Issue no 541 11th February 2011

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Top story

  • The number of green mobile base stations deployed in Africa remains small. It represents a mere 3.1% of the total number of deployments worldwide (9,558). This news comes amid headlines last week on oil prices soaring to their highest level for two years as the value of Brent crude broke the US$101 a barrel mark for the first time since October 2008.

    A large number of African mobile base stations require two sets of generators and in some cases up to three months supply of costly fuel in their tanks. More remote base stations may require fuelling by boat and hand-cart and in the larger markets, operators run large fleets of oil tankers to keep base stations supplied.

    Isabelle Gross, the author of the report published by Balancing Act called “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” says that “ mobile operators shouldn’t take the lack of technical expertise for an excuse to do nothing. African mobile operators have to shift focus onto the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures are among the top items on their list”. Gross makes the point that “voice ARPU will carry on decreasing due to reducing prices on voice calls and the acquisition of new customers with much lower disposable income”. This will put more pressure on mobile operators’ revenue. In Ghana for example voice ARPU went down from US$17 in 2006 to US$7 in 2010. In Kenya and Uganda the ongoing price war on voice calls has already impacted mobile operators’ revenue. MTN’s CEO, Themba Khumalo conceded that increased competition has impacted on the company's overall revenue in Uganda. In less than a year, the price of a call dropped from an average of sh11 per second to just sh3 – nearly 4 times less.

    When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution for African mobile operators but it can be done. The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay. The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. Mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction or not for example with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    While the report describes in details the various approaches implemented by mobile operators to run their base stations more efficiently, it also looks at the renewable energy solutions that are currently available on the market for mobile operators to further reduce their energy bill. There is a growing choice of green solutions available (solar energy, wind power, bio-fuel powered base station, hydrogen fuel cells) but they all require a substantial initial capital investment.

    The report defines the business case for rolling out “green” base stations and gives example of African mobile operators that have started to implement renewable energy projects to power their base stations. The report establishes that “at the low end in terms of capital investment first comes a combination of solar energy power combined to a diesel battery hybrid powering system. Operating costs like diesel are reduced but not totally eliminated. At the high end in terms of capital investment comes a combination of wind and solar power system backed by batteries which provides the maximum reduction in operating costs”.

    The 45 pages report “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” ends with a directory that has useful details on companies offering services and products to improve the energy efficiency of a base station or solution to roll renewable energy powered base station. It will come very handy to whoever will look into energy saving solutions.

    According to the report’s author, “the “quick fixes” will help reduce operating costs but only to a certain point. Further reduction in operating costs will require some capital investment because it implies purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy power solutions. Ultimately the financial decision lies with the mobile operator and depends on its capital investment strategy and its positioning in the market in the long term. For some mobile operators, “going green” means more than just reducing the energy bill or decreasing their carbon footprint. It has the potential to provide strong branding – a new way to differentiate them from the competition.

    Further details on the report are available here:

    News announcement: New clips this week on Balancing Act’s new Web TV Channel

    Do not miss our Web TV Channel which highlights recent interviews with top telecoms personalities. There are interviews in both English and French:

    Funke Opeke,
    CEO, Main One on sales, national blockages and extending the cable
    click here:

    Nigeria: IPnx’s Ejovi Aror talks about price falls and national blockages
    click here:

    Clips from Mobile Web West Africa in Lagos:

    Stefan Magdalinski, General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, MIH talks about its investment strategy
    click here:

    Ayo Alli, Business Development Consultant for Goal.com talks about its massive growth in West Africa
    click here:

    Akinde Aludamola, Team Leader, ConnectNigeria talks about search website:
    click here:

    NOTE:

    If you want to receive daily news tweets from around the continent, please follow us on Twitter:

    In English: @BalancingActAfr
    In French: @sylvainbeletre

    If you are putting out information about your company on Twitter, please send us your details so that we can follow you.

More

  • 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011
    7-9 March 2011, Cape Town, South Africa Venue BMW Pavilion, V&A Waterfront

    Our 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011 (AEF-2011) in Cape Town at the BMW-Imax Theatre, with Africa Exhibition is a landmark Conference on Africa and significant business networking occasion for the top corporate players active in, across and involved with the development of the African continent - Cape-to-Cairo, with Governments and officials in key industries and state institutions.
    Contact: babette@glopac.com For further information visit here:


    Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East & Africa
    9 March  2011, Grand Millennium Hotel, Dubai

    Taking place on the 9th March 2011, the Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East and Africa is a Free-to-attend event and will feature all of the key players within the Cloud Computing and SaaS market providing an introduction, discussion and look into the future for the ICT industry.
    This one day conference will provide the most complete and comprehensive platform for the global Cloud Computing and SaaS industry. Register Free today and get inspiration on how to address your latest issues with advice from real-life end-user case studies and practical examples.
    Show Highlights include:
    1 Day Conference on Cloud Computing and SaaS
    Featuring presentations on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Applications, IaaS, Virtualization and PaaS
    Keynote theatre featuring leading industry speakers
    More case studies than any other like event
    Learn from the key players offering leading products and services
    Pre-show online meeting planner
    Evening networking reception for all attendees
    For more information please visit here: or contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.


    Broadband World Forum MEA
    14-15 March 2011, Dubai UAE

    Network, learn and do business with 750+ decision-makers from across the regional Broadband ecosystem to deliver you inspiration, insights and ideas that will further your regional business.The conference programme features 60+ visionary speakers presenting across keynote plenary sessions, 4 in-depth technology tracks and a Rural Coverage and Connectivity focus day.  Co-located to the conference is a 35+ stand technology exhibition showcasing some of the region’s latest cutting-edge broadband technologies, applications, solutions and services to hit the market.
    Limited FREE passes for operators and early booking discounts apply to all others.  Register with VIP code: BBM11BAA
    For further information visit here:

    ICT For Development in Africa – Sustaining The Momentum, Extending The Reach
    23-26 March 2011, Ota, Nigeria
    The conference will initiate research and practice agenda where ICTs will aid the academia, organizations - public and private and non-governmental to improve socio-economic conditions and directly benefit the disadvantaged in some manner.
    For further information visit here:


    Managed Services Growth Markets 2011
    4-5 April, Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE

    Now in its 4th year and attended by over 200 attendees in 2010, Informa Telecoms and Media’s Managed Services for Growth Markets event will take place on 4th - 5th April at the Moevenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE.With a proven track-record and repeat sponsorship from leading suppliers Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NokiaSiemens Networks and Motorola, this event is truly established as the ultimate meeting-place for the Managed Services industry in the growth markets.A 50% discount for operators ensures a high percentage operator attendance.  Extended break times and additional social functions will guarantee a further enhancement to the already unique networking opportunities. Informa’s Managed Services for Growth Markets conference is the only established event in the region, proven to deliver an industry focussed agenda, the highest level speakers, superior networking opportunities, and top class delegates year on year.
For more information visit here:


    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:

  • InMobi, a mobile advertising firm, has appointed a Kenyan-born Isis Nyong'o as its vice president and managing director for Africa as it seeks to get a larger share of the continent's advertising pie ahead of rival Google.

    In Tunisia, the Industry and Technology Minister announced the following nominations in the communication technologies sector:
    Raouf Chkir : CEO of Tunisie Telecom
    Kamel Saadaoui : President of the National Telecommunications Authority (INT)
    Moez Chakchouk : CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI)
    Samir Sidhom : Director General of the National Agency for Computer Security (ANSI)

    HP has announced the appointment of Graham Vorster as HP Networking Country Manager for HP South Africa, with immediate effect.

  • HR Manager’s job entails providing practical, consistent, and proactive support, direction and advice to other division managers on HR procedure, policy, best practice, employment rewards, benefits, and legislation to facilitate in achieving the objectives and targets of an organization. HR manager performs human resources management works relating to hiring, recruitment, training, compensation, promotion, termination, career development, or retirement. HR manager also develops, updates, and maintains personnel policies, policy manuals and employee handbook as required.
    For further information about the job or to apply click here

  • MTN and Radcom – East Africa
    Radcom, a provider of service assurance solutions, says that it has won a contract from South Africa based MTN for its Omni-Q Service Assurance solution to monitor one of MTN's mobile networks in East Africa.

    Safaricom and Alepo - Kenya

    Safaricom, East Africa’s largest mobile carrier, selected Alepo Technologies, Inc. to provide an integrated BSS/OSS solution for WiMAX and Wi-Fi, including Alepo’s award-winning 16e AAA Server and DHCP Server. The robust solution will allow Safaricom to extend more finely grained service offerings to customers while maintaining high network security and optimizing resources.

telecoms

  • State-owned broadband provider Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) has confirmed that it has launched Libya’s third mobile phone network, under the brand name LibyaPhone Mobile. Although no precise rollout details have been confirmed by the operator, it claims that its network has capacity for around 100,000 customers during the first phase of its operations. Further, LibyaPhone Mobile has pledged to extend coverage to areas under-served by fellow state-owned cellcos Libyana and Al Madar Telecomm Company. LTT claims that LibyaPhone Mobile will offer both 2G and 3G connectivity.

    Although speculation regarding the launch of a third mobile phone operator in Libya has been rife for some time, in July 2010 it was confirmed that UAE’s Etisalat and Turkcell of Turkey had both been overlooked for a new LYD1 billion (USD825 million) concession. The General Telecommunication Authority (GTA) had previously launched an international tender for a combined fixed and mobile licence in February 2009, although its final decision was severely delayed, and no clear reasons were given for the lack of progress, merely that the international telcos were ‘unsuitable’.

    According to TeleGeography, state-owned Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) is the country's dominant ISP and also acts as a moderator for the internet sector. The operator launched a commercial WiMAX network – operating in the 2.5GHz band – under the ‘LibyaMax’ banner in February 2009. Services have subsequently been expanded to over 25 locations, predominantly along the coast, covering around 65% of the population.

  • The much-anticipated rollout plan by Excellentcom (T) Limited, a new mobile phone company, has stalled. The firm, trading as Hits Tanzania, risks being wound up and has already laid off about 80 workers, out of the 140 it had employed, while more than 20 had left to pursue other interests after the company failed to take off this year as it had planned earlier.

