatively small geographically, with a new infrastructure. The population is young (the majority under 35), tech-savvy and has high levels of disposable income. If premium IP-based paid-content services are to work anywhere, it is here.

    “Furthermore, an advantage that potential IPTV operators in the Middle East and North Africa have over their Western counterparts is the opportunity to build the most-up-to-date and effective networks.”

    As the TV industry converges and brings closer IPTV and OTTtv providers, CE Manufactures and Linear TV distributers, TV Connect Middle East and North Africa will place a spotlight on all the issues in the managed IPTV ecosystem and the OTTtv space. It will also focus on the importance of content packages, localising content across countries, licensing issues and how the industry can work together to bring a connected and interactive TV experience for the future.

    Hisham Arafat, General Manager at INC Emirates Technology, comments on the importance of the event: “TV Connect MENA is an excellent opportunity to introduce the newest technologies in IPTV and OTT to regional telecomm operators. It’s a very good networking event with specialised professionals in the region exploring new ways for increasing IPTV/OTT revenues for the operators.”

    The event programme also includes keynote presentations by C-level executives from Etisalat, Al Jazeera, Du, Saudi Telecom Company, Tunisie Telecom, Google, MBC, Q-tel, OSN, Multichoice and Telecom Egypt.

    The conference and exhibition will take place at UAE Habtoor Grand Resort and Spa, Dubai, on 30-31 October 2012. To view the full event programme and register for TV Connect Middle East and North Africa, please visit here:  or call +44 (0) 20 7017 5506. Alternatively, keep up to date with event news on Twitter @tvconnectevent.

  • On August 26 in the Sofitel Hotel Beijing, a ministerial seminar on the development of digital television in Africa lasted one day and was held at the invitation of Startimes, a Chinese company specializing in radio and digital television.

    Ministers of information and communications, responsible for radio or television, representatives of embassies in China coming from 17 African countries, including Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Cameroon and Burundi participated in this seminar.

    Vice-Minister of Culture, Wang Zhongwei, Deputy Director General, Department of International Cooperation of the State Bank of Development, Tian Wendong and a hundred representatives of Chinese media also attended. The seminar theme was the development of digital radio and television in Africa.

  • Speaking before an audience of African Ministers in charge of information and media, including the Djiboutian Minister of Culture and Communication, in charge of Posts and Telecommunications, Government Spokesman, Mr. Ahmed Abdi Hussein, several managers from Africans radio and television, Chinese senior officials of the audiovisual media sector, including, Cai Fuchao, Minister of State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARF, State Administration of Radio, Film and Television) and Mr. Zhai Jun, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chairperson Ping noted that the fact media and freedom of expression are not contrary to the idea conveyed, innovations in Africa, calling to focus on the development of the sector to make not only productive but also to "that wears away the voice of Africa. "

    "Africa should have all the technical and political means to tell the world the story of the events that took place on its soil. It must do so with its own powers and according to its own angle and sensitivity," he reported.

    Highlighting on some projects undertaken by the African Union to strengthen and professionalize the media sector in Africa, Dr. Ping said the African Union Commission has undertaken the implementation of the Pan-African Media Network (PAMNET ) and the Pan African Media Portal, noting, in this regard, that the implementation of these instruments is to establish a new platform for sharing and enhancing dialogue leading to an open debate on the Media in Africa on the one hand and improve the understanding of the situation of the media in Africa and facilitate decision-making on issues inherent to the media, on the other hand.

    Chairperson Ping has also indicated that the Commission of the African Union has actively supported the launch of Journalists Network for African Peace and Security (NetPeace).

    And for this, he said, to strengthen the culture of peace and help the media industry to be credible and independent.

    The Sino-African media fits in the context of the implementation of the provisions of the Beijing Action Plan 2007-2009, adopted on 5 November 2006.

    Provisions that Africa and China are committed to encourage "their respective media to play a positive role in deepening mutual understanding and friendship."

    Under this commitment, China should help African countries to train the staff of radio and television and "invite officials and authorities of the press and media groups, as well as African journalists coming to China to exchange views, make reports and explore ways for effective cooperation. "

  • A Connecting with the Millennials survey conducted by Visa has shown that the South Africa’s youth see gadgets as an important part of their lives. 89 percent said it would be ‘impossible’ to live without a computer, eighty percent saying they could not live without smartphones and while TV lagged at 50 percent.

    Millennials, typically born between 1982 and 1995, make up 25 percent of the world’s population and grew up with the Internet making them tech savvy.
     
    According to the Visa study that features interviews with over 5 500 people aged between 18 and 28,68 percent of Millennials said a cashless society was on the way.

    And close on 80 percent said they expected that soon it would be possible to conduct all their shopping and pay all their bills online.

    Seventy three percent believe this will be possible with a mobile phone.

    “The ubiquity of the Internet and mobile technology are helping to make electronic payment an intrinsic part of a Millennial’s purchasing behaviour,” said Paul Jung, Head of Visa’s eCommerce division for Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa.

    “We see a long future for mobile phone and other device-based payments as more people, especially Millennials, adopt electronic payments around the world.”

    South Africans, along with Koreans, are the top cards over cash adopters in the world with 61 percent of Millennials in both countries preferring to use their cards instead of cash.

    Those with debit cards, 61 percent of their monthly expenses are made with debit so they do not  have to carry cash and recognise it’s convenience for everyday purchases.  All things being equal, debit is preferred (60%) versus (20%) cash.
     
    South Africa’s Millennials see gadgets as an important part of their lives: 89 percent said it would be ‘impossible’ to live without a computer. Eighty percent said they could not live without smartphones and while TV lagged at 50 percent.
     
    “The research also found that while South African Millennials are ardent users of technology, they are also security conscious. Ninety percent said card security is an important aspect to consider when venturing online,” said Jung.
     
    Eight out of 10 Millennials are online shoppers, half of which shop online monthly. Millennials from Korea (76 percent), Taiwan (53 percent) and mainland China (84 percent) top the list of online shoppers who shop at least once a month.
     
    Shopping less than once every six months were Filipinos (36 percent), South Africans (32 percent) and UAE (44 percent).
     
    Forty percent of young online shoppers say they usually use a credit card, and 37 percent a debit card, to make a purchase over the Internet.
     
    South African Millennials use the internet for various activities; including e-mailing, searching for information and internet banking. Groceries, transport and rent/mortgage are the top three areas where South Africa’s Millennials funnel their online cash payments.
     
    The propensity to save among South African Millennials is lower than average, with only 68 percent setting aside a part of their income each month for saving and a lower proportion (21 percent) of their total disposable income. Shopping is the main activity they save for, followed by retirement and a home purchase.
     
    Millennials may spend a lot of their time online but they hold family value values in high regard. They’re ambitious and dreaming big keeps them driven. This trait is especially widespread among Indian, South African and UAE Millennials.
     
    Although the survey sample was spread across a geographically wide sample, eighty two percent of Millennials said they enjoy the simple things in life and see themselves as independent thinkers who like to carve their own path in life.

  • 8-11 October 2012
    Mipcom
    The world's entertainment content market

    Venue: Cannes, France
    For more information click here:

    12-14 October 2012
    13th edition of MEDIMED 
    Sitges, Spain

    Organised by Apimed, the event will present again an exclusive selection of documentary projects, and ready made programmes, aiming to enhance the professional and creative exchange between the 12 MEDA countries and the 27 EU countries, encouraging the development, promotion and distribution of European and Mediterranean audio-visual works.
    Click here for more info.

    13th to 21st October 2012
    9th edition of FCAT Córdoba African Film Festival 
    Venue: Córdoba, Spain
    Summary: The Spanish city of Córdoba and Al Tarab (the NGO behind FCAT) announce changes in both the host city and dates for the 2012 edition. The Festival, which has been held since 2004 in Tarifa, Spain, will now take place every Fall in Córdoba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, craded of civilizations and cultures for over 2000 years. Call for entries now available on their website. Deadline: May 15, 2012.
    Contact: For more information, contact Marion Berger at Fcat.

    25 October - 2 November 2012
    Africa In Motion (AIM) Film Festival

    Venue:Filmhouse Cinema Edinburgh and Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) Glasgow
     Scotland’s biggest celebration of African cinema returns for its 7th consecutive year at Filmhouse Cinema and launches this year for the first time at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT). Taking the theme of ‘Modern Africa’, a diverse programme of documentary and fictional films will explore the African urban experience, contemporary politics across the continent. The full programme will be announced on 24 September, and will be available at: Africa in Motion (AIM) Film Festival here: 

    30 & 31 October 2012
    IP&TV ME and North Africa 2012

    The IP&TV Forum MENA 2012 is the main IPTV event in the region.
    Venue: Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai
    For more information click here:

     

    31 Oct. -2 Nov. 2012
    DISCOP AFRICA 2012

    Venue: the SANDTON CONVENTION CENTER in Johannesburg, South Africa
    Launched in 2008, DISCOP AFRICA is the only pan-African industry gathering strictly dedicated to the production and distribution of multiscreen television content.
    More here  

    10-18 Nov. 2012  Lumières d'Afrique  
    Venue: Besançon, France.  African film festival in France. For more information click here:

    14th-15th November 2012
    AfricaCast
    Venue: Cape Town Convention Centre, 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.
    More here

    20-21 November 2012  
    NollywoodCon 2012 

    venue: Civic Centre, Lagos, Nigeria NollywoodCon 2012 brochure for your perusal. NollywoodCon is the premier Film, TV, Mobile Content Expo and Fans Convention. We are interested in exploring sponsorship/partnership opportunities. More information visithere:

    27 - 28 November, 2012
    3rd MYCONTENT

    Venue: Dubai Int’l Convention and Exhibition Centre
    The event will be held Under the Patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, and is the leading international entertainment content show in the Middle East & North Africa region.
    For more information click here:

    5-26 May 2013  
    Festival de Cannes  

    venue: Palais du Festival, Cannes, South of France.  The Festival de Cannes has celebrated the cinema for more than 60 years. Over the years, the French Association of the International Film Festival has been able to evolve whilst retaining the essential: the passion for motion pictures, discovery of new talents, and enthusiasm of festival-goers and professionals from around the world, all contributing to the birth and distribution of films.  For more information click here:

    27-30 May 2013  
    The Broadcast Show Africa  

    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg, South Africa  The Broadcast Show Africa provides a platform where new revenue streams can be explored; key technologies can be evaluated, and operators and businesses can gain valuable insight into implementing successful TV business models.  For more information click here:

    27-30 May 2013  
    SatCom Africa  

    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg, South Africa  The largest satellite conference & expo focusing on the needs of the African continent. Bringing together end-users & suppliers of satellite technology to find cost effective & reliable communication solutions. For more information click here:

    17-21 April 2013  
    Festival International Du Film Panafricain - Cannes /PanAfrican International Film Festival 

    Venue: Cannes France  The festival is devoted to the new generation of African Digital filmmaking.  For more information click here:

    3-4 July 2013  
    Broadcast, Film & Music Africa 2013  

    Venue: Oshwal Centre, Westlands, Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya.  One of the largest international meeting on the African continent for film, electronic media and TV/broadcast professionals. The 2012 edition gathered 650 delegates.  For more information clickhere:

  • Nigeria: Someone Stole the Credit for the First Movie I Directed - Falalu Dorayi

    As one of the leading directors in the Hausa movie industry, Falalu Abubakar Dorayi, earned himself respect and adoration in the industry. He has been combining movie directing with marketing for over 19 years now. In this interview, Falalu talked about the rise and tribulations of the Hausa movie industry and other related issues.

    How did you get into the movie industry?

    I had my first contact with the movie industry when I was still in secondary school 19 years ago, I started with stage drama with a local drama group in our area. Moreover, during my acting days, I had two mentors then namely Tukuro and Dan Utai; these were pioneer artistes who gave the industry the push which made it what it is today. These were the people who gave me the first role I played in a movie, and I could remember the role was that of a passerby.

    From there, my talent with scripting became obvious to operators of the company I worked with, so they encouraged me to be a screenplay writer, which I did and excelled in. I remained in the company as capacity of a script writer for seven years, and it was in the same company that I was taught the art of directing a movie. I have also attended several courses on directing at different recognized training institutions nationwide.

    What was the first movie you directed?

    The first two movies I directed were taken up and claimed by the producer of the movie who gave himself the credit of directing them and I don't want to mention names but that was what happed. Though I directed those movies, yet I couldn't claim the credit, well let me not go into that anyway. The first movie I directed which bore my name is called Kwagiri , then Uwargida, Majalisa followed and that was how my name became what it is today.

    The movie Mela I can say was the one that gave me my breakthrough for the simple fact that I introduced in that movie a sense of professionalism and the storyline was good.

    Do you have an estimate of how many movies you have directed so far?

    Actually I can't recall immediately how many movies I have directed so far, though I do keep records of them. But I know they are many indeed.

    Tell us some of your recent work?

    Recently I have directed movies like Ga Zara ga Wata, Zarar Bunu, Sayyada, Tarkon Kauna, Ahalul Kitabi, Babban Mutum and Babban Yaro. I have also directed some comedies like, Ibro Danfulani 1& 2, Hotiho and Namamajo.

    Does that imply that you have now shifted focus to directing comedies?

    It is not as if I have changed focus, comedy is something that is in me and I am glad to inform you that with my little shift to it, the entire industry now is shifting towards the same direction. I have introduced into the industry the art of versatility among the artistes which I consider very vital to taking the industry to the peak.

    How would you compare Hausa movies produced five years back and those being produced now?

    Sincerely, when you compare movie production entirely in the last five years you will find out that in terms of quality of equipment, cast and the marketing of movies the industry has attained a higher level and as I have been saying, many people will attest to what I am saying. We have tasked ourselves in ensuring that we have updated our knowledge by attending various courses and seminars on movie production either from BOBTV or Royals Academy. This engagement is what transformed the industry to what it is today. We have more mind blowing movies and well written scripts by experts now and this ensures a better quality in our outputs. And this achievement won back our numerous patrons who have abandoned us due to poor quality.

    As a young man whose desire is to be self-reliant, what are your words of encouragement to youngsters like you?

    I have been calling on not only the youth but also to members of the community to be encouraged in all activities that will ensure self-reliance and the movie industry is one such avenue that can be explored.

    I could remember when I was in Zaria, while directing a movie, I met an elderly man complaining about unemployment and I said to him boldly why not join the Hausa movie industry. This man looked at me for some seconds and I thought he was going to say something nasty against the industry because he didn't know of my association with it, but he didn't, he just asked me for an explanation. And I told him how the man that played the role of Shehu Usman Danfodio was picked from the farm by the movie director while traveling to Katsina and how the old man picked earned a living via that. The industry is a shock absorber, a problem solver and a checkmating institution that helps in giving thousand able youth a means of livelihood. Therefore it is mandatory upon our youth to explore avenues of becoming self-reliant instead of waiting for the government to come to their rescue.

    What is the greatest challenge facing the industry?

    Quote this anywhere, the greatest challenge facing the industry now is the issue of piracy which has been threatening the existence of the industry in its totality. I have to state here that Government, at all levels, didn't help matters regarding to this issue. It is clear that we contribute to revenue generation because we pay taxes and yet the government does not protect us against the powerful fangs of piracy.

    Since the government failed to deliver you from the pangs of piracy how do you think the industry will survive?

    We have succeeded in establishing anti-piracy committees in many states and these anti-piracy committees will work with the security agencies in ensuring that piracy is reduced. However, we will soon embark on public awareness campaign against piracy in the international and local media. These efforts we believe will help in reducing this deadly threat facing the industry.

    Source: Daily Trust. By IBRAHIM MUSA GIGINYU, 19 Aug. 2012.

     

    Bernard Matlhaga has been appointed managing director of Brand Activation at Ogilvy & Mather South Africa. Matlhaga is a specialist in his field.

    Jérôme Cathala, Director of News Magazine Programmes for France Télévisions, appointed Director of CFI by France Télévisions, has been elected to the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors of Canal France International (CFI) in Paris.

  • LG Launches Innovative Battery Powered TV for the Nigerian Market

    Tapping into the problem of perennial power outage in Nigeria, LG Electronics chose to introduce the world’s first battery LED TV into the Nigerian market.

    The novel LG LED TV called LG 32LS3800 Battery LED TV, though operates on electricity has a long lastingbattery that ensures TV viewing is not unnecessarily interrupted when in it is use.

    The TV is portable and easy to carry which makes it convenient for it to be moved from one place to the other it also have the in-built surge protector for long lasting durability and better performance against Power surge; the battery which comes in handy during power outages has a long battery life as it can last the duration of a football match.

    The General Manager, Home Entertainment Division, LG Electronics, Mr. Dave Shin said that the LG Battery TV has come to end the embarrassment faced by Nigerian TV viewers

    Source:  Aug 23rd 2012.
    http://technology-africa.com/lg-launches-innovative-battery-powered-tv-f...

    ____________


    The Natural History Unit of Africa calls for Final Submissions in 2012

    28 August 2012: The Natural History Unit of Africa (NHU Africa) is currently making an urgent call for submissions.   All production companies and filmmakers are asked to submit proposals for the 2013 funding year.  All proposals that meet NHU Africa criteria will be reviewed.  The deadline for proposals is the 15 October 2012.
     
    The NHU Africa is a commissioning body and production house that produces some of Africa’s finest natural history and wildlife programming. We are urging South Africa’s most talented producers to propose films and series dealing with one or more of the various focus points within the natural history genre. These focus points include the following: Human-Animal Interaction, Adventure/Exploration, Blue Chip/The Natural World and Investigation and Revelation.
     
    Commissioning Editor of NHU Africa, Vyv Simson outlines what is most likely to make a strong/successful pitch “A successful pitch will contain some or all of the following: a strong story intriguingly told; engaging human and animal characters; a dramatic visual style; a sense of something we have not seen before; a fresh insight or approach to something we thought we’d seen before.”
     
    Commissioning Brief

    NHU Africa is looking for strong, African based stories that speak to the connections between people, animals and the natural world.  Stories should have a focus on Africa with powerful, entertaining, unusual and dramatic stories that provide an insight into the natural world and our place within it. Furthermore we are looking for films which will appeal to International audiences rather than simply the South African domestic audience.  In particular we are looking to engage audiences in the US, UK, Europe and Asia. We will commission both one off specials at 1 x 60 mins and multi-part series with episode lengths of either 30mins or 60 mins. We are particularly interested in the following areas:

    Human/Animal interaction:
    This ranges from unique single stories like Into The Dragon’s Lair – an intense and frightening personal quest to dive with Nile Crocodiles in the Okavango- to Cheetah Diaries – a light observational documentary series following the ongoing the work of the dedicated staff at The Cheetah Outreach. All films in this area need strong characters, developing story lines and an ability to tell us something new about the needs, desires and connections that drive human relationships with wild animals.

    Adventure/Exploration:
    Proposals in this area can be unique stories like Ice Man –the story of Lewis Pugh’s one man mission to highlight climate change by swimming in Antarctica – or more entertainment led series based ideas. All submissions whether for series or single films need to be built around strong characters and have a strong sense of a quest.

    The Natural World/Blue Chip Natural History:
    This ranges from 3 part series like Chameleons of the World- concentrating on one unusual species – to single more personal films like A Kalahari Tale- focusing on one particular individual animal. Proposals in this area must tell strong, unusual and dramatic stories, have their focus on the wild animals and offer high visual values.

    Investigation/Revelation:
    Proposals in this area will tend to be more investigative in approach. They can range from stories like The Search for The Knysna Elephants – one man’s attempts to challenge the official view that only one elephant remained in the Knysna Forest – to Free Passage to Angola – testing the notion that elephants are able to detect landmines. Proposals in this area should focus on unusual, difficult or controversial subjects and deliver genuine revelation.

    Every submission must include:
        •    1 page synopsis.
        •    Treatment (2-4 pages).
        •    Fully itemised budget in ZAR and US Dollars.
        •    Key Creatives biographies.
        •    Screener or showreel, if any.
        •    List of co-production, distribution or finance partners, if any already attached.
    Please submit your idea for commission or co-production to geta@nhuafrica.com
     
    Source:  NHU Africa.


     iTunes is said to be coming to Africa in the next few months.

Issue no 621 7th September 2012

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Top story

  • Back in June 2012, Convergence Partners attracted up to US$45 million from the World Bank’s investment arm IFC for its Communications Infrastructure Fund to support the rapid expansion of infrastructure across the continent. Along with this fund and its own investments, Convergence Partners is interested in a range of investment opportunities across the continent.  Russell Southwood spoke to Brandon Doyle, CEO, Convergence Partners about what they want to do.

    Convergence Partners already has investments in 20 different businesses, the majority of which are minority interests. For as Doyle says:”We’re strategic investors, not operators.”

    Its portfolio falls into three distinct groupings: mature stage investments (where the businesses have been going for some time and there’s possibilities for geographic expansion); its capital portfolio (a relatively small component, South African-based businesses that are not yet profitable but have shown ability to generate revenues; and infrastructure (new, greenfield telecoms network elements).

    In the capital part of the portfolio, its investment in Cape Town-based Bloodhound is a good example. It produces RFID, GPRS and GPS software for active tracking of personnel like sales people and guards. On the infrastructure side, it has investments in Seacom, the New Dawn satellite (a JV with Intelsat) and FibreCo in South Africa.

    “There’s a recognition that now that the undersea is in place, the next challenge is how to deliver high quality, high bandwidth networks. FibreCo breaks the old models down and offers open access, managed fibre on the long-haul section.” It is a new build network in South Africa with three way equal investment between Convergence Partners, Inernet Solutions and Cell-C.

    So far it has put 600 kilometres in the ground and has a its first leg from Cape Town to Johannesburg and it will eventually create a nationwide ring across thewhole country. Some of this ring will be created through purchase and swops with other networks:”We want to look at other regions and countries in Africa for this kind of model. But each market has to be looked at in its own right, taking into account demand and local regulations. But we think countries like Kenya and Nigeria have the potential to absorb this type of business model.”

    But it’s also interested in the content, services and applications that will create businesses on top of the infrastructure layer. It has two notable investments in this area: Skillpad and Integrat. The former is a white label gaming content platform designed to offer games content for both mobile and online devices. Its games are available in all the various mobile stores as individual titles and across different platforms like Google+ and Facebook. It has 20 million individual users globally, of which 3 million are in Africa.

    Integrat is a mobile content developer and aggregator and is making its own content and providing its own payment systems:”It has alternative ways of delivering bulk SMS that avoid the networks and as a result can be offered at reduced costs.”

    The Communications Infrastructure Fund will only invest 25% of its total funds in South Africa. The rest will go into investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. A number of other “blue chip” investors are in different stages of signing up:”We’re looking for wholesale, open access networks and we need players who can actively manage and maintain. But there’s not going to be a Pan-African initiative.”

    Also although its original BEE transaction expired in Dimension Data Middle East & Africa, it has chosen to keep its investment in place because they believe it is a good vehicle for taking advantage of many different Sub-Saharan investment opportunities.

    ”South African companies have sometimes struggled in expansion across the rest of the continent. At times they have adopted a somewhat arrogant, big brother approach to the rest of the continent and that doesn’t sit well with Governments and regulators. South Africans need to localize their companies across the continent and to be respectful of local cultures. This is what we’ve been trying to do, moving to local teams and to change and be flexible.”

    Doyle cautions against the talk of high growth from African markets:”Yes, there is high growth in some markets and we had rapid growth on Seacom. But generally speaking we’re in a period where you’re building a platform in terms of growth to come. There’s an impatience for returns but it’s going to take a little longer. There’s growth here but it’s much more of a medium-term play.” The “anchor” investors in the Communications Infrastructure Fund are mainly organisations that are comfortable with taking this view.

    Convergence Partners can either invest through the Fund itself or from its existing balance sheet. It hasn’t yet set up a separate VC fund but it might do in the future. From its existing balance sheet, it can go as low as US$200,000 or as high as US$20-30 million. Through the Fund, the minimum will be US$5 million and the maximum will be US$40 million, depending on the final fund size. In the case of the maximum amount, “It would need to be part of the funding pie and we would raise additional funding.”

    A bumper crop of video clips this week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

    Kwabena Smith, Orun Energy on saving diesel costs on base stations

    Justin Hartman, Social Code on South Africa's ICT entrepreneurialism and the failure to support it

    Julian Macharia, Buni TV on this new online video delivery platform

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on its acquisition of Afinis

    Envir Fraser, Convergence Partners on investment opportunities in ICT

    Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga on the mobile money market in Nigeria

    Nigerian ICT blogger Loy Okezi
    e on Nigeria's online successes

    Victor Dibia, CEO, Denvycom.com
     on his games portfolio and plans to monetize

    Oluseye Soyode-Johnson, consultant to Maliyo Games
     on the business model

    A special for Balancing Act readers:

    Kristine Pearson shows how the Lifeplayer, an MP3 player for rural education, works


    Mobile learning Steve Vosloo on how m-learning can support teaching

    Steve Vosloo on edutainment and interactivity in mobile learning, the Yoza mobile story project and other examples of m-learning in Africa

    South African Niall Murphy, Marmalade on multi-platform software distribution for apps based on the ARM chipset

telecoms

  • The Sierra Leone government, through the Sierra Leone Cable Limited SALCAB, has also announced an international competitive bidding for an expression of interest for consultancy services from reputable organizations to perform project supervision for the implementation of the 660km fibre backhaul and wimax access network in the country.

    The consultant will also help evaluate the bids for the development and deployment of ECOWAS Regional Backbone and e-Governance programme ECOWAN-Sierra Leone project which will be supported with a US$28.27 million loan received from the Islamic Development Bank IDB.

  • The last major hurdle for Telecom Namibia to acquire the controlling shares in the country’s second mobile operator leo has been passed.

    The Namibian Competition Commission on Friday approved the proposed merger between Telecom Namibia and Powercom which trades as leo – but the commission has placed a set of conditions in its approval.

    The proposed merger will only be cleared to proceed if the merging parties put in place a separate and independent shareholding structure for Telecom Namibia and that of MTC. According to the competition commission, this separation of the holding structure must be effected within a period of two years from the date of this notice of determination. Another condition that must be met is that the incumbent CEO of the Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings (NPTH) which is the parent company of Telecom, MTC and Namibia Post Limited should step down from his position with immediate effect. Frans Ndoroma who is also the Telecom Namibia Managing Director is serving in that position at the moment.

    The Head of Legal Services and Company Secretary of Telecom Namibia Patience Kangueehi-Kanalelo should also resign from her position as NPTH company secretary.

    “No person who is a director of Telecom Namibia or an employee of Telecom Namibia may serve as a director of either NPTH or MTC and likewise, no person who is a director of MTC or an employee of MTC may serve as a director of either NPTH or Telecom Namibia,” read the statement by Namibian Competition Commission CEO Mihe Gaomab II.

    The leo/Telecom merger has raised a number of competition concerns with commentators in the communication industry arguing that Telecom’s plan to buy leo has the potential of creating a monopoly as all land and mobile telecommunication service providers in the country will then belong to NPTH.

    Gaomab added that the approval conditions were in the interest of preventing any collusive or co-ordinated behaviour that would undermine the free and spirited competition for all entities in that sector, including Telecom and MTC. He added: “The conditions are therefore imposed to mitigate the negative impact that the merger may have on competition in the relevant market/mobile telecommunication market.”

    As Namibia’s second mobile operator leo, formerly Cell One, launched in 2007. In September 2009 Cell One was rebranded to leo when Telenor and other shareholders were bought out by Telecel Globe.

    Up to 2010 leo had invested millions of dollars through infrastructure and staff employment. It currently employs 151 permanent and 20 temporary staff members at head office and in 11 retail outlets. The network is equipped with EDGE/3G/ and HSDPA functionalities and currently covers 75% of Namibia.

  • Kenyans who incite violence and send hateful messages through social media and text messages could face steep fines, said Acting Director of Communications in the Ministry of Information Omwa Om.

    The National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring has announced it is putting in place appropriate technology to identify hate speech sent via text messages.

    The use of social media for conflict incitement is a primary concern, the committee said. "The government will act to ensure that the internet is not used to provide room for such activity," the committee said in a statement.

    Ombara, accompanied by deputy police spokesman Charles Owino, Communications Commission of Kenya Corporate Affairs Manager Christopher Wambua and Film Services Director Alex Kerich, appealed to Kenyan bloggers to be alert and vigilant and "bring to our attention any hate speech they detect on the internet".

    The officials said eight bloggers were being investigated for hate speech and would be prosecuted soon.

    The crackdown on hate speech is part of a larger effort to promote peace and tolerance ahead of the Kenya general elections in March 2013.

  • Telkom says it will appeal the fine handed down to it by the Competition Tribunal in August for abusing its dominance in the telecommunications market between 1999 and 2004. Shares in Telkom declined 1.71% to R19.56 in afternoon trade on the JSE.

    “Telkom wishes to advise shareholders that, Telkom has filed a notice of appeal against the said ruling. Telkom will now have forty business days to file the record of appeal before the matter can be set down for hearing by the Competition Appeal Court,” the group said in a statement on Thursday (30 August).

    The Tribunal imposed penalty of R449 million on Telkom in its case against the South African Value added Networks Services (SAVA).

    The Tribunal concluded that Telkom leveraged its upstream monopoly in the facilities market to advantage its own subsidiary in the competitive value added network market – Telkom’s conduct caused harm to both competitors and consumers alike and impeded competition and innovation in the dynamic VANS market.

    Half of the penalty was due to be paid within six months of the Tribunal’s decision, while the balance is payable within 12 months thereafter.

  • Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has destroyed over 25 telecommunication masts belonging to mobile operators in the northern parts of the country. Four MTN Nigeria staff have reportedly been killed by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno State, while the group was said to be trying to bomb one of the company's base stations, local media reported.

    The attacks affected the services of the four major GSM companies in the country. It was revealed that one person was injured, while an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was defused by the Police Anti-bomb Squad in Bauchi State.

    Local media say the attacks follow the sect's threat in February against telecommunication companies for supposedly compromising their ethical obligations by divulging information about its activities to security operatives. This had led to the arrest of many of its members.

  • CCK has set September 30 as the deadline to switch off counterfeit handsets in Kenya. This is expected to affect at least 2.3 million handsets. According to the report, the impact of chemical misuse will continue to be felt acutely by developing economies in the coming decades as chemical production shifts to these countries.
    Weak regulations that do not restrict trade and production of these chemicals will exacerbate the situation.
    Kenya is seeking a safe way of disposing of electronic waste that is likely to flood the country after the planned switch-off of fake mobile phones on September 30.

    According to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the country does not have the resources needed to handle the expected flow of fake electronics.

    “We are talking with the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) on how to deal with fake phones. First, we will have to devise a way to collect and store them safely,” Nema director general Geoffrey Wahungu said.

     He said there was an option of shipping out the gadgets to West African states where such facilities are available.

    CCK has set September 30 as the deadline to switch off counterfeit handsets in Kenya. This is expected to affect at least 2.3 million handsets.

  • The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Communications, Tryphone Kin-Key Mulumba, has warned the country’s four mobile operators that they must improve their service quality by 7 September or face sanctions, Radio Okapi reports.

    In a public address on 31 August Mulumba suggested that subscribers of Airtel DRC, Congo-Chine Telecom (Orange), Oasis Telecom (Tigo DRC) and Vodacom Congo have witnessed unacceptable lapses in quality of service (QoS) in recent weeks, commenting: ‘For a month and a half, users have found that a decline in the quality of communication is a real problem, and no reimbursement system currently exists’.

    Mulumba added that he is preparing to table a bill at the end of the parliamentary recess to make it possible to sanction operators who do not demonstrably improve their service during the specified time-frame.

internet

  • The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed plans to make the vandalisation of telecoms infrastructure a criminal offence.

    The commission made this known last week in Abuja while acknowledging a formal report of the vandalisation of some base stations in North Eastern Nigeria, saying details of the affected base stations will be forwarded to the commission at a later date following a comprehensive audit.

    The commission also stated that since it was a security matter, an official statement has been made to relevant security agencies who are on top of the situation

    The Director, Public Affairs, NCC Tony Ojob, also told journalists that the deadline for the sanctions of telecoms providers that have not met its key performance indicators (KPI) is December, 2012 and not September as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

    He noted that service providers indicated that it would take some time to build more base stations and getting approval could also be a hindrance.

    According to him, "We agreed on progressive improvements on the networks where they will begin to work progressively towards the ultimate KPI. Telecoms operators gave reasons such as the vast location of base stations and issues of approvals for citing of base stations as militating factors."

    On the issue of SIM card registration, Ojobo revealed that at the time the House of Representatives set up a committee to look at the issues of SIM card registration, the commission stopped all processes. But he hinted that the skeletal upload of data was going on but not on a large scale since the commission was still waiting for the outcome of the report. He, however, said that as soon as that happens, the commission would take the necessary steps towards completion of the exercise.

  • TargetMap allows users to create maps by simply uploading a data table. A dozen of the maps depict global Internet access, but one uniquely adds child labor statistics to the mix.

