Issue no. 105, 26 May 2011

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  • One stepping stone from buying international content to producing more local content is the use of TV formats that have established themselves elsewhere. Reality and game shows have already established themselves in the market but there is a wider range of formats out there. Africa Interactive, a fast growing multimedia press and content agency in Africa, has put together some interesting TV formats aimed at the African market and Africa lovers globally. Sylvain Béletre from Balancing Act interviewed Pieter Van Twisk, CEO of Africa Interactive to find out more.

    Q: You are entering the African TV market with some innovative TV formats: ’Taste Africa’ and ’Films & Stars Africa’. Could please tell us more?

    A: We have developed different ideas for the African television market. Together with our partner FCCE  we are now talking to 35 African channels that have shown interest. ‘Films & Stars Africa’ is a weekly series which will deliver a true blend of films and lifestyle relevant to African audiences, showcasing the vibrant film industry of Hollywood, Nollywood and the rest of Africa.

    Taste Africa is an infotainment audiovisual series on African cooking. The abundance of ingredients and the multitude of cultures form the main point for a spectacular show of tastes and dishes. With this program we want to broaden the culinary horizon of our viewers and boost creativity in the kitchens all over Africa. Watch the trailers here.

    We also have something called ‘Aid or Trade’, a documentary series of fascinating stories from all over Africa of how people are improving their lives with creative commercial ventures.

    Q: Who is your target audience?

    A: These series are focused on the African market and specifically targeting the growing African middle class. More than 35 channels - six of which are Pan-African - in 17 counties either bought the series or showed interest. This will mean an estimated reach of around 50 million Africans in six months.

    Q: What do you need in order to implement this project further?

    A: For both series we are still looking for sponsors since African TV stations cannot afford to pay for the productions. Should you be interested, please do not hesitate to contact us: info(@)africa-interactive.com.

    Q: What is Africa Interactive’s core business?

    A: Africa Interactive is a fast growing multimedia press and content agency focused on Africa, with 2000 local reporters in 50 African countries. Our reporters tell the African story in text, photo or video.

    Whatever we do, it will always be in cooperation with our local experts. This way we combine the best of both worlds.  Our database contains filmmakers, journalists, photographers, stringers and marketing experts. We produce tailor made ‘High-end’ videos and ‘Simple Video Reports’ to showcase various activities in Africa.

    For more info visit here:

    For more news and ideas on broadcast and film in Africa, go to Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel and look at:

    L'Institut Francais, Dept Cinéma et sa cinémathèque Afrique

    Dans cette vidéo, deux responsables du dept. Cinéma - Valérie Mouroux, et Véronique Joo Aisenberg - au sein de l'Institut Français à Paris présentent pour la chaîne 'Balancing Act' les activités audiovisuelles de l'établissement, et en particulier par rapport à l'Afrique:

    Kenneth Ashigbey, COO, Ghana's Multimedia Group on: what the Multimedia Group does and how it is a key player in Ghana's radio and online markets; the launch of MultiTV and the content bouquet it offers, particularly local content; its pan-continental ambitions; and the digital transition in Ghana and the likely signal carrier scenarios:

    Enrico Chiesa, director of IDmage has launched AfricaFilms.tv and mobiCINE, two film initiatives supported by EC ACPFilms. In this video, Enrico presents AfricaFilms.tv, a transparent initiative where African AV right holders can generate extra revenues via a share of VoD sales (up to 60%) on an exclusive or a non-exclusive basis.

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

  • Variety is reporting that The Dinosaur Project (tentative title) starts shooting this month – May 2011 - in South Africa.

    The film marks the directorial debut feature from CGI experts Sid Bennett and Tom Pridham, who recently formed their own production company Kent Films. StudioCanal is handling world sales.

    The project is described as “Jurassic Park meets Blair Witch in the style of District 9.” But producer Nick Hill also notes: “It’s not grainy hand-held; it will look beautiful and crisp and clear.”

    The Dinosaur Project will tell the story of a father-son expedition in the Congo, being followed by a TV documentary crew. After all the parties mysteriously go missing, recovered footage shows stunning images of dinosaurs thought to be extinct for 65 million years.

  • Peter Kosminsky, who made the controversial Israel-Palestine drama The Promise, is to make a film about Nelson Mandela's early life in South Africa, Vanessa Thorpe reported in the Observer, Sunday 8 May 2011.

    Peter Kosminsky, the British writer and director who made The Promise, a controversial Channel 4 drama serial about the history of Israel, is to risk fresh criticism with a feature film about Nelson Mandela's early life as a leader of the ANC's terrorist arm in South Africa.

    The writer said that he would not shrink from depicting a violent part of Mandela's past that is often avoided in deference to the statesmanship of his later life. "The story I am trying to tell is of the early years of Mandela up until the imprisonment," he said. "He is rightly now seen as the greatest living human being, a man who delivered South Africa from the brink of a civil war, but he was once on the military wing of the ANC."

    Speaking for the first time since the reaction to The Promise, Kosminsky said that as a former documentary-maker he was drawn to contentious subjects, such as the death of Dr David Kelly, tackled in The Government Inspector.

    The Promise, which drew comparisons between the Zionist militancy of the 1940s which fought for independence from British rule and Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel, has been acclaimed as a powerful drama, but has provoked attacks from some commentators who see it as biased against Israel. The novelist Howard Jacobson has accused the serial of being a "ludicrous piece of brainwashed prejudice". In France, it prompted demonstrations when it was broadcast in March, with an official disclaimer labelling it fiction. In Britain, Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, examined the screenplay after receiving complaints and ruled last month that there had been no breach of its code of conduct. The drama has been nominated for a One World Media Award, with the results announced on Tuesday night, and for a Bafta ahead of the 22 May ceremony.

    "I am beaten, but unbowed," said the writer. "The Promise is probably the thing I am most proud of. I knew it would raise hackles with some people, but the thing I have found most difficult, as a Jew, is the suggestion that the criticism of Israel is racist." Kosminsky sees parallels between the situation in Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa. "I would describe it as apartheid. I was not seeking to reflect this view in The Promise, but if you ask me personally, then I do. What is happening in Israel is very akin to the concept of separate development. It reminds me of the Bantustan policy of the South African government."

    In the 1940s Bantustan territories were set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa as part of apartheid. The writer said that his approach to Mandela's story would be to "confront people of a certain political persuasion that this is a more complicated man than they might have believed".

    The Film4 production, with the working title Young Mandela, is yet to be cast, but will feature the roles of Winnie Mandela; Evelyn, his first wife; Joe Slovo, who led the communist party; and Thabo Mbeki's father, Govan. Kosminsky said that the film would include a scene in which Mandela was shown instructing activists on how to blow up a building, but that he would underline the ANC's policy of avoiding human casualties. "I am not doing a hatchet job on him. I am probably his biggest fan," he said. "I was very involved with the anti-apartheid movement in my youth. In fact I used to give Adelaide Tambo a lift around London."

    Kosminsky said that he was driven as much to tell a good story as to explain a period of history. "My primary purpose for making The Promise was artistic." Critics of the serial said that it focused on the lives of rich Israelis and gave a one-sided view. Kosminsky defended his decision to send his naive heroine, Erin, to stay with a wealthy family who had a grandfather who fought an armed campaign in the Mandate period after the second world war with the Zionist paramilitary organisation Irgun. "Her grandfather is based on a man I met at the Irgun museum, and the things he says are almost exactly what was said to me.
    Read the full story here:

  • US-based filmmaker, Olamide Maarore, is set to become one of those changing the face of Nigeria’s movie industry with his debut film, ‘Aina’, which he wrote, produced and directed. He describes his soon-to-be-released film as an “intelligent modern-day drama about working professionals, the choices they make and the consequences they suffer. A ‘Sex and the City’ meets ‘Jerry Maguire’, set in an urban city.”

    In this interview with Next, Maarore talks about his movie and canvasses for sponsorship to get it premiered, among other things.

    Q: Tell us about yourself and your training as a filmmaker.

    A: I was born in Lagos. I went to England while I was young and then the US in my late teens. I love the arts and I understand the incredible importance of art in society. I’ve always wanted to be in films since I was a kid. I am also an Africanist. After all these years in Los Angeles, I decided to come here and start making really good quality films which will portray Nigeria as a sophisticated country and also to inspire people; to project Nigeria as not just villages and hungry people but as a sophisticated country.

    I started out as an actor in high school. I was the class clown. I attended the University of Southern California. I decided to go into filmmaking in the nineties because I didn’t want to continue to be typecast for the stereotypical roles for black men in Hollywood. I didn’t want to play the prisoner, the gangster, the killer, the rapist; all those stereotyped roles. When I went for auditions, it was the same. I was a criminal, a drug dealer or I was running from the police. Those were the only roles that I got. I started working in productions and doing everything to learn. I have worked as production assistant, light assistant, camera assistant, director, gaffer, anything; any position in the film industry, I’ve basically done it.

    In 2008, I decided it’s about time I start. I wanted the films I make to have social relevance, to be shot in Africa and to tell the African story from the African perspective. I didn’t want to leave it up to white people anymore to be telling our stories. Each time they tell our story, it’s always ‘Blood Diamond’ or ‘Hotel Rwanda’. So I thought that, with my expertise, my creativity and my passion, I could come here and do something. So I started writing a script. Came to Nigeria in 2009, took a lot of the Nigerian nuances, influences, went back to LA, rewrote the script very well, came back in late 2009 and started holding auditions.

    Q: You used fresh faces in ‘Aina’. How did you pull that off and why?

    A: We did advertisements everywhere in Nigeria. We sent out flyers, even to the North. It was very important not just to do what everybody does: “Let’s put (Genevieve) Nnaji and we’ll have a successful film.” No. You’ll never cultivate new talent. The guy who studies theatre for four, five years has no hope if everybody is using Nnaji. We did auditions in New York, Accra, Calabar and London. Screen acting requires that you are there, not just knowing your lines. I didn’t think choosing famous Nollywood actors would work. And there is also the problem of ego. They wouldn’t want to succumb to training and I am interested in cultivating new faces.

    Our cast are average-looking Nigerians because we were looking for authenticity. Mr Nigeria, Kenneth Okolie, is in the film and also Tony Akposheri, who is the only old actor we used. Our lead actress is from Senegal. There are some love scenes in the film and Nigerians don’t do that so we had to cast somebody who wouldn’t mind. You don’t change the story for the actor; you change the actor for the story. If we had gone Nollywood, we would have had to change the story for them. I have tremendous respect for Nollywood and what they’ve done so far. As a matter of fact I came here to work with them. But to the marketers I say: you’ve made your money. Now let’s make greatness. I think they could do [it] with standard films, understanding story structure as well as acting for screen. All these things are vital. We have to move from mediocrity to greatness. We need to get our films into the Oscars, Sundance, Cannes because this is what will put us on the map. I think they’ve gotten hung up on the money. The marketers need to see the vision and invest in great talent.

    Q: What makes ‘Aina’ different from the average Nollywood film?

    A: It is a well-written story. After writing, I sent it to a story consultant to go through it. We paid attention to narrative. It’s a very romantic slow drama. The story is about women and we portray them as modern, young, vibrant Nigerians. We used fresh faces and it is 100 percent shot in Nigeria. It has world value, in that it is a human story. This is our way of launching the renaissance of new Nigerian moviemaking. It is nicely shot and the costume is pro-African. We decided to shoot the movie here because Nollywood shoots about 3,500 films a year and people see these films and ask, “What kind of film is this?” It is sad that our films are not respected outside our viewership. Our films are popular outside Nigeria but [they are] not respected anywhere. My friends in America buy Nollywood films because they want to laugh at the shortcomings of the film. I want to prove to the world that we can do what we want right. It was important for me to shoot this film here.

    Q: How long did it take?

    A: Two months, everyday, for shooting, but the whole production process has taken about two years. The story took me a year and half to write - six months for pre-production, four months for auditions, and we are on post production at the moment.

    Q: What was the experience like?

    A: It was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. The logistics of making a film in Nigeria is hard. Accessibility of locations, commitment of crew, availability of equipment and the lack of inspiration from the people you are working with because they do not believe you can do it, were just a few of the challenges. I got scammed at different times. It is doable but very difficult. There were so many times I wanted to give up.

    Q: And the picture quality: did you bring in equipment from the States?

    A: We brought in all our equipment. Filmmaking is not all about the camera equipment alone. We achieved the quality we did because we planned it very well. Every person in the production process has their role to play in making the film come out great. In Nigeria, one person does everything. I initially wanted to use Nigerian equipment but we were scammed. We had to ship in cameras and also hire foreign crew. We spent all we had. We used Hollywood standard in this movie, in everything from cinematography to lighting. We didn’t cut corners.

    Q: What was the cost of making this movie?

    A: I really do not want to reveal the detailed cost but it was quite expensive to make. And that is why we need sponsors to help us get the movie out. My problem in Nigeria is that I do not really know anybody. I left the country first in 1979 and came back some time ago to bury my mother. We are looking for sponsors, for the premiere of ‘Aina’ and our next project.

    Q: Any suggestions towards improving the Nigerian movie industry?

    A: There are many professionals who are capable of doing great work. However, one of the problems is that the creative part of the industry is being run by non-creative people who are only there to make money. We need to switch the pattern and say [to them]: “Hey, you want to make a movie, let me do it. You go and market.”

    We can also improve by focusing on doing the right thing. I am inspired by Africa’s greatness and potential and I want to see that day where a Nigerian filmmaker goes out there and wins Best Director or Best Picture.

    Q: Are you using indigenous soundtracks for the movie?

    A: Sadly, we are going to use foreign soundtracks. Everybody we talked to here in Nigeria wanted us to pay them heavy money instead of them seeing it as us giving them a platform to be heard. Even for the costumes, I had to go to the market, buy ankara and give tailors to sew. None of the popular fashion designers around we approached gave us the time of day.

    Q: Do you have any other upcoming projects?

    A: Our next project is an action thriller, but we need money for it. We’ll be auditioning for that in August/September this year. It will do wonders for Nigeria.

  • Lagos State Government has secured a license to operate a radio station to be solely dedicated to traffic information and other safety issues. Commissioner for Transportation, Prof. Bamidele Badejo, who disclosed this during the 2011 ministerial briefing on the activities of his ministry in the last one year as well as commemoration of the fourth anniversary of Governor Babatunde Fashola in office, said the radio station, will be commissioned soon.

    Badejo said: "The station, whose license and approval had been procured by the state government, will keep the public informed with live information and reports on traffic and transportation related issues all over Lagos as events unfold."

    He explained that one of the objectives of the station will be to empower the commuting citizens with needed information on the situation of the roads within the different axes of Lagos at any point in time, to enable them know the best possible routes available if they are to make most efficient use of the road and thus reduce traffic time and congestion.

    Speaking further, he said the station will form an invaluable avenue for the education of the populace on best traffic and road use practices and also form a feedback system for data and correspondence between the government and the populace, which will then help achieve best results in traffic management and control.

  • The Kenyan Government has cleared he way for two more competitors to join the broadcast signal distribution business, in efforts to ensure the country completes its digital migration head of the 2012 deadline, writes Dennis Itumbi for jocoza.

    The ministry of Information announced that six companies, among them a partnership between two leading private media houses, had been shortlisted to compete for two licences to compete in signal distribution.
     A joint bid by Nation Media and Royal Media Services, as well as Pan African Network Group, Africa Link Agencies, Signal Distributors Ltd, Mayfox Ltd and Globecast Africa, were shortlisted.

    The ministry of information, through the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), will name the two winners of the licences next month, setting the stage for rolling out of the ambitious switch from analogue to digital signals.

     The process has been delayed by mistrust between the government and media stakeholders. According to the plan announced by the ministry, the firms will be expected to submit their bids by May 25, their bids will then be evaluated the next day.

     The Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) had previously won the tender to distribute the signals through a subsidiary Signet, but will now have to put up with competition.

     Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo says the decision to license more firms was made because financial problems facing KBC were slowing the process.

     “It is for this reason that the Digital Transition Committee recommended that the Ministry consider a policy review to allow competition in the broadcast signal distribution market through the licensing of additional broadcast signal distributors,” said Dr Ndemo. "Now we are assured of a faster transition from analogue to digital,"
    Kenya has set the deadline for digital migration at 2012, ahead of the global deadline of 2015.
     
    Dennis Itumbi for jocoza - Joomla Seo by AceSEF. Friday, 20 May 2011.

  • Police with the support of other security organs on Friday night stormed the government broadcaster, Uganda Broadcasting Corporation offices, and locked up offices of the top managers before suspending the entire board and management over suspected mismanagement.

    Police secured the UBC entrance and exit points at around 7:30pm, blocking any UBC workers from gaining entrance and prevented anyone from moving out with any documents or electronic gadgets.

    Staff exiting the premises was subjected to rigorous body and bag searches to ensure that no corporation property, documents or possible evidence are sneaked out.

    Offices of the Managing Director, Edward Musinguzi Mugasa, and immediate subordinates were locked. "We are utterly shocked," said Ms Jane Kasumba, the public relations officer, as she exited. "I don't know what is going on. They (police) are searching our cars and we don't know what they are looking for."

    However, many workers thought the heightened security was aimed at securing the premise ahead of the anticipated visit of President Museveni to open the newly constructed studios.

    But government sources said that the President ordered the action following various reports of fraud, outright corruption and mismanagement. Museveni has reportedly been disappointed by the performance of the corporation, into which huge sums of taxpayers' money was sunk about five years ago.

    The suspended included Chris Katuramu, the chairman of the board, and Edward Musinguzi Mugasa, Managing Director. Others are board members: Prof. Pilkington Ssengendo, Mr Oola, Dr Daisy Namono, Fred Bamwesigye, Ms Wandera, MTom Okurut, and Ms Kabakumba Masiko, the outgoing minister of Information.

    Ms Kabakumba Masiko did not pick calls to respond to this event but Mugasa said: "I also don't know the problem. I haven't gone there today since this is a Saturday."
    He said he had just addressed a staff meeting on Friday, gone out briefly only to find a new development on return. Ms Kasumba said the corporation would come out with a statement "in due course".

    Uganda Broadcasting Corporation is a state company created by a 2004 Act of Parliament, which merged Uganda Television (UTV) and Radio Uganda operations. The corporation became fully functional on November 16, 2005. It has since expanded to two television channels and five radio stations.

    According to Information Ministry sources, the suspended UBC managers were supposed to have handed over office yesterday at 2:30pm to Paul Kihika as Acting Managing Director.

    "They bought a broadcasting truck at Shs1.7 billion for the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting without following Public Procurement and Disposal Act. The truck ended up being below standards," a source said.

    The source said UBC was given more than Shs14 billion to purchase broadcast equipment to revamp system but the resources were allegedly mismanaged. "The managers have turned the corporation into their personal business. The funds they generate aren't managed well," a source said.

    It is not yet clear whether the surprise investigations stem from UBC's performance during the recent general elections, airing of Arab world protests and broadcasting of the opposition walk-to-work demonstrations. But President Museveni has at times opted to address the nation on the more commercial state Bukedde TV and the private NTV.

  • The General Manager of CRTV last week announced the launching that includes several of "must watch" productions. The Cameroon Radio and Television Corporation (CRTV), dubbed the "heart of the nation", is henceforth determined to keep its audiences panting with enthusiasm as they prepare to introduce new programmes over the channel.

    There are indications that the audience's desires will be met. During a press lunch on May 5, in Yaounde, the General Manager (GM) of CRTV, Amadou Vamoulke announced the launching of the new programme season of his corporation for this year on May 7, in Maroua.

    According to Amadou Vamoulke, new elements in the programmes are not the mere change of names, but also in the method of approach and content. The titles of some of the programmes may give the impression of "déja entendu" but the GM says there is more to discover especially as the new programmes of high standards are geared towards meeting the preoccupations of the Cameroonian and international audience on news, entertainment and sports.

    At the press lunch, Amadou Vamoulke said the new programme season is not only an opportunity for CRTV's audience to be acquainted with the new vision of the corporation, which is service-oriented, but also takes into account the aspirations of Cameroonians by giving each citizen the feeling that he/she is part of nation building through programmes wherein they will identify their cultures and traditions.

    During a live TV show in Maroua, on May 7, to mark the launching of the new programme season, viewers will have a foretaste of innovations which will consolidate CRTV as a meeting point, where the cultural values and traditions of Cameroonians in all diversities are met.

    Some of the new radio programmes are "Que dit la loi?" "Les chemins de la foi", "Espace International", "Cameroon Yesterday and Today", "Kids Forum" and "Regard". Information indicates that "Que dit la Loi" is different from the former programme on the same subject "Le point du Droit". "

    Cameroon Yesterday and Today" is not only about where you are coming from or where you are going to, but will give listeners the civic education they need. "Kids Forum" is a programme for children by children. On TV, some ten new programmes have been announced.

    Soap opera lovers will not need to switch to foreign channels to watch "Tinsel", a popular soap opera in West and South Africa. CRTV will be broadcasting Tinsel to viewers. Friday nights have been set aside for films.

    There will also be a new sports magazine: "Fields of Passion", TV games such as "Quiz Code, "Brain Box" and documentaries such as "Icons" or "This is My Story". With all these new programmes, CRTV is thus determined to be at the heart of Cameroonians.

  • For residents of besieged Misurata, all it takes is a flick of the dial to tune in to freedom. Broadcasting revolutionary songs, news, and debate, Radio Free Libya Misurata is a bastion of the rebellion against Muammar Gaddafi's regime. The rebel broadcasts act as a unifying force for the war-torn city. As residents drive through the sandbag checkpoints, past bullet-riddled homes and devastated buildings, the programmes remind them of their cause: forcing Gaddafi from power.

    Radio Misurata, as it used to be called, had been an ordinary local station, enslaved to the whims of Gaddafi's rules of broadcast. Dissenting voices were banned from the airwaves, and the content was strictly controlled.

    The moment the rebels seized the frequency on Feb. 21, every aspect of the regime's forty-two years of control was diligently erased. "During the Gaddafi period, most nationalistic songs had Gaddafi's name in them. We searched through dozens to play a tune that only mentions the land," says founder Ahmed Hadia.

    "Good Morning Libya" - the radio's flagship show, features news on the latest frontline fighting, interviews with rebel council members, and the availability of food, water and other city logistics.

    Other programmes focus on keeping up morale. "The Protectors" focuses on and praises the work of volunteers around the city. The religious programs preach the need for patience, and the rewards to come. "We started with this to raise the national feeling of the people," says Hadia. It is also used as a propaganda tool aimed at Gaddafi supporters; running calls for them to join the other side.

    "Who controls the media, controls the country. If the radio waves had gone silent [when Gaddafi was pushed out of Misurata], it would have given the impression that there was no control," explains Hadia.

    Initially the rebels had no trouble finding presenters - teachers, clerics, academics; people with no previous radio experience committed themselves to the cause, producing a flurry of unprecedented programmes. After decades of biting their tongues, the station was inundated with callers desperate to speak their mind.

    "They wanted to express how happy they were that the city had become free, and to convey how much they hate Gaddafi and the dictatorship," says Salim Betmal, a Leeds University-educated lecturer turned DJ.

    "We even had a few Gaddafi supporters ring in to threaten the radio and other callers," says Betmal. "We let them speak on air without censorship." However, the dissenting voices symbolized a defiance that quickly became an object of fury for Gaddafi.

    Regime jets tried to bomb the station twice before the NATO no-fly zone was implemented. The building was riddled with bullets from heavy machine gun fire, and parts of the walls crumbled from the impact of a rocket propelled grenade. Despite all this, Hadia remains steadfast: "This is our land, it is part of us, we have to defend it - even if we pay with our bodies." Loyalists still inside the rebel town tried to destroy the station's antenna with explosives. Worse, hit men were hired to assassinate the staff.

    "The checkpoint guards caught a man armed with a gun, and 3,500 Libyan dinar [almost $3,000]. He later confessed that he had been sent to kill Ahmed Hadia," says Betmal. Some of the radio's staff cut new entrances into the building to evade the sniper fire trained on the door. For security reasons, they twice decided to relocate their offices to new buildings.

    The attacks scared many of the presenters away, but the radio station's founders continued undeterred. An engineer added an AM channel alongside the FM signal so that the station can be heard, on clear days, in places as far away as Europe.

    Today, the radio station continues to expand. Free Libya correspondents are being dispatched on the ground to gather news from the local front lines. The fear-fuelled rumour mills produced in warfare can only be abated with boots on the ground, and the rebel news programs say they want to be accurate. "Sometimes we choose uplifting news, but we never tell a lie. Either tell it straight, or don't tell it," says Betmal.

  • Cinetoile, an African cinema network which has already organized 250 film screenings for hundred of thousand spectators in 8 African countries organised a conference on Wednesday 11th May 2011 in Brussels.

    The lunch-time conference was the opportunity to present case studies of 2 initiatives linking culture & development: Cinétoile and Hivos Arterial Network. Africalia-Cinetoile connects more than one hundred artists and organisations in Africa was a key player.

    Key questions included: What are the achievements of these initiatives funded by the European Union? And Which strategies should be developed to stimulate creativity and create opportunities for cultural dialogue in Africa?

    Participants included the following speakers: Aurélien Bodinaux, Producer and movies Director, Africalia asbl; Rob Wildschut, Programme Officer: Arts and Culture
    Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing countries (HIVOS); Michael van Graan, Secretary General Arterial Network; Denis Salord, Head of Unit "centralised operations for the ACP countries “, EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG, EC.

  • The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) led the South Africa delegation to the Cannes International Film Festival scheduled from 11 – 21 May 2011 in Cannes, France. The festival is the most prestigious event for the global film industry where the world’s filmmakers and key decision makers from across the globe assemble to conduct the business of film.

    The NFVF's main objectives are to promote South Africa as a premiere filmmaking destination, to position the country as a co-production partner of choice, to strengthen relations and to provide support to local filmmakers attending Cannes. This year the NFVF sponsored nine South African filmmakers to conduct film business in Cannes.

    During 2010 Cannes International Film Festival the Department of Arts and Culture and the NFVF signed a South African/French co-production treaty, which enables productions from both territories to qualify for the different incentives associated with home-grown content. This treaty agreement has produced the first South Africa / France co-production treaty film, Skoonheid an Afrikaans film that has been selected for the 'Un Certain Regard' section at Cannes film festival.

    Skoonheid tells the story of Francois van Heerden, a mid-40s, white, Afrikaans-speaking family man living in Bloemfontein, who has become devoid of any care or concern for his own measure of happiness, and so convinced of his ill-fated existence, that he is wholly unprepared when a chance encounter unravels his clean, controlled life.

    While in Cannes, the NFVF hosted a Line-Up event on the 14th of May 2011, where South African projects were presented to international sales agents, financiers, distributors, co-production partners, buyers, and festival programmers. The Line-Up projects included: Feature films :Makeba, Otelo Burning, Whiplash, Spoon, Retribution, Whale, Khabzela, Supermama, Saving Sunnyshore, De Jong and the Rustlers, Crossroads, Four Corners, Stockholm, Zululand, Tin of Paint, The Consequence, Zambezia, Zizi & Boondogle, Roepman, Documentaries: Surfing Soweto, Rebirth, Dear Mandela and Short Films: Dirty Laundry, Umkhungo. For more information on the projects visit here:

    As a follow-up to the Line-Up presentation the NFVF hosted a South African networking event. This event has steadily become one of the most sought after invites at Cannes. The networking event provides an opportunity for South African delegates to network with key international decision makers. South Africa’s DJ Switch provided the guests with the best of home-brewed music.

    The South Africa pavilion was situated at the Village International. The pavilion provides a business environment for all South African delegates to host meetings, and also provides screening facilities for those who wish to showcase their films during their meetings.

    For more information, email Naomi Mokhele at NFVF.

  • Latest entrant to the Nigerian Pay TV market, popularly known as StarTimes, has grown subscriber base to 400,000 in barely 10 months in operation in Nigeria.

    Speaking in an interview with Daily Champion in his office at the weekend, Advert/Publicity Manager of the group Chidi Celestine Umeibe said tremendous progress has been made in the last 10 months of service delivery, noting that NTA-Star Television Network Limited, owners of StarTimes Pay TV platform in Nigeria has given Nigeria course to access TV entertainment with ease.

    He said "StarTimes entered Nigerian market officially on July 28, 2010 with confidence which has played out to be a worthwhile investment on the side of the company and reception of quality TV entertainments on the side of subscribers".
    "Currently, we are planning our first year anniversary and I must confess that it has been progressive. Today we are talking about close to 400,000 subscriber base in just five cities on our network and many are still coming on stream”.

    Continuing, Umeibe said "StarTimes is a digital terrestrial television company registered in China in 1988," adding that "StarTimes China used to be in the Business-to-Business market and at a time the group felt the need to explore the African market".

    "By extension, the company thought wise to invest in Pay TV sector in the Nigerian economy and today we are pushing into the Nigerian market with strength.

    He described StarTimes as a great advantage for Nigerian local TV stations wishing to move from analogue to digital transmission considering the new deadline given by federal government to TV stations considering the new ITU deadline of 2015 to move from analogue to digital terracestal broadcasting.

    He noted further that "StarTimes China also saw the need to explore the African market considering that many of the TV networks in the continent are yet to upgrade".

    "The target amongst others is to help in the upgrade of African TV networks from analogue to terrestrial before 2015 and as am talking to you now, progress is being made in that wise. You know the Nigerian deadline is 2012 for switch over. Here in StarTimes, we see the deal at a timely effort to help Nigerians get in real touch with the world and at the same time move from analogue to digital broadcasting after all.

    According to him, StarTimes has a policy of rolling out on a state-by-state basis, revealing that "we rolled out first in FCT, Lagos , Kano , Oyo and Rivers States and currently we are looking at new 12 states including Abia, Anambra, Kaduna and others before the end of the year. "It's important to reveal that in the business of DTTB, StarTimes have about seven million subscribers in China .

    He said "NTA being the largest TV network in Africa and Nigeria, it needed a firm that has what it takes to move from analogue to digital broadcasting and that is one of the main considerations for the partnership. We in StarTimes believe that NTA will definitely meet the target deadline of 2012 in changing from analogue to digital system of transmission.

    Explaining that "Digital Terrestrial Transmission is the technology while the operation is Digital Terrestrial Transmission Broadcasting, he disclosed that Digital Video Broadcasting Cable (BVBC) and Digital Video Broadcasting Satellite (DVBS) which many of StarTimes competitors use are not as good as DTTB in use by the new company".

    "In our own which is DTTB all you need is just to mount your antenna and pick our digital signals immediately no long processes, no waiting, just plug in and play as we normally say.

    PS: Chidi Celestine Umeibe, StarTimes Advert/Publicity Manager confirmed to Balancing Act that the company registers an average subscription of 30,000 per month.

  • The Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Pedro Sebastião Teta, Wednesday, in Lubango, Huila province, said that the Government intends to build over the next four years 25 multimedia libraries, a project estimated at USD 100 million.

    Speaking to press at the presentation of the construction sketch of the media library of Lubango, the government official said that the project will be implemented in four phases, taking into account the patterns applied by the Media Libraries Network Commission that was recently created by the Government.

    Pedro Teta said that six media libraries have been built in the provinces of Huíla, Huambo, Benguela, Lunda Sul, Zaire and Luanda in a work valued at USD 31 million dollars.

    Pedro Teta congratulated the efforts of the head of State, José Eduardo dos Santos for his support to National Commission of Media Library. The delegation travels on Thursday to the province of Benguela to launch the foundation stone of similar infrastructure.

    allafrica.com/stories

  • If you have ever doubted the importance of sign language inclusion on Ghana Television (GTV) for hearing impaired persons, you are completely wrong, according to a teacher at the Gbeogo School for the Deaf at Tongo.

    Francis Agadiah told The Chronicle in an exclusive interview that the inclusion of sign language on the state TV network, GTV, had made a significant impact on hearing impaired persons, especially, students, who use the sign language interpretation to understand the news and stay abreast with all the happenings in the world. This also keeps them informed in decision making.

    While appealing to other TV networks to emulate GTV, MAgadiah also encouraged all public agencies and institutions, such as the hospitals, security agencies and media houses, to engage the services of special instructors to receive and address the plight of persons with all kinds of impairment.

    Full story here:

  • Wavah Broadcasting Service (WBS) TV journalist Williams Ntege was arrested by anti-riot police on 2 May after he was caught filming the arrest of Kampala female Member of Parliament (MP) Nabirah Ssempala. Ssempala was arrested for walking to work after she claimed her vehicle had run out of fuel.

    Ssempala's arrest comes amid a crackdown by security forces on opposition politicians and their supporters who have been protesting spiraling food and fuel prices by walking to work.

    Two plainclothes but armed police officers arrested Ntege after he refused to vacate the scene of Ssempala's arrest. "I was manhandled by police before the arrest (. . .) they forcefully took my camera. They operated it inside Kabalagala police station to erase the footage. After a few minutes, they came and searched me. They got another tape and took it just to destroy the evidence I had captured," Ntege said.

    The journalist called for help from Uganda Police Force (UPF) deputy spokesperson Vincent Ssekatte, who accused him of supporting the opposition. Ntege said Ssekatte advised him to surrender all the tapes he had at the scene.

    Ntege says that during his arrest, one armed, plainclothes officer threatened to shoot him on accusations that he was inciting violence. HRNJ-Uganda tried to reach Ssekatte to confirm the story but they were unsuccessful.

    "It's a pity that the police, who are supposed to protect journalists, continue to lead the list of tormentors. We wonder why police and other security agencies have taken journalists' rights hostage," said HRNJ-Uganda board Chairman Robert Ssempala.

    HRNJ-Uganda calls on the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to organise a mission to Uganda as a way of assessing Uganda's compliance with the protection and promotion of media freedom.

  • Dakar-based ‘’VOD - 100% AFRICA’’ portal – is bringing 400 films to a worldwide audience. As planned by its director (see Balancing Act interview by Sylvain Béletre last month), AfricaFilms.tv, the VOD (Video On Demand) platform with films from and about Africa went online with a private beta version on 9th May 2011, heading for a public opening next June 2011.

    The legal rent-or-download-for-money website with prices ranging from €2 to 5 per film for a worldwide audience has a potential reach of some 50 M viewers today (diaspora & Northern Afro-lovers) is expected to burst by 2013-14 when most African populations will gain access to broadband (mobile) internet.

    www.Africafilms.tv ‘s mission is to distribute films from Africa to the world, and grant fair revenues to African film rights owners, currently deprived of a large paying audience.

    For the time being, AfricaFilms.tv already supports 400 hours of programmes and covers all genres and all African countries, with a mix of top titles and emerging talents. Examples include:

    -Award-winning feature films including all the comedies by Ivory-Coast genius Henri Duparc, along with the best South-African art house titles;

    -« Africa new generation » movies, shot fast and/or shouting loud: action, politics, cartoon... from 19 countries of which : Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda, Senegal, plus the diaspora (Caribbean, North America, Europe);

    -A hundred titles by the rising masters of African documentary : Rehad Desai (South Africa), Osvalde Lewat (Cameroon), Sani Magori (Niger), Philippe Lacôte (Ivory Coast), Eléonore Yameogo (Burkina Faso) ... or shot in Africa by Europeans : France’s Zaradoc and ICTV-Solferino, Belgium’s Thierry Michel (Mobutu King of Zaire) or Eklektik (Kafka In Congo, Kongo...), etc.

    -last but not least, soap operas, a true must for the diasporas: some of the best French speaking titles (including hilarious 2-minute ShortComs) and some world-standard TV-hits from Ghana and South Africa, such as “Mating Game”, “Secrets”, “Taxi Driver” or “games people play”.

    AfricaFilms.tv brings rights holders an unprecedented, service-oriented, fair approach, based on freedom (contracts are non-exclusive), transparency (sales statements are readable online), safety (film files are DRM encrypted, with the PlaySmart technology by OnlineLib, Germany). And ‘shared technology: producers will be able to set up their website that will embed their own VOD-store, so that they can market their titles directly to their fans community, keeping up to 65% of revenues. Online demo here:

    Africafilms.tv was developed thanks to a strong funding (0,5 m€) from ACP Films, the ACP-EU co-operation programme for the support of the ACP (Africa Caribbean Pacific) film sector. It gained several other supporters (French Ministry of Culture & CNC, foundations Stichting Doen from The Netherlands and Lettera27 / WikiAfrica from Italy), sharp talent-scouts (African Film Festivals of Tarifa, Spain and Verona, Italy), and field correspondants in 12 African countries : Goethe Institute, Instituts français, Spanish Embassies...

    AfricaFilms.tv was at Cannes Film Festival, May 11-21 – “Cinémas du Sud” Pavillion.

  • Cinemaducameroun.com is not only a review site for moviegoers. It is above all a multitude of tools at the service of the Cameroonian film production industry. It highlights news, investment plans, movie rentals, key contacts, actors’ files and events’ agenda, training and even a trade market. Three companies are behind it: Technograde (Canada), 2PG Pictures (Cameroun - France) and DLG Films (Cameroun).

    "I am happy to see dozens of cinema theatres in Burkina Faso, while we have none in Cameroon. This is proof that there is a market in Africa, "says Gervais Djimeli founder of Cinemaducameroun.com. With this in mind, he decided to create back in February 2010, the first website dedicated to the seventh art in his country. "Cameroonian cinema is back after a deep coma," said the editor and director of training. But this local movie industry could wake up in the months to come. "The years 2012 and 2013 will be decisive for Cameroon to take a seat among the great powers of African cinema," notes Djimeli Gervais. One thing is sure, if this good omen is realized, its website will be useful for many.

    With little money - the project was self-funded - the website has become an indispensable tool for film promotion in Cameroon. "After only one year of existence, we have reached 177,777 visits. This success is undoubtedly due to the wide range of services offered by Cinemaducameroun.com. In addition to film critics, the site also offers a bank of promising projects. "The goal is to link producers, scriptwriters and directors," says Gervais Djimeli, passionate about his project. The site team has even provided a list of 400 actors, "The Directory of Cameroon who is the strength of an emerging film industry," says the site.

    The latest addition of Cinemaducameroun.com is home video. The site offers movie rentals and equipment for private screenings. "Ideally, we target companies that could stream movies to their employees, and thus invest in the Cameroonian film," said Gervais before Djimeli moderate his ambitions, "but we lack the means to promote this activity."

    Visibility that could grow rapidly since Cinemaducameroun.com was selected by the ‘Kamerun Goethe Institute’ as an element for the development of an African and European film portal.

  • 2 April – 31 May, 2011
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC (18th Edition)
    Venue: NYC, USA, various locations.

    The festival will feature a gallery exhibition, fashion show, panel discussions, Q&As with directors and actors, live performances, and contemporary cinema from Africa and the Diaspora. AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis. General admission $12.
    For more information visit here:

    29 May - 5 June 2011 (final date tba)
    Festival Ecrans Noirs
    Venue: Terre Africaine, B.P. 11371, Yaoundé, Cameroun.

    Tel: [+237] 221 49 41
    Fax: [+237] 221 49 42
    An African film festival focused on Central Africa, and on the distribution and promotion of African films.

    2 - 5 June 2011
    Africa Festival
    Venue: Wurzburg, Germany

    For more information visit here:

    9 - 26 June 2011
    Encounters
    Venue: Cape Town, South Africa

    1st Floor
    27 Caledon Street
    Cape Town
    8001
    South Africa
    Tel: [+ 27] 21 465 46 86
    Fax: [+ 27] 21 461 69 64
    For more information visit here:
    distribution@encounters.co.za

    11 - 19 June, 2011
    The 8th African Film Festival of Tarifa, Spain
    Venue: Tarifa, Spain

    For more information visit here:

    18 - 26 June, 2011
    Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF)
    Venue: Zanzibar, Tanzania

    East Africa's largest film and arts festival, showcasing a broad spectrum of African films.
    For more information visit here:

    5 - 6 July 2011
    Broadcast, Interactive, Internet and Hybrid TV in Africa 
    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

    The objectives of this event are to bring together the global TV and Telecom industries with a specific focus on the unique African market to understand how the digital and interactive TV revolution will create both growth and new opportunities. 
    Pre-Course Workshop will be held on 4th July 2011, the conference will run from 5th - 6th July 2011 and the post-course workshop will take place on 7th July 2011.
    For more information visit here:

    20 - 22 July 2011
    Mediatech Africa 2011 Exhibition
    Venue: The Coca-Cola Dome - Northgate - Johannesburg (South Africa)

    Mediatech Africa SA's only all-inclusive broadcast, media, entertainment and AV trade. It showcases cutting edge technologies and services from industry leaders in television and broadcast, sound and audio, lighting and staging, animation, communication and related fields.
    For more information visit here:

    21 - 24 July 2011
    Festival du Monde Arabe du Court-métrage Azrou-13 edition
    Venue: Ifrane

    Arab short film festival. Subscription closes on 15 March 2011. Call for short films closes on 15 May 2011. Two training workshops will take place on the side. Results will be announced on 1 June 2011.
    For more information visit here:

    21 - 31 July 2011
    DIFF - 32nd Durban International Film Festival
    Venue: Durban (South Africa)

    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information visit here:

    22 - 25 July 2011
    The 2nd Durban FilmMart
    Venue: Durban (South Africa)

    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information visit here:

    31 July 2011
    The African Audio-Visual Awards (TAVA)
    Lagos, Nigeria

    TAVA Awards
    13, Bodunrin Caulcrick Close,
    Opp. Bank PHB, Ogba,
    Lagos, Nigeria.
    Tel.:   01-8936601
    Email: okey@tava-awards.com
    TAVA Awards is a platform created to celebrate the finest Africans behind great films, television productions, advertisements and music videos. All those who employ sound a picture to tell their stories in order to create entertainment. Entries to the awards closes on June 15th.
    For more information visit here:

    July - Sept. 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC
    NYC, USA

    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information visit here:

    21 – 24 August 2011
    The 13th PAMRO meeting and All Africa Media Research Conference
    Venue: Dakar, Senegal
    at the Le Méridien President Hotel.
    For more information visit here:

    27 August - 4 September 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    For more information e-mail: zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw

    9 - 14 August 2011 (tbc)
    Lola Kenya Screen
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 20 315 258, 221 3 318
    For more information visit here:
    director@lolakenyascreen.org

    31 August - 10 September 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information visit here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11 - 14 Septembre 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world. For more information visit here:

    3 - 8 Octobre 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    5 - 9 October 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information visit here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information visit here:

    21 - 29 October 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue: 78, av. du Pirée - 34000 Montpellier - France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information visit here:

    21 - 30 October 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    P.O. Box 76417 – 00508
    Nairobi
    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information visit here:

    26 - 31 October 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival
    Venue: Cape Town, South Africa

    27 Palmer Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town, 7945 – South Africa
    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information visit here:

    27 October – 6 November 2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival

    29 October - 6 November 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information visit here:
    info@amakula.com

    31 October - 7 November 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information visit here:

    25 November - 4- December of 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP (theatre auditorium de Poitiers) in Poitiers (France).

    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information visit here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT, 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT  is dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information visit here:

  • Management team at South Africa’s pay-TV challenger, TopTV celebrated its first birthday this month, May 2011. Owned by On Digital Media, the TV station was the second payTV player to compete with pay-TV incumbent MultiChoice. According to Elouise Kelly, Vice President of Marketing, Top TV has had its share of teething problems. “As a young company TopTV is aware of its current challenges but also very proud of its achievements to date,” she stated. When it was launched back in May 2010, Top TV offered a total of 55 channels in bouquets that range from R99 to R249 per month. One year later the price range has remained unchanged. As part of TopTV’s birthday celebrations the pay TV company is using this opportunity to reward subscribers who took a chance with the new kid on the block 12 months ago, giving away prizes to the value of R300 000, including a trip for two to the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards in Los Angeles, the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards in Toronto, Canada and a visit to the France 24 Studios in Paris. Enter here:

    - In Kenya, an ex-NTV journalist was buried in Langata cemetery. Sarah Wambui Kabiru was discovered dead by police in her house in Umoja estate on May 1, 2011. Police have since arrested her partner Moses Dola, also a journalist, who is suspected of strangling her.

    - In Pretoria, South Africa, people across the country extended their condolences to the family of SABC journalist Kgomotso Sebetso, who died following a car crash. Sebetso, 44, was taken to hospital in a serious condition after his car crashed into a truck. Media statements and his Facebook friends all described Sebetso - who was part of the SABC team that covers the Presidency and President Jacob Zuma - as an ever smiling, warm and humble spirit who was dedicated to his work. In a statement, Zuma said he was in great shock over the tragic death of Sebetso who always conducted himself professionally.

  • Bloomberg is looking for freelance reporters in 16 African countries.

    Bloomberg, the U.S. financial news agency, seeks reporters with familiarity in business, financial and economic reporting. Freelancers must have a minimum of five years’ experience, fluency in English and be based in one of the countries below.

    Applications are only being accepted from the following countries: Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe, Seychelles, Comoros, Sao Tome et Principe, Cape Verde, Chad, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Puntland and Equatorial Guinea.

    For more information, contact Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net and put the country of application the subject line.

    _______________________________________________________

    Call for visual art projects – African artists included

    “Places of residence“ - International Center “Les Récollets” in Paris, France.
     
    The City of Paris - Department of Cultural Affairs - and the French Institute offer a residency program for foreign artists at the International Center and monastery “Les Récollets”.

    This program is designed for experienced writers and artists including visual arts’ disciplines to gain a professional career abroad. The winners are selected by an advisory committee on the basis of a project they wish to develop in Paris during their stay.
    This project should preferably be conducted in conjunction with a partner institution, structure, company, or an artist, previously identified in Paris or its suburbs for artists in the visual arts and performing arts, and / or part of a research project.

    The winners are hosted in one of five workshops / units reserved for this program at the Convent of “les Recollets” magnificent building located in central Paris (75010) along the Canal Saint-Martin. Since its renovation in 2003, it has become a venue for artists and researchers.

    Lengths of stay of three consecutive months are accompanied by a monthly subsistence allowance of 1500 euros.
    Deadline for submissions: June 22, 2011

    Registration is done online here:

    _______________________________________________________


    $1 M fund for indie African docs

    Hot Docs looks to kickstart a new generation of African filmmakers with new production fund from Blue Ice Films. Film financier Blue Ice Films has pacted with the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on a $1 million production fund for indie African documentary makers.

    The Hot Docs-Blue Ice Documentary Fund follows Steven Silver and Neil Tabatznik of Blue Ice executive producing two Canadian movies shot in Africa, Shake Hands With the Devil, directed by Roger Spottiswoode, and The Bang Bang Club, which Silver directed.

    Hot Docs will hand out coin over five years to create a new generation of African indie producers.

    Blue ice recently teamed up with Doug Mankoff’s Echo Lake Entertainment to launch a separate private equity film fund for mid-budget movies with bankable stars and directors for global sale.

    Source: hollywoodreporter, 5/4/2011 by Etan Vlessing.

    _______________________________________________________

    South Africa: NFVF has an open vacancy

    Applications from suitably qualified candidates are invited to apply for the vacant position of Communications and Public Affairs Coordinator.
    For more information visit here: 

Issue no 555 20th May 2011

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Top story

  • May 31st is a date to keep in mind because it is the day Orange Tunisie will launch its apps store. It will be the first apps store to go live in an African country. Isabelle Gross spoke to Nadia Mkhinini, Head of Products and Services at Orange Tunisie about what the apps store will have in for the Tunisian mobile users and how Orange Tunisie will tackle local apps development.

    Orange Tunisie’s says that “the development and the commercialisation of apps are central to their 3G strategy”. According to Nadia Mkhinini, it all started last year when Orange Tunisie rolled out an extensive awareness and training program aimed at local developers and engineers students in ICT. They held 8 workshops across the country’s main cities attracting more than 600 people. They also organised training courses in universities and engineering schools. Orange Tunisie organised for example a first training program at the National Engineering School of Tunis (ENIT) in November 2010. 27 participants enrolled for courses and practical sessions. Orange provided a developer user guide, training support brochures, exercises and 3 iMAC 27. The feedback was: “high potential”, “a real interest for this new market”,  “ENIT asked for a second training program and wanted to create a mobile developers club sponsored by Orange Tunisie”. At Supcom, another engineering school, the mobile operator provided training on mobile apps and APIs to 200 students and this program will be integrated in the curriculum thought by the school. Most of the participants to these workshops and training sessions had little knowledge on how to develop an application but were very keen to learn.

    In parallel to the launch of the iPhone4 last October, Orange Tunisie also run a competition aimed at supporting local developers to develop apps for the iPhone. For the 100 most promising apps, Orange Tunisie paid the US$99 registration fee that is required by Apple to access its development platform. Most young Tunisians don’t have a bank account or a credit card and therefore it is very difficult for them to enrol on any international apps distribution platform.

    At the end of February 2011, the mobile operator also opened a development centre in Tunis with the aim of providing a space to hold training sessions on how to build mobile apps but also to offer access to the equipment needed by developers to develop and test their apps. The centre has 11 MAC, 13PC, a range of smartphones to test the apps on various mobile operating system and 2G and 3G+ mobile internet access. Developers can even book their seat online here. How cool this is!

    The launch of the apps store is the next step in Orange Tunisie’s mobile content strategy. It is quite a bold approach if you consider that it is the latest mobile entrant in Tunisia (until recently a duopoly between Tunisie Telecom and Tunisiana). Orange Tunisie launched its 2G and 3G services in February 2010 and today its 3G network covers 71% of the population.  According to Nadia Mkhinini, 42% of the mobile handsets on the network have data capabilities and 15% of the handsets are 3G handsets. The number of smartphones is still small and represents about 5% of the handsets but the number of handsets running the Android operating system is steadily growing.

    When Orange Tunisie’s apps store launches on May 31st, it will offer a mix of international and local mobile applications. The international apps are sourced via the Orange’s group apps portfolio. There will be applications in French and in Arabic. Nadia Mkhinini reckons that by the launch date, they will have 50 local applications online. They range from cinema, transport, banking to tourism related applications. Most of the local applications fall in the category of utility and so far there are no local game applications. At the start users will be able to access and download apps via Orange Tunisie mobile portal at m.orange.tn until a built-in apps will come pre-installed on the handsets sold by the mobile operator.

    Local developers will get 70% of the revenue generated by the application - the standard revenue share in this industry’s segment. Developers can also choose how they want to sell their applications: free with advertising or as a paid for application. The price of a paid for application will be directly deducted from the mobile subscriber’s calling credits. The ability to offer carrier billing to purchase paid for applications plays in favour of the mobile operator. International apps store still have to solve the problem on how to get payments since an overwhelming majority of African mobile users don’t have a credit card  (some international apps store are trying to resolve this issue: e.g. last week Google announced that 26 African countries could now buy paid applications). Orange Tunisie forecasts it will have 20,000 users by the end of this year with each user downloading between one and two apps per month. The numbers are small but apps developers will also have later on the opportunity to place their products in Orange other operations across the world.

    Through this project, it is not only Tunisian developers that will get the opportunity to showcase their technical skills at building apps but local IT companies too. Orange Tunisie’s apps store has been built by a Tunisian IT startup company as the group’s solution follows a scheduled implementation that would have set back the store’s launch in Tunisia. According to Nadia Mkhinini, Orange Tunisie will continue to support local research and development initiatives as part of a wider commitment to the Tunisian government’s strategy to develop further the local ICT sector (which is already active in the outsourcing segment). Unemployment remains high in Tunisia and the ICT sector offers jobs and business opportunities. It is important to help the developers to earn some money so that they can exist.

    Orange Tunisie’s apps store represents a significant turning point if you consider that many African mobile operators still don’t really care about how subscribers use the data as long as they buy the data package. African mobile operators will sooner rather then later have to engage more with local developers. Supporting them to develop apps is a first step in the right direction but developers need more to reach customers: they need access to the mobile operator’s network and distribution platform.

     


     

    Five videos on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel that need watching to understand where telecoms is going:

    John Kamau, Jamii Telecom
    on Africa’s first Fibre-To-The-Home network:

    Jessica Verrilli on African media using Twitter:

    Ayo Alli, Goal.com on the site’s traffic in Nigeria and African footballers:

    Mark Davies, CEO, Esoko on agricultural pricing systems:

    Adiel Akplogan, CEO, Afrinic on the transition from IPV4 to IPV6:

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

internet

  • We compare how South Africa’s mobile broadband prices stack up against international rates

    South Africa’s three largest mobile operators have all launched 2GB mobile broadband promotions priced at R149 per month.

    These promotions are priced at less than half of Vodacom, MTN and Cell C's standard 2GB data bundle pricing, begging the question why these lower prices are not feasible on standard data packages.

    Most of the local mobile operators explained that these promotional prices are well below cost, which makes them unsustainable in the long run. At the recent IIR Broadband Summit held in Sandton, Vodacom and 8ta indicated that a price below 10c per MB is simply not sustainable.

    Not all consumers are convinced, arguing that the cellular operators should reduce data prices to levels only seen with Cell C’s broadband promotions.

    But is South Africa really out of sync with the rest of the world when it comes to mobile broadband pricing?

    The best way to establish whether South Africans are getting a good deal is to look at international pricing benchmarks, and the table below gives an overview of comparable prices for data bundles between 1GB and 2GB. Both developed and developing countries were selected in this comparison. The prices below are indicated in Rands.

    It is clear that South Africa compares favorably with its international counterparts when looking at the current promotional offers, but can be considered expensive when using standard data prices.

    An interesting trend which emerged is that there is not a big difference in pricing between the developed and developing world when it comes to mobile broadband.

    With fixed broadband there is typically a significant difference in both speed and pricing when comparing first world and third world prices, but developing countries often have better mobile data prices than their developed counterparts.

  • Despite the landing of submarine optic cables at the shores of the Indian Ocean almost two years ago, Tanzania's Internet access charges have not decreased to levels that end-users initially hoped to enjoy.

    Seacom, which was the first submarine cable to arrive at the Dar es Salaam shores in July 2009, says bandwidth wholesale prices have fallen but retailers were still charging relatively high prices to access Internet.

    This is done to cushion the transportation and value-addition costs.The East African Submarine Cable System (EASSy) landed a year later. Seacom sells one Megabyte per second (Mbs) of bandwidth at $230 per month at its landing point in Dar es Salaam. If an Internet service provider wants to use another bandwidth provider, it is possible to get the service for as low as $175 for 1 Mbs per month at the Seacom landing point.

    "Companies that connected their networks to Seacom dropped prices and increased bandwidth speeds," Seacom Tanzania managing director Anna Kahama-Rupia said in a telephone interview.However, the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority says there has been a drop in voice and data tariffs by operators connected to fibre optical cables.

    The government is in talks to invite other gateways such as Kenya's Uhuru One and TEAMS. The Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL), which has a 20-year agreement with Seacom for a bandwidth of less than $65 Mbs per month, charges a flat rate of $180,000 per year to transport Internet bandwidth across the country.

    TTCL was the first company to join the submarine fibre optic by Seacom for transporting Internet and data. Later Internet service providers (ISPs) such as SimbaNet and other telecom firms followed suit.

    In addition, to connect to the backbone requires custom Huawei routers. These specialised routers cost $18,000 and take six months to manufacture. By comparison, a similar Cisco router for standard network architecture is $8,000.

    ISPs that want to buy the bandwidth from TTCL rather than transmitting it on their own will pay $700 for 1Mbs per month in Dar es Salaam and $900 in Arusha.

    Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority managing director John Nkoma said: "The connectivity charges in the country have not gone down partly because some players have not finished their contracts with satellite companies. But for the few ones already connected to the optic cables, their charges have dropped significantly."

    The deputy managing director of the University of Dar es Salaam Computing Centre, Dr Respickius Casmir, said: "Actually, there is not any provider that has reviewed the invoices that they were giving their clients since the arrival of the cable [Seacom], most providers have doubled the bandwidth but with same prices, giving customers more benefits than what they need."

    However, telecom companies argue that the arrival of the submarine infrastructure has prompted them to cut mobile Internet service prices by nearly 100 per cent.

    TTCL Solutions integrator Thomas Lemunge said the dedicated Internet product for corporate customers, which the company used to charge Sh900,000 for leasing 64Mbps a month two years ago, had fallen to Sh250,000 per month since the arrival of the Seacom. Speed was also high.

    "The cable is like a super highway. The issue is what layers of services are there to encourage growth. We need more people to develop mechanisms that will stimulate more connectivity usage that will create economies of scale to providers," Airtel marketing director Kelvin Twissa said.

    He said such mechanisms could be attracting learning institutions to access e-books and lecturers as well. However, WiA Group CEO Erick Mwenda said the arrival of the cables and the activation of the national ICT broadband backbone might not reduce Internet access charges significantly because the bandwidth uptake was still low. Currently, they're about 500,000 broadband users in the country, a slight increase of the people that were accessing Internet in the last two years.

  • President Paul Kagame is a leader who draws sharply divided opinions -- praise from some for rebuilding Rwanda after the 1994 genocide and criticism from others over a record of repression of dissent and the press. On Saturday, a tweet critical of Kagame by British columnist Ian Birrell sparked a heated exchange about press freedom between the two men on the social networking site.