    Huawei Technologies of China, which had entered into a contract to provide mobile phone network infrastructure technologies to Hits, has filed a petition at the High Court's main registry seeking to wind up the company. The bone of contention is failure by Hits to pay Huawei its dues after the latter had performed 10 per cent of its assignment of rolling out the mobile phone network countrywide.

    The two firms signed a $180 million (Sh216 billion) contract in June 2008 under which Huawei was required to build Excellentcom's mobile phone network to enable it to cover the whole country within 13 months.

    The advent of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 stalled Hits' plans to roll out a mobile network. The company managed to rollout out just an estimated 10 per cent of the intended network. Excellentcom (T) Limited chief executive officer (CEO) David Charles confirmed to The Citizen on Tuesday (January 25) that the company has shifted much of its attention to the case.

    "Our plans were well on course and we still believe we will achieve our goal of kicking off during the first months of this year," Charles said. But he declined to go into details over how much money the company is owed by Huawei because the issue was in the courts of law. But he claimed that the company has invested about $50 million since it started operations in the country.

    The 80 workers laid off last month were all paid their dues, according to Charles. 20 others were shifted to the firm's operations in Equatorial Guinea while 14 have been retained. He said, however, that the company would look into other alternatives to roll out its services, noting however that the process would depend on the judge's decision.

    "It should however, not be translated to mean that we have been idle...We have injected some $50 million into the country's telecom sector since we started operations," Mwinyi said in August.

  • The number of mobile phone subscribers in Kenya has grown to 22 million people, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya quarterly report for September 2010. The rise, attributed to price wars that pushed calling rates down, is the highest in the past three quarters. In June last year, Kenya had 20.1 million subscribers.

    Analysts said subscriber numbers will continue to shoot up in coming months but will soon stagnate. "There is an increasing number of people in possession of multiple sim cards, but a number are likely to drop them and retain one," said Eric Musau, an analyst with African Alliance Kenya Securities.

    The biggest player, Safaricom, however, lost part of its market share to rivals who were charging lower tariffs, dropping to 75.9 per cent from the previous quarter's 80.7 per cent.
    Airtel, which has been reducing its rates over the past few months and now ranks among the cheapest calling and messaging tariffs in Kenya, saw its market share rise by 4.4 per cent -- the highest gain across the market over the review period.

    Telkom Orange's market share also rose by 1.3 per cent while the tariff wars hived 0.7 per cent off Essar Telecom, which operates the Yu network. Subscribers spent a total of 6.63 billion minutes in making calls against 6.05 billion in the previous quarter.

    This is on the back of low tariffs that service providers introduced and availability of phones. Analysts predict Safaricom will continue losing its market share and could reach as low as 71 per cent by next month, although the listed firm will still remain the leader in data provision.

    "Safaricom contributes half of the data in the industry and can ride on its past investments," said Musau. In the long run, Safaricom is expected to benefit from its present settings including WiMAX protocol to provide fixed and mobile Internet access.
    "Other players might not lose on voice but will be restrained on data provision, which is expensive to upgrade," added Musau.

    During the quarter under review, the total number of broadband subscriptions rose to 84,726 from 18,626 in the previous quarter, representing 0.97 per cent of the total Internet subscriptions.

    Total Internet subscriptions saw Safaricom secure first place at 92.18 per cent with 2,977,584 subscribers while rivals Airtel Kenya Ltd and Telkom Orange followed at 149,053 and 77,668 subscribers, garnering 4.61 and 2.4 per cent respectively. Other operators secured less than 1 per cent each according to CCK reports.

    As the mobile subscriber numbers shot up, the period under review saw the fixed lines subscribers decline by 2.7 per cent from 234,522 to 228,391 lines. Fixed wireless service providers on the other hand recorded a 37.2 per cent decline from 225,592 in the previous period to 141,580.

  • The strong growth of mobile payment services in the country has led to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the services' joint supervision by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) and Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

    BoT has, in its maiden Financial Stability Report, attributed the sharp increase in the number of subscribers to the mobile payments mainly to limited access to formal banking services, especially in rural areas. "... in this regard, the mobile payment provides an avenue for linking bank account holders to the unbanked population," the central bank says in its 33- page report, which the bank's governor, Professor Benno Ndulu, launched in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.

    According to provisional data, as of June 30, 2010, the number of mobile phone subscribers stood at 18.5 million, with 9.2 million of them registered for mobile payment services. Mobile payment schemes involve not only funds transfers but also payment for retail goods and services.

    Mobile payment services are specifically used to top-up mobile phone credits, airtime transfers between mobile phones and corporate bill payments - water and electricity, for instance.

    Four mobile network operators - Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo and Zantel - are currently offering the mobile payment services. The service provision however requires that the phone companies partner with commercial banks.

    "The existing arrangement creates gaps in the regulatory framework because two regulators - BoT and TCRA - each with a limited scope of coverage, oversee the mobile payment services," the report says, noting that the signed MoU provides a mechanism for regulatory and supervisory coordination between the two regulators.

    While the central bank regulates the financial transactions, the TCRA focuses on the communication infrastructure. Industry analysts say that the significant growth in the usage of mobile phones offers great opportunity to extend financial and other services to millions of those in the unbanked community.

internet

  • Peak mobile broadband speeds are reaching tens of Mbps, but Vodacom CEO says that they will focus on giving everyone at least 1Mbps Mobile broadband technologies in South Africa are already supporting peak speeds of up to 42Mbps, with developments poised to push the 100Mbps limit in the near future.

    These innovations in the cellular environment get techies excited, but Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said that the focus should not be on producing high peak speeds in only selected areas, but rather to provide every South African with a 1Mbps broadband connection.

    Uys said that Vodacom has a strong focus on providing ubiquitous 1Mbps broadband access throughout the country, where subscribers can be assured of a good Internet experience wherever they are (both indoors and outdoors).

    Uys added that innovations in radio network capacity and speeds (like 42Mbps HSPA+) will help a great deal not only to increase the average throughput of users, but also to serve more users in the same area. He said that Vodacom currently has 9 million Internet users, but only around 2 million data bundle subscribers (which is a fair indication of broadband users on the network).

    Vodacom is focused on doubling the number of broadband users on their network in the next two to three years while also ensuring that all of their current 9 million Internet users get the best Internet experience possible on the Vodacom network.

    The Vodacom CEO said that continued network investments and cheaper smartphones and mobile computing devices like tablets will play a crucial role in making the Internet more accessible in South Africa and bringing broadband to the masses.

    He said that Vodacom aims to bring a quality Android smartphone to the market this year which will cost around R500, putting it within reach of most working class South Africans.

    Uys further highlighted the educational benefits of affordable mobile computing devices like Android smartphones, tablets and book readers, explaining that textbook distribution, online lessons and even interactive tutorials are all possible through these devices.

    However, Uys believes that the country needs the buy in from all sectors, including government, telecoms operators and the IT industry, to use technology to boost education and through this address the social ills in our society.

    When it comes to spectrum allocation - a vital ingredient in rolling out wireless broadband networks - Uys said that it is important that the regulator (ICASA) follow guidelines that ensure that this valuable resource is handed to companies that will make the most of it.

    “Spectrum should be taken away from companies which don’t use it and handed to operators who are willing to invest in networks [and] roll out services to the South African population,” said Uys.

    The Vodacom CEO appealed to ICASA to follow international standards in allocating spectrum, and further welcomed the idea of both giving some spectrum to large operators with national networks and to other players which will bring more competition to the market.

  • The Minister in the Office of the President in charge of ICT is set to appear before the Senate to explain how the government intends to manage and maintain the fibre-optic cable network. The decision to summon Ignace Gatare, was arrived at after Senator Wellars Gasamagera presented a paper to the House on the current status of ICT infrastructure in the country.

    "The government has spent $94m in laying 2,560-kilometre fibre optic cable across the country," said Gasamagera. The physical laying of the cable included civil works, laying of ducts and installation. "Now Kigali is connected to nine border-posts and all the country's 30 districts are networked." After full connection of the optic ring, the cable will link Rwanda to the Indian Ocean submarine cables via Uganda, through Kenya.

    It is assumed that with a backbone cable around the country, there is going to be a substantive decrease in the cost of telecom services, reductions estimated between 40- 50 %.

    "The Senate needs to know how government is going to manage and maintain the cable, how cyber criminality is going to be controlled and how much the government will benefit from this new technology," Gasamagera said. It is assumed that the cable will connect over 230 institutions in all 30 districts. Already 50 public institutions are connected and are using fibre optics.

    However, the Senate expressed deep concern on how the current ICT infrastructure will be replaced or upgraded and whether there is a joint plan between the government and private investors on how the cable will be managed.

    By press time, , Gatare was not available for comment while the RDB Deputy CEO-IT, Patrick Nyirishema, who oversees the project, said he had no time to talk to the press.

    Experts have indicated that, the infrastructure will boost access to various broadband services including fast tracking government initiatives like e-Governance, e-Banking, e-Learning, e-Health, and other applications.

  • Lack of political willingness and weak management of country code top-level domains has led to slow implementation of DNS Security Extensions in Africa.

    Africa was expected to extensively implement DNSSEC because it had no legacy registry systems, the few operational registries were manual and it was expected that DNSSEC would be implemented after the automation process.

    DNSSEC provides a set of new extensions to the DNS, protecting the Internet from distributed denial of service attacks, DNS cache poisoning and sabotage. DNSSEC uses digital signatures allowing the users to determine whether the information has been altered in anyway.

    DNSSEC implementation formally began in July last year, at a ceremony known as "signing of the root zone." Root signing signaled the beginning of IPv6, DNSSEC implementation and use of internationalized domain names.

    "Of the 67 TLD zones that are signed today, only two African countries are listed (.NA and .SC); this is bad, but if we look at the state of our DNS (ccTLD) landscape in the region the situation is not that surprising -- there is still a lot to do to reinforce our ccTLD infrastructure with a proper management," said Adiel Akplogan, CEO of AfriNIC, the organization tasked with managing IP resources in the region.