    In a global context, it is obvious that African nations have high rates of child labor and low rates of Internet penetration. This comes as no surprise given Africa’s agrarian tradition. Within Africa, the nations of Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, Ethiopia, Somalia, Niger, and Central African Republic have the highest incidences of child labor. These eight nations also tend to have extremely low rates of Internet access. North African nations, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe have much lower rates of child labor and boast higher Internet penetration rates. South Africa, on the other hand, has a relatively high Internet penetration rate (10%) but a moderate child labor rate (32.5%). An inverse relationship certainly exists (reduce Internet access and find increased child labor), but the reason for high child labor tends to be the rural nature of most Sub-Saharan Africa nations.

    Child labor is not directly preventing Internet access, nor is a lack of Internet access the only reason child labor still exists. For better or worse, the Internet is changing local cultures. Tradition is competing with Western values. In many cultures, it is expected for children to help the family rather than attend school. Information transmitted from other parts of the world is slowly eroding these expectations.

    For farmers, new agricultural practices are making life more efficient. Fewer people are needed to complete a task. Quite possibly, a benefit of m-agriculture is the reduction of a need for child labor.

    At the same time, Internet presence suggests a government with certain resources and policies that are likely to spill over into labor standards. Odds are that a nation with the money to support infrastructure creation will devote a portion of its finances to other areas of the economy – such as child labor reform.

    Still, the Internet is likely to transmit knowledge of children’s rights to elders and parents. Children, in time, can become empowered to ask for fair treatment.

    Childinfo.org (part of UNICEF) looks at the percentage of children aged 5-14 engaged in child labor. The program “strives to protect their rights, improve their health, and nurture their development through sound planning and monitoring of policy results”. Internet penetration data comes from Internet World Stats, which tends to be based on ITU data (in this case 2010). Child labor (and Internet penetration) statistics are estimates at best, but even ballpark figures give a sense of how a nation leans.

  • Approximately 250,000 small-holder farmers in Kenya can now get reliable and relevant agricultural information via their mobile phones following a partnership project between Airtel Africa and GSMA Development Fund.

    The innovative project, dubbed 'Sauti ya Mkulima' (Voice of the Farmer), aims to provide farmers with access to pertinent agriculture-related information, advice and research that will help them make better decisions about their crops, increasing the productivity of their yield, as well as their potential income.

    The initiative is also aimed at creating a farmer community within which peers can share experiences and exchange information about social gatherings, events, and job opportunities.

    "At Airtel, we recognize innovative telecommunications solutions have the power to transform communities. This initiative is a solid testament to what partnerships that harness relevant consumer needs can achieve in overcoming daily challenges. We are excited and thankful to the partners involved in birthing this initiative," explained Shivan Bhargava, Managing Director, Airtel Kenya.

    "Gaining access to this information will be immensely beneficial to the farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on their yield," he added.

    As part of the partnership, the GSMA farmer initiative - supported by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - has awarded Airtel $400,000 (Sh33.7million) to be used towards the project.

    The funds will be used to develop a database of content with the help of partners such as the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), an inter-governmental not-for-profit organization and radio-based information provider Kilimo Media.

    The funds will also be used to set up the technological capabilities to execute the project with the help of world-class technology service providers.

    Initially, 'Sauti ya Mkulima' will focus on small-holder Kenyan farmers engaged in maize, banana, mango, rice, beans and horticulture (tomato and black night shade) crops.

    Airtel plans to further develop the model and eventually replicate it across all its markets on the continent.

  • Internet censorship, better known under the name of "Ammar 404" is henceforth no longer happening in Tunisia, asserted Information and Communication Minister Mongi Marzoug.

    In his meeting with the media, the Minister said that the Revolution allowed to put an end to censorship in Tunisia underlining the interim government's commitment to facilitate access to information and promote freedom of expression.

    Launching, on September 4, 2012, of the National Forum of Internet governance is "the end Ammar 404", he said.

    The Minister said that Tunisia will announce, tomorrow Friday, its membership to joint action for freedom of expression on the Internet "Freedom online", which holds its second session, on September 6-7, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya.

    On the fringes of its participation in this event, Tunisia will apply for hosting the 3rd edition of this conference, said the Minister.

    In another connection, Mr. Marzoug presented the programme as well as the main objectives of the 2012 ICT 4 all forum due to be held on September 17-20, 2012 in Hammamet.

    This event aims to give a new image of Tunisia as a country leader in the field of ICTs and freedom of expression and boost the country's role in this sector on the Maghrebi, Arab and African levels.

computing

  • Local schools no longer have to struggle to recruit experienced science teachers to explain to students how temperature, humidity, electricity, sound are measured following the introduction of a software that enables them to perform the experiments with ease.

    The MultiLab data analysis software is connected to 65 censors and is built in NOVA5000, a portable data device.

    NOVA5000 is connected to computers with a wide range of functions that allows them to perform hundreds of scientific experiments in biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science.

    The equipment has a touch screen and ability to collect data from up to eight sensors simultaneously. It has extensive library of science workbooks and curriculum support.

    The software that was showcased yesterday at the ongoing international conference on technology in education in Kigali was developed by Fourier Systems Limited, an IT company based in Israel that operates in 50 countries.

  • - The police in Namibia’s Omusati Region are investigating a case of murder after a 82-year-old woman, Lovisa Shikongo from Uukwandongo village near Okahao, was killed over a missing computer memory stick on Friday. Omusati Police Commissioner Shinedima Shindinge said the police were told that a 19-year-old man left the memory stick at Shikongo's cuca shop for safekeeping. When he returned to collect it, he was told that another young man had taken it with him. When the other young man returned and denied taking the gadget, the suspect started searching the shop. Shikongo was not happy with that and allegedly slapped the suspect, who then started beating her with his fist. Shikongo collapsed and died on the spot. Shindinge said the suspect was arrested and was expected to appear in the Outapi Magistrate's Court.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Bidding for government securities in Tanzania has gone online courtesy of a new system launched by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).
     
    The new online system for bidding government securities has both an online bidding and central depository services (CDS) account. Government securities include bonds, notes, and other debt instruments sold by any government to finance its budget or borrowings. Most of them are long term and with high profits to the traders.

    "The bank had to improve the old GSS so that it conforms to international best practices, keeping pace with technological advancement," BoT Governor Prof Benno Ndulu said, as quoted by AllAfrica.

    Prof Ndulu added that the banks old system was not efficient and was not interactive forced traders to visit the banks physical premises.

    The new online system, according to BoT, will accept bidders applications wherever they are in the world and will also be open to East Africa traders first then to the whole world by 2015.

  • The NSE has rolled out an automated broker back office system that will reduce risks involved in securities trading at the bourse.

    It is anticipated that the BBO system will improve transparency in stock trading and curb fraudulent activities. "Transparency was an issue in the market sometime ago but stakeholders are now working together affirmatively," said CMA acting chief executive Paul Muthaura.

    Clients and senior management of participating brokerages and investment banks will be able to monitor and audit activities through alerts and exception reports.Brokers' client accounts will be automatically classified as dormant depending on the level of activity, requiring additional authorisation for all transactions made on such accounts.

    The BBO will enforce a strict password policy by using encrypted transmissions that will time-out inactive sessions and restrict concurrent logins. The system is connected with the trading and the clearing and payment settlement platforms, ensuring the entire process of transacting in securities will only have minimal manual intervention.

    "This is a vast improvement from what we have had hitherto and will contribute to cost reduction for brokerage firms," said John Kirimi, the chairman of Kenya Association of Stockbrokers and Investment Banks (KASIB). Investors will also be able to trade through their mobile phones and eventually via internet access to the automated trading system.

    "We are waiting for CMA's approval to trade over internet, and this will also help trading participants to expand their services to counties," said Bob Karina, NSE vice chairman and Faida Investment Bank managing director. Initial public offers (IPOs) and portfolio management will as well be supported the system.

    It also supports complaints processing by providing insightful reports on frequency and nature of complaints, their financial impact and the time taken to resolve them. The system has been supplied by Indian technology firm Chella Software, which will also offer after-sale support such as user and investor education

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Ghana’s Mobile operator Globacom has unveiled a new tariff brandnamed ‘Glo Gista.’ that allows for on-net and off- net calls at reduced and standard rates.
     
    All calls will cost 6Gp (US$ 3.2) per minutes and customers using the network will also get discounts and freebies as a permanent tariff rolls out.

Digital Content

  • In a rare case witnessed in Kenya, a farming app has opened its API to invite other developers to build different applications.
     
    Ukulima.net is one of its kind. The application that helps unite farmers together was born in 2011 by Pamoja Media, a digital marketing agency. The application that is accessible through the mobile Web and a desktop interface, has currently 500 users.

    “Two things led us down the path that brought about this idea. We had been working on information and communication strategies for a number of agricultural organizations working with small holder farmers,” Joshua Wanyama, the Executive Director at Pamoja Media told Humanipo.

    “It became apparent that the time it takes to get a question from a farmer answered by an expert and have that information in the hands of the farmer was around two weeks. We felt there had to be a better way to do this,” he added.

    Joshua also had a personal experience that inspired him to come up with this app. “I had also done a dairy project in Western Kenya unsuccessfully and whenever we needed to talk to people with experience or who were experts on solving our day to day problems at the farm, we didn’t have access to them,” Joshua said.

    It is at this time that he felt there was a gap in the market in terms of information in the farming sector in Kenya. Joshua and Pamoja Media wanted to expand the small radius between farmers and draw them closer regardless of the distance.

    The uniqueness of this project definitely lays in the open API it gives to other developers. In most cases developers in Kenya, only think about developing their own systems.

    “We have created an open API to allow other app developers looking to reach farmers on our network. We are also working very hard to improve our group capabilities which we will then use to work directly with farmer groups in Kenya,” Joshua told Humanipo.

    This move is definitely going in the right direction and will attract other developers to come up with much more advanced apps in the market.  Other farming apps that have made a notable splash in the market include mFarm and FarmPal.

  • Local developers will soon be able to market their applications on Safaricom's App store set to go live next month. Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs Nzioka Waita says the app store will give local developers the much needed exposure that they often lose out on when placed against international developers on app stores like the Ovi store.

    "Majority of our customers use feature phones that don't really have access to these app stores, so we'll give them a Safaricom-centric app store and help them meet their marketing costs because every day we have over five million people going on to our web portal," he said.

    In a bid to give local developers even more recognition Safaricom and UK-based mobile operator Vodafone have launched a multi-country app challenge, dubbed AppStar.

    Waita says the competition, which will take place in Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana and Qatar will help deepen local talent.

    "The competition is designed at a two-tier level. The first is a local competition, giving developers until November 2 to develop and publish their apps. Then there'll be a two-week evaluation period by a judge panel of industry leaders, academia and consumer test groups," he said.

    The top Kenyan developer will take home Sh1 million and go on to compete in South Africa with finalists from the other six countries for the grand prize.

    Safaricom will spend over Sh2 million on the award scheme, while the competition will run from September 6 to November 21, featuring entries in six categories including Games/Entertainment, Health, Education, Agriculture, Financial Inclusion and Productivity.

    Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo, who was present at the challenge launch, says the government took longer in supporting the nascent developer community due to lack of resources and incubation facilities to nurture upcoming talent.

    "We are behind because we need a lot infrastructural things like the development of Konza City, where we could have incubation centres. Now you have operators showing support which gives local developers hope," he said.

    Safaricom announced a Sh20 million grant to iLabAfrica at Strathmore University in its first tranche of support to set up and run iLabAfrica, which plans to have an incubation facility as part of its activities.

    "Next month we'll be launching iLabAfrica which will be the most high-tech equipped laboratory probably on the continent. We'll give a chance for technology to be developed and we'll also get young developers to understand how to monetise and commercialise their talents," Waita said.

    iLabAfrica is research centre under the faculty of Information Technology at Strathmore University, established in January last year to spearhead research, innovation and entrepreneurship in ICT for development.

  • Mxit, arguably the largest mobile social network in Africa, is considering altering its business from an instant messaging (IM) platform to a full-fledged social platform. This revelation comes even as it braces itself to face the rising competition from mainstream social media platforms.

    Speaking at the Mobile Entertainment Africa 2012 conference held in Cape Town, South Africa  last week, Mxit’s head of product development Peter Matthaei added that Mxit is currently working on improving discoverability through sharing, user recommendations and applying algorithms to social networking, reported Techloy.

    A look at the social network’s growth numbers shows an impressive growth despite the growing competition from other mobile messaging services such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and WhatsApp Messenger.

    Currently, Mxit operates in over 120 countries, with huge interaction and user loyalty exceeding 50 million. Its user base increases by an astonishing 35,000 to 50,000 users per day, and processes 750 million messages daily!

    The social network’s site has over 50 million registered users, with 54 percent being male and 46 percent female.

    The top five fastest growing countries on the network are South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Swaziland, respectively. In South Africa alone, Mxit has over 10 million users.

    It is also the most downloaded application in South Africa’s android app market, with about 100,000 to 500,000 downloads.

    Headed by Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, MXit was one of the nine South African companies that were featured in Forbes magazine’s top 20 African start-ups earlier this year.

    MXit allows users to send and receive one-on-one text and multimedia messages to and from other users, and in general chat rooms. It also supports gateways to other instant messaging platforms like MSN Messenger, ICQ and Google Talk. MXit does not charge for one-on-one messages though mobile operators may charge for data usage. There are also a number of pay-services, including chatrooms.

More

  • - Virgin Mobile South Africa has appointed Jonathan Marchbank as the company’s new CEO. Former chief executive, Steve Bailey stepped down from his post at the end of May. The company recently became part of the larger ‘Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa’ group (VMMEA), following a merger agreement with Friendi Group in June.

  • Managed Services World Congress 2012
    18 – 19 September 2012, Maritim Pro Arte Hotel, Berlin, Germany
    With Managed Service business models evolving in new and exciting directions, it’s time to reassess the market and your place in it. Managed Services World Congress – the biggest global MS event – is the perfect place to bring leading players together and address these issues. With a 50% operator audience, and 65% CXO / Director level attendance, there is no better opportunity to meet new and existing clients. It’s a must-attend event for anyone looking to maximise the value of their technology, their networks and their brand in today’s evolving MS world. FREE PASSES FOR OPERATORS. For more information visit here: 

    Broadband World Forum

    16 – 18 October 2012, Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    The event, now in its 12th year, is the most respected in the regions Telecoms calendar and the comprehensive agenda includes breakfast briefings, 3 co-located summits,  keynote plenary sessions and a choice of 4 tracks for delegates each day as well as the world class exhibition area. For more information please click here:

    AfricaCom 2012
    13th-15th November 2012, CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

    The digital ecosystem will take centre stage at AfricaCom 2012, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, 13 – 15 November 2012.  Network with over 7000 industry executives at Africa’s largest event embracing all aspects of the continent’s converging telecoms, media and ICT sectors.  Incorporating 11 co-located events all pertinent to future-proofing your business in the digital era, including cloud computing, OTT, apps, broadband and multiplatform content, see and hear how Africa’s communications market is a hotbed for innovation and long term prosperity. 
    Contact: Subuola.akinkugbe@informa.com
    For more information please click here:

  • IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program launches to back startups in SA

    This year the IBM Global Entrepreneur has expanded the SmartCamp initiative to new geographies, putting South Africa on the map.
     
    The firm has also introduced a new kind of focused event series dubbed “IBM SmartCamp KickStart events.” These are one- or two-day events similar to SmartCamps with a focus on giving worldclass mentorship to startups.

    Finalists from each KickStart location proceed to the SmartCamp regional competition.
    Following this development, startups in South Africa aged five or younger have been given an opportunity to apply to the IBM Global Entrepreneur Programfor the first time.
    IBM  will use the SmartCamp in South Africa to identify early stage ventures in line with its Smarter Planet vision just as it does in such events it holds around the world.
    In 2010 and 2011, IBM says it held seventeen SmartCamp events with five finalists selected from each location to network with 25 world-class entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts.

    To find out more and apply click here:

Issue No 190 6 septembre 2012

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Editorial

  • La République démocratique du Congo et le Congo-Brazzaville sont désormais reliés par un câble sous-marin à fibre optique. Le 4 septembre, Kin-Kiey Mulumba, le ministre des Postes, Télécommunications et Nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la Communication de la RD Congo et Thierry Moungalla (photo), son homologue congolais, ont assisté aux travaux de pose de connexion de ce câble.

    L’interconnexion de ces deux pays par leur capitale ouvre la voie au système WACS du câble à fibre optique posé dans l’océan Atlantique. Par cette nouvelle infrastructure, la SCTP et Congo Télécom, les deux entreprises publiques de télécommunications de la RDC et du Congo-Brazzaville peuvent maintenant se repositionner au plan international.

    La liaison par câble sous- fluvial à fibre optique permettra à la RD Congo et au Congo de se doter des infrastructures modernes de télécommunications. Connectés par câble coaxial à l'époque coloniale, ensuite par satellite en passant par Paris et Bruxelles pour revenir en Afrique, puis par faisceau hertzien, la RD Congo et le Congo-Brazzaville font leur entrée dans la technologie de pointe. 

    La pose de fibre optique au Congo-Brazaville ne s’arrête pas là. Prochaînement, ce sera au tour de la ville de Pointe-Noire de se connecter à la station de Matombi.

    Le projet est évalué à environ 100 millions de dollars américains. Il concerne les villes de Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire et Oyo. La seconde phase coûtera 73 millions de dollars américains pour connecter les chefs-lieux de régions au backbone.

    La troisième phase, estimée à 36 millions de dollars américains, permettra de connecter les chefs-lieux de districts et les grands villages.

    Info Plus Gabon & Agence Ecofin
  • L'affaire qui oppose l'État et le groupe Millicom international cellular (Mic), propriétaire de la marque de téléphonie mobile Tigo, vient de connaître un dénouement à l'amiable. Les deux parties ont trouvé, hier, un accord de principe. Millicom s'engage à verser plus de 50 milliards de francs Cfa à l'État qui prévoit dans l'accord la reconnaissance de la validité de la licence actuelle de l'opérateur Sentel/Tigo.

    Le groupe Millicom international cellular (Mic), maison mère de l'opérateur de téléphonie mobile Tigo, et le gouvernement du Sénégal ont trouvé, hier, un accord de principe pour résoudre à l'amiable leur différend vieux de près de 10 ans, concernant la validité de la licence de Sentel/Tigo au Sénégal. Le groupe Millicom s'engage à verser à l'État du Sénégal, au titre de cet accord, plus de 50 milliards de francs Cfa (environ 103 millions de dollars) suivant un échéancier contenu dans le document final à signer entre les deux parties, révèle un communiqué de presse du ministère de l'Économie et des Finances.

    L'accord prévoit aussi la reconnaissance de la validité de la licence actuelle de l'opérateur Sentel/Tigo et sa prorogation de 10 ans, soit jusqu'en 2028. Il inclut également l'alignement des termes de cette licence actuelle sur ceux des autres opérateurs, y compris la 3G. Cet accord conclu entre les deux parties entraîne ainsi la suspension de la procédure d'arbitrage initiée en 2008 auprès du Centre d'arbitrage de la Banque Mondiale (Cirdi) afin de finaliser la documentation nécessaire à la clôture de cette transaction. L'entente entre les deux parties est intervenue dans une démarche transparente, précise le communiqué.

    La brouille entre le groupe du deuxième opérateur de téléphonie mobile installé au Sénégal en 1998 et l'État date du début de la première alternance politique, en 2000. Les autorités d'alors avaient dénoncé de «nombreuses anomalies» relevées dans l'attribution de la licence à Tigo par le régime socialiste à 100.000 dollars, soit 50 millions de francs Cfa.

    Le régime de Me Abdoulaye Wade avait engagé une renégociation de la licence. À l'époque, l'État estimait que Sentel et Millicom exploitaient une licence de télécommunication au terme d'une concession en date de juillet 1998 sans en avoir payé au préalable le prix appelé droit d'entrée. L'attribution d'une licence, estimait le gouvernement, supposait le versement de droits de tickets d'entrée, par des versements fixés selon des normes internationales. Le gouvernement demandait non seulement le paiement du prix de la licence, mais faisait état de violations des clauses de la convention de concession à même d'entraîner la résiliation du contrat.

    C'est ainsi que l'autorité publique avait procédé à la résiliation de la concession de Sentel et Millicom. En dépit de cela, l'opérateur exprima le désir de continuer à poursuivre ses activités au Sénégal. Suite à une audience avec le président Wade, les deux sociétés acceptèrent de payer un prix tout en demandant l'ouverture de négociations pour en fixer le montant. Il leur fut autorisé de continuer à exercer leurs activités de façon transitoire, avec la promesse de se retrouver avec l'État pour fixer le prix de la licence en se référant sur la vente d'une troisième licence téléphonique. Cette affaire avait connu une péripétie judiciaire, puisque le dossier avait atterri devant le tribunal régional de Dakar.

    Sentel avait riposté en saisissant la Cour internationale de règlement des différends en matière d'investissements (Cirdi) dont le siège se trouve à Washington. Un responsable de Sentel déclarait à l'époque que son entreprise et Millicom avaient obtenu, au terme d'un appel d'offre normal et de manière transparente, une licence pour l'exploitation du réseau de téléphonie mobile pour une durée de 20 ans (1998-2018).

    À son avis, à l'époque, l'acquisition d'une licence se faisait sans ticket d'entrée. Mais le gouvernement campait sur sa position, réclamant le paiement de 100 milliards de francs Cfa si l'opérateur voulait continuer à travailler au Sénégal. Le groupe Millicom se voyait taxé par le gouvernement du Sénégal de violation de ses obligations de fournitures des informations techniques, administratives et financières, et des manquements quant à la couverture radioélectrique du territoire. L'accord que viennent de sceller les deux parties met ainsi fin à cette brouille.

    Le Soleil
  • Après avoir obtenu la licence 3G auprès de services du Ministère des Postes, télécommunications et Nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication, l'opérateur téléphonique Vodacom Congo a procédé au lancement de son service Internet 3G, le vendredi 24 août dernier.

    C'est le Ministre de tutelle, Kin-Kiey Mulumba qui a lancé ce service au Restaurent Sir Harris, dans la commune de Barumbu. Cette cérémonie succincte mais pleine de sens a été précédée d'une conférence de presse au cours de laquelle le Directeur Général de Vodacom Congo, Godfrey Motsa a invité les abonnés de ce réseau téléphonique à goûter à la puissance de l'internet à partir de leur portable qui, désormais, devient un outil de développement.

    Vue des participants au lancement du service Internet 3G de Vodacom Congo dont le Ministre Kin-Kiey Mulumba

    Plusieurs personnalités ont fait le déplacement de ce restaurant, pour sabler du champagne à l'occasion de cet événement. L'on a noté la présence remarquable du Vice-président du Collège des conseillers de l'Autorité de Régulation des Postes et Télécommunications au Congo (ARPTC). Au cours de cette conférence de presse, le N°1 de Vodacom Congo a, d'entrée de jeu, expliqué les avantages qu'offre ce service internet, avant de donner un bref aperçu sur les actions menées par cet opérateur téléphonique en RDC.

    Ces actions, a-t-il avancé, sont réalisées en faveur des populations congolaises aussi bien dans le social que dans la maîtrise des nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication. S'agissant du service Internet 3G, Godfrey Motsa a indiqué que ce service permettra à plus de 7 millions d'abonnés de ce réseau d'accéder à l'Internet à haut débit. Grâce à la grande vitesse de téléchargement des données en temps réel et une multitude d'applications additionnelles, les utilisateurs de ce service pourront ainsi assouvir rapidement leur besoin.

    Concrètement, on peut effectuer des appels vidéo, jouer aux jeux à hautes définitions et, télécharger des films et des musiques. Aussi, le patron de Vodacom Congo est-il revenu sur son engagement et celui de son équipe de protéger ses abonnés contre la cybercriminalité et les pirates et, de se conformer à la législation congolaise en cette matière. Pour une utilisation optimale de ce service, Vodacom Congo a déployé ses experts dans tous les Vodashops, pour une assistance directe. Déjà, 50 sites 3G dont 30 à Kinshasa et 20 Lubumbashi sont installés.

    Chaque site couvre jusqu'à 20 Km. Vodacom procédera à l'installation de 350 nouveaux sites 3G d'ici décembre de l'année en cours. Procédant au lancement du service Internet 3G de Vodacom, le Ministre des Postes, télécommunications et Nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication, Tryphon Kin-Kiey Mulumba, a, au nom du Gouvernement de la République, exprimé sa fierté de présider à la destinée du secteur de PTNITC à l'heure où la téléphonie cellulaire en RDC bascule dans la société mondiale de l'information.

    La migration du 2G à 3G, a-t-il soutenu, est l'une des voies indiquée pour révolutionner ce secteur vecteur de développement. « L'internet nous ouvre à la société mondiale de l'information. Aujourd'hui, nous basculons à cette société grâce à la 3G », a-t-il indiqué. L'occasion faisant le larron, le Ministre des PT & NTIC a réaffirmé la détermination du Gouvernement Matata à connecter la RDC à la fibre optique internationale. D'ici une trentaine de jours, la RDC pourra être connectée au câble Wacs. Ce qui facilitera l'utilisation du 3G.

    La Prospérité
  • Le second assureur sud africain Sanlam crée une alliance avec Bharti Airtel, deuxième operateur téléphonique africain par nombre d’abonnés, pour la distribution de ses produits d’assurances.

    L’accord couvre dans un premier temps le Kenya, le Ghana, la Tanzanie, la Zambie, l'Ouganda, le Malawi et le Nigeria où le taux de pénétration de l’assurance est inférieur à 3% alors que la couverture des opérateurs dépasse en moyenne 40% de la population.

    Sanlam proposera à la clientèle d’Airtel des produits d’assurance vie, santé et Iard à travers une plate forme mobile.

    «Nous sommes ravis de ce partenariat avec Sanlam sur cette initiative passionnante. Ceci permet d'offrir à nos clients un accès à une vaste gamme de produits et services sophistiqués pour soutenir leur mode de vie et leurs aspirations, et ce partenariat nous permettra d'améliorer considérablement la valeur que nous offrir à nos clients fidèles » a expliqué Chidi Okpala, directeur d’Airtel Money Afrique.

    Margaret Dawes, directrice Afrique à Sanlam Emerging Markets a ajouté « Nous sommes impatients d'offrir des produits compétitifs qui répondent aux besoins du client en s'appuyant sur nos années d'expérience collective et de recherche sur ces marchés ».

    Agence ecofin
  • Des fournisseurs d'accès Internet opérant en RDC ont fait état, ce lundi 3 septembre, de leur malaise au sujet de la décision de l'Autorité de régulation des postes et télécommunication du Congo (ARPTC) attribuant l'autorisation d'exploitation de stations VSAT à trois opérateurs seulement. Il s'agit de Cybernet SPRL, Raga Sat SPRL et Vodacom Congo SPRL. Cette décision, prise il y a plus d'une année à l'issue d'un appel d'offre, devait être exécuté au plus tard le 30 juin 2012.

    Cette décision a suscité beaucoup de mécontentement dans le milieu des fournisseurs d'accès Internet. Son application a dû être repoussée jusqu'en 2013.

    Selon certains documents émanant de l'ARPTC, il s'agit d'une mesure qui vise l'assainissement du cadre relatif à l'exploitation par satellite et le renforcement du contrôle dans ce domaine. En d'autres termes, le gouvernement, dans le souci de mieux contrôler les sorties d'informations, a jugé nécessaire d'octroyer la licence aux opérateurs bien identifiés et en nombre limité.

    Une dizaine de fournisseurs d'accès Internet utilisent la technologie VSAT en RDC. Ils devraient désormais reverser leurs clients auprès d'un des trois opérateurs ayant obtenu l'autorisation, selon la décision de l'ARPTC.

    Cette situation pourrait occasionner un manque à gagner énorme, susceptible de conduire à la fermeture de certaines sociétés, a estimé un expert en télécommunications.

    Cette décision risque de créer une situation de monopole, qui pourrait entraîner une hausse des prix. La qualité de service offert au public risque aussi d'empâter, selon la même source.

    Tous les fournisseurs opérant en RDC disent détenir des licences que l'Etat leur a octroyées. Certains d'entre eux qui ont été «écartés» par cette nouvelle mesure se disent peinés. Ils ont estimé, sous couvert de l'anonymat, que l'Etat congolais a bradé cette licence en la vendant au prix de 150 000 dollars américains aux trois fournisseurs précités.

    L'initiative visant à mieux contrôler ce secteur est une bonne chose, ont reconnu certains opérateurs. Cependant, ils ont estimé que, pour le faire, il n'est pas utile que l'ARPTC retire toutes les autorisations pour ne les accorder qu'a trois fournisseurs. Ce service devrait plutôt, selon eux, se doter d'équipements adéquats, par exemple des hélicoptères, pour faire un meilleur contrôle.

    Certains opérateurs ont souhaité que cette mesure soit abrogée. D'autres, par contre, ont plaidé que «l'on trouve une formule qui pourrait arranger les uns et les autres», sans autres précisions.

    Radio Okapi
  • Etre dans l'air du temps, c'est ce qui a poussé la Direction générale de la sécurité nationale (DGSN) à mettre en ligne un site d'information sur la Carte nationale d'identité électronique (CNIE).

    Ce portail électronique accessible via l'adresse web www.CNIE.ma, mais qui semble difficilement joignable parce que généralement saturé comme l'indique le message d'occupation qui en empêche l'accès, comporte à la fois des informations et des services pratiques en rapport avec la procédure d'établissement de ce document, indique la Direction dans un communiqué.

    L'administration électronique gagne ainsi du terrain afin de mieux rapprocher le citoyen des institutions publiques.

    Côté informations, le portail met à la disposition des usagers marocains un certain nombre de données sur les caractéristiques et les avantages de la CNIE, des renseignements sur la procédure à suivre pour l'obtention de la nouvelle carte d'identité et des informations qui ont trait à la réglementation nationale régissant la Carte nationale d'identité électronique.

    Côté prestations pratiques, le portail officiel de la CNIE offre l'assistance technique au profit des personnes âgées, handicapées ou souffrant d'une maladie incurable, pour bénéficier de la procédure spéciale les autorisant à effectuer les formalités d'établissement de ladite carte dans leurs domiciles ou au sein des établissements hospitaliers les recevant comme patients.

    Afin de bénéficier de ces prestations, il suffit pour la personne concernée, ou l'un de ses proches de remplir le formulaire destiné aux cas spéciaux, de l'accompagner de certificats attestant la maladie ou l'invalidité et de le déposer au district le plus proche. Par la suite, un fonctionnaire se déplace sur les lieux afin d'entamer la procédure.

    En plus des services à caractère informationnel et d'assistance, des prestations se rapportant aux prises de rendez-vous et au suivi de la demande de la CNIE seront mises sur le nouveau portail et à la disposition des usagers dans un futur proche, relève la DGSN.

    Notons que cette initiative vient renforcer la mise en œuvre du plan numérique 2013. L'objectif poursuivi étant d'utiliser les projets e-Gouvernement pour moderniser l'administration et les collectivités locales au service des citoyens et des entreprises. 

    Il s'agit d'exploiter les technologies de l'information et de la communication pour reconfigurer en profondeur les processus, les rendre efficaces et efficients, totalement orientés au service du citoyen et de l'entreprise.

    Initiatives fort louables tendant à alléger les procédures qui compliquent le quotidien des citoyens. Peut-être suffira-t-il d'un simple clic, sans avoir à se déplacer, pour recevoir le document tant convoité.

    Un rêve dont la concrétisation ne fera pas que des heureux notamment les fameux moqaddem qui se rendront compte, vite et à leur insu, qu'ils ne sont finalement pas aussi indispensables que cela!

    Libération
  • Les volontaires qui mettent à épreuve le réseau Fibre To The Home (FTTH) de Bharat Telecom (BT) Ltd (BTL) se réjouissent de cette expérience. Depuis, un mois, ils se livrent à cette expérience.

    « Le réseau est très rapide. J"arrive à télécharger un film de trois heures en moins d'une heure, alors qu'avant cela me prenait entre cinq et six heures, voire plus », affirme, à cet effet, Essam Limbajee, à la rue Victoria, Sodnac, Quatre Bornes.

    Shivaam Hassea teste, lui, une connexion de 4 Mbps depuis un mois : « Dès l'annonce de ce projet, j'étais très enthousiaste et je voulais faire partie des volontaires. Je savais que ca allait être extraordinaire. La connexion marche à merveille et je n'ai pas eu de problème depuis le premier jour.

    Au départ, je recevais des appels des techniciens de BTL tous les jours. Notre feed-back leur permet de mettre à jour leurs configurations et leurs équipements », indique ce dernier.

    Il utilise la connexion sur deux laptops et à également branché sa console Xbox 360 sur l'Optical Network Unit (UNO) de BTL. Chez lui, nous avons pu télécharger un fichier de 10 Mégaoctets en environ 30 secondes. Cela, en visionnant une vidéo sur Youtube :

    « Avec la connexion Internet que me fournit l'opérateur historique, je ressens des baisses dans le débit en milieu de mois. Avec ce nouveau réseau, le débit est toujours le même », souligne le jeune étudiant de 22 ans.

    L’Express
  • «Le rôle de la Société nationale de développement informatique (Sndi) dans le développement de l'informatique en Côte d'Ivoire », c'est autour de ce thème que les journalistes du groupe de presse Fraternité Matin ont échangé ce 27 août, à Abidjan-Adjamé, avec le directeur général de la Société nationale de développement informatique (Sndi), M. Soro Nongolougo. Il était l'invité des rédactions dudit groupe.