    "No-one in media, UN or human rights groups has the moral right to criticise me, says despotic & deluded @PaulKagame," tweeted Birrell in response to a statement made by the president in a May 13 interview with Financial Times Africa Editor William Wallis.

    "I don't think anybody out there in the media, UN, human rights organisations, has any moral right whatsoever to level any accusations against me or against Rwanda," Kagame had stated.

    Birrell's comment drew an immediate rebuke from @PaulKagame, the president's official public account. What followed was an extraordinary exchange, only made possible by microblogs, mainly about the state of press freedom and freedom of expression, or their lack thereof, in Rwanda.

    Soon, Rwanda's foreign affairs minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, fired off from her own public Twitter account in defense of the president. "Ian have u ever heard of Rwa National Dialogue? R u fam w Rwa prez monthly press conf?PK 2 secure 2fear crtics@home," read the first of a series of tweets from her public account.

    Then Birrell made note of a sudden flurry of new tweets attacking him. "Interesting: getting series of critical tweets on Rwanda from brand new Twitter accounts such as @AIToure & @MortonAlex #usualtactics, he tweeted.

    "PK is a widely admired leader on the continent. Rw's progress and peace surrounded by a sea of instability is undoubted," tweeted @AIToure, while @MortonAlex defended the government's restrictions on press freedom and freedom of expression, conflating such freedoms with the specter of stirring interethnic tensions similar to those that led to the 1994 genocide. "Ian do you know that Rwanda outlaws ethnic politics? And "journalism" intended to cause "ethnic divisions"? do you understand why?" read one tweet.

    Two Rwandan journalists have been languishing in jail since July 2010, serving harsh prison sentences under vague and sweeping laws against "genocide ideology" and "divisionism" for columns critical of the government.

    Besides prosecuting critics offline, Kagame's administration has stepped up efforts to counter critics online. Editors of critical news tabloids who were forced into exile after the government banned their publications in 2010 ahead of presidential elections subsequently reported their web sites blocked in Kigali.

    In March, the Kigali-based news website Great Lakes Voice reported that all top officials had been ordered to begin using social media platforms to counter negative or opposition "propaganda."  The Kigali Wire blog also reported increased presence of the government on social media, citing the "creation of a number of new accounts including, @UrugwiroVillage (the official account of the president's office) and @RwandaPolice.

    Eventually, the voice of wisdom of the Kagame vs. Birrell clash on Twitter belonged to @sonjasugira, a self-described Rwandan-American. "Twitter really isn't the medium for these kinds of discussions. only end up talking at (not with) each other," she tweeted to @Minzo, a Kagame supporter.

telecoms

  • South Africa's largest cellular operator, Vodacom, will spend R7.7 billion on its network in the new financial year, of which R6.3 billion will go into its local operations as competition heats up.

    Consumers have long complained that South Africa's cellular networks are unreliable, as calls drop too often and data connections are unstable. However, competition for subscribers has increased, with cellular companies investing in networks in a bid to boost data speeds.

    Competition increased last year with the launch of Telkom's mobile arm, 8ta, and the unveiling of Cell C's HSPA+ network and subsequent aggressive data pricing strategy.

    In February, the Internet Service Providers' Association of SA said continued investment in infrastructure and regulatory advances would increase competition in the sector, which would result in decreased voice and data service prices.

    Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys says the cellular operator will pump R7.7 billion into its network this year, up from R6.3 billion in the year to March. Uys was speaking during a media call this morning, presenting the company's results for the year to March.

    Its capital expenditure programme will focus on speeding up the rollout of mobile broadband coverage and self-provisioning transmission, to improve the quality of services and support increasing demand for data.

    Competition has been heating up, with aggressive promotional pricing from all players, which has pushed tariffs lower, says Uys. Vodacom has been beefing up data capacity on its network and now has 4 290 3G towers, with plans to add another 1 000 this financial year.

     The cellular operator has also upgraded 1,000 base stations in major cities in South Africa to allow for speeds of up to 43.2Mbps. The towers now operate at double the previous speed. Another 1,000 towers will come online at the end of this month.

    Vodacom grew group revenue to R61 billion, from R58.5 billion a year ago, and net profit leapt to R8 billion, from R4.2 billion. The cellular company spent R6.3 billion on bolstering its network during the year, of which R5.1 billion was invested in SA.

    Data revenue grew 35.5%, to R6.4 billion, and Uys says this area will continue to be a growth driver in the future. Vodacom invested in increasing its data capacity during the year. However, the company's capital investment as a percentage of revenue slowed, going to 10.3% compared with 11.3% last year and 12.5% for the year to March 2009.

    The bulk of its capital investment last year went into its local operations, where it spent R5.1 billion. Vodacom says it “continued to make substantial investments in the network, particularly to enhance quality and support the 48.9% growth in data traffic”.

    Vodacom's investment mostly went into building a “wider and faster data network” as it added 948 new 3G base stations during the year, it says. “We enhanced the network with the latest technologies, 3 217 base stations have been upgraded to the next-generation long-term evolution-ready equipment and more than 1 000 dual-carrier sites are now live,” it says.

    The company adds that its long-distance national fibre build and investment into its project to self-provide fibre to base stations was slower than planned due to delays in getting right of way approvals and the build freeze during the World Cup.

    Vodacom spent R1.2 billion on its international operations to support the medium- to long-term growth potential of its African units. “The investment was mainly focused on increasing capacity to support higher traffic and expanding the network in Mozambique,” it says.

    However, spend slowed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Vodacom has yet to resolve a dispute with a shareholder in the unit. Uys says for Vodacom the process has been slower than expected, but is on track.

    Vodacom has been locked in a dispute with fellow shareholder Congolese Wireless Networks, which owns a 49% stake in the operation, for several months over a funding agreement between the shareholders.

    Group customers grew 9%, to 43.5 million during the year, with local levels moving back to before the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act was enacted.

    Vodacom now has 26.5 million South African customers. Internationally, the group's subscriber base grew 24.4%, to 17 million.

  • Initial test runs on the mobile number portability (MNP) system done on May 4, 2011 was successful, custodians of the central database of all ported numbers, Porting Access Ghana (PXS) said.

    Saqip Nazir is the Managing Director of PXS, and he said in March all the manual pre-testing between the central database and all the six operator networks were completed, and in April the networks connected their Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to the central database.“On May 4, 2011, the first end to end porting was done and it took between 10 to 15 minutes out of a possible 24 hours,” he said.

    He said that may not mean the system is absolutely full-proof but it indicates how committed and cooperative the operators have been in the process so far. “I must say the operators here have been pretty fantastic – they’ve all been very cooperative – everyone has mostly done their work – there may have been few hitches here and there, but everyone has played along and they are working very hard to make sure everything is successful,” he said.

    Nazir says PXS has invested more than a million dollars to set up two redundant data centres where a database of all ported numbers would be kept, adding that PXS would serve as a routing centre, dealing strictly with the telecom operators and not subscribers.

    “Our role is mainly technical and never regulatory – all regulatory matters would still be handled by the NCA so if customers have issues they need to report to their network provider and the network would then have to report to NCA and not to us,” he said.

    He explained that PXS would manage the whole porting process by receiving requests from recipient networks and carry on requests to donor networks and when the process is complete, PXS would then broadcast to all the networks and stakeholders which network the ported numbers now belong to.

    PXS also manages MNP in Kenya where it has been accused by one operator, Safaricom, of favouring another operator, Airtel, but Nazir said PXS Ghana is on good terms with all operators in Ghana and would not favour one operator against others.

    “We are on good terms with all operators and we have visited each of them and informed them that we have a job to do in Ghana and we will do it without fear or favour – we invested our own money and we will not favour anyone at our own detriment,” he said.

    But he was also quick to add that the problems in Kenya was because MNP was launched when not all operators were ready, but in Ghana everything is being done to ensure that by the time of launch every operator would be ready.

    MNP Consultant for the National Communications Authority (NCA), Bob Palitz said some NCA staff are being trained to man an NCA desk at PXS and over the porting process and ensure everybody, including PXS are playing by the rules. He said there are still layers and layers of testing that need to be done to ensure that the operators are fully ready before the launch. Palitz said each of the six operators need to do pre-testing with five others so there would be 30 exercises in all and just a few have been done so far.

    He noted there is need for the operators to also test calls from and to ported numbers for billing purposes so they would not bill numbers wrongly because of the network prefix. “Vodafone also needs to configure their fixed line network to be able to recognize calls from ported 020 numbers as outside network calls, and also recognize calls from 024, 026, 027, 028, 023, 054 and 057 which may have ported to Vodafone as on-network calls and bill them as such,” he said.

    He said all that need to be pre-tested, including even calls from overseas to ensure that the international gateways would be able to associate ported numbers with the new networks in spite of the network prefix, and bill them accordingly.

    “It is important to note that when MNP starts, networks will no more be identified with their prefix because you can have numbers with different prefixes on all the networks – but porting is likely to start with a sharp rise to a point, plateau for a while and start rising gradually as subscriber numbers increase,” he said.

  • Could Africa have its own giant cellphone manufacturer like Nokia or HTC? Alpesh Patel, founder of start-up Mi-Fone, thinks so. Patel, who was born in Uganda and holds South African citizenship, launched the company three years ago after leaving Motorola. He says the larger manufacturers have not yet fully realised that Africa is the next growth market for affordable devices. “Africa has been a secondary market for them, it has become a dumping ground for technologies,” he says.

    Devices developed by the company so far range in price from US$15 to $125, with touch-screen Android smartphones at the top end. “There are not many smartphones available for under $125. They’re considered a luxury for the masses in Africa. We hope to change that,” says Patel.

    Of course, Mi-Fone, which still bills itself as a start-up, will face stiff competition. Vodafone, for instance, recently announced the Vodafone Smart, its own branded smartphone, also costing about $125.

    Mi-Fone is 92% African owned, with shareholders from Mauritius, SA, Rwanda and Nigeria. “We survived against all expectations and we are profitable with only three years under our belt,” says Patel, who personally holds 70% of the company’s equity.

    Since its launch, it has distributed 1m phones to the continent’s mobile operators. “It’s not a huge number when you compare it to the larger providers and what they ship annually,” says Patel. But volumes are growing. “We are looking at realistic growth targets,” he says. The company has generated $15m in revenue since its launch.

    For now, like many other cellphone companies, Mi-Fone’s devices are made in China. However, Patel says the company wants to raise capital to allow it to build manufacturing plants on the continent.

    “African businesses need support and overseas companies that would traditionally invest in companies like these see Africa as a minefield of risk. We need the banks to be more serious about investment in these kinds of businesses,” he says.

    Mi-Fone’s head office is in Dubai, but there are offices across the continent, including Ghana and Tanzania. It is set to launch in SA in the next few weeks and is in discussions with both the Independent Communications Authority of SA and a potential SA empowerment partner to open a local subsidiary. Patel will not disclose the name of the partner, saying only it’s a listed business.

    He says Mi-Fone wants to turn traditional handset development on its head, but focusing on what he calls a “bottom-up” strategy. “Why shouldn’t the poor of Africa also have a choice as to what phones they want to use?” he says.

    Mi-Fone’s model is to sell devices directly to cellular network operators instead of using channels to reach retailers and operators. “That way, there are no middlemen and the devices reach consumers as cheaply as possible,” says Patel. 

    For an interview with Alpesh Patel, Mi-Fone on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel, click link here:

computing

  • A group of concerned Information Communications Technology (ICT) Professionals has condemned the award of $29 million- that is, N4.49billion contract to HP for the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMS) project.

    ThisDay sources confirmed that the stakeholders in the industry were bringing out their 'war chest' to petition the federal government against the award of the contract. The Federal Government had last week awarded the N4.49 billion ICT contract , which will be domiciled in the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to HP.

    The project, which has a five year lifespan is aimed at improving the financial processes of the government in its departments and ministries. But the sources argued that such contract award was tantamount to capital flight and if the same had been awarded to local players would have created nothing less than 20, 000 jobs for Nigerians.

    The stakeholders were alleging that the contract in principle between the Federal Government and HP Nigeria Limited lacked credibility, promoted monopoly and Anti-trust and as such should be terminated with immediate effect because it will destroy the foundation of the ICT industry.

    The Group of Concerned ICT Professionals described the contract award as unpatriotic and dangerous and called for its urgent termination. They reiterated that the contract promoted corporate monopoly and anti-trust at the enterprise level and was against international convention.

    The group stressed that with Nigeria currently producing about 1,800 ICT graduates annually, with a potential growth of over 100,000 annually, the consequences of the Federal Government's action will ultimately lead to massive unemployment in the Industry.

    The pool of ICT graduates without job in Nigeria will turn to Cybercrime and multiply the prevailing cyber security nightmare bedevilling the nation. According to the group, based on its professional evaluation and analysis, IT graduates without jobs in Nigeria will eventually constitute to delivering the largest economic, political and cultural damages to the future survivability strategy of the Nation at great cost to children yet unborn.

    The other reason given by the body on why the contract needed to be terminated was that the signed contract was highly risky and may lead to the extinction of the innovations and carrier development in the ICT Industry.

    The contract is also said to negate the Federal Government of Nigeria Laws as stipulated in the CPN ACT 49 of 1993. It also does not conform to the Law on due process. The group stressed that Nigerian ICT stakeholders, professionals were not consulted but clandestinely excluded.

    The sensitivity of the contract, according to the group, portended a great danger to the National Security and the survivability of Nigeria in the cyberspace and negated the 20-2020 mission of the federal government.

  • Interswitch, an electronic payment transaction switching company; last week in Lagos, unveiled its business expansion plans into East and West Africa markets.

    The expansion plans, which repositioned the company as a Pan-African integrated transaction and payment processing company, prompted Interswitch to change its brand identity in order to reflect its newly expanded status.

    The expansion plans, it was gathered, came to fruitfulness, through the sale of the company's 67 percent equity to Helios Investment Partners and Adlevo Capital. Helios already had significant investments in financial service firms in East and West Africa while Adlevo Capital has typically invested in businesses where technology and continuous innovation are critical for business success.

    Prior to the sale, InterSwitch had acquired a controlling stake in Bankom Limited, Uganda's only licensed inter-bank switch, and had recently won a competitive bid to partner with the Central Bank and Bankers Committee of Gambia and Sierra Leone to design, implement and manage the national switches in these countries.

    With its multi-channel innovative solutions such as Quickteller, which is a value added service platform; Paydirect, a payment collections, lodgment and monitoring solution; Verve, a domestic Chip and PIN payment card, and MasterCard Verve, a co-branded payment card for domestic and international markets, InterSwitch says it has become a prominent brand in electronic transaction switching and payment processing in Africa, and that it is set to better serve customers with Africa wide aspirations.

    Pleased with the expansion plans, Chief Executive Officer of Interswitch,  Mitchell Elegbe said "we are expanding into East and West Africa, in order to reflect exactly what we do and how we can serve organisations and governments across Africa. The repositioning of our business has given us an opportunity to refresh our corporate identity in line with current times, develop consumer associations in line with our business offering, and create an awareness of our products and services in existing and new markets".

    Addressing the issue of its new corporate identity, Chief Marketing Officer for InterSwitch, Mrs. Tito Adeniyi-Aderoju said, the re-branding would reflect the company's new Pan-African status, while still retaining its name which was rooted from the Nigerian environment. "The refreshed corporate identity forms part of an overall brand strategy to communicate how InterSwitch has, and can partner with businesses to accelerate growth, and reduce transaction costs irrespective of where the business may reside on the African continent."

    With the commencement of operations eight years ago as a small company with a vision, Interswitch has currently grown to become a Pan-African, providing online, real-time transaction switching services, that enable individuals and businesses have access to their funds across banks via a variety of payment channels such as Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), Point of Sale (PoS) terminals, Mobile Phones, Kiosks, Web and Bank branches.

    Elegbe further explained the importance of a robust electronic payment systems, which he said, enhance the commercial reputation of any country, improve the investment climate, strengthen the image of the banking sector and provide the much needed vehicle for increasing economic growth, and improving welfare, assuring that InterSwitch would continually be committed to seeing Africa excel in the global payments landscape.

  • Makerere University students will in July represent the East African region at a global technology competition imagine cup that seeks to address some of the region's toughest challenges.

    Joseph Lutalo and Joshua Kaizzi's QuestO team beat 11 others from Ugandan and Kenyan Universities when it showcased desktop, mobile and web-based system software dubbed CRIMEX that focuses on crime pattern analysis in developing countries in Nairobi on Monday.

    Lutalo is a third year student at the College of Science while Kaizzi is a first year student of 3D animations at the college of Computing and Information science.

    Imagine Cup, an annual Microsoft sponsored student competition, seeks to encourage youths around the world to apply their imagination, passion and creativity using technology to make a difference in the world.

    The two-man team will participate in global competition due to take place in New York in July. "This is an incredible opportunity to represent Uganda. We will compete with students from around the world who like us, are passionate about making a difference in the world," Lutalo noted moments after his team was declared winner.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Telecoms giant Safaricom held investors' take home steady at Sh8 billion even as it announced a 13.2 per cent drop in net profits in a year that was marked by vicious price wars, high inflation and exchange rate turbulence.

    That company will pay out 61 per cent of total profits in dividends or 20 cents per share.
    Investors traded 502,000 Safaricom shares at Sh3.90 each, down from Sh3.95 on Tuesday in a market that closed just one and half hours before the results were announced.

    The progressive dividend policy that Bob Collymore, the CEO, announced puts Safaricom in line with other big Kenyan corporations such as BAT, BOC Gases, Barclays Bank, beer maker EABL and Bamburi Cement that have made huge dividend payouts despite a decline in profits growth.

    Safaricom returned a net profit of Sh13 billion compared to the previous year's Sh15 billion on the back of a Sh9 billion revenue growth to Sh94.5 billion signalling that the near halving of key voice call tariffs, though painful, did not push the firm off the growth path.

    "This outcome shows that revenue growth is not all about price - it's about diversification in the provision of both voice and data services," said Bob Collymore, the company's chief executive.

    Collymore acknowledged that the results had been realised in a difficult business environment marked by a steep rise in cost of living that deeply eroded disposable incomes of consumers and a weak shilling that significantly increased the cost of imported equipment.

    The results, however, show that Safaricom is on course to establishing a more diversified revenue base away from voice calls that have been the key growth driver since the company was founded 10 years ago.

    A diversified revenue base was critical to cushioning Safaricom from deep cuts in voice call tariffs in the second half of the year and its impact on the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), the company's chief financial officer, Chris Tiffin, said.

    "Overall rate of ARPU fall was less than five per cent to Sh437 despite tariffs having dropped by more 80 per cent in some segments of the business mainly because of strong ARPU growth in M-Pesa and text messages," Tiffin said.

    Voice calls, however, remain Safaricom's biggest revenue driver that accounted for 66.9 per cent of total revenue last year down from 68.6 per cent in 2009.

    Safaricom is banking on strong growth in internet penetration, whose revenue increased 80 per cent to Sh5.4 billion, accounting for eight per cent of total revenue.

    The combined income from SMS, M-Pesa, data and acquisitions accounted for one-third of total revenue. Tiffin said Safaricom had sold more than 900,000 mobile phone handsets in the year one third of which were internet-enabled demonstrating mobile phone's position as the key platform for internet penetration in Africa.

    The decline in profits despite the growth in revenues signaled that Safaricom walked through the year with a bigger cost burden whose management Mr Collymore promised will be the centerpiece of operations in the current year.

    EBITDA - a measure of revenues less the cost of goods sold, general and administrative expenses - stood at Sh35.7 billion, down from Sh36.6 billion in what Mr Tiffin attributed to enhanced rate of depreciation in the company's assets, while operating expenses increased from Sh36.5 billion to Sh45.7 billion.

    For Kenya's telecoms operators, 2010 must feel a lot like 2008. Three years ago the industry was in the throes of its first major price war but the operators earned more revenues as lower prices encouraged subscribers to talk to each other more. Last year, those same dynamics came into play once again as calling rates fell by an average of 70 per cent or from Sh10 to Sh3 for on-network calls within the network.

    For Safaricom, a new competitor in the form of Bharti Airtel and the continued assault on its market share by Telkom Kenya and Essar meant lower earnings from each call. The average voice revenue per user for voice calls dropped to Sh300 compared to Sh376 in 2008.

    In addition, many of the factors that initially led to Safaricom's fast paced growth - a lack of effective infrastructure and the need for cheaper communication - have been largely resolved over the last couple years, leaving mobile operators with the task of identifying value added services that keep subscribers on their networks.

    To defend its position, Safaricom has increasingly turned to internet services, a segment that grew by 85 per cent over the last year for mobile subscribers and at over 400 per cent for corporate customers raking in Sh31.3 billion.

    "The areas of focus for the company promise to remain data and M-Pesa, where earnings have been increasing over the last few years. This is a company that is looking for new revenue streams," said Eric Musau, an analyst at African Alliance.

    Earnings from the money transfer service M-Pesa - which broke even a year ago and is now contributing to the firm's profits - grew by 56 per cent to Sh11.8 billion, with 81 per cent of Safaricom's subscribers now using the service to send money to each other.

    "Our strategy in diversifying away from voice has delivered strong growth in data. This focus on data is more than just finding a new revenue earner, it is about finding a sustainable business that we can rely on for the next few years," said Mr Collymore.

    As Safaricom works to alleviate its dependence on voice revenues, it will turn to new business segments that analysts say will provide it with a stable income generating machine as earnings from voice continue to shrink.

    Over the last year, the company upped its investments on building its data business, inking agreements with partners and signing up large internet consumers in the corporate world to boost its earnings from the segment.

    A new partnership with Chinese mobile handset manufacturer Huawei has seen Safaricom deepen its presence in the gadget retail sector. It has made aggressive in-roads into becoming a key player in the music industry, with its ringtone business Skiza being used by nearly 4 million subscribers.

    Safaricom also diversified its M-Pesa offering, signing an agreement with Western Union that allows international transfers in 46 countries and moving into the e-commerce space with a M-pesa powered Visa travel card.

    The company also intensified its efforts to become a player in the internet market through a new division named Safaricom Business, which focuses on providing solutions for SMEs and corporates.

  • The government and three mobile phone companies will jointly construct an information communication technology broadband backbone in major urban areas of Tanzania.The project is expected to cost $80-100 million (between Sh120 billion Sh145 billion) and will be undertaken in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Mwanza, Arusha and Mbeya.

    The government partnership with Airtel, Zantel and Tigo is intended to bring connectivity close to urban dwellers. Since last year, the laying of the national ICT broadband backbone has been carried out in areas other than urban centres.

    The director for Information and Communications Technologies at the ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, Dr Zaipuna Yonah, told BusinessWeek recently that upon completing the work, the three firms would be given a right to use enough fibres for a certain period before the project is handed over to the government.

    Meanwhile, the construction of a national ICT backbone has entered into the last phase and only two regions --Rukwa and Kigoma--are yet to be reached.

    The backbone, which is the terrestrial continuation of the fibre optic submarine cables that landed on the Dar es Salaam coast in 2009, has contributed to a drop in Internet capacity charges. However, analysts see the connectivity charges as still high taking into account the tremendous development seen in the ICT industry in the country.

    The project was started in 2008 and is expected to cost about Sh251 billion when it is completed at the end of this year.The government intends to turn the country into a regional ICT hub. According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority, the broadband subscriptions stood at four million by the end of 2009.

    The construction of the backbone was divided into two phases. Phase one became operational in July 2010 and covered the northern ring of the network with ten points of presence (POPs), which included Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Singida, Iringa, Babati, Arusha, Namanga, Moshi and Tanga.

    Phase Two is expected to be completed by December 2011 with operational PoPs at Lindi, Mtwara, Tunduru, Songea, Sumbawanga, Tabora, Kigoma and Manyovu.

    The project is funded by a $170 million soft loan from China and Sh30 billion from government sources. However, the government should improve an environment for public and private institutions to deliver services using ICT.

    According to the deputy-managing director of the University of Dar es Salaam Computing Centre, Dr Respickius Casmir, the government should swiftly design arrangement for the country to tap socioeconomic benefits such as a knowledgeable society using the infrastructure.

    Since Phase One of the backbone became operational last July four major locally licensed cellular and data operators were subscribed to services of the national information communication and technology broadband backbone (NICTBB), with other two companies from Malawi and Zambia getting access to NICTBB through licensed local operators.

  • Zellco Cellular has failed to pay about US$14 million owed to NetOne within the agreed period, prompting the mobile phone operator to terminate the contract.

    According to NetOne, Zellco was given 14 days' notice to settle the debt. April 14 this year was the deadline, in accordance with the provisions of the Service Provider Agreement. Zellco did not pay on time, forcing NetOne to cancel the contract. Zellco had been in breach of contract for the past three years.

    In an interview with Herald Business, NetOne managing director Reward Kangai said Zellco has been challenging NetOne in the courts over settlement of the debt. Efforts to engage the company to honour its obligation to the parastatal proved fruitless. This compelled them to invoke the provisions in the agreement pertaining to breach of contract. "Zellco owes us over US$14 million and it had 14 days to remedy the breach but we did not see any effort on their part towards remedying the breach," he said..

    "Instead, they have been engaged in litigation against us, when we were only pursuing monies owed to us by Zellco.

    "We even offered them an opportunity to submit a proposal for terms to settle the debt (on a without-prejudice basis) soon after the aborted cancellation on April 6 this year. But they did not do that and instead sought an injunction barring us from cancelling the agreement. Zellco has been in breach of the agreement since 2009."

    On April 5 this year, NetOne issued a statement via SMS, notifying customers regarding the termination of Zellco's service agreement. But Zellco took legal action over the matter. An interim relief was granted in favour of Zellco, forcing NetOne to retract the statement, which it did.

    Zellco, through its lawyers, in correspondence dated April 19, said it viewed the move by NetOne "as not only ill-conceived and ill-advised but (also as) a blatant attempt to circumvent the net effect of the provisional order even before it has been confirmed".

    Meanwhile, NetOne has urged all former Zellco customers to update their personal information with NetOne and at the same time to deal directly with it in respect of bill inquiries and payments.

    NetOne invested in Zellco in the late 1990s through a debt conversion agreement which saw it acquiring a controlling 60 percent stake, with TeleNetwork Services holding the 40 percent balance. Zellco was however taken over by a consortium of local businesspeople who acquired the 60 percent stake from NetOne in 2009.

  • One of the world's top handset manufacturers is demanding Sh300 million from a Kenyan businessman. Finland-based Nokia Corporation wants Patrick Musimba to pay the money being an alleged outstanding sum, as per supply agreement. Musimba is the managing director of Musimba Investments, a local distributor of mobile telephone handsets and accessories.

    Through an agreement with Nokia in 2005, Musimba Investments was appointed to buy and resell Nokia-branded mobile telephones and accessories. According to papers filed at the High Court, the handset manufacturer supplied the goods for sale in Kenya and by May 2008, the amount outstanding to Nokia on account of the goods was $3,755,686 (over Sh300 million).

    The Finnish mobile phone maker also asked the court to grant it interest on the amount at 11 per cent per year from June 2008. However, Musimba denied that his company owed the handset manufacturer the money as he applied for the suspension of the proceedings.

    He accused Nokia of failing to adhere to the provisions of the supply agreement, which allegedly provided for arbitration by the Central Chamber of Commerce in Finland. Mr Justice Leonard Njagi gave Musimba's company 14 days to file and serve his written submissions.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - In Kenya, mobile firm Yu has launched a promotion calling rate of 50 cents per minute all day and night. The daily voice bundle promotion dubbed "Amua mdogo mdogo" enables yu subscribers to make calls within the yu network at a subscription rate of Sh2 "As more and more people continue to acquire mobile phones, the demand for affordable voice plans increases hence our latest offering."

    - Despite a tenuous period facing Nigeria’s telecommunications sector, with the country’s regulator the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) continuing to push SIM card registration, mobile companies reported strong growth in the past year. According to figures reported locally, subscriptions rose 16.26 percent over the past 12 months, the NCC said. Overall connected mobile lines grew nearly 13 million to just shy of 90 million in total through March. This growth came despite worries that subscription were likely to drop as a result of the continuing NCC effort to register all SIMs in the country.

Digital Content

  • Much needs to be done to secure human rights in Africa, but "the tide is turning" and mobile phones and FM radio have arguably done more than most other conventional methods to pursue this objective, reports Amnesty International in its annual report.

    "In many countries in Africa," says Amnesty, "there is now a vibrant civil society, which, although often still repressed, can no longer be ignored by those in power."

    The advocacy group's secretary-general, Salil Shetty, says in the report that, across the world, 2010 "may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power... Information is a source of power, and for those challenging the abuse of power by states and other institutions, it is an exciting time."

    Shetty also praises what he calls the innovative use of tracking and recording abuses pioneered by the Ushahidi.com website in Kenya. He says the site has opened up a whole new set of possibilities for conflict prevention.

    But he also points out that "there is nothing magical or deterministic about the Internet and other communications technologies" and warns that technology itself "neither respects nor undermines human rights... Technology will serve the purposes of those who control it – whether their goal is the promotion of rights or the undermining of rights.

    "We must be mindful that in a world of asymmetric power, the ability of governments and other institutional actors to abuse and exploit technology will always be superior to the grass-roots activists, the beleaguered human rights advocate, the intrepid whistleblower and the individual..."

    And while recognizing the contribution of WikiLeaks to promoting human rights, Shetty says the morality of revealing secret cables written by American diplomats was not clear-cut.

    "The dissemination of documents with apparent insufficient concern regarding the security of those exposed and the controversy surrounding the sexual offences case against Julian Assange [the founder of WikiLeaks] made moral clarity difficult."

    He nevertheless says that those who see the behaviour of WikiLeaks as amoral need to be aware that "those who live with the daily abuses of power may understandably celebrate WikiLeaks. Their last hope for accountability is disclosure – however messy, embarrassing and apparently counter-productive it may be."

  • Samsung Electronics has signed a deal with Strathmore University for a three-yearSh36million mobile phone research project to develop innovative mobile phone applications.

    Under the partnership, Samsung will support Strathmore's iLab Africa to train and nurture students to come up with applications that run on the Android platform and Samsung's own mobile platform, Bada.

    The announcement and signing of the agreement was made yesterday as Samsung kicked offs its 2011 African forum in Nairobi. Samsung already has a similar arrangement with the University of Cape Town making Strathmore University the second Samsung innovation lab centre in Africa. "It is a partnership agreement for three years," Dr Joseph Sevilla of Strathmore's Information Science and IT department. "Samsung will support us to do research to help students come up with new and innovative products. It is in form of funding for iLab Africa and Samsung hardware." Strathmore also partners with Safaricom to host the Safaricom Academy at iLab that is also involved in developing mobile applications.

    Among the applications that have come out of these partnerships include: wapi discount, a program that tells users which shops are having promotions and discounts within their area; m-order, a program for kiosk owners to order more supplies from Coca Cola among others.

    Dr. Sevilla said under the partnerships, business minded people who do not have an IT background but have good ideas for applications will also be taught the technical skills to develop them. Samsung used the event to launch its new line of tablets, the Galaxy Tabs and the new Galaxy S II smartphone for the African market.

More

  • - Mobile operator Airtel has appointed John Barorot as its new Network Director. Barorot was the Chief Technical Officer of Safaricom where he worked for over ten years rising from the position of Network Maintenance Manager in 2000. He left the company in March after the new Safaricom MD Bob Collymore instituted restructuring that scraped some key posts and merged other.

    - All five directors representing Econet Wireless Zimbabwe on the Afre Corporation board, including chairperson Ms Tracey Mpofu, resigned at the weekend in protest over what they termed "excessive intrusion" by Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

    - Business tycoon and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom CEO, Naguib Sawiris, announced he would step down as executive chairman of the company as he begins to move toward more involvement in the country’s changing political sphere.

  • eLearning Africa 2011 - Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability
    25-27 May 2011, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The 6th event in the series of pan-African conferences and exhibitions will focus on Africa's youth. Africa has the highest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. How can it unlock the vast reservoir of talent? How can technology support education and training?
    For further information visit here:

    SatCom 2011 Africa Conference
    30 May - 2 June 2011, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

    For further information visit here:

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 June 2011, Dakar, Senegal

    For further information visit here:

    Telecoms World Africa
    27- 30 June 2011, International Convention Centre, Cape Town

    For further information visit here:

    VAS Africa
    July 6 - July 7, 2011, Johannesburg

    For further information visit here:

    Tech4Africa
    27-28 October 2011
    The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg, South Africa

    The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations.
    Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, will be joined by Herman Chinery-Hesse who is commonly known as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’, to present the keynote addresses at the Tech4Africa conference. Josh and Herman join a stellar line-up of international technologists including speakers from organisations such as Amazon, HP, Johns Hopkins University, Mozilla, SimpleGeo and Clearleft, and African technologists from SwiftRiver, the African Institution of Technology, Ultinet Systems, Motribe and many more.
    For further information visit here:

  • Ghana: Call for free computers and ICT partners

    Netplus is a cybercafé located in Accra centre, Ghana, on the ground floor of  the 'Ghana  Multimedia House'. The webcafé is one of the capital's most affordable cybercafes, and a meeting point for many students: they can surf the web, exchange in a relaxed atmosphere and get trained on network and software solutions.

    Balancing Act met them in April 2011. Prince Ghanaba, the cybercafe's manager explained that he could expand and almost double up the cafe desks' capacity but they do not have enough money to purchase new computers. Netplus charges very affordably fees for internet browsing, at $0.60 per hour and $0.30 per 30mins. They get about 500 customers daily, and Netplus' yearly turn-over is about Ghana CDs 22K.Most of the revenues go into office rent, expensive internet connectivity from Vodafone, electricity, software licences and small salaries. Prince would greatly appreciate if donors could contact him to supply free working computers. Computers need to be less than 4 years old with clean hard drives. For now, Netplus has no IT classes running due to absence of more working computers, but when there were classes Netplus used to charge $32 per student  per month or US$100 per  term.

    Netplus is also willing to partner with or represent  foreign entities as well as local IT and Phone Companies. Netplus' mission is to provide meaningful enhancement to IT Technology, internet access and ICT training to the local population in Ghana and West Africa. Netplus is blessed with a very strategic location on one of the best business streets in Ghana (the High Street is next to High Court, Bank of Ghana,  Barclays, Standard Chartered, GPO, Accra Metro Office, Nkrumah Mussolleum, Accra Maket Mall, Law School etc. ). It has a huge office space that is readily available for use for any IT business, sales point, resource center, IT out-sourcing center, call center or even as school training premises.

    contact Netplus cybercafe:
    Prince Ghanaba, Netplus Manager
    Tel    + 233-273-167-106 &   +233-684-587
    Email: ghanaba1972(@)yahoo.com

  • - Afriland First Bank Group and BPC Banking technologies - Cameroon
    BPC Banking Technologies, a provider of Open System e-payment solutions for the global financial industry, announced that it has inked a deal to implement its SmartVista suite as a new e-payments platform for Afriland First Bank Group. The first implementations are taking place in Cameroon and at the Group’s head office in Geneva, Switzerland.

Edition Française, 19 mai 2011

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Editorial

  • La seconde édition du G-Nigeria s’est tenue à Lagos la semaine dernière. Pays voisin, le Bénin tiendra la première édition de son Barcamp le 4 juin prochain à Cotonou. Les opportunités pour les développeurs africains de montrer leur savoir faire et d’exposer leurs idées n’ont jamais été aussi grandes qu’en ce moment.  Isabelle Gross s’est entretenue avec Abslom Boko, porte-parole de l’équipe organisant le Barcamp Bénin sur les motivations et les objectifs de cette première réunion.

    La personne à l’origine de ce projet de tenir un Barcamp au Bénin  est Mathias Houngbo. Informaticien de profession et débordant d’idées nous avions déjà couvert son projet de réseau WiFi « Cotonou Wireless » dans une de nos newsletters voir lien suivant. Le passage de l’idée à l’action a quelque peu été retardé dans la mesure ou il a fallu que les différents groupes de développeurs locaux se mettent d’accord pour organiser l’événement ensemble. Barcamp Bénin est donc le fruit d’un collectif de jeunes individus passionnés par les TIC et oeuvrant dans le secteur au travers de différentes organisations ou institutions locales.

    La liste des organisateurs (ci-dessous) reflète bien cette hétérogénéité.
    1 - Mathias  Houngbo, Président du comité travaillant pour la BCEAO
    2 – Theresa Carpenter Sondjo en charge des finances et sponsoring travaillant pour l’ONG People Online
    3 – Ramanou, responsable de cantine et étudiant
    4 – Igor Koucoi en charge de la presse & pub, promoteur 
    5 – Vivien Dovi, Responsable lieu, promoteur
    6 - Gislain  Sodogandji en charge du contenu travaillant pour Sodson Corp
    7 - Loyc Cossou en charge du contenu travaillant pour NTSC
    8 - Abslom Boko, porte-parole travaillant pour Starsoft Informatique

    En terme de soutien, Barcamp compte sur Google qui a promis un soutien financier et la participation d’un intervenant. Des sociétés locales ont aussi été contactées mais aucune n’a répondu présente à l’appel. La réponse de l’opérateur mobile MTN, le plus grand opérateur au Bénin, est édifiante en elle-même et souligne l’absence de stratégie en matière de contenu local. La seule chose qu’il a proposé d’offrir au Barcamp Bénin c’est son propre « attirail marketing sur ses services mobiles » ! En termes de soutien régional, Barcamp Bénin compte aussi sur l’apport des organisateurs des Barcamps Abdijan l’organisation Akendewa -  et au Togo (l’OPIM, l’Organisme pour la Promotion de l'Internet et du Mobile Togo).

    Malgré un soutien limité, Barcamp Bénin escompte accueillir entre 100 et 200 participants principalement des étudiants en informatiques, des développeurs individuels et des responsables informatiques dans des entreprises. Lorsque le porte-parole évoque le type de participants attendus au Barcamp Bénin, il est aussi question de mieux appréhender ce que l’on pourrait appeler «l’écosystème des développeurs et des fournisseurs de contenu du Bénin ». Selon Abslom Boko, le Bénin dans ce secteur a jusqu’à présent opéré de façon isolée et il y a peu de visibilité sur les acteurs dans ce segment. Il y a bien sur des développeurs indépendants ainsi que des ONG qui supportent le développement d’applicatifs et de contenu. Certaines entreprises de la place s’affichent comme des entreprises de contenu mais elles n’ont pas d’offres réelles ou ne sont pas officiellement connues.

    Au menu du programme de Barcamp Bénin dont l’intitulé officiel est « Hello World », il sera question de Google Maps et de ses autres produits en particulier son système d’exploitation Android permettant le développement d’applicatifs mobiles et leur commercialisation  par la suite sur le « Marketplace », son magasin en ligne (à mettre en relation avec l’annonce faite par Google le 12 mai dernier sur l’extension à 90 pays dont 26 pays africains de la possibilité d’acheter des applicatifs payants sur son magasin en ligne). Les passionnés de Linux quant à eux pourront en apprendre plus sur le déploiement dot Net sur Linux. Il sera aussi question de discuter des logiciels de gestion de contenu ainsi que de la technologie Web2. Si le temps le permet, Barcamp Bénin proposera aussi une introduction aux logiciels libres Ubuntu et Fedora.

    Les objectifs de cette 1ière édition du Barcamp Bénin sont selon Abslom Boko « de faire prendre conscience aux participants de la nécessité d'organiser régulièrement des événements de ce genre et de développer l'esprit de partage du savoir en vue d’avoir une communauté forte et solidaire de passionnés de nouvelles technologies de l’information. Si nous atteignons ces objectifs, notre première édition de Barcamp sera une réussite »!

    Nous souhaitons bonne chance au Barcamp Bénin. Pour de plus amples informations visitez. Nous sommes toujours intéressés dans savoir plus sur l’écosystème des développeurs en Afrique. Si vous envisagez de tenir un barcamp ou toute manifestation réunissant des développeurs, faites-nous le savoir en nous envoyant un mail à igross@balancingact-africa ou un tweet à @isa_gross

  • L'opérateur téléphonique Mauritel a lancé à Nouakchott le « Projet de câbles à fibres optiques Nouakchott -Kobonni », sous la supervision du Ministre délégué auprès du Ministre d'Etat à l'Education Nationale chargé de l'emploi, de la Formation Professionnelle et des Technologies Nouvelles Mohamed Ould Khouna.

    La cérémonie de lancement dudit projet, organisée au siège central de Mauritel, en présence de membres du gouvernement, a réuni de nombreux invités, notamment des opérateurs économiques et des partenaires.

    Le projet dont le ruban symbolique a été coupé par le ministre d'Etat à l'éducation, consiste à la mise en place, sur une longueur de 1000 km -Kobonni d'un câble à fibres optique d'une capacité de 24 fibres reliant la capitale Nouakchott à la ville de Kobonni à l'extrême est du Hodh Gharbi.

    Le projet du câble à fibres optiques, qui permettra la fourniture d'un débit de 2,5 Gbps extensible à plus de 40 Gbps, sera réalisé à un coût global de 3 milliards d'ouguiyas sur financement de Mauritel et exécuté par le fournisseur mondial d'équipements de télécommunication, le groupe chinois Huawei.

    Cette nouvelle infrastructure utilisant des technologies de pointe, devra permettre d'offrir une capacité importante aux villes et localités se trouvant sur le tracé du câble.

  • Orange Tunisie renforce son engagement en faveur du développement des applications mobiles en Tunisie. Ã- partir du 31 mai 2011, les abonnés Orange accéderont en un clic à des centaines d'applications tunisiennes et internationales. Une large gamme de mobiles et les principaux systèmes d'exploitation mobiles (Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Java et Windows Mobile) seront supportés.

    L'Application store est le prolongement de toutes les initiatives de l'opérateur en faveur des développeurs tunisiens. En effet, après les formations initiées depuisâ-‚ octobre, l'ouverture de l'Orange Developper Center en décembre pour accompagner les projets, l'Application Store est le «grand magasin virtuelâ-‚» qui permettra à chaque développeur de vendre son application.

    A partir d'aujourd'hui, tous les développeurs peuvent déposer leurs applications mobiles sur la site, visitez,  et recevront ainsi 70% des revenus de leurs applications.

    Les clients Orange pourront parcourir notre catalogue d'applications mobiles et télécharger facilement autant d'applications gratuites et payantes qu'ils le souhaitent.

    Les clients Orange n'auront pas besoin de s'inscrire ou de s'identifier, et ils auront directement accès aux applications compatibles avec le terminal qu'ils utilisent. Le processus est simple, rapide et logique: le mobile est détecté automatiquement, pas besoin de carte bancaire, téléchargement en un seul clic.

    L'Orange App Shop sera accessible via le portail mobile m.orange.tn et par la suite directement sur tous les terminaux Orange.

    L'Orange AppShop a été conçu et mis en oeuvre exclusivement par du savoir-faire tunisien.

    La promotion de l'ingénierie tunisienne à l'échelle internationale à travers la création de services à valeur ajoutée permettra l'émergence d'une nouvelle économie avec un fort potentiel d'employabilité. En ce sens, l'ouverture sur le marché international constitue un vecteur important d'exportation du savoir-faire tunisien.

    Aujourd'hui Orange Tunisie offre la possibilité aux développeurs de publier des applications de qualité à tous les clients Orange en Tunisie, et très bientôt à tous les clients Orange dans le monde.

    La Presse
  • Diverses structures de la technologie de la communication intègrent peu à peu le paysage local. L'OMERT fait preuve d'indulgence envers les opérateurs économiques qui se sont lancés dans l'exploitation de la licence 3G+.

    En stand by. Les actions de régularisation des autorisations et de licences relatives à l'exploitation des services 3G+ sont en veilleuse pour le moment. L'État malgache, par le biais de l'Office malgache des études et de régulation des télécommunications (OMERT), fait preuve de tolérance vis-à-vis des opérateurs. De leur côté, des opérateurs en téléphonie se lancent dans une rude concurrence pour convaincre les usagers de consommer leurs produits.

    Si Barthi Airtel a annoncé récemment à New Delhi que des discussions ont été entamées avec les autorités malgaches pour l'obtention de cette licence troisième génération, les autres opérateurs à savoir Orange, Telma et le dernier venu, Life, investissent davantage dans le secteur.

    A titre d'exemple, en novembre 2009, la compagnie Telecom Malagasy, offre à sa clientèle des services associés à la technologie 3G+ tels que la visiophonie ou l'internet à très haut débit mobile.

    De son côté, Orange Madagascar procède à des promotions sur le modem USB. Tandis que Life montre plus de dynamisme dans les spots publicitaires dans la presse audio.

    Malgré cette situation de stand-by, l'OMERT affirme pourtant que la régularisation du secteur se poursuit. Un projet de cahier de charges a été envoyé aux opérateurs. Des approches avec les techniciens et ces derniers sont prévues afin de déterminer les modalités qui mèneront vers la formalisation du secteur.

    « Il n'y a pas de retour en arrière quant à la formalisation du secteur, comme preuve, des cahiers de charge ont été transmis aux opérateurs. Nous avons la ferme volonté de la mettre en place avec des techniciens et de suivre de près les modalités pour atteindre cet objectif », annonce Augustin Andriamananoro, directeur général de l'OMERT, hier, au cours d'une interview, sans donner de date précise quant à la tenue de ce rapprochement.

  • Finalement, c'est le répit peut-on dire au sujet du contentieux Areeba-Etat Guinéen qui défrayé la chronique durant ces deux dernières semaines écoulées. Avec l'arrivée vendredi dernier du PDG du Groupe MTN dans notre pays, une solution a enfin été trouvée pour débloquer la situation.

    Ainsi, après négociations, la société de téléphonie Areeba Guinée reste redevable à l'Etat d'une somme de 15 millions d'euros comme pénalité. C'est ce qu'à appris de sources concordantes Aminata.com.

    En attendant donc la suspension de la réquisition par le Président de la République (par décret) , nous avons tendu notre micro à certains citoyens de la Capitale en vue de recueillir leurs impressions sur le sujet. Lisez!

    Algassimou Barry, agent commercial: " Je suis joyeux d'entendre qu'on a enfin trouvé une solution à la crise. Vous savez, une grande société comme Areeba Guinée ne doit pas être exclue des autres sociétés de téléphone de la place.

    Comme l'Etat veut maintenant qu'elle paie 15 millions d'euros pour son contrat d'installation, qu'elle le fasse. Avec ça, elle sera crédible davantage. Je salue l'esprit des négociateurs et je remercie tous ceux et toutes celles qui ont contribué à cette sortie de crise".

    M. Talibé, revendeur de cartes de recharge: " Moi, je commençais à me faire d'énormes soucis. En tant que vendeur grossite, si cette société fermait ses portes et fenêtres, mon fonds de commerce allait sombrer dans l'eau.

    Dieu merci, il y a enfin une solution, même si elle est un peu rude pour la société. Mais bon, souvent c'est ça. Il faut savoir négocier légalement si on ne veut pas avoir des problèmes à l'avenir. On ne saurait évoluer dans la fraude dans un pays de droit".

    Hadja Fatou, femme d'affaires: " Permettez moi de faire de la publicité gratuite. S'il y a un réseau sûr, fiable et disponible pour tous, c'est bien le réseau Areeba. Depuis l'arrivée de cette société en Guinée, même si le problème de communication n'est pas totalement reglé, Areeba a quand même a fait des avancées remarquables et la population en est satisfaite.

    Cela a été un coup dur pour moi quand j'ai appris qu'on chasser cette société. Dieu merci tout est rentré dans l'ordre. J'ai même appris que pour le montant à payer à l'Etat, Areeba a un delai très court pour s'exécuter.

    Or, imaginez vous un peu, avant en Guinére, on achetait les puces à plus d'un million de francs, alors que de nos jours, la puce se négocie contre 5 mille francs. Il arrive parfois qu'on nous l'offre d'ailleurs".

    El Hadj Fadilou, sociologue et sociologue: " On dit en Guinée que ce sont les commerçants qui sèment la pagaille. Mais, voye vous même ce litige entre Areeba et l'Etat guinéen. A qui la faute? Quand a-t-elle commencé?

    Ce sont des questions qui méritent des réponses. Si on me posait ces questions, voilà ce que j'llais répondre. La faute est au gouvernement de l'époque. Ce gouvernement a voulu profiter et Areeba à son tour a mal honoré le contrat.

    Dans toute chose, c'est le début qui compte, c'est la base qui compte. Quand on rate ce début ou cette base, on rate tout. Quand a-t-elle commencé? Eh bien depuis l'arrivée de Areeba dans notre pays.

    La question qui se pose est de savoir si elle (la société) va continué avec le nom Areeba ou si elle va redevenir MTN. Normalement en droit, c'est la seconde hypothèse qui se doit".

    Mme Magassouba, enseignante:" C'est une première dans notre pays. On parvient à gérer un problème sans règlement de compte. Je tiens à signaler que ça n'engage que moi, mais j'ai déploré une chose.

    Le manque de solidarité des autres sociétés téléphoniques vis-à-vis d'Areeba Guinée. Il est vrai que nous sommes dans un monde de concurrence, mais ça ne doit pas nous empêcher de jouer le jeu. Pour ma part, je ne peux que me réjouir de la fin de ce litige.

    Il commençait à prendre des proportions inquiétantes. Mais grâce à la contribution du PDG de MTN et d'autres négociateurs, la société Areeba va enfin repartir sur de nouvelles bases. Je vous remercie".

    Aminata
  • Sur instructions du président du Conseil de régulation de l'Agence de régulation des télécommunications (ARTEL) Lin Mombo, les responsables de cette structure, notamment le directeur général, Serges Essongué et le responsable technique, Patrick Kombény ont inspecté les pilonnes de relais des signaux des différents opérateurs de téléphonie mobile au Gabon.

    Selon ces deux responsables, accompagnés des ingénieurs de l'Artel, qui se sont rendus sur les sites de nombreux quartiers de Libreville, notamment à Nzeng Ayong, Alibandeng, Centre-ville, Charbonnages Aéroport, Haut de Guégué, la concurrence qui date de 2009 au Gabon, a donné l'opportunité aux opérateurs de téléphonie mobile d'agir dans le désordre.

    En effet, l'audit commandité dernièrement par le Président du Conseil de Régulation a démontré beaucoup de défaillances. Les opérateurs de téléphonie mobile ont implanté leurs pilonnes n'importes où et n'importe comment.

    Sur le terrain de cette inspection, les responsables de l'Artel se sont rendus compte que beaucoup de pilonnes n'ont pas de balises, de nuit comme de jour.

    Elles ne sont pas, pour la plupart, accessibles en cas d'incendie, tandis que les distances de sécurité (100 m à la ronde) entre elles et les structures fréquentées par la population ne sont pas respectées.

    On a d'ailleurs constaté que certaines ont carrément été implantées dans la cour d'un établissement scolaire, tout comme d'autres sont installées sur le toit de certaines infrastructures hospitalières ou des habitations de la capitale Libreville, exposant de fait la population, autant aux dangers des rayonnements qu'à ceux des éventuels accidents.

    Avec ce constat, les responsables de l'Artel ont souligné que depuis deux semaines, injonction a été faite aux opérateurs de téléphonie mobile de se mettre dans les normes pour éviter des sanctions.

    Soulignons que cette opérations qui vient après l'audit qui a déjà révélé certaines défaillances dans ce secteurs, a également permis de se rendre compte que les trois quarts des pilonnes sont sans autorisations d'implantation.

    Cette initiative devraint permettre à l'Agence de régulation de remettre de l'ordre dans secteur vital pour l'économie nationale et pour le développement du pays, mais qui peut avoir des revers pour les populations qui vivent aux abords des pilonnes.

    L'Artel a entre autres missions, de veiller à l'application des textes législatifs et réglementaires en matière de Télécommunications, de s"assurer que l'accès aux réseaux ouverts au public s'effectue dans les conditions objectives, transparentes et non discriminatoires, de Garantir une concurrence saine et loyale dans le domaine des Télécommunications, de définir les principes devant régir la tarification des services fournis, d'instruire les demandes d'autorisation et de déclaration, et préparer les décisions y afférentes.

    Gabonnews
  • Le PDG de l’Agence tunisienne de l’internet, M. Moez Chakchouk, martèle : «l’ATI n’était qu’un leurre, destiné à prendre les coups à la place des vrais responsables ». Certes, l’agence disposait d’un équipement d’analyse permettant de filtrer l’accès aux sites. Mais cet équipement, situé au Belvédère, les agents de l’ATI n’y avaient pas accès.

    On n’a pas encore fini de débattre de la censure en Tunisie. Et même si Ammar 404 semble finalement s’être fait écrasé dans l’embouteillage révolutionnaire, il continue de susciter la polémique et la réflexion. Les plus pessimistes relèvent en effet que le cadavre bouge encore. Une idée pas complètement farfelue, dans la mesure, ou personne ne veut réellement endosser la lourde responsabilité (et la culpabilité qui va avec) de la censure sur le Net.

    Ainsi, Securinets, le club de la sécurité informatique de l’INSAT a relancé le débat samedi 30 avril. Une table-ronde a même ainsi été consacrée à la censure sous l’ère Ben Ali. Du beau monde a animé cette rencontre : Belhassen Zouari, ancien directeur général de l’Agence nationale de la sécurité informatique (ANSI), Moez Chakchouk, PDG de l’Agence tunisienne de l’internet (ATI), Samir Sidhom, actuel PDG de l’ANSI, Slim Amamou et Haythem Mekki, en tant que blogueurs actifs contre l’ancien régime, et enfin, Malek Khadhraoui, journaliste de Nawaat.org. Tous étaient invités afin de clarifier les responsabilités et les rouages du système de la censure internet en Tunisie.

    Après la présentation d’un montage vidéo et photo un peu chaotique (problème technique) mais qui a su mettre en appétit le public –avec notamment la reprise du fameux dernier discours de Ben Ali-, le débat a enfin commencé.

    Le PDG de l’ATI a eu les honneurs pour présenter sa structure et son rôle dans la censure. Et que les choses soient claires : l’ATI n’a joué aucun rôle dans la censure à part celui, obligatoire, de mettre à disposition ses équipements. Créée comme un point d’échanges du trafic internet tunisien, l’ATI était destinée à assurer la qualité du service, l’écoulement du service, l’hébergement... De ce fait, elle avait en charge le routeur véhiculant l’ensemble du trafic des 5 FAI tunisiens, et disposait d’un équipement d’analyse de ce trafic, paramétré automatiquement afin de filtrer l’accès aux sites catégorisés (sites de pédophilie, terrorisme, etc.). Cet équipement, notamment situé au Belvédère, les agents de l’ATI n’y avaient pas accès. Un ancien directeur technique de l’ATI présent dans la salle, en a témoigné spontanément. M. Chakchouk enfonce le clou : « Identifier les contenus nuisibles à la famille Ben Ali et à son entourage n’était possible qu’avec une intervention humaine, nous ne disposions pas de logiciels ou d’algorithmes capables de le faire. Mettez donc un ‘S’ quand vous parlez de Ammar ».

    A la fin de son intervention, la question demeure donc : des équipements de filtrage étaient au sein de l’ATI mais qui les exploitait ?

    Quand la parole fut donnée à Malek Khadhraoui, les propos se précisèrent. En rappelant que le site Nawaat.org a été ‘viré’ par 4 hébergeurs car il se faisait attaquer trop souvent, le blogueur a attaqué la politique de la chaise vide du ministère de l’intérieur actuel, qui n’a pas souhaité participer au débat, et accusé son manque de transparence.

    Il a également interrogé l’ATI sur son rôle, notamment pour l’identification des participants à l’action « Nhar 3ala Ammar » (lettres envoyées au président de la Chambre des députés pour décrier la censure qui sévissait) qui ont tous reçu un accusé de réception, jusqu’à l’étranger pour certains… M. Chakchouk a alors rappelé que la Tunisie était le « pays de la contradiction » à l’époque, celui qui hébergeait le SMSI et qui parallèlement exerçait une censure inouïe sur le net. En aucun cas, l’ATI n’a participé à ce type d’investigation : «l’ATI n’était qu’un leurre, destiné à prendre les coups à la place des vrais responsables ».

    Tekiano
  • Peu après le début de la crise en Libye, les décideurs et les travailleurs humanitaires se sont trouvés confrontés à un défi crucial : le manque d'informations sur ce qui se passait à l'intérieur du pays.

    En quelques heures, Andrej Verity, responsable de la gestion de l'information au Bureau de la Coordination des Affaires Humanitaires des Nations Unies (OCHA) à Genève, a convoqué une réunion avec des groupes de bénévoles et/ou de techniciens.

    OCHA a mis en route l'équipe de réserve, qui comprend plus de 150 volontaires spécialisés dans la cartographie de crise en ligne. L'idée était d'intégrer dans une carte les rapports des médias sociaux ou traditionnels de l'intérieur de la Libye.