    For DNSSEC to be implemented, countries argue that there must be demand, which is created by a vibrant e-commerce industry and online banking. This online vibrancy is missing in many African countries.

    "For DNSSEC deployment to be successful, demand must be created. The push for its implementation by end-users can only come if users are aware of what DNSSEC has to offer as far as security and resilience of internet is concerned," said Joe Kiragu, administrative manager at KENIC, the .Ke registry.

    The role of government in managing Internet resources has been subject to debate with some countries questioning the role of the U.S. government in Internet governance. So, many TLDs in the region have had to consult with governments before implementing any changes to the ccTLD registry.

    "We have to appreciate potential political ramifications; we will raise the matter with our government because the .ZA namespace is a national resource over which our government bears some custodianship," added Vika.

    The issue of training and raising awareness has been discussed before, with some arguing that political will is needed more than the training while others hold that the problem with the continent is lack of skills and that is why policy making and appreciation of e-commerce is yet to take root.

computing

  • Innovators are lobbying to have the first option in developing software for government ministries, departments and parastatals, saying this would help the nascent segment grow while offering the public sector more customised solutions.

    With the government as the biggest buyer of software in Kenya, participants at an Institute of Economic Affairs pre-budget hearing said small tech firms have the capacity to develop software solutions that deepen checks and balances in government institutions.

    "The Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons, is a good candidate because its stock-in-trade is information about citizens and visitors to Kenya," said Seven Seas Technologies general manager Adam Nyaga.

    Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs said a directive should be passed similar to that of purchase of furniture for government offices from local firms.

    ICT is one of the drivers of the economy with small and medium enterprise (SME) sector seen as one to boost Kenya to a middle-income country. Promoting local entrepreneurs would help the government get back its return on investment, Kamau Gachigi from the University of Nairobi's Science and Technology Park said. "These are the products of our education," he said.

    Kenyan companies have proved that they are globally competitive and if local firms can shine abroad, servicing the government should be child's play, said Samuel Nyumba, a consultant at Intrepid Data Systems.

    Virtual City won the million dollar top prize at the Nokia World and Developer Summit in London is September last year and the Ushahidi platform, a crisis reporting tool was recognised globally and used during the Haiti earthquake.

    Kenya's 470 public institutions, 46 ministries, 178 state corporations, 175 local authorities and 71 tertiary institutions offer an opportunities for SMEs. "We need locally customised solutions as opposed top off the shelf software," said Nyumba.

  • The Department of Labour (DOL) will not renew its contract with Siemens to deliver its IT systems. DOL acting director-general Sam Morotoba presented the current status of the contract to Parliament's labour portfolio committee last week. He said a letter of termination, with the intention not to renew the contract, was given to Siemens.

    The public private partnership (PPP) began in 2002 and, apart from escalating costs, was plagued by other irregularities and challenges. The DOL sought outside help in the form of a diagnostic analysis by audit firm KPMG.

    Siemens had subcontracted the delivery of its services and the department was not happy with this. KPMG found that since the department had not agreed to this, there was a contractor default, and the department should ask Siemens to rectify it. The report also found there was no feasibility study done, nor any agreement from the department on the use of a SAP platform.

    In addition, there was no reconciliation done by Siemens against the baseline in the contract for licences, and so the report said the department is not liable for additional costs with regard to licences.

    Despite the contractor default on Siemens' part, the KPMG report says a termination of the contract will prove too onerous. For this reason, it suggests a negotiated termination since the legal route will also be costly.

    There are areas where the DOL can implement penalties, like for the late commencement of services, says KPMG. “There is evidence of billing inconsistently with the intention of the contract,” says the report. It adds that the department must review invoices and reclaim these bills.

    There are about eight projects still in progress by Siemens, with the longest term one set to be completed in October.

    The department has a strategic plan towards achieving the completion of the PPP. Thus it has done a diagnostic review of the partnership and established an internal steering committee to manage the transition to a new IT delivery model.

    The development of a draft plan for the exit and transfer of the PPP is currently in consultation; a new ICT strategy is being developed by the State IT Agency (SITA); and the department will conduct a feasibility study on a new ICT delivery model once the strategy is completed.

    Morotoba also said there is a process under way to resource the current office of the CIO to manage closure and transition. The department secured the involvement and participation of National Treasury, SITA and the State Attorney to assist in resolving current PPP contract problems.

    SITA's contract manager was appointed to oversee the PPP's contractual matters and high-level engagement with Siemens is under way, according to Morotoba. The DOL adds that it is also implementing the recommendations of the KPMG report and is requesting an early contract termination for October this year.

    The department also says it has strengthened governance structures to oversee current IT projects. The management committee receives regular progress reports and provides guidance to the IT steering committee. Morotoba said there is an increased participation of business stakeholders at forums.

    The costs of the PPP increased and are expected to rise further despite the many challenges that plague the systems, according to a National Treasury review in November.

    The partnership had initially been costed at R1.2 billion, but has now risen to R1.3 billion. Morotoba said this increase is due to the increase in the consumer price index, services relating to the annual report, and an increase in end-user devices.

    He also said there were still 22 months of the contract left to run. The projected cost at the end of the contract in November next year is R1.9 billion. The reasons for establishing the PPP include the high turnover of IT staff in the public sector; difficulty in reaching IT objectives; the automation of services towards e-government initiatives; the department's need to improve its IT capacity and expertise; and the need to exploit international best practice.

    The deliverables comprised of data centre services, local area network services, IT help-desk, office productivity, customer satisfaction, end-user access, and the deployment of end-user devices, such as desktops, laptops and printers.

    Systems development included training services for new systems; the design, construction and implementation of new systems; and maintenance, support and enhancement. The treasury's review of the system found several flaws in the PPP, including that there was insufficient monitoring and contract management by the DOL.

    There was no consistent change management implemented by the department for integration of the business into the new IT environment, and delays were encountered in implementation of the improvement services due to inadequate detail of business processes.

    The treasury also found that a lack of contract understanding by DOL stakeholders resulted in contractual remedies not being utilised when Siemens' performance was inadequate. Siemens did not respond to ITWeb's queries by the time of publication.

  • The R35m sale of 51% of disaster-recovery firm Continuity SA by JSE-listed outsourcing specialist the Dialogue Group, has been finalised. CoroCapital, the investment banking firm and subsidiary of Coronation, now owns a 49% stake, with the remaining 2% now in the hands of ContinuitySA staff and management.

    “Together with a well-funded equity partner, our solid financial standing puts us in a good position to grow the company both organically and through acquisitions over the coming years,” says Allen Smith, CEO of ContinuitySA. Dialogue walks away with not only the R35m, but also a special dividend of R2m.

    Dialogue faced a tough year in 2010. It principal subsidiary, Dialogue SA, was voluntarily liquidated. It also sold its 51% stake in call-centre recruitment business, Callforce.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Companies in the business of providing infrastructure services for telecom firms will now have to be partly owned by Ghanaians.

    According to a new directive from the Ministry of Communications, Ghanaians must own at least one-third of telecoms providers. The directive which sets out conditions for the issuance of Class One Communications Infrastructure license by the National Communications Authority, also adds that one third of their sub-contracts must also be carried out by indigenous enterprises. This should mean that the players will have to satisfy the conditions before they can secure the license to operate.

    Communications Minister Haruna Iddrisu told Joy Business the move is another initiative to break the dominance of foreigners in the sector. “Regrettably we’ve already lost all the giant players to foreign players as a result of the huge investments or capital outlay that is required [in the industry],” he said.

    He said the directive was necessitated by the fact that “almost all the telecom operators are ceding the ownership and control of their cell-sites to other entities.”

    “We have a duty and a responsibility to create business opportunities for the Ghanaian people and we are not ashamed about that,” he added. He insists Ghanaian businesses, though very capable have not been given a fair chance.

  • Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has reported a drop in profit for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2010, reflecting the absence of gains from discontinued operations included in results for the year-ago period. The Luxembourg-based telco said net profit declined to USD157.2 million from USD454.2 million in the same period of 2009, when the results included a gain of USD289 million from the disposal of non-core businesses in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone. Revenues for the quarter grew 10% to USD1.07 billion, while operating profit rose to USD281.4 million from USD243.8 million. For the full year MIC's profit surged to USD1.65 billion, while revenues grew 16% to USD3.92 billion. Capital expenditure for 2010 totalled USD731 million; for the current year the company expects CAPEX to exceed USD800 million. The company added that it expects to dispose of its operation in Laos in 2011.

    Customers in Africa increased by 23% year-on-year, bringing the total at the end of December to just below 15 million. The lower intake for the region as a whole compared to Q3 is partly due to mandatory customer registration processes in Ghana and Tanzania which give rise to greater volatility. This is best illustrated by the fact that the Tanzanian market contracted in Q4, probably as a consequence of lower multiple SIMs following mandatory registration.
     
    Revenues in Africa were up 5% year-on-year to $239 million, with local currency revenues up 12% following pricing pressure mainly in Ghana and Tanzania, with no elasticity yet at this stage. We also have limited capacity in Senegal as we are investing in capex only through the operation‟s own cash generation.  DRC and Tanzania continued to demonstrate the strongest local currency growth, recording year-on-year increases of 21% and 20% respectively.  In DRC, the regulator introduced high minimum tariffs for all operators in December, which we expect to cause a slow down in the rate of penetration growth.  VAS revenues increased by 41% in Africa year-on-year and now account for 10% of the region‟s recurring revenues.
     
    ARPU for the region was down 11% year-on-year in local currency.  We have seen increased pricing activity in Africa in recent months and in some markets we have adjusted our cross-net tariffs through headline price reductions or promotional activity in order to maintain affordability.  We will monitor closely whether elasticity will follow in the coming months. 
     
    EBITDA for Africa for Q4 10 reached $100 million, up 12% year-on-year. The EBITDA margin was 41.7%, up 2.4 percentage points over Q4 09. 
     
    Capex in Africa amounted to $120 million in Q4 and $278 million for the full year or 31% of revenues.  We expect capex in Africa to increase as a percentage of sales in 2011 as we invest in order to capitalize on the region‟s growth potential and to address the possible increase in traffic from lower tariffs.  We will also begin to invest in 3G in several major urban areas.