    M. Soro Nongolougo a expliqué les objectifs assignés à sa structure depuis sa création en 1999. En effet, la Sndi est une société d'État de droit privé dont le rôle est d'effectuer dans le domaine informatique, des prestations de gestion, de conseil et de formation à l'adresse de l'État, de ses ramifications et du secteur privé.

    Il a expliqué qu'au titre de ses activités de gestion, la société assure à la demande de l'État, la gestion administrative des matériels informatiques des services de l'État, qui à cet effet, sont inscrits dans un document tenu par la société. « Ainsi que la gestion d'un observatoire national, à travers la mise d'un plan informatique », a indiqué M. Soro Nongolougo.

    Parlant des activités de conseil, il a révélé qu'à la demande des services de l'État, des communes, des entreprises publiques... la Sndi effectue des études de projets et de schémas directeurs, des études de marchés informatiques et de budgétisation de la dépense informatique.

    « Nous mettons aussi en place des services télématiques d'échanges d'informations stratégiques nationales, donnons un appui à leurs personnels et leurs services dans l'utilisation des techniques informatiques avancées », a expliqué le premier responsable de la Sndi. Avant de souligner qu'au niveau des activités de formation, la société met en oeuvre des programmes de formation ORACLE, UNIX et SOLARIS.

    M. Soro Nongolougo a aussi parlé avec les journalistes de la cybercriminalité, la présence de sa structure sur le marché de l'Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine (Uemoa), la E-gouvernance en Côte d' Ivoire, etc.

    M. Soro Nongolougo est détenteur d'un Master of Business Administration et d'un Master en Génie Électrique, option Télécommunications, il a longtemps travaillé pour la société Motorola aux États-Unis d'Amérique avant d'être recruté par la Côte d'Ivoire dans le cadre d'un appel à candidature international.

  • Les opérateurs du secteur des Technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) attendaient la création d'une ICT Academy par le ministère de tutelle. En vain. Ils ont décidé de procéder autrement pour la formation de leur personnel.

    Ces opérateurs déplorent «le manque de concertation» entre le ministère et les corps parapublics suite à la mise en place de trois programmes de formation parallèles pour ce secteur.

    «Il y a eu tellement de tergiversations autour de l"ICT Academy que le secteur n'a pas attendu. Il a bien fallu s'adapter pour palier au manque de ressources humaines qualifiées.

    Les entreprises effectuent des formations en interne et d'autres ont recours à des institutions privées», explique Roshan Seetohul, président de l'Outsourcing and Telecommunication Association of Mauritius (OTAM). Notre interlocuteur précise que certaines sociétés ont ouvert leur centre de formation, notamment Ceridian Mauritus.

    Du côté du ministère des TIC, on fait ressortir que ledit ministère a mis de côté le projet de l'ICT Academy pour orienter ses efforts vers l'ICT Skill Development Programme. Ce nouveau projet devrait voir le jour en septembre. Cependant, le ministère n'a pas encore révélé déclinaisons de ce projet.

    En parallèle, le Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) a organisé des ateliers de travail autour du secteur des TIC et lance un Sponsored Pre-Job Training Programme for Unemployed Youth. Celui-ci vise à placer des jeunes en formation chez l'employeur, avec une option de recrutement. La National Empowerement Foundation (NEF) propose, elle aussi, un programme similaire.

    L’Express
  • Les éleveurs ougandais vont bénéficier d'outils des technologies de l'information et de la communication et de données météorologiques pour améliorer leur aptitude à s'adapter aux changements climatiques provoqués par le manque d'eau et les sécheresses prolongées. Ce sera dans le cadre du projet Adaptation au changement climatique et TIC (Climate Change Adaptation and ICT), lancé au début du mois d'août 2012 à Kampala.

    D'une durée de deux ans, le projet vise à générer des informations sur l'agriculture, la gestion de l'environnement et la météo, au profit des bergers et éleveurs ougandais, dans une zone de 84 000 kilomètres carrés, peuplée de 12 millions d'habitants et abritant 60% des 7 millions de bovins de l'Ouganda. Cette zone demeure l'une des régions d'Afrique les plus sévèrement touchées par le changement climatique.

    Financé pour 600 000 dollars par le Canada, à travers le Centre de recherches pour le développement international (CRDI), le projet fournira aux utilisateurs des outils technologiques pour collecter et diffuser l'information. Les données ainsi générées serviront à planifier plus efficacement pour mieux faire face et s'adapter aux risques climatiques liés à l'eau.

    Selon un fonctionnaire du ministère ougandais de l'Eau et de l'Environnement, « l'adaptation et la promotion de mesures d'atténuation sont des domaines où les TIC sont essentiels » et le programme « contribuera à alimenter la base de connaissances du gouvernement sur les changements climatiques ». En outre, il permettra de construire davantage de stations météorologiques et de renforcer la collecte de données concernant la météo et l'eau.

    Agence ecofin
  • Mauvaise nouvelle pour l'offshoring au Maroc. Le suspense qui tenait en haleine les responsables français quant à la délocalisation des emplois de B2S vient de prendre fin. La majorité des emplois liés à ce centre d'appels devraient être localisés en Ile-de-France et non au Maroc, comme prévu initialement.

    C'est ce qui a été annoncé par le STIF, organisme public chargé des transports en île-de-France. Le gouvernement français semble avoir eu, de ce fait, gain de cause et les opérateurs marocains avoir perdu la première manche du combat.

    L'affaire a fait grand bruit lorsqu'il a été révélé en juillet dernier que le STIF avait choisi de confier la gestion de sa carte Solidarité Transport à un centre d'appels dont la plateforme est basée au Maroc.

    Cela va à l'encontre de la politique du gouvernement français contre les délocalisations. Un bras de fer s'en est même suivi entre Arnaud Montebourg et Jean-Paul Huchon.

    Du côté de B2S, on se veut rassurants. « Le contrat passé avec le STIF concerne 55 salariés et il n'a jamais été question qu'ils soient tous basés au Maroc », se défend Maxime Didier, PDG de l'entreprise, qui apporte deux autres contreparties :

    30 CDI seront créés sur le territoire français avant le début de son contrat, en 2013, et « un projet de centre d'appels d'une centaine d'emplois en Ile-de-France » est en cours.

    Mais toutes ces garanties ne semblent pas être suffisantes. Valérie Pécresse, chef de file UMP à la région, réclame « la réalisation au plus vite d'un audit de tous les marchés publics de la région Ile-de-France et du STIF au regard du critère de l'emploi en France ».

    Derrière la polémique, c'est le Code des marchés publics, et l'absence de toute référence à la localisation des emplois, qui est remis en cause. C'est donc sur ce volet qu'Arnaud Montebourg et le STIF se sont engagés à travailler.

    De son côté, l'entreprise Webhelp, à laquelle le marché va échapper, avait déposé un référé, sur lequel s'est prononcé le tribunal administratif de Paris.

    "La justice a confirmé la régularité de la procédure de mise en concurrence pour le renouvellement du marché public", s'est réjoui le Syndicat des transports d'Ile-de-France (STIF)

    Et le Maroc dans tout cela ? Va-t-il continuer à afficher son optimisme et prétendre que les délocalisations ne présentent que des avantages pour les entreprises françaises ?

    Cette bataille ne sert aucunement ses intérêts. Certes aucune annonce d'une éventuelle suppression d'emplois au niveau de B2S n'a été faite officiellement mais l'épée de Damoclès menace à tout moment de tomber.

    Et ce sont 5.000 emplois qui risquent de disparaître si le gouvernement marocain ne prend pas le taureau par les cornes et consente à défendre les intérêts de ses opérateurs.

    Libération
  • Le Ministre des communications et des technologies de l'information, l’ingénieur Hani Mahmoud, a déclaré les indicateurs reflètant les nouveaux résultats des travaux de l'infrastructure du secteur des télécommunications et de la performance économique.

    Il a ajouté que les indicateurs du secteur se sont élèvés à 13 milliards de livres d'ici la fin du quatrième trimestre de l'exercice financier (2011 2012), tandisqu'ils ont dépassé le taux de croissance annuel de l'année dernière, où le chiffre a atteint 9,48%, tandis que le pourcentage de contribution au PIB a été de 5 .17%, de même la production du secteur du même exercicefinancier atteint à 11,23 milliards de livres.

  • L'actualité est brûlante pour les médias et le processus de transition démocratique relatif au secteur doit être accompagné par l'analyse et la recherche nécessaires. C'est ce qui fait du nouveau numéro de la revue de l'union des radios et des télévisions arabes (Asbu) un document qui mérite lecture et intérêt.

    Il s'agit d'une parution saisonnière contenant dossiers, études et autres sujets d'actualité, à propos du paysage médiatique arabe. Ce dernier est en perpétuelle évolution.

    On y trouve autant des médias publics archaïques et propagandistes, que des chaînes privées à la pointe de la technologie et du professionnalisme.

    Cela dépend, évidemment, du contexte général où se situe désormais le pays, mais surtout des choix et des options des investisseurs. Quant à l'objectivité, plusieurs en sont encore à essayer de la définir ou de la redéfinir.

    On parle, en effet et de plus en plus, de médias «équitables». De quoi faire des radios et des télévisions arabes un large champ de recherche.

    Le deuxième numéro de l'année 2012 de la revue de l'Asbu est un vrai guide dans le paysage médiatique arabe actuel, qui élargit les horizons de la réflexion sur le futur de ce paysage.

    Cette revue spécialisée, qui se veut une référence pour les journalistes, les créateurs, les chercheurs et les planificateurs, est, en fait, constituée de leurs contributions. L'aspect théorique et la réflexion règnent dans ce numéro qui apporte un éclairage sur des sujets, tels que les techniques de mesure de l'audience de télévision.

    Un hors-série est même consacré à ce thème, préparé par les docteurs Mohamed Guirat, Khairat Ayad et Sadok Hammami. Il se focalise sur l'importance du public dans le processus de communication, d'où le besoin de faire des études dessus, en plus des bases de mesure d'audience adoptées par les institutions médiatiques.

    Des expériences mondiales dans ce domaine y sont également évoquées, dont celles du Canada, des Etats-Unis et de l'Angleterre.

    Une étude comparative permet de passer au contexte de la mesure d'audience dans le monde arabe, ses difficultés et ses limites, comme le manque de statistiques, de données et de moyens, ainsi que l'absence de la culture de la recherche scientifique.

    Les chiffres montrent, d'ailleurs, que plus de 60% des médias arabes ne possèdent pas de centre de mesure d'audience et comptent sur les sondages d'opinion. Pourtant, la mesure d'audience est un outil déterminant dans la planification de la programmation, du contenu des émissions et des stratégies de communication des chaînes de télévision.

    Le thème inaugural de ce deuxième numéro de 2012 est un dossier dont le thème donne le ton des sujets suivants.

    Il s'agit de «la télévision et les nouvelles technologies de la communication», qui se ramifie en plusieurs sous-thèmes, évoquant principalement l'éducation à travers et sur les médias, en prenant pour exemple l'expérience égyptienne des chaînes publiques éducatives et spécialisées.

    La radio a aussi sa part dans la revue, avec un sujet intitulé «2012 : l'année de la radio», consacré à son évolution, de la création à la numérisation, du transistor à la radio sur Internet.

    En plus de l'explication du fonctionnement de la diffusion radiophonique d'hier, d'aujourd'hui et de demain, l'auteur de l'article, le chercheur en nouveaux médias, le docteur Abbès Mostapha Sadok, parle de l'effet des changements technologiques sur la perception de la radio par les auditeurs.

    Ces derniers, toutes catégories confondues, sont au coeur des sujets traités par la revue de l'Asbu. Dr Hiba Chahine traite de la réalité et des perspectives les chaînes de télévision enfantines et le Pr Khaled Adnoun se penche sur la rationalisation de la relation entre les jeunes et les médias.

    La revue compte également une contribution d'un autre spécialiste des nouveaux médias, le docteur Ibrahim Baaziz qui s'est intéressé aux réseaux sociaux et aux changements politiques dans le monde arabe.

    Et dans la rubrique «Documentaires», c'est le film soudanais qui est à l'honneur, avec un passage en revue de son historique et de son palmarès dans les festivals internationaux.

    L'Asbu réserve, comme d'habitude, la dernière partie de sa revue à son actualité et à celle des médias arabes. Dans cette rubrique, un focus sur la couverture médiatique de la 11e édition de la compétition de la chanson radiophonique arabe et des championnats arabes de football est présenté, tout comme un compte rendu de la participation de l'Asbu à l'occasion de la Journée mondiale de la liberté de la presse.

    La Presse
  • Deuxième édition de la conférence ICT/BPO

    12-14 septembre, Hilton Resort and Spa à Flic-en-Flac, Ile Maurice

    Cette deuxième édition aura pour but d'encourager des échanges entre les opérateurs Mauriciens et ceux du continent africain. Au niveau du ministère des TIC, l'on est persuadé que le secteur des TIC a atteint un niveau considérable qui peut aujourd'hui permettre aux opérateurs de s'exporter vers l'Afrique.

     

    CARREFOUR D’AFFAIRES ET DE TECHNOLOGIES 2012

    «NOUVELLE TUNISIE, NOUVELLES OPPORTUNITES »

    Tunis, Parc International des Expositions 28-30 Novembre 2012

    Organisé, du 28 au 30 Novembre 2012, par l’Agence de Promotion de l’Industrie et de l’Innovation, en association avec l’Union Tunisienne pour l’Industrie le Commerce et l’Artisanat (UTICA) et en collaboration avec l’Agence de Promotion de l’Investissement Extérieur (FIPA) et le Centre de Promotion des Exportations (CEPEX), CAT 2012 se veut être une réelle plateforme dédiée à l’entreprise, où vont se côtoyer décideurs et leaders de divers horizons, avec leurs offres et demandes dans des secteurs innovants à fort potentiel de croissance:

     

    Mécanique, électrique et électronique Agroalimentaire

    Plastique technique et plasturgie

    Textile technique

    Nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication

    Pharmaceutique

    Pour plus d’infos cliquez ici

     

  • Babacar Sarr est sorti vainqueur de l'élection primaire pour le poste de secrétaire général du Syndicat des travailleurs de la Sonatel (SYTS).

  • Administrateur systemes et réseaux – Sénégal

    Profil recherche : Bac+3 a Bac+5, bonne maitrise des environnements LINUX et Windows Server indispensable. La connaissance des environnements CISCO souhaitable egalement (Switchs, routeurs, etc.).

    Pour en savoir plus ou poser votre candidature cliquez ici

     

Issue no 621 7th September 2012

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Top story

  • Back in June 2012, Convergence Partners attracted up to US$45 million from the World Bank’s investment arm IFC for its Communications Infrastructure Fund to support the rapid expansion of infrastructure across the continent. Along with this fund and its own investments, Convergence Partners is interested in a range of investment opportunities across the continent.  Russell Southwood spoke to Brandon Doyle, CEO, Convergence Partners about what they want to do.

    Convergence Partners already has investments in 20 different businesses, the majority of which are minority interests. For as Doyle says:”We’re strategic investors, not operators.”

    Its portfolio falls into three distinct groupings: mature stage investments (where the businesses have been going for some time and there’s possibilities for geographic expansion); its capital portfolio (a relatively small component, South African-based businesses that are not yet profitable but have shown ability to generate revenues; and infrastructure (new, greenfield telecoms network elements).

    In the capital part of the portfolio, its investment in Cape Town-based Bloodhound is a good example. It produces RFID, GPRS and GPS software for active tracking of personnel like sales people and guards. On the infrastructure side, it has investments in Seacom, the New Dawn satellite (a JV with Intelsat) and FibreCo in South Africa.

    “There’s a recognition that now that the undersea is in place, the next challenge is how to deliver high quality, high bandwidth networks. FibreCo breaks the old models down and offers open access, managed fibre on the long-haul section.” It is a new build network in South Africa with three way equal investment between Convergence Partners, Inernet Solutions and Cell-C.

    So far it has put 600 kilometres in the ground and has a its first leg from Cape Town to Johannesburg and it will eventually create a nationwide ring across thewhole country. Some of this ring will be created through purchase and swops with other networks:”We want to look at other regions and countries in Africa for this kind of model. But each market has to be looked at in its own right, taking into account demand and local regulations. But we think countries like Kenya and Nigeria have the potential to absorb this type of business model.”

    But it’s also interested in the content, services and applications that will create businesses on top of the infrastructure layer. It has two notable investments in this area: Skillpad and Integrat. The former is a white label gaming content platform designed to offer games content for both mobile and online devices. Its games are available in all the various mobile stores as individual titles and across different platforms like Google+ and Facebook. It has 20 million individual users globally, of which 3 million are in Africa.

    Integrat is a mobile content developer and aggregator and is making its own content and providing its own payment systems:”It has alternative ways of delivering bulk SMS that avoid the networks and as a result can be offered at reduced costs.”

    The Communications Infrastructure Fund will only invest 25% of its total funds in South Africa. The rest will go into investments in Sub-Saharan Africa. A number of other “blue chip” investors are in different stages of signing up:”We’re looking for wholesale, open access networks and we need players who can actively manage and maintain. But there’s not going to be a Pan-African initiative.”

    Also although its original BEE transaction expired in Dimension Data Middle East & Africa, it has chosen to keep its investment in place because they believe it is a good vehicle for taking advantage of many different Sub-Saharan investment opportunities.

    ”South African companies have sometimes struggled in expansion across the rest of the continent. At times they have adopted a somewhat arrogant, big brother approach to the rest of the continent and that doesn’t sit well with Governments and regulators. South Africans need to localize their companies across the continent and to be respectful of local cultures. This is what we’ve been trying to do, moving to local teams and to change and be flexible.”

    Doyle cautions against the talk of high growth from African markets:”Yes, there is high growth in some markets and we had rapid growth on Seacom. But generally speaking we’re in a period where you’re building a platform in terms of growth to come. There’s an impatience for returns but it’s going to take a little longer. There’s growth here but it’s much more of a medium-term play.” The “anchor” investors in the Communications Infrastructure Fund are mainly organisations that are comfortable with taking this view.

    Convergence Partners can either invest through the Fund itself or from its existing balance sheet. It hasn’t yet set up a separate VC fund but it might do in the future. From its existing balance sheet, it can go as low as US$200,000 or as high as US$20-30 million. Through the Fund, the minimum will be US$5 million and the maximum will be US$40 million, depending on the final fund size. In the case of the maximum amount, “It would need to be part of the funding pie and we would raise additional funding.”

    A bumper crop of video clips this week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

    Kwabena Smith, Orun Energy on saving diesel costs on base stations

    Justin Hartman, Social Code on South Africa's ICT entrepreneurialism and the failure to support it

    Julian Macharia, Buni TV on this new online video delivery platform

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on its acquisition of Afinis

    Envir Fraser, Convergence Partners on investment opportunities in ICT

    Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga on the mobile money market in Nigeria

    Nigerian ICT blogger Loy Okezi
    e on Nigeria's online successes

    Victor Dibia, CEO, Denvycom.com
     on his games portfolio and plans to monetize

    Oluseye Soyode-Johnson, consultant to Maliyo Games
     on the business model

    A special for Balancing Act readers:

    Kristine Pearson shows how the Lifeplayer, an MP3 player for rural education, works


    Mobile learning Steve Vosloo on how m-learning can support teaching

    Steve Vosloo on edutainment and interactivity in mobile learning, the Yoza mobile story project and other examples of m-learning in Africa

    South African Niall Murphy, Marmalade on multi-platform software distribution for apps based on the ARM chipset

telecoms

  • The Sierra Leone government, through the Sierra Leone Cable Limited SALCAB, has also announced an international competitive bidding for an expression of interest for consultancy services from reputable organizations to perform project supervision for the implementation of the 660km fibre backhaul and wimax access network in the country.

    The consultant will also help evaluate the bids for the development and deployment of ECOWAS Regional Backbone and e-Governance programme ECOWAN-Sierra Leone project which will be supported with a US$28.27 million loan received from the Islamic Development Bank IDB.

  • The last major hurdle for Telecom Namibia to acquire the controlling shares in the country’s second mobile operator leo has been passed.

    The Namibian Competition Commission on Friday approved the proposed merger between Telecom Namibia and Powercom which trades as leo – but the commission has placed a set of conditions in its approval.

    The proposed merger will only be cleared to proceed if the merging parties put in place a separate and independent shareholding structure for Telecom Namibia and that of MTC. According to the competition commission, this separation of the holding structure must be effected within a period of two years from the date of this notice of determination. Another condition that must be met is that the incumbent CEO of the Namibia Post and Telecom Holdings (NPTH) which is the parent company of Telecom, MTC and Namibia Post Limited should step down from his position with immediate effect. Frans Ndoroma who is also the Telecom Namibia Managing Director is serving in that position at the moment.

    The Head of Legal Services and Company Secretary of Telecom Namibia Patience Kangueehi-Kanalelo should also resign from her position as NPTH company secretary.

    “No person who is a director of Telecom Namibia or an employee of Telecom Namibia may serve as a director of either NPTH or MTC and likewise, no person who is a director of MTC or an employee of MTC may serve as a director of either NPTH or Telecom Namibia,” read the statement by Namibian Competition Commission CEO Mihe Gaomab II.

    The leo/Telecom merger has raised a number of competition concerns with commentators in the communication industry arguing that Telecom’s plan to buy leo has the potential of creating a monopoly as all land and mobile telecommunication service providers in the country will then belong to NPTH.

    Gaomab added that the approval conditions were in the interest of preventing any collusive or co-ordinated behaviour that would undermine the free and spirited competition for all entities in that sector, including Telecom and MTC. He added: “The conditions are therefore imposed to mitigate the negative impact that the merger may have on competition in the relevant market/mobile telecommunication market.”

    As Namibia’s second mobile operator leo, formerly Cell One, launched in 2007. In September 2009 Cell One was rebranded to leo when Telenor and other shareholders were bought out by Telecel Globe.

    Up to 2010 leo had invested millions of dollars through infrastructure and staff employment. It currently employs 151 permanent and 20 temporary staff members at head office and in 11 retail outlets. The network is equipped with EDGE/3G/ and HSDPA functionalities and currently covers 75% of Namibia.

  • Kenyans who incite violence and send hateful messages through social media and text messages could face steep fines, said Acting Director of Communications in the Ministry of Information Omwa Om.

    The National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring has announced it is putting in place appropriate technology to identify hate speech sent via text messages.

    The use of social media for conflict incitement is a primary concern, the committee said. "The government will act to ensure that the internet is not used to provide room for such activity," the committee said in a statement.

    Ombara, accompanied by deputy police spokesman Charles Owino, Communications Commission of Kenya Corporate Affairs Manager Christopher Wambua and Film Services Director Alex Kerich, appealed to Kenyan bloggers to be alert and vigilant and "bring to our attention any hate speech they detect on the internet".

    The officials said eight bloggers were being investigated for hate speech and would be prosecuted soon.

    The crackdown on hate speech is part of a larger effort to promote peace and tolerance ahead of the Kenya general elections in March 2013.

  • Telkom says it will appeal the fine handed down to it by the Competition Tribunal in August for abusing its dominance in the telecommunications market between 1999 and 2004. Shares in Telkom declined 1.71% to R19.56 in afternoon trade on the JSE.

    “Telkom wishes to advise shareholders that, Telkom has filed a notice of appeal against the said ruling. Telkom will now have forty business days to file the record of appeal before the matter can be set down for hearing by the Competition Appeal Court,” the group said in a statement on Thursday (30 August).

    The Tribunal imposed penalty of R449 million on Telkom in its case against the South African Value added Networks Services (SAVA).

    The Tribunal concluded that Telkom leveraged its upstream monopoly in the facilities market to advantage its own subsidiary in the competitive value added network market – Telkom’s conduct caused harm to both competitors and consumers alike and impeded competition and innovation in the dynamic VANS market.

    Half of the penalty was due to be paid within six months of the Tribunal’s decision, while the balance is payable within 12 months thereafter.

  • Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram has destroyed over 25 telecommunication masts belonging to mobile operators in the northern parts of the country. Four MTN Nigeria staff have reportedly been killed by Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno State, while the group was said to be trying to bomb one of the company's base stations, local media reported.

    The attacks affected the services of the four major GSM companies in the country. It was revealed that one person was injured, while an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was defused by the Police Anti-bomb Squad in Bauchi State.

    Local media say the attacks follow the sect's threat in February against telecommunication companies for supposedly compromising their ethical obligations by divulging information about its activities to security operatives. This had led to the arrest of many of its members.

  • CCK has set September 30 as the deadline to switch off counterfeit handsets in Kenya. This is expected to affect at least 2.3 million handsets. According to the report, the impact of chemical misuse will continue to be felt acutely by developing economies in the coming decades as chemical production shifts to these countries.
    Weak regulations that do not restrict trade and production of these chemicals will exacerbate the situation.
    Kenya is seeking a safe way of disposing of electronic waste that is likely to flood the country after the planned switch-off of fake mobile phones on September 30.

    According to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), the country does not have the resources needed to handle the expected flow of fake electronics.

    “We are talking with the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) on how to deal with fake phones. First, we will have to devise a way to collect and store them safely,” Nema director general Geoffrey Wahungu said.

     He said there was an option of shipping out the gadgets to West African states where such facilities are available.

    CCK has set September 30 as the deadline to switch off counterfeit handsets in Kenya. This is expected to affect at least 2.3 million handsets.

  • The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Communications, Tryphone Kin-Key Mulumba, has warned the country’s four mobile operators that they must improve their service quality by 7 September or face sanctions, Radio Okapi reports.

    In a public address on 31 August Mulumba suggested that subscribers of Airtel DRC, Congo-Chine Telecom (Orange), Oasis Telecom (Tigo DRC) and Vodacom Congo have witnessed unacceptable lapses in quality of service (QoS) in recent weeks, commenting: ‘For a month and a half, users have found that a decline in the quality of communication is a real problem, and no reimbursement system currently exists’.

    Mulumba added that he is preparing to table a bill at the end of the parliamentary recess to make it possible to sanction operators who do not demonstrably improve their service during the specified time-frame.

internet

  • The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has revealed plans to make the vandalisation of telecoms infrastructure a criminal offence.

    The commission made this known last week in Abuja while acknowledging a formal report of the vandalisation of some base stations in North Eastern Nigeria, saying details of the affected base stations will be forwarded to the commission at a later date following a comprehensive audit.

    The commission also stated that since it was a security matter, an official statement has been made to relevant security agencies who are on top of the situation

    The Director, Public Affairs, NCC Tony Ojob, also told journalists that the deadline for the sanctions of telecoms providers that have not met its key performance indicators (KPI) is December, 2012 and not September as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

    He noted that service providers indicated that it would take some time to build more base stations and getting approval could also be a hindrance.

    According to him, "We agreed on progressive improvements on the networks where they will begin to work progressively towards the ultimate KPI. Telecoms operators gave reasons such as the vast location of base stations and issues of approvals for citing of base stations as militating factors."

    On the issue of SIM card registration, Ojobo revealed that at the time the House of Representatives set up a committee to look at the issues of SIM card registration, the commission stopped all processes. But he hinted that the skeletal upload of data was going on but not on a large scale since the commission was still waiting for the outcome of the report. He, however, said that as soon as that happens, the commission would take the necessary steps towards completion of the exercise.

  • TargetMap allows users to create maps by simply uploading a data table. A dozen of the maps depict global Internet access, but one uniquely adds child labor statistics to the mix.

    In a global context, it is obvious that African nations have high rates of child labor and low rates of Internet penetration. This comes as no surprise given Africa’s agrarian tradition. Within Africa, the nations of Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, Ethiopia, Somalia, Niger, and Central African Republic have the highest incidences of child labor. These eight nations also tend to have extremely low rates of Internet access. North African nations, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe have much lower rates of child labor and boast higher Internet penetration rates. South Africa, on the other hand, has a relatively high Internet penetration rate (10%) but a moderate child labor rate (32.5%). An inverse relationship certainly exists (reduce Internet access and find increased child labor), but the reason for high child labor tends to be the rural nature of most Sub-Saharan Africa nations.

    Child labor is not directly preventing Internet access, nor is a lack of Internet access the only reason child labor still exists. For better or worse, the Internet is changing local cultures. Tradition is competing with Western values. In many cultures, it is expected for children to help the family rather than attend school. Information transmitted from other parts of the world is slowly eroding these expectations.

    For farmers, new agricultural practices are making life more efficient. Fewer people are needed to complete a task. Quite possibly, a benefit of m-agriculture is the reduction of a need for child labor.

    At the same time, Internet presence suggests a government with certain resources and policies that are likely to spill over into labor standards. Odds are that a nation with the money to support infrastructure creation will devote a portion of its finances to other areas of the economy – such as child labor reform.

    Still, the Internet is likely to transmit knowledge of children’s rights to elders and parents. Children, in time, can become empowered to ask for fair treatment.

    Childinfo.org (part of UNICEF) looks at the percentage of children aged 5-14 engaged in child labor. The program “strives to protect their rights, improve their health, and nurture their development through sound planning and monitoring of policy results”. Internet penetration data comes from Internet World Stats, which tends to be based on ITU data (in this case 2010). Child labor (and Internet penetration) statistics are estimates at best, but even ballpark figures give a sense of how a nation leans.

  • Approximately 250,000 small-holder farmers in Kenya can now get reliable and relevant agricultural information via their mobile phones following a partnership project between Airtel Africa and GSMA Development Fund.

    The innovative project, dubbed 'Sauti ya Mkulima' (Voice of the Farmer), aims to provide farmers with access to pertinent agriculture-related information, advice and research that will help them make better decisions about their crops, increasing the productivity of their yield, as well as their potential income.

    The initiative is also aimed at creating a farmer community within which peers can share experiences and exchange information about social gatherings, events, and job opportunities.

    "At Airtel, we recognize innovative telecommunications solutions have the power to transform communities. This initiative is a solid testament to what partnerships that harness relevant consumer needs can achieve in overcoming daily challenges. We are excited and thankful to the partners involved in birthing this initiative," explained Shivan Bhargava, Managing Director, Airtel Kenya.

    "Gaining access to this information will be immensely beneficial to the farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on their yield," he added.

    As part of the partnership, the GSMA farmer initiative - supported by USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - has awarded Airtel $400,000 (Sh33.7million) to be used towards the project.

    The funds will be used to develop a database of content with the help of partners such as the Centre for Agricultural Bioscience International (CABI), an inter-governmental not-for-profit organization and radio-based information provider Kilimo Media.

    The funds will also be used to set up the technological capabilities to execute the project with the help of world-class technology service providers.

    Initially, 'Sauti ya Mkulima' will focus on small-holder Kenyan farmers engaged in maize, banana, mango, rice, beans and horticulture (tomato and black night shade) crops.

    Airtel plans to further develop the model and eventually replicate it across all its markets on the continent.

  • Internet censorship, better known under the name of "Ammar 404" is henceforth no longer happening in Tunisia, asserted Information and Communication Minister Mongi Marzoug.

    In his meeting with the media, the Minister said that the Revolution allowed to put an end to censorship in Tunisia underlining the interim government's commitment to facilitate access to information and promote freedom of expression.

    Launching, on September 4, 2012, of the National Forum of Internet governance is "the end Ammar 404", he said.

    The Minister said that Tunisia will announce, tomorrow Friday, its membership to joint action for freedom of expression on the Internet "Freedom online", which holds its second session, on September 6-7, 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya.

    On the fringes of its participation in this event, Tunisia will apply for hosting the 3rd edition of this conference, said the Minister.

    In another connection, Mr. Marzoug presented the programme as well as the main objectives of the 2012 ICT 4 all forum due to be held on September 17-20, 2012 in Hammamet.

    This event aims to give a new image of Tunisia as a country leader in the field of ICTs and freedom of expression and boost the country's role in this sector on the Maghrebi, Arab and African levels.

computing

  • Local schools no longer have to struggle to recruit experienced science teachers to explain to students how temperature, humidity, electricity, sound are measured following the introduction of a software that enables them to perform the experiments with ease.

    The MultiLab data analysis software is connected to 65 censors and is built in NOVA5000, a portable data device.

    NOVA5000 is connected to computers with a wide range of functions that allows them to perform hundreds of scientific experiments in biology, chemistry, physics and environmental science.

    The equipment has a touch screen and ability to collect data from up to eight sensors simultaneously. It has extensive library of science workbooks and curriculum support.

    The software that was showcased yesterday at the ongoing international conference on technology in education in Kigali was developed by Fourier Systems Limited, an IT company based in Israel that operates in 50 countries.

  • - The police in Namibia’s Omusati Region are investigating a case of murder after a 82-year-old woman, Lovisa Shikongo from Uukwandongo village near Okahao, was killed over a missing computer memory stick on Friday. Omusati Police Commissioner Shinedima Shindinge said the police were told that a 19-year-old man left the memory stick at Shikongo's cuca shop for safekeeping. When he returned to collect it, he was told that another young man had taken it with him. When the other young man returned and denied taking the gadget, the suspect started searching the shop. Shikongo was not happy with that and allegedly slapped the suspect, who then started beating her with his fist. Shikongo collapsed and died on the spot. Shindinge said the suspect was arrested and was expected to appear in the Outapi Magistrate's Court.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Bidding for government securities in Tanzania has gone online courtesy of a new system launched by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).
     