    « Etant donné que les Nations Unies n'avaient quasiment pas accès au pays, cela nous a permis alors d'avoir une idée de la situation, » a dit M. Verity. « En l'espace de 48 heures, nous avons collecté et rassemblé une bonne centaine d'interventions d'urgence.

    Pour obtenir la même quantité de données, il avait fallu environ quatre semaines aux Philippines, deux en Haïti et deux au Pakistan avant que celles-ci ne soient disponibles. »

    Selon le Programme Cartographie de crise et Alerte précoce de l'Université de Harvard, les appareils mobiles de technologie de l'information jouent aujourd'hui un rôle de plus en plus important pour répondre aux urgences humanitaires et fournir des données essentielles.

    Cela permet de mieux comprendre la dynamique complexe des urgences et de la réponse locale et internationale. Cela a fait également apparaître le concept du crowd-sourcing [approvisionnement par la foule] par l'intermédiaire de l'Internet.

    Aujourd'hui, Twitter et Facebook sont les premières ressources vers lesquelles se tournent les gens pour avoir un compte-rendu de première main des événements du monde.

    « La grande difficulté au cours des premières phases d'une urgence est de savoir comment organiser l'information, car celle-ci est quelquefois dispersée ou bien arrive en trop grande quantité, » a dit Jeffrey Villaveces, responsable de la gestion de l'information à OCHA Colombie. « Et donc on finit par avoir beaucoup d'informations qui ne sont pas toutes utiles. »

    Plus d'un millier d'articles sont disponibles sur la plate-forme et une partie de l'information est extraite et reportée sur des cartes. « C'est une façon différente de regarder des données qui proviennent de différentes sources. Ce que nous avons fait, c'est prendre l'information et la classer, » a dit M. Villaveces à IRIN.

    « Actuellement, nous travaillons sur le suivi des victimes. Selon les résolutions 1970 et 1973 du Conseil de sécurité, le gouvernement libyen avait été enjoint d'assumer ses responsabilités pour protéger les civils, mais il n'y avait aucun moyen de suivre les victimes, » a t-il ajouté.

    Le site LibyaCrisisMap.net comprend un service SMS et un service de cartographie en ligne basé sur l'Inititiative Ushahidi kenyane. "Ushahidi", qui signifie « témoignage » en swahili, a été initialement mis en oeuvre pour cartographier les violences au Kenya après les élections de 2008, sur la base de rapports soumis par Internet ou par téléphone portable.

    Certains critiques comme Paul Currion, un travailleur humanitaire qui travaille depuis dix ans sur l'utilisation des TIC [Technologies de l'information et de la communication] dans les urgences à grande échelle, mettent en doute la valeur que représente pour les humanitaires l'information obtenue par le crowd-sourcing.

    Cette technique, suggère t-il, a des limitations : les problèmes de connectivité là où l'accès à l'Internet n'est pas fiable, la qualité des données et les perspectives fonctionnelles de l'interface.

    « L'attrait visuel d'Ushahidi est similaire à celui de PowerPoint ; il procure une illusion de simplicité qui recouvre en fait une situation complexe, » explique t-il dans un blog. « Si j'ai 3 000 messages disant « J'ai besoin de nourriture, d'eau et d'abri », quelle est la valeur ajoutée si on représente ces messages sous la forme d'un grand cercle sur une carte ?.

    L'information provenant du crowd-sourcing ne sera jamais capable de fournir le genre de détails dont les agences humanitaires ont besoin pour fournir et distribuer les services fondamentaux à des populations entières. »

    L'interface Ushahidi a été utilisée au moment des tremblements de terre en Haïti et au Chili en 2010. Jusqu'à présent, OCHA Colombie a mis en oeuvre trois plate-formes de ce genre, dit M. Villaveces.

    « Au début d'une crise, on a généralement un black-out de l'information, sur fond de confusion générale, » a t-il dit. « En se servant d'outils en ligne, les groupes de bénévoles sont capables de passer en revue les ressources disponibles sur Twitter, Internet, Facebook et SMS afin d'obtenir une vision d'ensemble des événements sur le terrain. D'autres outils comme les alertes par zone au moyen de mails et de SMS peuvent aussi représenter une valeur ajoutée pour les intervenants sur le terrain. »

    Dans le cas de la Libye, certains des bénévoles ont amené leur expérience acquise avec Haïti, le Chili et le Pakistan, mais la plupart étaient tout nouveaux et ont apporté une nouvelle perspective, a dit Patrick Meier, allocataire de recherche à l'Initiative humanitaire de Harvard et doctorant à la Fletcher School de l'Université Tufts.

    « C'était une première, » note t-il dans un blog. « Contrairement à Haïti, nous avons eu un lien direct dès le premier jour avec l'une des instances de coordination des Nations Unies pour l'assistance humanitaire.

    Nous avions aussi un réseau qualifié de bénévoles à disposition, avec des protocoles et des flux d'information qui avaient déjà été révisés et testés plusieurs fois sur près de six mois. »

    L'un de ces bénévoles est Chris Roblee, ingénieur en programmation et chercheur en cybersécurité à Munich, en Allemagne, qui a écrit dans un blog: « Je trouve que la nature collégiale de notre environnement de travail virtuel permet à d'autres bénévoles de me remplacer quand je ne peux pas répondre immédiatement. Le fait que nous soyons si internationaux nous permet de faire marcher le centre de réponse 24 h sur 24.

    Les nouveaux bénévoles sont invités à s'inscrire en ligne.

    Les équipes de bénévoles suivent les médias, les sites de réseautage social et les rapports provenant des personnels de terrain, puis l'information suit un processus rigoureux de géolocation, d'acceptation, de vérification et d'analyse, afin d'assurer la bonne qualité des rapports finaux qui sont diffusés par l'équipe d'analyse, dit M. Villaveces.

    La plate-forme technique pour la carte de la crise libyenne a été mise en place une heure seulement après la demande d'OCHA. Selon M. Meier, une seconde carte a été lancée quelques jours plus tard et dans les trois premiers jours, le site a reçu plus de 18 000 visiteurs uniques et la page a été vue 44 000 fois par des visiteurs de 65 pays différents.

    « L'un des avantages de la cartographie de crise, sur une plate-forme comme Ushahidi, est la possibilité de passer d'un concept assez large de média à un concept plus "individuel" », a dit M. Verity à IRIN. « Dans le passé, les intervenants et les décideurs disposaient d'une carte statique qui était généralement produite en vue d'une consommation de masse.

    Avec la crise libyenne, n'importe qui peut utiliser la carte en zoomant sur un endroit et en filtrant les types de rapports à afficher », a t-il ajouté. « La personne s'approprie alors la carte de façon spécifique et elle peut faire des plans ou prendre des décisions en s'appuyant sur des informations extrêmement pertinentes.

    Imaginez quand tous les besoins, les interventions d'urgence et toutes les autres informations associées seront mis sur ce genre de site. Les intervenants comme les personnes affectées pourraient avoir accès à une mine d'informations vraiment pertinentes, grâce à une simple interface de carte. »

    La plate-forme a été saluée comme un outil utile : Josette Sheran, présidente du Programme alimentaire des Nations Unies, l'a décrite sur Twitter comme « excellente ».

    « La réponse aux crises qui l'an dernier ont frappé Haïti, le Chili et le Pakistan, a révélé un potentiel extraordinaire, » a noté M. Meier, qui est également directeur de la cartographie de crise à Ushahidi.

    « Des bénévoles qui sont à des milliers de kilomètres pourraient jouer un rôle important dans les opérations humanitaires en utilisant les plate-formes de réseautage social et des logiciels gratuits et open source pour créer des cartes de crise en direct.

    Les efforts présents des bénévoles pour élaborer la carte de crise de la Libye sont en train de transformer ce potentiel en réalité. »

    IRIN
  • Il existe des millions de sites Internet et de blogs à travers l’Afrique. ces contenus transforment Internet, pour le plus grand bénéfice des internautes. Google AdSense permet aux éditeurs de contenu de développer leur activité en ligne en les aidant en termes de monétisation. AdSense est un programme qui permet aux éditeurs d’afficher des annonces pertinentes sur leur site Internet et d’en tirer des revenus. Utilisable gratuitement, rapide à configurer; il permet désormais d’être payé encore plus facilement.

    En octobre 2010, nous avons annoncé le lancement des Paiements Western Union Quick Cash® pour Google AdSense au Ghana, au Kenya et en Ouganda. Aujourd’hui, nous ajoutons trois pays à la liste, cette fois-ci en Afrique francophone. Si vous êtes éditeur Google AdSense, vous pouvez à présent demander des paiements via Western Union Quick Cash au Cameroun, à l’Île Maurice et au Sénégal.

    Les paiements par Western Union Quick Cash sont gratuits et vous parviennent plus rapidement que les chèques. Ils sont effectués selon notre échéancier de paiement normal et à disposition dans votre devise locale auprès de votre agent local Western Union, le lendemain de leur émission.

    Deux choses à noter: nous ne pouvons adresser de règlements Western Union qu’aux éditeurs disposant d’un compte individuel à ce moment-là. De plus, le nom du bénéficiaire sur votre compte doit être strictement identique à celui indiqué sur la carte d’identité nationale utilisée pour toucher votre dû. Pour savoir comment souscrire à Western Union et récupérer vos paiements, consultez notre Centre d'aide, et pour vous inscrire à AdSense, rendez-vous sur le site google.com/adsense.

  • L'Ecole supérieure polytechnique de Dakar (Esp) a remporté la finale régionale du « Imagine Cup » organisé à Dakar. L'Esp représentera en juillet l'Afrique francophone aux compétitions mondiales de ce concours.

    Face à des concurrents en provenance de la République démocratique du Congo, du Cameroun, de la Côte d'Ivoire, l'Ecole dakaroise a emporté la finale avec la présentation d'un projet de lutte contre la pauvreté. L'Esp a créé des bases de données pour permettre de connaître les marchés et les endroits où les produits alimentaires sont accessibles à moindre prix.

    La finale mondiale se déroulera à New York du 8 au 14 juillet prochain. Elle opposera l'Afrique et autres continents. Organisé par Microsoft, cet événement ouvert dans 124 pays vise à répondre aux Objectifs du millénaire pour le développement fixés par les Nations-Unies.

    Cette année, les participants de l'Imagine Cup ont eu pour challenge d"imaginez un monde où la technologie nous aide à répondre aux enjeux les plus cruciaux de notre société. D'où l'idée, des polytechniciens de Dakar de créer un réseau de commercialisation des produits de premières nécessité les moins coûteux.

    Selon la responsable des programmes de Microsoft au Sénégal, Djiba Diallo Diao, l'objectif de cet événement est de valoriser l'informatique et les filières de l'industrie numérique en général, tout en suscitant chez les jeunes l'engouement pour les sciences et la technologie.

    D'après elle, les étudiants candidats, a fortiori les équipes lauréates, bénéficient d'un tremplin professionnel permettant à leurs projets de prendre formes. L'équipe de l'Esp promet de faire bonne figure lors de la finale mondiale pour se classer parmi les meilleurs jeunes créateurs de la planète.

    Walfadjri
  • Synergies africaines, une Ong mise en place par les premières dames africaines, est officiellement devenu le 12 mai dernier, le partenaire de Genesis Telecare, premier opérateur de télémédecine au Cameroun.

    L'accord de partenariat liant désormais ces deux structures a été signé ce jour là au siège de cette Ong sis au quartier Melen à Yaoundé, entre le secrétaire exécutif de Synergies africaines, Jean Stéphane Biatcha, et le président directeur général de Genesis, Jacques Bonjawo. Le but ici est de permettre aux personnes vulnérables d'avoir accès à des soins de qualité à moindre coût.

    En effet, comme l'a indiqué M. Bonjawo, cet accord vise, entre autres, «la mise en oeuvre des actions conjointes de soutien humanitaire aux personnes défavorisées», ou «l'amélioration de l'accès aux soins et services de qualité, à des tarifs adaptés aux populations des zones rurales». Genesis se propose également de mettre son expertise au bénéfice des missions de Synergies, à travers notamment son réseau de consultations à distance.

    De son côté, l'Ong créée par la première dame camerounaise va l'accompagner et soutenir son plaidoyer auprès de son réseau de bailleurs de fonds, de partenaires internationaux et d'Ong.

    De même, elle présentera ses services sur ses sites d'intervention, en donnant la possibilité à Genesis d'être au fait des derniers ou récents développements en matière de télémédecine comme le stipule les termes de cet accord.

    Mutations
  • Le Syndicat des Journalistes d'Angola (SJA) s'est dit, lundi, réconforté par l'opportunité donnée par le Parlement pour l'analyse de la Proposition de Loi de Lutte contre la Criminalité dans le Domaine des Technologies d'Information et de communication et des Services de la Société d'Information.

    Se confiant à la presse, au terme de la rencontre avec la 6è commission du Parlement, qui, entre autres attributions, traite de la communication sociale, le journaliste Reginaldo Silva, en qualité de porte-parole du SJA, a souligné le fait d'avoir été présentées quelques contributions à cet effet, surtout en ce qui concerne l'utilisation de l'Internet.

    Il a dit que le SJA analyserait en détail la réponse de l'Exécutif à une lettre de l'organisation remise au Ministère de la Télécommunications et Technologies d'Information, où il souligne que la proposition met en péril le libre exercice de la liberté d'expression, de presse et d'accès à l'information, entre autres aspects constitutionnellement consacrés.

    " Il n'a pas été possible d'approfondir le débat et nous avons sollicité plus de temps pour que nous refléchissions sur la réponse et l'argumentation du Gouvernement, qui n'a pas accueilli les préoccupations dans le cadre de l'inconstitutionalité", a assuré le responsable. Selon lui, il peut y avoir des points de convergence sur plusieurs aspects et " il peut se faire que nous ayions exagéré dans notre analyse.

    Dans l'entre-temps, le ministre des Télécommunications et Technologies d'Information, José de Carvalho da Rocha, a écarté l'existence de quelconque norme inconstitutionnelle dans la proposition de Loi de Lutte contre la Criminalité dans le chapitre des Technologies d'Information et des Services de la Société d'Information.

    D'après le ministre, il s'agit à peine d'une interpretation de la proposition de loi, car cette loi répond au besoin de prévenir et de combattre une nouvelle forme de criminalité pratiquée avec recours aux moyens informatiques, avec l'objectif de promouvoir la société de l'information et de protéger les agents économiques et consommateurs.

    Au cours de la réunion orientée par le président de la 6è commission de l'Assemblée Nationale, Francisco Castro Maria, le SJA a été représenté par une délégation conduite par sa secrétaire générale, Luísa Rogério.

    ANGOP
  • Lors de la cérémonie consacrée au challenge Noudjoum El Wilayate hiver, qui récompense les meilleurs points de vente et codistributeurs et qui s'est déroulée, hier à l'hôtel Sheraton Club des Pins, le DG de Wataniya Telecom Algérie, Joseph Ged, a déclaré que les revenus de l'entreprise sont passés de 131,9 millions de dollars durant le 1er trimestre 2010 à 181,6 millions de dollars durant le 1er trimestre 2011, soit une augmentation de 38%. Le résultat brut d'exploitation avant impôts, taxes et dotation d'amortissement est passé de 45,4 millions de dollars durant le 1er trimestre 2010 à 68,7 millions de dollars à la même période en 2011, soit une augmentation de 51%. M. Ged a expliqué qu'OTA détient le taux de croissance le plus fort du groupe mère Qtel.

    Avec tous les investissements consentis en 2010, soit 185 millions de dollars, Nedjma occupe la première place sur le marché dans le créneau des télécommunications, selon M. Ged qui ajoutera que son entreprise compte maintenir ce cap pour l'année en cours. Plusieurs offres ont déjà été lancées au premier trimestre de 2011 et d'autres suivront dans les segments à haute valeur, les entreprises entres autres.Pour ce qui est du réseau, un déploiement agressif sera fait par l'entreprise pour améliorer sa qualité et l'étendre aux coins les plus reculés du pays.«Nos partenaires, parmi les points de vente et les codistributeurs qui commercialisent nos produits, sont notre force de frappe», ajoutera M. Ged à l'adresse des responsables des points de vente et des codistributeurs.

    Le meilleur PDV et le meilleur codistributeur de chaque région, soit huit lauréats au total, ont été récompensés respectivement par une Renault Kangoo et une Renault Master.

    La Tribune
  • Le nouveau bureau de la multinationale américaine IBM, ouvert lundi à Dakar, devrait faciliter la fourniture de solutions et services de haute valeur pour répondre aux besoins croissants de ses clients au Sénégal et en Afrique de l'Ouest, a déclaré son directeur général national Mamadou Ndiaye.

    Selon M. Ndiaye, le Sénégal représente pour IBM une expansion géographique destinée à renforcer la présence de la firme américaine sur les marchés porteurs.

    Le ministre de la Communication, des Télécommunications et des TIC, Moustapha Guirassy, l'ambassadeur des Etats-Unis à Dakar Marcia Bernicat ainsi que James Stallings, directeur général Global Markets, Systems and Technology du groupe d'IBM avaient auparavant procédé à l'inauguration du nouveau bureau de la multinationale américaine.

    "Cette présence renforcée au Sénégal permettra à IBM de développer son niveau de service et de fournir des solutions plus élaborées et de plus grande valeur", a souligné Mamadou Ndiaye.

    Lui emboîtant le pas, James Stallings a souligné que le marché sénégalais et notamment africain tire vers la mondialisation. Selon lui, les entreprises sénégalaises doivent jouer le rôle de leadership dans le marché sous-régional.

    Pour sa part, l'ambassadeur des Etats Unis d'Amérique au Sénégal Marcia Bernicat a indiqué que le retour d'IBM au Sénégal, après dix ans d'absence, va contribuer à augmenter les échanges commerciaux entre les deux pays.

    Les Etats-Unis demeurent un partenaire important du Sénégal, avec des échanges commerciaux en cours estimés à plus de 69 milliards de francs CFA, a rappelé la diplomate américaine.

    Prenant la parole, le ministre de la Communication, des Télécommunications et des TIC s'est réjoui du retour d'IBM au Sénégal en les invitants à aller au-delà de la capitale et en s'implantant dans les régions de l'intérieur.

    La multinationale américaine a été choisie par les autorités douanières sénégalaises pour moderniser les procédures d'importation et d'exportation du Sénégal.

    IBM aide le ministère de l'Economie et des Finances à transférer en ligne ses procédures d'importation et d'exportation dans 30 postes frontaliers, tout en numérisant ses procédures liées aux salaires et aux ressources humaines.

    APS
  • La société de renseignements 118 218 a lancé un nouveau service de création de page Facebook pour ses clients, quelques semaines après le lancement d'un service de visite virtuelle des commerces sur son site internet grâce à une technologie empruntée à Google.

    Confrontée à une baisse de 18% du marché des renseignements téléphoniques sur un an au profit des nouvelles technologies, la société a décidé de prendre le virage de l'innovation produit sur son site internet.

    118 218 propose donc depuis cette fin de semaine aux commerçants et artisans qui n'ont pas de site internet, de leur créer une page sur le réseau social Facebook qui leur permettra "de faire leur promotion de manière plus facile et plus efficace" que sur un site.

    Les TPE pourront actualiser elles mêmes leur page Facebook, ce qui permettra d'actualiser automatiquement leur référencement sur le site 118 218, souligne la société.

    Par ailleurs, 118218.fr lance avec Inside View un nouveau service de visite virtuelle des commerces à 360 degrés, élaboré avec la technologie Custom Street View pour Google Maps.

    Avec ce nouveau service, 118218.fr offre l’opportunité aux nombreux points de vente qui n’ont pas leur propre site Internet "de se valoriser auprès du public sous un angle différent, novateur et attractif", souligne-t-il.

    Inside View permet également aux futurs clients de s’assurer de la qualité de l’établissement recherché, en se rendant sur l'annuaire en ligne.

    AFP
  • eLearning Africa 2011
    25 - 27 mai 2011, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzanie

    eLearning Africa 2011 se concentrera sur les jeunes mais mettra également en évidence l’importance des compétences, du développement des compétences et de l’employabilité.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez 

    Barcamp Benin- 1ière édition
    4 juin 2011, Cotonou Bénin

    - Favoriser les rencontres de passionnés du web, des technologies de l’information et de la communication.
    - Faire émerger des projets web au Bénin.
    - Identifier les potentiels acteurs et projets influents qui pourraient favoriser la montée en puissance et la compétitivité internationale des nouvelles technologies web au Bénin
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 juin 2011, Dakar, Sénégal

    Agenda à suivre
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

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

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

  • - Au Kenya l’opérateur mobile Airtel vient de nommer John Barorot au poste de Directeur Réseau.

  • Dessin - L’internet du futur vu par les enfants d’aujourd’hui

    POURQUOI CE CONCOURS

    Il vise à explorer comment (encore) mieux adapter l’Internet à nos sociétés de demain afin de pleinement contribuer à un monde meilleur pour nous et nos enfants. Des experts du monde entier soutiennent ce projet et travaillent ensemble pour comprendre comment sociétés et technologies sont susceptibles d’évoluer dans les
    décennies à venir, et quelles sont les recherches à mener aujourd’hui pour développer des technologies et des applications adaptées aux besoins de demain. Il est important que les enfants d’aujourd’hui, qui seront les utilisateurs de l’Internet de demain, puissent nous dire, par un dessin (ou une peinture, un collage, etc.), comment ils  voient l’Internet dans leur vie future.

    QUI PEUT PARTICIPER?
    Le concours est ouvert aux écoles primaires (jusqu’au CM2) d’Europe et du monde. Les professeurs qui s’investiront dans ce concours proposeront aux élèves de participer à travers un dessin (ou une peinture, un collage, etc.) commun à toute leur classe. Les dessins envoyés seront évalués par un jury mis en place par le projet
    PARADISO. Les dessins sélectionnés seront annoncés lors de la Conférence Internationale PARADISO qui se tiendra du 7 au 9 septembre 2011 à la Commission européenne, à Bruxelles. Ils seront mis en ligne sur les sites de la Commission européenne et du projet PARADISO, et affichés sous forme de posters dans le hall d’entrée de la Conférence. Les 30 vainqueurs recevront un prix spécial mais tous les
    participants se verront remettre un diplôme de participation.

    Plus d'information visitez

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Editorial

  • Bien qu’un grand nombre d’opérateur télécoms africains utilisent du diesel pour alimenter leurs stations de base et d’autres équipements télécoms, la « révolution verte » qui devrait les avoir utiliser plus d’énergies renouvelables, reste encore à venir. Les façons de penser telles que « c’est comme ça qu’on fait les choses ici » changent difficilement mais tôt ou tard, les opérateurs télécoms devront incorporer le «facteur vert » dans la gestion de leurs réseaux en Afrique. C’est dans cette perspective que Nedbank Capital a développé un programme qui permet aux opérateurs télécoms de prétendre à des crédits-carbone. Isabelle Gross s’est entretenue avec Fritz Milosevic, responsable des investissements à Nedbank Capital, sur ce nouveau programme et comment les opérateurs télécoms peuvent en tirer partie pour générer un revenu complémentaire des crédits-carbone.

    Des opérateurs d’envergure mondiale avec des opérations en Afrique ont déjà annoncé leur engagement à réduire leurs émissions en CO2. Le groupe Vodafone a dit qu’il allait réduire ses propres émissions par 50% à l’horizon 2020 (sur la base des émissions produites en 2006/2007) tandis qu’Orange/France Telecom avançait une proposition similaire. L’opérateur réduira ses émissions en CO2 de 20% par rapport au niveau enregistré en 2006 pour 2020. Le groupe sud-africain MTN a quant à lui signé la Déclaration de Copenhague sur les changements climatiques et vient de publier son premier rapport analysant ses émissions en CO2 et ses conséquences sur l’environnement et les changements climatiques.

    Derrières ces grandes annonces de bonnes intentions, les solutions d’énergies renouvelables pour alimenter les stations de base et d’autres équipements télécoms offrent de réelles opportunités de considérablement réduire les coûts opérationnels et de décroître la dépendance vis-à-vis du diesel des opérateurs mobiles africains. Dans un rapport publié en février 2011, Balancing Act explique comment les opérateurs peuvent réduire leur coûts opérationnels en optimisant la consommation énergétique de leurs stations de base et comment ils peuvent aussi ramener leur facture diesel à zéro en passant aux énergies renouvelables comme le solaire ou le vent (voir lien vers le rapport au bas de l’article). Le rapport souligne aussi que « les opérateurs mobiles ne devraient pas prendre le manque d’expertises techniques pour une excuse pour ne rien faire. Les opérateurs mobiles en Afrique doivent prêter plus d’attention aux coûts associés aux opérations qu’ils gèrent. Dans cette perspective, les dépenses énergétiques figurent  dans le top palmarès des dépenses à contrôler ».

    Selon Fritz Milosevic de Nedbank Capital «parmi les autres projets verts pour les opérateurs, il y a les centres data et les solutions de recharge pour les mobiles. Ils donnent l’opportunité aux opérateurs de générer des crédits-carbone ou de réduite leur empreinte en CO2. Bien que les possibilités de générer des crédits-carbone se trouvent au cœur de leurs réseaux, les opérateurs mobiles en savent très peu sur les crédits-carbone. Par conséquent ils sont très réticents à dépenser de l’argent (en interne ou en externe) dans des programmes de crédits-carbone ».

    Face à cette contradiction et la complexité inhérente du marché des crédits-carbone, Nedbank Capital a développé un service qui permet aux opérateurs télécoms de réclamer des crédits-carbone pour le déploiement de « solutions vertes ». Pour Fritz Milosevic, le programme enlève la nécessité pour les opérateurs télécoms d’avoir à comprendre la réglementation compliquée gouvernant les crédits-carbone et leur permet d’optimiser le revenu potentiel qu’ils pourront tirer de la vente de leurs crédits-carbone. Il y a deux façons de réclamer des crédits-carbone soit par le Mécanisme de développement propre (MDP) soit par une procédure volontaire. Le MDP est  une procédure en 7 étapes soumise à certification tandis que la procédure volontaire a développé des standards moins astreignants dans la mesure ou elle vise plus à la pérennité du projet qu’à son impact sur les changements climatiques. Une conséquence moins intéressante de la  procédure volontaire, c’est que le crédit-carbone vaut moins que celui généré via un projet MDP. Pour Fritz Milosevic, la chose la plus importante pour l’instant est que le programme provoque un déclic chez les opérateurs dans leur façon de penser et suscite une discussion sur les questions de développement durable vue de leur perspective. Il n’y a pas de quota minimum de stations de base « vertes » installées ou en phase d’installation pour rejoindre le programme de crédits-carbone initié par Nedbank Capital.

    Selon une étude de cas réalisée par Nedbank Capital, les opérateurs mobiles peuvent générer un revenu annuel complémentaire de l’ordre de 6% pour chaque station de base qui utilise des énergies renouvelables comme sa principale source d’alimentation (en assumant une économie d’énergie de 75%). Cela semble peu mais au regard de la baisse des ARPUs voix et des revenus incertains sur les services data, les opérateurs mobiles seront peut-être d’avis que cela permettrait d’améliorer leur chiffre d’affaires ou de payer en partie pour les coûts de déploiement de solutions vertes pour les stations de base. Le programme initié par Nedbank Capital a pour but de motiver les opérateurs télécoms à utiliser des énergies renouvelables lorsqu’ils mettent en place de nouveaux équipements ou renouvèlent leurs équipements existants. Selon Fritz Milosevic, le programme s’adresse à l’ensemble des opérateurs télécoms -  petits ou grands, locaux ou internationaux. Il ajoute que « les opérateurs devraient joindre le programme maintenant. Quelque soit l’avancement de vos projets, venez nous en parler. Nous pouvons définir un programme taillé sur votre plan de déploiement et vous fournir un mécanisme de contrôle qui vous aidera à générer des crédits-carbone ou à réduire votre empreinte d’émissions en CO2 ».

    L’adoption de “solutions vertes” dans l’industrie télécoms en Afrique est lente mais il y a des signes encourageants. Progressivement certains opérateurs augmentent le nombre de stations de base fonctionnant aux énergies renouvelables – de moins d’une douzaine à plus d’une centaine. L’opérateur mobile namibien MTC a annoncé à la fin du mois d’avril, des tests concernant une nouvelle manière de générer de l’électricité via l’énergie éolienne. La turbine éolienne est directement montée sur la tour radio alors que la majorité des systèmes suppose une structure séparée. Il n’est pas trop difficile de calculer les économies réalisées – la construction d’une tour séparée – sur le coût global de ce projet d’énergies renouvelables.

    De plus en plus d’opérateurs mobiles (même le petit opérateur que j’ai récemment visité au Libéria, y pense !) se lancent dans des expérimentations de solutions basées sur des énergies renouvelables. En termes de connaissance et de compréhension de ces questions par les opérateurs télécoms, on vient de dépasser le stade embryonique et il faut certainement encourager des banques africaines qui sont prêtes à offrir des services innovants et à supporter des projets porteurs en matière d’énergies renouvelables.

    Pour de plus amples information sur le rapport de Balancing Act intitulé  “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy”, cliquez sur le lien suivant

  • A travers un communiqué lu aux médias d'Etat, le ministre de télécommunications, Oyé Guilavogui a annoncé la confiscation par l'Etat des installations de l'opérateur téléphonique areeba guinée. Dans cette annonce, le patron des télécommunications indique qu'à l'heure actuelle, le numéro un de la téléphonie a payé 18 milliards de nos francs contre 45 milliards exigés.

    Selon des sources proches de deux cotés, les négociations s'accentueraient notamment sur les modalités de payement du reste réclamé par l'Autorité de régulation des postés et télécommunications. Depuis ce matin, aminata.com a constaté le siège d'areeba sis à Manquepas dans Kaloum est surveillé par un groupe des gendarmes, donc aucun d'accès n'est possible, une affiche portée sur la porte invite la clientèle à se rendre aux autres agences de la banlieue.

    Jusqu'à maintenant, à part le message de sérénité adressé aux abonnés, l'on n'a enregistré aucune réaction officielle de la part de l'opérateur concerné. S'agit-il d'une stratégie de communication pour surprendre à la dernière minute les clients d'une probable bonne nouvelle . Pour l’heure, les abonnés sont actuellement entre l'impatience et l'inquiétude. Sur le terrain d'autres opérateurs comme orange guinée s'activent pour la promotion de la vente de leur puce à 5000 GNF, au lieu de 10 000 GNF vendue avant le contentieux d'areeba.

    Aminata
  • Le ministre des Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication, Tassarajen Pillay, a annoncé, le mardi 2 mai, que les tarifs téléphoniques baisseront d'au moins 25% dans un mois.

    Le ministre trouve que les tarifs d'interconnexion entre les opérateurs - les frais imposés par un opérateur pour transporter un appel d'un réseau à l'autre, de Orange à Emtel, par exemple - et les tarifs imposés aux abonnés sont trop élevés. Cela revient à 90 sous la minute actuellement.

    L'Information and Communication Technology Authority (ICTA) a été chargée de revoir ce dossier afin d'y apporter une solution et un soulagement pour les usagers. Maurice compte environ 1,2 millions de cartes sim, donc autant d'abonnés.
     
    Le marché n'est pas encore saturé, estime Tassarajen Pillay, et une baisse des tarifs apportera plus de business aux opérateurs de la téléphonie. Ce secteur a contribué 5,7% au produit intérieur brut l'année dernière, ce qui représente environ Rs 23 milliards.

    Outre le marché local, l'importation et la réexportation de téléphones mobiles vers le Moyen Orient en particulier était un business florissant il y a à peine deux ou trois ans. Cette filière s'est entièrement asséchée.

    Le marché local de la téléphonie est dominé par Mauritius Telecom qui a réalisé Rs 2,4 milliards de profit avant impôts, grâce surtout à son département de téléphone mobile.

    L’Express
  • Avant, le fait d’acheter une carte de recharge Tunisie Telecom alors qu’on dispose d’une ligne Tunisiana, était un signe de maladresse et de distraction. Bientôt, en Tunisie, on ne se moquera plus d’une personne qui utilise une carte de recharge Orange pour alimenter le solde d’une puce 22.

    Grâce à la portabilité des numéros, on pourra migrer d’un opérateur à un autre, tout en gardant le même numéro. Selon une source gouvernementale, cette technologie fait actuellement l’objet d’un projet mené par l’Instance National des Télécommunications en Tunisie, afin de définir le cadre réglementaire relatif à sa mise en œuvre. L’objectif sous-jacent de la portabilité est de stimuler la concurrence entre opérateurs et de permettre aux clients d’avoir le libre choix de leur fournisseur sans perdre le numéro initialement attribué. Le numéro de téléphone sera ainsi  la «propriété privée» du client et non de l’opérateur.

    Rappelons, que cette démarche a été entreprise par l’INTT en 2009, avant l’entrée du troisième opérateur sur le marché des télécoms. Elle est restée en instance  jusqu’à ce qu’elle soit relancée par Sami Zaoui, l’ancien Secrétaire d’Etat aux Technologies de la Communication du gouvernement transitoire.

    Orange,Tunisie, probablement le futur principal bénéficiaire de cette technologie, insiste depuis son arrivée auprès de l’INTT, au sujet de l’autorisation de la portabilité des numéros. En effet, la nouvelle règle du jeu pourrait vraisemblablement permettre au nouvel entrant de renforcer son parc de clients qui compte actuellement 800.000 abonnés, contre 5.8 millions pour Tunisiana et 4.5 millions du côté de Tunisie Telecom.

    L’expérience française en matière de portabilité facilitera les travaux du régulateur tunisien, surtout que l’Autorité de Régulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes en France a lancé la première formule de portabilité depuis 2003 et a procédé par la suite à sa réforme en 2007. Les Tunisiens pourraient donc profiter du savoir-faire des Français dans ce domaine, notamment en apprenant de leurs erreurs du passé. En effet, suite au lancement de la portabilité en 2003, seuls 2,86% ont «porté» leur numéro vers un autre opérateur. Un résultat largement en deçà des attentes. Le nœud du problème ? Il est causé principalement par la rigidité du processus et par le manque d’implication des opérateurs, d’où le projet de réforme.

    Par conséquent, et afin d’encourager les clients et les opérateurs à adopter le principe de portabilité, l’INTT devrait imposer dès le début le délai de portage le plus court, un préavis de résiliation rapide, et instaurer la formule de rétribution la moins pesante entre opérateurs (redevances et frais d’interconnexion). D’après les expériences réussies en Europe, tout se joue autour de ses éléments.

    Tekiano
  • Peu d'engouement pour la création de centres d'appels téléphoniques (call center) est constaté en Algérie. En atteste d'ailleurs leur nombre qui ne saurait dépasser la quarantaine. Alors qu'il n'y avait que six en 2006, date de leur création, leur nombre est passé aujourd'hui à environ 40. Les besoins économiques nationaux en la matière sont estimés entre 400 et 500 centres d'appels, générant entre 15 000 et 17 000 postes d'emploi contre environ 1 500 actuellement, selon les spécialistes de ce nouveau créneau d'activité.

    Le chiffre d'affaires que représente ce marché dans notre pays est évalué, pour l'année 2009, à 12 millions d'euros, alors qu'au Maroc, le chiffre d'affaires réalisé par le secteur est de 340 millions d'euros et 158 millions d'euros en Tunisie. Cette évolution plus au moins lente est, pour certains observateurs, due au manque de visibilité sur le marché algérien tandis que d'autres imputent ce retard au non-achèvement de la réforme du secteur des télécommunications.

    D'autres causes qui sont derrière ce manque de développement de ce secteur est cette frilosité enregistrée chez les investisseurs pour des raisons de sécurité et de difficultés administratives et bancaires. Pour investir dans ce domaine, un minimum de 10 millions de dinars pour une vingtaine de positions téléphoniques est requis. Mais certains obstacles qui se mettent en travers des investisseurs découragent vite ces derniers. L'investissement en équipements est lourd, selon les spécialistes et pour acquérir un local adapté, les prix ne sont pas accessibles, notamment dans les grands centres urbains.

    Ajoutez à cela le fait que les entreprises nationales et privées ne ne font pas appel encore auxservices de téléconseil. Cette demande est encore balbutiante. Pourtant, à cause de sa situation géographique et des capacités techniques et linguistiques de la population algérienne constituée dans sa majorité de jeunes, l'Algérie connaîtra un boom dans le domaine des centres d'appels, comme cela a été le cas pour la téléphonie mobile. Les tâches qui reviennent aux téléopérateurs sont la vente, la prospection commerciale, l'après-vente, le conseil clientèle, l'assistance technique type hotline, les réservations, les sondages ou encore la gestion des différends juridiques et commerciaux. En amont, il existe divers secteurs donneurs d'ordres, entre autres les télécommunications, les transports et la logistique, l'assurance, les banques, les finances, le télémarketing, les services publics, le tourisme... En aval, il y a des prestations qui visent le grand public mais aussi le B2B.
     
    Les entreprises investissent pour améliorer leurs relations avec leurs clients et optimiser leurs flux. Dans les télécommunications, un opérateur donne des conseils techniques et résout des problèmes commerciaux par des appels entrants, sonde et fidélise son public par des appels sortants. Les centres d'appels ont été créés pour recentrer les entreprises sur leur coeur de métier.

    En Algérie, les centres d'appels agréés se concentrent beaucoup plus au niveau d'Alger avec, en sus, quelques implantations dans les wilayas d'Annaba, d'Oran, et de Constantine. 70% du chiffre d'affaires sont, par contre, faits à l'export.Beaucoup de chemin reste à parcourir avant que le secteur des centres d'appels n'arrache sa place de choix dans l'économie hors hydrocarbures encouragée par les autorités à travers différents dispositifs tels que Optimexport.

    La Tribune
  • Selon les derniers résultats publiés par l’ANRT, l’Autorité Nationale de Régulation des Télécommunications au Maroc dont nous saluons par ailleurs la régularité avec laquelle elle publie des statistiques sur le secteur des télécoms depuis 2004, l’Internet mobile 3G continue à avoir le vent en poupe. Ci-dessous le détail des résultats du premier trimestre 2011 avec un nouveau mode de comptabilisation à la clef.

    Conformément à la nouvelle décision N06/11 du 25 janvier 2011 fixant les modalités de comptabilisation du parc des abonnés Internet 3G des exploitants de réseaux publics de télécommunications, et vu l’expansion qu’a connue le service 3G et le développement des offres des opérateurs pour l’accès Internet 3G combiné avec l’abonnement téléphonique mobile ainsi que le développement important qu’a connu le marché des smartphones, le tableau de bord trimestriel de l’Internet a subi des modifications dans la partie relative au parc Internet 3G. Cette évolution s’aligne également avec les tendances observées au niveau des pratiques internationales en la matière.

    Ainsi le parc Internet 3G est désormais présenté en deux parties distinctes, une relative au parc « Data only » et une autre pour le parc « Voix+Data ».  Ces deux offres seront prises en compte conjointement dans le calcul du parc Internet 3G global alors que les offres combinées « Voix+Data » n’étaient pas comptabilisées jusqu’à présent dans le parc 3G dans les publications précédentes.

    Le parc global des abonnés Internet continue dans sa forte croissance en enregistrant un taux de 16.39% au cours du premier trimestre 2011 (on passe de 1,866,963 abonnés à 2,172,902) et de 59.54% sur l’année (on passe de 1,362,017 abonnés à 2,172,902).

    La répartition des abonnés par mode d’accès donne l’avantage à l’accès Internet 3G qui représent 76.19% du parc global Internet suivi de l’ADSL avec 23.72%.

    En termes de part de marché, IAM (Maroc Telecom) détient 57.46% du parc Internet suivi par Wana Corporate avec 26.21% et de Medi Telecom avec 16.33%.

    Pour ce qui concerne le marché Internet du Haut débit, le parc des abonnés Internet ADSL a réalisé un taux de croissance de 3.58% au cours du premier trimestre 2011. Sur l’année le parc ADSL a augmenté de 7.62%  (on est passé de 478,970 abonnés à 515,464). En termes de part de marché, IAM détient 99.8% des abonnements ADSL. L’accès ADSL à 1Mbits représente la plus grande part avec 43.03% des abonnements en mars 2011 suivi du 2 Mbits avec 27.08% et du 4 Mbits avec 25.81%.

    Le parc Internet 3G a atteint 1,655,499 abonnés à fin mars 2011 en réalisant un taux de croissance de 21.15% durant le premier trimestre 2011 et de 88.37% sur une année. A fin mars 2011, les abonnements au service Internet 3G « Data only » s’élèvent à 1,248,538 alors que les abonnements combinant « Voix et Data » atteignent 406,961.

    En termes de part de marché, IAM détient 44.23% du parc Internet 3G suivi par Wana Corporate avec 34.33% et de Medi Telecom avec 21.44%.

    La prépondérance de Maroc Telecom sur le segment ADSL se perpétue (et pourtant le Maroc a introduit le dégroupage de la boucle locale) mais sa dominance sur l’ensemble du segment data est bien moins forte du fait du jeux de la concurrence.

  • Si au Burkina on se plaint que les ONG et associations de développement ne sont pas trop présentes sur la toile, il faut dire que les structures faitières du Faso ont une avance de 10 ans en moyenne sur le Niger en ce qui concerne l’accès aux outils numériques et en particulier aux outils web. Il existe pourtant des structures dynamiques qui sont très actives sur le terrain au Niger et qui font des travaux innovants. Malheureusement, ces efforts restent localisés et les rapports et autres documents sous format papier dans des tiroirs et autres étagères des organisations, si ce n’est simplement dans leurs têtes. Le Burkina a eu la chance avec des organisations intéressées sur cette question depuis plus de 10 ans comme IICD (l’Institut International pour la Communication et le Développement) le CTA (le Centre Technique de Coopération Agricole), l’UNESO, la MAE France, la FAO et bien d’autres institutions de concert avec le gouvernement pour construire un web rural.

    Pour le cas du Niger, le projet capitalisation de la FAO lutte depuis quelques années pour rendre visible les efforts de développement effectués au Niger au niveau des structures faîtières. Gilles Mersadier, Expert en gestion de connaissances rêve d’organisations faîtières fortes et numérisées depuis fort longtemps et ne ménage pas ses énergies sur la question. Grâce à ses efforts, des dizaines d’organisations en Afrique de l’Ouest ont pu faire leur baptême de sites webs. Son travail au sein de l’équipe capitalisation de la FAO a sans doute contribué à cet élan au Niger Ces efforts semblent couronner de succès avec la mise en ligne de plusieurs sites webs dont celui du réseau des chambres d’agriculture du Niger (reca-niger.org), le projet capitalisation lui-même (capitalisation-bp.net) le projet IARBIC (iarbic.net), mooriben-niger.org, l’ONG VIE http://www.viebayra.net/, la Fédération des Coopératives maraîchères du Niger (fcnm.nigerdev.org), la fédération des coopératives rizicoles du Niger (fucopri.nigerdev.net)

    Trois sites webs sont pratiquement terminés et c’est pour cela que le projet capitalisation a organisé une formation en gestion de contenu webs du 21 au 22 avril 2011 à Niamey. Il faut préciser que pour simplifier la gestion des contenus, le travail en réseau entre les différents gestionnaires de sites webs, un seul CMS (content management system, en français système de gestion de contenus) a été utilisé. SPIP a été préféré pour sa simplicité et sa forte communauté. Pendant les deux jours, les participants se sont familiarisés avec l’interface d’administration, la publication d’articles, d’images et de son. Plusieurs ont trouvé le principe de publication fort simple et pense qu’ils n’ont plus d’excuses quand les informations ne seront pas actualisées régulièrement sur leurs sites webs.

    Selon un des formateurs, Ouédraogo Sylvestre, celui qui sait utiliser un courriel peut publier une information sur le net. Il doit veiller cependant à publier des informations qui sont intéressantes et surtout éviter des fautes et des copier-coller de travaux sans en informer la source ou en avoir l’autorisation.

    Pour assurer la pérennité du dispositif et éviter que les sites webs meurent après la fin du projet, une contractualisation sera faîte entre l’association Yam Pukri, concepteur des sites et hébergeur pour les aspects techniques, une équipe locale à Niamey pour le suivi rapproché des acteurs (assistance pour la gestion des contenus et la numérisation des documents) et enfin, les bénéficiaires qui sont les organisations locales.

    Vivement que les organisations s’approprient ce nouveau moyen de publication d’informations pour mieux diffuser les connaissances et les expériences multiples.
    Pour en savoir plus, visitez ici.

  • En visite au Sénégal du 26 au 30 avril pour animer une série d’ateliers et de conférences autour du Logiciel Libre mais aussi pour tisser des liens entre nos pays, et... fêter la sortie de Firefox 4 , l’équipe de Mozilla a fait face à la presse ce jeudi 28 avril dans les locaux de Jokkolabs.

    Œuvrant pour la vulgarisation de Firefox, l’équipe de Mozilla a fait part de sa volonté de traduire son navigateur en Wolof à l’instar des autres pays qui ont Firefox dans leurs propres langues. « Firefox est un navigateur qui est traduit dans 80 langues. Il n’y a pas un seul autre navigateur qui a autant de langues. 80 langues ça veut dire 80 pays qui ont accès à un Internet dans leurs langues maternelles. Pas en Anglais ni en Français mais dans leurs langues maternelles » a expliqué Claire Corgnou, contributrice et rédactrice du site www.bonjourmozilla.fr. Et d’ajouter : « on leur ouvre cette espace là. Ils n’ont pas à se prendre la tête, à essayer de comprendre l’anglais ou le Français. Nous on leur offre des langues qui sont celles qu’ils ont l’habitude de parler ».

    Claire Corgnou de laisser entendre : « on a plusieurs personnes qui se sont portés volontaires pour traduire Firefox en Wolof. Et vraiment notre grand rêve c’est, l’année prochaine, de pouvoir vous recontacter en vous disant ça y est, la version Firefox en Wolof, elle existe. Et toute les personnes au Sénégal qui ont encore des difficultés avec le Français et bien ils pourront accéder Internet en Wolof ».

    La rédactrice du site www.bonjourmozilla.fr a, en outre, confié qu’ils « ont visité beaucoup d’université au Sénégal. Ça été une expérience extra ordinaire. On a découvert beaucoup d’attentes. On aurait certainement du venir plutôt ». Elle est convaincu qu’il y a des besoins et des talents ici qu’on n’aurait pas du ignorer aussi longtemps. On a rencontré des gens extra ordinaires avec qui on va tisser des liens ». Selon elle, Mozilla a besoin de l’Afrique et du Sénégal en particulier.

    Pressafrik
  • Son idée était partie d’une équation simple ! Si l’aspect technique de son projet était réalisable, M. Hamza Mohamed s’est concentré, depuis 2004, sur l’aspect légal et juridique. Dans cet entretien, M. Hamza Mohamed revient sur les péripéties de la création du premier site marchand en Algérie réellement fonctionnel, « ePay.dz » et affiche sa volonté d’agrandir son entreprise.

    ePay.dz est un service de paiement en ligne qui permet de payer des achats, de recevoir des paiements, mais ne permet pas d’envoyer et de recevoir de l’argent. Pour bénéficier de ces services, une personne doit transmettre diverses coordonnées à ePay.dz telles que son e-mail et son numéro de téléphone mobile. Par la suite, les transactions sont effectuées sans avoir à communiquer de coordonnées financières, une adresse de courrier électronique et un mot de passe étant suffisants. Il n'est pas nécessaire d’alimenter son compte ePay.dz à l’avance. La source d’approvisionnement qui existe aujourd’hui pour ePay est le versement dans une des deux banques partenaire d’ePay. Il est automatiquement débité au moment de la transaction. Les destinataires sont avertis par e-mail ou SMS selon le choix dès que vous leur envoyez de l’argent. De plus, l’installation d’ePay.dz est gratuite et, contrairement à la majorité des solutions de paiement proposées par les banques, elle se passe sur Internet.

    ePay.dz se rémunère exclusivement en prélevant une commission sur chaque transaction, qui peut aller de 3 à 5%. Aujourd’hui, « tout petit », Mohamed Hamza parle de « près de 800 inscrits » mais ePay.dz a pour vocation de s’agrandir et d’agrandir sa base clientèle et produits à vendre. A terme, ePay.dz sera certainement utilisé par des sites de commerce électronique, pour la vente de biens comme des objets électroniques ou de l’électroménager, de services comme des voyages ou de la conception de sites, ainsi que pour la vente de contenu numérique. Le service de ePay qui permet aux utilisateurs d’effectuer des paiements gratuitement peut être utilisé à partir d’ordinateurs ou de mobiles à accès Internet.

    Qui est derrière ePay.dz ?

    Je suis Mohamed Hamza, informaticien de formation, je travaille depuis 2001 dans la conception et l’hébergement de sites Web et chaque fois, revenait avec acuité le même problème, celui du paiement. On vendant sur Internet ais on devait se faire payer par virement CCP ; ce qui nous portait préjudice au vu du temps que prenait ce genre d’opérations. Les derniers temps; j’ai mis de côté cette activité, et je me suis engagé dans un poste de travail stable dans une entreprise en tant que cadre commercial. C’est à partir de ce moment là où j’ai commencé à développer l’application, le site Web mais aussi à consulter l’aspect juridique y afférent. Je considérais déjà ce projet, sur lequel je travaille depuis 2003, comme un projet d’avenir. A ce moment-là, CashU se faisait connaître non sans handicap car le désavantage de cette alternative était les « commissions » énormes prélevées sur les paiements. Déjà que le prix auquel ces cartes étaient vendues était assez élevé en lui-même. En revanche, d’autres solutions existantes, notamment AltertPay, PayPal, prenaient de petites commissions, ce qui contentait tout le monde. C’est en m’inspirant de ce même principe que la chose a évolué en une étude de marché complète sur ce qui existe de par le monde en termes de solutions de paiements en ligne.

    Juste « ce qui existe de par le monde » ; et en Algérie ?

    Je sais que ces mêmes entreprises que j’ai citées ont tenté de vendre leurs services en Algérie sans le pouvoir car elle se sont heurté à une question cruciale : quels sont les textes de loi qui autorisent ce genre d’activité ? Il n’est pas concevable de monter une entreprise sans connaître le fondement juridique autour duquel se construit et s’organise la relation commerciale entre l’entreprise et ses vis-à-vis. L’aspect technique de cette activité n’est pas difficile; mais l’aspect juridique, lui, il l’est. D’ailleurs, c’est ce dernier aspect qui m’a pris le plus de temps avant de pouvoir lancer mon projet.

    Quel a été le fruit de vos recherches sur l’aspect juridique ?
    Le résultat de mes recherches fait ressortir qu’il existe de lois qui vous permettent de travailler, et pour ce qui est du domaine de l’e-commerce, certes il n’est pas réglementé mais il n’est pas interdit non plus. Il faut savoir aussi que lorsque je me suis adressé aux autorités compétentes, le ministère des TIC dans mon cas, afin de leur présenter et de leur expliquer mon projet, elles ne m’ont pas dissuadé ni même dit d’arrêter car c’était interdit.

    Comment l’idée de projet a évolué pour se transformer en entreprise ?

    J’ai présenté mon projet une première fois au MPTIC en 2006 et à ce moment-là, j’avoue que le feedback n’était pas ce que j’avais espéré. Il faut savoir aussi que moi-même je n’avais pas toutes les cartes en mains; mon projet n’était pas très clair, les moyens financiers pour le lancer n’étaient pas réunis. Ce n’est qu’en janvier 2011 que j’ai pu monter mon entreprise. De plus, j’ai eu l’opportunité de pouvoir ouvrir prochainement un bureau au Cyberparc de Sidi Abdellah pour développer ce qui reste. C’est très intéressant pour moi dans la mesure où l’Etat soutient les entreprises qui s’installent au Cyberparc, notamment à travers des prix de location compétitifs.

    Vous avez tout fait par vous-mêmes ?
    Oui, j’ai réalisé moi-même la totalité de la plate-forme. Pour la partie contenu, je me suis fait et continue à me faire aider. Mais elle est appelée à évoluer et à s’adapter à ses utilisateurs, à leur façon de se comporter. En tout cas, le système est opérationnel dans sa totalité.

    Tout compte fait, qu’est-ce qu’ePay.dz ?
    ePay.dz est un outil qui facilite la vie tout simplement. Il permet aux gens d’acheter, de payer et d’être payés sur Internet. La loi algérienne n’interdit à personne de vendre ni d’acheter. Un outil qui reste en développement où probablement il arrivera un jour où vous pourrez payer un commerçant à travers notre outil. Mais pour le moment, ePay.dz est une solution à une problématique. Ce n’est qu’une partie de l’e-commerce. Les gens vendent déjà à travers Internet mais quand il s’agit de se
    faire payer ou de récupérer sa marchandise, ils sont obligés de se rencontrer.

    Quel en est le procédé ?
    ePay.dz passe des conventions avec des vendeurs qui nous autorisent à nous faire payer pour leur compte. Le principe est similaire à celui de PayPal. L’acheteur va sur Internet, consulte les produits qui l’intéressent, il aura préalablement prépayé un montant sur nos comptes, puis il pourra acheter à partir des magasins conventionnés avec ePay.dz. Légalement, c’est comme si nous avions été mandatés pour vendre à la place du magasin. Nous ne sommes pas une banque. L’argent avec lequel vous alimentez votre compte sur ePay.dz ne vous servira qu’à acheter dans les magasins conventionnés avec nous. Somme que vous pouvez récupérer à n’importe quel moment.

    Mais comment se fait la transaction ?
    Les solutions existent et consistent simplement à effectuer un virement bancaire à l’ordre de nos comptes bancaires. En fait, l’utilisateur approvisionne les comptes d’ePay.dz mais dispose de son argent pour acheter les produits du vendeur conventionné. Pour sa part, le vendeur, une fois qu’il aura notre autorisation pour vendre sur notre site, pourra le faire et chaque fois qu’un montant est accrédité pour l’achat de son produit, nous le lui transférons et à charge pour ce dernier de livrer le produit payé. L’acheteur peut même appliquer ce qu’on appelle le principe du tiers de confiance qui lui permet de ne payer qu’une fois livré. Ce service est toutefois payant. Globalement, sur la transaction, nous recevons, de la part du vendeur, un pourcentage de la vente effectuée à partir de notre outil.

    Le vendeur doit-il avoir lui-même son site Internet ?

    Oui il est préférable pour le vendeur d’avoir son propre site mais ce n’est pas nécessaire. Il peut parfaitement afficher ses produits sur ePay.dz. S’il avait un site, au titre de la convention, nous mettons à sa disposition un « bouton acheter » mais dans ce cas-là, nous lui demandons de nous donner tous les détails sur le produit en question.

    ePay.dz est-il totalement sécurisé et sans risques pour l’utilisateur ?

    La première sécurité, c’est l’individu lui-même. Il faut qu’il soit vigilant. Il existe chez nous des normes ou des mesures de sécurité que nous utilisons et parmi celles-ci, c’est que la personne qui s’enregistre sur notre outil, nous devons la connaître ; à commencer par les informations basiques qu’elle nous donne qui doivent impérativement être vraies et précises, comme l’adresse e-mail, dont nous vérifions la validité, ou encore le numéro de téléphone, et aussi bien les comptes particuliers que les comptes entreprises, ils passent par les mêmes procédures, à la différence que le commerçant doit justifier d’un registre de commerce valide et compatible avec les produits qu’il veut vendre sur ePay.dz. Chaque fois qu’un compte ne remplit pas les conditions que j’ai citées est temporairement bloqué jusqu’à ce qu’on vérifie si effectivement les données écrites sont correctes. Des vérifications que notre backoffice fait d’ailleurs manuellement. Mais tant qu’un utilisateur est enregistré chez nous, il viendra un moment ou un autre où nous vérifions de nouveau ses informations, quitte à lui demander plus de précisions ou de justifier l’exactitude de son profil. Et pour chaque compte commercial, s’il est en conformité, nous lui rajoutons un label « vérifié », s’il ne l’est pas encore, nous lui mettons alors une étiquette « non vérifiée ». De plus et surtout, chaque enregistrement se fait sur la base de l’acceptation des conditions d’utilisation générale, mûrement réfléchies et adaptées au contexte algérien. Pour ce qui est du volet technique, nos servers dédiés sont sécurisés, avec cryptage de données et nous sommes sur du SSL à 128 bits. Il y a d’autres mesures de sécurité qui font qu’en plus de votre mot de passe, nous vous rajoutons un code PIN que nous vous envoyons dans votre boîte e-mails afin de valider la décision d’achat. De plus, nous avons introduit une politique de répudiation qui bloque le compte utilisateur après deux tentatives infructueuses de connexion. Compte qui ne sera rouvert qu’après vérification. C’est aussi très efficace dans la mesure où le système, s’il enregistre deux ou trois tentatives de connexion dont l’espace de temps entre chacune se compte en mili-seconde, bloque le compte ; en considérant qu’il s’agit d’un « bot » et non d’une personne physique. Même les liens URL ne sont pas autorisées; d’ailleurs nous n’envoyons jamais de liens cliquables pour nos utilisateurs.