  • South African mobile operator Cell C has sold its 50% stake in Virgin Mobile South Africa for an undisclosed sum, the Virgin Group has confirmed. The deal will see co-owner Virgin Mobile raise its stake in the business to 55%, whilst Bahamas-based Calico Investments will acquire the remaining 45%. The transaction is subject to certain conditions, including approvals from the Competition Commission; it is expected to be finalised by April 2011. Cell C will continue to function as Virgin Mobile’s network partner, under an updated network services agreement. In August 2010 it was reported that Virgin Mobile was planning to launch its own mobile broadband service using Cell C’s new HSPA+ network.

    Steve Bailey, CEO of Virgin Mobile, commented: ‘Virgin Mobile has shown consistent high subscriber growth and has significantly increased its base of higher ARPU post-paid subscribers in South Africa over the last two years. It is time for us to capitalise on this growth and bring in an additional shareholder to invest in Virgin Mobile’s further expansion, which will enable us to deliver more exciting products and services to our valued customers. We also look forward to leveraging our updated network agreement with Cell C to provide improved performance to our customers’.

    Faisal Al Bannai, a director of Calico Investments, added: ‘Calico looks forward to working with Virgin Mobile to develop the business through the expansion of its offerings. Virgin Mobile has shown an ability to differentiate itself from the competition and, with our intended investment, there will now be even more potential to increase the range of quality products and services Virgin Mobile can offer going forward’. Virgin Mobile South Africa began life in 2006, as an equal joint venture between Cell C and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. When the possibility of a stake sale was first mooted in July 2010 Virgin claimed to have 300,000 customers, of whom 90% were post-paid.

  • Registered customers of mobile phone money transfer service, M-Pesa, can now withdraw cash in any currency from Visa branded automated teller machines (ATMs) anywhere in the world. They can also make purchases in accepted merchant outlets or shop online.

    This follows a partnership deal between Safaricom and I&M Bank under which the phone operator and the bank launched the first Visa branded card that can be loaded from a mobile phone through its M-Pesa money transfer service.

    "Users of this service will enjoy the convenience of online shopping as they can easily pay using the Pre-Paid Visa cards and also access their accounts via the internet," said I&M Bank chief executive officer Arun Mathur.

    Under the agreement, M-Pesa users will be able to transfer funds from their accounts to the PrePay Safari Card, which is an international Visa card co-branded with I&M Bank.

    "The PrePay Safari Card comes as a major boost in the push to broaden M-Pesa services from a money transfer service to a total mobile commerce solution," said Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, during the signing ceremony held at Safaricom House on Tuesday.

    The card can hold up to a maximum of Sh500,000 loaded through the M-Pesa paybill option. The balance can be refunded through I&M Bank branches without having to open an account there.

    "It can also be reloaded through M-Pesa in Kenya for a subscriber who has travelled internationally thus deepening its key propositions of convenience and accessibility," said Collymore of a money transfer service, which was launched four years ago and now has more than 13 million users and 23,000 agents.

    The partnership comes at a time when the Central Bank of Kenya latest statistics show that mobile money transfer service, which is viewed as holding the key to the future of e-commerce, is now the most widely used mode of financial transactions.

    According to the figures, in December last year, a daily average of 929,143 users transacted using mobile phones, dealing about Sh2.43 billion.

    In the same month, 558,808 Kenyans moved Sh3.1 billion through automated teller machines, while 34,709 used electronic fund transfers worth Sh1.1 billion. About 70,000 used cheques valued at Sh7 billion while 4,262 used the high value payment system - the real time gross settlement systems, transacting Sh64.9 billion.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Nigeria’s mobile operator Globacom has launched its prepaid 3G plus internet services in Kaduna.

    Morocco’s third largest mobile operator Wana, which launched a GSM-based network in February 2010 under the Inwi brand, is celebrating signing up a total of 4.3 million cellular users by end-December, compared to the 600,000 CDMA-only mobile subscribers it served a year earlier. The operator claims that the rapid growth gave it a 13.5% market share by the end of 2010 against 2.4% twelve months previously. Wana, which also provides CDMA-based 3G mobile broadband services under the Inwi brand, and fixed-wireless telephony under the Bayn banner, has also retained its leading positions in terms of subscribers in the fixed line and 3G internet markets, claiming shares of 66.7% and 40.7% respectively, as confirmed by figures from the regulator, the ANRT.

Digital Content

  • Handset manufacturer, Nokia, is set to launch a bicycle- charger that will help people in rural areas to harness energy from bicycles to charge mobile phones. In an interview with Daily Monitor last week, Kenneth Oyolla, Nokia General Manager for East and Southern Africa said the innovation will give people who live in areas with no electricity freedom to use their phones without worrying about battery life. The innovation is based around the dynamo that a bicycle uses to empower its lighting system.

    The charger kit includes a charger, a bottle dynamo and a phone holder that is can be attached to any bicycle. When a rider pedals, the device rotates as the wheel spins and generates electrical energy, which is transmitted up a wire to a handlebar, which a phone plugs into.

    To begin charging, a cyclist needs to travel around 6 kilometres per hour and while charging time will vary depending on battery model, a 10 minutes journey at a speed of 6 kilometres per hour will give you 28 minutes of talk time while riding the same distance at 20kmph gives you 50 minutes of talk time.

    Therefore, the faster one rides, the more battery life they generate. The charger can be used to power any Nokia phone with a 2mm power jack. The rate of electricity penetration is still low standing at on only 11 per cent.

  • Mobile application development in Kenya is gaining speed as players rush to tap into the vast pool of young tech entrepreneurs by offering training. Experts predict that mobile applications will be the next big thing in five years.

    Initiatives like mLab East Africa and several others by Nokia has seen Kenyans benefit from fully-sponsored trainings on creation of mobile apps and how best to launch them into the market, revealing a growing interest in the sector.

    Technology experts say the surge of investments into the mobile telephony sector is an indicator that the country is in step with the rest of the world in terms of software development as well as having the necessary pool of individuals to actualise it.

    "Kenya has a clear competitive advantage in the mobile application development space with hundreds of programmers skilled in making everything from USSD and SMS services to Android and iPhone apps", said Erik Hersman, director of operations at the non-profit Ushahidi.

    "It's such a big deal here that we're putting together a big event on June 14-15 called Pivot 25, where East Africa's top programmers and start-ups will vie for a position to pitch their new mobile apps and services to over 400 of the industry's leading experts and investors."

    iHub, a tech community in Nairobi, has integrated with four other technology-focused start-up incubators like itself across Africa with the aim of creating a web of connections, support, and mentorship that will help technology entrepreneurs link and share innovations.

    "Since the iHub concept has been so popular in Kenya, we are banding together with like-minded leaders of other labs and hubs around Africa to found AfriLabs, an association of African tech labs around the continent which will be the body that spreads this model across Africa", Hersman said.

    The mobile app industry offers a worldwide market for developers which Ken Mwenda, managing director of eMobilis, likens to a global mall where you upload your application and if people like and download it, you get paid.

Issue no 541 11th February 2011 v2

node ref id: 21143

Top story

  • The number of green mobile base stations deployed in Africa remains small. It represents a mere 3.1% of the total number of deployments worldwide (9,558). This news comes amid headlines last week on oil prices soaring to their highest level for two years as the value of Brent crude broke the US$101 a barrel mark for the first time since October 2008.

    A large number of African mobile base stations require two sets of generators and in some cases up to three months supply of costly fuel in their tanks. More remote base stations may require fuelling by boat and hand-cart and in the larger markets, operators run large fleets of oil tankers to keep base stations supplied.

    Isabelle Gross, the author of the report published by Balancing Act called “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” says that “ mobile operators shouldn’t take the lack of technical expertise for an excuse to do nothing. African mobile operators have to shift focus onto the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures are among the top items on their list”. Gross makes the point that “voice ARPU will carry on decreasing due to reducing prices on voice calls and the acquisition of new customers with much lower disposable income”. This will put more pressure on mobile operators’ revenue. In Ghana for example voice ARPU went down from US$17 in 2006 to US$7 in 2010. In Kenya and Uganda the ongoing price war on voice calls has already impacted mobile operators’ revenue. MTN’s CEO, Themba Khumalo conceded that increased competition has impacted on the company's overall revenue in Uganda. In less than a year, the price of a call dropped from an average of sh11 per second to just sh3 – nearly 4 times less.

    When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution for African mobile operators but it can be done. The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay. The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. Mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction or not for example with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    While the report describes in details the various approaches implemented by mobile operators to run their base stations more efficiently, it also looks at the renewable energy solutions that are currently available on the market for mobile operators to further reduce their energy bill. There is a growing choice of green solutions available (solar energy, wind power, bio-fuel powered base station, hydrogen fuel cells) but they all require a substantial initial capital investment.

    The report defines the business case for rolling out “green” base stations and gives example of African mobile operators that have started to implement renewable energy projects to power their base stations. The report establishes that “at the low end in terms of capital investment first comes a combination of solar energy power combined to a diesel battery hybrid powering system. Operating costs like diesel are reduced but not totally eliminated. At the high end in terms of capital investment comes a combination of wind and solar power system backed by batteries which provides the maximum reduction in operating costs”.

    The 45 pages report “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” ends with a directory that has useful details on companies offering services and products to improve the energy efficiency of a base station or solution to roll renewable energy powered base station. It will come very handy to whoever will look into energy saving solutions.

    According to the report’s author, “the “quick fixes” will help reduce operating costs but only to a certain point. Further reduction in operating costs will require some capital investment because it implies purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy power solutions. Ultimately the financial decision lies with the mobile operator and depends on its capital investment strategy and its positioning in the market in the long term. For some mobile operators, “going green” means more than just reducing the energy bill or decreasing their carbon footprint. It has the potential to provide strong branding – a new way to differentiate them from the competition.