    The new online system for bidding government securities has both an online bidding and central depository services (CDS) account. Government securities include bonds, notes, and other debt instruments sold by any government to finance its budget or borrowings. Most of them are long term and with high profits to the traders.

    "The bank had to improve the old GSS so that it conforms to international best practices, keeping pace with technological advancement," BoT Governor Prof Benno Ndulu said, as quoted by AllAfrica.

    Prof Ndulu added that the banks old system was not efficient and was not interactive forced traders to visit the banks physical premises.

    The new online system, according to BoT, will accept bidders applications wherever they are in the world and will also be open to East Africa traders first then to the whole world by 2015.

  • The NSE has rolled out an automated broker back office system that will reduce risks involved in securities trading at the bourse.

    It is anticipated that the BBO system will improve transparency in stock trading and curb fraudulent activities. "Transparency was an issue in the market sometime ago but stakeholders are now working together affirmatively," said CMA acting chief executive Paul Muthaura.

    Clients and senior management of participating brokerages and investment banks will be able to monitor and audit activities through alerts and exception reports.Brokers' client accounts will be automatically classified as dormant depending on the level of activity, requiring additional authorisation for all transactions made on such accounts.

    The BBO will enforce a strict password policy by using encrypted transmissions that will time-out inactive sessions and restrict concurrent logins. The system is connected with the trading and the clearing and payment settlement platforms, ensuring the entire process of transacting in securities will only have minimal manual intervention.

    "This is a vast improvement from what we have had hitherto and will contribute to cost reduction for brokerage firms," said John Kirimi, the chairman of Kenya Association of Stockbrokers and Investment Banks (KASIB). Investors will also be able to trade through their mobile phones and eventually via internet access to the automated trading system.

    "We are waiting for CMA's approval to trade over internet, and this will also help trading participants to expand their services to counties," said Bob Karina, NSE vice chairman and Faida Investment Bank managing director. Initial public offers (IPOs) and portfolio management will as well be supported the system.

    It also supports complaints processing by providing insightful reports on frequency and nature of complaints, their financial impact and the time taken to resolve them. The system has been supplied by Indian technology firm Chella Software, which will also offer after-sale support such as user and investor education

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Ghana’s Mobile operator Globacom has unveiled a new tariff brandnamed ‘Glo Gista.’ that allows for on-net and off- net calls at reduced and standard rates.
     
    All calls will cost 6Gp (US$ 3.2) per minutes and customers using the network will also get discounts and freebies as a permanent tariff rolls out.

Digital Content

  • In a rare case witnessed in Kenya, a farming app has opened its API to invite other developers to build different applications.
     
    Ukulima.net is one of its kind. The application that helps unite farmers together was born in 2011 by Pamoja Media, a digital marketing agency. The application that is accessible through the mobile Web and a desktop interface, has currently 500 users.

    “Two things led us down the path that brought about this idea. We had been working on information and communication strategies for a number of agricultural organizations working with small holder farmers,” Joshua Wanyama, the Executive Director at Pamoja Media told Humanipo.

    “It became apparent that the time it takes to get a question from a farmer answered by an expert and have that information in the hands of the farmer was around two weeks. We felt there had to be a better way to do this,” he added.

    Joshua also had a personal experience that inspired him to come up with this app. “I had also done a dairy project in Western Kenya unsuccessfully and whenever we needed to talk to people with experience or who were experts on solving our day to day problems at the farm, we didn’t have access to them,” Joshua said.

    It is at this time that he felt there was a gap in the market in terms of information in the farming sector in Kenya. Joshua and Pamoja Media wanted to expand the small radius between farmers and draw them closer regardless of the distance.

    The uniqueness of this project definitely lays in the open API it gives to other developers. In most cases developers in Kenya, only think about developing their own systems.

    “We have created an open API to allow other app developers looking to reach farmers on our network. We are also working very hard to improve our group capabilities which we will then use to work directly with farmer groups in Kenya,” Joshua told Humanipo.

    This move is definitely going in the right direction and will attract other developers to come up with much more advanced apps in the market.  Other farming apps that have made a notable splash in the market include mFarm and FarmPal.

  • Local developers will soon be able to market their applications on Safaricom's App store set to go live next month. Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs Nzioka Waita says the app store will give local developers the much needed exposure that they often lose out on when placed against international developers on app stores like the Ovi store.

    "Majority of our customers use feature phones that don't really have access to these app stores, so we'll give them a Safaricom-centric app store and help them meet their marketing costs because every day we have over five million people going on to our web portal," he said.

    In a bid to give local developers even more recognition Safaricom and UK-based mobile operator Vodafone have launched a multi-country app challenge, dubbed AppStar.

    Waita says the competition, which will take place in Kenya, Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania, Egypt, Ghana and Qatar will help deepen local talent.

    "The competition is designed at a two-tier level. The first is a local competition, giving developers until November 2 to develop and publish their apps. Then there'll be a two-week evaluation period by a judge panel of industry leaders, academia and consumer test groups," he said.

    The top Kenyan developer will take home Sh1 million and go on to compete in South Africa with finalists from the other six countries for the grand prize.

    Safaricom will spend over Sh2 million on the award scheme, while the competition will run from September 6 to November 21, featuring entries in six categories including Games/Entertainment, Health, Education, Agriculture, Financial Inclusion and Productivity.

    Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo, who was present at the challenge launch, says the government took longer in supporting the nascent developer community due to lack of resources and incubation facilities to nurture upcoming talent.

    "We are behind because we need a lot infrastructural things like the development of Konza City, where we could have incubation centres. Now you have operators showing support which gives local developers hope," he said.

    Safaricom announced a Sh20 million grant to iLabAfrica at Strathmore University in its first tranche of support to set up and run iLabAfrica, which plans to have an incubation facility as part of its activities.

    "Next month we'll be launching iLabAfrica which will be the most high-tech equipped laboratory probably on the continent. We'll give a chance for technology to be developed and we'll also get young developers to understand how to monetise and commercialise their talents," Waita said.

    iLabAfrica is research centre under the faculty of Information Technology at Strathmore University, established in January last year to spearhead research, innovation and entrepreneurship in ICT for development.

  • Mxit, arguably the largest mobile social network in Africa, is considering altering its business from an instant messaging (IM) platform to a full-fledged social platform. This revelation comes even as it braces itself to face the rising competition from mainstream social media platforms.

    Speaking at the Mobile Entertainment Africa 2012 conference held in Cape Town, South Africa  last week, Mxit’s head of product development Peter Matthaei added that Mxit is currently working on improving discoverability through sharing, user recommendations and applying algorithms to social networking, reported Techloy.

    A look at the social network’s growth numbers shows an impressive growth despite the growing competition from other mobile messaging services such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and WhatsApp Messenger.

    Currently, Mxit operates in over 120 countries, with huge interaction and user loyalty exceeding 50 million. Its user base increases by an astonishing 35,000 to 50,000 users per day, and processes 750 million messages daily!

    The social network’s site has over 50 million registered users, with 54 percent being male and 46 percent female.

    The top five fastest growing countries on the network are South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Indonesia and Swaziland, respectively. In South Africa alone, Mxit has over 10 million users.

    It is also the most downloaded application in South Africa’s android app market, with about 100,000 to 500,000 downloads.

    Headed by Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, MXit was one of the nine South African companies that were featured in Forbes magazine’s top 20 African start-ups earlier this year.

    MXit allows users to send and receive one-on-one text and multimedia messages to and from other users, and in general chat rooms. It also supports gateways to other instant messaging platforms like MSN Messenger, ICQ and Google Talk. MXit does not charge for one-on-one messages though mobile operators may charge for data usage. There are also a number of pay-services, including chatrooms.

More

  • - Virgin Mobile South Africa has appointed Jonathan Marchbank as the company’s new CEO. Former chief executive, Steve Bailey stepped down from his post at the end of May. The company recently became part of the larger ‘Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa’ group (VMMEA), following a merger agreement with Friendi Group in June.

  • Managed Services World Congress 2012
    18 – 19 September 2012, Maritim Pro Arte Hotel, Berlin, Germany
    With Managed Service business models evolving in new and exciting directions, it’s time to reassess the market and your place in it. Managed Services World Congress – the biggest global MS event – is the perfect place to bring leading players together and address these issues. With a 50% operator audience, and 65% CXO / Director level attendance, there is no better opportunity to meet new and existing clients. It’s a must-attend event for anyone looking to maximise the value of their technology, their networks and their brand in today’s evolving MS world. FREE PASSES FOR OPERATORS. For more information visit here: 

    Broadband World Forum

    16 – 18 October 2012, Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    The event, now in its 12th year, is the most respected in the regions Telecoms calendar and the comprehensive agenda includes breakfast briefings, 3 co-located summits,  keynote plenary sessions and a choice of 4 tracks for delegates each day as well as the world class exhibition area. For more information please click here:

    AfricaCom 2012
    13th-15th November 2012, CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

    The digital ecosystem will take centre stage at AfricaCom 2012, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, 13 – 15 November 2012.  Network with over 7000 industry executives at Africa’s largest event embracing all aspects of the continent’s converging telecoms, media and ICT sectors.  Incorporating 11 co-located events all pertinent to future-proofing your business in the digital era, including cloud computing, OTT, apps, broadband and multiplatform content, see and hear how Africa’s communications market is a hotbed for innovation and long term prosperity. 
    Contact: Subuola.akinkugbe@informa.com
    For more information please click here:

  • IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program launches to back startups in SA

    This year the IBM Global Entrepreneur has expanded the SmartCamp initiative to new geographies, putting South Africa on the map.
     
    The firm has also introduced a new kind of focused event series dubbed “IBM SmartCamp KickStart events.” These are one- or two-day events similar to SmartCamps with a focus on giving worldclass mentorship to startups.

    Finalists from each KickStart location proceed to the SmartCamp regional competition.
    Following this development, startups in South Africa aged five or younger have been given an opportunity to apply to the IBM Global Entrepreneur Programfor the first time.
    IBM  will use the SmartCamp in South Africa to identify early stage ventures in line with its Smarter Planet vision just as it does in such events it holds around the world.
    In 2010 and 2011, IBM says it held seventeen SmartCamp events with five finalists selected from each location to network with 25 world-class entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts.

    To find out more and apply click here:

Issue no 620 31st August 2012

node ref id: 25803

Top story

  • Tanzania’s plans for a national fibre backbone and fibre connections to all of its neighbours is finally being realized. The Government-run NICTBB has completed Phase 2 of its roll-out plans and is connected to all of its neighbours.

    The second phase was the southern ring which connects Mtware, where oil has been discovered. The third phase is building the western side of the western ring from Tunduma to Biharamulo. The Phase 2 routes are DSM-Lindi – Mtwara- Songea – Makambako – Mbeya – Tunduma – Sumbawanga – Kigoma – Manyovu – Biharamulo –Bukoba – Mtukula and Nzega – Tabora. All regional centers are now connected to the national backbone.

    In terms of connecting to its neighbours, the network now reaches border points for 

    Uganda (Mutukula), Kenya (Sirari, Namanga and Horohoro), Rwanda (Rusumo), Burundi (Kabanga and Manyovu), Zambia (Tunduma), and Malawi (Kasumulo). A further connection point to Mozambique will soon be added. 

    This will give Tanzania better connectivity with its neighbours than the next door Kenya, which has yet to establish these vital connections, particularly with its northern neighbours. (Although plans are afoot for South Sudan – see Internet news below) Furthermore, it will be a vital piece in creating sub-regional fibre rings. For example, if several of Kenya’s international fibre routes were cut (as they were recently) they would be able to send traffic via Tanzania. But it means cross-border network operators need to be able to reach swop agreements on this kind of redundant capacity. 

    Peter Nogota, Head of NICTBB said:”Our network enjoys a reliability rating of 99.8% compared to the region average of sub-70%. This will enable us to develop fresh revenue streams. We have also reviewed down the IRU tariff structure by 33% for 10,15 and 20 Years to stimulate the uptake of the capacity services to expand operators’ business horizons at less investment cost, hence make affordable costs for end users across the country and beyond the national boundaries and contribute significantly towards accelerating socio-economic development in Tanzania and to the neighboring countries”.

    NICTBB has focused this second round of price cuts on the more long-term fibre commitments, clearly in an attempt to forestall the kind of price erosion that is happening to international fibre prices on both the east and west coasts of the continent. For example, we heard of a customer being offered US$70 per mbps on high volumes in West Africa.

    The price reductions cover 10, 15 and 20 years but in today’s volatile price climate, only the 10 years is worth looking at. All prices are in USD and are for IRUs:

    Capacity Old Tariff New Tariff

    STM1 540,000 360,000

    STM4 1,296,000 864.000

    STM16 3,110,400 2,073,600

    STM64 7,464,960 4,976,640

    There are two additional charges: 5% for all capacity drops and 5% for Operations and Maintenance. In other words prices are 10%+ on what is shown above. The cheaper STM 1 will allow ISPs to get cheaper bandwidth (a shade over US$193 per mbps on the headline figures) but it will lock them in and prices may yet go lower.

    That said, NICTBB will need to constantly review these prices if it is to attract cross-border business from those who are already using existing routes via Kenya or South Africa. So the overall impact should be to make the whole region much more competitive for cross-border rates.

    To follow the exchanges about this news, you need to be on Twitter. Follow us on @BalancingActAfr 

    A bumper crop of video clips this week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

     

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on its acquisition of Afinis

    Envir Fraser, Convergence Partners on investment opportunities in ICT

    Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga on the mobile money market in Nigeria

    Nigerian ICT blogger Loy Okezi
    e on Nigeria's online successes

    Victor Dibia, CEO, Denvycom.com
     on his games portfolio and plans to monetize

    Oluseye Soyode-Johnson, consultant to Maliyo Games
     on the business model

    A special for Balancing Act readers:

    Kristine Pearson shows how the Lifeplayer, an MP3 player for rural education, works


    Mobile learning Steve Vosloo on how m-learning can support teaching

    Steve Vosloo on edutainment and interactivity in mobile learning, the Yoza mobile story project and other examples of m-learning in Africa

    South African Niall Murphy, Marmalade on multi-platform software distribution for apps based on the ARM chipset

     

     

telecoms

  • Sierra Leone has signed a US$15 million loan agreement with China to complete its connectivity to the Africa Coast to Europe ACE cable scheduled to be switched on by October.According to Xu Zhou, Head of Political Affairs at the Chinese embassy in Sierra Leone today, the loan agreement was signed on 14th August, 2012.

    "With the signing of this agreement, it means that the Chinese government has approved the amount of US$15 million and the project would be implemented by a Chinese company Huawei. It was just a simple signing agreement without too many details," Zu said on the phone last week.

    The Chinese Ambassador Kuang Weilin described the agreement as part of the bilateral and development cooperation between the two countries.

    Sierra Leone funded its connection to its first fibre optic with a line of credit to the tune of US$31 million which it received from the World Bank to boost its ICT communications sectors. A total of $71.5 million was approved by the World Bank for broadband development across Africa last year for three major projects aimed at boosting ICT infrastructure and access to services in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe.

    In another development, the Sierra Leone government, through the Sierra Leone Cable Limited SALCAB, has also announced an international competitive bidding for an expression of interest for consultancy services from reputable organizations to perform project supervision for the implementation of the 660km fibre backhaul and wimax access network in the country and the evaluation of bids for the development and deployment of ECOWAS Regional Backbone and e-Governance programme ECOWAN-Sierra Leone project which will be supported with a US$28.27 million loan received from the Islamic Development Bank IDB.

    The consulting firm would also be expected to prepare quarterly project implementation progress reports, semi-annual reports and project completion report which shall be produced within three months of the completion of the project.

    The ECOWAN project is expected to deepen regional socio-economic integration and development, and facilitate trade among member States, and with the rest of the world.

  • Kenya’s communications authority the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) has directed the Competition Authority(CA), country’s consumer protection and fair competition regulator, to make a ruling on the mobile termination rate after it failed to reach an agreement with the country’s four mobile service providers.

    CA will be responsible for coming up with a flat rate that mobile service providers would charge. According to CCK, the charges may differ depending on calls to different network and those from the same provider although the difference should be minimal.

    Kenya's ministry of Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said the Authority was formed to control the industry by regulating the price rate. It is supposed to determine the rate by looking at both the supply and demand forces potential for abuse by some firms as they would prevent new entrants in the market or change price haphazardly.  

    At the moment, the Mobile termination rate is at KSh2.21 (US$ 0.03). It was expected to be reduced to KSh1.44 (US$ 0.02) by early January 2011.  Safaricom and Telkom Kenya have however opposed the move arguing it would lead to a further slump in revenue collection.

    Essar Yu and Airtel are on the other hand of the mindset that the rate be reduced further to maintain their 'lowest call rates,' a strategy that targets to roll out to mass market.

    Earlier on, the telecommunication service providers and the ministry of information and communications met and agreed on KSh 1.60 (US$ 0.02) rate, which had some parties disagree with the terms imposed in the meeting.

    Bitange noted that the negotiation has gone much higher and all the involved parties are working in conjunction with the CA to come up with a mutual mobile voice-calling rate.

    He further directed the mobile Internet operators to have an IP address for easy tracking of the anonymous, hate and negative messages targeted at spearheading hostility during election duration.

    He concluded by saying all handset must have an IP to address the increasing cases of Internet fraud.

    Regulatory June 2012 report indicates that almost 18 million mobile Internet subscribers exist in the country.

  • The City Council of Nairobi last week rolled out a pilot project that will see motorists in the city pay for parking using their mobile phones.

    The test run will be done by mobile service providers Airtel, Orange and Yu Mobile. Through this project, the hopes to improve on its revenue collection. Customers from other networks will use the semi-automated system by paying through a cash agent system. The car park attendant will pay on behalf of customers into the system.

    The project will take place from today for the next three months on Koinange Street. Town Clerk Roba Duba said if the project takes off, it will be "a milestone in improvement of service delivery." Duba was however quick to assure council employees in the parking department that the new system will not lead to job losses.

    "We will start with parking tickets whereby motorists will now be required to pay electronically. This success of this system will be replicated in other departments," said Duba. Adding that automation of services at the council is their main goal and revealed failure to collect revenue has been negatively impacting delivery of services.

    "The council will for once stop the pilferage of resources where only about 40% of the manually collected cash reach the council coffers. "This system will also stop the efficiency and inconvenience especially in parking where my unscrupulous officers have been playing hide and seek with motorists when they need to pay and attend to other things.

    The proposed e-payment is capable of consuming date, identifying and invoicing. One is also be able to get an invoice via sms, electronic payment and confirmation while the council can reconcile its accounts and compliance flagging at the touch of a button.

    "The potential is high once we go electronic and we target billions. We intend to educate the public on how they can use the services. He added that after the pilot service, the project will be rolled out to afford city residents pay for other services like the single business permits, land rates, health certificates and other invoiced services offered by the council.

  • Millicom International Cellular S.A. and the government of the Republic of Senegal have reached an agreement in principle to settle amicably their dispute over the validity of Millicom’s license in Senegal. This settlement is subject to the signing of final documentation between Millicom and the Republic of Senegal, as well as the publication of an amended license.

    Under this agreement, the validity of Millicom’s Senegal subsidiary’s license will be recognised by both parties. In addition, Millicom will be granted a 3G license, an alignment of its license terms with those of the other operators (meaning that Millicom will receive licenses to offer fixed line, WiMAX and cable TV services for instance), some additional spectrum and a 10-year extension of the term of its current license until 2028. Millicom has agreed to pay USD103 million to the government of the Republic of Senegal for these additional license rights and spectrum. The USD103 million will be paid in several installments between closing of the agreement and December 2013.

    In conjunction with today’s announcement, both parties are asking for a 3-month suspension of the ongoing arbitration proceedings, initiated in 2008 before the ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes), in order to finalize the documentation needed for the transaction to close.

    Mikael Grahne, Millicom CEO commented: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the newly elected government of the Republic of Senegal in a way that will be beneficial to both parties involved, as well as to the people of Senegal and our Tigo customers. An amicable settlement has always been the preferred solution for Millicom. This agreement will enable us to enrich our product offering in Senegal over the next 16 years with the addition of new services, including 3G mobile internet and mobile financial services that we are now offering successfully in Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and DRC. In Senegal, as in all our markets, we want Tigo to strive to offer innovative products and services that are relevant to our customers.”

  • The executive management of Celcom Limited has resigned throwing the company into uncertainty. The mass resignation also cast doubt about whether the company will roll out this October as per licence  deadline given by the Malawi Communication Regulatatory Authority (Macra).

    Celcom chief executive officer Ted Sauti Phiri has said that he had resigned from the company, along with other managers, although he declined to give reasons for the move. 

    Locally-owned Celcom fought off competition from three companies – Zambezi Africa Telecom, C-Mobile Holdings Limited and Smart Telecom Limited – for Malawi’s first technology-neutral licence in May last year; the firm said it aims to bring affordable wireless services to consumers, particularly in rural areas of the country. 

    Leston Mulli, chairperson and managing director of Celcom’s parent Mulli Brothers Limited, declined to comment on the future of the operator, while Zadziko Mankhambo, head of communications at MACRA, said: ‘We are not interested in the resignations at Celcom. What we are interested in is whether they will meet the deadline to roll out.’

internet

  • South Sudan plans to replace expensive satellite internet with connectivity to existing fibre optic cables in the region. All the country's ISPs currently use VSAT satellite, which is expensive for the consumer. The government has been paying EUR 20,000 every month for access but it is now looking to sub-sea cables to bring down costs.

    The expenditure for the new internet connections would be met with a loan from China. VSAT provides limited bandwidth, said Juma Stephen Lugga, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

    There are three routes to connect landlocked South Sudan to the submarine cables along the coast of the Indian Ocean. The first would lead from Juba, the capital city, to Kenya through Lokichoggio to Mombasa. The second will lead from Juba across the border at Nimule to Uganda, where it would then be connected to Tanzania. The third one would have South Sudan connect another cable from Juba to Gambella in Ethiopia and finally to Djibouti.

    At the start, South Sudan will use microwave, said Lugga, which could cost an estimated USD 10 million. Fibre optic installation costs could be higher than that. However, the young country shut down oil production in January because of a transit fee dispute with Sudan. At the time, oil accounted for 98 per cent of its budgetary obligations.

     

     

  • Google Nigeria has commenced its inaugural “Succeed Online” educational series, which seeks to train (in phases) the 250,000 beneficiaries of its Get Nigerian Businesses Online (GNBO) program online skills to increase customer reach and business performance.

    Google Nigeria launched the GNBO initiative in September 2011 to increase the online population of Nigerian small and medium businesses. The initiative offered Nigeria’s capital-challenged SMEs a free website solution and support package that would normally have cost at least $700.

    Speaking on the reason for Succeed Online, Google Nigeria’s Marketing Manager for SME products Bunmi Banjo said: “It is not enough having a business website. The owners ought to understand some tips on how best to put such websites into use.”

    The free educational training would help SMEs in Nigeria effectively use internet tools such as Google Analytics, Google Trader among others, to position better, increase customer base and effectiveness.

    A few of the knowledge to be disseminated during the training include how to use tools such as Google Trader to list various products and services for immediate sale; how to use social media and YouTube videos to interact with customers and get valuable feedback for improving business operation; how to use Google’s ‘Insight for Search’ to improve website content.

  • Zambian Tourism and Arts Minister Slyvia Masebo has publicly directed the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) to close an online media organisation, the Zambia Watchdog.

    Masebo said the Watchdog has the possibility of affecting the country's hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly next year because of the negative publicity.

    Masebo directed ZICTA to “revoke the law that allows the Zambia Watchdog to operate as an online publication.”

    She charged that people were being defamed on the online publication, adding that the UNWTO General Assembly could be threatened by that. Zambia and Zimbabwe will jointly host the UNWTO in August next year.

    The ruling Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general and spokesperson, Winter Kabimba, also called for the closure of the Watchdog early this month, claiming opposition political parties are sponsoring some elements in the social media to attack the government.

    Kabimba warned the PF government will work hard to close some online publications because their reporting must not go unchecked.

    The country’s president, Michael Sata, was the first to direct ZICTA to close the Zambian Watchdog for its attack on the government.

    But ZICTA later informed Sata that they had failed to act on his instructions because the Watchdog website is hosted outside the Zambian jurisdiction.

computing

  • The Zambian government is planning to launch digitised National Registrations Cards (NRC) that will have details of individuals, including their educational qualifications, embedded in them next year.

    The Ministry of Home Affairs says it is currently converting all manual data into digital form. According to a senior government official, the move was part of the Zambian government’s effort towards the computerisation of the national registration office.

    The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Stephen Kampyongo, says the ministry is currently getting  data from as far back as 1964 of people who were registered then, and is converting this data into digital form.

    This data, Kampyongo says, : “will then be installed on a computerised system and in a programme dubbed integrated national registration and information system.”

    “That will be preceded by the process we shall be calling the Digital Identity Cards which will have the data of every citizen including the passport details, the biodata, education, qualifications and everything will have been captured,” Kampyongo added.

    Kampyongo said by the first quarter of next year, the first cards will be printed out.

    The initial exercise will be rolled out in Lusaka, Chongwe, Chilanga and Kafue.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The global rating agency, Fitch Ratings, has downgraded Telecom Namibia’s credit worthiness from stable to negative. Last week Fitch announced that Telecom’s long-term local currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of ‘BBB-’ and its National Long-term rating of ‘A (zaf)’ have both been revised to negative from stable.

    According to the agency, the negative outlook reflects the potential for a weakening in the previous strong support and strategic linkage between the Namibian sovereign government and Telecom.  In order to mitigate the perceived threat of mobile broadband substitution, Fitch expects Telecom to increase investment in mobile infrastructure but that may not be matched by a commensurate increase in revenues due to strong competition from rival state-owned entity, MTC. Ultimately this could lead to margin compression, weaker cash flow generation and higher leverage.

    In order to stabilize the rating Fitch expects to see greater tangible support for Telecom from the Namibian government.  The agency notes that the entity’s standalone ratings would be below the current support driven rating level as a fixed line incumbent benefits from a monopoly position. However, the domestic fixed line market has matured and growth is likely to remain muted over the medium term due to on-going revenue pressure in the voice segment.

    Data and Internet Protocol (IP) related services saw increased revenue growth of 8.3% last year. Fitch believes that increased revenue from broadband products with the benefits provided by the participation in the West Africa Cable System (WACS) could offset revenue pressure in the mature voice market over the medium term. However, the participation by MTC in WACS is likely to increase competition through mobile broadband substitution.

    Fitch believes that successful execution of the broadband growth strategy and managing key operating costs such as international bandwidth costs could provide a steady performance over the medium term. Telecom Namibia has a bond of N$347million outstanding which is scheduled to mature in 2015. In Fitch’s opinion, the investments in mobile network, service and related high execution risk in rolling out the business, increases the overall group’s liquidity risk.

  • Tanzania’s government has introduced an online tool to help investors and entrepreneurs have an easy access to information on investment procedures, and investment opportunities in the country. This is seen as a step forward in wooing foreign investors into the country.

    The system, known as e-Regulations, will provide investors with the necessary business information including, how to register a company, pay taxes and obtain a visa or certificate of incentives.

    Currently being implemented by the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) with the technical assistance of the United Nations Conference of Trade Development (UNCTAD), will in essence provide the investment procedures and information on opportunities.

    It will also enable investors to compare procedures among eRegulations systems of other user countries in Africa, therefore allowing the foreign investors make an informed decision when investing.

    "When the procedures and steps involved are known to people you should expect more people to start businesses and increased compliance in paying taxes," said Kjartan Sorensen, UNCTAD business facilitation manager in charge of e-Regulations in Africa.

    UNACTAD says that e-Regulations can contribute to greater transparency and efficiency in public service, improved governance and cost reduction.

    UNCTAD conceived the web-based eGovernment system to help developing countries and countries in transition work towards business facilitation through transparency, simplification and automation of rules and procedures relating to enterprise creation and operation.

    A recent report by Ernst and Young dubbed 'Africa Attractiveness survey' indicated that the continent is becoming more attractive than ever before to international investors.

    Analysis from 500 international business leaders polled from a diverse range of industries agreed that Africa is the region with the fastest economic growth rates and the highest return on investment (ROI).

    Projected capital inflows are expected to hit the $150 billion mark by 2015, and Tanzania may be bracing itself towards getting a fair share of this foreign investment through the new system.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Cell C expands cut in international call rates

    South Africa mobile operator Cell C will offer reduced call rates to more than 227 countries from 1 September. Following the launch of its ZAR 0.99 per minute call rate to 50 countries in recent months, Cell C has now reduced the call rates to an additional 177 countries. Cell C has also simplified its price plan to ensure more transparency when making calls abroad. Countries have been grouped into five different zones according to the new call rates and will be available to prepaid, hybrid and postpaid customers as default rates from 1 September. Calls will be billed on a per-second basis, and the new rates will be applicable to fixed line and mobile numbers in the respective countries.

    Orange Kenya Offers Discounts to Users of Counterfeit Mobile Phones

    Orange Kenya has launched what it is calling a "genuine mobile handsets" campaign dubbed Chagua Original through which subscribers will be able to purchase 3G-enabled devices at discounted prices of up to 60 percent.

    The promotion comes just a month ahead of the government's move to switch-off all counterfeit devices on all of the country's four mobile networks by September 30 this year.

    During the campaign period, which began on the 29th of August, subscribers purchasing smartphones or 3G devices at all Orange shops will also benefit from one month free internet access as well as free access to Wikipedia and Facebook.

     

Digital Content

  • The Private Sector Federation, in partnership with several youth groups, have come up with an initiative to extend various ICT innovations to communities.

    The initiative dubbed e-umuganda, will embark on mapping several buildings in Kigali city, to ease their accessibility.

    "We found that when you go to Google Maps you cannot recognise some of the areas and buildings in Kigali," Alex Ntare, the director of ICT chamber in PSF, told The New Times.

    The initiative is comprised 48 people from four Kigali technology communities namely Ihills, Cont Park, Rwanda Open Source Community, Rwanda Gamers and Knowledge Lab (Klab).

    "We started last month with 26 people and we were able to map 194 facilities like ministries and schools in Kigali then we can move to the other parts of the country," Ntare said.

    He explained that the project is voluntary just like community service commonly known as "Umuganda" where the volunteers do the work using their own laptops and knowledge.

    The volunteers convene at Klab an innovation space where young entrepreneurs get opportunity to use their skills and get help from mentors. It is located at Telecom House.

    Ntare appealed to the government institutions to provide them with the required data like street names to enrich their initiative.

     

  • Not For Sale, a California-based non-profit-organization, wants to bring again public attention to the issue of human trafficking.

    In partnership with Mxit, Africa's largest social networking service, it has created a platform for use on mobile phones. Basically, it works as a quiz and aims to gather data on three subjects: what people know about human trafficking, which trends of trafficking are taking place in various regions, and how to detect and support victims.

    "An initiative such as this will not only provide valuable information for key stakeholders and decision makers, but also motivate community efforts to raise awareness of the problem, support law enforcement and possibly identify victims," declared Carol Allais, professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of South Africa.

    When people log on to Mxit using their mobile phones, the Not For Sale logo appears along with an advertisement inviting to take the survey. If users click on it, the survey starts in a format of 11 "yes" or "no" questions.

    Here are two examples: "In South Africa, are only young local females at risk for being trafficked?" or "A young boy from the Eastern Cape needs money to help his family buy food. An uncle tells him of a job in Cape Town where he can make enough money to send some home to his mother and sisters. He boards a taxi van with other young boys thinking he is going to Cape Town, but instead he is taken to a farm where he is forced to work long hours with no pay. If he tries to escape, he is beaten. Is this human trafficking?"

    By offering free air-time and other credits to its 40 million users, Mxit - and so does Not for Sale - hopes to achieve 150,000 responses to the survey over a two months period.

    By collecting data, Not for Sale hopes to better understand people's general perception of human trafficking, one of the world's fastest-growing criminal industries, generating more than $32 billion per year.

    Not For Sale will also identify areas where it is needed to implement anti-trafficking initiatives.

  • The Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) launched a heavy-handed campaign in mid-June 2012, arresting thousands of protesters, activists, political party members and leaders and even law-abiding citizens from protest sites, universities, public places and in many cases people’s homes, following anti-regime protests.

    However, once the protests calmed down over two months, the NISS began releasing detainees; August 17 marked the largest number of detainees released.

    Among those released is Twitter activist Usamah Mohamed Ali who was arrested from the scene of a protest in Khartoum on June 22.

    A month into Usamah’s arrest, Mimz wrote a blog post highlighting his detention.

    A day after his release, he tweeted a mere two words but confirmed to his followers that he had been released:

     @simsimt: Struggle continues.

  • Bharti Airtel, the owners of Airtel Zambia, has signed an agreement with Sproxil to combat the counterfeit drug market in Africa.

    Sproxil's Mobile Product Authentication (MPA) solution allows consumers to verify product genuineness within seconds through a text message.