    Comment ePay.dz justifie-t-elle légalement son existence ?
    J’y ai longuement réfléchi. Pour notre part, nous sommes bien des commissionnaires.
    C’est-à-dire que notre chiffre d’affaires n’est pas le montant vendu mais le montant engrangé par les commissions. Nous payons notre TVA, notre TAP, etc., sur la commission. Nous éditons par conséquent une facture sur la commission seulement. L’activité de commissionnaire est clairement réglementée et identifiée dans nos lois.

    IT MAG
  • Le ministre de la Décentralisation et des Collectivités locales, Aliou Sow, a annoncé, mardi à Dakar, que son département procédera au lancement d'un logiciel dénommé "Commer" qui servira de "moyen de gestion informatisée" du budget des municipalités.

    " Ce que nous voulons, avec le lancement du logiciel "Commer", est que les communes se servent de cet outil comme moyen de gestion informatisée du budget municipal", a indiqué M. Sow lors de la première session ordinaire de l'année 2011 du Conseil économique et social (CES) dont le thème porte sur l'élaboration participatif du budget des collectivités locales.

    Selon lui, la gestion informatisée du budget municipal est "indispensable à la tenue de comptes sincères ".

    "Ce logiciel, on va le diffuser dans toutes les communes . J'ai donné des instructions pour son installation au niveau des communautés rurales, mais aussi des régions", a-t-il assuré face aux conseillers.

    "Autant je vais demander à chaque communauté rurale de prévoir l'acquisition d'une moto pour son assistant communautaire, autant je vais demander que chaque maire achète un ordinateur portable pour le secrétaire municipal dans le cadre du suivi du logiciel +Commer+ pour que les comptes administratifs puissent être mis à disposition à temps", a-t-il poursuivi.

    Selon lui, "c'est dans ce cadre" qu'il a été mis la disposition de la direction générale du Trésor et de la comptabilité publique du matériel "en vue de les accompagner dans l'exécution du budget".

    "Si nous le faisons, a-t-il expliqué, c'est parce que nous sommes tenus par l'obligation de résultats".

    Cette année, a-t-il souligné, il y a une innovation de taille liée à la généralisation des fonds d'équipements des collectivités locales, communément appelés fonds de concours.

    "Il y a pas une communauté rurale, une commune ou une région qui n'a pas bénéficié du fonds de concours. C'est généralisé pour les 389 communautés rurales, les 169 communes et les 14 régions", s'est-il félicité.

    APS
  • Il y a quelques semaines, un camionneur a eu la surprise de sa vie lorsque son employeur l’a appelé d’Afrique du Sud lui demandant pourquoi il a siphonné du carburant de son véhicule pendant qu’il attendait pour le dédouanement au poste-frontière de Kasumbalesa, entre la Zambie et la République démocratique du Congo (RDC).

    Les tentatives du chauffeur de nier l’incident ont été vaines puisque des séquences vidéo prises au poste-frontière le montraient en train de vider le carburant et de le remettre à des gens.

    L’installation d’un matériel de surveillance de pointe signifie que les choses ont changé à Kasumbalesa, un poste-frontière situé sur l’une des voies commerciales à grand trafic en Afrique.

    Pendant qu’un camion entre dans la cour, de puissantes cameras prennent tous ses détails et les transmettent aux différents bureaux, y compris les services d’immigration et de la douane. Entre autres, les cameras captent le nom de la société possédant le camion, le nombre d’essieux dont il dispose et le type de cargaison qu’il transporte.

    Avant que les chauffeurs n’entrent enfin dans les bureaux, l’argent à payer pour les diverses procédures douanières et d’immigration est déjà calculé. Cela signifie que le chauffeur passe maintenant moins de temps sur les procédures frontalières qu’auparavant, où toutes les procédures étaient manuelles.

    L’ingénieur Avishay Dvir, directeur exécutif de 'Baran Trade and Investment', une entreprise basée en Suisse et appartenant à un Israélien, et qui a été engagée pour construire le nouveau poste-frontière, a expliqué que cette nouvelle structure "aiderait à améliorer la vitesse et le volume des échanges commerciaux entre les pays" dans le Marché commun d’Afrique orientale et australe (COMESA).

    Des négociations sont déjà en cours pour installer davantage cette technologie à d’autres postes-frontières dans le COMESA. Les mauvaises infrastructures frontalières font partie des facteurs qui rendent le commerce régional plus difficile et plus coûteux, spécialement parce que la plupart des marchandises doivent être transportées par la route.

    Un rapport de la Banque mondiale publié en 2009 sur les infrastructures de l’Afrique indique que les longs retards aux postes-frontières coûtent aux transporteurs plus de 300 dollars par jour.

    Par exemple, un voyage de 2.500 kilomètres de Lusaka, en Zambie, à la ville portuaire de Durban, en Afrique du Sud, dure en moyenne huit jours – quatre jours pour la durée du voyage et quatre jours aux frontières, coûtant environ 2.400 dollars.

    Certains camionneurs ont indiqué qu’ils passent un mois en route, de Durban à la RDC, avec les plus longs retards à Kasumbalesa. La réduction du temps d’immobilisation des camions signifie une augmentation du volume de marchandises transportées puisque le chauffeur peut désormais faire plusieurs voyages dans un mois, au lieu de passer le mois entier sur un seul voyage.

    Si de telles installations sont mises en place à travers la région, les échanges commerciaux augmenteront à une vitesse élevée puisque les marchandises traverseront les frontières plus rapidement", a déclaré Dvir.

    L’entreprise nourrit le rêve ambitieux d’un timbre pour les marchandises en transit (ITC), qui sera donné à un poste-frontière puis transmis électroniquement au poste frontalier suivant et à tous les autres postes afin d’accélérer les processus de dédouanement.

    Cela pourrait signifier qu’un camion aurait seulement besoin d’un timbre ITC identifiant son chargement et sa destination finale, ce qui réduirait le temps passé à 10 minutes. Actuellement, les contrôles du chargement sont faits manuellement à Kasumbalesa, mais une machine à rayon X pour les camions est en installation pour le contrôle de la cargaison au cours du passage du camion.

    Dvir a expliqué: "Notre idée est de construire des installations frontalières modernes équipées des technologies de l’information et de la communication à travers la région. Le gouvernement zambien nous a offert un contrat pour la rénovation de tous les postes-frontières dans le pays.

    "Nous sommes également en discussion avec les gouvernements d'autres pays, y compris la RDC, la Tanzanie et l'Angola. Nous sommes intéressés par l'amélioration des conditions au niveau des frontières au Botswana, en Afrique du Sud et au Zimbabwe, particulièrement le poste-frontière de Beitbridge qui est tristement célèbre du fait de ses mauvaises conditions et des retards".

    "Le travail ici est devenu tellement plus facile", a confié avec enthousiasme Mushota Bukankala, un chef d’équipe. "Je reste juste debout dans la salle de contrôle où j'ai une bonne vue sur tout ce qui se passe".

    Winfred Shawa, un camionneur zambien, a envisagé de prendre sa retraite en raison des conditions de travail pénibles, mais a changé d'avis après l'installation du nouveau système.

    "Je passais 30 jours sur la route entre l'Afrique du Sud et la RDC, avec des retards, en particulier à cette frontière, mais je ne passe plus même une seule journée ici.

    "Je ne peux pas attendre que ce système soit adopté à d'autres frontières, ce qui signifiera que je peux faire le voyage en moins de cinq jours, autorisant un ou deux repos au bord de la route", a déclaré Shawa.

    Le nouveau poste-frontière a augmenté les opportunités d'emploi pour la communauté environnante. Depuis janvier 2011, 250 employés ont été recrutés. Tous devaient d'abord suivre une formation sur les systèmes des technologies d’information, puisque la plupart n'avaient pas de telles compétences.

    L’entreprise chargée du poste-frontière s'est également engagée à débourser 120.000 dollars par an pour le développement de la communauté environnante. Une école est en construction et ce plan comprend également un centre de santé et un marché.

    Diverses formes de commerce au port ont également été touchées. Dans le passé, les camionneurs utilisaient les longs temps d'attente pour vendre une partie de leur carburant aux habitants et aux vendeurs de carburant. Le temps de faire cela n'existe plus là et, en outre, les caméras surveillent toujours à partir de tous les angles dans la cour.

    Les camionneurs ne disposent plus d’assez de temps pour s’engager dans des rapports sexuels commerciaux.

    Le nouveau poste-frontière a été construit sur 10 mois pour un coût total de 25 millions de dollars à travers un accord de "construction, opération et transfert" entre le gouvernement zambien et l'entreprise, qui a obtenu une concession de 20 ans pour gérer la frontière afin de récupérer ses investissements.

    Le gouvernement n'a engagé aucune somme vers la construction. Une taxe de passage de 19 dollars par essieu de tout véhicule qui passe par le poste-frontière a été introduite et des négociations pour faire payer les voyageurs sont en cours. Le gouvernement conserve les frais de douane et d'immigration.

    IPS
  • Alors que la concurrence sur le marché des télécommunications s’intensifie, avec l’arrivée d’Orange Tunisie, Tunisie Télécom va se séparer de 63 cadres contractuels, c’est-à dire d’une partie de son management, pour satisfaire une exigence du syndicat. Une concession qui pourrait être lourde de conséquences?

    Le syndicat de Tunisie Télécom a fini par avoir gain de cause: l’entreprise va se séparer de ses cadres contractuels qu’elle est allée chercher, après l’entrée d’Emirate International Telecommunications (EIT) dans son capital en 2006, afin d’améliorer son organisation, fonctionnement et performance et être mieux armée dans la «guerre» commerciale l’opposant à Tunisiana. Leur contribution a-t-elle été à la hauteur des espoirs placés en eux?

    Constatons, d’abord, comme l’a fait Mohamed Fadhel Kraiem, directeur général adjoint, qu’avant 2006, Tunisie Télécom perdait face à Tunisiana 8 points de part de marché par an et que cette «érosion» a commencé à être stoppée en 2007 grâce à l’important travail effectué par l’équipe commerciale, en matières d’offres, de services, de communication. Et pour l’année 2010, la direction générale annonce «le meilleur cru en termes de chiffres d’affaires. De fait, entre 2006 et 2010, les revenus de Tunisie Télécom ont progressé de plus de 20%, «dans un environnement concurrentiel, qui s’est accentué avec l’arrivée d’Orange durant l’année écoulée».

    Qu’est-ce qui a changé par rapport à la concurrence durant les cinq dernières années?

    Bien, ces résultats ne sont pas imputables aux seuls cadres contractuels, comme le souligne Mohamed Fadhel Kraiem, mais à l’ensemble des employés de Tunisie Télécom. Toutefois, minimiser le rôle de ces «experts» comme le fait le syndicat n’est pas raisonnable non plus. De toute façon, Tunisie Télécom va devoir leur trouver des remplaçants, car elle peut d’autant moins se permettre des vacances à des postes essentiels (marketing, commercial, finance, etc.) qu’il reste encore beaucoup à faire dans le cadre du programme de modernisation dont la mise en œuvre a été entamée en 2006.

    Une des priorités sera de doter Tunisie Télécom d’un nouveau statut pour éviter à cette entreprise de se retrouver dans une situation similaire à celle qu’elle est en train de vivre. Car si la direction de l’entreprise s’est trouvée dans l’obligation de recruter par voie de contrats de trois ans, c’est parce que le statut actuel de Tunisie Télécom ne permet pas de rémunérer ces grosses pointures au niveau auquel leurs compétences leur permettent de prétendre et que, de toute façon, ils sont en mesure d’obtenir ailleurs.

    Mais cette façon de procéder présentait un gros inconvénient, celui de faire de Tunisie Télécom une entreprise à deux vitesses en matière de rémunération de ses employés. Une situation socialement intenable.

  • Pour la première fois, la Banque mondiale s’intéresse à l’impact de l’économie numérique sur les pays en voie de développement. Dans un rapport publié jeudi, l'établissement dresse un constat sur les opportunités et les risques du virtuel.

    Jouer aux jeux vidéo peut rapporter gros… surtout pour les pays en voie de développement (PVD). Il ne s'agit pas d'un "évangéliste" du secteur qui l’affirme, mais la Banque mondiale. Dans un rapport paru jeudi, l’agence InfoDev, qui en dépend, s’intéresse, pour la première fois, à l’impact de l’économie virtuelle sur les PVD.

    Dans cet univers en pleine expansion, les sociétés de services qui gravitent autour des jeux vidéo en ligne captent la plus grosse part du gâteau. D'ailleurs, ces petites entreprises - chinoises et/ou issues d’autres pays asiatiques - ont généré 3 milliards de dollars de revenus en 2009, selon l'étude.

    C’est peu et beaucoup à la fois ! En comparaison, souligne le rapport, l’industrie du café, sur laquelle misent beaucoup de PVD, a beau peser 70 milliards de dollars, la part du lion finit sur les comptes des multinationales occidentales. Les entreprises et producteurs locaux n’en retirent que 5,5 milliards (7,7% du total). Bien moins que les services aux joueurs, où les entreprises locales récupèrent 70% des bénéfices. "Ce secteur est plus bénéfique aux PVD" confirme à France 24.com Vili Lehdonvirta, co-auteur du rapport.

    Ces sociétés, qui ont retenu l’attention de la Banque mondiale, existent depuis une dizaine d'années. Elles emploient des joueurs qui passent leurs journées à arpenter des mondes virtuels, tels  World of Warcraft ou EverQuest, afin d’amasser le plus de gains - virtuels - possible. Ils les revendent ensuite contre des espèces sonnantes et trébuchantes à des joueurs qui n’ont pas la patience (ou le temps) de les obtenir par leurs propres moyens.

    Dans le monde des jeux de rôle en ligne multijoueurs (MMORPG), les joueurs des pays dits "developpés" les appellent avec un certain mépris les "gold farmers" ("recolteurs d’or") ou "chinese farmers" ("recolteurs chinois"). Ils souffrent d’une très mauvaise réputation car, selon le rapport, ils "parasitent l’expérience de jeu" avec de constantes sollicitations mercantiles envoyées - du genre "vend 100 PO (pièces d’or) pour 10 dollars". A tel point que les éditeurs - comme Blizzard, qui gère World of Warcraft et ses 12 millions de joueurs - tentent de lutter contre cette pratique. Sans succès pour l’instant...

    Reste que le mépris n’empêche pas ces transactions. En effet, "plus d’un joueur sur cinq a déjà payé pour un de ces services", souligne le rapport. Rien qu’en Chine, 100 000 personnes vivraient aujourd’hui de l'activité.

    Le business, certes lucratif pour ces sociétés, souffre de conditions de travail souvent déplorables. Les employés passent environ 60 heures par semaines devant un ordinateur pour un salaire compris entre 0,5 et 1,2 dollar de l'heure. Le revenu minimum à l'heure étant de 1,5 dollar à Pékin, selon les auteurs. "C'est loin d'être un rêve, mais vu le niveau d'éducation des salariés, ce travail est considéré comme acceptable et, au moins, il n'est pas dangereux", souligne Vili Lehdonvirta.

    "C’est un modèle économique très discutable, dont le seul avantage est de fournir un bagage technologique à ceux qui y travaillent", reconnaît Torbjörn Frediksson, spécialiste de l’économie numérique pour la Conférence des Nations unies pour le commerce et le développement (UNCTAD), dans une interview à France 24.com. Les auteurs soulignent d’ailleurs que la plupart des salariés espèrent utiliser leur expérience pour décrocher un poste plus lucratif, voire fonder leur entreprise.

    Mais ces services ne constituent pas le seul secteur numérique à offrir des perspectives aux PVD, se réjouit Torbjörn Frediksson. Il y a aussi le "micro-travail", indique le rapport. "Il n'y a pour l'heure que très peu de données sur ce secteur, mais il est en pleine croissance", explique Vili Lehdonvirta.

    Typiquement, une grande entreprise issue des nouvelles technologies, comme IBM ou eBay, délègue à une main-d'oeuvre implantée dans un PVD des tâches ne demandant pas une connaissance technologique poussée - le tout à un tarif avantageux. Dans le cas des services, il peut s’agir de comparer un produit à une photo sur un site de commerce en ligne pour s’assurer qu’il ne s’agit pas d’une contrefaçon. "N’importe qui, avec une connexion Internet, peut s’occuper d’un tel travail et percevoir un revenu", assure Torbjörn Frediksson.

    L'Inde, le Bangladesh et les Philippines figurent parmi les pays où l'activité a rapidement décollé - "essentiellement parce que les donneurs d'ordres cherchent des anglophones", précise Vili Lehdonvirta. Mais le secteur n’en est qu’à ses débuts et présente un fort potentiel de croissance. Son principal avantage ? Pas besoin d'intermédiaire. "Encore faut-il que les PVD, notamment en Afrique, soit informés de l'existence de ces opportunités", conclut Torbjörn Frediksson.

    France24
  • Cinemaducameroun.com n’est pas seulement un site de critiques cinéphiles. C’est avant tout une multitude d’outils mise au service de la promotion du cinéma camerounais. Depuis la banque de projets jusqu’à la location de films, en passant par des fiches-comédiens. Découverte.

    « Mon bonheur, c’est de voir les dizaines de salles de cinéma au Burkina Faso, alors que nous n’en avons aucune au Cameroun. C’est la preuve qu’il existe un marché en Afrique », explique Djimeli Gervais, fondateur de Cinemaducameroun.com. Fort de ce constat, il a décidé de créer, en février 2010, le premier site Internet consacré au Septième art dans son pays. « Le cinéma camerounais est en gestation après un profond coma », analyse le monteur-réalisateur de formation. Mais ce cinéma pourrait bien se réveiller dans les mois à venir. « Les années 2012 et 2013 vont être décisives pour placer le Cameroun au rang des grandes puissances du cinéma africain », discerne Djimeli Gervais. Une chose est sûre, si cette bonne augure se réalise, son site Internet y sera pour beaucoup.

    Avec peu de moyens - le projet a été autofinancé - le site Internet est devenu un outil incontournable de promotion du cinéma camerounais. « Après seulement un an d’existence, nous avons atteint les 177 777 visites ». Ce succès est sans doute dû au large panel de services que propose Cinemaducameroun.com. En plus des fiches critiques, le site propose également une banque de projets prometteuse. « L’objectif est de mettre en relation les producteurs, les scénaristes et les réalisateurs », explique Djimeli Gervais, passionné. L’équipe du site a même constitué une liste de 400 comédiens : « Le répertoire des camerounais qui font la force d’un cinéma émergeant », affirme le site.

    Dernier né de Cinemaducameroun.com : la vidéo à domicile. Le site propose la location de films et du matériel pour faire des projections privées. « Idéalement, nous ciblons les entreprises qui pourraient diffuser des films à leur employés, et ainsi, investir dans le cinéma camerounais », indique Djimeli Gervais avant de modérer ses ambitions : « mais nous manquons de moyens pour faire connaître cette activité ».

    Une visibilité qui pourrait s’accroître rapidement puisque Cinemaducameroun.com a été choisi par l’Institut Goethe Kamerun pour faire partir d’une plateforme commune de valorisation des portails cinématographiques africains et européens.

    Afrik.com
  • MobilePaymentExpo
    18-19 mai 2011, Paris Porte de Versailles, France

    Cette année le programme s'articule autour de 3 thématiques : les Usages, le Paiement et les Technologies.
    Mobile Payment vous propose :
    - Des Tables Rondes pour débattre sur toutes les thématiques actuelles et écouter les témoignages
    - Des Executives Keynotes d’acteurs influents pour comprendre les enjeux et le futur de ce marché
    - Des Ateliers pour présenter en détail vos produits et services
    - Une Exposition exhaustive pour échanger et découvrir les dernières avancées du monde des services transactionnels par mobile, le lieu où les entreprises présentent leur savoir-faire.
    - Un Village Start Up, une zone dédiée à l’innovation et aux tendances. Réservée aux jeunes entreprises présentant leurs derniers produits et services, pour des rencontres avec les experts, entrepreneurs et investisseurs.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

    eLearning Africa 2011
    25 - 27 mai 2011, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzanie

    eLearning Africa 2011 se concentrera sur les jeunes mais mettra également en évidence l’importance des compétences, du développement des compétences et de l’employabilité.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez 

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 juin 2011, Dakar, Sénégal

    Agenda à suivre.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

  • - Suite de la formation du nouveau gouvernement de Luc Adolphe Tiao au Burkina Faso, Mr Gilbert Noël Ouédraogo a été nommé à la tête du Ministère des Postes et des technologies de l'information et de la communication.

    - Au Niger, M. Salifou Labo Bouché a été nommé Ministre de la communication et des Nouvelles Technologies de l’Information, chargé des relations avec les institutions.

    - Waël Ghonim, directeur marketing de Google au Moyen-Orient qui s'était fait connaître pour son soutien au mouvement d'opposition égyptien contre Hosni Moubarak a annoncé sur Twitter son départ de l'entreprise américaine. Un recul sans doute provisoire qu'il va utiliser pour créer une ONG luttant contre la pauvreté et pour l'éducation en Egypte.

  •  Rappel inscription pour la formation IPV6 - Niger
    L'exercice d'enregistrement est ouvert pour l'atelier de formation d'Afrinic qui  se tiendra à Niamey - Niger
    Date : 18 - 20 Mai 2011
    Lieu: Sonitel Siège sis au rond point Justice, Niamey
    Frais : Gratuit et en priorité pour les membres d'AfriNIC
    Enregistrement visitez:

    Les jumelages Sankoré : une nouvelle forme de coopération internationale

    A l’heure de la société de l’information mondiale et des révolutions Facebook, la jeunesse africaine exprime un besoin fort d’accès à l’éducation. Grâce aux progrès technologiques, à la baisse des coûts des supports, les trésors de l’éducation numérique mondiale sont désormais accessibles à tous. Profitant de cette chance, le programme Sankoré propose aux collectivités du nord et du sud une forme innovante de coopération : les jumelages Sankoré.  Pour environ 1000 €, une collectivité du nord peut permettre l’équipement complet d’une classe numérique africaine et initier des coopérations pédagogiques et culturelles entre élèves et enseignants.

    Au moment où la France et l’Europe s’engagent dans des vastes plans d’éducation numérique, le programme Sankoré propose aux collectivités françaises et africaines des jumelages éducatifs numériques entre leurs écoles et centres de formation. Cette nouvelle génération de jumelages renouvelle la solide tradition d’échanges et d’amitié entre collectivités du  Nord et du Sud en permettant à des collectivités françaises de soutenir l’équipement d’une ou de plusieurs classes numériques africaines et d’initier des échanges culturels entre élèves et enseignants.

    Renouveler la coopération éducative. Il existe aujourd’hui plus de 700 coopérations décentralisées entre les collectivités locales françaises et africaines. Accès à l’eau potable, assainissement, voirie, cadastre, état civil… les sujets de coopération ne manquent pas et de nombreux liens se sont tissés au fil du temps entre les équipes techniques des villes et régions qui coopèrent depuis les indépendances. Faisant suite aux premiers jumelages d’amitié, ces échanges se sont structurés et professionnalisés pour devenir de véritables coopérations décentralisées. Aujourd’hui, elles représentent une part importante de l’aide française au développement. La coopération des villes et régions dans le domaine éducatif se résume le plus souvent à l’envoi de cahiers, crayons, gommes et manuels scolaires en papier. Fort utiles au demeurant, ces envois ne peuvent constituer une réponse à long terme à la crise profonde du système éducatif africain. Au-delà des carences matérielles, l’Afrique a surtout besoin d’enseignants formés et de contenus éducatifs de qualité, adaptés à la culture locale et régulièrement mis à jour. Le recyclage de nos vieux manuels souffre du cliché « nos ancêtres les gaulois » et ne doit plus constituer une solution, même provisoire, à l’heure de la mondialisation des savoirs et de la société de l’information.

    Former les enseignants et produire avec eux les manuels dont ils ont besoin. Le projet Sankoré répond précisément à cette demande. Grâce au mariage entre la technologie et l’éducation, les trésors de l’éducation mondiale deviennent enfin accessibles à tous. L’enseignant, petit artisan  isolé, peut enfin devenir producteur de son savoir et de son savoir-faire, le partager et le capitaliser. La révolution numérique, par la numérisation du savoir, apporte bien plus qu’une assistance technique dans l’enseignement. Elle donne accès aux meilleures ressources éducatives, véritable nerf de la guerre de l’éducation. Les progrès importants des supports numériques d’enseignement (tableaux numériques interactifs, tablettes), en termes d’ergonomie, de consommation électrique et de coût rendent aujourd’hui possible l’accès pour tous à cette révolution éducative mondiale. Imaginé et conçu dans le cadre d’un partenariat Franco-britannique pour atteindre les Objectifs du Millénaire pour l’éducation,  le programme Sankoré est coordonné par la Délégation Interministérielle à l’éducation Numérique en Afrique (DIENA) sur la période 2010-2015. Il s’appuie sur les relations bilatérales de la France avec ses partenaires africains pour mettre en œuvre un programme d’équipement des principaux centres de formation des enseignants et leurs écoles d’application, la création de coopératives de production de ressources éducatives numériques et une de formation des enseignants par le numérique.

    S’appuyer sur la proximité des collectivités locales. Ces accords constituent le socle du programme Sankoré dans chaque pays partenaire. Pour atteindre les milliers d’écoles et toucher aussi le secteur éducatif informel (très important en Afrique), le projet Sankoré s’appuie également sur des partenariats avec des ONG comme par exemple, le Réseau Education Pour Tous en Afrique (REPTA). Pour offrir aux collectivités la possibilité de participer pleinement à ce programme, la gouvernement s’est appuyée sur l’Agence mondiale de solidarité numérique (ASN), ONG spécialisée sur la coopération numérique des collectivités, pour imaginer et promouvoir les Jumelages Sankoré auprès des collectivités locales.

    Equiper les écoles et les centres de formation de classes numériques pour 1000 €. Le principe des jumelages Sankoré est très simple. Une collectivité française peut offrir une classe numérique à une école africaine pour un peu moins de 1000 euros. Cette classe numérique est constituée d’un tableau numérique interactif mural, d’un mini PC doté d’un logiciel pour piloter le tableau et créer des cours interactifs et de nombreuses ressources éducatives accessibles sans connexion à Internet. Cette classe numérique complète nécessite un accès électrique, la présence d’un onduleur pour parer aux coupures d’électricité et un mur blanc, dur et lisse qui servira d’écran géant pour enseigner. Une banque de ressources éducatives gratuites et libres de droits est mise à disposition des enseignants sur le portail Sankoré.org, qui leur permet aussi de partager leurs ressources, de trouver un ensemble d’informations pratiques et de rentrer en contact avec leurs pairs.

    Un programme complet, sur le long terme. Au-delà de l’équipement en matériel, nécessaire mais pas suffisant, les jumelages Sankoré proposent une action sur le long terme qui prend en compte les différents besoins d’un tel programme. Pour initier une coopération éducative et culturelle, un jeu interactif basé sur une présentation culturelle (découverte de la musique, de la danse, de la cuisine, des sports ou des animaux de l’autre culture) permet aux élèves et aux enseignants jumelés de se familiariser à l’utilisation du tableau numérique interactif autour d’un exercice pédagogique interactif enrichissant au niveau culturel.  Les classes jumelées peuvent s’envoyer cette présentation croisée, poursuivre et enrichir cet exercice dans le cadre de leurs activités pédagogiques. Même si l’utilisation du tableau numérique interactif est simple et intuitive, la pédagogie numérique et la création de ressources font partie  d’un apprentissage plus long, basé à la fois sur le respect de règles fondamentales et sur une pratique empirique régulière. Le logiciel libre Sankoré 3.1, mis à disposition gratuitement est spécialement conçu pour jouer et concevoir facilement des séquences pédagogiques interactives. Un tutoriel très complet est proposé aux enseignants pour bien préparer et leur cours et assurer leur bon déroulement. Un ensemble de formations seront organisées dans le cadre des accords de coopération signés entre la France et ses partenaires africains en commençant par les formateurs d’enseignants, au sein des écoles de formation des instituteurs. Enfin, pour permettre une plus grande proximité avec le terrain et une mise en réseau des enseignants numériques qui participent à cette révolution éducative, les jumelages numériques favoriseront la mise en place de volontariats numériques en partenariat avec l’association France Volontaires et le Réseau Education pour Tous en Afrique (REPTA). Des étudiants ou des professionnels volontaires pourront ainsi accompagner dans la durée la mise en réseau de plusieurs écoles numériques dans des zones de coopérations décentralisées.
    Pour plus d’infos, visitez 

Issue no 554 13th May 2011

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Top story

  • Following the SIM cards registration process, the number of mobile subscribers in Zimbabwe went down by nearly 2.4 million (see full story in the telecoms section). In Ghana, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire, SIM card registration is ongoing while the Liberian regulator will soon be launching the same process. All SIM cards registrations exercises in African countries have translated into a temporary decrease in the number of mobile subscribers but how did it affect operators’ revenue? Isabelle Gross looks at the outcomes of SIM registration process in South Africa for some clues.

    No African mobile operator has really contested the legal justifications that support SIM cards registration, however most of them have complained or expressed reservations on how the process will be implemented, what identification documents will be required from the subscribers and how well subscribers data will be protected. The first reason for their reluctance is that they bear the cost of the registration process which is very labour intensive and implies a lot of paperwork that needs to be sorted between the subscriber and the operator (just think for one second of how easy it is to get a working local phone number as soon as you are out of the airport). The second reason is that they are aware that as a result of the SIM registration process they will loose subscribers and potentially revenue.

    As of July 1st 2009, the registration of mobile customers became compulsory in South Africa following the introduction of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication also commonly referred to as “RICA”. So, how did RICA affect Vodacom and MTN, the two largest mobile operators in South Africa (their combined subscriber bases represent a market share of over 80%)? According to Vodacom’s quarterly and interim results reports, the total number of mobile subscribers during the 2009 year evolved as follows: at the end of Q1-2009, Vodacom reported 27.7 million mobile subscribers. Three months later at the end of Q2-2009, Vodacom had 28.7 million mobile subscribers.

    At the end of Q3-2009, the number of mobile subscribers dropped to 28.2 million and at the end of 2009 (Q4-2009) Vodacom reported a total mobile subscriber base of 27.1 million. Six months after the introduction of RICA, Vodacom lost about 1.6 million subscribers which translated in a decrease of 5.57% of its subscriber base. For 2010, Vodacom reported the following subscriber numbers: 26.3 million at the end of Q1-2010; 25.3 million at the end of Q2-2010 (this figure does not include the 3.3 million call-forward SIM cards disconnections following a change in disconnection policy of 13 months to seven months). Twelve months after the introduction of RICA, Vodacom’s prepaid subscribers base was down by 11.9%.

    How did MTN, Vodacom’s main competitor in South Africa, perform during the same period? At the end of June 2009, MTN reported 17.2 million subscribers. Three months later (Q3-2009), the mobile operator’s subscriber base was down to 16.4 million and by the end of 2009, its subscriber base stood at 16 million. However by March 2010, MTN’s subscriber base was again up to 16.4 million and in June 2010 the mobile operator reported 17.1 million mobile subscribers. Twelve months after the introduction of RICA, MTN’s subscribers base was down by less than 1%. This suggests that SIM registration in South Africa affected mobile operators in different proportions – the market leader suffering more from it than the contenders.

    However, “one size doesn’t fit all”.  In Zimbabwe for example, market leader, Econet registered a loss of 1.4 million subscribers from a total subscriber base of 4.1 million while Telecel, the second operator by market share recorded a loss of 692,000 from a total subscriber base of 1.3 million subscribers. In this case the market leader held on better than the contenders. So then, does it not all come down to the clean up of an inflated subscriber bases in the first place? In Gabon, mobile operator Libertis controlled by Morocco’s Maroc Telecom, has reported a quarter-on-quarter reduction in its mobile subscriber base from 699,000 to 398,000 in the three months ended 31 March 2011. Artel, the Gabonese regulator launched the SIM registration process back in the middle of 2010 with final disconnections scheduled for the beginning of 2011.

    Since South African mobile operators state total revenue figures which will include other revenues like data revenue for example (and South Africa has witnessed a big uptake in data services over this period which consequently has pushed up overall revenue), a comparison between subscriber numbers and revenue would be biased. Therefore it was more relevant to look at the voice traffic recorded over this period to see the impact of the decrease in subscribers.

    Unfortunately, only Vodacom releases such data. At the end of June 2009, Vodacom reported 6.8 billion minutes traffic for the quarter on its network with 4.9 billion minutes outgoing traffic and 1.9 billion minutes incoming traffic. A year later as of June 2010, Vodacom reported 6.3 billion minutes traffic for the quarter (including the loss of minutes resulting from the 3.3 million call-forward SIM cards disconnections).

    When comparing Q2-2009 to Q2-2010 results, this translates into a decrease of total voice traffic of 7.6%. This suggests that the reduction in subscribers had a negative effect on voice traffic and consequently on revenue. However, the level of revenue loss is likely to have been much lower than the loss of subscribers because among the lost subscribers there were a large number of “zero” ARPU subscribers. Another indicator hinting at this conclusion is the ARPU level recorded over this period among prepaid subscribers. In June 2009, Vodacom reported a prepaid ARPU of R64. One year later, the prepaid ARPU was up to R79. For MTN, the prepaid ARPU was R92 in June 2009 and R109 in June 2010. On a year on year comparison, the prepaid ARPU increased by 23% for Vodacom and 18% for MTN.

    In all African countries that rolled out SIM card registration, the number of subscribers went down but there is less evidence available that suggest that the impact on mobile operators’ revenue was of the same magnitude then on subscribers numbers. Further this downward trend is not long lasting. In its interim results report for the end of June 2010, MTN stated that “the negative impact of RICA on the prepaid subscriber base has now stabilised, with gross additions increasing by 19.7% compared to the second six month period of 2009”.


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telecoms

  • Malawi-owned Celcom Limited, run by MD Ted Sauti-Phiri, is expected to roll out services such as voice telephony and mobile voice telephone by October 2012. MACRA Communications Manager Zadziko Mankhambo said in a statement released on Wednesday, 4 May 2011, that Celcom Limited beat bidders; Zambezi Africa Telecom, C-Mobile Holdings and Smart telecom Limited. He further said the bids were opened on 19 March 2011 in the MACRA boardroom in the presence of all applicants and the public.

    "This was followed by an intensive evaluation process conducted by a team of highly qualified professionals in the ICT industry," he said.

    The procurement of the fourth mobile phone service issuance was preceded by placement of adverts in both local and international media which included major telecommunications websites, local and international newspapers.

    Mankhamba said this development follows the Ministry of Information and Civic Education's policy directive to licence more operators in the country to boost the ICT industry as well as spur competition which it hopes will enhance quality services.

  • Zimbabwe’s tele-density rate took a dip after the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe recently cut off unregistered lines. Statistics from Potraz show the country's overall teledensity fell from 67.5 percent to 49.7 percent after the disconnections.

    The largest mobile phone provider, Econet Wireless, lost 1.4 million subscribers while the State-run NetOne lost 300,000. During the same period, Telecel Zimbabwe's subscriber base fell by 692,000 as a result of subscribers failing to register their lines.

    According to the latest Potraz figures, the number of mobile users dropped by 17.8 percent between February and April.

    This means that the number of Zimbabweans with access to a telephone has decreased from 8,4 million to six million during the past two months after the disconnection of subscribers who missed the February 28 deadline to register their lines. Potraz indicated that around two million mobile phone users have been disconnected for failing to register their SIM cards by this year's February deadline.

    Registration was required under an international mandate for all phone users to be identified to prevent the use of mobile phones by terrorists and criminals, a protocol followed by many telecommunications authorities throughout the world.

    But observers contend the dip in the teledensity rate is temporary and will at least be restored in view of the ongoing registration drive being undertaken by the three mobile networks. Last August Potraz ordered mobile operators to register all mobile users to "combat criminal activities" and abuse of mobile communications.

    Earlier statistics from Potraz showed Zimbabwe's teledensity rate standing in excess of 60 percent, up from a mere 9 percent in 2009. This was largely attributable to expansion drives by the mobile service providers.

    A recent study by analyst IHS Global Insight in a number of countries that have introduced compulsory SIM card registration,, has shown marked declines in teledensity rates in these countries as well.

    "The introduction of mandatory registration of SIM cards in at least 10 countries has resulted in a dramatic slowdown in subscriber growth and will see the disconnection of millions of unregistered subscribers," noted IHS Global Insight.

    According to IHS Global Insight, the requirement has led to declines in mobile subscriber rates in a number of African countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Algeria. Potraz introduced mandatory SIM card registration in June last year, initially setting a deadline of August 3.

    But at the end of August, official figures showed that only 3.8 million subscribers had registered, out of about 6.5 million mobile phone users in the country.

    Official figures during the same period showed that Zimbabwe had 6,848,000 telephone subscribers, out of an estimated population of 13 million across both fixed and mobile telecommunication service providers. The figures are broken down as follows: Econet 4,1 million subscribers; Telecel 1,3 million; NetOne 1.1 million and TelOne 378,000.

    However, the figures for mobile telephone subscribers may well have exceeded last year's figures due to the low cost and availability of mobile SIM cards. At the end of August, however, only 3.8 million subscribers had registered their SIM cards out of about 6.5 million mobile phone users in the country.

    The negative effects of mandatory SIM card registration are particularly serious for African countries that traditionally had weak landline telephony penetration levels, and had benefited from the comparatively cheaper and more accessible mobile telephony services.

    According to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology's strategic plan 2010 to 2014, the Government has a target to increase national teledensity by 10 percent each year.

  • MTN SA has begun work on a pilot network using long-term evolution (LTE), the next generation mobile broadband technology, and will have 100 base stations active in Gauteng by the end of the year.

    At the same time, the company is stepping up the deployment of its own high-speed fibre-optic cables to its base stations, with plans to have as many as 1 600 towers connected to fibre by the end of the year, from 600 now. It has awarded contracts to five new suppliers to extend the network.

    However, it will still be a few years before consumers can expect to see big benefits flowing from all this investment, says MTN SA MD Karel Pienaar. LTE-based cellphones and dongles are not ready for mass-market adoption yet, he cautions, and investment in fibre takes time.

    First-generation LTE is regarded as a bridging technology from third- to fourth-generation mobile networks. Later versions of the technology, called LTE Advanced, will eventually offer theoretical speeds in excess of 1Gbit/s.

    “We are running big trials on the LTE side,” Pienaar says, adding the network may be extended to another metropolitan area during the test phase. “The radio technology has to be LTE, because we can get the next level of capacity and speed and efficiency.”

    MTN is building its LTE network using frequency at 1,800MHz, which it’s traditionally used for voice services, while it waits for industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, to hold a spectrum auction in the 2.6GHz band. It is also keen to get access to the 800MHz band to offer LTE. This band should be freed up by December 2013, the date at which television broadcasters are meant to stop using the spectrum as they migrate to digital technology.

    But, says Pienaar: “It will take five more years until LTE is truly ready for the average consumer”. That doesn’t mean MTN (or its rivals Vodacom and Cell C) are holding back on investment to deliver next-generation wireless broadband networks. All three companies are investing aggressively in providing their own fibre to their base stations as well as to build national fibre networks. Vodacom is also running a test LTE network, though the company hasn’t disclosed the scale of it.

    Over time, prices of mobile data will come down. “People will spend similar amounts, but they will use 10 to 20 times the amount of data,” Pienaar says. “For all operators, the challenge is how to monetise the investment in infrastructure. The jury is still out on how we will make the right returns. We believe the returns are there [but] the economic model here is one of scale. I can have a [workable] model if I can get the entire population using many gigabytes of data a month.”

  • Televisions in Ghana can now be used to browse the Internet, credit to Vodafone Ghana, which has introduced a specialized keyboard with an in-built edge modern and memory card. Webbox, the device, is a Vodafone concept and design for consumers in emerging markets to bridge the digital divide and to provide affordable ready internet access at home or in the workplace.

    With the device, a TV set that plays DVDs can be turned into a computer screen providing a compelling, convenient at home, at school and at work internet experience, plus access to multimedia experiences with music, video player and picture viewing.

    Carmen Bruce-Annan, Head of Corporate Communications at Vodafone, who launched the product on Tuesday in Accra said, “The Vodafone Webbox, is a powerful device with the lowest cost of entry to the ordinary Ghanaian to access the Internet.

    She said as the fifth most valuable brand company in the world, Vodafone was offering consumers a very versatile and affordable product. “This is a product that offers endless opportunities and delivers our brand promise of empowering our consumers to reach their full potential.”

    A statement issued by the company said: “The introduction of the Webbox is Vodafone’s response to the use of television as a medium to deliver internet services to Ghanaians including those in the rural communities, who have access to TV but not computers and Lap Tops and who are within the Vodafone network coverage areas.

    “Vodafone has therefore satisfied its customers needs by providing an innovative all-in one product with great value that also offers the family an exciting experience due to its use on a standard TV set,” it said.

    Vodafone Ghana has from today Tuesday started selling the Webbox through its retail stores across the country.

internet

  • Online retail in South Africa has entered a phase of sustained acceleration, according to a new research report released today by World Wide Worx. The total spent on online retail goods in South Africa passed the R2-billion mark in 2010 for the first time. It reached R2.028-billion, growing at 30% over the previous year.

    This is according to World Wide Worx’s Online Retail in SA 2011 study which focuses on local eCommerce trends. Online retailers are even more bullish about 2011, with the industry consensus pointing to 40% growth this year. This will represent the highest rate of growth for online retail in South Africa in almost a decade.

    “This dramatic rise in online retail comes in the wake of an ongoing increase in the number of experienced Internet users in South Africa,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx and principal analyst for the survey.

    “Last year there were 3.6-mlilion people who had been online for five years or more. By 2015, that figure will be 6.8-million – almost double the potential e-commerce market of today.”

    In 2010, Traditional, physical retail in South Africa reached R561bn, according to Stats SA. This means that online retail still makes up less than half a per cent of total retail in SA: a mere 0.36%.

    At the same time, however, the growth rate of online retail in South Africa in 2010 was four times that of physical retail: 30% vs 7%.

    Internationally, according to global online retail data analysed in the report, growth slowed in most regions during the global financial crisis, but did not turn negative: total sales never fell anywhere in the world. Industry estimates for the total value of global online retail in 2010 come to an average of about $545-billion. The figure for 2009 was $469-billion.

    This indicates that, globally as in South Africa, online retail is recession-proof for now, while it still makes up a small proportion of total retail worldwide.

    “This shows us that online retail growth represents not a rise in shopping activity, but rather a shift in shopping activity, from the physical space to the online space,” says Goldstuck.

  • In 2006 C-Data launched its best in class Wireless Broadband Internet network in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Within a short period of time, the company served more than 3,000 subscribers with efficient and affordable wireless Internet services.

    Comium was able to secure more than ten Broadband Wireless licenses across Africa and Lebanon, thereby becoming the region's largest single wireless service provider. The division's mission is to develop and operate advanced internet and data communications services catering to the unmet needs and demands in the residential, small office home office (SoHo) and small and medium enterprises (SME) market segments.

    C-Data goes beyond providing access to its subscribers, as the internet becomes an integrated part of the business process for corporate customers and an essential tool to maintain close ties with family and friends as part of the social network phenomena currently evolving through sites like Facebook, My Space and Twitter.

    Wigo is the new name for C-Data offering in Sierra Leone. Wigo enables a lifestyle of exploration on the go, it is also the ticket to discover the world wherever you are. Launching Wigo at Mamba Point, Ghassan Mroue said the internet will be a great help to the people of Sierra Leone. He said Wigo stands for wireless on the go, noting that Comium data believes in providing the best wireless network and contribute to the country economic.

    Mroue said fixed wireless is suitable for an organization that normally requires dedicated bandwidth. Presenting the products, Senesie Kanneh said Comium is aspiring to empower people with new means of communication. He said they have the potable, fixed wireless and hotspot solutions for high density customer areas, providing instant Wi-Fi access to the internet. He said there is free WLAN setup within the customer premises, noting that the pricing varies from $45 to $380.

  • Google announced that Android Market will increase consumer access and developer support for paid applications in several new countries. Consumers from 99 new countries – including 26 African countries – will be able to purchase apps from Android Market. This latest expansion of Android Market means more applications – including games, social, and productivity apps – for consumers and more selling opportunities for developers in more countries.

    Over the next few days, the number of countries where Android users can purchase priced apps will increase to 131 including the addition of South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria. Consumers from these newly supported countries will have access to over 200,000 free and paid apps in Android Market, which they can access directly from their Android-powered device.

    Android Market was launched to help developers distribute mobile applications on a level playing field, while enabling users to find and download apps which leverage the unique capabilities of the Android platform.

    A full list of countries can be found here:

computing

  • The technology behind the controversial traffic points demerits project, also called the administrative adjudication of road traffic offences (Aarto) system, is ready to go, says Tebogo Mphuti, CEO of Tasima, the company behind it.

    Mphuti says all the development has been done and all that is left is for the transport minister, S’bu Ndebele, to gazette the new system and it can be rolled out. The Aarto system, which will see drivers docked points from their licences for traffic violations, has faced heavy criticism.

    The system will not only manage the points demerit system, but will also be integrated hundreds of other services, including movement control systems at the airports and border posts.

    There are discussions taking place to extend the system into other Southern African Development Community countries.

    The system has been developed to allow as many officials as possible to monitor and police traffic violations, car registrations and the licensing of citizens, and is integrated with the e-Natis system, also developed by Tasima, to allow for all of that functionality.

    Aarto will link to banks and some supermarket chains to allow citizens to pay fines and have those payments reflected immediately. It will also be connected to the system used by the department of justice, so information about people who are being prosecuted for not paying, or who are contesting fines, will be available to the courts.

    The demerit system was piloted in Pretoria and its implementation was first set for last year. However, the department of transport received complaints about it from the private sector, organised labour and the unions and it was postponed to April this year.

    The system has still not gone live, and Mphuti says government is in talks with those are opposed to its implementation.

    The e-Natis system — which manages the registration of cars and issuing of licences, the licensing testing centres and the learner licence booking system — is the backbone of Aarto.

    Over the next few months, e-Natis will be adding features, including the implementation of a computerised learner’s licence, whereas before learners would write a paper-based test.

    Tasima will be rolling out a pilot of the computer-based tests in the Eastern Cape, where it will install steel desks with partitions and touch-screen computers encased in steel boxes. 

  • The government has given Family Bank $1.3 million (Sh110.7 million) for onward lending to IT entrepreneurs in a bid to scale up Internet access and online services in rural Kenya.

    In this first round of the revolving fund, 37 applicants from 37 constituencies were chosen to benefit under the government's project to roll out and set up digital villages.

    Kenya Information and Communication Technology Board (Kenya ICT Board) on Wednesday said the 37 approved applicants demonstrated various business ideas ranging from youth training, electronic library services, website development, software development to teacher training and KCPE/KCSE online registrations.

    Eight applicants will each receive between Sh2 million and Sh3 million, 16 applicants will each get between Sh1 million and under Sh2 million while the rest will each get less than Sh1 million.

    Family Bank will disburse the revolving fund as a loan repayable over three years but with a three-month grace period.

    The advance has a flexible repayment period and interest of up to a maximum of 10.5 per cent.

    Beneficiaries will be required to finance at least 10 per cent of business while the revolving fund will bridge the gap.

    Family Bank managing director Peter Kinyanjui said the bank supports the quest for an information-based society as it is one of the main priorities towards realisation of national development goals and objectives for wealth and employment creation.

    Kenya ICT Board chief executive Paul Kukubo said the loans will enable prospective entrepreneurs get access to start up capital.

    "This project falls under the Kenya ICT Board's digital inclusion pillar which aims to increase access to information and communication technologies by Kenyans," he said during ceremony to present Family Bank with the cheque in Nairobi. "It complements the other Kenya ICT Board agenda to stimulate job and wealth creation in information and communication through entrepreneurship."

    Information and Communication minister Samuel Poghisio asked Kenya ICT Board to ensure Internet and other online services are available in all parts of the country.

    In a separate news, Equity Bank announced that it  has partnered with Waterloo University of Canada to create an incubation and innovation centre for software and computer application developers as it seeks to grow its debt financing portfolio by tapping venture capitalists targeting this market segment.

    ames Mwangi, the Equity Bank CEO, said the number of software application developers in Kenya was growing but most of them are not able to commercialise their ideas due to lack of funding while venture capitalists are also looking for local and international financial institutions that can give loans to fund some of the viable ideas.

  • Nigeria's foremost financial self-regulatory body, Financial Markets Dealers Association (FMDA), in collaboration with International Capital (ICAP) of South Africa has inaugurated the Inter-Dealer Brokerage Service (IDB), designed to accommodate voice and electronic trading in the Nigeria's financial market.

    The inauguration in Lagos which was immediately followed by the signing of a Brokerage Service Agreement between the two parties, signaled the commencement of the Electronic Trading Community (ETC), a hybrid and electronically-driven platform that creates visibility and efficiency in the market.

    ThisDay gathered that all the banks and discount houses in the country have keyed in to the system, with equipment and other infrastructure needed for effective operation, already installed. A six-week test-run and tests of the system have also commenced while live trading on the platform is expected to begin mid-June.

    FMDA President, Akin Dawodu, in his speech, listed the benefits of the system to include improved transparency; real-time surveillance; global exposure for the Nigerian financial market; cost-effectiveness and achievement of international standards, maintaining that the ultimate beneficiary is the country.

    Executive Secretary/Chief Executive, FMDA, Wale Abe, traced the relationship between his association and ICAP to the time a previous arrangement FMDA had with another organisation failed to yield expected results.

    "ICAP came up with a proposal and presentation that met our needs. Issues of regulatory authorities were explored just as the regulatory authorities such as the CSCS, Debt Management Office (DMO) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were carried along. Tests were conducted and the initial focus was on Electronic Trading Platform but later Inter-Dealer Brokerage (IDB) service, which of course, is voluntary, was included," Abe explained.

    Managing Director, CSCS, Egunjobi Peter Adebayo, who was also present at the occasion, hailed the introduction of the platform in Nigeria, describing it as a welcome development. He said since the money-market in the country has overtaken the equities market in terms of values, he hoped settlement would be enhanced under the system.

    Director, ICAP African Brokers, Bob Jones-Davies, described the signing of the agreement as a momentous occasion, saying his organisation was impressed by the pace of development of Nigeria's money market. He added: "We are happy that the partnership has progressed to this level."

    He explained that ETC offers enormous benefits and makes trading activities more efficient and transparent. "There is no need for physical presence, as traders could transact from remote locations. Also, it makes transactions easier to complete, monitor, and clear; it also gives the stock market immense global exposure, at the same time injecting increased liquidity which enhances the market's financial base," he stressed.

    FMDA Vice President, Olufemi Owopetu, expressed happiness at the commencement of the service in the country, saying it will expose the market to global players who could link up and access the market from anywhere in the world. She disclosed that FMDA decided to partner ICAP because of its reputation as a global player.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The International Finance Corporation may invest in the Nigerian mobile money industry if it is satisfied with the result of the due diligence it is currently carrying out on the industry. Our correspondent gathered that the IFC was keen to play a major role in the country’s emerging mobile money ecosystem and was currently evaluating opportunities available therein.

    Areas currently being evaluated by the IFC include technology acquisition, e-Float management and agency network, according to investigation. The Principal Associate, Mobile Money Africa, Emmanuel Okoegwale, who spoke with our correspondent about the development, said a number of international development organisations had also expressed interest in the country’s fledgling mobile money landscape.

    Aside from the possibility of injecting funds into the mobile money ecosystem, Okoegwale noted that organisations such as the World Bank, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, United States Agency for International Development and Mercy Corps were showing interest in the emerging investment profile in the mobile money space.

    These organisations, according to him, are expected to play a major role in capacity building for mobile money operators in the country. According to CGAP, the majority of Nigerians lack access to formal financial services.

    A recent Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access FinScope survey concluded that 74 per cent of adults in Nigeria (64 million people) had never been banked, and only 15 per cent of women currently had bank accounts.

    To address the lack of financial access in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria had granted licences to 16 firms and the development has been creating a buzz in the country.

    A number of local and foreign investors have also seen the opportunities in the mobile money market and are strategically positioning themselves for it.

    Okoegwale said, “At this stage, only some Nigerian-based organisations are looking at the investment opportunities in the mobile financial ecosystem deeply. Altheia Capital and Adlevocapital are in the forefront. The International Finance Corporation is keen and they are evaluating the opportunities covering all the segments like technology acquisition, e-Float management and agency network. Some local banks are also actively packaging e-Float credit products for the agents and that is ongoing.”

    Goodwell West Africa, a microfinance investment vehicle co-managed by Goodwell Investments in partnership with Lagos-based Alitheia Capital, recently completed an investment deal in the Nigerian mobile money start-up, Paga.

    The Chief Executive Officer, Paga, Tayo Oviosu, said, “Goodwell and Alitheia bring a great wealth of international and local experience, which will further strengthen our ability to achieve our vision as a company. We are strongly committed to bringing quality financial services to all Nigerians and truly believe that Paga will change the life of the average person for the better.”

    Speaking on the investment, the Partner, Goodwell Investments, Mr. Els Boerhof, said, “Our fund was founded on the principal belief that improving access to affordable financial services for people at the ‘base of the pyramid’ contributes to sustainable development. This can best be achieved by developing and scaling up entrepreneurial institutions aimed at banking the un-banked.

    “We believe that Paga will achieve a substantial social return as well as an attractive financial result. Providing the poor with savings and remittances via the mobile phone makes access to these financial services cheaper, as expensive bank branches are not needed and many people do have a mobile phone nowadays in Nigeria.”

    The latest investment in Paga came on the heels of an investment from a renowned United States venture capitalist, Mr. Tim Draper.

    Okoegwale, who commented on this, said that individual venture capitalists and angel investors were top potential for the Nigerian mobile money industry in terms injection of funds. He added that many of them were waiting for the final licensing before committing resources to the viable schemes.

    He noted that some of the known players in the mobile finance landscape were in active talks to explore technology funding and acquisition scheme in Nigeria. Players like UTIBA of India, among others, according to Okoegwale, are rooting to help shape the mobile money scheme in the country.

    When the CBN gave the 16 licence holders mobile money approval in principle to operate m-Money networks, it gave them four months to prove their capacity for the system. A number of the licence holders, according to findings, have been having funding challenges and this may have fuelled investors’ interest in the scheme, experts have argued.

    In view of this, an expert who is in the know of happenings in the fledgling mobile money industry, said four institutional investors would be meeting some of the 16 mobile money licence holders in July, 2011.

    The source, who did not want his name in print because he was not authorised to speak, said, “As regards funding, many Nigerians do not know about the opportunities in mobile money business as we speak but efforts are on going to bring some foreign investors to bridge the gap.

    “Funding is still a major challenge as most potential venture and angel capitalists are still not favourably disposed to investing significant resources into these relatively unknown start ups for early stage funding.”

    He added, “Efforts are on going to bring international investors to meet with the independent providers in the month of July to enable them to compete favourably in the emerging mobile financial landscape in Nigeria.”

  • Vodacom is concerned that it does not yet meet black economic empowerment criteria of 30% and is eyeing the government's 13.9% stake in the company, worth about R16.5 billion, to help solve the issue.

    BusinessLive has learnt that Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys met with Communications Minister Roy Padayachie late last week with the aim of starting negotiations over the government's stake in Vodacom. However, the direct mention of such a sale was not made.

    Tiyani Rikhotso, the spokesperson for the ministry of communications, said: "Vodacom has, however, raised concern about its inability to meet the empowerment percentage of 30% and was keen to know government's intentions with its stake going forward." Rikhotso said the government had not discussed the possibility of letting go of its shareholding in Vodacom.

    Vodacom has refused to comment as it is in a closed period ahead of the release of its year-end results scheduled for Monday, May 16.

    Government's Vodacom shareholding is what it gained after Telkom's 2009 sale of its 50% stake, which left UK-based Vodafone with 65% in a deal worth R22.5 billion. Because of its shareholding, the government has the right to appoint one director to Vodacom's board and it is currently former deputy finance minister Jabu Moloketi.

    Padayachie has indicated that the government is not planning to sell its 38.5% stake in Telkom, but analysts said that selling the Vodacom shareholding may be a little less risky from a political standpoint.

    Vodacom's reason for wanting the stake is the mooted radio frequency spectrum auction that the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), the telecommunications regulator, is planning.

    Government's stake is becoming a means for the country's largest network operator to meet the auction requirements. But to do such a deal it would have to juggle a number of regulatory, political and economic hot potatoes.

    Icasa was supposed to auction off parts of the highly sought after 2.6Ghz and 3.5Mhz ranges that allow for faster data transfer and increased capacity on the mobile networks.