    Further details on the report are available here:

    News announcement: New clips this week on Balancing Act’s new Web TV Channel

    Do not miss our Web TV Channel which highlights recent interviews with top telecoms personalities. There are interviews in both English and French:

    Funke Opeke,
    CEO, Main One on sales, national blockages and extending the cable
    click here:

    Nigeria: IPnx’s Ejovi Aror talks about price falls and national blockages
    click here:

    Clips from Mobile Web West Africa in Lagos:

    Stefan Magdalinski, General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, MIH talks about its investment strategy
    click here:

    Ayo Alli, Business Development Consultant for Goal.com talks about its massive growth in West Africa
    click here:

    Akinde Aludamola, Team Leader, ConnectNigeria talks about search website:
    click here:

    NOTE:

    If you want to receive daily news tweets from around the continent, please follow us on Twitter:

    In English: @BalancingActAfr
    In French: @sylvainbeletre

    If you are putting out information about your company on Twitter, please send us your details so that we can follow you.

More

  • 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011
    7-9 March 2011, Cape Town, South Africa Venue BMW Pavilion, V&A Waterfront

    Our 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011 (AEF-2011) in Cape Town at the BMW-Imax Theatre, with Africa Exhibition is a landmark Conference on Africa and significant business networking occasion for the top corporate players active in, across and involved with the development of the African continent - Cape-to-Cairo, with Governments and officials in key industries and state institutions.
    Contact: babette@glopac.com For further information visit here:


    Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East & Africa
    9 March  2011, Grand Millennium Hotel, Dubai

    Taking place on the 9th March 2011, the Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East and Africa is a Free-to-attend event and will feature all of the key players within the Cloud Computing and SaaS market providing an introduction, discussion and look into the future for the ICT industry.
    This one day conference will provide the most complete and comprehensive platform for the global Cloud Computing and SaaS industry. Register Free today and get inspiration on how to address your latest issues with advice from real-life end-user case studies and practical examples.
    Show Highlights include:
    1 Day Conference on Cloud Computing and SaaS
    Featuring presentations on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Applications, IaaS, Virtualization and PaaS
    Keynote theatre featuring leading industry speakers
    More case studies than any other like event
    Learn from the key players offering leading products and services
    Pre-show online meeting planner
    Evening networking reception for all attendees
    For more information please visit here: or contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.


    Broadband World Forum MEA
    14-15 March 2011, Dubai UAE

    Network, learn and do business with 750+ decision-makers from across the regional Broadband ecosystem to deliver you inspiration, insights and ideas that will further your regional business.The conference programme features 60+ visionary speakers presenting across keynote plenary sessions, 4 in-depth technology tracks and a Rural Coverage and Connectivity focus day.  Co-located to the conference is a 35+ stand technology exhibition showcasing some of the region’s latest cutting-edge broadband technologies, applications, solutions and services to hit the market.
    Limited FREE passes for operators and early booking discounts apply to all others.  Register with VIP code: BBM11BAA
    For further information visit here:

    ICT For Development in Africa – Sustaining The Momentum, Extending The Reach
    23-26 March 2011, Ota, Nigeria
    The conference will initiate research and practice agenda where ICTs will aid the academia, organizations - public and private and non-governmental to improve socio-economic conditions and directly benefit the disadvantaged in some manner.
    For further information visit here:


    Managed Services Growth Markets 2011
    4-5 April, Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE

    Now in its 4th year and attended by over 200 attendees in 2010, Informa Telecoms and Media’s Managed Services for Growth Markets event will take place on 4th - 5th April at the Moevenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE.With a proven track-record and repeat sponsorship from leading suppliers Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NokiaSiemens Networks and Motorola, this event is truly established as the ultimate meeting-place for the Managed Services industry in the growth markets.A 50% discount for operators ensures a high percentage operator attendance.  Extended break times and additional social functions will guarantee a further enhancement to the already unique networking opportunities. Informa’s Managed Services for Growth Markets conference is the only established event in the region, proven to deliver an industry focussed agenda, the highest level speakers, superior networking opportunities, and top class delegates year on year.
For more information visit here:


    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:

  • InMobi, a mobile advertising firm, has appointed a Kenyan-born Isis Nyong'o as its vice president and managing director for Africa as it seeks to get a larger share of the continent's advertising pie ahead of rival Google.

    In Tunisia, the Industry and Technology Minister announced the following nominations in the communication technologies sector:
    Raouf Chkir : CEO of Tunisie Telecom
    Kamel Saadaoui : President of the National Telecommunications Authority (INT)
    Moez Chakchouk : CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI)
    Samir Sidhom : Director General of the National Agency for Computer Security (ANSI)

    HP has announced the appointment of Graham Vorster as HP Networking Country Manager for HP South Africa, with immediate effect.

  • HR Manager’s job entails providing practical, consistent, and proactive support, direction and advice to other division managers on HR procedure, policy, best practice, employment rewards, benefits, and legislation to facilitate in achieving the objectives and targets of an organization. HR manager performs human resources management works relating to hiring, recruitment, training, compensation, promotion, termination, career development, or retirement. HR manager also develops, updates, and maintains personnel policies, policy manuals and employee handbook as required.
    For further information about the job or to apply click here

  • MTN and Radcom – East Africa
    Radcom, a provider of service assurance solutions, says that it has won a contract from South Africa based MTN for its Omni-Q Service Assurance solution to monitor one of MTN's mobile networks in East Africa.

    Safaricom and Alepo - Kenya

    Safaricom, East Africa’s largest mobile carrier, selected Alepo Technologies, Inc. to provide an integrated BSS/OSS solution for WiMAX and Wi-Fi, including Alepo’s award-winning 16e AAA Server and DHCP Server. The robust solution will allow Safaricom to extend more finely grained service offerings to customers while maintaining high network security and optimizing resources.

telecoms

  • State-owned broadband provider Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) has confirmed that it has launched Libya’s third mobile phone network, under the brand name LibyaPhone Mobile. Although no precise rollout details have been confirmed by the operator, it claims that its network has capacity for around 100,000 customers during the first phase of its operations. Further, LibyaPhone Mobile has pledged to extend coverage to areas under-served by fellow state-owned cellcos Libyana and Al Madar Telecomm Company. LTT claims that LibyaPhone Mobile will offer both 2G and 3G connectivity.

    Although speculation regarding the launch of a third mobile phone operator in Libya has been rife for some time, in July 2010 it was confirmed that UAE’s Etisalat and Turkcell of Turkey had both been overlooked for a new LYD1 billion (USD825 million) concession. The General Telecommunication Authority (GTA) had previously launched an international tender for a combined fixed and mobile licence in February 2009, although its final decision was severely delayed, and no clear reasons were given for the lack of progress, merely that the international telcos were ‘unsuitable’.

    According to TeleGeography, state-owned Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) is the country's dominant ISP and also acts as a moderator for the internet sector. The operator launched a commercial WiMAX network – operating in the 2.5GHz band – under the ‘LibyaMax’ banner in February 2009. Services have subsequently been expanded to over 25 locations, predominantly along the coast, covering around 65% of the population.

  • The much-anticipated rollout plan by Excellentcom (T) Limited, a new mobile phone company, has stalled. The firm, trading as Hits Tanzania, risks being wound up and has already laid off about 80 workers, out of the 140 it had employed, while more than 20 had left to pursue other interests after the company failed to take off this year as it had planned earlier.

    Huawei Technologies of China, which had entered into a contract to provide mobile phone network infrastructure technologies to Hits, has filed a petition at the High Court's main registry seeking to wind up the company. The bone of contention is failure by Hits to pay Huawei its dues after the latter had performed 10 per cent of its assignment of rolling out the mobile phone network countrywide.

    The two firms signed a $180 million (Sh216 billion) contract in June 2008 under which Huawei was required to build Excellentcom's mobile phone network to enable it to cover the whole country within 13 months.

    The advent of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 stalled Hits' plans to roll out a mobile network. The company managed to rollout out just an estimated 10 per cent of the intended network. Excellentcom (T) Limited chief executive officer (CEO) David Charles confirmed to The Citizen on Tuesday (January 25) that the company has shifted much of its attention to the case.

    "Our plans were well on course and we still believe we will achieve our goal of kicking off during the first months of this year," Charles said. But he declined to go into details over how much money the company is owed by Huawei because the issue was in the courts of law. But he claimed that the company has invested about $50 million since it started operations in the country.

    The 80 workers laid off last month were all paid their dues, according to Charles. 20 others were shifted to the firm's operations in Equatorial Guinea while 14 have been retained. He said, however, that the company would look into other alternatives to roll out its services, noting however that the process would depend on the judge's decision.

    "It should however, not be translated to mean that we have been idle...We have injected some $50 million into the country's telecom sector since we started operations," Mwinyi said in August.

  • The number of mobile phone subscribers in Kenya has grown to 22 million people, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya quarterly report for September 2010. The rise, attributed to price wars that pushed calling rates down, is the highest in the past three quarters. In June last year, Kenya had 20.1 million subscribers.

    Analysts said subscriber numbers will continue to shoot up in coming months but will soon stagnate. "There is an increasing number of people in possession of multiple sim cards, but a number are likely to drop them and retain one," said Eric Musau, an analyst with African Alliance Kenya Securities.

    The biggest player, Safaricom, however, lost part of its market share to rivals who were charging lower tariffs, dropping to 75.9 per cent from the previous quarter's 80.7 per cent.
    Airtel, which has been reducing its rates over the past few months and now ranks among the cheapest calling and messaging tariffs in Kenya, saw its market share rise by 4.4 per cent -- the highest gain across the market over the review period.

    Telkom Orange's market share also rose by 1.3 per cent while the tariff wars hived 0.7 per cent off Essar Telecom, which operates the Yu network. Subscribers spent a total of 6.63 billion minutes in making calls against 6.05 billion in the previous quarter.

    This is on the back of low tariffs that service providers introduced and availability of phones. Analysts predict Safaricom will continue losing its market share and could reach as low as 71 per cent by next month, although the listed firm will still remain the leader in data provision.

    "Safaricom contributes half of the data in the industry and can ride on its past investments," said Musau. In the long run, Safaricom is expected to benefit from its present settings including WiMAX protocol to provide fixed and mobile Internet access.
    "Other players might not lose on voice but will be restrained on data provision, which is expensive to upgrade," added Musau.