    Airtel Zambia will offer this service absolutely free to its users and not charge for any SMS-based verification.

    Bharti Airtel Africa chief marketing officer Andre Beyers said the goal of the company was to bring affordable and easily accessible health services to over 450 million people.

    "The battle against counterfeit drugs is a huge step towards this goal. Whilst this agreement is a step in the right direction, I also believe that collaboration between all the stakeholders in the mobile health ecosystem is key to a successful and sustainable future," Beyers said.

    In a statement issued in Lusaka last week, Sproxil chief executive officer Ashifi Gogo said: "Building relationships with individual telecom companies and acquiring the short codes necessary for our MPA solution in each country can take a considerable amount of time - its lows down deployment.

    "By working with Airtel, we can get short codes in various countries, different markets from just one company, streamlining the process and turbo charging our expansion throughout the region."

    Dr Gogo said for the consumers, "it's a win-win - two advanced technologies working together. Airtel's network provides high quality, very affordable telecom service enabling consumers to take advantage of Sproxil'sbrand protection solution, at no cost to them."

    Airtel is a leader in mobile communications, providing services in 17 countries across Africa, which include Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

    The partnership is designed to facilitate the deployment of Sproxil's MPA solution throughout developing regions of Africa's markets where Airtel is entrenched as a leading telecommunications provider.

    Sproxil is a venture-backed, social enterprise that provides world-class brand protection services in emerging markets.

More

  • Research ICT Africa Networks (RIA) has appointed the former head of the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) Ernest Ndukwe as a member of its board of directors.

  • Managed Services World Congress 2012
    18 – 19 September 2012, Maritim Pro Arte Hotel, Berlin, Germany
    With Managed Service business models evolving in new and exciting directions, it’s time to reassess the market and your place in it. Managed Services World Congress – the biggest global MS event – is the perfect place to bring leading players together and address these issues. With a 50% operator audience, and 65% CXO / Director level attendance, there is no better opportunity to meet new and existing clients. It’s a must-attend event for anyone looking to maximise the value of their technology, their networks and their brand in today’s evolving MS world. FREE PASSES FOR OPERATORS. For more information visit here: 

    Broadband World Forum

    16 – 18 October 2012, Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    The event, now in its 12th year, is the most respected in the regions Telecoms calendar and the comprehensive agenda includes breakfast briefings, 3 co-located summits,  keynote plenary sessions and a choice of 4 tracks for delegates each day as well as the world class exhibition area. For more information please click here:

    AfricaCom 2012
    13th-15th November 2012, CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

    The digital ecosystem will take centre stage at AfricaCom 2012, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, 13 – 15 November 2012.  Network with over 7000 industry executives at Africa’s largest event embracing all aspects of the continent’s converging telecoms, media and ICT sectors.  Incorporating 11 co-located events all pertinent to future-proofing your business in the digital era, including cloud computing, OTT, apps, broadband and multiplatform content, see and hear how Africa’s communications market is a hotbed for innovation and long term prosperity. 
    Contact: Subuola.akinkugbe@informa.com
    For more information please click here:

  • Knight Foundation Mobile challenge now open for applications

    The 2012 Knight News challenge on Mobile, a challenge seeking to accelerate media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information, is now officially open for applications.

    The third in its series, the challenge's winners will receive a share of US$5 million in funding and support from Knight Foundation’s network of influential peers and advisers to help advance their ideas.

    Applicants from all industries and countries on the globe are invited to submit their ideas at Newschallenge.org from Aug 29 to Sept 10 noon (EDT).

    Received applications will remain open to the public, and will be posted on Knight Foundation’s Tumblr site.

    “For just 10-12 sentences, you have a shot at a share of $5 million, and advice from Knight’s network of media entrepreneurs to help accelerate your idea,” a post on the foundation’s website said.

    The Foundation is looking for innovative ideas on Tools and approaches that use mobile to inform people and communities. This might include new mobile applications, tools to help journalists or others leverage mobile and platforms to empower mobile users. 

    The winning ideas will receive investment in the project from start to finish, and Knight Foundation will help the winners develop their organizations, recruit collaborators, manage projects and grow their networks.

    The foundation maintains that the competition is open to anyone from anywhere, of any age, and is open to nonprofits, for-profits or individuals of any age, anywhere in the world. Awards to minors will be made to an intermediary designated by Knight Foundation.

    The foundation recognizes the power that mobile devices poses in the way people communicate and carry out their daily activities.

    There are close 6 billion mobile devices worldwide and close to 649 million subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2011, and the number is expected to grow to 700 million by end of 2012.

    Africa is also replacing Silicon Valley as the ‘home of innovation.’ The 2012 challenge presents it with another chance to showcase to the world its numerous inventions, and hopefully get a share of the US$5 million up for grabs.

    African Social Venture Prize launched by Orange

    Orange has launched the second edition of the African Social Venture Prize. According to Tumie Ramsden of Orange Botswana, “the goal of the prize is to promote social innovation that supports development through Information Communication Technology (ICT).”

    With this prize Orange will provide a financial endowment as well as expert support to the young companies that put forward innovative projects with a significant social impact. In a media communiqué to biztechafrica.com, Orange said last year there were more than 600 candidates who responded to the call for projects, “reflecting the strong entrepreneurial spirit and the high potential of the telecommunications services in Africa.”

    According to Orange, the African Social Venture Prize will be awarded once again in 2012 to three entrepreneurs or start-ups offering solutions that use ICT in innovative ways to meet the needs of populations on the African continent. Projects proposed during the first edition covered a variety of fields such as health care, agriculture, banking services and education.

    Applications are accepted from May 22 to September 21 2012 on Orange pan-African portal www.starafrica.com

Issue no. 137 29 August 2012

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  • As TV and radio broadcast markets intensify across several liberalized African countries, broadcasters need to find solutions to create more interactive communication with their audiences and build loyalty among them. SMS is one of those. There are a few SMS management software available out there but FrontlineSMS, a rather discreet solution provider has already been in the front line to support several African broadcasters. Sylvain Beletre, Senior Analyst, Balacing Act talked to Amy O'Donnell, Project Manager at FrontlineSMS on how SMS can be a very powerful media tool.

    Looking at recent audience surveys across the African market, it is obvious that local audience want local content. Indeed, radio and TV operators have responded by increasingly shifting from a one-way broadcast to media that reach audiences by integrating interaction with listeners into programming.

    But the lack of communication with the audience and the lack of finances are often major barriers for broadcast organizations working in African countries. Not knowing exactly what people want to watch and listen and not being able to check facts on the field, broadcasters have to find alternative solutions to make their job easier if they want to avoid being eaten up by more powerful competitors. And if broadcasters do not know their audience's program needs, they lose market share together with potential advertisers' revenues.

    FrontlineSMS is a text messaging system marketed with these problems in mind. By leveraging basic tools already available to most broadcasters and their audiences — computers and mobile phones — FrontlineSMS enables instantaneous two-way communication on a large scale. As parts of its numerous applications, it can facilitate dynamic conversations between radio listeners or TV watchers and broadcasters - whether it is in Africa or elsewhere. It’s easy to implement, simple to operate, and best of all, the software is free; you just pay for the messages you send in the normal way. 

    A common application is for broadcasters to invite listeners to send text messages in response to questions posed on the programme, submit direct concerns, and share commentary. Experience has proved that using incentives is not mandatory if questions are of real importance to the audience. However, incentives to send SMS could include entering a draw, specific rewards, entries to an event or free mobile minutes.

    If users need help, the company provides telephone and workshop support. In one hour, any computer literate person can find out how to use this piece of software. If it sounds too complicated or if in-house human resources are not available to operate the solution, the organization can also provide full customized support on a paid basis - this is how they generate part of their revenues.

    Radio represents the dominant media source for many African communities. The number of radio stations in Africa has increased massively over the past ten years, creating a very competitive segment. Several African radio stations are characterized with a strong focus on community and local development. FrontlineSMS:Radio has been developing software which assists community radio stations to interact dynamically with audiences. 

    FrontlineSMS:Radio is built on the core technology of FrontlineSMS, a freely downloadable, open source software which assists with the management of SMS using a computer and mobile phone or GSM modem. The software turns your laptop and your mobile phone into a powerful system for sending and receiving SMS messages. FrontlineSMS enables users to get SMS from large groups of people without requiring Internet access. It is customizable and also supports citizen journalists with tools for digital news gathering.

    As a radio station, the only thing you need is a phone number that you obtain from your local mobile operator, plugging in a mobile phone or GSM modem to a computer, and the piece of software. 

    The latest version also makes it easier to send auto-replies to incoming SMS, add data to contacts and create contact groups, run polls, monitor, and keep long-term records of conversations for data gathering and evaluation. Radio presenters carrying out poll activity can visualize at a glance incoming data from listeners, quickly understand the results, and incorporate such data into a live program.

    The FrontlineSMS:Radio software (currently in trial) features a broadcast button enabling message tagging at a click of a button, and managing messages according to which radio shows the SMS content is more relevant. With radio station managers increasingly interested in accessing long-term information about their audiences, there’s a great potential to engage listeners in a more targeted way by collecting data about listeners’ gender, age, needs, consumption, audience's time or location for example.

    In the field, such a solution can be used in various ways. For example in Zambia, Breeze FM radio uses FrontlineSMS to communicate with journalists. After gathering news tips received from the general public, the radio station organizes the evidence, sends SMS to journalists who may be out in the field, encouraging them to verify the facts and report. FrontlineSMS has also been used in Niger and Chad.

    In Chad, during youth radio show “Chabab Al Haye” (Youth Alive) people could ask questions and give comments, which helped others in the most remote regions to feel included in discussions about issues such as grievances, tolerance and livelihoods.

    In Niger, during the pre-election period radio audiences could express their views about positions and candidates by responding to programs directly, through a toll-free SMS message line, which facilitated a more inclusive debate. Also, program producers were able to increase their responsiveness to listener preferences.

    Another case comes from Better FM in Uganda where FrontlineSMS:Radio was installed in April, 2011. The software enabled each radio presenter to have their own space to manage SMS relevant to them within the same system. Better FM hosts two shows allowing listeners to engage with their MPs in dialogues about public service delivery. 

    Other examples include raising awareness about medicine availability in African countries such as Uganda and Kenya, where pharmacies frequently run out of medication.

    Mapping systems can also be a powerful tool for journalists who can use the SMS evidence collected from people and report the situation on the ground and to government agencies. By reporting on people’s ability to access health and safety facilities, broadcasters can improve communities' lives using simple SMS technology in a professional way.

    Using SMS  require minimal financial and technical resources. It should definitely be part of the essential toolkit for most African broadcasters.

    To find out more you can watch the video and download the piece of software here

    To get up-to-the minute news, you need to be on Twitter. Follow us on @BalancingActAfr.

    A bumper crop of video clips this week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

     

    Kezzy Kimoni, CCD on the impact of digital TV on TV

    Deji Awokoya, General Manager of Beat, Classic and Naija FM on radio in

     

     

    Envir Fraser, Convergence Partners on investment opportunities in ICT and media

    Nyasha Mutsekwa, CEO, Metvafrica.com on its Pan-African VOD service

    Alan Knott-Craig Jr, CEO, MXit on his African expansion plans

     

    Obi Asika on the split of music revenues with the mobile operators and the size of the Nigerian music industry

     

    Nigerian Adamu Waziri talks about its childrens' animation, the Bino and Fino Show

    Special for Balancing Act readers:

    Out in November 2012: Anthony Abuah on his new film Woolwich Boys about 419 scammers

    Nigerian Mahmoud Ali-Balogun on his film Tango With Me

    British-Nigerian director Obi Emelonye on his latest filmLast Flight to Abuja

    Debra Odutuyo talks about British-Nigerian TV comedy Meet the Adebanjos and its forthcoming UK stage tour

    Congolese director Djo Munga on his next film project Inspector Lu

     

     

  • Nollywood is in a transitional phase, but its still has some way to go to be truly mainstream.

    A bright-green kit car marked "51 Nigeria" stands under grey skies, yards from where the traffic endlessly groans out of the Blackwall tunnel. Young black scenesters, wearing smart-casual, pose in front of it, then mill over to the red carpet in front of the Greenwich Odeon, where VoxAfrica, "the first bilingual, pan-African channel", is working the interview lineup. Tall women in traditional dress loll on benches nearby. This is the premiere of Tango with Me, the fourth Nollywood film to get a mainstream release in the UK. PR rep Moses is getting antsy; he gets the cinema to make an announcement that the screening will be starting soon. No one pays any attention. Tonight, we're on African time, not Greenwich mean time.

    Nollywood, Nigeria's film industry, is straining to up its game. Tango with Me – a melodrama about the aftermath of a wedding-night rape – is the latest to reach beyond VHS and DVD-led distribution, opting for the kind of overseas theatrical release needed to help legitimise Nigerian cinema and maybe even bring in non-African audiences. The budget is high by African standards (80-100m naira – about £326,000); the film stars industry queens Genevieve Nnaji and Joke Silva as well as rising newcomer Joseph Benjamin; it has, in the eyes of director Mahmood Ali-Balogun , "the right production values" – the most salient problem for Nollywood, which likes to build them cheap and quick.

    Everyone is buzzing, especially DJ Abass, "entertainment consultant" for African events in London and compere for the screening: "If you enjoy this movie, and you don't tell anyone, then I won't tell you what will happen to you. Just check your email inbox in a month's time."

    I'm not sure what I'm risking by sharing this, but I kind of enjoyed Tango with Me. I admired its forthrightness about rape in Nigeria – apparently discussing it openly is still a problem – but cinematically it still felt rudimentary: too many static camera setups, lots of long, on-the-nose dialogue scenes. Maybe I'm too used to western dramatic practices, with their emphasis on subtext and tension. One thing I really enjoyed, though, was watching it with a guffawing, interjecting, gesticulating African audience. Each time Benjamin's character, Uzo, impotent with the almond-eyed Nnaji, plays away from home, some wag shouts, "Oh, Jos-eph!" in mock indignation.

    At the Q&A session afterwards, there's much pontification on whether Tango with Me is the leap into the mainstream that Nollywood has been waiting for. Everyone seems to agree the industry is in a transitional phase: "The Nollywood of yesterday is different to the Nollywood of today, and it will be different to the Nollywood of tomorrow," as a producer in the audience puts it. There's certainly plenty of other evidence to suggest that it is moving on to a more established, professional footing: more film-makers shooting on film, not video; an increasing degree of international crossovers, like Jeta Amata's Hollywood star-laden Niger-delta thriller Black November, Holly-Nolly co-production Doctor Bello, and the forthcoming Nigerian-UK adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's novel Half of a Yellow Sun; the slick looking streaming-video library iROKOtv – supported by US money – giving ready access to Nollywood's bottomless bargain-bin of titles.

    At what point does a film industry become truly mainstream? If Tango with Me is the litmus test, I'd say Nollywood isn't there yet, aesthetically at least. It's not fully exploiting the virtues of the medium yet. The declarative dialogue, some of the riper acting from the bit-parters – they feel as though they're hand-me-downs from older art forms, like oral storytelling, that Nollywood has budded out of. Sometimes, I think you can still glean that kind of folk heritage in some 1940s and 50s Hollywood films, like when comedies occasionally forgot the ruthless plot focus of commercial cinema, and let their characters revert back to gratuitous knockabout japes that feel as though they belong on the stage. That slackened, carefree vibe certainly still appears in many Bollywood films, which are on a technically higher plane than current Nollywood.

    Those are the values of the commercial global mainstream, though. By another reckoning, Nollywood is already mainstream: the dominant industry of sub-Saharan Africa by virtue of pricing (dirt-cheap) and distribution (any means necessary, including piracy) arrangements in tune with Africa, where Hollywood has little or no official presence. And with the hardwood moral messages and Christian values propagated by many Nigerian films, they have a consolidated sense of their audience's identity – the very meaning of mainstream. Tango with Me is no exception, and at the Q&A, someone eagerly inquires what kind of Christian director Ali-Balogun happens to be. "Born again," he says, proudly.

    But there's more than one mainstream in the world, and his eye is on the overlaps between them. "What we are going through, Hollywood went through and Bollywood went through," is how he explains the process. Nollywood, if Ali-Balogun is correct, is about to born again, too.

    Read the full story here 

  • Ramata is an African documentary screened in the Goethe Centre Auditorium, courtesy of AfricAvenir, a company that has been screening films in Namibia in the series of "African Perspectives" since 2007.

    Ramata herself was married to the Minister of Justice for 30 years, and then her life radically changes when she meets, apparently coincidentally, a mysterious hustler free of all attachment. Fifty year-old Ramata discovers love and the pleasures of the flesh with this young criminal who is 25 years younger than her.

    From then, her quiet and supposedly happy life in the high society of Dakar changes drastically. The film tells more about who is really the young man? And has he appeared in Ramata's life by accident as they say?

    Ramata is at heart, a story of metamorphosis. The alteration of a human being and her relationship with the world that surrounds her, and the story of a woman whose carefree beauty help to bring about her own misfortune. It is in some way the portrait of contemporary Africa, haunted by multitude beliefs.

    "As a through-line and beyond its universal dimension, the story of Ramata is steeped in the culture of the Serer, to which the poet and former president of Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor belonged, and which inspired the substance of his poetry and philosophy. For the Serer, there is no frontier between the dead and the living, between the present, past and future.

    In many ways, the serer mythology reminds one of Greek tragedy, one of the questions the film raises for people is that of datum. Ramata is marked by a kind of curse, by a fault that she committed in her youth and which finally drags her into an expiatory madness.

    The film also explains and tells more about the heroine Ramata who has a busy family life, lives in extreme solitude and finds herself abandoned and imprisoned by fate, kind of in a golden cage. The character has totally broken with all reality and her basic life force is a natural seduction. She is like parched land waiting for rainfall. Her beauty and her mind, which harbors no ulterior motives, make Ramata a free woman, with an unchanging nature.

    Moreover, in the series of the film, time seems to have no hold over her spirit or even her body, which retains to the end its juvenile aspect. As for Ngor Ndongo, the taxi-driver and a small time criminal, has gone for him impulsiveness, a youthful body and feelings and a false naivety. He is someone quick to turn his back on situations, someone that people constantly want to take by the shoulder and bring back to face them. This is part of his mysterious side. He holds a secret to which only Ramata has the keys.

  • 'African Urbanism' discusses the UK's Colonial Film Catalogue, a database*  of more than 6000 films, which provides a window into British colonial period (Over 350 of the most important films in the catalogue are presented with extensive critical notes written by the academic research team.): “…these videos find their value in providing a fantastic trip through time into life in these places — showing people as they were (or, rather, how the government/companies would like you to see them), and life at the time (again, likely how we're supposed to see them).” 

    Shot from the short film, Three Roads to Tomorrow (1958), a British Petroleum-sponsored video/commercial that depicts the experiential path three men from Nigeria take to get arrive at their present studies at the University of Ibadan, one of the country’s foremost universities. Warning: Sort of feels like British empire propaganda. 

    Given my ongoing interest in Nigeria and its history, I was excited to watch one of a few fictional films on the website. The focus of one such film, Three Roads to Tomorrow, focuses on how British Petroleum (BP),  one of the major oil companies in the country at the time, promotes development through oil sector business.

    As described on the website, the film’s synopsis:

    “Three Nigerian students from different corners of Nigeria come to Ibadan University. While they sit talking in a dance club, the film traves back each of their journeys to the university. Scenes from their homes gives a new impression of an old country, and we come to understand how the modern network of communications – all dependent on oil and petrol – has opened up what was not so long ago inaccessible territory.”

    To me, this description, in its simplicity, is debatable (as we know, it’s the oil economy in Nigeria has lead to unequal regional development, exploitation of the country’s natural resources, and in the areas such as the Niger Delta, a very debatable positive impact on community development, livelihoods, health, and their local economy). But the glimpse into Nigerian life at the time, and among the country’s three major ethnic groups (Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba) provides an interesting anthropological look into Nigerian history.

    The website has a collection of films from across the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australia, and dating back as far as 1895. From Ghana (then the Gold Coast) to Nigeria, British Guyana, India, and the Sudan, perhaps these videos are most valuable for providing an eye into the colonial mentality of the British empire.

    *The Colonial Film project united universities (Birkbeck and University College London) and archives (British Film Institute, Imperial War Museum and the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum) to create a new catalogue of films relating to the British Empire. The ambition of this website (http://www.colonialfilm.org.uk/) is to allow both colonizers and colonized to understand better the truths of Empire.

  • As a piece of technology the mobile device has had an incredible affect across the world. The geographical nature of Africa as a continent and the lack of previous fixed line telecommunication development has meant the mobile device’s status has multiplied compared to more emerged continents and countries. For the many citizens of the many countries that make up Africa, the mobile device is not the 6th screen but in fact the 1st screen – an illustration of its importance and its potential. This has been covered in many different articles, papers, presentations, interviews, tweets and conversations. As facts go this is right up there with ‘the world is round’.

    Taking place on 29-30 Aug. 2012, Mobile Entertainment Africa  is about potential, it is about the technology of choice, it is about consumer behaviour, it is about monetisation, it is about what people actually do on their devices.

    Consumers like to have fun, they like to play, they like to entertain, they like to be entertained, they like to be creative, they like to interact, they like to use the 10 minutes they have waiting for their friend, they like to catch up, they like to share. They like to consume - which is probably why they’re called consumers.

    As an event, Mobile Entertainment Africa promises to break down the mobile entertainment market into key sections – gaming, film/broadcast/TV, football, music, big players perspectives, publishing. These will form the backbone of the conference. Selected thought and business leaders will present their views in compact presentations – they’ll discuss their experiences through case studies, how they’ve monetised the opportunity, how they’re looking to expand, the issues they’ve overcome and their thoughts on the future.

    Each mini session will have a distinct subject. The delegation will then have the opportunity to discuss what they have heard amongst their peers. This will be followed by a traditional panel discussion. Then there’ll be some informal networking, before we do it all again – tackling another distinct subject.

    Sponsors and partners include iROKOtv, iROKING, 2go - a mobile social network targeting users in emerging markets - mapIT which offers businesses high quality digital maps, RIM, TrustPay - a Global App Payment Solution, and Bizcommunity.com.

    Speakers Include: Michael Ugwu, CEO, iROKING; Marc Herson, 2go; Lelany Sommers

    Senior Operations Manager at Research In Motion; Mike Johns, CEO of Digital Mind State; Marie Lora-Mungai, Founder & CEO at Buni Media; Peter Matthaei, Head of Product Development at MXit; Nyasha Mutsekwa, CEO of MeTVAfrica; Mustapha Baboo, CEO of Maxxor; Richard Cheary, Founder of Afrozaar; Lynne Gordon, General Manager of Brandtone South Africa, Hugo Obi, Co-Founder of Maliyo Games; Eric Edelstein, Co-Founder of evly.com and many more.

    Located at the One&Only Cape Town 5* Hotel, which is situated on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, the 'all amber' event is going to be a packed, informative and progressive two days.

  • The eNews Channel on MultiChoice's DStv platform has changed its name to eNCA with a new mosaic logo depicting the continent of Africa as the independent 24-hour news channel went intercontinental on Monday. "It's an exciting time for us," said Patrick Conroy, the group head of news at the eNCA about the name and image change. 

    The eNCA, which started broadcasting in the United Kingdom on the Sky pay-TV platform, remains exactly the same but rebranded in terms of its on-air look and logo to make it more distinct as South Africa's only 24-hour and independent TV news channel.

    This comes as the SABC announced it plans to launch its own new 24-hour news channel on DStv at the beginning of September, which MultiChoice is helping to fund. "We are truly excited at the prospects which this change brings," said Conroy. "We're highly motivated, but we're also quite daunted. It's a huge responsibility. It's a daunting but exciting challenge for us.

    "The reason for our rebrand is that as the eNews Channel it's very difficult for the brand to travel internationally. We're very well known in South Africa, but we're an unknown entity in North America and Europe.

    "We want to be instantaneously recognised as an African news broadcaster. If in the future we expand to North America, Europe, Australasia, we want everyone to be able to instantly recognise where it is that we're from. 

    "What works for me personally is that we haven't lost what the eNews Channel was. The essential part is still there – we're just now instantly recognisable as coming from Africa and with South African roots." 

    eNCA (on DStv channel 403) will from Monday have a very special daily pan-African news broadcast for Sky pay-TV subscribers on channel 518, pulled together by eNCA Africa editor Chris Maroleng and his team. 

    "Sky subscribers will see it their time from 21:00 to 23:30. That will be repeated later. South African and African viewers will still get to see that same content as well here from 00:00 to 06:00," said Conroy.

    "But Sky viewers get that first because we want to see if we can grow the appetite for not just South African news, but from the rest of the African content as well."

     The eNCA has bureaus in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya led by Robyn Kriel. "We're in the process of developing a stronger network to gather news and feed that news to us," said Maroleng. 

  • The countdown starts and the Kenyan news reader runs through the top headlines for the evening bulletin. In a few minutes he will go on air in Nairobi, broadcasting live for China state television.

    It's 8:00 pm in the Kenyan capital and 1:00 am in Beijing, when China Central Television (CCTV) hands over to its Nairobi team for "Africa Live", an hour-long flagship programme billed as a "new voice" for African news and Sino-African relations.

    On a recent night, the spotlight was on Rwanda's economic expansion and the Somali athletes taking part in the Olympics in London.

    "We want to keep a balance," Pang Xinhua, CCTV's Managing Editor who runs a network of correspondents in a dozen African countries, told AFP. "We are not only talking about war, diseases or poverty, we also focus on economic development."

    "Africa Live" is put together by a team of 60 or so people in Nairobi - about 50 of them Kenyans. It holds a prime time slot in east Africa but is also televised worldwide.

    "We opened this bureau in order to be able to tell the real Africa story, the real story of China and the real story of Sino-African relations," CCTV Africa chief Song Jianing said, echoing remarks by China's ambassador to Kenya when the switchover started in January.

    Nairobi was CCTV's first regional bureau to produce and broadcast its own hour-long news programme. Its cousin CCTV America soon followed suit.

    CCTV Africa, meanwhile, insists that it wants to present the world through an African prism. "The thing I like is that we are telling the story from our perspective," said Beatrice Marshall, a star news reader at the Kenyan station KTN who was wooed over to CCTV Africa.

    On the delicate issue of whether Beijing censors content, Douglas Okwatch, editor on the Saturday "Talk Africa" programme presented by Marshall, said staff have a free hand on their stories "as long as they are objective, balanced and not dragging in unnecessary controversies."

     

  • Television has transformed the FIFA World Cup, Olympic Games, and European Football Champions League into lucrative multi-billion-dollar undertakings creating a frenzy of bidding for the TV rights for the events. TV Networks and sports marketing agents jostle to secure the rights to these and many other events.

    Globally, sport is now estimated to be a US$800-billion (£510-billion/€594-billion) industry (www.insidethegames.org). The bulk of this revenue emanates from broadcasting rights.

    Taking into account these phenomenal developments of our time, many countries, regions and continents are strategically positioning themselves to benefit from the sport industry by way of hosting mega events, with all the other accompanying perks, television rights included. Sport has become an important driver of tourism.

    Sadly, Africa and more importantly for us, Southern Africa, has been too slow in waking up from its slumber as the significant growth markets in the industry are now found in Europe, Asia, North and South America.

    When it comes to exploiting the power of television, the African situation has not been assisted by the fragmentation of the continent into the Anglophone, Francophone, Arabic and Lusophone formations. This has made the development of uniform or harmonised services for the continent very difficult. The existence of the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB), formerly the Union of Radio and Television Networks of Africa (URTNA), has not made much difference.

    This is because the AUB is made up of mostly government representatives of broadcasting and television authorities on the continent whose operational motive is not commercialisation or liberalisation of the airwaves. The liberalisation of the airwaves is one of the critical hallmarks of freedom of expression and economic development.

    Privately owned TV channels help to generate employment as well as wealth in any country and sport becomes a major beneficiary as broadcast rights are lucrative commodities where bidders are prepared to pay top dollar for them.

    As long as the state governments continue to exercise tight control of the airwaves, it will be very difficult to exploit the power of television in the development of sport and emergence of professionalism

    The advent of democracy in South Africa has seen the gradual rise of Supersport as a giant on the continent. Supersport is a South African group of television channels owned by Naspers Company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and broadcast on the DStv platform.

    DStv, with its stranglehold on the broadcast of rights of major European soccer leagues, among other valuable properties, now has an unhealthy and iron-fisted monopoly of Pay TV not just in Southern Africa but in Anglophone Sub-Saharan Africa.

    However, a competitor for DStv has emerged in the form of the Chinese company, Star Times, which now has an estimated 600 000 subscribers in East and West Africa.

    There is also a plethora of service providers in the North Africa catering for mostly the Arabic-speaking populations as well as others in French-speaking Africa.

    There is therefore no homogenous market for free-to-air or Pay TV service providers on the African continent. However, this should not be seen as an obstacle but a challenge for driving innovation and change for the African market supported by the AUB.

    The AUB should be on the forefront of facilitating this much-needed transformation, which will ultimately benefit the Africa continent as a whole.

    The power of sport and television as well other communications tools, including their continued exploitation is now being perfected through emergence of organisations such as Sportel based in Monaco. Sportel is a global forum, which every year unites various key players and stakeholders to exchange ideas, information and experiences in the industry.

    If it is not an embarrassment, the fact that only 1 percent of participants at the 2011 Sportel event in Monaco were from the African continent, speaks volumes about the level of development and the seriousness related to the business of sport on the African continent.

    This needs to change if Africa is to get her fair share of the cake in the global sports industry.

    This change cannot happen overnight but it has to be started somewhere at the top table of African affairs where there is the African Union (AU), the AUB, ANOCA and various African Sports Confederations.

    However, Southern Africa, given its relative homogeneity cannot be a passive bystander in this matter.

    The state-owned television authorities working in conjunction with sports authorities represented by the Supreme Council for Sport in Africa (SCSA Zone VI, the Confederation of Southern African National Olympic Committees (COSANOC) and Zonal Sports Confederations need to establish a permanent forum to deal with issues of television and sport for the region.

    They need to come up with mutually beneficial solutions that will transcend the borders of the region.

    There is a dire need to use the power of television to energise the development of sport in Southern Africa, to accelerate the drive towards excellence and professionalism.

     

  • The first-time documentary film by Newfoundlander Matthew LeRiche opens with a dimly lit closeup of young man rapping smoothly into the camera.

    He’s young; he’s hip; he’s the future of South Sudan.  “We need to make changes. Let’s start with some better fashion, that starts with the government of self- satisfaction,” he rhymes.

    His name is L.U.A.L. and aside from being a spoken word poet, he’s an accountant who used to worked for Deloitte and who’s now trying to figure out how to make his music and still pay the bills.

    It’s a familiar situation for many young artists, except that L.U.A.L. lives in a country that has suffered the longest-running civil war in history, and which, despite its independence a year ago, is still undergoing assaults from its former countrymen.

    Given this context, and the fact that 53 per cent of the people in South Sudan are under the age of 18, LeRiche and his filmmaking partner, Viktor Pesenti, wanted their film to focus on how the country’s youth find hope in everyday activities. 

     “We are at the same stage of our lives where we are trying to figure out what to do with ourselves,” he says. “Most people are interested in trying to do something that can have impact. Something positive they can feel excited about.”

    In addition to profiling artists, the film introduces the viewer to a very professional looking Sudanese basketball team and an equally well-organized women’s cultural group.

    These telling snapshots are interspersed with eloquent comments from politically active youth on the need to work together and to be open to the outside world. The result is a more holistic view of life in South Sudan than can be conjured by a news clip.

    LeRiche, who has a PhD in war studies from King’s College London and has been living in South Sudan on and off for the past eight years, says people often have a distorted view of what war is really like.

    “It’s not like it is in films. It’s very much more like a slow oppression. The economy slows and people have trouble accessing basic resources. Those are the things that kill people and stop development,” he says.

     The name of the film, “South Sudan: The World’s Youngest Nation,” also refers to the country’s independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, making it the newest nation on the globe.In addition to the film, LeRiche has recently published a book entitled “South Sudan: From Revolution to Independence.”  

    LeRiche’s film will be shown at the Africa World Documentary Film Festival in London, England, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 9 and may also air across Africa via a satellite channel this year.

  • The TV giant has consolidated its impregnable position in terrestial and satellite broadcasting in Africa. Lloyd Gedye reports.

    As the Zambezi River surged past in the background, destined to plummet 100m down the Victoria Falls a mere 15 minutes' walk away, the Zambian government last week launched GOtv in Livingstone, the country's fourth-largest city. GOtv is MultiChoice Africa's new offering, which plays in the digital terrestrial television space.

    It offers consumers a pay-TV terrestrial television package of between 16 and 26 channels for a monthly subscription of between R52 and R72, depending on the country.

    GOtv is operating in Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Namibia. However, the presence of Angolan Minister of Social Communication Carolina Cerqueira and Ghanaian Information Minister Fritz Baffour at the Livingstone launch suggests MultiChoice is also courting a number of other African countries to partner with too.

    Stakeholders in the African broadcasting space are ­concerned that governments are in effect outsourcing the digital migration process to GOtv and that its domination of these migration processes amounts to market capture.