    However, Icasa called off the auction in June 2010 as it wanted to rework the regulations. Marcia Socikwa, the Icasa councillor overseeing the process, told Parliament's communications committee last month that part of the requirements would be that potential bidders would have to have 30% of their shares held by previously disadvantaged persons.

    In 2008, Vodacom transacted a black economic empowerment deal in which about 6.25% of its shares, in a deal worth 7.5 billion rand, were disbursed. However, this stake may have since decreased in percentage terms.

    Macquarie Bank analyst Martin Dullaart said: "That deal was finalised in terms of the old black economic empowerment charter, which allowed for absolute amount value. However, as Vodacom's value has kicked up, then the black economic empowerment valued has ticked down."

    Dominic Cull, a telecommunications regulatory lawyer at Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, said: "The problem for Vodacom is that it thought it had done enough under the old charter conditions. Now it seems that Icasa is just going for a flat 30% stake irrespective of what has been done in the past," said. Dullaart pointed out that Vodacom has limited leeway in doing a black economic empowerment transaction.

    "Sixty five percent of its shares are held by (UK-based parent) Vodafone, another 13.9% by government and it has bought back 1% of its shares, leaving the Johannesburg Stock Exchange minimum requirement of having a 20% float," he said.

    Dullaart indicated that such a deal made business sense, although Vodacom would also have to comply with JSE regulations on treating all shareholders equally.

    Another factor would be the structuring of the deal - should Vodacom do it by itself? Or should Vodafone buy the shares? Dullaart said that, while Vodacom had net debt of about 10 billion rand on its books, it had a stable cash flow and it seemed it could easily do it.

    The deal, if consummated, could have a major economic impact on the government's finances. Even if only half the shares were sold and that realised eight billion rand, this would almost be equivalent to the nine billion rand jobs fund that the government has hinged its plan on to create five million jobs by 2020.

    "It makes perfect economic sense for the deal to happen," said Nedbank senior economist Nicola Weimar. "Firstly, the cellular network industry is highly competitive and it makes no sense for government to have a direct state in one of the participants."

    Weimar said the cash injection into government finances that would result from the sale would be highly beneficial as the country was experiencing marginal growth and a growing budget deficit.

    But the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), which is allied to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), is opposed to the sale. The labour movement also vigorously opposed Vodoacom's unbundling and listing two years ago, resulting in it supporting Icasa's last-minute attempt to halt the process that was rejected in a dramatic court action.

    "We would oppose such a sale because it lessens the democratic control of such an organisation," said Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven. "While government's stake may be a minor one, it is still symbolic and it should not be sold.

  • The Government of Rwanda plans to raise Rwf25 billion through the sale of its shares in Bank of Kigali (BK) and MTN Rwanda to increase domestic revenues, the Finance Minister said on Monday. The Treasury will include the expected proceeds in the budget for the next fiscal year.

    "This is part of the Government commitment to promote accelerated economic growth under its five year plan of EDPRS but also its the approach to liberalise the market," John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said Monday during a press conference on the budget framework.

    The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), which runs from 2008 to 2012 is a medium-term strategy towards the attainment of Rwanda's ambitious long-term Vision 2020 that seeks to transform the country into a middle class economy.

    Government intends to sell 20 percent of its shares in BK through an Initial Public Offer (IPO) due to be launched by July this year.

    This means 45 percent of the bank's shares will be sold during the Initial Public Offer (IPO) with the bank independently offering 25 percent to the public. Government also plans to sell off its entire 66.3 percent stake in the bank.

    "BK is confirmed; we are to sell our shares through an IPO. We started the process and it's expected to be concluded by September, including listing BK on the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE)," Rwangombwa said.

    This will be the second IPO in the country following government's sale of its 25 percent shares in Bralirwa last year. The Bralirwa IPO was oversubscribed by 174 percent.

    BK is Rwanda's leading bank by assets. With plans to open 44 braches across the country this year, industry experts say the bank would be an attractive stock to investors given its rapid growth and stability.

    The Minister said government is in negotiations with MTN Group, which has the right to first refusal to sell the shares. South Africa's MTN Group is the majority shareholder in MTN Rwanda, where the shareholding of the Rwandan government is 10 percent.

    "We have two options; if MTN gives us (Government) the price we want, we will sell the shares to them directly while the other option is through an IPO depending on the other investor," the Minister said.

    Part of the government's commitment to sell its shares in major companies though IPOs is aimed at supporting the growth of the country's nascent stock exchange-the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE)-which was launched early this year.

    Government believes that privatisation through the capital markets would increase products on the market and give investors more options, boost market liquidity and ultimately support the country's economic growth through attracting more inventors and increasing national savings.

    The Rwanda Stock Exchange has so far mainly attracted Treasury and corporate bonds, and also boasts two cross-listed Kenyan companies, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Nation Media Group, with only one local listing from Bralirwa.

  • Dual-listed Datatec's revenue for the new financial year will grow by at least 12%, as economic conditions in the markets in which it operates continue to improve.

    The company is also looking at making more small acquisitions in fast-growing markets such as Asia and Latin America. Yesterday, Datatec reported revenue up 15%, at $4.3 billion; core earnings per share increased 25%, to 37.9c; while headline earnings per share grew 41%, to 23.9c.

    CFO Ivan Dittrich says the company's performance during the year was ahead of the guidance it gave the market at the beginning of the financial period. In March, the company said it expected revenue of $4.3 billion for the year, after initially anticipating turnover of $4.1 billion and $4.4 billion.

    “Despite an environment which remained challenging in many markets, our focus on operational performance has meant we have been able to increase revenue and expand margins, resulting in the bottom line growing at twice the rate of revenue,” says CEO Jens Montanana.

    Dittrich says 12% of the revenue growth was organic, with the balance coming from acquisitions. Datatec has made several small acquisitions recently, none of which were “blockbuster” deals, comments Dittrich.

    Datatec will continue to look at potential buyouts, but it's unlikely any deals will add more than 10% to the company's revenue in any single year, notes Dittrich. He says the company is large enough to sustain organic growth. Areas where the company is looking to expand include Asia and Latin America, adds Dittrich.

    Datatec continued to see gains in trading and profitability, and its second-half results were an improvement on the first six months of the year. Full-year revenue for 2012 should be between $4.8 billion and $5.1 billion, it says.

    Dittrich explains this translates into revenue growth of 12% at the bottom end of the guidance. Core earnings per share should be around 47c, which would be a 24% increase, he says. There are opportunities to gain market share trading conditions and profitability to improve in most of the markets in which Datatec trades, says Dittrich.

    The US, which is the group's largest market, continues to show signs of recovery, while Asia, South America and the Middle East remain its strongest performing markets. Trading conditions in Europe are also improving, although economic recovery in the UK remains weak, Dittrich says.

    Datatec also sees opportunities on the networking side as broadband providers migrate to 4G, Dittrich points out.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Five months after it launched the 2Good plan, Airtel Nigeria has introduced a new tariff plan which offers very affordable call rates and sets a new benchmark for value offering in the industry. The new tariff offer, the Airtel Big Family package allows existing and new customers to make On-Net calls at 15 Kobo per second and Off-Net calls at 30 Kobo per second, after the first minute call of the day at 60 Kobo per second, upon migration to the plan.

    - Namibian mobile operator Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) is beating bigger operators to the punch by being the first to bring the iPad 2 tablet to the Southern African country.

    - Starcomms, one of Nigeria’s CDMA operator announced in Lagos that it has spent over N1.4 billion ($9 million) in network expansion in ten targeted cities across the country, promising to invest more in other cites where it hoped to come alive soon. The cities include Gwagwalada, Jaji, Suleja, Ikot Ekpene, Oron, Maiduguri , Umuahia, Tinapa and Agbor.

    - In South Africa, Telkom’s new mobile operator, 8ta, will introduce per-second billing for prepaid customers from 15 May. Until now, calls were billed per-minute.

    - Gabonese GSM operator Libertis, controlled by Morocco’s Maroc Telecom, has reported a quarter-on-quarter reduction in its mobile subscriber base from 699,000 to 398,000 in the three months ended 31 March 2011. The cellco, a part of formerly state-run Gabon Telecom, performed a ‘clean-up’ of its subscriber base (typically involving removal of inactive customer accounts) in the first quarter, which its parent company said ‘gave rise to terminations’, although no further details were disclosed in its 1Q11 report.

Digital Content

  • MTN Traveller and Hotels.com have entered into a global content interface partnership, to provide a mobile travel-planning solution, while also promoting local tourism.

    MTN Traveller was launched in November last year, together with MobiRes, as a travel.mobi bookings portal that provides access to accommodation, airfare and car hire options. The new partnership with Hotels.com will expand the variety of choices available to users.

    Chief marketing officer of MTN SA Serame Taukobong says: “As a result of the partnership with Hotels.com, MTN Traveller will be in a position to offer its local users access to 132 000 accommodation choices in 213 countries around the world, directly from a cellphone interface.

    “While MTN Traveller provides a simple and effective mobile solution for South Africans to access the world, it is also focusing on bringing the world to SA by actively promoting the local tourism market with South African Tourism to the global arena,” says Taukobong.

    MobiRes MD Fraser Gregg adds: “Mobilisation has evolved from simply providing the market with the ability to communicate with others on the go; it now provides the market with the tools and means to do business and access mobile business systems on the go.”

    MTN Traveller is not network or handset specific and does not incur any booking fees.

    “Consumers who are registered with the service, have the tools conveniently, efficiently and securely loaded on their cellphones, and are able to simply scroll through the MTN Traveller menu to search for, reserve, pay for and confirm travel and other lifestyle bookings anywhere across the world, at the touch of a keypad in the palm of their hand,” states Gregg.

    “Mobile is one of the fastest growing areas of the industry, particularly in SA, and we are very pleased to be joining with MTN on this new initiative,” said Hotels.com president David Roche.

  • Tanzanians can now access news or entertainment channels using their mobile phones following the launch of  a Vodacom Tanzania-DSTV mobile facility.

    Speaking during the inauguration of the facility recently in Dar es Salaam, Vodacom Tanzania chief operating officer Peter Correria said the firm had invested in high technology to enable customers to enjoy more services. Correria said the new service was provided after Vodacom M-Pesa, which had enabled many Tanzanians to get banking services through their mobile phones.

    He said Vodacom Tanzania in cooperation with DSTV wanted to see their customers using their phones not only as tools of ordinary communication, but also to know what was happening in other parts of  the world.

    He explained that for a start Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV had put five channels online and made available to Vodacom Tanzania customers.

    The channels are TBC1, Euronews, B4U, Sawsee and Super Sport Blitz.

    “This service will be accessible for customers with 3G handsets and it is free for three months from now. Actually, we are at a pilot stage and later we will be charging subscribers. We will also increase the number of channels,” said Curreria.

    DSTV general manager Felix Kyengo said the company was happy to be associated with Vodacom Tanzania in the programme.

    He described the new service as an outcome of technological advancements.

    Kyengo said the use of mobile phones had increased from that of traditional communication to getting news.
     “Some years ago, the cellphone was for calling and text messaging. Now a mobile phone can be used as a camera and a television. This has been achieved due to high investment in technology,” said Kyengo.

    He said that to join Vodacom Tanzania-DSTV Mobile you must open the link, n the cell phone browser then select dstv mobile icon and click on any one of the channels and sign-up to DSTV Mobile.

    Dar es  Salaam Acting Regional Commissioner, Mr Said Mecky Sadick congratulated Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV for launching the services that will enable their customers to know what is going on in the world in politics, healthy, entertainment and sports through their mobile phone.

    Sadick also called other mobile phone to follow foot step of Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV for their customers. He also called all Tanzanians to avoid using mobile phone as tool of wrong doing in the society.

More

  • - Teraco Data Environments, a  provider of vendor neutral data centre facilities in South Africa, has appointed Jan Hnizdo as Chief Financial Officer.

  • eLearning Africa 2011 - Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability
    25-27 May 2011, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The 6th event in the series of pan-African conferences and exhibitions will focus on Africa's youth. Africa has the highest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. How can it unlock the vast reservoir of talent? How can technology support education and training?
    For further information visit

    SatCom 2011 Africa Conference
    30 May - 2 June 2011, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

    For further information visit

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 June 2011, Dakar, Senegal

    For further information visit

    Telecoms World Africa
    27- 30 June 2011, International Convention Centre, Cape Town

    For further information visit

    VAS Africa
    July 6 - July 7, 2011, Johannesburg

    For further information visit

    Tech4Africa
    27-28 October 2011 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg, South Africa

    The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations.
    Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, will be joined by Herman Chinery-Hesse who is commonly known as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’, to present the keynote addresses at the Tech4Africa conference. Josh and Herman join a stellar line-up of international technologists including speakers from organisations such as Amazon, HP, Johns Hopkins University, Mozilla, SimpleGeo and Clearleft, and African technologists from SwiftRiver, the African Institution of Technology, Ultinet Systems, Motribe and many more.
    For further information visit

  • Nokia Flexi Packet Engineers – South Africa
    All applicants must have hands-on experience working on Nokia Flexi Packet transmission equipment. You must be able to independently work on the comissioning and integration of Nokia Flexi packet equipment.
    Engineers who have experience working for NSN directly are preferred.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • MTN Group and Nokia - Africa
    Nokia and MTN Group have signed an agreement to expand their strategic relationship to new markets within Middle East and Africa MTN affiliates. The framework agreement signed in Dubai and Johannesburg, would permit the large community of MTN customers to benefit from the integration of Nokia devices and solutions.

    Joint marketing and sales campaigns will be designed on a regional level and will bring consumers the latest Nokia mobile phones and smartphones, combined with value added services such as orientation and navigation tools, for seamless mobile communications while at work, home or on the go.

    Building on previous success stories such as the joint launch of the Nokia C3 with MTN data and value add package in Nigeria , and the launch of the Nokia E7 and business tools for corporate clients in South Africa , the intention is to drive similar bundles, services and experiences in other MTN markets to add value to consumers.

Issue no 554 13th May 2011

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Top story

  • Following the SIM cards registration process, the number of mobile subscribers in Zimbabwe went down by nearly 2.4 million (see full story in the telecoms section). In Ghana, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire, SIM card registration is ongoing while the Liberian regulator will soon be launching the same process. All SIM cards registrations exercises in African countries have translated into a temporary decrease in the number of mobile subscribers but how did it affect operators’ revenue? Isabelle Gross looks at the outcomes of SIM registration process in South Africa for some clues.

    No African mobile operator has really contested the legal justifications that support SIM cards registration, however most of them have complained or expressed reservations on how the process will be implemented, what identification documents will be required from the subscribers and how well subscribers data will be protected. The first reason for their reluctance is that they bear the cost of the registration process which is very labour intensive and implies a lot of paperwork that needs to be sorted between the subscriber and the operator (just think for one second of how easy it is to get a working local phone number as soon as you are out of the airport). The second reason is that they are aware that as a result of the SIM registration process they will loose subscribers and potentially revenue.

    As of July 1st 2009, the registration of mobile customers became compulsory in South Africa following the introduction of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication also commonly referred to as “RICA”. So, how did RICA affect Vodacom and MTN, the two largest mobile operators in South Africa (their combined subscriber bases represent a market share of over 80%)? According to Vodacom’s quarterly and interim results reports, the total number of mobile subscribers during the 2009 year evolved as follows: at the end of Q1-2009, Vodacom reported 27.7 million mobile subscribers. Three months later at the end of Q2-2009, Vodacom had 28.7 million mobile subscribers.

    At the end of Q3-2009, the number of mobile subscribers dropped to 28.2 million and at the end of 2009 (Q4-2009) Vodacom reported a total mobile subscriber base of 27.1 million. Six months after the introduction of RICA, Vodacom lost about 1.6 million subscribers which translated in a decrease of 5.57% of its subscriber base. For 2010, Vodacom reported the following subscriber numbers: 26.3 million at the end of Q1-2010; 25.3 million at the end of Q2-2010 (this figure does not include the 3.3 million call-forward SIM cards disconnections following a change in disconnection policy of 13 months to seven months). Twelve months after the introduction of RICA, Vodacom’s prepaid subscribers base was down by 11.9%.

    How did MTN, Vodacom’s main competitor in South Africa, perform during the same period? At the end of June 2009, MTN reported 17.2 million subscribers. Three months later (Q3-2009), the mobile operator’s subscriber base was down to 16.4 million and by the end of 2009, its subscriber base stood at 16 million. However by March 2010, MTN’s subscriber base was again up to 16.4 million and in June 2010 the mobile operator reported 17.1 million mobile subscribers. Twelve months after the introduction of RICA, MTN’s subscribers base was down by less than 1%. This suggests that SIM registration in South Africa affected mobile operators in different proportions – the market leader suffering more from it than the contenders.

    However, “one size doesn’t fit all”.  In Zimbabwe for example, market leader, Econet registered a loss of 1.4 million subscribers from a total subscriber base of 4.1 million while Telecel, the second operator by market share recorded a loss of 692,000 from a total subscriber base of 1.3 million subscribers. In this case the market leader held on better than the contenders. So then, does it not all come down to the clean up of an inflated subscriber bases in the first place? In Gabon, mobile operator Libertis controlled by Morocco’s Maroc Telecom, has reported a quarter-on-quarter reduction in its mobile subscriber base from 699,000 to 398,000 in the three months ended 31 March 2011. Artel, the Gabonese regulator launched the SIM registration process back in the middle of 2010 with final disconnections scheduled for the beginning of 2011.

    Since South African mobile operators state total revenue figures which will include other revenues like data revenue for example (and South Africa has witnessed a big uptake in data services over this period which consequently has pushed up overall revenue), a comparison between subscriber numbers and revenue would be biased. Therefore it was more relevant to look at the voice traffic recorded over this period to see the impact of the decrease in subscribers.

    Unfortunately, only Vodacom releases such data. At the end of June 2009, Vodacom reported 6.8 billion minutes traffic for the quarter on its network with 4.9 billion minutes outgoing traffic and 1.9 billion minutes incoming traffic. A year later as of June 2010, Vodacom reported 6.3 billion minutes traffic for the quarter (including the loss of minutes resulting from the 3.3 million call-forward SIM cards disconnections).

    When comparing Q2-2009 to Q2-2010 results, this translates into a decrease of total voice traffic of 7.6%. This suggests that the reduction in subscribers had a negative effect on voice traffic and consequently on revenue. However, the level of revenue loss is likely to have been much lower than the loss of subscribers because among the lost subscribers there were a large number of “zero” ARPU subscribers. Another indicator hinting at this conclusion is the ARPU level recorded over this period among prepaid subscribers. In June 2009, Vodacom reported a prepaid ARPU of R64. One year later, the prepaid ARPU was up to R79. For MTN, the prepaid ARPU was R92 in June 2009 and R109 in June 2010. On a year on year comparison, the prepaid ARPU increased by 23% for Vodacom and 18% for MTN.

    In all African countries that rolled out SIM card registration, the number of subscribers went down but there is less evidence available that suggest that the impact on mobile operators’ revenue was of the same magnitude then on subscribers numbers. Further this downward trend is not long lasting. In its interim results report for the end of June 2010, MTN stated that “the negative impact of RICA on the prepaid subscriber base has now stabilised, with gross additions increasing by 19.7% compared to the second six month period of 2009”.


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telecoms

  • Malawi-owned Celcom Limited, run by MD Ted Sauti-Phiri, is expected to roll out services such as voice telephony and mobile voice telephone by October 2012. MACRA Communications Manager Zadziko Mankhambo said in a statement released on Wednesday, 4 May 2011, that Celcom Limited beat bidders; Zambezi Africa Telecom, C-Mobile Holdings and Smart telecom Limited. He further said the bids were opened on 19 March 2011 in the MACRA boardroom in the presence of all applicants and the public.

    "This was followed by an intensive evaluation process conducted by a team of highly qualified professionals in the ICT industry," he said.

    The procurement of the fourth mobile phone service issuance was preceded by placement of adverts in both local and international media which included major telecommunications websites, local and international newspapers.

    Mankhamba said this development follows the Ministry of Information and Civic Education's policy directive to licence more operators in the country to boost the ICT industry as well as spur competition which it hopes will enhance quality services.

  • Zimbabwe’s tele-density rate took a dip after the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe recently cut off unregistered lines. Statistics from Potraz show the country's overall teledensity fell from 67.5 percent to 49.7 percent after the disconnections.

    The largest mobile phone provider, Econet Wireless, lost 1.4 million subscribers while the State-run NetOne lost 300,000. During the same period, Telecel Zimbabwe's subscriber base fell by 692,000 as a result of subscribers failing to register their lines.

    According to the latest Potraz figures, the number of mobile users dropped by 17.8 percent between February and April.

    This means that the number of Zimbabweans with access to a telephone has decreased from 8,4 million to six million during the past two months after the disconnection of subscribers who missed the February 28 deadline to register their lines. Potraz indicated that around two million mobile phone users have been disconnected for failing to register their SIM cards by this year's February deadline.

    Registration was required under an international mandate for all phone users to be identified to prevent the use of mobile phones by terrorists and criminals, a protocol followed by many telecommunications authorities throughout the world.

    But observers contend the dip in the teledensity rate is temporary and will at least be restored in view of the ongoing registration drive being undertaken by the three mobile networks. Last August Potraz ordered mobile operators to register all mobile users to "combat criminal activities" and abuse of mobile communications.

    Earlier statistics from Potraz showed Zimbabwe's teledensity rate standing in excess of 60 percent, up from a mere 9 percent in 2009. This was largely attributable to expansion drives by the mobile service providers.

    A recent study by analyst IHS Global Insight in a number of countries that have introduced compulsory SIM card registration,, has shown marked declines in teledensity rates in these countries as well.

    "The introduction of mandatory registration of SIM cards in at least 10 countries has resulted in a dramatic slowdown in subscriber growth and will see the disconnection of millions of unregistered subscribers," noted IHS Global Insight.

    According to IHS Global Insight, the requirement has led to declines in mobile subscriber rates in a number of African countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Algeria. Potraz introduced mandatory SIM card registration in June last year, initially setting a deadline of August 3.

    But at the end of August, official figures showed that only 3.8 million subscribers had registered, out of about 6.5 million mobile phone users in the country.

    Official figures during the same period showed that Zimbabwe had 6,848,000 telephone subscribers, out of an estimated population of 13 million across both fixed and mobile telecommunication service providers. The figures are broken down as follows: Econet 4,1 million subscribers; Telecel 1,3 million; NetOne 1.1 million and TelOne 378,000.

    However, the figures for mobile telephone subscribers may well have exceeded last year's figures due to the low cost and availability of mobile SIM cards. At the end of August, however, only 3.8 million subscribers had registered their SIM cards out of about 6.5 million mobile phone users in the country.

    The negative effects of mandatory SIM card registration are particularly serious for African countries that traditionally had weak landline telephony penetration levels, and had benefited from the comparatively cheaper and more accessible mobile telephony services.

    According to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology's strategic plan 2010 to 2014, the Government has a target to increase national teledensity by 10 percent each year.

  • MTN SA has begun work on a pilot network using long-term evolution (LTE), the next generation mobile broadband technology, and will have 100 base stations active in Gauteng by the end of the year.

    At the same time, the company is stepping up the deployment of its own high-speed fibre-optic cables to its base stations, with plans to have as many as 1 600 towers connected to fibre by the end of the year, from 600 now. It has awarded contracts to five new suppliers to extend the network.

    However, it will still be a few years before consumers can expect to see big benefits flowing from all this investment, says MTN SA MD Karel Pienaar. LTE-based cellphones and dongles are not ready for mass-market adoption yet, he cautions, and investment in fibre takes time.

    First-generation LTE is regarded as a bridging technology from third- to fourth-generation mobile networks. Later versions of the technology, called LTE Advanced, will eventually offer theoretical speeds in excess of 1Gbit/s.

    “We are running big trials on the LTE side,” Pienaar says, adding the network may be extended to another metropolitan area during the test phase. “The radio technology has to be LTE, because we can get the next level of capacity and speed and efficiency.”

    MTN is building its LTE network using frequency at 1,800MHz, which it’s traditionally used for voice services, while it waits for industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, to hold a spectrum auction in the 2.6GHz band. It is also keen to get access to the 800MHz band to offer LTE. This band should be freed up by December 2013, the date at which television broadcasters are meant to stop using the spectrum as they migrate to digital technology.

    But, says Pienaar: “It will take five more years until LTE is truly ready for the average consumer”. That doesn’t mean MTN (or its rivals Vodacom and Cell C) are holding back on investment to deliver next-generation wireless broadband networks. All three companies are investing aggressively in providing their own fibre to their base stations as well as to build national fibre networks. Vodacom is also running a test LTE network, though the company hasn’t disclosed the scale of it.

    Over time, prices of mobile data will come down. “People will spend similar amounts, but they will use 10 to 20 times the amount of data,” Pienaar says. “For all operators, the challenge is how to monetise the investment in infrastructure. The jury is still out on how we will make the right returns. We believe the returns are there [but] the economic model here is one of scale. I can have a [workable] model if I can get the entire population using many gigabytes of data a month.”

  • Televisions in Ghana can now be used to browse the Internet, credit to Vodafone Ghana, which has introduced a specialized keyboard with an in-built edge modern and memory card. Webbox, the device, is a Vodafone concept and design for consumers in emerging markets to bridge the digital divide and to provide affordable ready internet access at home or in the workplace.

    With the device, a TV set that plays DVDs can be turned into a computer screen providing a compelling, convenient at home, at school and at work internet experience, plus access to multimedia experiences with music, video player and picture viewing.

    Carmen Bruce-Annan, Head of Corporate Communications at Vodafone, who launched the product on Tuesday in Accra said, “The Vodafone Webbox, is a powerful device with the lowest cost of entry to the ordinary Ghanaian to access the Internet.

    She said as the fifth most valuable brand company in the world, Vodafone was offering consumers a very versatile and affordable product. “This is a product that offers endless opportunities and delivers our brand promise of empowering our consumers to reach their full potential.”

    A statement issued by the company said: “The introduction of the Webbox is Vodafone’s response to the use of television as a medium to deliver internet services to Ghanaians including those in the rural communities, who have access to TV but not computers and Lap Tops and who are within the Vodafone network coverage areas.

    “Vodafone has therefore satisfied its customers needs by providing an innovative all-in one product with great value that also offers the family an exciting experience due to its use on a standard TV set,” it said.

    Vodafone Ghana has from today Tuesday started selling the Webbox through its retail stores across the country.

internet

  • Online retail in South Africa has entered a phase of sustained acceleration, according to a new research report released today by World Wide Worx. The total spent on online retail goods in South Africa passed the R2-billion mark in 2010 for the first time. It reached R2.028-billion, growing at 30% over the previous year.

    This is according to World Wide Worx’s Online Retail in SA 2011 study which focuses on local eCommerce trends. Online retailers are even more bullish about 2011, with the industry consensus pointing to 40% growth this year. This will represent the highest rate of growth for online retail in South Africa in almost a decade.

    “This dramatic rise in online retail comes in the wake of an ongoing increase in the number of experienced Internet users in South Africa,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx and principal analyst for the survey.

    “Last year there were 3.6-mlilion people who had been online for five years or more. By 2015, that figure will be 6.8-million – almost double the potential e-commerce market of today.”

    In 2010, Traditional, physical retail in South Africa reached R561bn, according to Stats SA. This means that online retail still makes up less than half a per cent of total retail in SA: a mere 0.36%.

    At the same time, however, the growth rate of online retail in South Africa in 2010 was four times that of physical retail: 30% vs 7%.

    Internationally, according to global online retail data analysed in the report, growth slowed in most regions during the global financial crisis, but did not turn negative: total sales never fell anywhere in the world. Industry estimates for the total value of global online retail in 2010 come to an average of about $545-billion. The figure for 2009 was $469-billion.

    This indicates that, globally as in South Africa, online retail is recession-proof for now, while it still makes up a small proportion of total retail worldwide.

    “This shows us that online retail growth represents not a rise in shopping activity, but rather a shift in shopping activity, from the physical space to the online space,” says Goldstuck.

  • In 2006 C-Data launched its best in class Wireless Broadband Internet network in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Within a short period of time, the company served more than 3,000 subscribers with efficient and affordable wireless Internet services.

    Comium was able to secure more than ten Broadband Wireless licenses across Africa and Lebanon, thereby becoming the region's largest single wireless service provider. The division's mission is to develop and operate advanced internet and data communications services catering to the unmet needs and demands in the residential, small office home office (SoHo) and small and medium enterprises (SME) market segments.

    C-Data goes beyond providing access to its subscribers, as the internet becomes an integrated part of the business process for corporate customers and an essential tool to maintain close ties with family and friends as part of the social network phenomena currently evolving through sites like Facebook, My Space and Twitter.

    Wigo is the new name for C-Data offering in Sierra Leone. Wigo enables a lifestyle of exploration on the go, it is also the ticket to discover the world wherever you are. Launching Wigo at Mamba Point, Ghassan Mroue said the internet will be a great help to the people of Sierra Leone. He said Wigo stands for wireless on the go, noting that Comium data believes in providing the best wireless network and contribute to the country economic.

    Mroue said fixed wireless is suitable for an organization that normally requires dedicated bandwidth. Presenting the products, Senesie Kanneh said Comium is aspiring to empower people with new means of communication. He said they have the potable, fixed wireless and hotspot solutions for high density customer areas, providing instant Wi-Fi access to the internet. He said there is free WLAN setup within the customer premises, noting that the pricing varies from $45 to $380.

  • Google announced that Android Market will increase consumer access and developer support for paid applications in several new countries. Consumers from 99 new countries – including 26 African countries – will be able to purchase apps from Android Market. This latest expansion of Android Market means more applications – including games, social, and productivity apps – for consumers and more selling opportunities for developers in more countries.

    Over the next few days, the number of countries where Android users can purchase priced apps will increase to 131 including the addition of South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria. Consumers from these newly supported countries will have access to over 200,000 free and paid apps in Android Market, which they can access directly from their Android-powered device.

    Android Market was launched to help developers distribute mobile applications on a level playing field, while enabling users to find and download apps which leverage the unique capabilities of the Android platform.

    A full list of countries can be found here:

computing

  • The technology behind the controversial traffic points demerits project, also called the administrative adjudication of road traffic offences (Aarto) system, is ready to go, says Tebogo Mphuti, CEO of Tasima, the company behind it.

    Mphuti says all the development has been done and all that is left is for the transport minister, S’bu Ndebele, to gazette the new system and it can be rolled out. The Aarto system, which will see drivers docked points from their licences for traffic violations, has faced heavy criticism.

    The system will not only manage the points demerit system, but will also be integrated hundreds of other services, including movement control systems at the airports and border posts.

    There are discussions taking place to extend the system into other Southern African Development Community countries.

    The system has been developed to allow as many officials as possible to monitor and police traffic violations, car registrations and the licensing of citizens, and is integrated with the e-Natis system, also developed by Tasima, to allow for all of that functionality.

    Aarto will link to banks and some supermarket chains to allow citizens to pay fines and have those payments reflected immediately. It will also be connected to the system used by the department of justice, so information about people who are being prosecuted for not paying, or who are contesting fines, will be available to the courts.

    The demerit system was piloted in Pretoria and its implementation was first set for last year. However, the department of transport received complaints about it from the private sector, organised labour and the unions and it was postponed to April this year.

    The system has still not gone live, and Mphuti says government is in talks with those are opposed to its implementation.

    The e-Natis system — which manages the registration of cars and issuing of licences, the licensing testing centres and the learner licence booking system — is the backbone of Aarto.

    Over the next few months, e-Natis will be adding features, including the implementation of a computerised learner’s licence, whereas before learners would write a paper-based test.

    Tasima will be rolling out a pilot of the computer-based tests in the Eastern Cape, where it will install steel desks with partitions and touch-screen computers encased in steel boxes. 

  • The government has given Family Bank $1.3 million (Sh110.7 million) for onward lending to IT entrepreneurs in a bid to scale up Internet access and online services in rural Kenya.

    In this first round of the revolving fund, 37 applicants from 37 constituencies were chosen to benefit under the government's project to roll out and set up digital villages.

    Kenya Information and Communication Technology Board (Kenya ICT Board) on Wednesday said the 37 approved applicants demonstrated various business ideas ranging from youth training, electronic library services, website development, software development to teacher training and KCPE/KCSE online registrations.

    Eight applicants will each receive between Sh2 million and Sh3 million, 16 applicants will each get between Sh1 million and under Sh2 million while the rest will each get less than Sh1 million.

    Family Bank will disburse the revolving fund as a loan repayable over three years but with a three-month grace period.

    The advance has a flexible repayment period and interest of up to a maximum of 10.5 per cent.

    Beneficiaries will be required to finance at least 10 per cent of business while the revolving fund will bridge the gap.

    Family Bank managing director Peter Kinyanjui said the bank supports the quest for an information-based society as it is one of the main priorities towards realisation of national development goals and objectives for wealth and employment creation.

    Kenya ICT Board chief executive Paul Kukubo said the loans will enable prospective entrepreneurs get access to start up capital.

    "This project falls under the Kenya ICT Board's digital inclusion pillar which aims to increase access to information and communication technologies by Kenyans," he said during ceremony to present Family Bank with the cheque in Nairobi. "It complements the other Kenya ICT Board agenda to stimulate job and wealth creation in information and communication through entrepreneurship."

    Information and Communication minister Samuel Poghisio asked Kenya ICT Board to ensure Internet and other online services are available in all parts of the country.

    In a separate news, Equity Bank announced that it  has partnered with Waterloo University of Canada to create an incubation and innovation centre for software and computer application developers as it seeks to grow its debt financing portfolio by tapping venture capitalists targeting this market segment.

    ames Mwangi, the Equity Bank CEO, said the number of software application developers in Kenya was growing but most of them are not able to commercialise their ideas due to lack of funding while venture capitalists are also looking for local and international financial institutions that can give loans to fund some of the viable ideas.

  • Nigeria's foremost financial self-regulatory body, Financial Markets Dealers Association (FMDA), in collaboration with International Capital (ICAP) of South Africa has inaugurated the Inter-Dealer Brokerage Service (IDB), designed to accommodate voice and electronic trading in the Nigeria's financial market.

    The inauguration in Lagos which was immediately followed by the signing of a Brokerage Service Agreement between the two parties, signaled the commencement of the Electronic Trading Community (ETC), a hybrid and electronically-driven platform that creates visibility and efficiency in the market.

    ThisDay gathered that all the banks and discount houses in the country have keyed in to the system, with equipment and other infrastructure needed for effective operation, already installed. A six-week test-run and tests of the system have also commenced while live trading on the platform is expected to begin mid-June.

    FMDA President, Akin Dawodu, in his speech, listed the benefits of the system to include improved transparency; real-time surveillance; global exposure for the Nigerian financial market; cost-effectiveness and achievement of international standards, maintaining that the ultimate beneficiary is the country.

    Executive Secretary/Chief Executive, FMDA, Wale Abe, traced the relationship between his association and ICAP to the time a previous arrangement FMDA had with another organisation failed to yield expected results.

    "ICAP came up with a proposal and presentation that met our needs. Issues of regulatory authorities were explored just as the regulatory authorities such as the CSCS, Debt Management Office (DMO) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were carried along. Tests were conducted and the initial focus was on Electronic Trading Platform but later Inter-Dealer Brokerage (IDB) service, which of course, is voluntary, was included," Abe explained.

    Managing Director, CSCS, Egunjobi Peter Adebayo, who was also present at the occasion, hailed the introduction of the platform in Nigeria, describing it as a welcome development. He said since the money-market in the country has overtaken the equities market in terms of values, he hoped settlement would be enhanced under the system.

    Director, ICAP African Brokers, Bob Jones-Davies, described the signing of the agreement as a momentous occasion, saying his organisation was impressed by the pace of development of Nigeria's money market. He added: "We are happy that the partnership has progressed to this level."

    He explained that ETC offers enormous benefits and makes trading activities more efficient and transparent. "There is no need for physical presence, as traders could transact from remote locations. Also, it makes transactions easier to complete, monitor, and clear; it also gives the stock market immense global exposure, at the same time injecting increased liquidity which enhances the market's financial base," he stressed.

    FMDA Vice President, Olufemi Owopetu, expressed happiness at the commencement of the service in the country, saying it will expose the market to global players who could link up and access the market from anywhere in the world. She disclosed that FMDA decided to partner ICAP because of its reputation as a global player.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The International Finance Corporation may invest in the Nigerian mobile money industry if it is satisfied with the result of the due diligence it is currently carrying out on the industry. Our correspondent gathered that the IFC was keen to play a major role in the country’s emerging mobile money ecosystem and was currently evaluating opportunities available therein.

    Areas currently being evaluated by the IFC include technology acquisition, e-Float management and agency network, according to investigation. The Principal Associate, Mobile Money Africa, Emmanuel Okoegwale, who spoke with our correspondent about the development, said a number of international development organisations had also expressed interest in the country’s fledgling mobile money landscape.

    Aside from the possibility of injecting funds into the mobile money ecosystem, Okoegwale noted that organisations such as the World Bank, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, United States Agency for International Development and Mercy Corps were showing interest in the emerging investment profile in the mobile money space.

    These organisations, according to him, are expected to play a major role in capacity building for mobile money operators in the country. According to CGAP, the majority of Nigerians lack access to formal financial services.

    A recent Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access FinScope survey concluded that 74 per cent of adults in Nigeria (64 million people) had never been banked, and only 15 per cent of women currently had bank accounts.

    To address the lack of financial access in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria had granted licences to 16 firms and the development has been creating a buzz in the country.

    A number of local and foreign investors have also seen the opportunities in the mobile money market and are strategically positioning themselves for it.

    Okoegwale said, “At this stage, only some Nigerian-based organisations are looking at the investment opportunities in the mobile financial ecosystem deeply. Altheia Capital and Adlevocapital are in the forefront. The International Finance Corporation is keen and they are evaluating the opportunities covering all the segments like technology acquisition, e-Float management and agency network. Some local banks are also actively packaging e-Float credit products for the agents and that is ongoing.”

    Goodwell West Africa, a microfinance investment vehicle co-managed by Goodwell Investments in partnership with Lagos-based Alitheia Capital, recently completed an investment deal in the Nigerian mobile money start-up, Paga.

    The Chief Executive Officer, Paga, Tayo Oviosu, said, “Goodwell and Alitheia bring a great wealth of international and local experience, which will further strengthen our ability to achieve our vision as a company. We are strongly committed to bringing quality financial services to all Nigerians and truly believe that Paga will change the life of the average person for the better.”

    Speaking on the investment, the Partner, Goodwell Investments, Mr. Els Boerhof, said, “Our fund was founded on the principal belief that improving access to affordable financial services for people at the ‘base of the pyramid’ contributes to sustainable development. This can best be achieved by developing and scaling up entrepreneurial institutions aimed at banking the un-banked.

    “We believe that Paga will achieve a substantial social return as well as an attractive financial result. Providing the poor with savings and remittances via the mobile phone makes access to these financial services cheaper, as expensive bank branches are not needed and many people do have a mobile phone nowadays in Nigeria.”

    The latest investment in Paga came on the heels of an investment from a renowned United States venture capitalist, Mr. Tim Draper.

    Okoegwale, who commented on this, said that individual venture capitalists and angel investors were top potential for the Nigerian mobile money industry in terms injection of funds. He added that many of them were waiting for the final licensing before committing resources to the viable schemes.

    He noted that some of the known players in the mobile finance landscape were in active talks to explore technology funding and acquisition scheme in Nigeria. Players like UTIBA of India, among others, according to Okoegwale, are rooting to help shape the mobile money scheme in the country.

    When the CBN gave the 16 licence holders mobile money approval in principle to operate m-Money networks, it gave them four months to prove their capacity for the system. A number of the licence holders, according to findings, have been having funding challenges and this may have fuelled investors’ interest in the scheme, experts have argued.

    In view of this, an expert who is in the know of happenings in the fledgling mobile money industry, said four institutional investors would be meeting some of the 16 mobile money licence holders in July, 2011.

    The source, who did not want his name in print because he was not authorised to speak, said, “As regards funding, many Nigerians do not know about the opportunities in mobile money business as we speak but efforts are on going to bring some foreign investors to bridge the gap.

    “Funding is still a major challenge as most potential venture and angel capitalists are still not favourably disposed to investing significant resources into these relatively unknown start ups for early stage funding.”

    He added, “Efforts are on going to bring international investors to meet with the independent providers in the month of July to enable them to compete favourably in the emerging mobile financial landscape in Nigeria.”

  • Vodacom is concerned that it does not yet meet black economic empowerment criteria of 30% and is eyeing the government's 13.9% stake in the company, worth about R16.5 billion, to help solve the issue.

    BusinessLive has learnt that Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys met with Communications Minister Roy Padayachie late last week with the aim of starting negotiations over the government's stake in Vodacom. However, the direct mention of such a sale was not made.

    Tiyani Rikhotso, the spokesperson for the ministry of communications, said: "Vodacom has, however, raised concern about its inability to meet the empowerment percentage of 30% and was keen to know government's intentions with its stake going forward." Rikhotso said the government had not discussed the possibility of letting go of its shareholding in Vodacom.

    Vodacom has refused to comment as it is in a closed period ahead of the release of its year-end results scheduled for Monday, May 16.

    Government's Vodacom shareholding is what it gained after Telkom's 2009 sale of its 50% stake, which left UK-based Vodafone with 65% in a deal worth R22.5 billion. Because of its shareholding, the government has the right to appoint one director to Vodacom's board and it is currently former deputy finance minister Jabu Moloketi.

    Padayachie has indicated that the government is not planning to sell its 38.5% stake in Telkom, but analysts said that selling the Vodacom shareholding may be a little less risky from a political standpoint.

    Vodacom's reason for wanting the stake is the mooted radio frequency spectrum auction that the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), the telecommunications regulator, is planning.

    Government's stake is becoming a means for the country's largest network operator to meet the auction requirements. But to do such a deal it would have to juggle a number of regulatory, political and economic hot potatoes.

    Icasa was supposed to auction off parts of the highly sought after 2.6Ghz and 3.5Mhz ranges that allow for faster data transfer and increased capacity on the mobile networks.

    However, Icasa called off the auction in June 2010 as it wanted to rework the regulations. Marcia Socikwa, the Icasa councillor overseeing the process, told Parliament's communications committee last month that part of the requirements would be that potential bidders would have to have 30% of their shares held by previously disadvantaged persons.

    In 2008, Vodacom transacted a black economic empowerment deal in which about 6.25% of its shares, in a deal worth 7.5 billion rand, were disbursed. However, this stake may have since decreased in percentage terms.

    Macquarie Bank analyst Martin Dullaart said: "That deal was finalised in terms of the old black economic empowerment charter, which allowed for absolute amount value. However, as Vodacom's value has kicked up, then the black economic empowerment valued has ticked down."

    Dominic Cull, a telecommunications regulatory lawyer at Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, said: "The problem for Vodacom is that it thought it had done enough under the old charter conditions. Now it seems that Icasa is just going for a flat 30% stake irrespective of what has been done in the past," said. Dullaart pointed out that Vodacom has limited leeway in doing a black economic empowerment transaction.

    "Sixty five percent of its shares are held by (UK-based parent) Vodafone, another 13.9% by government and it has bought back 1% of its shares, leaving the Johannesburg Stock Exchange minimum requirement of having a 20% float," he said.

    Dullaart indicated that such a deal made business sense, although Vodacom would also have to comply with JSE regulations on treating all shareholders equally.

    Another factor would be the structuring of the deal - should Vodacom do it by itself? Or should Vodafone buy the shares? Dullaart said that, while Vodacom had net debt of about 10 billion rand on its books, it had a stable cash flow and it seemed it could easily do it.

    The deal, if consummated, could have a major economic impact on the government's finances. Even if only half the shares were sold and that realised eight billion rand, this would almost be equivalent to the nine billion rand jobs fund that the government has hinged its plan on to create five million jobs by 2020.

    "It makes perfect economic sense for the deal to happen," said Nedbank senior economist Nicola Weimar. "Firstly, the cellular network industry is highly competitive and it makes no sense for government to have a direct state in one of the participants."

    Weimar said the cash injection into government finances that would result from the sale would be highly beneficial as the country was experiencing marginal growth and a growing budget deficit.

    But the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), which is allied to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), is opposed to the sale. The labour movement also vigorously opposed Vodoacom's unbundling and listing two years ago, resulting in it supporting Icasa's last-minute attempt to halt the process that was rejected in a dramatic court action.

    "We would oppose such a sale because it lessens the democratic control of such an organisation," said Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven. "While government's stake may be a minor one, it is still symbolic and it should not be sold.

  • The Government of Rwanda plans to raise Rwf25 billion through the sale of its shares in Bank of Kigali (BK) and MTN Rwanda to increase domestic revenues, the Finance Minister said on Monday. The Treasury will include the expected proceeds in the budget for the next fiscal year.

    "This is part of the Government commitment to promote accelerated economic growth under its five year plan of EDPRS but also its the approach to liberalise the market," John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said Monday during a press conference on the budget framework.

    The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), which runs from 2008 to 2012 is a medium-term strategy towards the attainment of Rwanda's ambitious long-term Vision 2020 that seeks to transform the country into a middle class economy.

    Government intends to sell 20 percent of its shares in BK through an Initial Public Offer (IPO) due to be launched by July this year.

    This means 45 percent of the bank's shares will be sold during the Initial Public Offer (IPO) with the bank independently offering 25 percent to the public. Government also plans to sell off its entire 66.3 percent stake in the bank.

    "BK is confirmed; we are to sell our shares through an IPO. We started the process and it's expected to be concluded by September, including listing BK on the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE)," Rwangombwa said.

    This will be the second IPO in the country following government's sale of its 25 percent shares in Bralirwa last year. The Bralirwa IPO was oversubscribed by 174 percent.

    BK is Rwanda's leading bank by assets. With plans to open 44 braches across the country this year, industry experts say the bank would be an attractive stock to investors given its rapid growth and stability.

    The Minister said government is in negotiations with MTN Group, which has the right to first refusal to sell the shares. South Africa's MTN Group is the majority shareholder in MTN Rwanda, where the shareholding of the Rwandan government is 10 percent.

    "We have two options; if MTN gives us (Government) the price we want, we will sell the shares to them directly while the other option is through an IPO depending on the other investor," the Minister said.

    Part of the government's commitment to sell its shares in major companies though IPOs is aimed at supporting the growth of the country's nascent stock exchange-the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE)-which was launched early this year.

    Government believes that privatisation through the capital markets would increase products on the market and give investors more options, boost market liquidity and ultimately support the country's economic growth through attracting more inventors and increasing national savings.

    The Rwanda Stock Exchange has so far mainly attracted Treasury and corporate bonds, and also boasts two cross-listed Kenyan companies, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Nation Media Group, with only one local listing from Bralirwa.

  • Dual-listed Datatec's revenue for the new financial year will grow by at least 12%, as economic conditions in the markets in which it operates continue to improve.

    The company is also looking at making more small acquisitions in fast-growing markets such as Asia and Latin America. Yesterday, Datatec reported revenue up 15%, at $4.3 billion; core earnings per share increased 25%, to 37.9c; while headline earnings per share grew 41%, to 23.9c.

    CFO Ivan Dittrich says the company's performance during the year was ahead of the guidance it gave the market at the beginning of the financial period. In March, the company said it expected revenue of $4.3 billion for the year, after initially anticipating turnover of $4.1 billion and $4.4 billion.

    “Despite an environment which remained challenging in many markets, our focus on operational performance has meant we have been able to increase revenue and expand margins, resulting in the bottom line growing at twice the rate of revenue,” says CEO Jens Montanana.

    Dittrich says 12% of the revenue growth was organic, with the balance coming from acquisitions. Datatec has made several small acquisitions recently, none of which were “blockbuster” deals, comments Dittrich.

    Datatec will continue to look at potential buyouts, but it's unlikely any deals will add more than 10% to the company's revenue in any single year, notes Dittrich. He says the company is large enough to sustain organic growth. Areas where the company is looking to expand include Asia and Latin America, adds Dittrich.

    Datatec continued to see gains in trading and profitability, and its second-half results were an improvement on the first six months of the year. Full-year revenue for 2012 should be between $4.8 billion and $5.1 billion, it says.

    Dittrich explains this translates into revenue growth of 12% at the bottom end of the guidance. Core earnings per share should be around 47c, which would be a 24% increase, he says. There are opportunities to gain market share trading conditions and profitability to improve in most of the markets in which Datatec trades, says Dittrich.

    The US, which is the group's largest market, continues to show signs of recovery, while Asia, South America and the Middle East remain its strongest performing markets. Trading conditions in Europe are also improving, although economic recovery in the UK remains weak, Dittrich says.

    Datatec also sees opportunities on the networking side as broadband providers migrate to 4G, Dittrich points out.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Five months after it launched the 2Good plan, Airtel Nigeria has introduced a new tariff plan which offers very affordable call rates and sets a new benchmark for value offering in the industry. The new tariff offer, the Airtel Big Family package allows existing and new customers to make On-Net calls at 15 Kobo per second and Off-Net calls at 30 Kobo per second, after the first minute call of the day at 60 Kobo per second, upon migration to the plan.

    - Namibian mobile operator Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) is beating bigger operators to the punch by being the first to bring the iPad 2 tablet to the Southern African country.

    - Starcomms, one of Nigeria’s CDMA operator announced in Lagos that it has spent over N1.4 billion ($9 million) in network expansion in ten targeted cities across the country, promising to invest more in other cites where it hoped to come alive soon. The cities include Gwagwalada, Jaji, Suleja, Ikot Ekpene, Oron, Maiduguri , Umuahia, Tinapa and Agbor.

    - In South Africa, Telkom’s new mobile operator, 8ta, will introduce per-second billing for prepaid customers from 15 May. Until now, calls were billed per-minute.

    - Gabonese GSM operator Libertis, controlled by Morocco’s Maroc Telecom, has reported a quarter-on-quarter reduction in its mobile subscriber base from 699,000 to 398,000 in the three months ended 31 March 2011. The cellco, a part of formerly state-run Gabon Telecom, performed a ‘clean-up’ of its subscriber base (typically involving removal of inactive customer accounts) in the first quarter, which its parent company said ‘gave rise to terminations’, although no further details were disclosed in its 1Q11 report.

Digital Content

  • MTN Traveller and Hotels.com have entered into a global content interface partnership, to provide a mobile travel-planning solution, while also promoting local tourism.

    MTN Traveller was launched in November last year, together with MobiRes, as a travel.mobi bookings portal that provides access to accommodation, airfare and car hire options. The new partnership with Hotels.com will expand the variety of choices available to users.

    Chief marketing officer of MTN SA Serame Taukobong says: “As a result of the partnership with Hotels.com, MTN Traveller will be in a position to offer its local users access to 132 000 accommodation choices in 213 countries around the world, directly from a cellphone interface.

    “While MTN Traveller provides a simple and effective mobile solution for South Africans to access the world, it is also focusing on bringing the world to SA by actively promoting the local tourism market with South African Tourism to the global arena,” says Taukobong.

    MobiRes MD Fraser Gregg adds: “Mobilisation has evolved from simply providing the market with the ability to communicate with others on the go; it now provides the market with the tools and means to do business and access mobile business systems on the go.”

    MTN Traveller is not network or handset specific and does not incur any booking fees.

    “Consumers who are registered with the service, have the tools conveniently, efficiently and securely loaded on their cellphones, and are able to simply scroll through the MTN Traveller menu to search for, reserve, pay for and confirm travel and other lifestyle bookings anywhere across the world, at the touch of a keypad in the palm of their hand,” states Gregg.

    “Mobile is one of the fastest growing areas of the industry, particularly in SA, and we are very pleased to be joining with MTN on this new initiative,” said Hotels.com president David Roche.

  • Tanzanians can now access news or entertainment channels using their mobile phones following the launch of  a Vodacom Tanzania-DSTV mobile facility.

    Speaking during the inauguration of the facility recently in Dar es Salaam, Vodacom Tanzania chief operating officer Peter Correria said the firm had invested in high technology to enable customers to enjoy more services. Correria said the new service was provided after Vodacom M-Pesa, which had enabled many Tanzanians to get banking services through their mobile phones.

    He said Vodacom Tanzania in cooperation with DSTV wanted to see their customers using their phones not only as tools of ordinary communication, but also to know what was happening in other parts of  the world.

    He explained that for a start Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV had put five channels online and made available to Vodacom Tanzania customers.

    The channels are TBC1, Euronews, B4U, Sawsee and Super Sport Blitz.

    “This service will be accessible for customers with 3G handsets and it is free for three months from now. Actually, we are at a pilot stage and later we will be charging subscribers. We will also increase the number of channels,” said Curreria.

    DSTV general manager Felix Kyengo said the company was happy to be associated with Vodacom Tanzania in the programme.

    He described the new service as an outcome of technological advancements.

    Kyengo said the use of mobile phones had increased from that of traditional communication to getting news.
     “Some years ago, the cellphone was for calling and text messaging. Now a mobile phone can be used as a camera and a television. This has been achieved due to high investment in technology,” said Kyengo.

    He said that to join Vodacom Tanzania-DSTV Mobile you must open the link, n the cell phone browser then select dstv mobile icon and click on any one of the channels and sign-up to DSTV Mobile.

    Dar es  Salaam Acting Regional Commissioner, Mr Said Mecky Sadick congratulated Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV for launching the services that will enable their customers to know what is going on in the world in politics, healthy, entertainment and sports through their mobile phone.

    Sadick also called other mobile phone to follow foot step of Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV for their customers. He also called all Tanzanians to avoid using mobile phone as tool of wrong doing in the society.

More

  • - Teraco Data Environments, a  provider of vendor neutral data centre facilities in South Africa, has appointed Jan Hnizdo as Chief Financial Officer.

  • eLearning Africa 2011 - Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability
    25-27 May 2011, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The 6th event in the series of pan-African conferences and exhibitions will focus on Africa's youth. Africa has the highest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. How can it unlock the vast reservoir of talent? How can technology support education and training?
    For further information visit

    SatCom 2011 Africa Conference
    30 May - 2 June 2011, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

    For further information visit

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 June 2011, Dakar, Senegal

    For further information visit

    Telecoms World Africa
    27- 30 June 2011, International Convention Centre, Cape Town

    For further information visit

    VAS Africa
    July 6 - July 7, 2011, Johannesburg

    For further information visit

    Tech4Africa
    27-28 October 2011 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg, South Africa

    The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations.
    Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, will be joined by Herman Chinery-Hesse who is commonly known as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’, to present the keynote addresses at the Tech4Africa conference. Josh and Herman join a stellar line-up of international technologists including speakers from organisations such as Amazon, HP, Johns Hopkins University, Mozilla, SimpleGeo and Clearleft, and African technologists from SwiftRiver, the African Institution of Technology, Ultinet Systems, Motribe and many more.
    For further information visit

  • Nokia Flexi Packet Engineers – South Africa
    All applicants must have hands-on experience working on Nokia Flexi Packet transmission equipment. You must be able to independently work on the comissioning and integration of Nokia Flexi packet equipment.
    Engineers who have experience working for NSN directly are preferred.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • MTN Group and Nokia - Africa
    Nokia and MTN Group have signed an agreement to expand their strategic relationship to new markets within Middle East and Africa MTN affiliates. The framework agreement signed in Dubai and Johannesburg, would permit the large community of MTN customers to benefit from the integration of Nokia devices and solutions.

    Joint marketing and sales campaigns will be designed on a regional level and will bring consumers the latest Nokia mobile phones and smartphones, combined with value added services such as orientation and navigation tools, for seamless mobile communications while at work, home or on the go.

    Building on previous success stories such as the joint launch of the Nokia C3 with MTN data and value add package in Nigeria , and the launch of the Nokia E7 and business tools for corporate clients in South Africa , the intention is to drive similar bundles, services and experiences in other MTN markets to add value to consumers.

Issue no 554 13th May 2011

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Top story

  • Following the SIM cards registration process, the number of mobile subscribers in Zimbabwe went down by nearly 2.4 million (see full story in the telecoms section). In Ghana, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire, SIM card registration is ongoing while the Liberian regulator will soon be launching the same process. All SIM cards registrations exercises in African countries have translated into a temporary decrease in the number of mobile subscribers but how did it affect operators’ revenue? Isabelle Gross looks at the outcomes of SIM registration process in South Africa for some clues.

    No African mobile operator has really contested the legal justifications that support SIM cards registration, however most of them have complained or expressed reservations on how the process will be implemented, what identification documents will be required from the subscribers and how well subscribers data will be protected. The first reason for their reluctance is that they bear the cost of the registration process which is very labour intensive and implies a lot of paperwork that needs to be sorted between the subscriber and the operator (just think for one second of how easy it is to get a working local phone number as soon as you are out of the airport). The second reason is that they are aware that as a result of the SIM registration process they will loose subscribers and potentially revenue.