    During the quarter under review, the total number of broadband subscriptions rose to 84,726 from 18,626 in the previous quarter, representing 0.97 per cent of the total Internet subscriptions.

    Total Internet subscriptions saw Safaricom secure first place at 92.18 per cent with 2,977,584 subscribers while rivals Airtel Kenya Ltd and Telkom Orange followed at 149,053 and 77,668 subscribers, garnering 4.61 and 2.4 per cent respectively. Other operators secured less than 1 per cent each according to CCK reports.

    As the mobile subscriber numbers shot up, the period under review saw the fixed lines subscribers decline by 2.7 per cent from 234,522 to 228,391 lines. Fixed wireless service providers on the other hand recorded a 37.2 per cent decline from 225,592 in the previous period to 141,580.

  • The strong growth of mobile payment services in the country has led to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the services' joint supervision by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) and Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

    BoT has, in its maiden Financial Stability Report, attributed the sharp increase in the number of subscribers to the mobile payments mainly to limited access to formal banking services, especially in rural areas. "... in this regard, the mobile payment provides an avenue for linking bank account holders to the unbanked population," the central bank says in its 33- page report, which the bank's governor, Professor Benno Ndulu, launched in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.

    According to provisional data, as of June 30, 2010, the number of mobile phone subscribers stood at 18.5 million, with 9.2 million of them registered for mobile payment services. Mobile payment schemes involve not only funds transfers but also payment for retail goods and services.

    Mobile payment services are specifically used to top-up mobile phone credits, airtime transfers between mobile phones and corporate bill payments - water and electricity, for instance.

    Four mobile network operators - Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo and Zantel - are currently offering the mobile payment services. The service provision however requires that the phone companies partner with commercial banks.

    "The existing arrangement creates gaps in the regulatory framework because two regulators - BoT and TCRA - each with a limited scope of coverage, oversee the mobile payment services," the report says, noting that the signed MoU provides a mechanism for regulatory and supervisory coordination between the two regulators.

    While the central bank regulates the financial transactions, the TCRA focuses on the communication infrastructure. Industry analysts say that the significant growth in the usage of mobile phones offers great opportunity to extend financial and other services to millions of those in the unbanked community.

internet

  • Peak mobile broadband speeds are reaching tens of Mbps, but Vodacom CEO says that they will focus on giving everyone at least 1Mbps Mobile broadband technologies in South Africa are already supporting peak speeds of up to 42Mbps, with developments poised to push the 100Mbps limit in the near future.

    These innovations in the cellular environment get techies excited, but Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said that the focus should not be on producing high peak speeds in only selected areas, but rather to provide every South African with a 1Mbps broadband connection.

    Uys said that Vodacom has a strong focus on providing ubiquitous 1Mbps broadband access throughout the country, where subscribers can be assured of a good Internet experience wherever they are (both indoors and outdoors).

    Uys added that innovations in radio network capacity and speeds (like 42Mbps HSPA+) will help a great deal not only to increase the average throughput of users, but also to serve more users in the same area. He said that Vodacom currently has 9 million Internet users, but only around 2 million data bundle subscribers (which is a fair indication of broadband users on the network).

    Vodacom is focused on doubling the number of broadband users on their network in the next two to three years while also ensuring that all of their current 9 million Internet users get the best Internet experience possible on the Vodacom network.

    The Vodacom CEO said that continued network investments and cheaper smartphones and mobile computing devices like tablets will play a crucial role in making the Internet more accessible in South Africa and bringing broadband to the masses.

    He said that Vodacom aims to bring a quality Android smartphone to the market this year which will cost around R500, putting it within reach of most working class South Africans.

    Uys further highlighted the educational benefits of affordable mobile computing devices like Android smartphones, tablets and book readers, explaining that textbook distribution, online lessons and even interactive tutorials are all possible through these devices.

    However, Uys believes that the country needs the buy in from all sectors, including government, telecoms operators and the IT industry, to use technology to boost education and through this address the social ills in our society.

    When it comes to spectrum allocation - a vital ingredient in rolling out wireless broadband networks - Uys said that it is important that the regulator (ICASA) follow guidelines that ensure that this valuable resource is handed to companies that will make the most of it.

    “Spectrum should be taken away from companies which don’t use it and handed to operators who are willing to invest in networks [and] roll out services to the South African population,” said Uys.

    The Vodacom CEO appealed to ICASA to follow international standards in allocating spectrum, and further welcomed the idea of both giving some spectrum to large operators with national networks and to other players which will bring more competition to the market.

  • The Minister in the Office of the President in charge of ICT is set to appear before the Senate to explain how the government intends to manage and maintain the fibre-optic cable network. The decision to summon Ignace Gatare, was arrived at after Senator Wellars Gasamagera presented a paper to the House on the current status of ICT infrastructure in the country.

    "The government has spent $94m in laying 2,560-kilometre fibre optic cable across the country," said Gasamagera. The physical laying of the cable included civil works, laying of ducts and installation. "Now Kigali is connected to nine border-posts and all the country's 30 districts are networked." After full connection of the optic ring, the cable will link Rwanda to the Indian Ocean submarine cables via Uganda, through Kenya.

    It is assumed that with a backbone cable around the country, there is going to be a substantive decrease in the cost of telecom services, reductions estimated between 40- 50 %.

    "The Senate needs to know how government is going to manage and maintain the cable, how cyber criminality is going to be controlled and how much the government will benefit from this new technology," Gasamagera said. It is assumed that the cable will connect over 230 institutions in all 30 districts. Already 50 public institutions are connected and are using fibre optics.

    However, the Senate expressed deep concern on how the current ICT infrastructure will be replaced or upgraded and whether there is a joint plan between the government and private investors on how the cable will be managed.

    By press time, , Gatare was not available for comment while the RDB Deputy CEO-IT, Patrick Nyirishema, who oversees the project, said he had no time to talk to the press.

    Experts have indicated that, the infrastructure will boost access to various broadband services including fast tracking government initiatives like e-Governance, e-Banking, e-Learning, e-Health, and other applications.

  • Lack of political willingness and weak management of country code top-level domains has led to slow implementation of DNS Security Extensions in Africa.

    Africa was expected to extensively implement DNSSEC because it had no legacy registry systems, the few operational registries were manual and it was expected that DNSSEC would be implemented after the automation process.

    DNSSEC provides a set of new extensions to the DNS, protecting the Internet from distributed denial of service attacks, DNS cache poisoning and sabotage. DNSSEC uses digital signatures allowing the users to determine whether the information has been altered in anyway.

    DNSSEC implementation formally began in July last year, at a ceremony known as "signing of the root zone." Root signing signaled the beginning of IPv6, DNSSEC implementation and use of internationalized domain names.

    "Of the 67 TLD zones that are signed today, only two African countries are listed (.NA and .SC); this is bad, but if we look at the state of our DNS (ccTLD) landscape in the region the situation is not that surprising -- there is still a lot to do to reinforce our ccTLD infrastructure with a proper management," said Adiel Akplogan, CEO of AfriNIC, the organization tasked with managing IP resources in the region.

    For DNSSEC to be implemented, countries argue that there must be demand, which is created by a vibrant e-commerce industry and online banking. This online vibrancy is missing in many African countries.

    "For DNSSEC deployment to be successful, demand must be created. The push for its implementation by end-users can only come if users are aware of what DNSSEC has to offer as far as security and resilience of internet is concerned," said Joe Kiragu, administrative manager at KENIC, the .Ke registry.

    The role of government in managing Internet resources has been subject to debate with some countries questioning the role of the U.S. government in Internet governance. So, many TLDs in the region have had to consult with governments before implementing any changes to the ccTLD registry.

    "We have to appreciate potential political ramifications; we will raise the matter with our government because the .ZA namespace is a national resource over which our government bears some custodianship," added Vika.

    The issue of training and raising awareness has been discussed before, with some arguing that political will is needed more than the training while others hold that the problem with the continent is lack of skills and that is why policy making and appreciation of e-commerce is yet to take root.

computing

  • Innovators are lobbying to have the first option in developing software for government ministries, departments and parastatals, saying this would help the nascent segment grow while offering the public sector more customised solutions.

    With the government as the biggest buyer of software in Kenya, participants at an Institute of Economic Affairs pre-budget hearing said small tech firms have the capacity to develop software solutions that deepen checks and balances in government institutions.

    "The Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons, is a good candidate because its stock-in-trade is information about citizens and visitors to Kenya," said Seven Seas Technologies general manager Adam Nyaga.

    Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs said a directive should be passed similar to that of purchase of furniture for government offices from local firms.

    ICT is one of the drivers of the economy with small and medium enterprise (SME) sector seen as one to boost Kenya to a middle-income country. Promoting local entrepreneurs would help the government get back its return on investment, Kamau Gachigi from the University of Nairobi's Science and Technology Park said. "These are the products of our education," he said.

    Kenyan companies have proved that they are globally competitive and if local firms can shine abroad, servicing the government should be child's play, said Samuel Nyumba, a consultant at Intrepid Data Systems.

    Virtual City won the million dollar top prize at the Nokia World and Developer Summit in London is September last year and the Ushahidi platform, a crisis reporting tool was recognised globally and used during the Haiti earthquake.

    Kenya's 470 public institutions, 46 ministries, 178 state corporations, 175 local authorities and 71 tertiary institutions offer an opportunities for SMEs. "We need locally customised solutions as opposed top off the shelf software," said Nyumba.

  • The Department of Labour (DOL) will not renew its contract with Siemens to deliver its IT systems. DOL acting director-general Sam Morotoba presented the current status of the contract to Parliament's labour portfolio committee last week. He said a letter of termination, with the intention not to renew the contract, was given to Siemens.

    The public private partnership (PPP) began in 2002 and, apart from escalating costs, was plagued by other irregularities and challenges. The DOL sought outside help in the form of a diagnostic analysis by audit firm KPMG.

    Siemens had subcontracted the delivery of its services and the department was not happy with this. KPMG found that since the department had not agreed to this, there was a contractor default, and the department should ask Siemens to rectify it. The report also found there was no feasibility study done, nor any agreement from the department on the use of a SAP platform.