    Are these African states selling their television consumers down the river and will regulators be battling to swim upstream when the need for real competition in the broadcasting space arises?

    GOtv was first launched in Lusaka, Zambia, in June last year. The launch offered consumers a set-top box as well as the first three months' subscription for R663.

    After the three months, the service costs a monthly subscription of R60 for a bouquet of 20 channels, which includes five entertainment and movie channels, three news channels, three children's channels, two music channels, one sports channel and the national broadcaster's two channels, among others.

    The bouquets include well-known MultiChoice channels such as Africa Magic, SuperSport, Nickelodeon, Discovery World, BBC World News and Al Jazeera.

    For many Zambians, this is an embarrassment of riches in a country in which most households have access to only two public broadcaster channels and some only one.

    Many Zambians, to whom the Mail & Guardian spoke after the Livingstone launch, suggested that the offering was relatively affordable and they would consider subscribing.

    Following the launch in Lusaka last year, there were launches in Kampala and Entebbe in Uganda in August, Nairobi in Kenya in September and Ibadan in Nigeria in October.

    In the first seven months of this year, GOtv has been launched in Windhoek, Namibia and three more Zambian cities, two more Nigerian cities and two more Kenyan cities.

    This takes its total presence to 13 sub-Saharan cities in just more than a year. MultiChoice Africa chief executive Nico Meyer said the company planned to spend R2.5-billion on GOtv's expansion into the rest of Africa.

    MultiChoice Africa is mum on take-up figures, but with 38-million households having television sets in sub-Saharan Africa, the launch of digital television in Africa is a huge opportunity.

    Size of the market

    A report titled "Digital TV Sub-Saharan Africa", which was published by Digital TV Research in February, said 26% of Africa's 148-million households had television sets.

    The report said, by 2017, 50-million households in Africa would have ­television sets. Nigeria would account for 25% and South Africa a further 15%.

    The report predicted that, by 2017, 43% of households would still be using an analogue television service.

    A report titled "African Broadcast and Film Markets", released by broadcasting consultancy Balancing Act in February, stated that there were now 1600 TV channels on the continent, of which 596 were free-to-air terrestrial channels.

    "The market leader – DStv MultiChoice – has gained more than five million paid subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa," said the report. "In January 2012, Balancing Act estimates the pay-TV market in Africa at 7.6-million subscribers."

    These figures give an idea of the size of the market in which MultiChoice is playing.

    In some of the countries where GOtv has launched, such as Uganda and Nigeria, the product has been launched with a GOtv and GOtv Plus offering.

    In Uganda, consumers can select 21 channels for R61, or 29 channels for R116. In Nigeria they can opt for 26 channels for R52, or 33 channels for R78.

    Although the launch of GOtv in these five countries has significantly altered the local television landscape, not everyone is singing MultiChoice Africa's praises.

    "These governments need to do the migration process," said a player in the South African broadcasting sector, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But they don't have the capacity or the funds to fill all the multiplex space."

    He said that the five governments were "effectively outsourcing" digital migration to MultiChoice Africa, which is well positioned with masses of content and an already developed presence in Africa.

    Many broadcasting players who spoke to the M&G this week made this point.

    A total of 1.44-million households in Africa subscribe to MultiChoice's DStv offerings, according to last year's annual report of holding company Naspers. This excludes the 3.5-million subscribers it has in South Africa. Of the 1.44-million subscribers, 340000 were signed up in the previous financial year, which represents a growth rate of 31%.

    Unregulated

    MultiChoice's expansion into Africa is paying dividends and the launch of GOtv will strengthen its hand even further, providing it with a large customer base to which it can sell further content.

    Meyer said that once the analogue broadcasting services were switched off in 2015, the freed-up spectrum known as the "digital dividend" could result in further bouquets of channels being offered to consumers.

    "MultiChoice is no longer just entrenching their monopoly in the satellite market," said an independent broadcasting consultant from the continent. "They are entrenching their monopoly in terrestrial television too.

    "They have first-mover advantage now. It is because of its dominant position in South Africa that it has managed to gain a foothold in these countries in Africa."

    A South African broadcasting consultant agreed.

    "MultiChoice Africa is effectively migrating everyone in these countries to a pay-TV offering," he said. "These markets are generally unregulated and with MultiChoice controlling the set-top box they are in the pound seats."

  • ReelAfrican.com, an online platform for African and Caribbean film  and TV series in the United States, debuts the ten-part dramatic African hit movie series Adams Apples, on Thursday, August 30th, 2012.

    Set in bustling city of Accra, Ghana, Adams Apples follows the life of the four Adams’ Ghanaian women – the widowed, ex-diplomat’s wife and her three daughters in their early and mid thirties. The dramatic series depicts their personal battles to achieve success and happiness in a fast changing, 21st century Ghana where love can elude the hopeless romantic, victory can scorn the hardworking and marriage can be an illusion.

    The movie series, which uses the tagline, “Sexy, sassy, with plenty of Wahala” debuted in April of 2011, and has already found tremendous appeal among audiences worldwide.

    ReelAfrican will also be making Adams Apples available on the free ad-supported Hulu, and its Hulu Plus subscription service. Snag Films, as a content partner to ReelAfrican, will also be carrying the film series. Sparrow Productions, the makers of Adams Apples, is excited about the new partnership and is eager to make their content available to their audiences in the United States.

    Shirley Frimpong Manso, CEO of Sparrow Productions and the director of the series had this to say about the arrangement - "Sparrow Productions is excited to be able to reach its US viewers via www.reelafrican.com. This collaboration is a great way to bring a labor of love such as Adams Apples to our fans abroad”.

    Victor Mallet, co-founder of ReelAfrican expressed similar positive sentiments about the collaboration - “What a wonderful series this is! Adams Apples not only illustrates the high caliber of films coming out of Africa currently, but is also a colourful portrayal of the cosmopolitan life in Africa.

    This series in particular does a great job of breaking stereotypes that many Westerners may have about people’s lifestyles in Africa. It also has a cast of characters that many Americans will undoubtedly relate to. ReelAfrican is proud to have been entrusted by Sparrow Productions to bring this film to audiences in the US”.

     

  • If Nigeria can emulate South Africa by establishing an educational television channel, performance in public examinations could improve, some educationists have said.

    This is coming as outgoing president of the Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN), Dr Prince Okorie, commended Mobil Producing Nigeria for funding the radio broadcast of the final of its science quiz competition nationwide.

    Thanking the multinational oil company for the gesture, Dr Prince Okorie said through the broadcast of the competition by the Federal Radio Corporation (FRCN), the association is able to reach the grassroots with knowledge of the sciences to the benefit of students in rural areas.

    "The bringing back of FRCN on board for this particular competition is the best thing that ever happened to STAN.  We hope that this relationship will not be tampered with because that is the way we can reach the grassroots," he said at the awards ceremony held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja to celebrate winners of the competition.

    However, in an interview during the final of the competition, Prof Peter Okebukola who chairs STAN's Science Fair committee, looks forward to when Nigeria will dedicate a television channel to the teaching of science subjects, like South Africa has done with DSTV Channel 319 and has succeeded in improving performance of secondary school pupils in the sciences.

    "What I like to see is that beyond radio, we start a television production.  The South Africans have a dedicated channel for teaching Physics, Chemistry and Biology, DSTV 319.  

    I am looking at a situation where the Federal Government will invest in an educational channel. If STAN gets more funds, we will go in that direction. In South Africa through the programme, performance improved.  

    If we have dedicated channels or FM stations that can allow some time to run educational programmes, it will help performance because youths tune in to these stations to listen to music so we can catch more youths this way," he said.

    Okebukola commended the primary and secondary school pupils who participated in the three categories of the competition (written, quiz and project), noting that they did well even when they were given more of open-ended questions than multiple-choices.

    "I feel quite delighted that the quality of questions has gone up and the students responded very well.  If you notice, three-quarter of the questions were open ended.  It allowed them to think.  My assessment is that these children are more Spartan than previous ones," he said.

    He, however, noted that more than 98 per cent of them came from private schools.

    In his speech, Paul Arinze, General Manager (Government Affairs) for Mobil who was represented by Ms Susan Esshiet, said the company invested N20million in the STAN conference, with N1.7million for prizes alone.

  • Inspiring Ghanaian polio survivors pioneer extreme sports combination of skating and soccer / Award-winning South African filmmakers crowd-source funding via Kickstarter for the documentary

    Skate soccer won’t be featured at this month’s Paralympics, but a new documentary aims to raise the profile of the bruising new sport.

    Rollaball will tell the story of The Rolling Rockets, an inspiring team of Ghanaian polio survivors who are pioneering an extreme sport combination of skating and soccer.

    Coach Albert K. Frimpong explains, “The first game of skate soccer was in Lagos, Nigeria, but it’s now spread throughout West Africa. We played our first international game recently against Nigeria and are hoping to host an Africa Cup of Nations next year.”

    Big World Cinema’s Steven Markovitz is producing the documentary, which is currently crowdsourcing production funding via a 30-day campaign on Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.

    Steven co-founded Encounters, Africa’s most prestigious documentary festival; co-produced MTV’s Best African Movie 2010, Viva Riva!; and is producing the upcoming Jambula Tree, winner of the Arte Prize for Best Feature Film Project at Durban International Film Festival 2012.

    Shelley Barry, a film director and disability rights activist, is associate producer. She asks, “Who decides which sports are played at the Paralympics and what criteria are used? Skate soccer is one of the most gripping sports I’ve ever seen, so it’s a shame that its inspiring athletes won’t be represented at the games, purely because until now the players haven’t had the resources available to campaign successfully for its inclusion. We want this documentary to help change that.”

    In the last week, Rollaball’s vision has received high-profile endorsements from the likes of AC Milan midfielder and Ghanaian Black Stars international Sulley Muntari; Disabled Peoples’ International; paralympian Anne Wafula Strike; The UN Special Rapporteur on Disability; World Cup Skateboarding; and South Africa’sDepartment of Women, Children and People With Disabilities.  

    Rollaball received production funding from The National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa, won the Puma.Creative Catalyst Award in partnership with Channel 4 Britdoc Foundation in 2011, and was selected out of 571 entries for the prestigious Sheffield Doc/Fest in 2012, but Steven says the current funding landscape means producers need to be more innovative than ever before. “Kickstarter is revolutionizing the film industry, because it allows the audience to take control of the commissioning process and fund what they want to watch.”

    Rollaball is being directed by Eddie Edwards, who also helmed the award-winning sports documentary The Fight, about South African boxing champion Andile Tshongolo. 

    Eddie says, “When I first met the team two years ago, I knew they were something special. These guys face massive challenges off the pitch, as polio is still stigmatized in Ghana, so many of them live on the streets and beg for a living. But despite all the odds, they’re incredible athletes who deserve to be stars. They have inspired something in me and I believe they’ll inspire many others. Both on and off the field, their stories are legendary.”

    To help make the completed documentary possible, visit here: Depending on the size of your pledge, you will receive different rewards, like a digital download of the completed film; a box set of DVDs of the producers’ previous work; Batik cloth wrap from Ghana; or even your name as an executive producer on the films’ credits and on IMDB.com. Pledge options start from as little as $10.

    Eddie concludes, “If the full target of $35 000 isn’t raised, Kickstarter will refund all contributions, meaning that we won’t receive any of the funding needed to complete production, so please help us spread the word. Thank you for your support; we can’t do this without you.”

    Watch the three-minute promo video here 

    For more information, visit www.rollaballmovie.com, www.facebook.com/rollaballmovie, https://twitter.com/rollaballmovie, or http://www.youtube.com/user/Rollaballmovie.

  • Tension reigned Thursday in oil-rich Gabon where the main opposition said its television station was torched after violent clashes between its supporters and police in the capital Libreville.

    But the government said police gave a "measured reaction" to Wednesday's unauthorised protest in support of main opposition leader Andre Mba Obame and nobody was killed despite opposition claims of three deaths.

    The protest sparked the worst violence since the disputed 2009 election of Ali Bongo Ondimba, who succeeded his father Omar as president following his death earlier that year after 42 years in power. Mba Obame claims he won the election.

    His television station TV+ stopped broadcasting after armed and masked men overpowered guards overnight Wednesday and used a petrol bomb to set fire to the transmitter in the capital, its director Frank Nguema told AFP.

    Nguema also said the station suffered a power cut for most of the day on Wednesday, which prevented the broadcast of reports on the opposition demonstration.

    "This umpteenth act of sabotage and the government's relentless campaign against TV+ underscores the absence of freedom of expression and the press in Gabon," Nguema said.

    The government released a statement overnight "praising the measured reaction of the security forces against numerous provocations targeting them.... Until now, no loss of human life has been recorded."

  • Like in other parts of the world, the African audiovisual industry faces the challenge of content piracy. But combatting content piracy is a rather tricky business.

    Ahead of major African TV events such as "Discop Africa", Balancing Act's analysts are researching the TV content piracy issue and practices on how best to counteract it across the continent.

    If you know about recent aspects and measures related to TV content piracy in specific African countries, please contact 'Balancing Act' via email here and your comments will be treated anonymously. In exchange, 'Balancing Act' will provide you with the final executive summary of the survey at the start of Nov. 2012.

    Here is the questionnaire focused on a mix of qualitative and quantitative questions. Please feel free to be creative and add your two cents.

    - What is the nature and extent of piracy in TV, DVD and internet sector in your country? (please specify the country/ies you are present in Africa - e.g. who are the pirates and why? sizing if available)

    - What are the country specific government/private sector policy and practices to counteract piracy?

    - Are there any compliances and legal actions against piracy in the county/region?

    - Are there any public awareness campaigns that highlight the evils of piracy?   

    - Are there any initiatives (local or foreign) to build capacity in relevant organs of state?  

    Are there examples of high profile court cases in your country – where references/lessons can be drawn/learnt?

    - What is the impact of DVD and the internet on piracy in your country? 

    - Would you have an idea of some of the costs associated with piracy in Africa (your anti-piracy costs, the cost of piracy in specific African countries, costs associated with rights losses, etc.)

    - Are there any messages you'd like to convey to the press and to the industry on the topic?

    'Balancing Act' has already relayed a lot of info on this subject here and has conducted qualitative research on the topic two years ago.

  • Kenya's digital pay TV market is becoming more competitive with the aggressive entry of StarTimes Media Kenya, a company that recently launched its services in Kenya's capital Nairobi and second city Kisumu. StarTimes has now launched in Mombasa, the third city as part of its plans to reach seven major towns in Kenya by the end of 2012.

    This is part of their objective of providing digital television service ahead of Kenya's switch to the digital television platform. 

    "The launch of StarTimes in Mombasa signals continued investor confidence in this country and this region in particular. This clearly shows our great potential and promises even better opportunities for our people," said Ramadhan Kajembe, assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources during the launch. 

    StarTimes has embarked on an aggressive regional expansion plan aimed at providing digital television service to a majority of Kenyans in different parts of the country who have previously been left out of this service as the cost has been largely out of their reach. 

    "We are being driven by our belief that it is not a privilege but a right for every household in this country to enjoy the benefits of digital television," said StarTimes chief executive officer, Leo Lee.

    The company's strategy is to target Kenya's untapped digital television market with the introduction of not home entertainment and mobile television through mobile TV, car TV and portable TV at the most competitive rates in the market. StarTimes has about 7 million subscribers in China and has launched operations in 9 African countries.

  • The project to migrate South Africa’s TV from analogue to digital broadcasting needs another R7 billion

    Between the requirements of the Department of Communications (DoC), SABC, and Sentech, the budget shortfall for South Africa’s digital migration project is R7-billion.

    This is according to deputy director-general of the DoC, Themba Phiri, who was speaking to the Select Committee for Labour and Public Enterprises last week (15 August 2012).

    The digital migration project aims to move South Africa’s terrestrial television broadcasts from using analogue signals, to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

    Among the benefits of this migration is the freeing up of radio frequency spectrum used by broadcasters. This has been earmarked for wireless network operators to offer broadband services.

    Viewers that depend on Sentech’s terrestrial broadcast received through a normal roof antenna or “bunny ears” will need a set-top box (STB), and in some cases a new antenna, to continue watching TV.

    Phiri said that R940-million had been ring-fenced at the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa to subsidise STBs for the poorest South Africans. However, an additional R2.635 billion in subsidies was needed.

    This is despite STBs being just over 40% cheaper than expected.

    In their presentation to the committee, the DoC said that there is a budget shortfall of R800-million for its DTT awareness campaign.

    Combined with the SABC’s technology upgrade and Sentech’s dual illumination requirements, the total budget shortfall is R7-billion, Phiri said.

  • Netherland-based Exset today announced the launch of its Africa initiative for the African digital TV industry - Africa Page - at the SABA (Southern African Broadcasting Association) CEO Summit on the 2nd and 3rd of August 2012.

    The SABA-CEO summit was organised to push the pay-TV digitisation process forwards and was attended by the CEO’s of the broadcasting associations of a majority of their members, led by the President of SABA Mr.Albertus Aochamub.

    At the summit the ABN-Exset consortium launched “The Africa Page”, which is precisely targeted at SABA nations to assist with their digital transition, be that DTT or DTH or both. The Africa Page is powered by Exset’s DMS (Digital Monetisation System), a new way of increasing operator revenues in value-based pay-TV systems for emerging markets. DMS bridges the divide between technology vendors and business services suppliers – set-top box vendors, CAS suppliers, billing services, SMS technologies: the list goes on – providing a complete ecosystem that allows operators to reach communities that would otherwise be inaccessible.

    By providing new revenue streams through interactive public services and interactive advertising revenues, the Africa Page allows pay-TV operators to provide services at a lower price to populaces that have so far not been able to afford services. The model proposes to drive revenues to an extent that the digitisation process becomes self-financing in three years.

    The consortium that Exset establishes – which will vary in detail from deployment to deployment – is a 360 degree approach: every element of digitisation is included, from technology through the business services required to manage and monetise, on to key content suppliers including: Teleshopping, magazine and government services and education updates to name a few. This brings an unparalleled, yet affordable African experience to the member countries.

    Alex Borland, CEO, Exset, said: “The Africa Page provides the tools to facilitate the provision of digital TV to the doorstep of every African national on their television set. We’re thankful to SABA for giving us this opportunity and we dedicate the Africa Page to SABA.”

    Rahul Nehra, Global Head of Sales and Marketing with Exset, and the key driver behind the Africa Page said, “The Africa page is the end result of months of research and th efforts of our colleagues and partners across Africa. The model developed will unleash the real power of digital television and build a global model for emerging markets – the first of its kind!”

    Exset is a broadcast and technology solutions company set up to address the needs of digital TV operators in emerging markets that traditional suppliers of technology are not able to address. Exset delivers new business models and new revenue-generating technology as it has the experience and understanding of working with these new markets. With its headquarters in the Netherlands and offices in the UK, India and Estonia, Exset services over 10 million homes around the world

  • 11-12 September 2012 

     The Internet Show Africa  Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg, SA.  Africa's only internet business event. Free educational seminars and exhibition on digital advertising and marketing, web 2.0 and social networking, e-commerce and payments, content management and streaming, hosting and infrastructure. For more information click here:

    8-11 October 2012
    Mipcom
    The world's entertainment content market

    Venue: Cannes, France
    For more information click here:

    12-14 October 2012
    13th edition of MEDIMED 
    Sitges, Spain

    Organised by Apimed, the event will present again an exclusive selection of documentary projects, and ready made programmes, aiming to enhance the professional and creative exchange between the 12 MEDA countries and the 27 EU countries, encouraging the development, promotion and distribution of European and Mediterranean audio-visual works.
    Click here for more info.

    13th to 21st October 2012
    9th edition of FCAT Córdoba African Film Festival 
    Venue: Córdoba, Spain
    Summary: The Spanish city of Córdoba and Al Tarab (the NGO behind FCAT) announce changes in both the host city and dates for the 2012 edition. The Festival, which has been held since 2004 in Tarifa, Spain, will now take place every Fall in Córdoba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, craded of civilizations and cultures for over 2000 years. Call for entries now available on their website. Deadline: May 15, 2012.
    Contact: For more information, contact Marion Berger at Fcat.

    25 October - 2 November 2012
    Africa In Motion (AIM) Film Festival

    Venue:Filmhouse Cinema Edinburgh and Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) Glasgow
     Scotland’s biggest celebration of African cinema returns for its 7th consecutive year at Filmhouse Cinema and launches this year for the first time at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT). Taking the theme of ‘Modern Africa’, a diverse programme of documentary and fictional films will explore the African urban experience, contemporary politics across the continent. The full programme will be announced on 24 September, and will be available at: Africa in Motion (AIM) Film Festival here: 

    30 & 31 October 2012
    IP&TV ME and North Africa 2012

    The IP&TV Forum MENA 2012 is the main IPTV event in the region.
    Venue: Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai
    For more information click here:

     

    31 Oct. -2 Nov. 2012
    DISCOP AFRICA 2012

    Venue: the SANDTON CONVENTION CENTER in Johannesburg, South Africa
    Launched in 2008, DISCOP AFRICA is the only pan-African industry gathering strictly dedicated to the production and distribution of multiscreen television content.
    More here  

    10-18 Nov. 2012  Lumières d'Afrique  
    Venue: Besançon, France.  African film festival in France. For more information click here:

    14th-15th November 2012
    AfricaCast
    Venue: Cape Town Convention Centre, 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.
    More here

    20-21 November 2012  
    NollywoodCon 2012 

    venue: Civic Centre, Lagos, Nigeria NollywoodCon 2012 brochure for your perusal. NollywoodCon is the premier Film, TV, Mobile Content Expo and Fans Convention. We are interested in exploring sponsorship/partnership opportunities. More information visithere:

    27 - 28 November, 2012
    3rd MYCONTENT

    Venue: Dubai Int’l Convention and Exhibition Centre
    The event will be held Under the Patronage of H.H. Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, and is the leading international entertainment content show in the Middle East & North Africa region.
    For more information click here:

    5-26 May 2013  
    Festival de Cannes  

    venue: Palais du Festival, Cannes, South of France.  The Festival de Cannes has celebrated the cinema for more than 60 years. Over the years, the French Association of the International Film Festival has been able to evolve whilst retaining the essential: the passion for motion pictures, discovery of new talents, and enthusiasm of festival-goers and professionals from around the world, all contributing to the birth and distribution of films.  For more information click here:

    27-30 May 2013  
    The Broadcast Show Africa  

    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg, South Africa  The Broadcast Show Africa provides a platform where new revenue streams can be explored; key technologies can be evaluated, and operators and businesses can gain valuable insight into implementing successful TV business models.  For more information click here:

    27-30 May 2013  
    SatCom Africa  

    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre - Johannesburg, South Africa  The largest satellite conference & expo focusing on the needs of the African continent. Bringing together end-users & suppliers of satellite technology to find cost effective & reliable communication solutions. For more information click here:

    17-21 April 2013  
    Festival International Du Film Panafricain - Cannes /PanAfrican International Film Festival 

    Venue: Cannes France  The festival is devoted to the new generation of African Digital filmmaking.  For more information click here:

    3-4 July 2013  
    Broadcast, Film & Music Africa 2013  

    Venue: Oshwal Centre, Westlands, Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya.  One of the largest international meeting on the African continent for film, electronic media and TV/broadcast professionals. The 2012 edition gathered 650 delegates.  For more information clickhere:

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Nollywood actress visits Jamaica

    Nigeria actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde, has thrown out a challenge to Hollywood filmmakers to visit Africa and discover great stories.

    The actress, who is in Jamaica on business as well as to film segments of her television reality series, The Real Omotola, said Hollywood is now restorting to killing children. Her charge comes against the background of the film Hunger Games.

    Hunger Games is set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the 12 districts to fight to the death on live television.

    "I can't believe someone allowed that to be made. Hollywood needs to find Africa. Yes, they are superior in terms of financing and technology. But for great stories they need to come to us," she said.

    Nigerian movies are popular in Jamaica and Omotola (or Omosexy as she is known to fans) has racked up an impressive filmography. She is listed as one of the most successful actresses to come out of Nollywood, the popular name for the Nigerian film industry.

    Omotola explained that acting was never on the cards for her early on, as the profession was once frowned on in Nigeria.

    In fact, she really wanted to be a singer. But as a 16-year-old model a chance audition turned her on to acting.

    Her breakthrough came in 1995 with the film Mortal Inheritance. This would set in motion a steady stream films including Beyonce and Rihanna, Ties that Bind, the Blood Sisters series, Royal Family, Games Women Play and Last Wedding.

    While in Jamaica she is set to meet players with the local film community for an exchange of ideas.

    So what can Jamaica's burgeoning film industry take from Nollywood?

    "Passion," she stated emphatically, then paused. "The truth, is having been at there from the start I know what it as like with a few people just doing what they loved, and believing that nothing was impossible. So just get going," she advised.

    She was unable to put a dollar figure on what Nollywood generates annually.

    "It is hard to track, we have had to deal with a lot of issues including piracy as well as the fact that previously a lot of our films went straight to home video."

    Omotola continued, "There is now a change, with the help of technology we are able to produce for cinema. With this, we will better be able to track overall earnings."

    It has been reported that Nollywood produces more than 200 films for the home video market every month.

    Source: Richard Johnson Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

     

  •  

    Call for training for TV producers

    The Sediba International Financing Programme, aimed at "experienced" and "emerging" producers in television drama & feature film products, is geared at offering focused training in international financing, packaging, sales and distribution.

    This programme is designed for a Producer in film or television who wants to gain skills in:

    Extending your product beyond the immediate SA marketplace?

    Developing strategic knowledge of international financiers – including commercial players (equity, bank, sales, distribution); public funds, and co-production opportunities?

    Packaging and building appropriate finance plans for your project?

    Building a sustainable production company through strategic business opportunities?

    Understanding the wider, rapidly changing film, television and 'cross-media' market?

    Since its inception three years ago, 91 producers have been empowered with the know-how of sourcing international financing through co-production partnerships and other alternatives in an effort to raising sufficient funds to make films of the highest quality.

    By drawing on the knowledge, training experience and educational resources offered by Angus Finney, the South African Programme has no doubt proved to be a prestigious, high quality and efficiently run event that truly addresses the challenges that local producers are faced with in their quest to source and secure international financiers, sales and distribution agents for their locally produced products.

    In addition, the excellent relationship between the NFVF and the Film London Production Finance Market (PFM) affords eligible producers to attend this market and pitch projects developed through SIFPP to international financiers, distributors and sales agents. The successful producers are fully funded by the NFVF to attend this market.

    Below is what fellow Producers had to say about their experience on the 2011 programme:

    "I can't emphasise enough how absolutely illuminating those sessions with the trainers have been, there just simply is no way that that quality and breadth of knowledge and information could have been gained from books, or a website or a little manual." Mac Leshabane, Mojaji Entertainment

    "I found the course notes invaluable. The sharing between producers on their projects was also very worthwhile as we often find ourselves working in isolation and this allowed a forum for discussion, debate and learning especially on the sales and distribution side." Rachel Young, Razor Sharp Films

    "I am sure that I can speak for all who attended the course in stating that we have grown immensely as filmmakers by attending this course and we have gained insight on all the aspects of feature film production, sales, distribution, marketing and finance. I will encourage all filmmakers that are serious about producing film to attend this course, no matter how experienced they think they are." Roy Zetisky, Pistoleros Films

    To be eligible to apply, all Producers, emerging and experienced, need to have completed a feature film script that is most likely to have international appeal.

    Workshop Details Are As Follows:

    The programme comprises of 3 workshops with deliverables in-between.

    1. Sediba International Financing Programme for Experienced Producers

    First workshop will be held from the 19th till the 21st September 2012. Subsequent dates have not been set yet.

    Cost: R10 000 per person (payable upfront or in 6 equal installments)

    To download the application form for the Experienced Producers Programme which has guidelines on how to apply, click here.

    2. Sediba International Financing Programme for Emerging Producers

    First workshop will be held on the 25th & 26th September 2012. Subsequent dates have not been set yet.

    Cost: R2000 per person (payment due upon acceptance)

    To download the application form for the Emerging Producers Programme which has guidelines on how to apply, click here.

    To view the Lesson Plan for the Emerging Producers Programme, click here.

    Deadline for applications is the 04th September 2012 at 12h00.

    Participants are liable for their own travel and accommodation arrangements.

    For queries, email Pretty Mthiyane.

    ___________

    Call for entry:

    The Annual Academy Awards has opened the call for entry for Best Foreign Language Film Award. South African filmmakers are invited to submit their feature films for consideration for the 85th Annual Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Awards for Best Foreign Language Film Category. Deadline for submissions is 10th of September 2012 16h00.

    ____________

    Save the Date - The 40th International Emmy® Awards will take place on November 19, 2012.

     

Issue no 619 24th August 2012

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Top story

  • There are a number of companies working on producing low CAPEX and OPEX base stations. Africa’s Orun Energy has chosen to focus on power and cooling and makes some bold claims in terms of cost savings. It has just completed indoor and outdoor tests with an Indian operator. Russell Southwood talks to its founder Kwabena Smith.

    Smith started the company because he thought that mobile operators in emerging markets would be challenged by the issue of operational costs as ARPUs declined as they had in other large emerging markets like India.

    “We felt that one of the ways that they could cut costs was to get away as much as possible from diesel use. Trying to deliver base stations in remote areas likely required those base stations to be powered by diesel because the grid doesn’t exist in those markets.”

    Orun has bought together a consortium of eight companies and through an extensive process of testing (including in Ghana) has fine-tuned the manufacturing of different parts of the hybrid solutions to get optimum performance. 

    It has bought together alternative power sources and allowed rapid charging to the batteries to take up the energy generated. In broad terms, with an outdoor base station it looks to get 22 hours from the alternative energy source and two hours on the diesel generator. 

    On the indoor sites, there’s also a cooling requirement that the company has focused on. Anything between 58-63% of the power requirement on an indoor site comes from cooling:”We’ve managed to crack that and provide extremely efficient low-cost solutions for both outdoor and indoor sites.”

    For indoor sites, Orun claims a 86% energy saving and for outdoor sites a 92% saving. For partial grid availability sites (4-6 hours), it claims that it can get the base station to run with zero diesel consumption. It also has a remote monitoring capability:”We don’t believe you can operate a cell site efficiently without knowing what’s going on. It monitors 16 parameters on a minute by minute basis.” Obviously the lower the diesel, the fewer deliveries and the less potential for theft: in some circumstances it might well be possible to move to a single delivery a year.

    For the last 8 months, it has been running tests in India: two tests with four separate clients. The main one of these is with Bharti in Rajasthan, an extremely mountainous part of India with many remote sites. “We asked for a challenging environment for testing. We did an outdoor test and a three operator indoor test. Because there’s some grid availability on the outdoor site, we’ve saved an average of 94% in energy costs. There’s been no downtime at the site.”

    Why did they go to India when there’s so much demand on their own doorstep in Africa?:”We found that African telcos were not too willing to go on the innovation path with energy efficiency. For many years, they weren’t being pushed so hard by costs so they didn’t require that level of savings. Now they do so they are listening. India has the lowest costs in the world and is very competitive. It’s also much more familiar with home-grown technology so they were likely to respond to us when we came knocking and they did.”

    Since the tests, Orun is now in commercial negotiations with major operators, both India and Africa. They are also talking to an Australian operator where they will do an on-grid test in order to save the operator the energy costs of powering from the grid:”The movement to LTE means there’s more power draw coming on to the site. Because peak hour electricity costs (typically from 2pm to 10 pm at night) are high we move them to our systems during the day and charge the batteries during the off-peak period. It gives them the chance to save about 30-35% on grid power not used.”

    Smith also believes that the upgrade to LTE may increase the base station power requirement by as much as 20%. But on the supply side, battery technology innovation is moving very slowly. So Smith thinks that even with this type of innovation the best it might be able to offer is 95% cost savings, an improvement over the current quite impressive claimed levels but only incremental:”We’re probably at the cusp of whatever cost savings we can garner.”

    In order to encourage operators to make the step into buying their solutions, it has set up a financing arm called Orun Capital that can finance over a period as long as 8 years.

    To follow the exchanges about this news, you need to be on Twitter. Follow us on @BalancingActAfr 

    A bumper crop of video clips this week on Balancing Act’s You Tube channel:

    Doron Ben Sira, CEO, SkyVision on its acquisition of Afinis

    Envir Fraser, Convergence Partners on investment opportunities in ICT

    Tayo Oviosu, CEO, Paga on the mobile money market in Nigeria

    Nigerian ICT blogger Loy Okezi
    e on Nigeria's online successes

    Victor Dibia, CEO, Denvycom.com
     on his games portfolio and plans to monetize

    Oluseye Soyode-Johnson, consultant to Maliyo Games
     on the business model

    A special for Balancing Act readers:

    Kristine Pearson shows how the Lifeplayer, an MP3 player for rural education, works


    Mobile learning Steve Vosloo on how m-learning can support teaching

    Steve Vosloo on edutainment and interactivity in mobile learning, the Yoza mobile story project and other examples of m-learning in Africa

    South African Niall Murphy, Marmalade on multi-platform software distribution for apps based on the ARM chipset

     

     

     

telecoms

  • The project, focused on improving maternal and child health in Nigeria’s Ondo State, has seen 30 percent reduction in maternal mortality, according to Adeyanju.