    As of July 1st 2009, the registration of mobile customers became compulsory in South Africa following the introduction of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication also commonly referred to as “RICA”. So, how did RICA affect Vodacom and MTN, the two largest mobile operators in South Africa (their combined subscriber bases represent a market share of over 80%)? According to Vodacom’s quarterly and interim results reports, the total number of mobile subscribers during the 2009 year evolved as follows: at the end of Q1-2009, Vodacom reported 27.7 million mobile subscribers. Three months later at the end of Q2-2009, Vodacom had 28.7 million mobile subscribers.

    At the end of Q3-2009, the number of mobile subscribers dropped to 28.2 million and at the end of 2009 (Q4-2009) Vodacom reported a total mobile subscriber base of 27.1 million. Six months after the introduction of RICA, Vodacom lost about 1.6 million subscribers which translated in a decrease of 5.57% of its subscriber base. For 2010, Vodacom reported the following subscriber numbers: 26.3 million at the end of Q1-2010; 25.3 million at the end of Q2-2010 (this figure does not include the 3.3 million call-forward SIM cards disconnections following a change in disconnection policy of 13 months to seven months). Twelve months after the introduction of RICA, Vodacom’s prepaid subscribers base was down by 11.9%.

    How did MTN, Vodacom’s main competitor in South Africa, perform during the same period? At the end of June 2009, MTN reported 17.2 million subscribers. Three months later (Q3-2009), the mobile operator’s subscriber base was down to 16.4 million and by the end of 2009, its subscriber base stood at 16 million. However by March 2010, MTN’s subscriber base was again up to 16.4 million and in June 2010 the mobile operator reported 17.1 million mobile subscribers. Twelve months after the introduction of RICA, MTN’s subscribers base was down by less than 1%. This suggests that SIM registration in South Africa affected mobile operators in different proportions – the market leader suffering more from it than the contenders.

    However, “one size doesn’t fit all”.  In Zimbabwe for example, market leader, Econet registered a loss of 1.4 million subscribers from a total subscriber base of 4.1 million while Telecel, the second operator by market share recorded a loss of 692,000 from a total subscriber base of 1.3 million subscribers. In this case the market leader held on better than the contenders. So then, does it not all come down to the clean up of an inflated subscriber bases in the first place? In Gabon, mobile operator Libertis controlled by Morocco’s Maroc Telecom, has reported a quarter-on-quarter reduction in its mobile subscriber base from 699,000 to 398,000 in the three months ended 31 March 2011. Artel, the Gabonese regulator launched the SIM registration process back in the middle of 2010 with final disconnections scheduled for the beginning of 2011.

    Since South African mobile operators state total revenue figures which will include other revenues like data revenue for example (and South Africa has witnessed a big uptake in data services over this period which consequently has pushed up overall revenue), a comparison between subscriber numbers and revenue would be biased. Therefore it was more relevant to look at the voice traffic recorded over this period to see the impact of the decrease in subscribers.

    Unfortunately, only Vodacom releases such data. At the end of June 2009, Vodacom reported 6.8 billion minutes traffic for the quarter on its network with 4.9 billion minutes outgoing traffic and 1.9 billion minutes incoming traffic. A year later as of June 2010, Vodacom reported 6.3 billion minutes traffic for the quarter (including the loss of minutes resulting from the 3.3 million call-forward SIM cards disconnections).

    When comparing Q2-2009 to Q2-2010 results, this translates into a decrease of total voice traffic of 7.6%. This suggests that the reduction in subscribers had a negative effect on voice traffic and consequently on revenue. However, the level of revenue loss is likely to have been much lower than the loss of subscribers because among the lost subscribers there were a large number of “zero” ARPU subscribers. Another indicator hinting at this conclusion is the ARPU level recorded over this period among prepaid subscribers. In June 2009, Vodacom reported a prepaid ARPU of R64. One year later, the prepaid ARPU was up to R79. For MTN, the prepaid ARPU was R92 in June 2009 and R109 in June 2010. On a year on year comparison, the prepaid ARPU increased by 23% for Vodacom and 18% for MTN.

    In all African countries that rolled out SIM card registration, the number of subscribers went down but there is less evidence available that suggest that the impact on mobile operators’ revenue was of the same magnitude then on subscribers numbers. Further this downward trend is not long lasting. In its interim results report for the end of June 2010, MTN stated that “the negative impact of RICA on the prepaid subscriber base has now stabilised, with gross additions increasing by 19.7% compared to the second six month period of 2009”.


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telecoms

  • Malawi-owned Celcom Limited, run by MD Ted Sauti-Phiri, is expected to roll out services such as voice telephony and mobile voice telephone by October 2012. MACRA Communications Manager Zadziko Mankhambo said in a statement released on Wednesday, 4 May 2011, that Celcom Limited beat bidders; Zambezi Africa Telecom, C-Mobile Holdings and Smart telecom Limited. He further said the bids were opened on 19 March 2011 in the MACRA boardroom in the presence of all applicants and the public.

    "This was followed by an intensive evaluation process conducted by a team of highly qualified professionals in the ICT industry," he said.

    The procurement of the fourth mobile phone service issuance was preceded by placement of adverts in both local and international media which included major telecommunications websites, local and international newspapers.

    Mankhamba said this development follows the Ministry of Information and Civic Education's policy directive to licence more operators in the country to boost the ICT industry as well as spur competition which it hopes will enhance quality services.

  • Zimbabwe’s tele-density rate took a dip after the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe recently cut off unregistered lines. Statistics from Potraz show the country's overall teledensity fell from 67.5 percent to 49.7 percent after the disconnections.

    The largest mobile phone provider, Econet Wireless, lost 1.4 million subscribers while the State-run NetOne lost 300,000. During the same period, Telecel Zimbabwe's subscriber base fell by 692,000 as a result of subscribers failing to register their lines.

    According to the latest Potraz figures, the number of mobile users dropped by 17.8 percent between February and April.

    This means that the number of Zimbabweans with access to a telephone has decreased from 8,4 million to six million during the past two months after the disconnection of subscribers who missed the February 28 deadline to register their lines. Potraz indicated that around two million mobile phone users have been disconnected for failing to register their SIM cards by this year's February deadline.

    Registration was required under an international mandate for all phone users to be identified to prevent the use of mobile phones by terrorists and criminals, a protocol followed by many telecommunications authorities throughout the world.

    But observers contend the dip in the teledensity rate is temporary and will at least be restored in view of the ongoing registration drive being undertaken by the three mobile networks. Last August Potraz ordered mobile operators to register all mobile users to "combat criminal activities" and abuse of mobile communications.

    Earlier statistics from Potraz showed Zimbabwe's teledensity rate standing in excess of 60 percent, up from a mere 9 percent in 2009. This was largely attributable to expansion drives by the mobile service providers.

    A recent study by analyst IHS Global Insight in a number of countries that have introduced compulsory SIM card registration,, has shown marked declines in teledensity rates in these countries as well.

    "The introduction of mandatory registration of SIM cards in at least 10 countries has resulted in a dramatic slowdown in subscriber growth and will see the disconnection of millions of unregistered subscribers," noted IHS Global Insight.

    According to IHS Global Insight, the requirement has led to declines in mobile subscriber rates in a number of African countries, including South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Algeria. Potraz introduced mandatory SIM card registration in June last year, initially setting a deadline of August 3.

    But at the end of August, official figures showed that only 3.8 million subscribers had registered, out of about 6.5 million mobile phone users in the country.

    Official figures during the same period showed that Zimbabwe had 6,848,000 telephone subscribers, out of an estimated population of 13 million across both fixed and mobile telecommunication service providers. The figures are broken down as follows: Econet 4,1 million subscribers; Telecel 1,3 million; NetOne 1.1 million and TelOne 378,000.

    However, the figures for mobile telephone subscribers may well have exceeded last year's figures due to the low cost and availability of mobile SIM cards. At the end of August, however, only 3.8 million subscribers had registered their SIM cards out of about 6.5 million mobile phone users in the country.

    The negative effects of mandatory SIM card registration are particularly serious for African countries that traditionally had weak landline telephony penetration levels, and had benefited from the comparatively cheaper and more accessible mobile telephony services.

    According to the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology's strategic plan 2010 to 2014, the Government has a target to increase national teledensity by 10 percent each year.

  • MTN SA has begun work on a pilot network using long-term evolution (LTE), the next generation mobile broadband technology, and will have 100 base stations active in Gauteng by the end of the year.

    At the same time, the company is stepping up the deployment of its own high-speed fibre-optic cables to its base stations, with plans to have as many as 1 600 towers connected to fibre by the end of the year, from 600 now. It has awarded contracts to five new suppliers to extend the network.

    However, it will still be a few years before consumers can expect to see big benefits flowing from all this investment, says MTN SA MD Karel Pienaar. LTE-based cellphones and dongles are not ready for mass-market adoption yet, he cautions, and investment in fibre takes time.

    First-generation LTE is regarded as a bridging technology from third- to fourth-generation mobile networks. Later versions of the technology, called LTE Advanced, will eventually offer theoretical speeds in excess of 1Gbit/s.

    “We are running big trials on the LTE side,” Pienaar says, adding the network may be extended to another metropolitan area during the test phase. “The radio technology has to be LTE, because we can get the next level of capacity and speed and efficiency.”

    MTN is building its LTE network using frequency at 1,800MHz, which it’s traditionally used for voice services, while it waits for industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, to hold a spectrum auction in the 2.6GHz band. It is also keen to get access to the 800MHz band to offer LTE. This band should be freed up by December 2013, the date at which television broadcasters are meant to stop using the spectrum as they migrate to digital technology.

    But, says Pienaar: “It will take five more years until LTE is truly ready for the average consumer”. That doesn’t mean MTN (or its rivals Vodacom and Cell C) are holding back on investment to deliver next-generation wireless broadband networks. All three companies are investing aggressively in providing their own fibre to their base stations as well as to build national fibre networks. Vodacom is also running a test LTE network, though the company hasn’t disclosed the scale of it.

    Over time, prices of mobile data will come down. “People will spend similar amounts, but they will use 10 to 20 times the amount of data,” Pienaar says. “For all operators, the challenge is how to monetise the investment in infrastructure. The jury is still out on how we will make the right returns. We believe the returns are there [but] the economic model here is one of scale. I can have a [workable] model if I can get the entire population using many gigabytes of data a month.”

  • Televisions in Ghana can now be used to browse the Internet, credit to Vodafone Ghana, which has introduced a specialized keyboard with an in-built edge modern and memory card. Webbox, the device, is a Vodafone concept and design for consumers in emerging markets to bridge the digital divide and to provide affordable ready internet access at home or in the workplace.

    With the device, a TV set that plays DVDs can be turned into a computer screen providing a compelling, convenient at home, at school and at work internet experience, plus access to multimedia experiences with music, video player and picture viewing.

    Carmen Bruce-Annan, Head of Corporate Communications at Vodafone, who launched the product on Tuesday in Accra said, “The Vodafone Webbox, is a powerful device with the lowest cost of entry to the ordinary Ghanaian to access the Internet.

    She said as the fifth most valuable brand company in the world, Vodafone was offering consumers a very versatile and affordable product. “This is a product that offers endless opportunities and delivers our brand promise of empowering our consumers to reach their full potential.”

    A statement issued by the company said: “The introduction of the Webbox is Vodafone’s response to the use of television as a medium to deliver internet services to Ghanaians including those in the rural communities, who have access to TV but not computers and Lap Tops and who are within the Vodafone network coverage areas.

    “Vodafone has therefore satisfied its customers needs by providing an innovative all-in one product with great value that also offers the family an exciting experience due to its use on a standard TV set,” it said.

    Vodafone Ghana has from today Tuesday started selling the Webbox through its retail stores across the country.

internet

  • Online retail in South Africa has entered a phase of sustained acceleration, according to a new research report released today by World Wide Worx. The total spent on online retail goods in South Africa passed the R2-billion mark in 2010 for the first time. It reached R2.028-billion, growing at 30% over the previous year.

    This is according to World Wide Worx’s Online Retail in SA 2011 study which focuses on local eCommerce trends. Online retailers are even more bullish about 2011, with the industry consensus pointing to 40% growth this year. This will represent the highest rate of growth for online retail in South Africa in almost a decade.

    “This dramatic rise in online retail comes in the wake of an ongoing increase in the number of experienced Internet users in South Africa,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx and principal analyst for the survey.

    “Last year there were 3.6-mlilion people who had been online for five years or more. By 2015, that figure will be 6.8-million – almost double the potential e-commerce market of today.”

    In 2010, Traditional, physical retail in South Africa reached R561bn, according to Stats SA. This means that online retail still makes up less than half a per cent of total retail in SA: a mere 0.36%.

    At the same time, however, the growth rate of online retail in South Africa in 2010 was four times that of physical retail: 30% vs 7%.

    Internationally, according to global online retail data analysed in the report, growth slowed in most regions during the global financial crisis, but did not turn negative: total sales never fell anywhere in the world. Industry estimates for the total value of global online retail in 2010 come to an average of about $545-billion. The figure for 2009 was $469-billion.

    This indicates that, globally as in South Africa, online retail is recession-proof for now, while it still makes up a small proportion of total retail worldwide.

    “This shows us that online retail growth represents not a rise in shopping activity, but rather a shift in shopping activity, from the physical space to the online space,” says Goldstuck.

  • In 2006 C-Data launched its best in class Wireless Broadband Internet network in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Within a short period of time, the company served more than 3,000 subscribers with efficient and affordable wireless Internet services.

    Comium was able to secure more than ten Broadband Wireless licenses across Africa and Lebanon, thereby becoming the region's largest single wireless service provider. The division's mission is to develop and operate advanced internet and data communications services catering to the unmet needs and demands in the residential, small office home office (SoHo) and small and medium enterprises (SME) market segments.

    C-Data goes beyond providing access to its subscribers, as the internet becomes an integrated part of the business process for corporate customers and an essential tool to maintain close ties with family and friends as part of the social network phenomena currently evolving through sites like Facebook, My Space and Twitter.

    Wigo is the new name for C-Data offering in Sierra Leone. Wigo enables a lifestyle of exploration on the go, it is also the ticket to discover the world wherever you are. Launching Wigo at Mamba Point, Ghassan Mroue said the internet will be a great help to the people of Sierra Leone. He said Wigo stands for wireless on the go, noting that Comium data believes in providing the best wireless network and contribute to the country economic.

    Mroue said fixed wireless is suitable for an organization that normally requires dedicated bandwidth. Presenting the products, Senesie Kanneh said Comium is aspiring to empower people with new means of communication. He said they have the potable, fixed wireless and hotspot solutions for high density customer areas, providing instant Wi-Fi access to the internet. He said there is free WLAN setup within the customer premises, noting that the pricing varies from $45 to $380.

  • Google announced that Android Market will increase consumer access and developer support for paid applications in several new countries. Consumers from 99 new countries – including 26 African countries – will be able to purchase apps from Android Market. This latest expansion of Android Market means more applications – including games, social, and productivity apps – for consumers and more selling opportunities for developers in more countries.

    Over the next few days, the number of countries where Android users can purchase priced apps will increase to 131 including the addition of South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria. Consumers from these newly supported countries will have access to over 200,000 free and paid apps in Android Market, which they can access directly from their Android-powered device.

    Android Market was launched to help developers distribute mobile applications on a level playing field, while enabling users to find and download apps which leverage the unique capabilities of the Android platform.

    A full list of countries can be found here:

computing

  • The technology behind the controversial traffic points demerits project, also called the administrative adjudication of road traffic offences (Aarto) system, is ready to go, says Tebogo Mphuti, CEO of Tasima, the company behind it.

    Mphuti says all the development has been done and all that is left is for the transport minister, S’bu Ndebele, to gazette the new system and it can be rolled out. The Aarto system, which will see drivers docked points from their licences for traffic violations, has faced heavy criticism.

    The system will not only manage the points demerit system, but will also be integrated hundreds of other services, including movement control systems at the airports and border posts.

    There are discussions taking place to extend the system into other Southern African Development Community countries.

    The system has been developed to allow as many officials as possible to monitor and police traffic violations, car registrations and the licensing of citizens, and is integrated with the e-Natis system, also developed by Tasima, to allow for all of that functionality.

    Aarto will link to banks and some supermarket chains to allow citizens to pay fines and have those payments reflected immediately. It will also be connected to the system used by the department of justice, so information about people who are being prosecuted for not paying, or who are contesting fines, will be available to the courts.

    The demerit system was piloted in Pretoria and its implementation was first set for last year. However, the department of transport received complaints about it from the private sector, organised labour and the unions and it was postponed to April this year.

    The system has still not gone live, and Mphuti says government is in talks with those are opposed to its implementation.

    The e-Natis system — which manages the registration of cars and issuing of licences, the licensing testing centres and the learner licence booking system — is the backbone of Aarto.

    Over the next few months, e-Natis will be adding features, including the implementation of a computerised learner’s licence, whereas before learners would write a paper-based test.

    Tasima will be rolling out a pilot of the computer-based tests in the Eastern Cape, where it will install steel desks with partitions and touch-screen computers encased in steel boxes. 

  • The government has given Family Bank $1.3 million (Sh110.7 million) for onward lending to IT entrepreneurs in a bid to scale up Internet access and online services in rural Kenya.

    In this first round of the revolving fund, 37 applicants from 37 constituencies were chosen to benefit under the government's project to roll out and set up digital villages.

    Kenya Information and Communication Technology Board (Kenya ICT Board) on Wednesday said the 37 approved applicants demonstrated various business ideas ranging from youth training, electronic library services, website development, software development to teacher training and KCPE/KCSE online registrations.

    Eight applicants will each receive between Sh2 million and Sh3 million, 16 applicants will each get between Sh1 million and under Sh2 million while the rest will each get less than Sh1 million.

    Family Bank will disburse the revolving fund as a loan repayable over three years but with a three-month grace period.

    The advance has a flexible repayment period and interest of up to a maximum of 10.5 per cent.

    Beneficiaries will be required to finance at least 10 per cent of business while the revolving fund will bridge the gap.

    Family Bank managing director Peter Kinyanjui said the bank supports the quest for an information-based society as it is one of the main priorities towards realisation of national development goals and objectives for wealth and employment creation.

    Kenya ICT Board chief executive Paul Kukubo said the loans will enable prospective entrepreneurs get access to start up capital.

    "This project falls under the Kenya ICT Board's digital inclusion pillar which aims to increase access to information and communication technologies by Kenyans," he said during ceremony to present Family Bank with the cheque in Nairobi. "It complements the other Kenya ICT Board agenda to stimulate job and wealth creation in information and communication through entrepreneurship."

    Information and Communication minister Samuel Poghisio asked Kenya ICT Board to ensure Internet and other online services are available in all parts of the country.

    In a separate news, Equity Bank announced that it  has partnered with Waterloo University of Canada to create an incubation and innovation centre for software and computer application developers as it seeks to grow its debt financing portfolio by tapping venture capitalists targeting this market segment.

    ames Mwangi, the Equity Bank CEO, said the number of software application developers in Kenya was growing but most of them are not able to commercialise their ideas due to lack of funding while venture capitalists are also looking for local and international financial institutions that can give loans to fund some of the viable ideas.

  • Nigeria's foremost financial self-regulatory body, Financial Markets Dealers Association (FMDA), in collaboration with International Capital (ICAP) of South Africa has inaugurated the Inter-Dealer Brokerage Service (IDB), designed to accommodate voice and electronic trading in the Nigeria's financial market.

    The inauguration in Lagos which was immediately followed by the signing of a Brokerage Service Agreement between the two parties, signaled the commencement of the Electronic Trading Community (ETC), a hybrid and electronically-driven platform that creates visibility and efficiency in the market.

    ThisDay gathered that all the banks and discount houses in the country have keyed in to the system, with equipment and other infrastructure needed for effective operation, already installed. A six-week test-run and tests of the system have also commenced while live trading on the platform is expected to begin mid-June.

    FMDA President, Akin Dawodu, in his speech, listed the benefits of the system to include improved transparency; real-time surveillance; global exposure for the Nigerian financial market; cost-effectiveness and achievement of international standards, maintaining that the ultimate beneficiary is the country.

    Executive Secretary/Chief Executive, FMDA, Wale Abe, traced the relationship between his association and ICAP to the time a previous arrangement FMDA had with another organisation failed to yield expected results.

    "ICAP came up with a proposal and presentation that met our needs. Issues of regulatory authorities were explored just as the regulatory authorities such as the CSCS, Debt Management Office (DMO) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were carried along. Tests were conducted and the initial focus was on Electronic Trading Platform but later Inter-Dealer Brokerage (IDB) service, which of course, is voluntary, was included," Abe explained.

    Managing Director, CSCS, Egunjobi Peter Adebayo, who was also present at the occasion, hailed the introduction of the platform in Nigeria, describing it as a welcome development. He said since the money-market in the country has overtaken the equities market in terms of values, he hoped settlement would be enhanced under the system.

    Director, ICAP African Brokers, Bob Jones-Davies, described the signing of the agreement as a momentous occasion, saying his organisation was impressed by the pace of development of Nigeria's money market. He added: "We are happy that the partnership has progressed to this level."

    He explained that ETC offers enormous benefits and makes trading activities more efficient and transparent. "There is no need for physical presence, as traders could transact from remote locations. Also, it makes transactions easier to complete, monitor, and clear; it also gives the stock market immense global exposure, at the same time injecting increased liquidity which enhances the market's financial base," he stressed.

    FMDA Vice President, Olufemi Owopetu, expressed happiness at the commencement of the service in the country, saying it will expose the market to global players who could link up and access the market from anywhere in the world. She disclosed that FMDA decided to partner ICAP because of its reputation as a global player.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • The International Finance Corporation may invest in the Nigerian mobile money industry if it is satisfied with the result of the due diligence it is currently carrying out on the industry. Our correspondent gathered that the IFC was keen to play a major role in the country’s emerging mobile money ecosystem and was currently evaluating opportunities available therein.

    Areas currently being evaluated by the IFC include technology acquisition, e-Float management and agency network, according to investigation. The Principal Associate, Mobile Money Africa, Emmanuel Okoegwale, who spoke with our correspondent about the development, said a number of international development organisations had also expressed interest in the country’s fledgling mobile money landscape.

    Aside from the possibility of injecting funds into the mobile money ecosystem, Okoegwale noted that organisations such as the World Bank, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, United States Agency for International Development and Mercy Corps were showing interest in the emerging investment profile in the mobile money space.

    These organisations, according to him, are expected to play a major role in capacity building for mobile money operators in the country. According to CGAP, the majority of Nigerians lack access to formal financial services.

    A recent Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access FinScope survey concluded that 74 per cent of adults in Nigeria (64 million people) had never been banked, and only 15 per cent of women currently had bank accounts.

    To address the lack of financial access in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria had granted licences to 16 firms and the development has been creating a buzz in the country.

    A number of local and foreign investors have also seen the opportunities in the mobile money market and are strategically positioning themselves for it.

    Okoegwale said, “At this stage, only some Nigerian-based organisations are looking at the investment opportunities in the mobile financial ecosystem deeply. Altheia Capital and Adlevocapital are in the forefront. The International Finance Corporation is keen and they are evaluating the opportunities covering all the segments like technology acquisition, e-Float management and agency network. Some local banks are also actively packaging e-Float credit products for the agents and that is ongoing.”

    Goodwell West Africa, a microfinance investment vehicle co-managed by Goodwell Investments in partnership with Lagos-based Alitheia Capital, recently completed an investment deal in the Nigerian mobile money start-up, Paga.

    The Chief Executive Officer, Paga, Tayo Oviosu, said, “Goodwell and Alitheia bring a great wealth of international and local experience, which will further strengthen our ability to achieve our vision as a company. We are strongly committed to bringing quality financial services to all Nigerians and truly believe that Paga will change the life of the average person for the better.”

    Speaking on the investment, the Partner, Goodwell Investments, Mr. Els Boerhof, said, “Our fund was founded on the principal belief that improving access to affordable financial services for people at the ‘base of the pyramid’ contributes to sustainable development. This can best be achieved by developing and scaling up entrepreneurial institutions aimed at banking the un-banked.

    “We believe that Paga will achieve a substantial social return as well as an attractive financial result. Providing the poor with savings and remittances via the mobile phone makes access to these financial services cheaper, as expensive bank branches are not needed and many people do have a mobile phone nowadays in Nigeria.”

    The latest investment in Paga came on the heels of an investment from a renowned United States venture capitalist, Mr. Tim Draper.

    Okoegwale, who commented on this, said that individual venture capitalists and angel investors were top potential for the Nigerian mobile money industry in terms injection of funds. He added that many of them were waiting for the final licensing before committing resources to the viable schemes.

    He noted that some of the known players in the mobile finance landscape were in active talks to explore technology funding and acquisition scheme in Nigeria. Players like UTIBA of India, among others, according to Okoegwale, are rooting to help shape the mobile money scheme in the country.

    When the CBN gave the 16 licence holders mobile money approval in principle to operate m-Money networks, it gave them four months to prove their capacity for the system. A number of the licence holders, according to findings, have been having funding challenges and this may have fuelled investors’ interest in the scheme, experts have argued.

    In view of this, an expert who is in the know of happenings in the fledgling mobile money industry, said four institutional investors would be meeting some of the 16 mobile money licence holders in July, 2011.

    The source, who did not want his name in print because he was not authorised to speak, said, “As regards funding, many Nigerians do not know about the opportunities in mobile money business as we speak but efforts are on going to bring some foreign investors to bridge the gap.

    “Funding is still a major challenge as most potential venture and angel capitalists are still not favourably disposed to investing significant resources into these relatively unknown start ups for early stage funding.”

    He added, “Efforts are on going to bring international investors to meet with the independent providers in the month of July to enable them to compete favourably in the emerging mobile financial landscape in Nigeria.”

  • Vodacom is concerned that it does not yet meet black economic empowerment criteria of 30% and is eyeing the government's 13.9% stake in the company, worth about R16.5 billion, to help solve the issue.

    BusinessLive has learnt that Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys met with Communications Minister Roy Padayachie late last week with the aim of starting negotiations over the government's stake in Vodacom. However, the direct mention of such a sale was not made.

    Tiyani Rikhotso, the spokesperson for the ministry of communications, said: "Vodacom has, however, raised concern about its inability to meet the empowerment percentage of 30% and was keen to know government's intentions with its stake going forward." Rikhotso said the government had not discussed the possibility of letting go of its shareholding in Vodacom.

    Vodacom has refused to comment as it is in a closed period ahead of the release of its year-end results scheduled for Monday, May 16.

    Government's Vodacom shareholding is what it gained after Telkom's 2009 sale of its 50% stake, which left UK-based Vodafone with 65% in a deal worth R22.5 billion. Because of its shareholding, the government has the right to appoint one director to Vodacom's board and it is currently former deputy finance minister Jabu Moloketi.

    Padayachie has indicated that the government is not planning to sell its 38.5% stake in Telkom, but analysts said that selling the Vodacom shareholding may be a little less risky from a political standpoint.

    Vodacom's reason for wanting the stake is the mooted radio frequency spectrum auction that the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa), the telecommunications regulator, is planning.

    Government's stake is becoming a means for the country's largest network operator to meet the auction requirements. But to do such a deal it would have to juggle a number of regulatory, political and economic hot potatoes.

    Icasa was supposed to auction off parts of the highly sought after 2.6Ghz and 3.5Mhz ranges that allow for faster data transfer and increased capacity on the mobile networks.

    However, Icasa called off the auction in June 2010 as it wanted to rework the regulations. Marcia Socikwa, the Icasa councillor overseeing the process, told Parliament's communications committee last month that part of the requirements would be that potential bidders would have to have 30% of their shares held by previously disadvantaged persons.

    In 2008, Vodacom transacted a black economic empowerment deal in which about 6.25% of its shares, in a deal worth 7.5 billion rand, were disbursed. However, this stake may have since decreased in percentage terms.

    Macquarie Bank analyst Martin Dullaart said: "That deal was finalised in terms of the old black economic empowerment charter, which allowed for absolute amount value. However, as Vodacom's value has kicked up, then the black economic empowerment valued has ticked down."

    Dominic Cull, a telecommunications regulatory lawyer at Ellipsis Regulatory Solutions, said: "The problem for Vodacom is that it thought it had done enough under the old charter conditions. Now it seems that Icasa is just going for a flat 30% stake irrespective of what has been done in the past," said. Dullaart pointed out that Vodacom has limited leeway in doing a black economic empowerment transaction.

    "Sixty five percent of its shares are held by (UK-based parent) Vodafone, another 13.9% by government and it has bought back 1% of its shares, leaving the Johannesburg Stock Exchange minimum requirement of having a 20% float," he said.

    Dullaart indicated that such a deal made business sense, although Vodacom would also have to comply with JSE regulations on treating all shareholders equally.

    Another factor would be the structuring of the deal - should Vodacom do it by itself? Or should Vodafone buy the shares? Dullaart said that, while Vodacom had net debt of about 10 billion rand on its books, it had a stable cash flow and it seemed it could easily do it.

    The deal, if consummated, could have a major economic impact on the government's finances. Even if only half the shares were sold and that realised eight billion rand, this would almost be equivalent to the nine billion rand jobs fund that the government has hinged its plan on to create five million jobs by 2020.

    "It makes perfect economic sense for the deal to happen," said Nedbank senior economist Nicola Weimar. "Firstly, the cellular network industry is highly competitive and it makes no sense for government to have a direct state in one of the participants."

    Weimar said the cash injection into government finances that would result from the sale would be highly beneficial as the country was experiencing marginal growth and a growing budget deficit.

    But the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), which is allied to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), is opposed to the sale. The labour movement also vigorously opposed Vodoacom's unbundling and listing two years ago, resulting in it supporting Icasa's last-minute attempt to halt the process that was rejected in a dramatic court action.

    "We would oppose such a sale because it lessens the democratic control of such an organisation," said Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven. "While government's stake may be a minor one, it is still symbolic and it should not be sold.

  • The Government of Rwanda plans to raise Rwf25 billion through the sale of its shares in Bank of Kigali (BK) and MTN Rwanda to increase domestic revenues, the Finance Minister said on Monday. The Treasury will include the expected proceeds in the budget for the next fiscal year.

    "This is part of the Government commitment to promote accelerated economic growth under its five year plan of EDPRS but also its the approach to liberalise the market," John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said Monday during a press conference on the budget framework.

    The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS), which runs from 2008 to 2012 is a medium-term strategy towards the attainment of Rwanda's ambitious long-term Vision 2020 that seeks to transform the country into a middle class economy.

    Government intends to sell 20 percent of its shares in BK through an Initial Public Offer (IPO) due to be launched by July this year.

    This means 45 percent of the bank's shares will be sold during the Initial Public Offer (IPO) with the bank independently offering 25 percent to the public. Government also plans to sell off its entire 66.3 percent stake in the bank.

    "BK is confirmed; we are to sell our shares through an IPO. We started the process and it's expected to be concluded by September, including listing BK on the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE)," Rwangombwa said.

    This will be the second IPO in the country following government's sale of its 25 percent shares in Bralirwa last year. The Bralirwa IPO was oversubscribed by 174 percent.

    BK is Rwanda's leading bank by assets. With plans to open 44 braches across the country this year, industry experts say the bank would be an attractive stock to investors given its rapid growth and stability.

    The Minister said government is in negotiations with MTN Group, which has the right to first refusal to sell the shares. South Africa's MTN Group is the majority shareholder in MTN Rwanda, where the shareholding of the Rwandan government is 10 percent.

    "We have two options; if MTN gives us (Government) the price we want, we will sell the shares to them directly while the other option is through an IPO depending on the other investor," the Minister said.

    Part of the government's commitment to sell its shares in major companies though IPOs is aimed at supporting the growth of the country's nascent stock exchange-the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE)-which was launched early this year.

    Government believes that privatisation through the capital markets would increase products on the market and give investors more options, boost market liquidity and ultimately support the country's economic growth through attracting more inventors and increasing national savings.

    The Rwanda Stock Exchange has so far mainly attracted Treasury and corporate bonds, and also boasts two cross-listed Kenyan companies, Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Nation Media Group, with only one local listing from Bralirwa.

  • Dual-listed Datatec's revenue for the new financial year will grow by at least 12%, as economic conditions in the markets in which it operates continue to improve.

    The company is also looking at making more small acquisitions in fast-growing markets such as Asia and Latin America. Yesterday, Datatec reported revenue up 15%, at $4.3 billion; core earnings per share increased 25%, to 37.9c; while headline earnings per share grew 41%, to 23.9c.

    CFO Ivan Dittrich says the company's performance during the year was ahead of the guidance it gave the market at the beginning of the financial period. In March, the company said it expected revenue of $4.3 billion for the year, after initially anticipating turnover of $4.1 billion and $4.4 billion.

    “Despite an environment which remained challenging in many markets, our focus on operational performance has meant we have been able to increase revenue and expand margins, resulting in the bottom line growing at twice the rate of revenue,” says CEO Jens Montanana.

    Dittrich says 12% of the revenue growth was organic, with the balance coming from acquisitions. Datatec has made several small acquisitions recently, none of which were “blockbuster” deals, comments Dittrich.

    Datatec will continue to look at potential buyouts, but it's unlikely any deals will add more than 10% to the company's revenue in any single year, notes Dittrich. He says the company is large enough to sustain organic growth. Areas where the company is looking to expand include Asia and Latin America, adds Dittrich.

    Datatec continued to see gains in trading and profitability, and its second-half results were an improvement on the first six months of the year. Full-year revenue for 2012 should be between $4.8 billion and $5.1 billion, it says.

    Dittrich explains this translates into revenue growth of 12% at the bottom end of the guidance. Core earnings per share should be around 47c, which would be a 24% increase, he says. There are opportunities to gain market share trading conditions and profitability to improve in most of the markets in which Datatec trades, says Dittrich.

    The US, which is the group's largest market, continues to show signs of recovery, while Asia, South America and the Middle East remain its strongest performing markets. Trading conditions in Europe are also improving, although economic recovery in the UK remains weak, Dittrich says.

    Datatec also sees opportunities on the networking side as broadband providers migrate to 4G, Dittrich points out.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Five months after it launched the 2Good plan, Airtel Nigeria has introduced a new tariff plan which offers very affordable call rates and sets a new benchmark for value offering in the industry. The new tariff offer, the Airtel Big Family package allows existing and new customers to make On-Net calls at 15 Kobo per second and Off-Net calls at 30 Kobo per second, after the first minute call of the day at 60 Kobo per second, upon migration to the plan.

    - Namibian mobile operator Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) is beating bigger operators to the punch by being the first to bring the iPad 2 tablet to the Southern African country.

    - Starcomms, one of Nigeria’s CDMA operator announced in Lagos that it has spent over N1.4 billion ($9 million) in network expansion in ten targeted cities across the country, promising to invest more in other cites where it hoped to come alive soon. The cities include Gwagwalada, Jaji, Suleja, Ikot Ekpene, Oron, Maiduguri , Umuahia, Tinapa and Agbor.

    - In South Africa, Telkom’s new mobile operator, 8ta, will introduce per-second billing for prepaid customers from 15 May. Until now, calls were billed per-minute.

    - Gabonese GSM operator Libertis, controlled by Morocco’s Maroc Telecom, has reported a quarter-on-quarter reduction in its mobile subscriber base from 699,000 to 398,000 in the three months ended 31 March 2011. The cellco, a part of formerly state-run Gabon Telecom, performed a ‘clean-up’ of its subscriber base (typically involving removal of inactive customer accounts) in the first quarter, which its parent company said ‘gave rise to terminations’, although no further details were disclosed in its 1Q11 report.

Digital Content

  • MTN Traveller and Hotels.com have entered into a global content interface partnership, to provide a mobile travel-planning solution, while also promoting local tourism.

    MTN Traveller was launched in November last year, together with MobiRes, as a travel.mobi bookings portal that provides access to accommodation, airfare and car hire options. The new partnership with Hotels.com will expand the variety of choices available to users.

    Chief marketing officer of MTN SA Serame Taukobong says: “As a result of the partnership with Hotels.com, MTN Traveller will be in a position to offer its local users access to 132 000 accommodation choices in 213 countries around the world, directly from a cellphone interface.

    “While MTN Traveller provides a simple and effective mobile solution for South Africans to access the world, it is also focusing on bringing the world to SA by actively promoting the local tourism market with South African Tourism to the global arena,” says Taukobong.

    MobiRes MD Fraser Gregg adds: “Mobilisation has evolved from simply providing the market with the ability to communicate with others on the go; it now provides the market with the tools and means to do business and access mobile business systems on the go.”

    MTN Traveller is not network or handset specific and does not incur any booking fees.

    “Consumers who are registered with the service, have the tools conveniently, efficiently and securely loaded on their cellphones, and are able to simply scroll through the MTN Traveller menu to search for, reserve, pay for and confirm travel and other lifestyle bookings anywhere across the world, at the touch of a keypad in the palm of their hand,” states Gregg.

    “Mobile is one of the fastest growing areas of the industry, particularly in SA, and we are very pleased to be joining with MTN on this new initiative,” said Hotels.com president David Roche.

  • Tanzanians can now access news or entertainment channels using their mobile phones following the launch of  a Vodacom Tanzania-DSTV mobile facility.

    Speaking during the inauguration of the facility recently in Dar es Salaam, Vodacom Tanzania chief operating officer Peter Correria said the firm had invested in high technology to enable customers to enjoy more services. Correria said the new service was provided after Vodacom M-Pesa, which had enabled many Tanzanians to get banking services through their mobile phones.

    He said Vodacom Tanzania in cooperation with DSTV wanted to see their customers using their phones not only as tools of ordinary communication, but also to know what was happening in other parts of  the world.

    He explained that for a start Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV had put five channels online and made available to Vodacom Tanzania customers.

    The channels are TBC1, Euronews, B4U, Sawsee and Super Sport Blitz.

    “This service will be accessible for customers with 3G handsets and it is free for three months from now. Actually, we are at a pilot stage and later we will be charging subscribers. We will also increase the number of channels,” said Curreria.

    DSTV general manager Felix Kyengo said the company was happy to be associated with Vodacom Tanzania in the programme.

    He described the new service as an outcome of technological advancements.

    Kyengo said the use of mobile phones had increased from that of traditional communication to getting news.
     “Some years ago, the cellphone was for calling and text messaging. Now a mobile phone can be used as a camera and a television. This has been achieved due to high investment in technology,” said Kyengo.

    He said that to join Vodacom Tanzania-DSTV Mobile you must open the link, n the cell phone browser then select dstv mobile icon and click on any one of the channels and sign-up to DSTV Mobile.

    Dar es  Salaam Acting Regional Commissioner, Mr Said Mecky Sadick congratulated Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV for launching the services that will enable their customers to know what is going on in the world in politics, healthy, entertainment and sports through their mobile phone.

    Sadick also called other mobile phone to follow foot step of Vodacom Tanzania and DSTV for their customers. He also called all Tanzanians to avoid using mobile phone as tool of wrong doing in the society.

More

  • - Teraco Data Environments, a  provider of vendor neutral data centre facilities in South Africa, has appointed Jan Hnizdo as Chief Financial Officer.

  • eLearning Africa 2011 - Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability
    25-27 May 2011, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The 6th event in the series of pan-African conferences and exhibitions will focus on Africa's youth. Africa has the highest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. How can it unlock the vast reservoir of talent? How can technology support education and training?
    For further information visit

    SatCom 2011 Africa Conference
    30 May - 2 June 2011, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

    For further information visit

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 June 2011, Dakar, Senegal

    For further information visit

    Telecoms World Africa
    27- 30 June 2011, International Convention Centre, Cape Town

    For further information visit

    VAS Africa
    July 6 - July 7, 2011, Johannesburg

    For further information visit

    Tech4Africa
    27-28 October 2011 at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg, South Africa

    The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations.
    Josh Spear, one of the youngest and most respected digital marketing strategists in the world, will be joined by Herman Chinery-Hesse who is commonly known as ‘The Bill Gates of Africa’, to present the keynote addresses at the Tech4Africa conference. Josh and Herman join a stellar line-up of international technologists including speakers from organisations such as Amazon, HP, Johns Hopkins University, Mozilla, SimpleGeo and Clearleft, and African technologists from SwiftRiver, the African Institution of Technology, Ultinet Systems, Motribe and many more.
    For further information visit

  • Nokia Flexi Packet Engineers – South Africa
    All applicants must have hands-on experience working on Nokia Flexi Packet transmission equipment. You must be able to independently work on the comissioning and integration of Nokia Flexi packet equipment.
    Engineers who have experience working for NSN directly are preferred.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • MTN Group and Nokia - Africa
    Nokia and MTN Group have signed an agreement to expand their strategic relationship to new markets within Middle East and Africa MTN affiliates. The framework agreement signed in Dubai and Johannesburg, would permit the large community of MTN customers to benefit from the integration of Nokia devices and solutions.

    Joint marketing and sales campaigns will be designed on a regional level and will bring consumers the latest Nokia mobile phones and smartphones, combined with value added services such as orientation and navigation tools, for seamless mobile communications while at work, home or on the go.

    Building on previous success stories such as the joint launch of the Nokia C3 with MTN data and value add package in Nigeria , and the launch of the Nokia E7 and business tools for corporate clients in South Africa , the intention is to drive similar bundles, services and experiences in other MTN markets to add value to consumers.

Issue no. 104, 12 May 2011

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  • Russian-owned General Satellite Corporation threw its hat into the ring to become a contender in the race to provide a credible DTH Free-To-Air satellite service across the continent. Others are in the wings and so this will be a race to watch over the next 12-18 months. Balancing Act’s Sylvain Beletre talks to General Satellite Corporation’s Head of Project Management Ms Polina Potapova about looking for joint ventures with African companies to realise its plans.

    The back-drop to the interest in DTH Free-To-Air broadcasting is the shift to digital amongst Africa’s terrestrial broadcasters. The deadline for this shift has been agreed as 2015. DTH Free-To-Air delivery offers two potential benefits for the digital transition process. It can offer another national channel for delivery as satellite signals can cover the whole of a country. However, you trade cheaper capital investment (CAPEX) against the need to buy satellite signal on an on-going basis (OPEX). Thus far, none of the early adopters on the continent have really discussed this option.

    But even if it is not seen as an alternative to terrestrial delivery, DTH Free-To-Air satellite can deliver universal access and reach those places where it is hard to justify terrestrial equipment. A number of African broadcasters already use satellite in this way. In this context, General Satellite Corporation believes that there will be ways in which it can help with the digital transition on the content, either through digital or terrestrial means.

    Q: General Satellite Corporation is not really know in Africa so could you start by explaining what the company does?
     
    A: It was established 20 years ago and is a Russian research and production company, supplying domestic and international markets with hi-tech radio-electronic equipment, which specifications meet the highest standards.

    In the TV field, it builds STBs (set- top box) or 'TV decoders' as they are commonly Know. Right now, it runs the leading DTH provider in Russia with about 8 million households.The company has a rich experience in running complex digital TV projects. Digital television can be a real information portal, providing access to internet sites, information related to e-commerce, e-education and telemedicines and it can be easily accessible to everybody.

    General Satellite carries out development projects in the following areas: Satellite decoders, Cable decoders, Terrestrial decoders, IP set-top-boxes, Specialized software and hardware solutions such as Service-oriented Middleware, Conditional Access Systems (CAS), EPG (Electronic Program Guide), and other value-added services.
    We also produce 11 SD, HD and 3D television interesting niche channels.

    General Satellite Corporation is also registered United Nations Vendor, member of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the only Russian company to have become a member of European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services (AEPOC), and it is a member of National Committee for Economic Cooperation with Latin American Countries (CN CEPLA) and other reputable organizations."

    Q: What is the difference between you and other set-top up box suppliers?
     
    A: First of all, we manufacture the equipment ourselves and therefore have complete control over quality. We are strong on quality processes, and we can set up local plants if it makes economic sense. We got several awards including for our TE 7010 model, named the best STB among low price terrestrial receivers, according to the test conducted by the German magazine "Digital Fernsehen".
     
    Besides, our decoders have integrated advanced middleware which provides customers with many additional services. Our equipment is widely used in pilot digital broadcasting zones in Russia and it is also officially recommended for customers of the biggest satellite television broadcasters.

    But we are not only suppliers, as General Satellite can also act as a turnkey system integrator. We have strong partners who can provide satellite capacities for DTH projects, content aggregation platform, transmission and control systems. We can therefore provide a complete end to end digital TV solution either by satellite or by terrestrial network.

    Last but not least, we can help African governments in four ways: first, launch national digital TV platforms – either via satellite, digital or cable means - with more guarantees for success because of our learning curve, then get an almost live on-line count of the number of digitalized subscribers, put money into the project and finally enable governments and various ministries (i.e. health, transport, communication) to gain extra communication services with its citizens.

    It is also important to highlight that we can help arranging assembly facilities to produced decoders in the country where project will be started, which will create numerous new jobs for local people, provide training and attract more money into the national budget.  

    Q: How much might such a digital transition project cost?

    A: The average cost of these types of projects is different and varies according to markets, business models and services launched. Our company is ready to invest into such projects on the African continent.
     
    Q: Where are your main offices and plants located?

    A: The Corporation General Satellite has R&D activities in Saint-Petersburg and offices in about 10 countries. It has also implemented a large-scale investment project - "The area of scientific and technological development — Technopolis Gusev" in the town of Gusev in the Kaliningrad region of Russia. Two new plants, the largest manufacturers of digital television set-top -boxes in Russia and Eastern Europe, were launched there in 2009. Right now the plant producing STBs has production capacity of several million units per year.

    Q: You mentioned middleware: How good is it compared to other vendors?

    A: General Satellite has developed sophisticated service oriented middleware. It is used by millions of people and has successfully proved its efficiency and its high level of protection. We can transfer and share these modern technologies to Africa.
    Main features of these technologies are as follows: practical implementation of the e-government functions; solution for cross-border broadcasting; a tool for express public notification in emergency situations through instant targeted delivery to subscribers with specified content messages; telemedicine and distance education functions, etc.

    This unique "Service-oriented middleware" allows control over virtual sub-channel content (channel package), geographical coverage and viewers' registration, as well as it allows to communicate with viewers directly, e.g. sending personal messages to a particular subscriber’s TV screen. Use of service-oriented middleware has become a standard part of digitization all over the world.
     
    Q: Why are you willing to invest on the African continent vs. other regions?
     
    A: Well, we can invest in any region. But we believe that several Africa countries have started to develop their TV market, and we are sure that we have sufficient technological experience and financial capabilities to help African players accelerate their audiovisual capacity and grow their market. Over the past two years, the General Satellite Corporation has successfully set up foreign partnerships and is looking into the possibility of launching joint DTH, DTT and cable projects around the world, including Africa. The main objective of these JV projects is to give affordable digital TV to the majority of the population. The company's high expertise, rich experience of project management and customers care makes such partnership fruitful for all the parties interested in long-term hi-tech business launch. Local African partners will get reasonable revenues and expert training to insure that the project is durable.

    Q: What types of partners are you after in Africa?
     
    A: We are open to talk to various types of serious partners in Africa: governments, private investors, TV stations whether they are satellite, terrestrial, DTT/DTH/cable, pay TV or FTA. We can set up a joint venture with revenue share agreements
     
    Q: Are you already in talks with some African partners?
     
    A: We have made first contacts at the last Discop Africa. So far we are in talks to setting up in four African countries. When projects become more real, we are happy to establish a branch to manage projects locally. African partners and governments need to understand that the digital switch takes time: from licensing set up, raising funds, undertaking local surveys, implementing technical pilots, distributing STB to the official launch, the digital switchover can take few years, so it is time to embrace it" concluded Polina.
     
    As indicated by Balancing Act's recent articles and market report*, infrastructure for new digital TV systems is simply not in place in most African countries.
     
    *market report: ‘The digital transition in Africa - changing how broadcast functions’ - June 2010 - update on demand - click here for more

    To contact General Satellite Corporation, click here
    To get the company’s newsletter or any other information, please email
    Dolgopolsky(@)spb.gs.ru;  potapova(@)spb.gs.ru

    You can also meet Ms. Polina Potapova at SatCom Africa in Johannesburg from 30th of May till 2nd of June 2011.

     

     


     

    For more news and ideas on broadcast and film in Africa, go to Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    TV in Africa

    Cinema in Africa

    In French: L'Institut Francais, Dept Cinéma et sa cinémathèque d'Afrique

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

  • Local 3D film Jock of the Bushveld has been signed by a Hollywood-based distribution company which will see the film screened in the US and Europe later this year before it airs in South Africa. South Africa’s 3D animated movie Jock of the Bushveld will make its film debut in the USA and Europe later this year.

    The film has just been signed to Visio’ Entertainment, a Hollywood-based marketing and distribution company created to support the independent film industry. Local producer Duncan MacNeillie, who recently returned from a visit to Los Angeles where he took the film to be viewed by international distributors, says: “We have always believed that this production had the potential to be an international success, but couldn’t test that potential until we had a product as close to complete as possible.”

    The response was hugely positive: MacNeillie was asked to make certain detailed changes to the production – not on the storyline or characters - but to be more explicit on the narrative for a global audience. And there is now the possibility of additional big names joining the voiceover cast.

    Visio’ Entertainment’s Dennis Rice, now executive producer on the Jock movie, was one of the chief architects in 2006 for campaigns that delivered the largest summer in Disney’s history. Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar’s Cars opened to $60 million and earned over $240 million in domestic box office.

    Also, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest from producer Jerry Bruckheimer had a record setting $135 million opening weekend and went on to exceed over $1 billion in world wide box office, making it the biggest grossing motion picture in Disney’s history.

    In 2007, Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner recruited Rice to team up with them to restart the legendary United Artists label as President of Worldwide Marketing and Publicity and in 2008 he started Visio' Entertainment.

    MacNeillie says they would have liked to release the movie in South Africa first, keeping to the original release date in late March, but this cannot be achieved; the threat of piracy is greatly increased if the South Africa and US release dates are too far apart, and the first feasible release window in the States will be in the third quarter of this year.

  • Lagos, 10 May 2011: MTV Networks Africa and MTN have joined forces in a groundbreaking pan-African multimedia campaign designed to inspire African youth by connecting them with some of the world’s most influential personalities.
    Young people the world over are gradually taking interest in national and global affairs, and are increasingly becoming vocal on issues that affect them and the world they live in.

    The pan-African broadcaster and Africa’s leading mobile operator are partnering to produce MTV Base Meets…with MTN, an 8-part youth empowerment initiative and TV series that creates a dialogue between young people and the political, business and cultural leaders who shape the world today.

    The intimate documentary series will allow Africa’s young minds to put probing questions to influential, inspirational and sometimes controversial individuals. Among the eminent people who will feature in the series are: Liberian President Madame Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Africa’s first and only elected female head of state), Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and South African politician Julius Malema (President of the ANC Youth League) and many African leaders or influencers who exercise a significant impact on the continent.

    The gripping series will keep television viewers - young and old - on the edge of their seats.  A diverse panel of young people representing different youth interests will be assembled from across the African continent, with participants coming from Cameroon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda, among others.

    Young, but well-informed, the panelists are articulate, engaging, provocative and opinionated on a range of complex subjects - be it HIV/AIDS, global warming, education, poverty, corruption or entrepreneurship.  They are fearless and have attitude. Their no-holds-barred approach will make for exciting television viewing as they fire BIG questions to the influential people whose actions and opinions have a direct impact on their lives.

    African youth will be encouraged to nominate influencers and submit their proposed questions for the programme via a dedicated MTV base Meets…with MTN website or via their mobile handset. To register go to www.mtvmeets.com or http://mtvmeets.mobi from 10 May 2011 or follow the campaign on Twitter at #MTVMeets@MTVbaseAfrica.

    MTV Base Meets…with MTN is an African localized version of the established MTV Meets… franchise and has previously interviewed influential individuals including Nelson Mandela, Tony Blair, Morgan Tsvangarai and Wyclef Jean. The series will air across African from 18 July on MTV base (DStv Channel 322), and on terrestrial, DTT and CATV channels including STV (Nigeria), HiTV (Nigeria), WBS (Uganda), NTV (Kenya), Canal2 (Cameroon), Muvi TV (Zambia), Zuku (Kenya), ZAP (Angola), Smart TV (Kenya) and Star Times (Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi).

    Full story here:

  • A late-night news bulletin on e.tv that features nude women was not in contravention of broadcasting standards, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA (BCCSA) said on Tuesday. "It is within the watershed time for adult viewing and gives a verbal warning beforehand, as well as an age restriction of 18 with nudity that is shown throughout the show," BCCSA spokeswoman Shouneez Martin told Sapa. "We have also noted that when the show is viewed on DSTV, it falls within the 18 age restriction and can therefore be blocked by viewers if necessary."

    Naked News is an international news programme screened after the late night movie at 10pm, featuring female presenters who are nude or strip during the bulletin. Religious groups and rights activists have kicked up a fuss over the show, believing it is in contravention of broadcasting laws and a risk to children who may chance upon it.

    Errol Naidoo of the Family Policy Institute started a campaign in protest of the show and other "pornographic content" titled "E-tv Mass Switch Off". In a letter on the institute's website, Naidoo states he is organising a mass boycott of the channel by churches and viewers until pornography is no longer shown. "What e.tv refuses to acknowledge is the rampant sexual abuse of women and children, the 50,000 women raped annually and the fact that South Africa has the most parentless homes as a result of HIV/Aids-related deaths.

    "Alarmingly, the terrible consequences of the sexual exploitation of women and children fuelled by pornography have not convinced e.tv to abandon its anti-family programming policies." Naidoo said he had contacted over 2000 churches and their leaders to join the campaign. He was hoping that if enough viewers boycotted the channel, e.tv would lose advertising revenue and be forced to comply with their demands.

    "If you continue supporting e.tv, you will strengthen their hand to continue demeaning and objectifying women and exposing children to sexually explicit images on national television," he writes in the letter.

    The BCCSA said it had received more than five complaints a day from individuals, organisations and churches since the show started on April 22. "At the end of the day, it is the broadcasters who are supposed to educate people about their blockout systems... when we get complaints, then we do still educate people about the broadcasting code and what is allowed or not," Martin said. "Parents should also take the responsibility... they have the right to remove the channel from their TVs as well as supervise their children."

    A BCCSA judgment in 2008, regarding a porn movie shown on e.tv at 11.25pm, held a similar tone. The commission stated that with children viewing TV late at night, the responsibility shifted to parents and guardians. "When a television set is brought into a home it must be based on an informed decision, which implies that parents and other guardians cannot and may not simply relax and leave the sole responsibility to the broadcaster," the ruling read.

  • Now in its thirteenth edition, ‘Cinémas d’Afrique’ Festival took place in Angers, France, from April 12 to 17 ended in a festive atmosphere, thanks to Congolese music band ‘Punta Negra’. The awards were presented during the closing ceremony at Angers’ Convention Center.

    What participants remember from this thirteenth edition is the warm atmosphere that prevailed and the great relationships with the Africans attending. Before handing out the prizes, the organizers thanked the hundreds of volunteers without whom this festival could not take place. They also stressed the involvement of African filmmakers who shed more light on a continent that deserves it.

    Two categories of prizes were awarded:

    The public has awarded the prize for short films for « Tiraillement » (French for "Tearing") from Najwa Slama, a worthy representative of what some now call the "new" Tunisia.

    The documentary film prize was awarded to Koukan Kourcia for "The cry of the dove" (« Le cri de la tourterelle ») from Sani Elhadji Magori, Niger.

    The feature film prize was awarded "Teza" by Haile Gerima, Ethiopia.

    In the best short film category, the ‘Youth Jury’ also awarded the prize for "Tearing" from Najwa Slama. The price of the feature film was awarded to the “Le poids du serment” (French for "The oath’s weight") from Kollo Daniel Sanou, Burkina Faso, a film that looks at the history of West Africa, caught between traditional religion, revealed religion and sect.

    Organized by association “Cinémas et Cultures d’Afrique”, the festival is held every two years in Angers, at spring. It presents a selection of new films from the African continent. For each film a representative is invited in order to exchange information directly with the public.

  • On 27 April 2011, Eutelsat announced that significant capacity on four satellites has been booked by UK and international media organisations for live coverage of the Royal Wedding on April 29 between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

    A total of 13,000 MHz hours, equivalent to 15 transponders over 24 hours, were reserved on Eutelsat's Atlantic Bird 1, 2 and 3 satellites as well as on W3A to deliver live images and commentary from up to 48 specially-built studios and 140 Outside Broadcasting vans. The signals were transmitted direct to channels worldwide, including in the UK, across Europe and the Middle East, in the USA, China, Africa, Mexico and Brazil. This bandwidth contributed to delivering coverage of the event to an expected global audience of two billion viewers.

    "This latest media event of global interest is the largest of the year so far to draw on our occasional-use resources and further underscores the involvement of Eutelsat's satellites in the complete broadcasting chain," commented Andrew Wallace, Eutelsat's Chief Commercial Officer. "In addition to delivering over 3,700 channels to more than 200 million satellite and cable homes across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Eutelsat's satellites are mobilised on a daily basis for direct video contribution of sports events, concerts, political summits and breaking news to television studios around the world."