    In addition, there was no reconciliation done by Siemens against the baseline in the contract for licences, and so the report said the department is not liable for additional costs with regard to licences.

    Despite the contractor default on Siemens' part, the KPMG report says a termination of the contract will prove too onerous. For this reason, it suggests a negotiated termination since the legal route will also be costly.

    There are areas where the DOL can implement penalties, like for the late commencement of services, says KPMG. “There is evidence of billing inconsistently with the intention of the contract,” says the report. It adds that the department must review invoices and reclaim these bills.

    There are about eight projects still in progress by Siemens, with the longest term one set to be completed in October.

    The department has a strategic plan towards achieving the completion of the PPP. Thus it has done a diagnostic review of the partnership and established an internal steering committee to manage the transition to a new IT delivery model.

    The development of a draft plan for the exit and transfer of the PPP is currently in consultation; a new ICT strategy is being developed by the State IT Agency (SITA); and the department will conduct a feasibility study on a new ICT delivery model once the strategy is completed.

    Morotoba also said there is a process under way to resource the current office of the CIO to manage closure and transition. The department secured the involvement and participation of National Treasury, SITA and the State Attorney to assist in resolving current PPP contract problems.

    SITA's contract manager was appointed to oversee the PPP's contractual matters and high-level engagement with Siemens is under way, according to Morotoba. The DOL adds that it is also implementing the recommendations of the KPMG report and is requesting an early contract termination for October this year.

    The department also says it has strengthened governance structures to oversee current IT projects. The management committee receives regular progress reports and provides guidance to the IT steering committee. Morotoba said there is an increased participation of business stakeholders at forums.

    The costs of the PPP increased and are expected to rise further despite the many challenges that plague the systems, according to a National Treasury review in November.

    The partnership had initially been costed at R1.2 billion, but has now risen to R1.3 billion. Morotoba said this increase is due to the increase in the consumer price index, services relating to the annual report, and an increase in end-user devices.

    He also said there were still 22 months of the contract left to run. The projected cost at the end of the contract in November next year is R1.9 billion. The reasons for establishing the PPP include the high turnover of IT staff in the public sector; difficulty in reaching IT objectives; the automation of services towards e-government initiatives; the department's need to improve its IT capacity and expertise; and the need to exploit international best practice.

    The deliverables comprised of data centre services, local area network services, IT help-desk, office productivity, customer satisfaction, end-user access, and the deployment of end-user devices, such as desktops, laptops and printers.

    Systems development included training services for new systems; the design, construction and implementation of new systems; and maintenance, support and enhancement. The treasury's review of the system found several flaws in the PPP, including that there was insufficient monitoring and contract management by the DOL.

    There was no consistent change management implemented by the department for integration of the business into the new IT environment, and delays were encountered in implementation of the improvement services due to inadequate detail of business processes.

    The treasury also found that a lack of contract understanding by DOL stakeholders resulted in contractual remedies not being utilised when Siemens' performance was inadequate. Siemens did not respond to ITWeb's queries by the time of publication.

  • The R35m sale of 51% of disaster-recovery firm Continuity SA by JSE-listed outsourcing specialist the Dialogue Group, has been finalised. CoroCapital, the investment banking firm and subsidiary of Coronation, now owns a 49% stake, with the remaining 2% now in the hands of ContinuitySA staff and management.

    “Together with a well-funded equity partner, our solid financial standing puts us in a good position to grow the company both organically and through acquisitions over the coming years,” says Allen Smith, CEO of ContinuitySA. Dialogue walks away with not only the R35m, but also a special dividend of R2m.

    Dialogue faced a tough year in 2010. It principal subsidiary, Dialogue SA, was voluntarily liquidated. It also sold its 51% stake in call-centre recruitment business, Callforce.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Companies in the business of providing infrastructure services for telecom firms will now have to be partly owned by Ghanaians.

    According to a new directive from the Ministry of Communications, Ghanaians must own at least one-third of telecoms providers. The directive which sets out conditions for the issuance of Class One Communications Infrastructure license by the National Communications Authority, also adds that one third of their sub-contracts must also be carried out by indigenous enterprises. This should mean that the players will have to satisfy the conditions before they can secure the license to operate.

    Communications Minister Haruna Iddrisu told Joy Business the move is another initiative to break the dominance of foreigners in the sector. “Regrettably we’ve already lost all the giant players to foreign players as a result of the huge investments or capital outlay that is required [in the industry],” he said.

    He said the directive was necessitated by the fact that “almost all the telecom operators are ceding the ownership and control of their cell-sites to other entities.”

    “We have a duty and a responsibility to create business opportunities for the Ghanaian people and we are not ashamed about that,” he added. He insists Ghanaian businesses, though very capable have not been given a fair chance.

  • Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has reported a drop in profit for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2010, reflecting the absence of gains from discontinued operations included in results for the year-ago period. The Luxembourg-based telco said net profit declined to USD157.2 million from USD454.2 million in the same period of 2009, when the results included a gain of USD289 million from the disposal of non-core businesses in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone. Revenues for the quarter grew 10% to USD1.07 billion, while operating profit rose to USD281.4 million from USD243.8 million. For the full year MIC's profit surged to USD1.65 billion, while revenues grew 16% to USD3.92 billion. Capital expenditure for 2010 totalled USD731 million; for the current year the company expects CAPEX to exceed USD800 million. The company added that it expects to dispose of its operation in Laos in 2011.

    Customers in Africa increased by 23% year-on-year, bringing the total at the end of December to just below 15 million. The lower intake for the region as a whole compared to Q3 is partly due to mandatory customer registration processes in Ghana and Tanzania which give rise to greater volatility. This is best illustrated by the fact that the Tanzanian market contracted in Q4, probably as a consequence of lower multiple SIMs following mandatory registration.
     
    Revenues in Africa were up 5% year-on-year to $239 million, with local currency revenues up 12% following pricing pressure mainly in Ghana and Tanzania, with no elasticity yet at this stage. We also have limited capacity in Senegal as we are investing in capex only through the operation‟s own cash generation.  DRC and Tanzania continued to demonstrate the strongest local currency growth, recording year-on-year increases of 21% and 20% respectively.  In DRC, the regulator introduced high minimum tariffs for all operators in December, which we expect to cause a slow down in the rate of penetration growth.  VAS revenues increased by 41% in Africa year-on-year and now account for 10% of the region‟s recurring revenues.
     
    ARPU for the region was down 11% year-on-year in local currency.  We have seen increased pricing activity in Africa in recent months and in some markets we have adjusted our cross-net tariffs through headline price reductions or promotional activity in order to maintain affordability.  We will monitor closely whether elasticity will follow in the coming months. 
     
    EBITDA for Africa for Q4 10 reached $100 million, up 12% year-on-year. The EBITDA margin was 41.7%, up 2.4 percentage points over Q4 09. 
     
    Capex in Africa amounted to $120 million in Q4 and $278 million for the full year or 31% of revenues.  We expect capex in Africa to increase as a percentage of sales in 2011 as we invest in order to capitalize on the region‟s growth potential and to address the possible increase in traffic from lower tariffs.  We will also begin to invest in 3G in several major urban areas.

  • South African mobile operator Cell C has sold its 50% stake in Virgin Mobile South Africa for an undisclosed sum, the Virgin Group has confirmed. The deal will see co-owner Virgin Mobile raise its stake in the business to 55%, whilst Bahamas-based Calico Investments will acquire the remaining 45%. The transaction is subject to certain conditions, including approvals from the Competition Commission; it is expected to be finalised by April 2011. Cell C will continue to function as Virgin Mobile’s network partner, under an updated network services agreement. In August 2010 it was reported that Virgin Mobile was planning to launch its own mobile broadband service using Cell C’s new HSPA+ network.

    Steve Bailey, CEO of Virgin Mobile, commented: ‘Virgin Mobile has shown consistent high subscriber growth and has significantly increased its base of higher ARPU post-paid subscribers in South Africa over the last two years. It is time for us to capitalise on this growth and bring in an additional shareholder to invest in Virgin Mobile’s further expansion, which will enable us to deliver more exciting products and services to our valued customers. We also look forward to leveraging our updated network agreement with Cell C to provide improved performance to our customers’.

    Faisal Al Bannai, a director of Calico Investments, added: ‘Calico looks forward to working with Virgin Mobile to develop the business through the expansion of its offerings. Virgin Mobile has shown an ability to differentiate itself from the competition and, with our intended investment, there will now be even more potential to increase the range of quality products and services Virgin Mobile can offer going forward’. Virgin Mobile South Africa began life in 2006, as an equal joint venture between Cell C and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. When the possibility of a stake sale was first mooted in July 2010 Virgin claimed to have 300,000 customers, of whom 90% were post-paid.

  • Registered customers of mobile phone money transfer service, M-Pesa, can now withdraw cash in any currency from Visa branded automated teller machines (ATMs) anywhere in the world. They can also make purchases in accepted merchant outlets or shop online.

    This follows a partnership deal between Safaricom and I&M Bank under which the phone operator and the bank launched the first Visa branded card that can be loaded from a mobile phone through its M-Pesa money transfer service.

    "Users of this service will enjoy the convenience of online shopping as they can easily pay using the Pre-Paid Visa cards and also access their accounts via the internet," said I&M Bank chief executive officer Arun Mathur.

    Under the agreement, M-Pesa users will be able to transfer funds from their accounts to the PrePay Safari Card, which is an international Visa card co-branded with I&M Bank.

    "The PrePay Safari Card comes as a major boost in the push to broaden M-Pesa services from a money transfer service to a total mobile commerce solution," said Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, during the signing ceremony held at Safaricom House on Tuesday.

    The card can hold up to a maximum of Sh500,000 loaded through the M-Pesa paybill option. The balance can be refunded through I&M Bank branches without having to open an account there.

    "It can also be reloaded through M-Pesa in Kenya for a subscriber who has travelled internationally thus deepening its key propositions of convenience and accessibility," said Collymore of a money transfer service, which was launched four years ago and now has more than 13 million users and 23,000 agents.