    Based on deployment of mobile phones to enable communication between the nursing or expectant mothers with their health service providers, the project was initiated to discover the plight of the women within the Nigerian state.

    An earlier study, according to Adeyanju, had found that the number of women who attend and ‘deliver’ at the basic health centres were appalling prompting the state government, through Abiye Safe Motherhood Project and the Mother and Child Hospital Projects, to monitor the women.

    Mobile phones were distributed to the registered expectant women within the Ondo state as a way of luring them back to the healthcare facility.

    Adeyanju said that under Abiye, the project distributed the phone to the women for free as it was the only way they could stay connected to their health service providers. The mothers could also be monitored and incase they experienced contractions be asked back to the facility.

    The use of the mobiles phones are expected to further reduce maternal mortality rate by 75 percent by 2015.

    Also, the project saw nearly 1220 babies delivered in a single year with one mortality reported.

    This is 1 in 100,000 live births, Adeyanju says, if we extrapolate, it will give 100 per 100,000 live births and for Nigeria as we speak, the average maternal mortality ratio is 545 by 100,000 live births.

    “So we have crashed from 545 to 100 in one year,” Adeyanju said

  • The owners of Powercom and Leo last week turned to the High Court in a bid to save its merger with Telecom Namibia and stop the country's second mobile operator from being liquidated by month-end.

    Powercom, owner of Leo, currently suffers losses of between N$2 million and N$5 million every month.

    Guinea Fowl Investments (GFI), the joint venture between Investec Bank and Nedbank which bought Powercom, brought an urgent application against the ruling of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) regarding its nearly N$242 million cash take-over by Telecom Namibia.

    Cran in June approved the transaction, provided that private investors are allowed to buy at least 25% of Telecom Namibia. For this to happen, the Post and Telecommunications Establishment Act will have to be changed. Cran said the condition was necessary as the Communications Act aims to encourage private investment in the telecommunications sector.

    GTI, in its written arguments, said Cran didn't have the power to make this ruling and that its decision was "irrational, unreasonable, impossible to comply with, and otherwise unlawful". If Judge Shafimana Ueitele decides not to scrap Cran's conditions to the merger, GTI wants him to order the regulator to "retake the decision within five days from the granting of the order".

    Should Cran's decision not be set aside and the Powercom-Telecom Namibia transaction not be approved before the end of the month, Powercom will be liquidated, GTI said in its written arguments. This would mean that 116 permanent and 35 temporary workers lose their jobs, GTI said.

    Cran, on the other hand, argued that it was perfectly within its rights and said it cannot "be criticised, nor can its decision be subject to review" simply because Powercom is likely to suffer liquidation.

    "Cran is not responsible for those losses," the regulator said in its written arguments. The fact that Cran acknowledges the market reality of Powercom's losses, and their consequences, did not impose an obligation on it to keep it in business."

    "The failing fortunes of Powercom ... show that they are not a recent commercial phenomenon. They are historic and have been known to GFI and its controlling shareholders, before and after they considered and decided to invest in Powercom," Cran argued.

    Cran said when GFI took over Powercom, it was a loss-making business entity. "Despite a substantial investment, in the order of N$900 million by its previous strategic investor, Telecel Globe Limited, a subsidiary of Orascom, the commercial losses of Powercom continued unabated," Cran said.

    Nedbank and Investec continued to invest between N$2 million and N$5 million per month to finance the losses of Powercom. "They have done so in the knowledge of the financial circumstances of Powercom," Cran said.

    In its written arguments, Cran said Nedbank and Investec "sought to relieve themselves of the financial burden arising from the losses" by transferring their control to Telecom Namibia in February this year.

    In terms of the proposed transaction Telecom Namibia would buy the company for N$2 million and would settle the outstanding debt of Powercom to Investec and Nedbank of N$240 million. In addition, Powercom would issue preference shares to both Investec and Nedbank, representing about N$96,5 million, in return for writing off some N$76 million of its debt to the banks.

    Cran said the transaction "merely shifts control of the failing firm from the private sector to a wholly-owned public company", which will have to invest millions of taxpayers' money to "acquire private sector losses".

    "Far from encouraging private sector investment in the telecommunication market, the transaction promotes a disinvestment by the private sector," Cran said.

    Judge Ueitele reserved judgement in the matter. Andrew Corbett addressed the court on behalf of GTI, while Vincent Maleka SC addressed the court on behalf of Cran.

  • Thanks to an agreement signed August 19, 2012 by the Company Sitcom Chad and Cameroon national operator Camtel, Chad will soon benefit from a connection to the optical fiber. A press release received by PANA news agency reported that Chad and Cameroon share the fiber optic infrastructure for reliability and improving communications services and international connectivity.

    Under the agreement, "Sitcom Camtel and provide emergency services to one or the other on their fiber routes from north to south in order to improve network availability and uptime by both service providers. "

    Chad sitcom is the result of a public-private partnership 51% owned by subsidiaries of the Californian company STM Group and 49% by the Chadian government. Its purpose is to provide telecommunications services to telephone operators, providers of Internet access, government and private service providers and broadcasters technology.

  • According to Agence Ecofin reports, the government of Cameroon has demanded XAF1 billion (USD1.9 million) from neighbouring Chad in order to connect the landlocked nation to the pan-regional Central African Backbone (CAB) network, which links Yaounde to two other capital cities, N’djamena (Chad), and Bangui (Central African Republic), and to submarine cables landing at Douala, Cameroon. 

    The fibre link, which was inaugurated in March this year, will provide capacity to Chad-based telcos via the Cameroonian government’s Societe des Infrastructures de Transmission des Communications Electroniques (SIT-COM) network arm. At the launch ceremony in March, the head of the Office Tchadien de Regulation des Telecommunications (OTRT), Idriss Saleh Bachar, commented: ‘The results of testing equipment and cables were realised with satisfaction and the network is now ready for use internationally’. Negotiations are believed to be ongoing, and a deal is tentatively expected to be reached before the end of the year.

     

  • Sierra Leone has signed a US$15 million loan agreement with China to complete its connectivity to the Africa Coast to Europe ACE cable scheduled to be switched on by October.

    According to Xu Zhou, Head of Political Affairs at the Chinese embassy in Sierra Leone today, the loan agreement was signed last Tuesday 14th August, 2012.

    "With the signing of this agreement, it means that the Chinese government has approved the amount of US$15 million and the project would be implemented by a Chinese company Huawei. It was just a simple signing agreement without too many details," Zu said on phone yesterday.

    In another development, the Sierra Leone government, through the Sierra Leone Cable Limited SALCAB, has also announced an international competitive bidding for an expression of interest for consultancy services from reputable organizations to perform project supervision for the implementation of the 660km fibre backhaul and wimax access network in the country and the evaluation of bids for the development and deployment of ECOWAS Regional Backbone and e-Governance programme ECOWAN-Sierra Leone project which will be supported with a US$28.27 million loan received from the Islamic Development Bank IDB.

    The consulting firm would also be expected to prepare quarterly project implementation progress reports, semi-annual reports and project completion report which shall be produced within three months of the completion of the project.

    The ECOWAN project is expected to deepen regional socio-economic integration and development, and facilitate trade among member States, and with the rest of the world.

     

  • Immediate past Executive Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Dr. Ernest Ndukwe has been tipped to chair the maiden 'Telecoms Infrastructure Protection RoundTable' scheduled to hold next month in Lagos.

    Ndukwe who is the currently the chairman of Open Media Group will lead high dignitaries to the event aimed at re-awakening consideration and understanding of the critical place of ICT equipment and infrastructure in the country.

    Telecoms Infrastructure RoundTable is an initiative of Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), the umbrella body of telecom companies in Nigeria and Communication Week Media, Publishers of Nigeria CommunicationsWeek .

    A statement jointly signed by the Executive Secretary of ALTON and Editor-in-Chief of Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, Gbolahan Awonuga, and Ken Nwogbo, respectively, explained that the one day forum was meant to dialogue and address the growing targeted attacks on telecoms equipment, infrastructure and telecoms workers.

    "It is designed to complement the current security situation in the country and it is imperative because of the clear and present danger of pervading general insecurity" the statement stated.

    The roundtable is strictly a not-for-profit initiative and is drawing participation from the office of the National Security Adviser, Chairmen of both Senate and House Committees on Communications, Ministers of Communications Technology and Science & Tech respectively. Also, Federal and State Government Agencies under Information and Communications Technology, Local Government Authorities, ICT firms, all security agencies, media as well as the general public will be in attendance.

    "In the course of the RoundTable, threats to telecoms equipment, infrastructure and telecoms workers will be identified. Efforts to nationally secure telecommunication infrastructure for the benefit of all stakeholders will be explored and resolution reached," the statement also added.

    According to the organisers, the event would elevate discussions and build excitement around ICT infrastructure protection.

    The organisers said that Ndukwe became best situated to stir the event having earned meritorious tenures at the NCC that has placed Nigeria's telecoms sector on the world map.

     

internet

  • According to reports, Anonymous, a worldwide association of hackers, is once again rallying against the Ugandan government’s position on the LGBT community rights.

    The hackers have collaborated with a collective called The Elite Society and attacked the prime minister’s site (opm.go.ug) and the one of the country’s Justice Law and Order Society.

    The prime minister’s site was also defaced to host fake news articles title “Prime Minister to acknowledge gay pride week.”

    Screen grabs on the site showed messages, including the prime minister Amama Mbabazi apologizing to the homosexuals living in the country and giving his support a gay pride march, from gay supporters being circulated on the social networking sites.

    The hackers said: “We will not stand by while LGBT Ugandans are victimized, abused and murdered by a ruthless and corrupt government.”

    “#TheEliteSociety and #Anonymous will continue to target Ugandan government sites and communications until the government of Uganda treats all people including LGBT equally and with respect, dignity and immediately ends the arrest and harassment of LGBT.”

    In the recent past, the gay in Uganda have faced blatant social rejection with some becoming physically attacked.

    Earlier this year, an anti-gay bill proposing the increase of penalties for homosexual acts to life imprisonment from 14 years was re-tabled in the parliament.

    The bill was first introduced in three years ago although never debate.

    The MPs in support of the legislation say a clause proposing the death penalty would be dropped.

    Initially, the legislation stated that those found guilty of the homosexual acts - defined as when one of the participants is a minor, HIV-positive, disabled or a "serial offender" - would face the death penalty.

    Cases of hacking in the country have been on the increase lately prompting Uganda's communications regulator the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has set up a specialised unit called CERT to deal with cybercrime, one of the world's fastest growing crimes.

    Cybercrime, although relatively new in Uganda, is growing at a fast rate.  Recently, hackers infiltrated several government websites including those belonging to the Ministries of Agriculture and the Ministry of Defense, as well as that of the country's top referral hospital the Mulago Hospital. The Uganda Justice Law and Order Sector website was also hacked last week.

     

  • Kenya’s government is pushing for countrywide Internet coverage with Long Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity, also 4G technology, expected to be rolled out in most parts of the country by end of this year.

    Officials from the government said that administrative units within the counties will have to be connected to the Net by December, a drive that would be supported by both cable connectivity and 4G. 

    Kenya’s ministry of information and communication permanent secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo told the parliamentary committee that  broadband connectivity to the counties is set for completion in December -- through the fibre-optic or LTE.

    Reports indicate the first phase is already complete.

    The government may however have to consider re-routing to include those regions left out in the maps as they were based on out-dated administrative boundaries.

    Kenya’s treasury department has given an okay for the formation of a public-private consortium to oversee the roll out of the 4G.

    The 10-member committee will comprise the country’s four mobile network operators – including Safaricom, Yu, Airtel and Orange.

     

  • Somalia’s fibre-optic specialist Somcable is spinning out a broadband network penetration across the East and Central African region. The company is partnering with Optelian, a trusted global provider of multi-technology optical networking solutions, in the venture.

    The two will install an IP over Dense Wave Multiplexing optical network over 1,200 kilometres across the region.

    SomCable’s Chief Executive Michael Cothill said his company had to evaluate different network architectures before settling on the next-generation IP over Dense Division Multiplexing Optical network.

    Earlier this year, the company announced that by 2014, the whole Somaliland would have access to the next-generation broadband. The new project will support the voice and data traffic throughout the country.

    A study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) found ICT usage in Somaliland as low and limited to urban areas. Technology analysts expect the programme to improve Internet connectivity in the region thus paving way for  affordable and enhanced Internet speeds. 

    The private sector has stepped up to increase access to communication technology across the country. According to the Optelian, once the project is completed, it will drive broadband adoption throughout the region as well as improve the lives of the citizens through affordable telecommunication services and creation of jobs.

    In January this year, clashes erupted between Somaliland’s residents of Sayla district in Salal region and Somcable company personnel supported by local police -- when SomCable was laying fibre optic cables from Djibouti. The said clashes were related to employment disputes as the residents accused SomCable of failing to consider them for employment.

    Currently, the country has no regulatory body in the telecommunication industry, “a negotiated competition” rules. Service providers cooperate in the Somaliland Telecommunication Operators Association to agree on prices.

    Telesom was the first telecommunication firm established in 2001. It offers Cellphone users with prepaid calls , monthly subscription , International Roaming, MMS, WAP via  GSM and GPRS services. It is the leading firm in the sector with close to 90 percent mobile subscribers.  

    Other mobile phone providers in the country includes  Telcom, Africa Online, Nation Link, Somtel and Soltelco.

    However with the political instability in the country the level of making costs is low with international calls on mobile phones costing close to US$0.30 per minute which is five or six times lower than in most African countries.

     

computing

  • Alem Habte, director of the Ministry's Information Technology and Communications branch, said that such education was limited to secondary education level since 2005, and that the current endeavor aims at introducing it in junior and elementary schools.

    According to reports a total of 125 secondary schools nationwide, 21 of which apply solar panels, offer computer courses.

    "We need to nurture competent students in this challenging era of information and technology revolution. And a huge budget has been allocated in this regard to be implemented in the second half of the current year with major focus on rural areas," Alem elaborated.

     

     

  • The Resident Representative of African Development Bank (AfDB) Dr Dore Ousmane, said the bank had established $11 million information technology based research centres to enhance science and technology education for students.

    Ousmane made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday.

    He said the bank had supported science and technology education in Nigeria with $11 million to address the problem of skill building and knowledge transfer.

    According to him, the aim of the project is to come up with critical mass of science and technology originated graduates who will assist to bridge technology gap in the country.

    "The bank is establishing some kind of information technology based research centres for students in Nigeria.

    " The essence of this is to have students who are very innovative so that they will be able to carry out what they are expected to do," Ousmane said.

    The resident representative said that the same project was also being carried out in Bukina-Faso.

    He added that the entire project in both countries was worth $18 million, saying that that of Bukina-Faso took about $7 million.

    Ousmane said that the project in Nigeria started in 2009 and since then it had been ongoing.

    He said the bank had be carrying out oversight visit and to a large extend "we are satisfied with the project".

    " We believe that the desired goals are being achieved and it is our hope too that with the support of other partners the African continent will get to where we hope," he added.

    Ousmane said the bank was also supporting science and technology in Nigeria with a project which was being carried out in African University of Science and Technology in Abuja at the Nelson Mandela Institute.

    He said that what the bank was doing in support of the project was in the area of exchange facilities and to ensure that highly qualified academics were attracted to the institution.

    He added that the bank facilitated the coming of the academia to spend two to three months to impart knowledge to the students in the area of science and technology.

    Ousmane said that the bank would also give scholarship to the best students in the university, saying that the aim was to raise highly qualified graduates in the country.

    According to him, the bank is giving support in the areas of networking, equipment and building of accommodation for staff and students.

    "There is need to access information so the project is assisting in ensuring that there is network between students, lecturers and access to data and research materials," he added.

    Ousmane added that the effect of the project would not be seen immediately, but would be visible in the next two to three years.

    He said the trained students would impart the knowledge acquired to the growth and development of the country. NAN

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Savannah Fund, a seed investment fund focused on developing tech entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa today announced that it participated in a $2 million round into biNu, led by Eric Schmidt of TomorrowVentures and a number of other angel investors.

    biNu is a mobile social networking platform that brings smartphone-like experiences to dumb or feature phones and was founded in September 2008 by Dave Turner and Gour Lentel, a Zimbabwean-born entrepreneur based in Australia.

    As of July 2012, biNu has 4 million monthly active users with the majority of its users coming from the emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America and aims to reach 10 million active users this year and eventually hit 100 million users over next couple of years.

    With over 500, 000 monthly active users from Nigeria already using biNu, the platform is expected to reach 1 million users by the end of this year as there are tens of millions of feature phone and low-end smartphone users in the country that  need a much faster and smoother app experience.

    Savannah Fund, co-founded by Mbwana Alliy, Paul Bragiel and Erik Hersman is backed and supported by both local, regional and international networks of angels and venture capitalists.

  • Barclays on Monday launched Pingit in Kenya. Pingit is a fee free person-to-person mobile app for international money transfers between UK and Africa, beginning a new era of international money transfer almost six months following its UK launch.

    The Barclays Pingit app links the user’s current account with their mobile phone number, enabling payments to be sent directly to that account via the Faster Payments Scheme. Non-customers can also use Pingit  as Barclays will set up a “wallet” account and payments will be made to and from that.

    Pingit will allow its clients in UK to send up to £750 per day and while their counterparts in Kenya will be able to receive up to £5,000 per day.

    Pingit works on Android version 2.2 and iOS 4.2 or above, and Blackberry OS 5.0 or above. The app can be used to check one’s account balance and mini-statements, transfer funds to accounts within Barclays and to accounts in other banks, pay utility water bills and order a cheque book.

    The app is protected by a personal five-digit passcode and every transaction has SMS notifications. Barclays Pingit is available for Barclays Hello Money, a free mobile banking service available to 120,000 customers in Kenya.

    The app is now available in Kenya and will be extended to Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Seychelles and Mauritius by the end of this year.

    According to Barclays, users in the UK and Africa will be able to send and receive money across international borders instantly, securely and freely by using their mobile number.

    The bank said retail customers can take advantage of wholesale currency exchange prices by linking to the banks BARX FX platform with market-leading exchange rates.

    The fee free service has already achieved over one million downloads in the UK only next to The Barclays Mobile Banking app which achieved 529,000 downloads in the UK in its first month after its launch, it said.

    Barclays expects the service to help people send money to their loved ones without exuberant surcharges.

    In the first half of 2012, the Central Bank of Kenya recorded over Sh50bn ($600m) as Diaspora remittances from Kenyans working abroad. This is a 46.7 per cent rise over 2011’s first half.

    Barclays says it first launched in Kenya as is a key market with successful adoption of mobile banking since the launch of M-Pesa in 2007 in the country. The banks mobile products are also doing well in the country, Barclays Hello Money has 120,000 customers.

  • Tanzania has introduced an online tool to help investors and entrepreneurs gain easy access to up-to-date information on investment-related procedures, Tanzania's Daily News reported Friday (August 17th).

    The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) is currently implementing the system, called "e-Regulations", developed by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

    "When the procedures and steps involved are known to people you should expect more people to start businesses and increased compliance in paying taxes," said Kjartan Sorensen, UNCTAD business facilitation manager in charge of e-Regulations in Africa.

    According to UNCTAD, e-Regulations can contribute to greater transparency and efficiency in public service, improved governance and cost reduction.

    Through the system's online database, investors and entrepreneurs can obtain necessary business information, including how to register a company, to pay taxes, and to obtain a visa or certificate of incentives at the TIC.

     

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - A new health app iAfya has been launched in Kenya and will be available on the Blackberry operating system. The application helps users to check up health issues using their handsets fast as well as contact service providers such as insurers and doctors.

    - Following talks with Gabon’s telecoms regulator ARCEP, the country’s incumbent fixed network operator Gabon Telecom has announced cuts in its fixed broadband internet rates. Its 256kbps ADSL monthly package cost dropped by 25% from XAF20,000 to XAF15,000 (from around USD37.6 down to USD28.2), while its 512kbps service fell in price by a third, from XAF29,500 to XAF20,000 (around USD55.5 to USD37.6). The monthly price for a 1Mbps connection also fell by a third, from XAF45,000 to XAF29,500 (around USD84.7 to USD55.5).

Digital Content

  • The Senegalese presidential elections in March 2012 were hailed as an overall success despite some confrontations during the campaign. One of the contributing factors to this assessment was the level of citizen involvement in the political process.

    The team of Senegalese bloggers that had created the Sunu2012 project to cover the February 2012 presidential election through social networks has created SunuCause to engage in acts of participatory solidarity.

    The objective is to raise awareness of social problems among Internet users in order to raise money through appeals launched on Facebook and Twitter.

     

  • A Sudanese official has expressed dissatisfaction with the existence of virtual newspapers and media outlets operating without regulation from the state, warning that they represent “a challenge to journalism”.

    Samia Mohammed Ahmad MP, the female deputy speaker of the Sudanese parliament, told reporters in the capital Khartoum on Tuesday that the most potent challenge to journalism in the country is “the existence of virtual media outlets which are not subject to any regulations or laws of journalism.”

    Her statement comes after the country already blocked a number of foreign-based media websites in the wake of anti-government protests in June. The websites blocked include www.sudaneseonline.com, a famous web forum with more than 6000 members, http://www.alrakoba.net/, an Arabic-language news website, and the Kampala-based http://www.hurriyatsudan.com/, which is an Arabic-language newspaper critical of the government.

    Samia charged that online newspapers “violate all standards of good journalism” and urged the authorities to exert greater efforts to “protect credibility of the press”.

    The country’s National Telecommunication Corporation (NTC) is the official regulatory body of online-based media. According to the NTC website, the only websites blocked in the country are those “containing pornographic materials” or those promoting “drugs, weapons, alcohol, gambling and insults against Islam”.

    Sudanese newspapers based within the country complain that they are subject to a variety of measures aimed at controlling their contents and preventing them from publishing anything that might interfere with government policies. Those measures include pre-publication censorship, confiscations, and deprivation from state adverts.

     

    The country’s constitution, on the other hand, upholds freedom of press.

  • Google is set to run a series of workshops in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban with the aim of helping travel and tourism small businesses get connected and succeed online.

    The mega internet search company notes that tourism in South Africa is expected to grow from 9% in 2011 to 12% in 2014. Small businesses are the driving forces of this growth, and businesses that have an online presence grow faster than those that don’t.

    According to a recent survey by Google, more than a third of small businesses still do not have a website. As a result, the group says it will run a series of workshops to help companies get online.

    Participants will get shown how to set up a free website using the Woza Online platform and will learn step-by-step how to promote their businesses via a Google AdWords campaign, as well as other key online tools.

    Earlier this month, Google said its Woza Online initiative has seen in excess of 25,000 small- and medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) set up websites since its inception in mid-January.

  • In a span of a few months, we have seen Africans taking gaming seriously. Whether is on mobile or on the desktop or even on consoles. Nigeria’s Kuluya is the latest entry to the gaming world in Africa.

    Kuluya has reportedly received US$250,000, from a series of western investors, to expand its gaming prowess across Africa.

    Kuluya is one of the latest gaming businesses to launch in Africa. Maliyo games based in the same country also launched a few months ago and are taking the gaming scene by a storm.

    It is unclear what statistics hold for the gaming industry in Africa but speculations is that most people get easy access to foreign games, due to lack of gaming companies in Africa. But this is about to change.

    In July this year, Afroes, a South African mobile gaming company, launched its first local mobile game for the Kenyan market.

    Hakii an environment awareness mobile game became the debut entry of Afroes in Kenya. Nathan Masyuko created the game and holds that the gaming scene is ready for bigger expansion.

    “There is indeed demand for authentic mobile games evidenced by the increasing amounts of downloads on app stores and the success of authentic games such as M3 racer,” he told HumanIPO.

    The team of Kuluya hopes to take over the African gaming scene by releases over 100 games they have compiled. Their games are based on African narratives and backgrounds, bringing a breath of fresh air for the sector.

    International gaming companies like Zynga have been known for creating millions by trading on game creation and sale.

    Kuluya has not launched officially but you can sign up to get updates on their progress, plus you can play Monkey Run from your browser and stand a chance to win a Blackberry Curve 9360, if you finish the game.

  • A new online initiative has been created to assist Egyptians in reporting and monitoring electricity cuts throughout the country.

    The Kahrabtak.com website, which translates as “Your Electricity” hopes to give Egypt the ability to report any power outages in their area, as well as reporting violations or “unreasonable power usage,” including light poles being on during the daytime.

    “Egypt has been suffering from power cuts … and Kahrabtak is hoping to help the citizens, not in necessarily finding a solution, but rather the source of the problem,” the new initiative said.

    It is the same group of activists who established the Morsimeter.com website that monitors the president’s efforts and achievements during his first 100 days as Egypt’s elected leader.

    “We are a bunch of young people, interested in technology and in the process of collecting and distributing information, without any political affiliation or direction,” Amr Sobhy, one of the team’s founding members, explained.

    The website, Facebook group, Twitter hashtag and application of Kahrabtak were launched on August 12, as power shortages began to become a regular occurrence across Egypt.

    As of last week, the group had over 1,000 members and it is gaining momentum as the electricity crisis continues to hit Egypt.

More

  • VIS NAIDOO APPOINTED VICE PRESIDENT OF COL

    Professor Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), has announced the appointment of Mr. Visagan (Vis) Naidoo as COL's Vice President. Mr. Naidoo, who is currently Citizenship Lead at Microsoft South Africa, will join COL on 1 October 2012.

    Mr. Naidoo has spent much of the past 20 years involved in the development of educational technology policy options - both in South Africa and internationally, including at COL.

    "COL will be privileged to have Vis Naidoo return to Vancouver as Vice-President", said Professor Kanwar, "he has a vast range of experience in universities, civil society, government, international development and the private sector, at senior levels, which makes him an excellent fit for the post. His experience and background will be an important asset to COL as it implements its new Three-Year Plan for the period 2012-2015."

    A national of South Africa, Mr. Naidoo was Education Specialist for Educational Technology Policy and Planning at COL from 2000 to 2005. He moved back to South Africa to head Mindset Network, a non-profit organisation that creates, sources and distributes educational content on a mass scale across Southern Africa using satellite and broadcast technology. Most recently, at Microsoft South Africa, he led the company's social responsibility and employee volunteer programme, focusing on supporting youth in South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho.

    Prior to joining COL in 2000, Mr. Naidoo was the Director of the Centre for Educational Technology and Distance Education, Department of Education, South Africa. During his five years as Director, he was instrumental in shaping policy environment in the area of distance education and technology-enhanced learning.

    COL conducted an extensive international search to select a successor to Professor Kanwar as Vice President when she was named President of COL earlier this year.

  • Managed Services World Congress 2012
    18 – 19 September 2012, Maritim Pro Arte Hotel, Berlin, Germany
    With Managed Service business models evolving in new and exciting directions, it’s time to reassess the market and your place in it. Managed Services World Congress – the biggest global MS event – is the perfect place to bring leading players together and address these issues. With a 50% operator audience, and 65% CXO / Director level attendance, there is no better opportunity to meet new and existing clients. It’s a must-attend event for anyone looking to maximise the value of their technology, their networks and their brand in today’s evolving MS world. FREE PASSES FOR OPERATORS. For more information visit here: 

    Broadband World Forum

    16 – 18 October 2012, Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    The event, now in its 12th year, is the most respected in the regions Telecoms calendar and the comprehensive agenda includes breakfast briefings, 3 co-located summits,  keynote plenary sessions and a choice of 4 tracks for delegates each day as well as the world class exhibition area. For more information please click here:

    AfricaCom 2012
    13th-15th November 2012, CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

    The digital ecosystem will take centre stage at AfricaCom 2012, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, 13 – 15 November 2012.  Network with over 7000 industry executives at Africa’s largest event embracing all aspects of the continent’s converging telecoms, media and ICT sectors.  Incorporating 11 co-located events all pertinent to future-proofing your business in the digital era, including cloud computing, OTT, apps, broadband and multiplatform content, see and hear how Africa’s communications market is a hotbed for innovation and long term prosperity. 
    Contact: Subuola.akinkugbe@informa.com
    For more information please click here:

Edition Francaise, 23 août 2012 No 189

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Editorial

  • Retard technologique, mauvaise gestion, malvairsations, vols…. La liste des maux dont souffrent la Sotelgui est bien longue selon l’enquête menée par Guinee7. Dans l’article reproduit ci-dessous, le journal détaille la longue descente en enfer de l’opérateur historique de la Guinée. Sans compter en détails, il y a au moins une demi-douzaine d’opérateurs historiques africains dans la même situation que la Sotelgui. Que faire des ces canards boiteux? Restructuration, privatisation, etc. Un casse-tête pour certains gouvernements africains qui cependant tôt ou tard devront prendre des décisions qui ne seront pas nécessairement bien accueillis

    Sept ans après le départ de Telekom Malaysia du capital de la Société des télécommunications de Guinée (Sotelgui), l’entreprise accumule les déficits qui menacent son existence même. Ce « fleuron » de l’économie guinéenne qui affichait un chiffre d’affaires mensuel compris entre 25 à 30 milliards de francs guinéens, juste après le départ des Malaisiens, en 2005, n’est désormais plus que l’ombre de lui-même. Comment en est-on arrivé là ? Comment l’opérateur historique de la téléphonie en Guinée a-t-il été coulé ? Comment le sortir du gouffre ? Tentatives de réponses dans notre enquête.

    S’assurer en 2005 un chiffre d’affaires annuel de 300 milliards à 360 milliards l’an et être en passe de mettre la clé sous le paillasson moins d’une décennie plus tard, ce n’est pas une blague : la scène de la tragédie annoncée est connue mais les principaux acteurs un peu moins, tout au moins du grand public. En cette année 2012, la guinéenne de la téléphonie affiche un chiffre d’affaire en dessous de zéro !

    Au lever de rideaux de cette tragi-comédie, nous avions la « grande » Sotelgui, société de téléphonie florissante, avec 60% d’actions pour Telekom Malaysia (1995-2005) mais à la fin des actes, nous nous sommes retrouvés avec une minuscule société agonisante, entièrement gérée par l’Etat guinéen, avec son lot de problèmes. Le constat d’un ancien cadre de la boite est sans équivoque : « En Guinée, une entreprise attise les appétits dès qu’elle appartient à l’Etat. Ici on a une mauvaise perception du bien public. On se dit qu’il n’appartient au père de personne, donc chacun doit se servir ».

    La Sotelgui, gérée cependant depuis le départ des Malaisiens par des cadres pris en interne – donc connaissant bien la boite -, semble sombrer dans la logique du piège qui a asphyxié bon nombre d’entreprises en Guinée.

    En réalité, l’entreprise a longtemps été considérée comme une vache à lait où des ministres en charge des télécommunications et les différents directeurs qui s’y sont succédé pompaient à satiété dans les recettes. On s’y est servi sans trop penser à la santé de l’entreprise. De tous les ministères, celui de la Télécommunication était parmi les plus convoités. Mieux que les Mines et la Géologie, encore moins l’Economie et les Finances ! Et pour décrocher le Graal, on faisait de grands sacrifices et on tissait de forts réseaux autour du président. Quel ministre des Télécoms, quel directeur de la Sotelgui n’est pas passé par ce chemin ? On attend encore la perle rare, celle qui comme une nymphe vierge peut nous jurer qu’elle a obtenu le contrôle de la Sotelgui sans passer par les « bois sacrés ». Et les futurs responsables ne se gênaient pas, parce qu’au bout on pouvait baigner dans la richesse comme naguère Onc Picsou prenant son bain dans ses 300 m3 de billets de banque et autres pièces d’or. Le problème, c’est qu’on ne fournissait pas assez d’efforts pour maintenir la vache en vie.

    Nos enquêtes nous révèlent que toutes les entreprises sous-traitantes ou presque appartiennent aux différents ministres des Télécoms et/ou aux cadres de la Sotelgui. « Ce qui a favorisé une mafia bien organisée », nous explique un agent. La vache ne produisant plus de lait, le deal s’oriente vers le carburant, les cartes de recharge, les branchements clandestins, etc, le tout aggravé par un personnel aussi pléthorique qu’inefficace.

    Chaque mois, la Sotelgui payait à ses fournisseurs pour alimenter ses antennes en carburant, environ trois milliards de GNF. La gestion libanaise a donné très vite des résultats car, en 2009 déjà, environ 70% de ces antennes étaient à l’arrêt. Pis le Comité de gestion et de Trésorerie créé par le Premier ministre, Mohamed Said Fofana, le 2 mai dernier, pour la surveillance budgétaire et financière de la Sotelgui a constaté une légèreté dans la gestion de ce carburant… essentiellement détourné.