  • TV5Monde is the first international TV channel in Mauritania: more than half of all TV viewers watch the channel at least once a week (50.6%). In the country, TV5Monde is also the first international channel in terms of overall* awareness (88.2%) and of spontaneous* awareness (49.7%).
    These results are significant in the context of increased competition with the neighbouring TV channels. TV5Monde spokesman also confirmed to Balancing Act that the station undertook a media communication campaign in Cameroon and in Burkina Faso over the course of Fespaco. The campaign included press inserts and outdoor posters.
    TV5Monde's spokesman added that its WebTV dedicated to Africa – TV5Monde+Afrique - will celebrate its 1st. year anniversary on 25th. May 2011 and traffic to the channel continues to grow. TV5Monde’s websites recorded 8 million monthly visits on both www.tv5monde.com and on its mobile version, m.tv5monde.com TV5Monde+Afrique can be accessed here:

  • South Africa’s television content and broadcasting market is hotting up with news that a new player, SouthTel VOD:TV, will launch services to South Africans on 1 September.

    TechCentral can reveal exclusively that the new company, which is being launched by telecommunications specialist SouthTel in conjunction with partners, will offer video-on-demand (VOD) services to consumers in Southern African Development Community countries, including South Africa. It already has the necessary licence from the Independent Communications Authority of SA.

    VOD:TV will offer services similar to the US-based Netflix, but will deliver the content over satellite to personal video recorders (PVRs). Content will be delivered in high definition as default (in standard definition where HD material isn’t available).

    News of VOD:TV’s plans come just a year after the launch of the first commercial rival to incumbent pay-TV operator MultiChoice. On Digital Media launched TopTV, a direct-to-home satellite service, last May.

    VOD:TV’s PVRs, which have been in design and development for the past 24 months, will also be capable of receiving digital terrestrial television signals using the second-generation of the European standard SA recently adopted.

    SouthTel CEO Oscar Dube says the service will offer push-based VOD and the company has already signed content agreements with major Hollywood production studios. He says the latest movies will be offered to subscribers before they arrive in video stores.

    It’s not yet clear what specific movies and television series it will offer. MultiChoice’s DStv already has wide-ranging exclusive content agreements with international suppliers. Dube says the company’s PVRs, which comply with the requirements of the content industry, will also allow people to surf the Internet by plugging in a USB 3G modem. SouthTel is working with the big mobile operators to offer modems to VOD:TV subscribers at commercial launch in September.

    The VOD:TV remote control will feature a full Qwerty keyboard, allowing people to enter Web addresses and complete other tasks online. A trial will take place in Gauteng, starting in the last week in June. Though Dube says VOD:TV’s value proposition is different to the DStv satellite TV service, TechCentral believes the two companies are likely to butt heads.

    Full story here:

  • Arianespace's second launch attempt for Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat New Dawn successfully cleared the pad on Friday 22 April 2011. Both satellites were successfully put into orbit on the evening of April 22, 2011 via an Ariane 5 launch. A March 30 attempt was aborted at the last moment. One of the actuators on the Ariane 5's Vulcain 2 engine showed a fault, resulting in the shutdown of the cryogenic engine and rolling back of the vehicle for replacement of the problem part.

    The flight carrying the two satellites left on time at 5:37 PM eastern time from the Arianespace launch facility in French Guyana. The Ariane 5 rocket set a lift performance record for the mission, putting a total mass of 10,050 kilograms into geostationary transfer orbit, including the 8,956 kilograms combine weight of the Yahsat Y1A and Intelsat (News - Alert) New Dawn satellites.

    Yahsat Y1, the first satellite to be operated by the United Arab Emirates' Al Yah Satellite Communications company, was released 27 minutes into the flight. The Astrium-built satellite carries a mixture of Ku-band and C-band transponders and will operate out of an orbital slot of 52.5 degrees east. With a coverage footprint across the Middle East, Africa, and Southwest Asia, Yahsat Y1A will support Abu Dhabi's efforts to become a media broadcasting and telecommunications hub, delivering services for government, commercial, and consumer satellite communications capabilities.

    Intelsat New Dawn was deployed 35 minutes into the flight and will occupy an orbital slot at 32.8 degrees East. Owned by a joint venture of Intelsat and a consortium lead by private investment firm Convergence (News - Alert) Partners, the satellite has a mix of C-band and Ku-band transponders for delivering telecommunications services to African customers, including voice, wireless backhaul, Internet, and media applications services. Intelsat New Dawn was built by Orbital Sciences Corporation using its STAR-2 satellite platform.

    The next Ariane 5 launch is scheduled for May 19 2011 and will carry another pair of satellites, ST-2 and GSAT-8. ST-2 is a communications satellite to be operated by SingTel (News - Alert) and Chunghwa Telecom, delivering service to the Middle East, Central Asia, India, and Southeast Asia. Built by the Indian Space Research Orgnization, GSAT-8 carries 18 Ku-band transponders and will carrier a GPS-augmentation payload to provide positional accuracy of 1 meter or better within India.

  • CFI has partnered with ‘Luwak productions’ to disseminate Star Chef magazine - the first African cuisine contest (7x52minutes) - to its television partners’ network. Every Thursday morning from 10 March 2011, 21 * African television stations receive the program. This show traces the career of six candidates from Benin, Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, Gabon and Burkina Faso who compete in each episode.
    Since March 10th., candidates use their originality and talent to win Star Chef title of and win two million CFA francs at stake as well as a chef training in Paris.

    Saturday, April 30 2011, CFI offered its 21 television stations’ partners which have acquired the rights to this program, the programme’s final which elected the winner.

    * Benin-ORTB, RTB-Burkina Faso, Burundi - RPA, Cameroon, CRTV, Central - TVCA, Comoros - TVC, Congo Brazzaville - DRTV, DR Congo - RTNC1, Cote d'Ivoire - RT1, Djibouti - RTD, Gabon - RTG1 , Madagascar - ORTM, Mali - Africa, Mauritius - MBC, Mauritania - TVM, Niger - ORTN, Rwanda - TVR, Senegal - 2STV, Chad - Tele Chad, Togo - CFL

  • 11 May 2011: According to a report in the Government-owned Daily Herald, The Botswana Government has pledged to address the issue of Studio 7, broadcast by the Voice of America, into Zimbabwe. The Studio 7 transmitter is in Botswana.

    Botswana Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Mr Phandu Skelemani said he would engage the responsible minister to have the issue addressed. Skelemani said this in an interview with journalists soon after attending the 11th session of the Zimbabwe-Botswana Joint Permanent Commission in Harare.

    "Everything that will have a negative impact on Zimbabwe and Botswana is subject to review. We can't have something that contradicts the spirit of our two countries," Skhelemani said. "I will discuss with the minister responsible. The minister is not here today."

    The issue on media is one of the items listed in the communiqué signed by both countries yesterday as one area that needs co-operation. Skelemani said they had agreed during the Joint Commission meeting to deal with all impediments that might hinder co-operation between the two countries.

  • Last month, Aggrey Awori the minister for information and communication technology (ICT) told the media that Uganda is eyeing the Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial (DVB T) standard in its migration. DVB T, is the first generation system of relaying audio and video content in digital format. At least 60 countries and 200 million households around the world have embraced this technology according to www.dvb.org. However, some of these are now digging deep into their treasuries to upgrade to the second generation technology which is deemed to be more efficient and more advanced. The new standard is known as DVB T2. Uganda like South Africa and Kenya ought to be thinking in this line, according to broadcasting experts.

    Charles Hamya, the general manager MultiChoice Uganda, the DSTV service provider, told Business Power that the first generation digital platform is a far inferior digital standard compared to DVB T2 platform. The platform is said to be between 30-67 per cent less spectrum efficient than DVB T2 which translates into far less channels and a much lower digital yield for the country.

    With the help of the internet, these technologies are designed to enable nations to have more broadcasting frequencies than today. For instance, DVB T2 can enable a television station such as NTV to broadcast between 16-25 channels instead of just one channel through one frequency, Mr Martin Abuya, the chief executive officer of Smart TV, told Business Power in an interview last week.

    Compared to the first generation platform, DVB T2, offers the best technical performance opening up multi-channel television to a wider audience of viewers and allowing them greater variety in their viewing options. This translates into greater stimulation for both local content and local production industries; increased advertising revenue for broadcasters, as well as greater tax inflows and increased revenues for governments from selling off the extra bandwidth, according to Mr Hamya. "It makes no sense to roll out an inferior platform that is already outdated and will eventually need to be replaced by a superior generation of technology (DVB T2) that is already available," he said in an interview on Thursday.

    But on Friday, Eng. Godfrey Mutabaazi, the acting executive director, Uganda Communications Commission overturned the ICT minister's position saying that Uganda will actually adopt DVB T2. "Technology is changing on a daily basis. You can't legislate against technology. DVB T2 is newer than DVB T1," he said in an interview on Friday.

    However, the three pilot companies that have been licensed to provide digital terrestrial broadcasting services in Uganda, are already airing their channels through decoders or Set Top Boxes (STBs) that are compatible with only the DVB T and not the DVB T2 technology.

    The decoders are used to convert television signals from stations, into digital format to enable viewers with analogues Tv sets, to watch their channels. These boxes currently cost between Shs100, 000 and Shs190, 000 from the three companies on the pilot project including; StarTimes, Next Generations Broadcasting (Smart TV) and MoTV who are all pay-TV service providers.

    At a certain point in time, the STBs offered by these firms will be obsolete if the government adopts the DVB T standard between now and December 31 2012. This is because, it will still have to upgrade to the second generation platform.

    This means that Ugandans, who acquire the available decoders, will have to replace them to be able to watch television again or risk staring at blank screens in their living rooms. It is estimated that StarTimes, Smart TV and MoTv have sold over 50,000 units in the market and are pushing in more. Mr Abuya said Smart Tv will continue to sell the STBs with a view of exchanging them for its customers when the company is able to bring in affordable DVB T2 boxes. "We will have to take that knock because it is part of business," he said in an interview recently.

    On the other hand, broadcasters will have to deal with dual migration and illumination of analogue to digital services, which is unnecessarily costly especially to the end user. Secondly, Uganda would be left behind other countries in the region- like Kenya, which have already decided to adopted DVB T 2, according to Mr Hamya. "With all its advantages, thus in all likelihood they would enjoy the economies of scale brought about by digital television much faster than us." Some of the economies of scale that can be enjoyed include; the reduction of the cost of broadcasting technology such as the decoders, as more companies move to manufacture them to respond to market needs.

    Broadcasting experts say that Uganda still has a chance to migrate directly from analogue television to Digital Terrestrial Television via DVB-T2 to avoid any interim stages of transition, thus saving time and money in the long term.

    Despite the risks, experts at www.dvb.org suggest that countries that will go ahead and first implement DVB T before implementing DVB T2 will benefit from the use of a mature technology that is flexible enough to meet their individual market requirements.
    "In particular they will benefit from the existence of a well-established world market both for receivers (STBs) and for head-end equipment. These conditions will enable the rapid roll-out and take up of DTT services in these countries, with access to very affordable receivers being the key factor." But they argue that it can be expected that in a few years the difference between DVB-T and DVB-T2 STB will be so small that basically only DBT-T2 STBs will be provided. Moreover companies are no longer investing in Research and Development aimed at maintaining the DVB T platform and improving the compatible STBs because they will soon be outdated.

    Players like Smart Tv are now urging the government to adopt the DVB T2 platform instead of the first generation technology. "By all means, they should install DVB T2. We are all for it, however, it is still new technology and there are not many suppliers who are supplying it now," Abuya explained.

    One of the issues that are slowing down the digital transition process is the installation of digital transmitters and associated equipment by the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC). The public broadcaster was recently given the task of signal distribution across the country because of its reach and monopoly over the best signal sites in the country. However, the corporation has been accused of playing its role at a snail's pace.

    As a signal distributor, UBC is required to set up a company that will relay the channels of other television stations to the viewers across the country. In 2009, having UBC as the only signal distributor raised suspicion among broadcasters but it remains the most well placed company to do the job despite its inefficacies. Efforts to get an update from UBC's management about their progress proved futile.

    According to Abuya, the rest of Uganda will only be able to enjoy digital television, as fast as UBC rolls out its transmitters. For instance, Smart Tv is ready to operate in districts such as Masaka, Jinja, Mbarara, Masindi, Arua and Gulu, however, it cannot expand to those districts because the signal distributor has not yet covered those areas. "If they roll out in those areas fast, then we will get there, if they don't then we stick to where the roll out is."

  • 9 May 2011: The Portuguese company Visabeira is investing six million Euros (about 8.7 million US dollars) in the Mozambican cable television company (TV Cabo Mocambique) to expand the fibre optic network, to cover about 11,000 homes in the central city of Beira, according to a report on Radio Mozambique.

    The Visabeira chairperson, Paulo Varela, said that what is envisaged is a "Fiber To The Home" (FTTH) network. This means that the infrastructure is based on a fibre-optic connection, which enables the provision of television and Internet services, from the Central Office or Point of Presence (PoP) via a fibre-optic strand to a subscriber home, "This is a complete innovation in Mozambique", claimed Varela

    With the coverage of about 11,000 homes, Visabeira, which controls 50 percent of TV Cabo in partnership with the Mozambique Telecommunications Company (TDM), expects to handle more than half of the market for subscription television in Beira.

    "From the market research we have made, we are convinced that we will achieve penetration rates after three or four years, or when the project is at cruising speed, similar to the ones we have in Maputo", said Varela.

    Varela added that currently, TV Cabo controls between 60 to 70 percent of the subscription television market in Maputo. "This project is within the normal plan which we had set some time ago for Mozambique", said Varela, adding that the company intended to halt new projects in the country due to the international economic crisis, but keep those already under way.

  • The Zambian government has warned that it will revoke operating licenses of all radio stations airing political campaign songs before the date for this year's tripartite elections is announced, the "Daily Mail" reports. However, the opposition Patriotic Front (PF) party has hit back by saying that the electoral code of conduct does not prohibit the media from airing political campaign songs before the elections.

    The Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Ronnie Shikapwasha, said in Lusaka on 8 April 2011 that the government would revoke operating licenses to some radio stations airing political campaign messages because the practice is against the electoral code of conduct, as the campaigns have not started yet.

    "Both public and private radio stations are bound by the provisions of the code not to air campaign materials before the President announces the election date," Lieutenant General Shikapwasha, who is also chief government spokesperson, said. He was reacting to the opposition Patriotic Front campaign song aired by Radio Phoenix on 8 April at the end of a paid political programme which featured PF party leader Michael Sata. He also said that he had heard that there was a community radio station in Northern Province which was airing political adverts.

    PF Kabwata constituency member of parliament, Given Lubinda, has expressed surprise at the Minister of Information's statement, describing him as ignorant of the law and deceitful.

    Lubinda said that there was no section in the electoral code of conduct suggesting that radio stations and the media in general are stopped from airing campaign songs before the election date is announced. He said that the electoral code of conduct only becomes effective after the date of elections has been announced and not before that. Lubinda questioned why the minister has paid a deaf ear to Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) campaign messages airing on the state controlled national broadcaster, the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation ZNBC, and other selected private radio stations.

    Earlier in 2011, the ruling party was accused of using the ZNBC as political campaign propaganda machinery, an accusation which the MMD government has vehemently denied. In response, ZNBC management said that the partisan political adverts are sponsored and paid for by the MMD. Meanwhile two Northern Province-based radio stations have denied allegations of airing political adverts.

    In separate interviews with MISA-Zambia, ISO FM and Radio Mano board chairpersons, Chengela Sinkamba and Martin Chanda, said that the allegations about airing political campaign adverts are unfounded.

    MISA-Zambia chairperson Daniel Sikazwe has described the threat to revoke operating licenses of radio stations as severe and unfortunate. Sikazwe accused MMD of airing the same material on the state-owned and controlled media, and challenged the government to first abide by the code of conduct to avoid setting a precedent for the opposition political parties.

    "The ruling MMD should also abide by the electoral code of conduct. We have seen and heard political advertisements being aired on ZNBC radio and television. This actually is a clear indication that the MMD sets the precedent that is followed by the opposition political parties," said Sikazwe.

  • The award-winning photographer and film-maker Tim Hetherington and the prize-winning photojournalist Chris Hondros were killed in Misrata on April 20, 2011, while covering the Libya conflict, Human Rights Watch said on the same day. Two other photographers were wounded in the same attack. A photographer working with Human Rights Watch identified the victims at the Misrata hospital. The men were hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while reporting on the fighting in Misrata.

    Guy Martin, 28, a British freelance photographer, was wounded by shrapnel to the spleen and was in serious condition after an operation in Misrata. Michael Christopher Brown, another freelance photographer, was also wounded by shrapnel in the incident.

    The bodies of Hetherington, 40, and Hondros, 41, were taken from Misrata to Benghazi by the International Organization for Migration aboard the Ionian Spirit, which had been brought in to evacuate civilians from Misrata. Martin and Brown remained in the hospital in Misrata.

    Hetherington, who was nominated for an Academy Award for "Restrepo," a documentary film made with the author Sebastian Junger about a US combat unit in Afghanistan, died shortly after the attack. Hetherington worked closely with Human Rights Watch. Hondros, who was a Pulitzer finalist, received many awards including the Overseas Press Club's Robert Capa Gold Medal for his work in Iraq. He died several hours later in the hospital.

    Human Rights Watch extends its condolences to the friends and families of both men, who spent their professional lives documenting human rights abuses, especially in armed conflicts. Human Rights Watch repeated its call to the Libyan government to cease unlawful attacks against civilian areas in Misrata.

    Hetherington lived in Monrovia, Liberia for eight years during the brutal civil war that engulfed Liberia and neighboring countries. The film that Hetherington co-directed, "Liberia: An Uncivil War," and his book, "Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold," did more than any other body of work to document the conflict, focusing on individual Liberians and allowing them to tell their stories in their own words.

    In a separate note, the South Africa National Editors' Forum calls on the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to use his powers to order the immediate release of South African photographer Anton Hammerl and other journalists.

  • Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and has recently introduced iPad 2 which is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices.

    iPad 2, the second-generation of Apple’s third post-PC device, went officially on sale in selected South African stores on 29 April 2011. The launch created lots of queues and hype. According to an Apple spokesman, SA is part of an accelerated Apple rollout strategy where the device was launched at the same time as in China.

    iPad 2 as a video-capture device has some pros: a large high quality screen, good cameras, reasonable HD video quality in daylight for internet and home use, and a few editing software. The real benefit is that iPad 2 can be packed to shoot and edit high-definition video on the go. The iPad’s nearly 10-inch sexy screen is a natural tool for reviewing and editing homemade videos right on the spot, things that you cannot do with just a standard camera. And courtesy of Apple’s $4.99 iMovie app and rival video programs ReelDirector and Splice - which comes with a free version, and if you are willing to pay, allows you to get transitions, background music and other features - you can turn these little productions into mini video postcards. It’s then a breeze to get them right onto Facebook, direct from your hotel room. You don't have to wait until you get home. Nor do you have to worry that your creation will forever rot in your camera.

    Regarding the editing tool, Apple’s mobile iMovie, introduced for the iPhone 4 in 2010, is a program that will trim the excess from your clips and put in menus, titles, music and sound effects. You also get the ability to record voice-overs for narration.
    To convert the videos to edit it later on a computer, you’ll need to import the footage to iTunes, click the ‘Advanced’ tab, and click the “convert to iPad” tab. Then you’ll need to sync the laptop and iPad to get the video back onto the tablet.

    But according to early users, there are a few cons: no flash, no zoom, no removable memory and limited lenses… and its large size make it hard to fit into a pocket. There’s no tripod mount so you will need to stabilise it on something otherwise you will get shaky pictures.  As with all electronic devices, you have to be careful not to drop it otherwise the screen might break.

    Conclusion: Ipad2 is great for home or travel videos, for journalists and reporters, for professional AV preparation, for salespeople who need to convince with videos, for health professionals, for “reperage” films which do not need top quality footage and for many more applications. The mobile device is stable and has so far proven its capacity to counter cyber attacks.

    It should be added that Ipad 2 can also broadcast TV channels’ videos sequences with a user friendly multimedia layout. The YouTube, CNN and Al Jazeera apps are among them but they use quite a lot of bandwidth.

    Read more here:

  • Mediatech Africa boasted over 6,700 visitors at its previous show, making it Africa's largest advanced technology trade exhibition. The biannual hub for all serious industry players takes place at the Coca-Cola dome in Northgate, Johannesburg, from 20 July to 22 July 2011.

    With the ever increasing number of visiting acts, expo's, shows and bands, South Africa is regularly called upon to deliver world class back up and support, and indeed this segment of the market has a proven track record of professionalism, experience and equipment to cater for the demand.

    Africa's top suppliers of equipment and services allied to this segment are exhibiting at Mediatech Africa. “With time pressures being what they are today, there are very few opportunities during the year where the pro-audio community can take a day or two off to catch up with all the new technologies available to South Africans, network with their peers and catch up with old friends for a cup of coffee!” says Paul Martin of Tuerk Technologies.

    Hi-Tech Audio who specialises in all types of studios for recording or broadcast believe that being at Mediatech is invaluable. “We benefited from the exposure received at the last Mediatech and hope to do so again this year” says Kevin Manas who will be promoting Solid State Logic Audio mixing consoles and workstation products and the new SSL AWS948 mixing console which has revolutionary new features.

    “This segment has already seen fundamental shifts in recent years and the future is likely to hold additional challenges”, notes Simon Robinson, Mediatech Africa Exhibition Director. “That is why it is critical for serious industry players to remain abreast of change. Mediatech Africa enables them to do so, providing a centralised point to view and experience the latest products and technologies.”

    “PENMAC Audio Visual are ideally equipped to stage the most ambitious presentation” says Malcolm Finlay. He believes that Mediatech offers the opportunity of creating new ideas and inspiring creativity as well as building and strengthening relationships. It’s the ideal three-day expo where innovative thinking is developed and relationships are strengthened“.

    Electrosonic’s Helmut Merl says that new technology is the big attraction at Mediatech. “We will be exhibiting LED Lighting Products which offers more affordable and versatile products with new design functions and capabilities and we believe that there is a big trend towards environmentally friendly products, so going green and electricity saving devices for big business will be on display.”

    Tuerk Music’s Paul Martin continues: “We will be showcasing the latest versions of Steinberg Cubase 6, Steinberg WaveLab 7 and the Euphonix Control Surfaces - workflow solutions for digital audio and video professionals together with a lot more key equipment”.

    He encourages all audio professionals to attend Mediatech this year and to visit the Tuerk Music stand if they are looking for a solution to a particular pro-audio problem, or to just catch up and see what's new in the music recording and production arena.

    This biennial trade exhibition will showcase cutting-edge technologies and services from industry leaders in broadcast, film and production; professional AV, sound, lighting, staging and rigging; DJ and professional music equipment; system integration; animation, new media and web; satellite and signal; computer music and production tools; and musical instruments.

    The diverse programme will include live demonstrations, workshops, and a new business matchmaking programme. Visitors will be able to pre-register and be matched to relevant exhibitors. Meetings will then be facilitated between interested parties, allowing exhibitors to engage with visitors on a more personal level. Register for free entrance by 10 July here  or R 50 at the entrance.

    Companies wanting to take advantage of the exhibition's reach should contact Claire Fuhri on 011 025 3180 or sales@mediatech.co.za.For further information contact Simon Robinson: Tel (011) 025 3180, email simon@mediatech.co.za or visit here:  Mediatech Africa is proudly organised by Thebe Exhibitions and Projects Group.

  • 2 April – 31 May, 2011
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC (18th Edition)
    Venue: NYC, USA, various locations.

    The festival will feature a gallery exhibition, fashion show, panel discussions, Q&As with directors and actors, live performances, and contemporary cinema from Africa and the Diaspora. AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis. General admission $12.
    For more information click here:

    25 - 27 May, 2011
    eLearning Africa, 6th Internationale Conference on ICT for education and training
    Venue: Conference Centre Mlimani , Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The largest eLearning in Africa conference and trade show includes video tutorials and audiovisual educative solutions.
    Organisers: ICWE GmbH, www.icwe.net, Gouvernement  of  Republic of  Tanzania
    Contact: ICWE GmbH, Katharina Goetze, info@elearning-africa.com, Tel.: +49 (0)30 310 18 18-0.
    For more information click here:

    29 May - 5 June, 2011 (final date tba)
    Festival Ecrans Noirs
    Venue: Terre Africaine, B.P. 11371, Yaoundé, Cameroun.

    Tel: [+237] 221 49 41
    Fax: [+237] 221 49 42
    An African film festival focused on Central Africa, and on the distribution and promotion of African films.
    For more information click here: (site maintenance)

    2 - 5 June, 2011
    Africa Festival
    Venue: Wurzburg, Germany

    For more information click here:

    9 - 26 June, 2011
    Encounters
    Venue: Cape Town

    1st Floor
    27 Caledon Street
    Cape Town
    8001
    South Africa
    Tel: [+ 27] 21 465 46 86
    Fax: [+ 27] 21 461 69 64
    For more information click here:
    distribution@encounters.co.za

    11 to 19 June, 2011
    The 8th African Film Festival of Tarifa, Spain
    Venue: Tarifa, Spain

    For more information click here:

    18 - 26 June, 2011
    Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF)
    14th Festival of the Dhow Countries
    Venue: Zanzibar, Tanzania

    East Africa's largest film and arts festival is showcasing a broad spectrum of African films with this year’s theme ‘A Season of Visions’. The event is renowned the world over for putting African film, music, art and design at the forefront of the international scene. Main events are in Stone Town, Zanzibar, with some events on Pemba Island and mainland Tanzania.
    For more information click here:

    20 - 22 July, 2011
    Mediatech Africa 2011 Exhibition
    Venue: The Coca-Cola Dome - Northgate - Johannesburg (South Africa)

    Mediatech Africa SA's only all-inclusive broadcast, media, entertainment and AV trade. It showcases cutting edge technologies and services from industry leaders in television and broadcast, sound and audio, lighting and staging, animation, communication and related fields.
    For more information click here:

    21 - 24 July, 2011
    Festival du Monde Arabe du Court-métrage Azrou-13 edition
    Venue: Ifrane

    Arab short film festival. Subscription closes on 15 March 2011. Call for short films closes on 15 May 2011. Two training workshops will take place on the side. Results will be announced on 1 June 2011.
    For more information click here:

    21 - 31 July, 2011
    DIFF - 32nd Durban International Film Festival
    Venue: Durban (South Africa)

    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information click here:

    22 - 25 July, 2011
    The 2nd Durban FilmMart
    Venue: Durban (South Africa)

    Contact: Durban Film Office –
    For more information click here:

    31st July 2011
    The African Audio-Visual Awards (TAVA)
    Lagos, Nigeria
    TAVA Awards
    13, Bodunrin Caulcrick Close,
    Opp. Bank PHB, Ogba,
    Lagos, Nigeria.
    Tel.:   01-8936601
    Email: okey@tava-awards.com
    TAVA Awards is a platform created to celebrate the finest Africans behind great films, television productions, advertisements and music videos. All those who employ sound a picture to tell their stories in order to create entertainment. Entries to the awards closes on June 15th.
    For further information click here:

    July - Sept.2011, (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC
    NYC, USA

    Outdoor Summer Screenings in NYC Parks. Featuring dance, music, food and of course films. AFF programs year-round; therefore, AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information click here:

    21 – 24 August, 2011
    The 13th PAMRO meeting and All Africa Media Research Conference
    Venue: Dakar, Senegal at the Le Méridien President Hotel.

    For more information click here:

    27 August - 4 September, 2011 (final date tba)
    Zimbabwe International Film Festival

    Competitive for features, shorts, documentary with 12 ‘Mweya Awards’ in different categories.
    zimfilmfest@zol.co.zw

    9 - 14 August, 2011 (tbc)
    Lola Kenya Screen
    Venue: Nairobi, Kenya

    Tel:[+254] 20 315 258, 221 3 318
    For more information click here:
    director@lolakenyascreen.org

    31 August - 10 September, 2011
    Mostra de Venise

    Tel: [+39] 041 5218706
    Fax: [+39] 041 5218879
    For more information click here:
    indoffice@labiennale.org

    11-14 Septembre, 2011
    HighwayAfrica 2011
    Venue: Rhodes Uni., Grahamstown, SA.

    A show focused on journalism and new multimedia. For fourteen years the Highway Africa conference has been at the centre of Africa’s debates on journalism and new media. The conference has over the years become the largest annual gathering of African journalists in the world.
    For more information click here:

    3 - 8 Octobre, 2011
    « Festival du Court Métrage Méditerranéen de Tanger »
    Venue: Tangier, Morocco

    A festival focused on short films.
    E-mail : ccm@menara.ma

    21 - 29 October, 2011
    Cinemed (« le Festival du cinéma méditerranéen »)
    Venue: 78, av. du Pirée - 34000 Montpellier - France

    Tel. +33 (0) 499 13 73 73
    Fax +33 (0) 499 13 73 74
    info@cinemed.tm.fr
    Deadline: 8 July 2011
    For more information click here:

    21 - 30 October, 2011 (tbc)
    Kenya International Film Festival (KIFF)

    P.O. Box 76417 – 00508
    Nairobi
    Tel:[+254] 2 201 05 26
    Fax:[+254] 722 897 216
    For more information click here:

    26 - 31 October, 2011
    Annual Tricontinental Human Rights Film Festival
    27 Palmer Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town, 7945 – South Africa

    Tel: [+27] 21 788 5462 - Fax: [+27] 21 788 5469
    For more information click here:

    29 October - 6 November, 2011
    Festival Amakula Kampala
    Venue: Uganda, Kampala

    Tel: [+256] 41 427 35 32
    For more information click here:
    info@amakula.com

    5 - 9 October, 2011
    Africa in the Picture
    Venue: Bioscoop het Ketelhuis in Amsterdam, NL

    Tel:[+31] 20 622 7 151
    Fax:[+31] 20 627 15 44
    For more information click here:
    info@aitp.nl

    20 - 22 October, 2011
    ZAFAA 2011 - The Zulu African Film Academy Awards
    Venue: London, UK

    Closing Date for Entries is Friday May 20th 2011.
    African Film Festival & Academy Awards
    For more information click here:

    31 October -  7 November, 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information click here:

    27 October – 6 November,  2011
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival
    For more information click here:


    25 November - 4 December, 2011
    International Film Schools Festival  - 34es « Rencontres Henri Langlois »
    Venue: TAP (theatre auditorium de Poitiers) in Poitiers (France).

    The Festival organiser invites African film students to join is. The Festival gathers about 15000 participants and about 100 professionals. A trade market is held on the side (includes CineSud).
    For more information click here:

    30 November - 3 December 2011
    MYCONTENT, 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    Venue: Dubai

    MYCONTENT - (exhibition & conference) in dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information click here:

    December, 2011 (final date tba)
    Africa Int. Film Festival
    Venue : Port Harcourt, Nigeria

    For more information click here:

    December, 2011 (final date tba)
    Festival International du Film de Marrakech
    Venue : Marrakech, Morocco

    For more information click here:

  • Stratcomm Africa's Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Esther Amba Numaba Cobbah, has received an award as the Best Entrepreneur in media communications for 2010, at the Ghana Entrepreneur Awards. Stratcomm Africa is a communication company that is involved in several media including audiovisual production.

    The event, dubbed "Recognizing the exceptional contribution of Ghanaian entrepreneurs" was organized by Entrepreneurs Foundation of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to acknowledge Ghanaian entrepreneurs who have excelled in their enterprises as well as commemorate the World Entrepreneurship Day.

    The World Entrepreneurship Day is a globally recognized event that is celebrated 24 hours around the globe on the second Friday in April.

    Ms. Cobbah dedicated the award to the entire Stratcomm Africa team, noting that there is no enterprise without employees. According to her, Stratcomm Africa staff give expression to the high standards of the organization and, this year, are living up to the corporate message: "raising the bar, soaring higher."

    "We pursue excellence because we work to the glory of God, and He is an excellent God. We give glory to God for this award," Ms. Cobbah said. She also dedicated the award to the late Dr. Jean Aka, the immediate past chairman of the Stratcomm Africa Board of Directors.
    Source: The Chronicle, Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, 27 April 2011.

    On 29 April 2011, Eutelsat Communications –widely present in African broadcast- announced that Marc Welinski is joining the company on May 2 as Director of Marketing and Commercial Strategy, reporting to Andrew Wallace, the Group's Chief Commercial Officer. In this role, Marc's focus will encompass developing commercial strategy, including integrated marketing of Eutelsat's brands and driving improved customer understanding and customer satisfaction tracking.

    Rado saw the consecration of Lionel Meta, winner of the "Golden Totem " (« Totem d’or » in French) for his short film "The metaphor of cassava” (« La métaphore du manioc ». in French). He was also granted with the Grand Gold Price at the International Short Film Festival in Abidjan (Fica), 2010 edition. Both distinctions prove that African film makers have talents and that their programs deserve to be aired on African televisions.

  • Call for entry at Southern Africa Travel & Tourism Film Awards

    The organizers are calling for entries from southern African film and video makers as well as from travel and tourism product owners.

    Southern Africa’s Travel and Tourism Film & Video Awards is in full preparation mode. Judges and Affiliates will be introduced at a Gala Event at Monte Casino in June 2011.

    Dates are Friday 6 May to Monday 9 May 2011 at the Suncoast Casino, Durban in SA.

    A small entry fee is charged to fund the technical process of repurposing DVD’s, mini DV tapes, etc for television sets, computers, cell phones, MP4 players and the latest interactive TV channels.

    The Travel and Tourism Awards (Oscars) was established to facilitate tourism product owners plus film and video producers the opportunity to get maximum exposure of their products and creative work.

    The awards is not only about the best and biggest hotels, lodges, game parks, routes and travel service providers or professionals making expensive films. It is also about those offering a travel or tourism product, freelance videographers, multimedia students, big and small television or video production houses.

    The goal of the Southern Africa Travel and Tourism Film & Video Awards is to provide a showcase for your products and artwork to as wide an audience as possible. This is done through the fantastic opportunity offered by public screenings on the Internet and top class shopping malls. Best films and videos will be shown at popular Ster Kinekor, NuMetro and Avalon cinemas countrywide.  And some of the best films and videos will make it to traditional television broadcasters. The very best will be entered at International Film Festivals. We’ll be on DSTV as from May 2011.

    SATFA will show a winning SA Travel & Tourism entry from this years WorldFest USA at Indaba and Suncoast Casino. WorldFest became the third competitive international film festival in America, following San Francisco and New York.
    Monthly discussions to follow on DSTV.

    Courier to SATFA:
    Renaissance Suite 95
    Cnr Braam Pretorius & Visvanger
    Montana Park
    Pretoria
    0159
    South Africa


    Smart TV adding up more audiovisual content

    Smart TV, already available in Ghana in Kenya and Uganda is on verge of commercial launch in Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania.
    Smart TV is a pan-African brand providing tailor-made and affordable pay TV solutions to consumers across Africa with FTA and payTV options. The station is a brand owned by Next Generation Broadcasting AB and has been brought to Ghana by Next Generation Broadcasting Ghana Ltd. The company is currently building up a resourceful audiovisual library.


    ZIFF Festival organisers calling for films, sponsors and volunteers

    The 2011 ZIFF Festival will take place 18 - 26 June, with the theme ‘A Season of Visions’. Film submissions are accepted - please check the website here
    Organisers will be recruiting volunteers and staff to work at the Festival - more information to follow.

    If you want to sponsor an event at the festival, please get in touch with Laurian at marketing(@)ziff.or.tz.

Issue no 553 6th May 2011

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Top story

  • Last week’s News Update reported on the winners of the World Bank Competition on “Apps for Development”. In the same issue we also covered the ITU’s announcement about the “Green ICT Application Challenge”. And this week’s Top Story is about the Mobile Web Ghana mobile apps awards. Readers will not be surprised to feel that this is developing into something of a trend. So this week Isabelle Gross talks to the mobile app winners of the contest in Ghana.

    Before telling you more about Alfred and David’s winning projects, let’s start by introducing Mobile Web Ghana (mwg). Headed by Florence Toffa, mwg is a community of mobile-technology entrepreneurs, developed as part of the World Wide Web Foundation's Mobile Entrepreneurship in Africa program which is financially sponsored by Vodafone. Mobile Web Ghana was founded in October 2010 and launched its first Mobile Entrepreneurship training at the end of February 2011. Among the 90 applications that were received, 35 candidates were selected to attend a four weeks training program. Divided into two tracks, the program taught to participants about mobile technology (SMS, voice, mobile Web, native applications and user experience) and mobile business (generic mobile-entrepreneurship component as well as local aspects of the Ghanaian market). Trainees were also asked to form teams which would develop both technical and business sides of a service.

    Close to 20 projects were developed during and after the training and the best two projects have each been awarded a cash prize at a ceremony held in Accra on April 30th. After the project presentations, the jury members comprising John Totoe from MobileContent, Nii Quaynor from AFNOG, Mark Davies from BusyInternet and Nana Manu from Vodafone Ghana gave the 1st prize (GHC10,000 or about US$7,000) to a music request service developed by Alfred Anyan, Gerald Abraham and Martin Zonyrah and the 2nd prize (GHC5,000 or about US$3,500) to Mobitix, a mobile application developed  by David Agbenyega. The seed funding to help further develop the projects has been generously donated by Vodafone Ghana.

    Alfred Anyan, the lead in the team that won the 1st prize recalls that he was very excited about it especially because there were other good projects in the competition. When I asked him what his music request service project is about, he explained me that it basically allows someone to request a song to be played to somebody else. The technology behind the idea is not rocket science and the service is simple enough to use to appeal to a wide public using basic mobile phones.

    All you will need to do is to call a short code number and you will be welcomed by voice prompt inviting you to select the song that you want and then to select the person that you want the song to be played to. The selected person will receive an SMS to alert him or her about the awaiting song. To listen to the song on the phone, he or she has only to ring a number. It is pity that next Valentines Day is still eight months away… A small fee will be charged to the person that requests the song. The service is still at the demo stage but Alfred is confident that the service will go live in the next two months. It needs a bit more development while pending music copyright issues have to be sorted out too. Alfred hopes to expand with other similar services and maybe try also different revenue models like services supported by advertisement.

    David Agbenyega, the project leader of Mobitix has received the 2nd price for a mobile application that will allow mobile users to buy tickets and event organizers to issue tickets, monitor their sale and validate them. David explained me that with this application, users will potentially be able to buy any types of tickets. Right now, he envisages starting to offer cinema tickets. David has initiated a conversation with Silverbird, the largest chain of cinemas in Ghana about Mobitix with hopes of a partnership in the near future. One teething problem he has yet to solve is the payment. Various electronic means of payment are available like mobile payment systems, txtNpay or eTranzact but the problem with them is that they are not widely used in Ghana yet. An alternate payment method would be scratch cards. David is positive that by the end of the year, the project will be ready to be rolled out in the market.

    Both Alfred and David have degrees in Science and Technology or Computer Sciences. Following his military service in the engineering department at the Ministry of Defence, Alfred started his own business – an Internet café offering also IT services. This venture was not as successful as expected but then he won a two year scholarship to attend the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology. At the end of his studies, he started another company offering IT training and web development services. David on the other hand with his Computer Science graduation in the pocket started first to work as a project manager with an NGO before joining Corenett as a programmer.

    When I asked them why they applied to follow the training course, Alfred told me that he was interested in the training course offered by Mobile Web Ghana because it gave him the opportunity to learn more about developing mobile applications. He reckons that “the mobile space is an emerging area which offers a lot of opportunities. There are not many computers in Ghana but many Ghanaian have a mobile phone”. David too was interested in learning more about mobile technology. In his final graduation year, he missed the course on mobile programming, so he thought that the training offered by Mobile Web Ghana was a good opportunity to learn about what he missed at university.

    When asked what Ghana needs to do to foster the development of applications and content, Alfred points at further developing the infrastructure because it is not always easy to get to the Internet. Similarly, getting your hands on relevant business information is also not always straight forward. People should pay more attention to ICT matters rather than politics or sport while more financial resources should be allocated to mobile content development. For David, the Government has done well by putting in place the necessary regulatory framework to foster a level playing field among all the actors. In his view, the problem is more with the telecos which are very reluctant to share the mobile space. He wishes that they would allow more developers and content to get on their mobile platforms.

    Is it then a further coincidence that all over Africa, mobile operators are moaning about falling voice ARPU? The decrease of ARPU is even sharper and faster when a company Airtel starts a price war to try to take a bigger share in the markets with aggressive price-cutting. All over Africa, most mobile operators (those that have already launched 3G data services and those that are planning to launch soon) are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the potential of mobile broadband. But hang on a second, the uptake of mobile broadband can’t only rely on a strategy based on providing access to international content (Facebook, etc…). The reluctance of mobile operators to invest in the development of local content will affect and slow down the development mobile broadband penetration in Africa. Mobile operators need to get serious about content and find ways of seeding its development.

     

     


     

    Balancing Act's Web TV Channel offers you regular access to the views and ideas of some of Africa's leading players in telecoms, Internet and Broadcast. To receive regular updates, simply subscribe by going to our site:

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telecoms

  • There is a change of ownership at the country’s premier GSM Company Gamcel, claims Gambian online newspaper Freedom.  The Lebanese-owned telecommunication company Spectrum, which had its initial contract prematurely terminated by the Government without compelling reasons to justify the move, is back in town again.

    The claimed comeback of Spectrum was reached secretly without the Government informing Gambians. The report went on to State that the move was meant to mitigate a possible lawsuit that was purportedly filed, or to be filed  by the Lebanese telecommunication firm against the Government for breach of contract.  In order to reach a settlement deal with the company, the regime had to allow Spectrum to proceed with the initial 50 percent shares it bought from Gamcel.

    It should be recalled that the Gambia Government claimed in a news release in November 2008, that the termination of the joint business contract it reached with Spectrum  was “due to fundamental breaches of the provisions of the partnership agreement between the government of The Gambia and Spectrum International Holdings.”

    “This was further exacerbated by the underperformance of Gamtel/Gamcel and the deterioration of the country's telecommunication infrastructure under their watch," former Information Minister Neneh Macdwol Gaye claimed.

    The release concludes by assuring each and every Gambian that the government will never tolerate investors that try to exploit The Gambia, the Daily Observer reported. Full report:

    Our Reporter visited the Gamcel Office at Westfield last week, where he met some top officials of Spectrum. Both Gamcel, and Information Ministry officials confirmed the reemergence of Spectrum, but wouldn’t comment on the details surrounding the new sale deal.

    According to one independent source, the Government is currently “broke” and is unable to maintain key Departments. The source said Gamcel’s sale is just tip of the iceberg—hinting that by the year end some institutions would be unable to pay salaries.

  • The mobile portability war is now headed for the courts after Mobile operator, Safaricom sued Porting Access Kenya, the administrators of Mobile Number Portability for defamation and economic sabotage.

    The operator also wants the industry regulator, Communication Commission of Kenya to review the contract with Porting Access, saying it has lost moral and legal legitimacy by siding with Bharti Airtel.

    Safaricom' legal action follows accusations made last week by Patrick Musimba, the Managing Director Porting Access, who said the operator was sabotaging implementation of MNP. " Musimba has taken to making a slew of unsubstantiated allegations against Safaricom and its officials regarding the implementation of MNP," said Nzioka Waita, Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs. " Consequently, Safaricom has (last week) instructed its lawyers to institute legal proceedings against Porting Access and the person of Mr. Musimba for what we believe are acts of defamation and the tort of economic sabotage against Safaricom Limited, this legal action will be vigorously pursued to its logical end," he said during a press briefing.

    On April 26, CCK initiated an audit process between the Safaricom, Airtel and Porting Access, following publicised complaints and accusations about hitches affecting the uptake of MNP. The audit was meant to establish the cause of SMS failures to the Porting Access data base.

    But Safaricom now says there have been attempts by the competitor and the porting firm to derail the on-going audit process. "We are aware the audit could find us at responsible for some technical problem, we are ready for this, but whole process must be examined to identify the core problem,"

    Besides absolving itself from total blame, Safaricom also alleges doctoring of the porting figures , according to it there have been around 28,000 porting requests made in the last one month , contrary to 45,000 announced by Porting Access last week.

    Waita said MNP is bound to have teething problems, especially due to the fact it was technically tested for just a week, against a global benchmark of at least eight weeks. "As late as this morning, we have received communication from Porting Access BV that they were having technical challenges based on what they cite to be unstable connectivity from their end, this is affecting the ability of all operators in the Kenyan space to successfully implement some of the day to day actions related to the MNP process," he said. Porting Access Kenya is 80 per cent owned by Porting XS BV of Netherlands, so it is bound to be dragged in to the legal suit.

    While insisting that Airtel was applying unethical tactics to woo subscribers, Safaricom disclosed it had lost around 14,000 of its subscribers to other networks. When contacted for a comment, Musimba said he was not aware of any legal suit against him and his company.

  • Mauritius’ minister for information and communication technology, Tassarajen Chedumbrum Pillay, is calling for a minimum 25% reduction in mobile interconnection fees before the end of May, Reuters reports. The minister says that the current interconnection and user fees of MUR0.90 (USD0.034) per minute are too high. ‘I have asked the Information and Communication Technology Authority to review the charges by not less than 25%. We hope to be able to have a tariff cut by the end of the month,’ he said.

    Mauritius is home to around 1.2 million SIM cards, he said, although given the population is more than 1.3 million, the government believes the market is still not saturated. ‘The number of subscribers is on the increase,’ Pillay said, adding that any reduction in fees would ultimately be of benefit anyway to the incumbent operators. ICT contributed 5.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) last year for Mauritius, and Pillay forecasts that the figure will increase to 6.4% of GDP in 2011. ‘This will represent 23 billion rupees in terms of contribution to GDP,’ he said.

  • The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has been monitoring text messages and internet-based communication for any clues of hate speech and incitement. The Commission said it has been partnering with local telephone providers and government security agencies for about a year now, according to Commissioner Halakhe Waqo. The monitoring has also extended to Kenyans in Diaspora as NCIC gets tough ahead of the 2012 General Election, less than 20 months away.

    It means that the Commission may have obtained several telephone records of people suspected of sending hate messages from local companies with the assistance of the Cyber-Crime Unit at the Criminal Investigation Department.

    Waqo, however, assured the phone users that adequate steps have been taken to safeguard individual privacy unless it breaches national security and peaceful co-existence. "We do recognise that privacy is very important for an individual but public security and safety is much more important. We want to pin down that breach in public safety and security," the Commissioner told the press in Nairobi Thursday.

    The partnership with the police and phone firms that started about a year ago is helping ease the NCIC's inherent human and technical resource deficiencies that would have otherwise hindered monitoring phone and internet-based communication.

    "We have been concerned from our day of appointment that there are various means of communication outside the political rallies and public forums that are used to create public disharmony in this country," Waqo told the press.

    He was speaking after launching of a media monitoring report on the Implementation of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agenda 4 item.

    The report titled Facilitation of Citizens Participation in the National Accord through ICTs was prepared by the Nairobi-based Africa Peace Forum (APFO).

    "There is no single institution which can boast of having the capacity to track everything and bring everybody to book in case of any problem unless there is some form of partnership with many other institutions that also have interest, experience and skills," he said.

    Even Kenyans in Diaspora will not be spared by the Commission as it moves to punish senders and consumers of inciting and hateful messages over the internet and telephone.

    "It is also important to note that whether somebody is in Kenya or not we will still track. We are also looking at international frameworks and political processes that support collective security systems," he added.

    Earlier this year in March, NCIC Chairman Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia said the Commission was monitoring hate speech posted on social networks as well as commentaries on news websites.Dr Kibunjia explained that the commission had recruited 40 new staff, who report to the commission in April be charged with the responsibility of monitoring the social networking sites.

    The Commission boss also noted that that Kenyans in the Diaspora were most culpable arguing that the Internet had become a convenient forum to advance negative ethnic sentiments that undermine integration.

    "Facebook, Twitter and such networks will be our main focus and I can tell you most of the hate speech comes from the Diaspora not internally. But one of the experts who is coming in from April 1 will be looking at this issue and how we can address it so as to stem it," he said back then.

    And Thursday, Mr Waqo said the partnership with the unit of CID that handles Cyberspace crime and the telephone and telecommunication system providers has been on for about a year.

    "We are working with various institutions, both government and non-government...we are working with government security organs like the cyber-crime unit of the CID. We are also in link with telephone providers and telecommunication system providers among other institutions that have the capacity to monitor and control negative communication," he said.

    The Commissioner said they have also been emphasizing partnership and very close collaboration with the media in delivering the mandate of the NCIC. He also called on Kenyans to be part of the process of monitoring hate messages and also providing solutions to deal with these challenges.

    While phone-tapping would require express authority from a judge, the law is silent on the new and emerging media which has become the fodder for youths and politicians eyeing high public offices.

internet

  • Main One and SEACOM have interconnected their West and East African Cable Systems to launch capacity services from PoP to PoP, from a STM-1 level and above. This partnership extends the Main One and SEACOM networks to create a system that offers connection between any SEACOM and Main One PoPs all around Africa between South Africa and Nigeria.

    Funke Opeke, Main One CEO, explained: “While efforts to implement a physical cable between Nigeria and South Africa continue, we have joined our cables together in Europe to satisfy many of our customers’ immediate requirements for capacity between Nigeria and South Africa.” 

    As with the Main One and SEACOM cables themselves, the joint solution is provided on an open-access basis and is immediately available, providing customers with a timing advantage ahead of the completion of other planned systems around the African continent.

    “We hold the view that a ring-type system around the entire continent is the best way to attain adequate redundancy whilst offering customers a comprehensive connectivity solution. The announcement today shows our determination to find a viable way to extend our system with partners who share our vision to build the African Internet,” said Brian Herlihy, SEACOM CEO.

  • The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved on Wednesday, a USD 12 million senior private sector loan to finance Seychelles East African System “SEAS”.

    The project is designed to connect Seychelles to global internet exchange centers using high bandwidth link at lower costs.

    The SEAS project will be co-financed by the European Investment Bank, and equity contributions split between the three shareholders: Seychelles government, Cable and Wireless Seychelles and Airtel.

    The Project entails engineering works, sea survey, construction and roll-out of a submarine optical cable system and associated equipment to link Seychelles (Victoria, on Mahé Island) to Tanzania (Dar-el-Salam).The system comprises a pair of optical fibers as well as termination equipment at both ends. It is configured to provide 32 wavelengths, allowing a maximum throughput of 320 Gbit/s. From Tanzania, Seychellois telecom operators will have access to international connectivity.

    Mobile phones and internet use  in Africa has helped to broaden markets, create better information flow, reduce transaction costs, reduce expensive physical transportation, and improve revenue yields.

    In this regard, the project represents considerable infrastructure investment in the country, and will enable Seychelles to link up to other regional ICT infrastructure. It is expected to reduce broadband service costs, and provide alternate and more competitive traffic route.

    Furthermore, the project will provide Seychelles businesses with advanced and cost-effective technology that would make them more competitive. The project sponsors will be the immediate beneficiaries as they can access better and higher quality non-satellite international interconnection.

    Other telecommunications operators will benefit from the cable’s virtually unlimited capacity which can be leased at lower cost compared to satellite connections. The availability of high quality ICT services will also have considerable impact on other sectors. It will promote modernization in health, industry, education, and business infrastructure.

    Overall, the project will propel and sustain improved business environment that would yield higher revenue in terms of VAT entries.  Besides, diversification of the economy and the creation of higher value adding jobs will leverage economic growth which will bring in additional excise revenues for government.

    The project is aligned with the Seychelles’ National Information and Communication Technology Policy established in 2007. It is also consistent with AfDB 2008-2010 ICT and regional integration strategies, which recognize the crucial role played by infrastructure in supporting intra-regional and global trade as well as market integration. Finally, as the Bank’s first Public-Private Partnership project in Seychelles, SEAS is consistent with AfDB objective to diversify its private sector operations.

  • Telkom looks set to bump up DSL512 speeds to 1Mbps in the near future – here is what you can expect with uncapped ADSL on the new service

    When new Telkom CEO Pinky Moholi took the reins at the company a month ago she indicated that while they are not planning immediate price cuts, users can expect more value for money from Telkom in the broadband space.

    At the time Moholi gave a strong indication that DSL512 subscribers can expect something soon, and information has now emerged that Telkom is planning to increase the speed of all 512Kbps ADSL subscribers to 1Mbps.

    Telkom spokesperson Pynee Chetty could not provide details about the planned speed upgrade, but did confirm that it was on the cards.

    While this doubling of speed will not influence capped ADSL 512Kbps users, uncapped subscribers will have to fork out more money if they want to take advantage of the higher speeds.

    MWeb, for example, has both 512Kbps and 1Mbps uncapped ADSL accounts, priced at R299 per month and R369 per month respectively. MWeb ISP CEO Derek Hershaw explained that they will offer subscribers the option of keeping their 512Kbps uncapped account or upgrade to their 1Mbps offering.

    “If the customer’s price does not change then we will automatically migrate them to the most favourable option. If there is a pricing decision to be made by the customer we will present them with the options and let them choose,” explains Hershaw.

    Axxess is also prepared for the planned 1Mbps speed upgrades from Telkom as they already have uncapped accounts for 512Kbps and 1024Kbps line speeds.

    “If a person’s line speed is bumped up to 1024kbs, the user will have the choice to keep his/her 512kbs Uncapped account or upgrade to 1024kbs Uncapped. If the 1024kbs Uncapped is not affordable for them, they can then choose our “Per Gig” option to what is affordable,” said Franco Barbalich, Marketing Director at Axxess DSL.

    Web Africa already has a 1Mbps business uncapped product, priced at R999, and said that they welcome the planned speed upgrades.

    Web Africa’s Cliff Hazel said that they would love to see more of these improvements - offering faster access without increased costs or reduced quality. “Ultimately everyone wins,” said Hazell.

computing

  • African health ministers have called for the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to help with attempts to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and sickle-cell disease.

    The recommendation that ICTs be harnessed to increase health awareness and empower individuals and communities was part of the Brazzaville Declaration on NCDs, which the ministers have signed.

    The declaration includes other recommendations, calling for the strengthening health systems, and support for partnerships and networks that bring together national, regional and global players including academic and research institutions, public and private sectors, and civil society to tackle the rising problem.

    The ministers also urged the WHO, partners and civil society organisations to take the initiative and give technical support to member states so that they can implement the recommendations better, as well as monitor and evaluate what they have done.

    NCDs such as cancer, diabetes and heart diseases, have spread to the developing world and cause the majority of the deaths worldwide, according to the first global report on the status of NCDs released by the WHO last week (27 April). Some 36 million, or 80 per cent, of deaths caused by NCDs in 2008 occurred in the low- and middle-income countries.

    The declaration, named after the Congolese capital city where it was adopted last month (6 April), will be presented at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on NCDs in September.

    "It is high time African governments adopted new science and new technologies to help reduce NCDs on the continent," said Robert Mathenge, a cardiologist at the Nairobi Hospital in Kenya.

    "I am particularly excited about the prospects of telemedicine, where a few specialists can sit in Nairobi and interact with health workers in rural villages in real time and guide them through examining, diagnosing and treating patients," he told SciDev.Net.

    Such technologies, he said, will lead to the earlier diagnosis of diseases and the use of specialist treatments and preventive strategies in even the remotest parts of the country.

    "African governments need to invest more in the development of ICT infrastructure. In the long run, they will reap big [benefits] because, if left unchecked, NCDs have to be treated with complicated, expensive technologies and medicines," he said.

    Davy Omolo, an ICT expert at telecommunications company Telecraft in Nairobi, said: "We have one of the fastest-growing ICT sectors on the continent and it is time we capitalised on this".

    But Tim Unwin, UNESCO chair in ICT for Development (ICT4D), was cautious on telemedicine. "It is intuitively very appealing, but it is striking that it has not yet been particularly successfully introduced across Africa," he said. "We need to know much more about why telemedicine initiatives have so frequently failed."

    Unwin said that although some aspects of ICTs could be productively applied to tackling NCDs, for example, in providing information to health workers on how to diagnose the diseases, "to be successful, ICTs in health need to be integrated into comprehensive nation-wide policies and practices".

    He added that health awareness programmes that use traditional media, such as radio and television, can be "hugely important in raising awareness".

    The WHO report says that prevalence of NCDs in Africa "is rising rapidly and is projected to cause almost three-quarters as many deaths as communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional diseases by 2020, and to almost equal them as the most common causes of death by 2030".

    The common risk factors involved in driving the rise in NCDs, according to the report, are tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol, which lead to raised blood pressure, excessive weight, and raised sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood.

  • On April 19th, 2011, the Dakar Information and Communication Technologies Incubator (CITIC) officially launched. This business incubation center is the result of a public-private partnership among infoDev, a donor funded trust fund of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and several local partners.