    Le même comité a constaté que les cartes de recharge ont été vendues à moins de 50% de leur valeur. Bien malin celui qui dira avec exactitude le nombre exact de cartes vendues dans ces conditions ! Néanmoins, le gap pour le nombre déclaré de cartes de recharge dans les mains de distributeurs est de l’ordre de 3 milliards de francs guinéens. Le Comité a découvert par ailleurs un système de troc propre à la Sotelgui : à l’intérieur du pays, parfois on a échangé des cartes de recharges contre le carburant avec des stations services…

    Comme on le constate, ce carburant prenait bien entendu une destination autre que celle des groupes électrogènes de la Sotelgui. « La fraude sur le réseau savamment entretenue par des techniciens est inestimable », nous lance un comptable. Pis, la Sotelgui avec ses 1600 agents, emploie plus que tous ses concurrents réunis et plus que l’usine d’alumine Friguia (environ 1300 emplois permanents). Un bon nombre des employés étaient des protégés des responsables bien perchés en haut de l’administration guinéenne. Leurs identités ne tarderont pas à être mis au jour, tout est une question de temps. Bref, ces charges inutiles gonflaient les coûts de production de l’entreprise qui se retrouvait ainsi dans une situation insoutenable.

    Tout compte fait, le service souhaité n’est pour le moment pas rendu. Mais l’Etat pour sa « consommation », paye une avance de trois milliards le mois à la Sotelgui. Seulement voila. La BCRG à qui la société doit six milliards coupe à la source… 500 millions de GNF par mois dans l’argent payé par l’Etat. Service rendu mérite rétribution non ? Ne rigolez surtout pas. Le reste est orienté vers une prime qui tient lieu de salaires pour les travailleurs. Sans blague…

    « L’Etat subventionne la paix sociale, parce que cette démarche n’obéit à aucune logique économique », fait remarquer un membre du Comité de restructuration. Le Comité a d’ailleurs décidé de désactiver l’ensemble des cartes de recharges et obtenu des distributeurs environ 250 millions de GNF dans le cadre de la revalorisation des cartes de recharge bradées. Non sans limiter les numéros post payés aux trois premières personnalités des ministères, il tente en outre de mettre en place un système de gestion sécurisée du carburant. Le problème pour une vache qui n’a pas perdu que son lait (on cherche encore ses cornes, ses sabots, voire sa tête !), c’est que ces mesures s’avèrent insuffisantes pour redresser une entreprise qui se joue des règles cardinales de toute entreprise marchande pour vouloir fonctionner.

    Pour des spécialistes, sauver cette entreprise nécessite des mesures draconiennes qui commencent nécessairement par un nouveau management avec des objectifs précis – entre autres, le traitement des passifs -, la réduction du nombre du personnel, mais aussi et surtout, in fine, ouvrir le capital. Des actionnaires seraient prêts, pour peu qu’on rende la fiancée belle avant de la donner en mariage. En attendant les résultats d’un audit déjà fait, beaucoup pensent qu’à la suite, certains se retrouveront inéluctablement à la case prison.

  • Après avoir mené une opération qui a permis d'identifier, à la date de juin 2012, plus de 90% des abonnés des trois opérateurs de téléphonie mobile au Burkina Faso, l'Autorité de régulation des communications électroniques et des postes (ARCEP) revient à la charge. Cette fois-ci, il s'agit d'atteindre 100% d'abonnés identifiés, pour des raisons de sécurité, explique l'institution.

    Une première opération, menée depuis 2010, a permis d'identifier entre 90 et 95% des abonnés. Et si l'ARCEP passe de nouveau à l'action, c'est parce qu'elle est interpellée par les forces de l'ordre «sur les agissements des délinquants qui utilisent le téléphone portable pour commettre leurs forfaits, créant la désolation voire le deuil dans certaines familles», selon Mathurin Bako, le président de l'autorité. Ce qui, de son avis, «impose de travailler sérieusement pour favoriser le travail des forces de défense et de sécurité. Quoi que cela puisse nous coûter, que nous ne soyons pas indexés à chaque fois que l'insécurité s'installe dans notre pays et utilise les réseaux téléphoniques».

    Ce 21 août 2012 donc, il a donc rencontré les opérateurs de téléphonie mobile et les distributeurs pour leur signifier que tous les abonnés doivent être connus. D'ici le 1er octobre prochain, le détenteur d'une carte Sim qui ne se serait pas fait enregistrer verra son abonnement désactivé. En accord avec les trois opérateurs présents sur le marché burkinabè, l'ARCEP a décidé de mettre sur le marché, début octobre, de nouveau kits non pré-activées. Ces kits ne sont actifs qu'au bout de 60 minutes après l'identification de l'abonné. Il s'agit de faire en sorte que le fichier d'abonnés de chaque opérateur soit sûr afin que les forces de sécurité puissent y tirer des renseignements en cas de nécessité.

    Fasozine
  • Les entreprises privées au Nigeria ont tendance à profiter du taux élevé de chômage dans le pays pour rémunérer très mal leurs employés. La preuve est que lorsqu'ils se plaignent, ils sont très souvent licenciés. Les entreprises ne savent que trop bien qu'il y a des milliers de jeunes professionnels désespérés qui font la queue devant leurs portes. Le dernier cas de licenciements collectifs dans le pays ne remonte qu'à quelques semaines. 1.700 jeunes hommes et femmes qui travaillaient pour la société de sous-traitance Communications Network Service Support Limited (CNSSL) se sont retrouvés du jour au lendemain sans emploi.

    "Ce que nous avons connu avec CNSSL, c'est de l'esclavage des temps modernes", explique Paul Afolabi, le président du syndicat des travailleurs licenciés. "Nos homologues dans d'autres États gagnent trois fois plus que nous".

    C'est ce qui a été découvert en 2010, quelques mois seulement après l'ouverture par CNSSL d'un centre d'appel pour MTN, géant de la télécommunication en Afrique, dans la ville de Jos, dans l'État du Plateau.

    Les employés ont immédiatement attiré l'attention de la direction de CNSSL sur cette disparité, espérant que leur situation allait s'améliorer. Mais après un an passé sans qu'une suite soit donnée à leur revendication, certains employés ont commencé à s'agiter. Mécontente, CNSSL a décidé de renvoyer 18 d'entre eux. La mesure sévère prise par la société va calmer l'ardeur des autres employés, mais cela jusqu'au tout début de cette année, lorsque la situation devient insupportable.

    Le 14 mars, des personnes censées être des responsables de la Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), une organisation parapluie pour les syndicats au Nigeria, organisent un piquet de grève et font irruption dans le bureau de la CNSSL. Leur demande est claire. Comment se fait-il que les employés du centre d'appel à Jos gagnent seulement 37.400 Nairas (180 Euros) par mois tandis que leurs collègues à Lagos, Kano et Kaduna gagnent 96.300 Nairas (475 Euros) ?

    Après la manifestation, CNSSL et NLC arrivent à parvenir à un accord. Il y aura une augmentation salariale de 22,5 %. Mais au lieu d'honorer l'accord, CNSSL va violer les termes du protocole d'accord signé en mars et en avril: elle ferme le centre d'appels MTN, laissant tous ses employés dans la rue.

    Cette mesure provoque immédiatement de nouvelles manifestations. Sous un soleil de plomb en face du complexe de bureaux MTN / CNSSL de Rayfield à Jos, plus d'un millier de personnes, y compris les employés, protestent bruyamment contre leur licenciement abusif. Ils se plaignent également de ce qu'ils considèrent comme une affaire inachevée.

    "C'est de l'injustice", lance Gideon Pam, l'un des employés licenciés. "Nous avons travaillé des heures supplémentaires sans rémunération supplémentaire, dans des conditions terribles en espérant que CNSSL allait augmenter nos salaires comme elle nous l'avait promis. C'est méchant de leur part de faire une volte-face et de nous licencier".

    Certes, la fermeture du centre d'appel a eu lieu avril, mais la cessation formelle d'emploi pour les 1.700 personnes a débuté seulement le 12 juillet. Ce jour-là, des textos sont envoyés, les notifiant que le centre d'appel à Jos est en train de cesser ses opérations.

    Et ce n'est que le 27 juillet que les employés reçoivent un courriel daté, au fait, du 16 juillet, leur disant officiellement qu'ils n'étaient plus des employés de CNSSL.

    "C'est très regrettable que MTN fasse des profits hallucinants au Nigeria, mais qu'elle n'ait rien fait en termes de responsabilités sociales des entreprises pour les communautés qui lui ont tant donné", explique le Dr Dan Meshak, militant et animateur du Plateau Intelligentsia, un groupe de jeunes qui œuvrent pour l'intérêt de l'État du Plateau et du pays dans son ensemble.

    Le gouvernement nigérian est également l'un des principaux coupables dans la rémunération inadéquate des employés. Les travailleurs sont perpétuellement en grève en raison de la non-application par certains gouvernements au niveau des États du salaire minimum de 18.000 nairas (90 euros) décidé par le président Goodluck Jonathan. Certes, les autorités nigérianes estiment le taux de chômage du pays à un peu plus de 20 %, mais de nombreux experts disent que ce chiffre est une représentation assez modeste de la réalité.

    Il y a de cela deux semaines, MTN / CNSSL déclare dans un journal national que la raison derrière la fermeture du centre d'appels est l'insécurité. Beaucoup, y compris le gouvernement de l'État du Plateau, pensent que c'est un mensonge flagrant. Parce que, outre le fait que le centre d'appels est situé dans le partie la plus sûre de la métropole Jos, près de la base aérienne, il a effectivement fonctionné et contraint son personnel à se présenter au travail même dans les situations de sécurité les plus volatiles par le passé.

    MTN est l'un des plus grands fournisseurs de services GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) au Nigeria. Elle a passé un contrat avec CNSSL pour gérer son centre d'appel à Jos et dans d'autres parties du pays. Les manifestants pensent que l'intervention de MTN pourrait faciliter les choses. Mais il semble assez clair où les intérêts du géant des télécommunications sont.

    Obtenir une réaction ou un commentaire de MTN / CNSSL sur la question s'est avéré, à ce jour, impossible.

    Afolabi se sent lésé. "Nous voulons retrouver nos emplois et les mêmes rémunérations avec nos collègues dans d'autres parties du pays. La vie est difficile sans un emploi, mais la justice est également importante", conclut-il.

    RNW Africa
  • Seule une poignée de naissances sont déclarées dans la région reculée de Kolda au sud du Sénégal, mais une nouvelle application pour téléphone mobile, qui permet aux parents d'envoyer par SMS les renseignements concernant leur nouveau-né afin d'obtenir un certificat de naissance, pourrait réduire le nombre d'abandons scolaires lorsque les enfants sont plus âgés.

    Le droit sénégalais n'impose pas de déclarer les naissances, pourtant les certificats de naissance sont nécessaires pour l'inscription des enfants à l'école et le passage des examens écrits. L'éloignement de certains villages des centres d'état civil, associé à la pauvreté, l'ignorance ou même la négligence, sont autant d'obstacles à la déclaration des naissances.

    Suite à la présentation du système de messagerie par l'ONG suisse Aide et Action, les parents participant à la phase d'essai du programme ont déclaré 20 naissances en trois mois depuis septembre 2011. Le taux de déclaration le plus élevé datait jusqu'alors de 2003, quand seulement 12 naissances avaient été déclarées.

    « Un villageois qui travaille dans les champs n'a souvent pas l'argent nécessaire pour organiser un baptême. Il prénomme son enfant et retourne à la ferme - il ne se préoccupe pas de l'avenir », a déclaré Yaya Kandé, l'adjoint du chef de village, chargé de recenser les naissances.

    Des téléphones mobiles avec l'application de déclaration des naissances ont été remis aux chefs de villages de Kolda. Les parents qui n'ont pas les moyens de se rendre au service d'état civil peuvent désormais transmettre les informations concernant le nouveau-né au chef qui les envoie à l'officier d'état civil par simple SMS. Les certificats de naissance coûtent 300 francs CFA (environ 60 cents), tandis que l'envoi d'un SMS coûte seulement 10 francs.

    « Cette méthode garantit la sécurité des informations, car elle utilise un système de codification. Les données sont centralisées et conservées dans un serveur, et les autorités peuvent facilement en assurer le suivi », a affirmé Agnès Pfister, chargée de communication chez Aide et Action.

    Selon le fonctionnaire et officier d'état civil Abdoulaye Baldé, le système « réduit les distances, les délais et le coût. Un ancien du village vivant à 20 km peut envoyer des renseignements sur un nouveau-né dans la semaine qui suit sa naissance. Pour les parents qui ne peuvent pas quitter leur ferme, cela résout aussi le problème du déplacement ».

    D'après le Fonds des Nations Unies pour l'enfance (UNICEF), le coût élevé de la déclaration des naissances constituait le principal obstacle pour les parents qui ne le faisaient pas dans les 20 pays étudiés. C'est en Afrique subsaharienne qu'il y a le plus grand nombre d'enfants non déclarés, un chiffre estimé à 66 millions.

    « Cela a changé. Beaucoup de naissances sont maintenant déclarées. Ces deux derniers mois [mai et juin 2012], 80 pour cent des naissances ont été déclarées », a afirmé Aliou Camara, un autre officier d'état civil.

    « J'ai déclaré la naissance de mon bébé par téléphone parce que c'est très simple », a dit Sene Sally, mère de quatre enfants à Kolda.

    Cette région est la plus pauvre du Sénégal et près de 60 pour cent de ses habitants sont analphabètes. Ils dépendent principalement de la culture du riz, du mil et de l'arachide pour survivre.

    « Beaucoup d'élèves vont en classe pendant six ans, mais abandonnent l'école juste avant de passer les examens de sixième, car ils n'ont pas de certificat de naissance », a déclaré Oumar Baldé qui est chargé du programme de déclaration par téléphone mobile à Kolda. « Soixante pour cent des naissances à Kolda ne sont pas enregistrées ».

    Les chefs de village reçoivent généralement un registre pour répertorier les naissances et transmettre ensuite les informations aux officiers d'état civil, mais les grands livres sont rarement remplacés une fois remplis. De plus, les parents doivent payer environ 12 dollars pour déclarer la naissance de leur enfant au tribunal d'instance lorsque celui-ci est âgé d'un an.

    « Évidemment, les parents ne voient pas l'intérêt de revenir et de déclarer la naissance de leurs autres enfants », a dit Mohammed Salla, directeur adjoint de l'UNICEF pour le Sénégal.

    L'instituteur Ousmane Coly a déclaré que peu d'élèves de ses classes de maternelle et de primaire possèdent un certificat de naissance. « C'est une tâche difficile pour nous. Ils arrivent sans certificat lorsqu'ils entrent en maternelle, ce qui signifie qu'ils ne peuvent pas passer les examens d'entrée en sixième. Nous négocions avec les examinateurs pendant que les parents essayent d'obtenir les papiers », a dit M. Coly.

    « Souvent les parents pensent que les carnets de vaccination peuvent être utilisés à la place [...] Dans notre école, seuls 50 enfants sur 172 de la maternelle au primaire ont un certificat de naissance ».

    Mme Pfister a déclaré à IRIN que des experts techniques étudiaient le programme tandis que les autorités s'employaient à faire du système de messagerie une méthode reconnue juridiquement pour la déclaration des naissances. La deuxième phase du projet est en cours et ciblera 500 villages à Kolda et Diourbel dans le sud et le centre du Sénégal.

    IRIN Africa
  • Le Tchad et le Cameroun partageront les infrastructures de fibre optique pour la fiabilité et l'amélioration des services de communications et de  la connectivité internationale.

    Cette connexion du Tchad au reste du monde par l'intermédiaire de fibres optiques a fait l'objet d'un accord  d'interconnexion conclu dimanche entre SITCOM, une entreprise de partenariat public-privé mise en place en juin 2012 pour l'exploitation et le fonctionnement du réseau national tchadien de la fibre, et  CAMTEL, l'opérateur national du Cameroun.

    Par ailleurs, aux termes de l'accord, 'SITCOM et CAMTEL fourniront des services de secours à l'un ou à l'autre sur leurs routes de fibre du Nord au Sud afin d'améliorer la disponibilité du réseau et le temps de fonctionnement par les deux prestataires de services'.

    PANA
  • Le Congo a été connecté récemment aux autoroutes de l'information à travers la station terminale implantée à Matombi (département du Kouilou, sud) dans le cadre du projet du câble sous-marin de la côte ouest d'Afrique, en anglais West Africa Cable System (WACS).

    Selon l'administrateur général de Congo Telecom, M. Akouala dont la société représente le pays dans le consortium WACS, le Congo figure parmi les premiers pays membres du consortium dont les stations terminales sont opérationnelles.

    « Notre station terminale est prête et fonctionne actuellement. Et, nous faisons partie des Etats dont la station terminale a été mise en service dans le premier périmètre. Nous nous attelons actuellement à connecter la ville de Pointe-Noire (deuxième ville du pays, sud) à la station terminale», indique-t-il.

    Le projet fibre optique est l'appendice du projet de couverture nationale en télécommunications (PCN) qui est réalisé par la société chinoise Huawei, notamment dans la partie CDMA.

    D'un coût d'environ 100 millions de dollars américains, la première phase du projet concerne les villes de Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire et Oyo (nord La deuxième phase qui consiste à connecter les chefs-lieux de régions au backbone, est chiffrée à 73 millions de dollars américains.

    La troisième phase, estimée à 36 millions de dollars américains, vise à connecter les chefs-lieux de districts et les grands villages. La société sud-africaine Alcatel Lucent s'occupe de la partie backbone.

    Le câble sous-marin à fibre optique est un système établi pour une durée maximum de 25 ans, garantissant une grande fiabilité de la connexion Internet et des communications. Ce système épargne les usagers des tracasseries de la connexion satellitaire, souvent perturbée par les effets climatiques.

    Le consortium WACS regroupe les pays qui ont raté la connexion au câble sous-marin SAT 3, notamment la Guinée équatoriale, la République démocratique du Congo (RDC), la République du Congo, le Togo, le Cameroun, l'Angola, le Botswana et le Gabon.

    Piloté par l'Afrique du Sud, le projet devrait permettre aux pays concernés de rattraper la connexion au câble.

    Africa Info
  • La Commission communication et des technologies de l'information ne veut aucune improvisation dans la couverture médiatique de la célébration du Cinquantenaire de la Réunification.

    Sa descente sur le terrain à Buea l'atteste. Le directeur général de la CRTV, Amadou Vamoulke, le directeur général de la SOPECAM, Marie-Claire Nnana, qui siègent dans la sous-commission communication présidée par Zacharie Ngniman, ont exploré jeudi dernier, toutes les voies possibles, pour faire vivre les moments forts du Cinquantenaire à tous les Camerounais. Le signal de la CRTV devra ainsi faire face à un relief montagneux pour atteindre le public-cible.

    Du côté de la SOPECAM, le directeur général annonce la fabrication d'un journal du cinquantenaire sur place, mais aussi l'amélioration de la distribution de CT pour que tous les lecteurs soient au même niveau d'information. Ces ténors de l'information vont s'appuyer sur la technologie de pointe, fournie par Camtel pour atteindre chacun ses objectifs.

    Sauf qu'ils ne sont pas les seuls à s'appuyer sur Camtel. On a perçu le même intérêt chez le responsable de la sous-commission technologies de l'information. Armand Claude Abanda était aussi à Buea.

    Approché au terme de cette mission, il affirme que l'expérience de la célébration du Cinquantenaire de l'indépendance sera renouvelée à Buea. Tout ce qui se passera à Bongo Square sera ainsi relayé à travers la toile au grand bonheur des internautes. Pour atteindre ce résultat, explique-t-il, la Camtel sera sollicitée.

    Mais il y aura aussi la touche de CAWAD, une entreprise créée par quatre anciens étudiants de l'IAI. Ces ingénieurs vont déployer une connexion Internet sans-fil à très haut débit sur tout le périmètre du lieu de l'événement.

    On pourra ainsi communiquer en temps réel sur toutes les activités qui auront lieu sur Internet : via le portail web et les réseaux sociaux. Il sera surtout question de mettre en lumière la force du bilinguisme, patrimoine national camerounais, (notamment via le portail Web bilingue dédié à l'événement).

    La présentation du potentiel camerounais en matière de technologies de l'information, d'innovation et de veille technologique, n'est pas en reste.

    Tout est donc fait au niveau de la Commission communication et des technologies de l'information, présidée par Issa Tchiroma Bakary, par ailleurs, ministre de la Communication, pour que les Camerounais de l'intérieur et de la diaspora ne ratent rien du rendez-vous historique de Buea.

  • L'élaboration du cadre juridique des technologies de l'information et de la communication est à l'ordre du jour d'un atelier de restitution qui s'est ouvert à Libreville.

    Le ministre gabonais en charge de l'économie numérique, de la communication, Blaise Loembé, présidant les travaux, a émis le souhait de voir le Gabon devenir un hub des techniques de l'information et de la communication TIC.

    « Nous devons nous entourer d'un cadre juridique cohérent et nous assurer que les textes que nous avons soient en adéquation avec les normes internationales », a-t-il précisé.

    Il a encouragé les participants à mener ces travaux dans l'objectif d'assoir une stratégie sur le cyber droit, les TIC et la communication électronique au Gabon.

    Au Gabon, les TIC doivent désormais se reposer sur les normes juridiques modernes, cohérentes et simples, adaptées au contexte international, afin de développer le secteur de l'économie numérique.

    Le travail qui va être fait, trois jours durant, consisterait donc à ce que toutes les parties prenantes (le ministère de tutelle, l'Agence des régulations des communications électronique, l'Agence nationale des infrastructures numériques et des fréquences, les opérateurs économiques), s'approprient le cadre juridique qui se compose d'un certain nombre de textes.

    Des textes concernant le cyber criminalité vont ainsi permettre aux adeptes de ces nouveaux modes de communication d'exploiter le cyber espace en toute quiétude, sans être déranger par des hackers.

    Africa Info
  • La formation de techniciens de haut niveau est indispensable pour répondre aux exigences du marché du secteur des nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication (NTIC). Le choix est large entre les différentes écoles, mais certaines se démarquent grâce à la compétence des enseignants et à la qualité de formation.

    Que faire après le bac Où effectuer ses études supérieures Des questions devenues un casse-tête pour les lycéens et les parents. La formation sur les nouvelles technologies attire davantage d'étudiants, aujourd'hui. C'est le secteur qui recrute le plus actuellement.

    Puisque depuis l'avènement de la fibre optique, le nombre d'emplois créés dans le secteur des nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication (NTIC) ne cesse d'augmenter.

    Face à cette demande, IT University (ITU), un établissement supérieur spécialisé en informatique, veut former des cadres répondant aux exigences du marché international dans le secteur des NTIC.

    L'établissement constitue un futur vivier de compétences en informatique. À en croire l'explication de son recteur, le Dr Olivier Robinson,

    « L'objectif de l'ITU consiste à former des cadres préparés aux métiers avancés des nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication. La formation est complétée par des instructions tertiaires sur la vie professionnelle ».

    En plus, l'établissement est habilité à délivrer un diplôme de licence en informatique.

    « L'habilitation octroyée par l'enseignement supérieur signifie que la licence délivrée par l'ITU est un diplôme reconnu par l'État. Cela veut dire que notre établissement est complètement intégré à l'enseignement supérieur malgache.

    Si un étudiant diplômé de l'ITU veut, par exemple, poursuivre dans une autre institution habilitée, publique ou privée, ses crédits acquis peuvent être utilisés pour le calcul du total des crédits nécessaires à l'obtention d'un diplôme », explique notre interlocuteur.

    Les étudiants de l'ITU bénéficient d'un programme de formation de grande qualité sur les technologies nouvelles. C'est pourquoi, Microsoft s'est associé avec cet établissement d'enseignement supérieur pour ouvrir la première IT Academy à Madagascar.

    « Le programme IT Academy est un projet de formation en ligne, conçu par Microsoft, permettant aux établissements d'enseignement de niveau universitaire de faire le lien entre le monde de l'enseignement et celui du travail en offrant aux étudiants la possibilité d'acquérir de nouvelles compétences technologiques dans un contexte universitaire », explique Carole Rakotondrainibe, Market Development Partner de Microsoft océan Indien.

    Les étudiants de l'ITU peuvent donc se familiariser avec les outils d'avant-garde du géant de logiciels Ce qui leur permet d'acquérir une grande compétence en informatique. C'est un tremplin pour préparer les étudiants aux exigences de leur future vie professionnelle, d'avoir un CV solide et enrichissant.

    Actuellement, davantage d'entreprises recherchent des candidats immédiatement opérationnels et compétents en informatiques.

    Les étudiants malgaches trouveront donc une bonne adresse pour se perfectionner dans les métiers avancés en nouvelles technologies. Malheur aux incompétents.

    L'équipe professorale de cet établissement supérieur est composée de 15 enseignants titulaires de diplômes de haut niveau en informatique, de doctorat en informatique. Ils peuvent se targuer d'expériences nationales et internationales solides dans le domaine des NTIC.

    Parmi d'entre eux figure le Dr Olivier Robinson, une grande figure du monde des télécommunications à Madagascar. C'est lui la principale cheville ouvrière du projet fibre optique dans la Grande île.

    À lui s'ajoute Tahina Razafinjoelina qui a acquis de fortes expériences en gestion de grands projets ainsi qu'en conception et développement de système d'informations.

    Un autre nom s'illustre en la personne de Vahatriniaina Rakotomalala, un grand spécialiste dans le domaine du développement, et réseau informatiques, et de Rojo Rabenanahary, possédant une connaissance très pointue dans le développement et optimisation de systèmes d'information et traitement de données statistiques.

  • Le centre de traitement de données numériques du projet e-post réalisé à 90% à Yaoundé. Le chantier est quasiment achevé. Le centre de traitement de données numériques encore appelé datacenter du projet de numérisation de la poste dénommé « e-post » de Yaoundé est réalisé à 90%, d'après le ministre des Postes et Télécommunications (Minpostel).

    Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam y a effectué une visite hier. L'édifice est entièrement construit. A l'intérieur, l'installation des équipements a commencé dans les différentes salles (maintenance, vidéosurveillance, call center, etc). Sur les 420 tonnes d'équipements prévus pour l'ensemble du projet, 44 tonnes ont déjà été installées.

    C'est surtout sur le fonctionnement de l'ensemble de ce matériel qu'a porté la visite. C'est dans ce datacenter que sera gérée l'interconnexion des 234 bureaux de postes, notamment le sous-réseau à fibre optique et celui à liaisons satellitaires. « Les travaux avancent vite. Au premier trimestre de l'année 2013, nous pourrons être à la fin du chantier », a-t-il déclaré à la fin de la visite.

    Alors qu'on s'achemine vers la fin du chantier, on pense déjà au volet exploitation et rentabilisation du projet. Le Cameroun a-t-il les capacités techniques pour gérer cette infrastructure une fois réceptionnée ? « Il y a un volet formation qui ne se voit pas actuellement, mais qui s'accomplit au même rythme que la mise en place de l'infrastructure. Certains de nos agents sont en Chine actuellement pour la formation », déclare le Minpostel.

    Pour moderniser son secteur postal, le Cameroun a obtenu un prêt de 32 milliards de F auprès du gouvernement chinois. Il est donc question de rentabiliser ce projet pour rembourser le prêt et couvrir toutes les autres charges y relatives.

    « Si l'infrastructure qui est mise en place est exploitée à bon escient, cela fera également en sorte que toutes les activités du système postal, qu'il s'agisse de la distribution du courrier ou des services financiers, soient rentables. Certains équipements et certaines infrastructures pourront permettre à la Campost de vendre des services particuliers à des clients potentiels, à l'instar de l'hébergement des services potentiels dans le Datacenter », déclare Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam.

    A la Cameroon Postal Services (Campost), a-t-on appris, une réflexion est en cours dans ce sens. « La Campost va développer de nouveaux produits dans le secteur des Tic pour améliorer son chiffre d'affaires et créer de nouveaux emplois », confie Lucien Nana Yomba, directeur général adjoint de la Campost.

  • Selon Abdoulaye Sarré, directeur général de PCCI Sénégal, un centre d'appel installé au Sénégal, plus de mille emplois sont menacés dans le pays si la loi sur les rapatriements des centres d'appel est votée en France.

    Abdoulaye Sarré a affirmé que "le jour où cette loi sera votée en France, ces emplois seront détruits au Sénégal dans les vingt-quatre heures", indiquant que la France "ne joue pas le jeu de la concurrence et de l'ouverture des marchés qu'(elle) prône, (car) la moitié du produit intérieur brut de la France provient des exportations".

    Les téléservices sénégalais ont une forte dépendance vis-à-vis de la France, ce pays représentant une part importante des marchés de ce secteur.

    Pour le directeur général de PCCI Sénégal, la France ne doit pas refuser que les entreprises où elle vend ses produits aient accès à ses marchés, car les affaires doivent se faire dans les deux sens. "Je peux comprendre que la France a des problèmes de chômage, mais le Sénégal aussi en a. La France tire plus de revenus d'un pays comme le Sénégal que ce dernier en tire chez elle. (...). Donc, c'est assez injuste et frustrant que des mesures puissent être annoncées sans regarder les implications qui peuvent aller très loin", a déclaré, le patron de PCCI, par ailleurs vice-président du Conseil national du patronat (CNP), chargé de la formation, de l'emploi et de la valorisation des compétences.

    Le secteur des centres d'appel du Sénégal compte une dizaines d'entreprises qui emploient plus de 2500 salariés dans différents centres d'appels.

    Agence ecofin
  • La firme de télécommunication Gateway, qui opère sur le continent africain, a signé un accord avec la compagnie Emtel afin de permettre aux abonnés de Rodrigues et d'Agalega (photo) de pouvoir communiquer par téléphone cellulaire.

    Les citoyens de Maurice, d'Agalega et de Rodrigues pourront bientôt communiquer de manière plus claire par téléphone cellulaire, cela grâce à l'installation de nouveaux équipements par la firme de télécommunication Emtel. Il faut souligner que jusqu'à présent les appels téléphoniques par mobile laissaient souvent à désirer. C'est grâce au soutien de la firme Gateway Communication que ces abonnés pourront mieux converser.

    Le Chief Executive Officer (CEO) d'Emtel, Shyam Roy, a confirmé la démarche de sa compagnie à avoir recours à Gateway pour permettre cette amélioration du service.

    Gateway communication est actuellement le leader sur la région africaine, et opère actuellement dans dix-sept pays d'Afrique ainsi que quatre pays d'Europe.

    L’Express
  • Selon RFI, de nombreux journalistes dénoncent un « complot des Frères musulmans pour museler les médias ».

    Dès leur prise de pouvoir, les Frères musulmans ont remplacé une cinquantaine de dirigeants de titres de la presse publique par des proches ou des sympathisants.

    La chaîne de télévision privée Al Fara'in, jugée trop «menaçante» contre Mohamed Morsi, a été suspendue pour un mois. Le quotidien Al Doustour a été saisi. Le rédacteur en chef du quotidien indépendant Al Youm al Sabé'i a été passé à tabac...

    Toujours selon RFI, des présentatrices de la radio télévision, jugées trop frondeuses à l’égard du nouveau pouvoir, passeront bientôt en commission disciplinaire.

    Agence ecofin
  • Deuxième édition de la conférence ICT/BPO
    12-14 septembre, Hilton Resort and Spa à Flic-en-Flac, Ile Maurice

    Cette deuxième édition aura pour but d'encourager des échanges entre les opérateurs Mauriciens et ceux du continent africain. Au niveau du ministère des TIC, l'on est persuadé que le secteur des TIC a atteint un niveau considérable qui peut aujourd'hui permettre aux opérateurs de s'exporter vers l'Afrique.

    CARREFOUR D’AFFAIRES ET DE TECHNOLOGIES 2012
    «NOUVELLE TUNISIE, NOUVELLES OPPORTUNITES »
    Tunis, Parc International des Expositions 28-30 Novembre 2012

    Organisé, du 28 au 30 Novembre 2012, par l’Agence de Promotion de l’Industrie et de l’Innovation, en association avec l’Union Tunisienne pour l’Industrie le Commerce et l’Artisanat (UTICA) et en collaboration avec l’Agence de Promotion de l’Investissement Extérieur (FIPA) et le Centre de Promotion des Exportations (CEPEX), CAT 2012 se veut être une réelle plateforme dédiée à l’entreprise, où vont se côtoyer décideurs et leaders de divers horizons, avec leurs offres et demandes dans des secteurs innovants à fort potentiel de croissance:

    Mécanique, électrique et électronique
    Agroalimentaire
    Plastique technique et plasturgie
    Textile technique
    Nouvelles technologies de l’information et de la communication
    Pharmaceutique
    Pour plus d’infos cliquez ici

  • La direction de Virgin Mobile en Afrique du Sud a annoncé la nomination de Jonathan Marchbank comme président-directeur général. Le nouveau président-directeur général dirigeait les activités du groupe Virgin Mobile pour le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique après avoir dirigé la branche de Virgin Mobile pour l'Australie et l'Asie, puis pour les Etats-Unis.

  • Directeur informatique & télécoms – Cameroun
    L’entreprise recrute un directeur informatique & télécoms. Diplômé de BAC +5 (DESS, écoles d’ingénieur) avec un minimum de 10 années d’expérience professionnelle, le candidat doit avoir occupé un poste similaire au cours des cinq dernières années. Il est le garant de la stratégie informatique et télécoms de l’entreprise. Il doit être pourvu de facultés d’adaptation, de compréhension ainsi qu’une capacité de gestion d’une équipe de 75 techniciens et ingénieurs.
    Pour plus d’infos ou pour postuler cliquez ici

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