    Keys to the success of CITIC Dakar are local knowledge and relationships, clear goals, and building knowledge from and relationships with incubators worldwide. According to Sonatel (Senegal), a local partner, “The incubator is a nucleus to better understand the problems of entrepreneurs.” The incubator hopes to facilitate the scaling of early-stage ICT enterprises and make sustainable business incubation a reality for Senegalese entrepreneurs. To help achieve these goals, CITIC Dakar will join infoDev’s iDisc network, a global network of over 300 incubators in 88 countries.

    iDISC, the infoDev Incubator Support Center, was created in 2002 to support organizations promoting ICT-enabled innovation and entrepreneurship in developing countries. It provides free-of-charge, hands-on and practical information for incubators and other business development organizations, including online communities of practice, ‘how to’ guides for incubators, member directories, regional networking opportunities, case studies, presentations and reports from global experts on innovation and entrepreneurship for small to medium enterprises.

    infoDev is dedicated to supporting the growth of early-stage ICT enterprises around the world. This particular incubator will support such work in Senegal and is the result of a partnership among several co-financiers: ADIE, ARTP, CDE, GTZ and Sonatel, and is being supported by OPTIC, Chaka Computers, APIX, and the Universities of Dakar and St. Louis. The incubator will provide a comprehensive set of business development, financial, market and technical services to entrepreneurs with high growth potential in the hopes of fostering new innovative and sustainable businesses.

  • The City Council of Nairobi projects to grow its monthly revenue from car parking services by 78 per cent to Sh16 million when an automated system is set up in July, a senior official said.

    Deputy Treasurer Margaret Osili said Tuesday the automation of the parking fee collection services would help weed out inefficiencies and fraud that have denied the council maximum returns.

    "We hope to grow our revenue to Sh16 million instead of Sh9 million a month through an efficient automated system," she told a media briefing during a regulatory reform meeting in Nairobi.

    The official did not disclose how the automation of the parking services would be done but pointed out that the exercise will lead to the redeployment of some officials currently serving in the department.

    "Of course we shall have several attendants displaced from their jobs as a result of the automation but there will be arrangements to provide them with new roles within the establishment," Osili added.

    If achieved, the plans to automate the car parking services could provide a major boost to the cash-starved local authority that is under pressure to meet demands of an ever rising population in Nairobi.

    Though the services have a potential to generate huge revenue returns, high levels of fraud among parking attendants and revenue officials has over the years thwarted efforts to boost income.

    "The objective of this is to reduce the human interface that is known to stir incidents of fraud. We are also going to have electronic payment and banking systems live by July," Osili said. The business community says corruption remains a major obstacle to conducting business in the city, besides poor infrastructure.

    Officials at City Hall said a report from an ongoing audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is expected to change that by providing guidance on effective management and operation systems

    With an annual salaries burden of about Sh7.2 billion against a revenue base of Sh10 billion from land rates, business permits and parking fees, salaries take close to 72 per cent of City Hall's total expenditure, making wage bill trimming a prime target of the re-organisation plan.

    A recent review of City Hall's resources revealed that the council lacks critical professional staff including engineers, planners, architects and financial experts, a gap that has watered down its capacity to deliver quality services.

    "We want to make it possible for our clients to walk into any banking hall and pay into the CCN account instead of coming to line up at City Hall," Osili said.

    In October last year, the city council attempted to reap from the potential of car parking services by more than doubling fees charged on motorists. The plans were, however, put on hold following a Court order.

    The proposed new parking charges, which had been scheduled to come into force on November 1, last year, would have seen private motorists pay Sh300 per day to park in the central business district (CBD) from Sh140 -- a more than 100 per cent increase.
    In automated parking bays in the CBD, motorists would have had to part with a Sh50 entry fee and then Sh15 for every additional 30 minutes spent there.

    Motorists, leaving their cars in non-automated parking lots, would be required to pay Sh400 up from Sh200. Revenues from the shelved parking charges had been factored in the council's budget for the current financial year, which stands at Sh12 billion shillings, up from Sh9 billion in 2009.
     
    The planned automation of parking fee collection comes against the backdrop of plans by the government to implement major guidelines expected to improve traffic flow in Nairobi.

    Osili said the council was also in consultation with the International Finance Corporation to help design an online system through which applications for the approval of building plans would be handled.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Riding on the back of increasing subscriber additions for its broadband offerings, Telecom Namibia last year rang up a three per cent increase in total revenue, totalling N$1,16 billion.

    Releasing its financial results for the year ended September 30 2010, Telecom said its operating profit for the year jumped by 77 per cent from N$58,5 million in 2009 to N$103,7 million last years. Profit after tax improved from N$25,5 million in 2009 to N$69,7 million during the period under review.

    Total assets were up from N$2,13 billion as to N$2,18 billion, increasing by three per cent. Additional investment amounting to N$159 million was made towards local capital infrastructure development.

    Telecom Namibia also successfully concluded a bond issue during the last financial year, injecting N$200 million in long-term capital to the business. Additional long term debt of N$222 million was raised by the company in 2010. Total long-term borrowings therefore increased from N$294 million to N$659 million from 2009 to 2010.

    The additional capital resulting from the positive cash flow from operations, saw Telecom Namibia fully redeem its overdraft of N$256 million during the year. Operations generated a net amount of N$327 million last year, up from N$295 million the previous financial year.

    Telecom Namibia issued 3 483 orders worth close to N$148 million to black economic empowerment (BEE) companies during its last financial year. This constitutes 39 per cent of all orders that were placed with suppliers or contractors and 38,2 per cent in terms of overall value of all orders placed.

  • Rwandatel is willing to pay the Rwf54.3 billion it owes to its creditors arising from debts and other expanses, the company's new administrator said yesterday.

    The financially crippled telecom operator is tussling with the Registrar General, who is seeking a court order to disolve it because of technical insolvency. According to Rwandatel's Chief Finance Officer (CFO), David Gaitho, the company's total liabilities as at December 31, 2010 amounted to Rwf54.3 billion with Rwf1.7 billion as debt it owes to MTN Rwanda and TIGO Rwanda in interconnectivity fees.

    The biggest fraction of Rwf10 billion and Rwf10.1 billion is owed to local suppliers and in foreign trade. Rwandatel's debt to government amounts to Rwf3.6 billion while taxes, fines and penalties totalled to 485 million.

    Unsold airtime and other accessories amounted to Rwf63 million, salaries and employment costs Rwf413.6 million and other payables like transport add up to Rwf 649 million.

    Gaitho added that the company's short-term borrowing from banks and other sources rose to Rwf21.8 billions as receipts collected from clients and not allocated to their accounts totalled Rwf5.2 billion.

    The uncountable debt, he said amounted to Rwf4.9 billion with payables to related parties totalling Rwf3.6 billion. While briefing the press last week, Richard Mugisha, Rwandatel's administrator, who was recently appointed by court, said that the company has the capacity to pay off all the liabilities since it is still up and running. "The company still has fixed telephony license which has always accounted for 60 percent of its revenues," he said.

    Mugisha said that court appointed him interim administrator because the company has been experiencing issues of mismanagement. He is supposed to advise court on whether the company can be turned around or be liquidated.

    The administrator underscored that his job is to maintain the remaining services which are vital to the country's economy, reduce company operating costs and collect money owed to the company as well as pay off the creditors.

    "The public and in particular Rwandatel's existing clients should, therefore make every effort to honour their obligations to Rwandatel and clear their outstanding bills with the confidence that their existing services shall not be halted," Mugisha said.

  • Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has signed a USD70 million partnership agreement with associated company Liquid Telecommunications Holdings (Liquid), which henceforth takes a 49% stake in the cellular operator’s ISP arm, Ecoweb. According to Byo24News, the deal is aimed at strengthening broadband operator Ecoweb and furthering the group’s aims of providing universal access to telecoms services. Econet chairman Tawanda Nyambira confirmed that Liquid took a 49% stake in the ISP, and will also provide a significant amount of money to roll out fibre-optic infrastructure, adding that the deployment of network equipment acquired in the past year would be completed in the next financial year. Nyambirai added that the fibre-optic project will boost the capacity of the group’s transmission backbone, while allowing Econet/Ecoweb to add several new value added services to its broadband range ‘soon’.

  • Uganda Telecom has no plan to pay Shs5 billion in fees and interest to MTN Uganda, despite a High Court order to the firm to do so. Instead, the mobile operator will appeal against the court ruling to save itself from the cost, Daily Monitor was informed on Monday.

    "We are very disappointed with the ruling made by the High Court. We are contemplating appealing this ruling very soon," Mr Stanley Henning, the deputy managing director Uganda Telecom told journalists at press a conference in Kampala.

    Utl plans to file its appeal to the High Court within the 14 days in which it was ordered to pay the money. Last week, Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, of the commercial division of the high court, ordered Utl to make the payment as part of the money owed to MTN, in inter-connect fees for the period between 2008 and 09.

    Inter-connect fees are rates mobile operator charge each other to enable customers of other networks to make calls on their telecommunication networks.

    MTN has claimed disputed inter-connect fees amounting to Shs20 billion from Utl through the commercial court.

    Of this total, Shs5 billion is attributed to unpaid inter-connection fees, interest and legal costs arising from MTN calls made to Gemtel a Southern Sudan network which is partly owned by Utl.

    The other Shs15 billion is attached to fees arising from MTN calls to Utl calls in Uganda. The firm has so far cleared Shs2 billion of the debt. Utl has disputed the High Court decision on the account that it was made on unfair grounds since the Shs5 billion that is claimed is attributed to inter-connect fees of a company in Sudan not in Uganda.

    The inter-connect payment agreement between Utl and MTN is limited to local traffic.
    But Justice Kiryabwire ruled that communication traffic carried by Utl on MTN's behalf to Southern Sudan was local traffic. This, because Gemtel uses the calling code +256477 which the court recorgnised as a local call. "We find this absurd as Utl's network and Gemtel's are two distinct networks located in two different countries and locations," Henning said.

    GEMTEL started using the Uganda code in 2006, after the government granted Utl permission to further authorize GEMTEL to use Uganda's international code.

    Upon this arrangement, Utl requested MTN to treat traffic on the Sudan network as international not local. However, MTN rejected the appeal although it continued sending traffic to Sudan.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - In Zambia, Zamtel has reduced its international call rates to high traffic destinations by more than 50 per cent. The company has slashed rates for calls to destinations frequently called by most Zambians including India, China, America, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, South Africa and Tanzania. Zamtel chief commercial officer Amon Jere cited the United Kingdom, where customers used to pay K58.33 per second, but will now be paying K25, representing 57 per cent reduction.

    - Virgin Mobile South Africa has announced that they will launch a new prepaid product next week where their prepaid customers will get an immediate reward of R10 free airtime every time R30 of airtime is used. According to the company this product follows research into what consumers really want from a prepaid product, which includes true per second billing, competitive peak and off-peak rates that are as good or better than contract rates, a great on-net rate, no hidden catches or terms and conditions, as well as loyalty rewards for high usage.

    - Research in Motion (RIM), maker of BlackBerry devices, recently announced that they will be bringing a touch screen BlackBerry Bold to market and that it should start appearing at carriers around the world “this summer”. Good news for South African consumers is that they will not have to wait for long either.  MTN has indicated that the new BlackBerry Bold will be available from July 2011 in South Africa.

    - Vodacom South Africa  is set to have the new white iPhone 4 in stores by the end of next week.

Digital Content

  • Imagine tracking down your stolen car using the SMS (short message service) and immobilising it. Yes, that is now happening. With the rising uptake of mobile value added services, the entry of mobile phone car tracking service is changing the way we view the handset.

    Andrew Kenani, a business development director at Eurosfield Maptrak Kenya Limited says there is growing awareness among vehicle owners about the developments in car tracking business and this new development will change the landscape of vehicle safety.
    "Some car tracking firms have in the past frustrated customers and left people with low confidence in the services," he said.

    But this might soon change. Car tracking services have come a long way to what they are today and track companies are keen to make the best out of emerging developments in tracking technology.

    In the mobile tracking technology, one logs on to a tracking platform via SMS and can remotely access dashboard functions of the car such as speed and fuel levels as well as Google Maps that show a vehicle's location.

    The same message can be used to alert the tracking company in case of an emergency.

    Before the mobile revolution caught on in Kenya less than a decade ago, tracking companies relied heavily on radio frequencies to find stolen cars.

    It often failed because savvy thieves could deactivate the tracker as soon as they had taken possession of the car.

    "Back then, the systems that were used were not efficient as compared to what we have today. They mainly relied on radio frequencies that do not offer real time access to information," said Mr Kenani.

    Under radio frequency tracking systems, each vehicle is allocated a certain frequency that links it up with the tracking company.

    When he realises the car is missing, a client places a call to the tracking company, who launch an investigation to confirm the client's report, in a process that can take 3 hours or more. This is enough time for the car to disappear without trace. Most new age car tracking systems use GPRS technology which allows real time access to information, a factor that makes them superior to radio systems.

    GPRS tracking systems are controlled from a mobile phone fitted with a SIM card that is configured to a network. GPRS connection not only guarantees real time access to information but also enables a client to access information other than a vehicle's location.

    When a subscriber needs to access a tracking platform from a mobile phone, all they need to do is send a short message to the tracking number.

    "After the short message is sent, the client will receive a URL address that they can follow to log on to the tracking platform," said Kenani. Unlike the old generation tracking systems, GPRS enabled tracking services can be customised to provide specific information, when needed, at designated time intervals.

    To a large extent, new age tracking services give a more interactive approach to vehicle tracking for both clients and tracking companies. Clients are also allowed direct access to archived records. This is ideal for car owners who want to access past information without having to call the company for its retrieval.

    "The historical playback report is among other reports that clients can access. This shows details of past happenings with the vehicle which can be helpful especially when reviewing past cases," added Kenani.

    Other reports available on a tracking platform include fuel, parking and driving reports as well as alarm record reports that come in handy when a vehicle is driven recklessly, crossing geographical fences or has over-stayed at a parking bay.

    While new age vehicle tracking is indeed convenient to clients, tracking companies have to dig deep into their pockets to ensure customer satisfaction.

    Investment in GPRS tracking systems involves setting up a tracking platform as well as incurring the cost of buying and securing servers and personnel to man the system.

    On average, a company can invest up to Sh1 million or more in laying basic infrastructure for the tracking system.

    Due to competition in new age tracking business, companies have settled for flexible payment modes of fixed annual subscription charges that cater for cost of service other than having to bill clients every month.

    Developments in car tracking systems have opened up business opportunities to both domestic and foreign track companies.

    Eurosfield Maptrack Limited is among the new entrants in the business, having set up shop locally late last year.

    It is the Kenyan branch of UK based Eurosfield Maptrack which has been in the business of car tracking for a decade with a client base of about three million to boot.

  • The E-Soko project on Monday won an African award for the promotion of ICT in Rwanda during the third Technology in Government in Africa (TIGA) Awards held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    During the colorful event organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Finnish government, e-Soko was recognised as a model innovative project in Africa that facilitates Rwandan farmers to access market prices.

    e-Soko is an electronic platform, which provides farmers, consumers and traders with up-to-date market price information on commodities using mobile phones.

    "The project, implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, is a vital economic tool that increases access to market information for both farmers and consumers, thereby increasing efficiency and preventing price gouging," Patrick Nyirishema, the Head of ICT at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said in a statement.

    He expressed gratitude for the award and pledged continued commitment to the implementation of technologies aimed at increasing government efficiency and productivity.

    Rwanda has won three TIGA awards since their launch in 2007. TRACnet won an award in the Health category while the Energy and Water Sanitation Agency (EWSA) triumphed courtesy of its SMS Utility Payment System..

    TIGA awards recognise African Governments' effective use of ICT for public service delivery, as part of fulfilling ECA's African Information Society Initiative (AISI) and the Government of Finland's Development Cooperation Strategy on ICTs for development in Africa.

    The award is awarded to African governments and institutions involved in developing and implementing ICTs for public service and contributing to the development of the Information Society in Africa.

    A total of 24 countries submitted 89 projects.

    e-Soko was awarded in the Public Service to Citizens/Communities category. Under this, the judges evaluated projects that demonstrated the use of ICT applications in revolutionising service delivery in the public sector.

    Currently, e-Soko covers a total of 50 markets in the country; however, plans are underway to include 20 more during the second phase of the project implementation.

More

  • In Burkina Faso, Gilbert Noël Ouédraogo has been appointed Minister of ICT and Post while in Niger the job has been taken on by Salifou Labo Bouché.

  • eLearning Africa 2011 - Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability
    25-27 May 2011, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The 6th event in the series of pan-African conferences and exhibitions will focus on Africa's youth. Africa has the highest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. How can it unlock the vast reservoir of talent? How can technology support education and training?
    For further information click here:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011, Nairobi, Kenya

    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success.
    For more information click here:

    SatCom 2011 Africa Conference
    30 May - 2 June 2011, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

    For further information click here:

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 June 2011, Dakar, Senegal

    For further information click here:

    Telecoms World Africa
    27- 30 June 2011, International Convention Centre, Cape Town

    For further information click here:

    VAS Africa
    July 6 - July 7, 2011, Johannesburg

    For further information click here:

  • Implementation Manager – Zambia
    The company is looking for Looking for a Implementation Manager with Vast experience in Telecom. Ericsson experience preferred. Location will be Zambia
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Etisalat and Alcatel-Lucent -Nigeria
    Etisalat Nigeria has decided to renew its managed services contract for its mobile network with Alcatel-Lucent. The French-US vendor said it will continue supporting Etisalat Nigeria’s network transformation by developing and delivering new end-user services as required to meet its customers’ growing demands. The renewed two-year multi-vendor managed services agreement will reduce operational expenses, while improving service quality for the operator’s subscribers. Alcatel-Lucent will be responsible for ensuring the high-quality and reliable performance of the network in the south west of the country, including Lagos, by providing a range of services including network operations, consultation, design, network optimisation, spare parts management, maintenance and project management.

Issue no 553 6th May 2011

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Top story

  • Last week’s News Update reported on the winners of the World Bank Competition on “Apps for Development”. In the same issue we also covered the ITU’s announcement about the “Green ICT Application Challenge”. And this week’s Top Story is about the Mobile Web Ghana mobile apps awards. Readers will not be surprised to feel that this is developing into something of a trend. So this week Isabelle Gross talks to the mobile app winners of the contest in Ghana.

    Before telling you more about Alfred and David’s winning projects, let’s start by introducing Mobile Web Ghana (mwg). Headed by Florence Toffa, mwg is a community of mobile-technology entrepreneurs, developed as part of the World Wide Web Foundation's Mobile Entrepreneurship in Africa program which is financially sponsored by Vodafone. Mobile Web Ghana was founded in October 2010 and launched its first Mobile Entrepreneurship training at the end of February 2011. Among the 90 applications that were received, 35 candidates were selected to attend a four weeks training program. Divided into two tracks, the program taught to participants about mobile technology (SMS, voice, mobile Web, native applications and user experience) and mobile business (generic mobile-entrepreneurship component as well as local aspects of the Ghanaian market). Trainees were also asked to form teams which would develop both technical and business sides of a service.

    Close to 20 projects were developed during and after the training and the best two projects have each been awarded a cash prize at a ceremony held in Accra on April 30th. After the project presentations, the jury members comprising John Totoe from MobileContent, Nii Quaynor from AFNOG, Mark Davies from BusyInternet and Nana Manu from Vodafone Ghana gave the 1st prize (GHC10,000 or about US$7,000) to a music request service developed by Alfred Anyan, Gerald Abraham and Martin Zonyrah and the 2nd prize (GHC5,000 or about US$3,500) to Mobitix, a mobile application developed  by David Agbenyega. The seed funding to help further develop the projects has been generously donated by Vodafone Ghana.

    Alfred Anyan, the lead in the team that won the 1st prize recalls that he was very excited about it especially because there were other good projects in the competition. When I asked him what his music request service project is about, he explained me that it basically allows someone to request a song to be played to somebody else. The technology behind the idea is not rocket science and the service is simple enough to use to appeal to a wide public using basic mobile phones.

    All you will need to do is to call a short code number and you will be welcomed by voice prompt inviting you to select the song that you want and then to select the person that you want the song to be played to. The selected person will receive an SMS to alert him or her about the awaiting song. To listen to the song on the phone, he or she has only to ring a number. It is pity that next Valentines Day is still eight months away… A small fee will be charged to the person that requests the song. The service is still at the demo stage but Alfred is confident that the service will go live in the next two months. It needs a bit more development while pending music copyright issues have to be sorted out too. Alfred hopes to expand with other similar services and maybe try also different revenue models like services supported by advertisement.

    David Agbenyega, the project leader of Mobitix has received the 2nd price for a mobile application that will allow mobile users to buy tickets and event organizers to issue tickets, monitor their sale and validate them. David explained me that with this application, users will potentially be able to buy any types of tickets. Right now, he envisages starting to offer cinema tickets. David has initiated a conversation with Silverbird, the largest chain of cinemas in Ghana about Mobitix with hopes of a partnership in the near future. One teething problem he has yet to solve is the payment. Various electronic means of payment are available like mobile payment systems, txtNpay or eTranzact but the problem with them is that they are not widely used in Ghana yet. An alternate payment method would be scratch cards. David is positive that by the end of the year, the project will be ready to be rolled out in the market.

    Both Alfred and David have degrees in Science and Technology or Computer Sciences. Following his military service in the engineering department at the Ministry of Defence, Alfred started his own business – an Internet café offering also IT services. This venture was not as successful as expected but then he won a two year scholarship to attend the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology. At the end of his studies, he started another company offering IT training and web development services. David on the other hand with his Computer Science graduation in the pocket started first to work as a project manager with an NGO before joining Corenett as a programmer.

    When I asked them why they applied to follow the training course, Alfred told me that he was interested in the training course offered by Mobile Web Ghana because it gave him the opportunity to learn more about developing mobile applications. He reckons that “the mobile space is an emerging area which offers a lot of opportunities. There are not many computers in Ghana but many Ghanaian have a mobile phone”. David too was interested in learning more about mobile technology. In his final graduation year, he missed the course on mobile programming, so he thought that the training offered by Mobile Web Ghana was a good opportunity to learn about what he missed at university.

    When asked what Ghana needs to do to foster the development of applications and content, Alfred points at further developing the infrastructure because it is not always easy to get to the Internet. Similarly, getting your hands on relevant business information is also not always straight forward. People should pay more attention to ICT matters rather than politics or sport while more financial resources should be allocated to mobile content development. For David, the Government has done well by putting in place the necessary regulatory framework to foster a level playing field among all the actors. In his view, the problem is more with the telecos which are very reluctant to share the mobile space. He wishes that they would allow more developers and content to get on their mobile platforms.

    Is it then a further coincidence that all over Africa, mobile operators are moaning about falling voice ARPU? The decrease of ARPU is even sharper and faster when a company Airtel starts a price war to try to take a bigger share in the markets with aggressive price-cutting. All over Africa, most mobile operators (those that have already launched 3G data services and those that are planning to launch soon) are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the potential of mobile broadband. But hang on a second, the uptake of mobile broadband can’t only rely on a strategy based on providing access to international content (Facebook, etc…). The reluctance of mobile operators to invest in the development of local content will affect and slow down the development mobile broadband penetration in Africa. Mobile operators need to get serious about content and find ways of seeding its development.

     

     


     

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telecoms

  • There is a change of ownership at the country’s premier GSM Company Gamcel, claims Gambian online newspaper Freedom.  The Lebanese-owned telecommunication company Spectrum, which had its initial contract prematurely terminated by the Government without compelling reasons to justify the move, is back in town again.

    The claimed comeback of Spectrum was reached secretly without the Government informing Gambians. The report went on to State that the move was meant to mitigate a possible lawsuit that was purportedly filed, or to be filed  by the Lebanese telecommunication firm against the Government for breach of contract.  In order to reach a settlement deal with the company, the regime had to allow Spectrum to proceed with the initial 50 percent shares it bought from Gamcel.

    It should be recalled that the Gambia Government claimed in a news release in November 2008, that the termination of the joint business contract it reached with Spectrum  was “due to fundamental breaches of the provisions of the partnership agreement between the government of The Gambia and Spectrum International Holdings.”

    “This was further exacerbated by the underperformance of Gamtel/Gamcel and the deterioration of the country's telecommunication infrastructure under their watch," former Information Minister Neneh Macdwol Gaye claimed.

    The release concludes by assuring each and every Gambian that the government will never tolerate investors that try to exploit The Gambia, the Daily Observer reported. Full report:

    Our Reporter visited the Gamcel Office at Westfield last week, where he met some top officials of Spectrum. Both Gamcel, and Information Ministry officials confirmed the reemergence of Spectrum, but wouldn’t comment on the details surrounding the new sale deal.

    According to one independent source, the Government is currently “broke” and is unable to maintain key Departments. The source said Gamcel’s sale is just tip of the iceberg—hinting that by the year end some institutions would be unable to pay salaries.

  • The mobile portability war is now headed for the courts after Mobile operator, Safaricom sued Porting Access Kenya, the administrators of Mobile Number Portability for defamation and economic sabotage.

    The operator also wants the industry regulator, Communication Commission of Kenya to review the contract with Porting Access, saying it has lost moral and legal legitimacy by siding with Bharti Airtel.

    Safaricom' legal action follows accusations made last week by Patrick Musimba, the Managing Director Porting Access, who said the operator was sabotaging implementation of MNP. " Musimba has taken to making a slew of unsubstantiated allegations against Safaricom and its officials regarding the implementation of MNP," said Nzioka Waita, Safaricom Director of Corporate Affairs. " Consequently, Safaricom has (last week) instructed its lawyers to institute legal proceedings against Porting Access and the person of Mr. Musimba for what we believe are acts of defamation and the tort of economic sabotage against Safaricom Limited, this legal action will be vigorously pursued to its logical end," he said during a press briefing.

    On April 26, CCK initiated an audit process between the Safaricom, Airtel and Porting Access, following publicised complaints and accusations about hitches affecting the uptake of MNP. The audit was meant to establish the cause of SMS failures to the Porting Access data base.

    But Safaricom now says there have been attempts by the competitor and the porting firm to derail the on-going audit process. "We are aware the audit could find us at responsible for some technical problem, we are ready for this, but whole process must be examined to identify the core problem,"

    Besides absolving itself from total blame, Safaricom also alleges doctoring of the porting figures , according to it there have been around 28,000 porting requests made in the last one month , contrary to 45,000 announced by Porting Access last week.

    Waita said MNP is bound to have teething problems, especially due to the fact it was technically tested for just a week, against a global benchmark of at least eight weeks. "As late as this morning, we have received communication from Porting Access BV that they were having technical challenges based on what they cite to be unstable connectivity from their end, this is affecting the ability of all operators in the Kenyan space to successfully implement some of the day to day actions related to the MNP process," he said. Porting Access Kenya is 80 per cent owned by Porting XS BV of Netherlands, so it is bound to be dragged in to the legal suit.

    While insisting that Airtel was applying unethical tactics to woo subscribers, Safaricom disclosed it had lost around 14,000 of its subscribers to other networks. When contacted for a comment, Musimba said he was not aware of any legal suit against him and his company.

  • Mauritius’ minister for information and communication technology, Tassarajen Chedumbrum Pillay, is calling for a minimum 25% reduction in mobile interconnection fees before the end of May, Reuters reports. The minister says that the current interconnection and user fees of MUR0.90 (USD0.034) per minute are too high. ‘I have asked the Information and Communication Technology Authority to review the charges by not less than 25%. We hope to be able to have a tariff cut by the end of the month,’ he said.

    Mauritius is home to around 1.2 million SIM cards, he said, although given the population is more than 1.3 million, the government believes the market is still not saturated. ‘The number of subscribers is on the increase,’ Pillay said, adding that any reduction in fees would ultimately be of benefit anyway to the incumbent operators. ICT contributed 5.7% of gross domestic product (GDP) last year for Mauritius, and Pillay forecasts that the figure will increase to 6.4% of GDP in 2011. ‘This will represent 23 billion rupees in terms of contribution to GDP,’ he said.

  • The National Cohesion and Integration Commission has been monitoring text messages and internet-based communication for any clues of hate speech and incitement. The Commission said it has been partnering with local telephone providers and government security agencies for about a year now, according to Commissioner Halakhe Waqo. The monitoring has also extended to Kenyans in Diaspora as NCIC gets tough ahead of the 2012 General Election, less than 20 months away.

    It means that the Commission may have obtained several telephone records of people suspected of sending hate messages from local companies with the assistance of the Cyber-Crime Unit at the Criminal Investigation Department.

    Waqo, however, assured the phone users that adequate steps have been taken to safeguard individual privacy unless it breaches national security and peaceful co-existence. "We do recognise that privacy is very important for an individual but public security and safety is much more important. We want to pin down that breach in public safety and security," the Commissioner told the press in Nairobi Thursday.

    The partnership with the police and phone firms that started about a year ago is helping ease the NCIC's inherent human and technical resource deficiencies that would have otherwise hindered monitoring phone and internet-based communication.

    "We have been concerned from our day of appointment that there are various means of communication outside the political rallies and public forums that are used to create public disharmony in this country," Waqo told the press.

    He was speaking after launching of a media monitoring report on the Implementation of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agenda 4 item.

    The report titled Facilitation of Citizens Participation in the National Accord through ICTs was prepared by the Nairobi-based Africa Peace Forum (APFO).

    "There is no single institution which can boast of having the capacity to track everything and bring everybody to book in case of any problem unless there is some form of partnership with many other institutions that also have interest, experience and skills," he said.

    Even Kenyans in Diaspora will not be spared by the Commission as it moves to punish senders and consumers of inciting and hateful messages over the internet and telephone.

    "It is also important to note that whether somebody is in Kenya or not we will still track. We are also looking at international frameworks and political processes that support collective security systems," he added.

    Earlier this year in March, NCIC Chairman Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia said the Commission was monitoring hate speech posted on social networks as well as commentaries on news websites.Dr Kibunjia explained that the commission had recruited 40 new staff, who report to the commission in April be charged with the responsibility of monitoring the social networking sites.

    The Commission boss also noted that that Kenyans in the Diaspora were most culpable arguing that the Internet had become a convenient forum to advance negative ethnic sentiments that undermine integration.

    "Facebook, Twitter and such networks will be our main focus and I can tell you most of the hate speech comes from the Diaspora not internally. But one of the experts who is coming in from April 1 will be looking at this issue and how we can address it so as to stem it," he said back then.

    And Thursday, Mr Waqo said the partnership with the unit of CID that handles Cyberspace crime and the telephone and telecommunication system providers has been on for about a year.

    "We are working with various institutions, both government and non-government...we are working with government security organs like the cyber-crime unit of the CID. We are also in link with telephone providers and telecommunication system providers among other institutions that have the capacity to monitor and control negative communication," he said.

    The Commissioner said they have also been emphasizing partnership and very close collaboration with the media in delivering the mandate of the NCIC. He also called on Kenyans to be part of the process of monitoring hate messages and also providing solutions to deal with these challenges.

    While phone-tapping would require express authority from a judge, the law is silent on the new and emerging media which has become the fodder for youths and politicians eyeing high public offices.

internet

  • Main One and SEACOM have interconnected their West and East African Cable Systems to launch capacity services from PoP to PoP, from a STM-1 level and above. This partnership extends the Main One and SEACOM networks to create a system that offers connection between any SEACOM and Main One PoPs all around Africa between South Africa and Nigeria.

    Funke Opeke, Main One CEO, explained: “While efforts to implement a physical cable between Nigeria and South Africa continue, we have joined our cables together in Europe to satisfy many of our customers’ immediate requirements for capacity between Nigeria and South Africa.” 

    As with the Main One and SEACOM cables themselves, the joint solution is provided on an open-access basis and is immediately available, providing customers with a timing advantage ahead of the completion of other planned systems around the African continent.

    “We hold the view that a ring-type system around the entire continent is the best way to attain adequate redundancy whilst offering customers a comprehensive connectivity solution. The announcement today shows our determination to find a viable way to extend our system with partners who share our vision to build the African Internet,” said Brian Herlihy, SEACOM CEO.

  • The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) approved on Wednesday, a USD 12 million senior private sector loan to finance Seychelles East African System “SEAS”.

    The project is designed to connect Seychelles to global internet exchange centers using high bandwidth link at lower costs.

    The SEAS project will be co-financed by the European Investment Bank, and equity contributions split between the three shareholders: Seychelles government, Cable and Wireless Seychelles and Airtel.

    The Project entails engineering works, sea survey, construction and roll-out of a submarine optical cable system and associated equipment to link Seychelles (Victoria, on Mahé Island) to Tanzania (Dar-el-Salam).The system comprises a pair of optical fibers as well as termination equipment at both ends. It is configured to provide 32 wavelengths, allowing a maximum throughput of 320 Gbit/s. From Tanzania, Seychellois telecom operators will have access to international connectivity.

    Mobile phones and internet use  in Africa has helped to broaden markets, create better information flow, reduce transaction costs, reduce expensive physical transportation, and improve revenue yields.

    In this regard, the project represents considerable infrastructure investment in the country, and will enable Seychelles to link up to other regional ICT infrastructure. It is expected to reduce broadband service costs, and provide alternate and more competitive traffic route.

    Furthermore, the project will provide Seychelles businesses with advanced and cost-effective technology that would make them more competitive. The project sponsors will be the immediate beneficiaries as they can access better and higher quality non-satellite international interconnection.

    Other telecommunications operators will benefit from the cable’s virtually unlimited capacity which can be leased at lower cost compared to satellite connections. The availability of high quality ICT services will also have considerable impact on other sectors. It will promote modernization in health, industry, education, and business infrastructure.

    Overall, the project will propel and sustain improved business environment that would yield higher revenue in terms of VAT entries.  Besides, diversification of the economy and the creation of higher value adding jobs will leverage economic growth which will bring in additional excise revenues for government.

    The project is aligned with the Seychelles’ National Information and Communication Technology Policy established in 2007. It is also consistent with AfDB 2008-2010 ICT and regional integration strategies, which recognize the crucial role played by infrastructure in supporting intra-regional and global trade as well as market integration. Finally, as the Bank’s first Public-Private Partnership project in Seychelles, SEAS is consistent with AfDB objective to diversify its private sector operations.

  • Telkom looks set to bump up DSL512 speeds to 1Mbps in the near future – here is what you can expect with uncapped ADSL on the new service

    When new Telkom CEO Pinky Moholi took the reins at the company a month ago she indicated that while they are not planning immediate price cuts, users can expect more value for money from Telkom in the broadband space.

    At the time Moholi gave a strong indication that DSL512 subscribers can expect something soon, and information has now emerged that Telkom is planning to increase the speed of all 512Kbps ADSL subscribers to 1Mbps.

    Telkom spokesperson Pynee Chetty could not provide details about the planned speed upgrade, but did confirm that it was on the cards.

    While this doubling of speed will not influence capped ADSL 512Kbps users, uncapped subscribers will have to fork out more money if they want to take advantage of the higher speeds.

    MWeb, for example, has both 512Kbps and 1Mbps uncapped ADSL accounts, priced at R299 per month and R369 per month respectively. MWeb ISP CEO Derek Hershaw explained that they will offer subscribers the option of keeping their 512Kbps uncapped account or upgrade to their 1Mbps offering.

    “If the customer’s price does not change then we will automatically migrate them to the most favourable option. If there is a pricing decision to be made by the customer we will present them with the options and let them choose,” explains Hershaw.

    Axxess is also prepared for the planned 1Mbps speed upgrades from Telkom as they already have uncapped accounts for 512Kbps and 1024Kbps line speeds.

    “If a person’s line speed is bumped up to 1024kbs, the user will have the choice to keep his/her 512kbs Uncapped account or upgrade to 1024kbs Uncapped. If the 1024kbs Uncapped is not affordable for them, they can then choose our “Per Gig” option to what is affordable,” said Franco Barbalich, Marketing Director at Axxess DSL.

    Web Africa already has a 1Mbps business uncapped product, priced at R999, and said that they welcome the planned speed upgrades.

    Web Africa’s Cliff Hazel said that they would love to see more of these improvements - offering faster access without increased costs or reduced quality. “Ultimately everyone wins,” said Hazell.

computing

  • African health ministers have called for the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to help with attempts to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and sickle-cell disease.

    The recommendation that ICTs be harnessed to increase health awareness and empower individuals and communities was part of the Brazzaville Declaration on NCDs, which the ministers have signed.

    The declaration includes other recommendations, calling for the strengthening health systems, and support for partnerships and networks that bring together national, regional and global players including academic and research institutions, public and private sectors, and civil society to tackle the rising problem.

    The ministers also urged the WHO, partners and civil society organisations to take the initiative and give technical support to member states so that they can implement the recommendations better, as well as monitor and evaluate what they have done.

    NCDs such as cancer, diabetes and heart diseases, have spread to the developing world and cause the majority of the deaths worldwide, according to the first global report on the status of NCDs released by the WHO last week (27 April). Some 36 million, or 80 per cent, of deaths caused by NCDs in 2008 occurred in the low- and middle-income countries.

    The declaration, named after the Congolese capital city where it was adopted last month (6 April), will be presented at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on NCDs in September.

    "It is high time African governments adopted new science and new technologies to help reduce NCDs on the continent," said Robert Mathenge, a cardiologist at the Nairobi Hospital in Kenya.

    "I am particularly excited about the prospects of telemedicine, where a few specialists can sit in Nairobi and interact with health workers in rural villages in real time and guide them through examining, diagnosing and treating patients," he told SciDev.Net.

    Such technologies, he said, will lead to the earlier diagnosis of diseases and the use of specialist treatments and preventive strategies in even the remotest parts of the country.

    "African governments need to invest more in the development of ICT infrastructure. In the long run, they will reap big [benefits] because, if left unchecked, NCDs have to be treated with complicated, expensive technologies and medicines," he said.

    Davy Omolo, an ICT expert at telecommunications company Telecraft in Nairobi, said: "We have one of the fastest-growing ICT sectors on the continent and it is time we capitalised on this".

    But Tim Unwin, UNESCO chair in ICT for Development (ICT4D), was cautious on telemedicine. "It is intuitively very appealing, but it is striking that it has not yet been particularly successfully introduced across Africa," he said. "We need to know much more about why telemedicine initiatives have so frequently failed."

    Unwin said that although some aspects of ICTs could be productively applied to tackling NCDs, for example, in providing information to health workers on how to diagnose the diseases, "to be successful, ICTs in health need to be integrated into comprehensive nation-wide policies and practices".

    He added that health awareness programmes that use traditional media, such as radio and television, can be "hugely important in raising awareness".

    The WHO report says that prevalence of NCDs in Africa "is rising rapidly and is projected to cause almost three-quarters as many deaths as communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional diseases by 2020, and to almost equal them as the most common causes of death by 2030".

    The common risk factors involved in driving the rise in NCDs, according to the report, are tobacco use, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and the harmful use of alcohol, which lead to raised blood pressure, excessive weight, and raised sugar and cholesterol levels in the blood.

  • On April 19th, 2011, the Dakar Information and Communication Technologies Incubator (CITIC) officially launched. This business incubation center is the result of a public-private partnership among infoDev, a donor funded trust fund of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and several local partners.

    Keys to the success of CITIC Dakar are local knowledge and relationships, clear goals, and building knowledge from and relationships with incubators worldwide. According to Sonatel (Senegal), a local partner, “The incubator is a nucleus to better understand the problems of entrepreneurs.” The incubator hopes to facilitate the scaling of early-stage ICT enterprises and make sustainable business incubation a reality for Senegalese entrepreneurs. To help achieve these goals, CITIC Dakar will join infoDev’s iDisc network, a global network of over 300 incubators in 88 countries.

    iDISC, the infoDev Incubator Support Center, was created in 2002 to support organizations promoting ICT-enabled innovation and entrepreneurship in developing countries. It provides free-of-charge, hands-on and practical information for incubators and other business development organizations, including online communities of practice, ‘how to’ guides for incubators, member directories, regional networking opportunities, case studies, presentations and reports from global experts on innovation and entrepreneurship for small to medium enterprises.

    infoDev is dedicated to supporting the growth of early-stage ICT enterprises around the world. This particular incubator will support such work in Senegal and is the result of a partnership among several co-financiers: ADIE, ARTP, CDE, GTZ and Sonatel, and is being supported by OPTIC, Chaka Computers, APIX, and the Universities of Dakar and St. Louis. The incubator will provide a comprehensive set of business development, financial, market and technical services to entrepreneurs with high growth potential in the hopes of fostering new innovative and sustainable businesses.

  • The City Council of Nairobi projects to grow its monthly revenue from car parking services by 78 per cent to Sh16 million when an automated system is set up in July, a senior official said.

    Deputy Treasurer Margaret Osili said Tuesday the automation of the parking fee collection services would help weed out inefficiencies and fraud that have denied the council maximum returns.

    "We hope to grow our revenue to Sh16 million instead of Sh9 million a month through an efficient automated system," she told a media briefing during a regulatory reform meeting in Nairobi.

    The official did not disclose how the automation of the parking services would be done but pointed out that the exercise will lead to the redeployment of some officials currently serving in the department.

    "Of course we shall have several attendants displaced from their jobs as a result of the automation but there will be arrangements to provide them with new roles within the establishment," Osili added.

    If achieved, the plans to automate the car parking services could provide a major boost to the cash-starved local authority that is under pressure to meet demands of an ever rising population in Nairobi.

    Though the services have a potential to generate huge revenue returns, high levels of fraud among parking attendants and revenue officials has over the years thwarted efforts to boost income.

    "The objective of this is to reduce the human interface that is known to stir incidents of fraud. We are also going to have electronic payment and banking systems live by July," Osili said. The business community says corruption remains a major obstacle to conducting business in the city, besides poor infrastructure.

    Officials at City Hall said a report from an ongoing audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is expected to change that by providing guidance on effective management and operation systems

    With an annual salaries burden of about Sh7.2 billion against a revenue base of Sh10 billion from land rates, business permits and parking fees, salaries take close to 72 per cent of City Hall's total expenditure, making wage bill trimming a prime target of the re-organisation plan.

    A recent review of City Hall's resources revealed that the council lacks critical professional staff including engineers, planners, architects and financial experts, a gap that has watered down its capacity to deliver quality services.

    "We want to make it possible for our clients to walk into any banking hall and pay into the CCN account instead of coming to line up at City Hall," Osili said.

    In October last year, the city council attempted to reap from the potential of car parking services by more than doubling fees charged on motorists. The plans were, however, put on hold following a Court order.

    The proposed new parking charges, which had been scheduled to come into force on November 1, last year, would have seen private motorists pay Sh300 per day to park in the central business district (CBD) from Sh140 -- a more than 100 per cent increase.
    In automated parking bays in the CBD, motorists would have had to part with a Sh50 entry fee and then Sh15 for every additional 30 minutes spent there.

    Motorists, leaving their cars in non-automated parking lots, would be required to pay Sh400 up from Sh200. Revenues from the shelved parking charges had been factored in the council's budget for the current financial year, which stands at Sh12 billion shillings, up from Sh9 billion in 2009.
     
    The planned automation of parking fee collection comes against the backdrop of plans by the government to implement major guidelines expected to improve traffic flow in Nairobi.

    Osili said the council was also in consultation with the International Finance Corporation to help design an online system through which applications for the approval of building plans would be handled.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Riding on the back of increasing subscriber additions for its broadband offerings, Telecom Namibia last year rang up a three per cent increase in total revenue, totalling N$1,16 billion.

    Releasing its financial results for the year ended September 30 2010, Telecom said its operating profit for the year jumped by 77 per cent from N$58,5 million in 2009 to N$103,7 million last years. Profit after tax improved from N$25,5 million in 2009 to N$69,7 million during the period under review.

    Total assets were up from N$2,13 billion as to N$2,18 billion, increasing by three per cent. Additional investment amounting to N$159 million was made towards local capital infrastructure development.

    Telecom Namibia also successfully concluded a bond issue during the last financial year, injecting N$200 million in long-term capital to the business. Additional long term debt of N$222 million was raised by the company in 2010. Total long-term borrowings therefore increased from N$294 million to N$659 million from 2009 to 2010.

    The additional capital resulting from the positive cash flow from operations, saw Telecom Namibia fully redeem its overdraft of N$256 million during the year. Operations generated a net amount of N$327 million last year, up from N$295 million the previous financial year.

    Telecom Namibia issued 3 483 orders worth close to N$148 million to black economic empowerment (BEE) companies during its last financial year. This constitutes 39 per cent of all orders that were placed with suppliers or contractors and 38,2 per cent in terms of overall value of all orders placed.

  • Rwandatel is willing to pay the Rwf54.3 billion it owes to its creditors arising from debts and other expanses, the company's new administrator said yesterday.

    The financially crippled telecom operator is tussling with the Registrar General, who is seeking a court order to disolve it because of technical insolvency. According to Rwandatel's Chief Finance Officer (CFO), David Gaitho, the company's total liabilities as at December 31, 2010 amounted to Rwf54.3 billion with Rwf1.7 billion as debt it owes to MTN Rwanda and TIGO Rwanda in interconnectivity fees.

    The biggest fraction of Rwf10 billion and Rwf10.1 billion is owed to local suppliers and in foreign trade. Rwandatel's debt to government amounts to Rwf3.6 billion while taxes, fines and penalties totalled to 485 million.

    Unsold airtime and other accessories amounted to Rwf63 million, salaries and employment costs Rwf413.6 million and other payables like transport add up to Rwf 649 million.

    Gaitho added that the company's short-term borrowing from banks and other sources rose to Rwf21.8 billions as receipts collected from clients and not allocated to their accounts totalled Rwf5.2 billion.

    The uncountable debt, he said amounted to Rwf4.9 billion with payables to related parties totalling Rwf3.6 billion. While briefing the press last week, Richard Mugisha, Rwandatel's administrator, who was recently appointed by court, said that the company has the capacity to pay off all the liabilities since it is still up and running. "The company still has fixed telephony license which has always accounted for 60 percent of its revenues," he said.

    Mugisha said that court appointed him interim administrator because the company has been experiencing issues of mismanagement. He is supposed to advise court on whether the company can be turned around or be liquidated.

    The administrator underscored that his job is to maintain the remaining services which are vital to the country's economy, reduce company operating costs and collect money owed to the company as well as pay off the creditors.

    "The public and in particular Rwandatel's existing clients should, therefore make every effort to honour their obligations to Rwandatel and clear their outstanding bills with the confidence that their existing services shall not be halted," Mugisha said.

  • Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has signed a USD70 million partnership agreement with associated company Liquid Telecommunications Holdings (Liquid), which henceforth takes a 49% stake in the cellular operator’s ISP arm, Ecoweb. According to Byo24News, the deal is aimed at strengthening broadband operator Ecoweb and furthering the group’s aims of providing universal access to telecoms services. Econet chairman Tawanda Nyambira confirmed that Liquid took a 49% stake in the ISP, and will also provide a significant amount of money to roll out fibre-optic infrastructure, adding that the deployment of network equipment acquired in the past year would be completed in the next financial year. Nyambirai added that the fibre-optic project will boost the capacity of the group’s transmission backbone, while allowing Econet/Ecoweb to add several new value added services to its broadband range ‘soon’.

  • Uganda Telecom has no plan to pay Shs5 billion in fees and interest to MTN Uganda, despite a High Court order to the firm to do so. Instead, the mobile operator will appeal against the court ruling to save itself from the cost, Daily Monitor was informed on Monday.

    "We are very disappointed with the ruling made by the High Court. We are contemplating appealing this ruling very soon," Mr Stanley Henning, the deputy managing director Uganda Telecom told journalists at press a conference in Kampala.

    Utl plans to file its appeal to the High Court within the 14 days in which it was ordered to pay the money. Last week, Justice Geoffrey Kiryabwire, of the commercial division of the high court, ordered Utl to make the payment as part of the money owed to MTN, in inter-connect fees for the period between 2008 and 09.

    Inter-connect fees are rates mobile operator charge each other to enable customers of other networks to make calls on their telecommunication networks.

    MTN has claimed disputed inter-connect fees amounting to Shs20 billion from Utl through the commercial court.

    Of this total, Shs5 billion is attributed to unpaid inter-connection fees, interest and legal costs arising from MTN calls made to Gemtel a Southern Sudan network which is partly owned by Utl.

    The other Shs15 billion is attached to fees arising from MTN calls to Utl calls in Uganda. The firm has so far cleared Shs2 billion of the debt. Utl has disputed the High Court decision on the account that it was made on unfair grounds since the Shs5 billion that is claimed is attributed to inter-connect fees of a company in Sudan not in Uganda.

    The inter-connect payment agreement between Utl and MTN is limited to local traffic.
    But Justice Kiryabwire ruled that communication traffic carried by Utl on MTN's behalf to Southern Sudan was local traffic. This, because Gemtel uses the calling code +256477 which the court recorgnised as a local call. "We find this absurd as Utl's network and Gemtel's are two distinct networks located in two different countries and locations," Henning said.

    GEMTEL started using the Uganda code in 2006, after the government granted Utl permission to further authorize GEMTEL to use Uganda's international code.

    Upon this arrangement, Utl requested MTN to treat traffic on the Sudan network as international not local. However, MTN rejected the appeal although it continued sending traffic to Sudan.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - In Zambia, Zamtel has reduced its international call rates to high traffic destinations by more than 50 per cent. The company has slashed rates for calls to destinations frequently called by most Zambians including India, China, America, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, South Africa and Tanzania. Zamtel chief commercial officer Amon Jere cited the United Kingdom, where customers used to pay K58.33 per second, but will now be paying K25, representing 57 per cent reduction.

    - Virgin Mobile South Africa has announced that they will launch a new prepaid product next week where their prepaid customers will get an immediate reward of R10 free airtime every time R30 of airtime is used. According to the company this product follows research into what consumers really want from a prepaid product, which includes true per second billing, competitive peak and off-peak rates that are as good or better than contract rates, a great on-net rate, no hidden catches or terms and conditions, as well as loyalty rewards for high usage.

    - Research in Motion (RIM), maker of BlackBerry devices, recently announced that they will be bringing a touch screen BlackBerry Bold to market and that it should start appearing at carriers around the world “this summer”. Good news for South African consumers is that they will not have to wait for long either.  MTN has indicated that the new BlackBerry Bold will be available from July 2011 in South Africa.

    - Vodacom South Africa  is set to have the new white iPhone 4 in stores by the end of next week.

Digital Content

  • Imagine tracking down your stolen car using the SMS (short message service) and immobilising it. Yes, that is now happening. With the rising uptake of mobile value added services, the entry of mobile phone car tracking service is changing the way we view the handset.

    Andrew Kenani, a business development director at Eurosfield Maptrak Kenya Limited says there is growing awareness among vehicle owners about the developments in car tracking business and this new development will change the landscape of vehicle safety.
    "Some car tracking firms have in the past frustrated customers and left people with low confidence in the services," he said.

    But this might soon change. Car tracking services have come a long way to what they are today and track companies are keen to make the best out of emerging developments in tracking technology.

    In the mobile tracking technology, one logs on to a tracking platform via SMS and can remotely access dashboard functions of the car such as speed and fuel levels as well as Google Maps that show a vehicle's location.

    The same message can be used to alert the tracking company in case of an emergency.

    Before the mobile revolution caught on in Kenya less than a decade ago, tracking companies relied heavily on radio frequencies to find stolen cars.

    It often failed because savvy thieves could deactivate the tracker as soon as they had taken possession of the car.

    "Back then, the systems that were used were not efficient as compared to what we have today. They mainly relied on radio frequencies that do not offer real time access to information," said Mr Kenani.

    Under radio frequency tracking systems, each vehicle is allocated a certain frequency that links it up with the tracking company.

    When he realises the car is missing, a client places a call to the tracking company, who launch an investigation to confirm the client's report, in a process that can take 3 hours or more. This is enough time for the car to disappear without trace. Most new age car tracking systems use GPRS technology which allows real time access to information, a factor that makes them superior to radio systems.

    GPRS tracking systems are controlled from a mobile phone fitted with a SIM card that is configured to a network. GPRS connection not only guarantees real time access to information but also enables a client to access information other than a vehicle's location.

    When a subscriber needs to access a tracking platform from a mobile phone, all they need to do is send a short message to the tracking number.

    "After the short message is sent, the client will receive a URL address that they can follow to log on to the tracking platform," said Kenani. Unlike the old generation tracking systems, GPRS enabled tracking services can be customised to provide specific information, when needed, at designated time intervals.

    To a large extent, new age tracking services give a more interactive approach to vehicle tracking for both clients and tracking companies. Clients are also allowed direct access to archived records. This is ideal for car owners who want to access past information without having to call the company for its retrieval.

    "The historical playback report is among other reports that clients can access. This shows details of past happenings with the vehicle which can be helpful especially when reviewing past cases," added Kenani.

    Other reports available on a tracking platform include fuel, parking and driving reports as well as alarm record reports that come in handy when a vehicle is driven recklessly, crossing geographical fences or has over-stayed at a parking bay.

    While new age vehicle tracking is indeed convenient to clients, tracking companies have to dig deep into their pockets to ensure customer satisfaction.

    Investment in GPRS tracking systems involves setting up a tracking platform as well as incurring the cost of buying and securing servers and personnel to man the system.

    On average, a company can invest up to Sh1 million or more in laying basic infrastructure for the tracking system.

    Due to competition in new age tracking business, companies have settled for flexible payment modes of fixed annual subscription charges that cater for cost of service other than having to bill clients every month.

    Developments in car tracking systems have opened up business opportunities to both domestic and foreign track companies.

    Eurosfield Maptrack Limited is among the new entrants in the business, having set up shop locally late last year.

    It is the Kenyan branch of UK based Eurosfield Maptrack which has been in the business of car tracking for a decade with a client base of about three million to boot.

  • The E-Soko project on Monday won an African award for the promotion of ICT in Rwanda during the third Technology in Government in Africa (TIGA) Awards held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    During the colorful event organised by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Finnish government, e-Soko was recognised as a model innovative project in Africa that facilitates Rwandan farmers to access market prices.

    e-Soko is an electronic platform, which provides farmers, consumers and traders with up-to-date market price information on commodities using mobile phones.

    "The project, implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, is a vital economic tool that increases access to market information for both farmers and consumers, thereby increasing efficiency and preventing price gouging," Patrick Nyirishema, the Head of ICT at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said in a statement.

    He expressed gratitude for the award and pledged continued commitment to the implementation of technologies aimed at increasing government efficiency and productivity.

    Rwanda has won three TIGA awards since their launch in 2007. TRACnet won an award in the Health category while the Energy and Water Sanitation Agency (EWSA) triumphed courtesy of its SMS Utility Payment System..

    TIGA awards recognise African Governments' effective use of ICT for public service delivery, as part of fulfilling ECA's African Information Society Initiative (AISI) and the Government of Finland's Development Cooperation Strategy on ICTs for development in Africa.

    The award is awarded to African governments and institutions involved in developing and implementing ICTs for public service and contributing to the development of the Information Society in Africa.

    A total of 24 countries submitted 89 projects.

    e-Soko was awarded in the Public Service to Citizens/Communities category. Under this, the judges evaluated projects that demonstrated the use of ICT applications in revolutionising service delivery in the public sector.

    Currently, e-Soko covers a total of 50 markets in the country; however, plans are underway to include 20 more during the second phase of the project implementation.

More

  • In Burkina Faso, Gilbert Noël Ouédraogo has been appointed Minister of ICT and Post while in Niger the job has been taken on by Salifou Labo Bouché.

  • eLearning Africa 2011 - Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability
    25-27 May 2011, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

    The 6th event in the series of pan-African conferences and exhibitions will focus on Africa's youth. Africa has the highest percentage of young people anywhere in the world. How can it unlock the vast reservoir of talent? How can technology support education and training?
    For further information click here:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011, Nairobi, Kenya

    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success.
    For more information click here:

    SatCom 2011 Africa Conference
    30 May - 2 June 2011, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg

    For further information click here:

    West & Central Africa Com
    15-16 June 2011, Dakar, Senegal

    For further information click here:

    Telecoms World Africa
    27- 30 June 2011, International Convention Centre, Cape Town

    For further information click here:

    VAS Africa
    July 6 - July 7, 2011, Johannesburg

    For further information click here:

  • Implementation Manager – Zambia
    The company is looking for Looking for a Implementation Manager with Vast experience in Telecom. Ericsson experience preferred. Location will be Zambia
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Etisalat and Alcatel-Lucent -Nigeria
    Etisalat Nigeria has decided to renew its managed services contract for its mobile network with Alcatel-Lucent. The French-US vendor said it will continue supporting Etisalat Nigeria’s network transformation by developing and delivering new end-user services as required to meet its customers’ growing demands. The renewed two-year multi-vendor managed services agreement will reduce operational expenses, while improving service quality for the operator’s subscribers. Alcatel-Lucent will be responsible for ensuring the high-quality and reliable performance of the network in the south west of the country, including Lagos, by providing a range of services including network operations, consultation, design, network optimisation, spare parts management, maintenance and project management.

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