    The partnership comes at a time when the Central Bank of Kenya latest statistics show that mobile money transfer service, which is viewed as holding the key to the future of e-commerce, is now the most widely used mode of financial transactions.

    According to the figures, in December last year, a daily average of 929,143 users transacted using mobile phones, dealing about Sh2.43 billion.

    In the same month, 558,808 Kenyans moved Sh3.1 billion through automated teller machines, while 34,709 used electronic fund transfers worth Sh1.1 billion. About 70,000 used cheques valued at Sh7 billion while 4,262 used the high value payment system - the real time gross settlement systems, transacting Sh64.9 billion.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Nigeria’s mobile operator Globacom has launched its prepaid 3G plus internet services in Kaduna.

    Morocco’s third largest mobile operator Wana, which launched a GSM-based network in February 2010 under the Inwi brand, is celebrating signing up a total of 4.3 million cellular users by end-December, compared to the 600,000 CDMA-only mobile subscribers it served a year earlier. The operator claims that the rapid growth gave it a 13.5% market share by the end of 2010 against 2.4% twelve months previously. Wana, which also provides CDMA-based 3G mobile broadband services under the Inwi brand, and fixed-wireless telephony under the Bayn banner, has also retained its leading positions in terms of subscribers in the fixed line and 3G internet markets, claiming shares of 66.7% and 40.7% respectively, as confirmed by figures from the regulator, the ANRT.

Digital Content

  • Handset manufacturer, Nokia, is set to launch a bicycle- charger that will help people in rural areas to harness energy from bicycles to charge mobile phones. In an interview with Daily Monitor last week, Kenneth Oyolla, Nokia General Manager for East and Southern Africa said the innovation will give people who live in areas with no electricity freedom to use their phones without worrying about battery life. The innovation is based around the dynamo that a bicycle uses to empower its lighting system.

    The charger kit includes a charger, a bottle dynamo and a phone holder that is can be attached to any bicycle. When a rider pedals, the device rotates as the wheel spins and generates electrical energy, which is transmitted up a wire to a handlebar, which a phone plugs into.

    To begin charging, a cyclist needs to travel around 6 kilometres per hour and while charging time will vary depending on battery model, a 10 minutes journey at a speed of 6 kilometres per hour will give you 28 minutes of talk time while riding the same distance at 20kmph gives you 50 minutes of talk time.

    Therefore, the faster one rides, the more battery life they generate. The charger can be used to power any Nokia phone with a 2mm power jack. The rate of electricity penetration is still low standing at on only 11 per cent.

  • Mobile application development in Kenya is gaining speed as players rush to tap into the vast pool of young tech entrepreneurs by offering training. Experts predict that mobile applications will be the next big thing in five years.

    Initiatives like mLab East Africa and several others by Nokia has seen Kenyans benefit from fully-sponsored trainings on creation of mobile apps and how best to launch them into the market, revealing a growing interest in the sector.

    Technology experts say the surge of investments into the mobile telephony sector is an indicator that the country is in step with the rest of the world in terms of software development as well as having the necessary pool of individuals to actualise it.

    "Kenya has a clear competitive advantage in the mobile application development space with hundreds of programmers skilled in making everything from USSD and SMS services to Android and iPhone apps", said Erik Hersman, director of operations at the non-profit Ushahidi.

    "It's such a big deal here that we're putting together a big event on June 14-15 called Pivot 25, where East Africa's top programmers and start-ups will vie for a position to pitch their new mobile apps and services to over 400 of the industry's leading experts and investors."

    iHub, a tech community in Nairobi, has integrated with four other technology-focused start-up incubators like itself across Africa with the aim of creating a web of connections, support, and mentorship that will help technology entrepreneurs link and share innovations.

    "Since the iHub concept has been so popular in Kenya, we are banding together with like-minded leaders of other labs and hubs around Africa to found AfriLabs, an association of African tech labs around the continent which will be the body that spreads this model across Africa", Hersman said.

    The mobile app industry offers a worldwide market for developers which Ken Mwenda, managing director of eMobilis, likens to a global mall where you upload your application and if people like and download it, you get paid.

Issue no 541 11th February 2011 v2

node ref id: 21143

Top story

  • The number of green mobile base stations deployed in Africa remains small. It represents a mere 3.1% of the total number of deployments worldwide (9,558). This news comes amid headlines last week on oil prices soaring to their highest level for two years as the value of Brent crude broke the US$101 a barrel mark for the first time since October 2008.

    A large number of African mobile base stations require two sets of generators and in some cases up to three months supply of costly fuel in their tanks. More remote base stations may require fuelling by boat and hand-cart and in the larger markets, operators run large fleets of oil tankers to keep base stations supplied.

    Isabelle Gross, the author of the report published by Balancing Act called “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” says that “ mobile operators shouldn’t take the lack of technical expertise for an excuse to do nothing. African mobile operators have to shift focus onto the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures are among the top items on their list”. Gross makes the point that “voice ARPU will carry on decreasing due to reducing prices on voice calls and the acquisition of new customers with much lower disposable income”. This will put more pressure on mobile operators’ revenue. In Ghana for example voice ARPU went down from US$17 in 2006 to US$7 in 2010. In Kenya and Uganda the ongoing price war on voice calls has already impacted mobile operators’ revenue. MTN’s CEO, Themba Khumalo conceded that increased competition has impacted on the company's overall revenue in Uganda. In less than a year, the price of a call dropped from an average of sh11 per second to just sh3 – nearly 4 times less.

    When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution for African mobile operators but it can be done. The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay. The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. Mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction or not for example with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    While the report describes in details the various approaches implemented by mobile operators to run their base stations more efficiently, it also looks at the renewable energy solutions that are currently available on the market for mobile operators to further reduce their energy bill. There is a growing choice of green solutions available (solar energy, wind power, bio-fuel powered base station, hydrogen fuel cells) but they all require a substantial initial capital investment.

    The report defines the business case for rolling out “green” base stations and gives example of African mobile operators that have started to implement renewable energy projects to power their base stations. The report establishes that “at the low end in terms of capital investment first comes a combination of solar energy power combined to a diesel battery hybrid powering system. Operating costs like diesel are reduced but not totally eliminated. At the high end in terms of capital investment comes a combination of wind and solar power system backed by batteries which provides the maximum reduction in operating costs”.

    The 45 pages report “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” ends with a directory that has useful details on companies offering services and products to improve the energy efficiency of a base station or solution to roll renewable energy powered base station. It will come very handy to whoever will look into energy saving solutions.

    According to the report’s author, “the “quick fixes” will help reduce operating costs but only to a certain point. Further reduction in operating costs will require some capital investment because it implies purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy power solutions. Ultimately the financial decision lies with the mobile operator and depends on its capital investment strategy and its positioning in the market in the long term. For some mobile operators, “going green” means more than just reducing the energy bill or decreasing their carbon footprint. It has the potential to provide strong branding – a new way to differentiate them from the competition.

    Further details on the report are available here:

    News announcement: New clips this week on Balancing Act’s new Web TV Channel

    Do not miss our Web TV Channel which highlights recent interviews with top telecoms personalities. There are interviews in both English and French:

    Funke Opeke,
    CEO, Main One on sales, national blockages and extending the cable
    click here:

    Nigeria: IPnx’s Ejovi Aror talks about price falls and national blockages
    click here:

    Clips from Mobile Web West Africa in Lagos:

    Stefan Magdalinski, General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, MIH talks about its investment strategy
    click here:

    Ayo Alli, Business Development Consultant for Goal.com talks about its massive growth in West Africa
    click here:

    Akinde Aludamola, Team Leader, ConnectNigeria talks about search website:
    click here:

    NOTE:

    If you want to receive daily news tweets from around the continent, please follow us on Twitter:

    In English: @BalancingActAfr
    In French: @sylvainbeletre

    If you are putting out information about your company on Twitter, please send us your details so that we can follow you.

More

  • 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011
    7-9 March 2011, Cape Town, South Africa Venue BMW Pavilion, V&A Waterfront

    Our 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011 (AEF-2011) in Cape Town at the BMW-Imax Theatre, with Africa Exhibition is a landmark Conference on Africa and significant business networking occasion for the top corporate players active in, across and involved with the development of the African continent - Cape-to-Cairo, with Governments and officials in key industries and state institutions.
    Contact: babette@glopac.com For further information visit here:


    Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East & Africa
    9 March  2011, Grand Millennium Hotel, Dubai

    Taking place on the 9th March 2011, the Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East and Africa is a Free-to-attend event and will feature all of the key players within the Cloud Computing and SaaS market providing an introduction, discussion and look into the future for the ICT industry.
    This one day conference will provide the most complete and comprehensive platform for the global Cloud Computing and SaaS industry. Register Free today and get inspiration on how to address your latest issues with advice from real-life end-user case studies and practical examples.
    Show Highlights include:
    1 Day Conference on Cloud Computing and SaaS
    Featuring presentations on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Applications, IaaS, Virtualization and PaaS
    Keynote theatre featuring leading industry speakers
    More case studies than any other like event
    Learn from the key players offering leading products and services
    Pre-show online meeting planner
    Evening networking reception for all attendees
    For more information please visit here: or contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.


    Broadband World Forum MEA
    14-15 March 2011, Dubai UAE

    Network, learn and do business with 750+ decision-makers from across the regional Broadband ecosystem to deliver you inspiration, insights and ideas that will further your regional business.The conference programme features 60+ visionary speakers presenting across keynote plenary sessions, 4 in-depth technology tracks and a Rural Coverage and Connectivity focus day.  Co-located to the conference is a 35+ stand technology exhibition showcasing some of the region’s latest cutting-edge broadband technologies, applications, solutions and services to hit the market.
    Limited FREE passes for operators and early booking discounts apply to all others.  Register with VIP code: BBM11BAA
    For further information visit here:

    ICT For Development in Africa – Sustaining The Momentum, Extending The Reach
    23-26 March 2011, Ota, Nigeria
    The conference will initiate research and practice agenda where ICTs will aid the academia, organizations - public and private and non-governmental to improve socio-economic conditions and directly benefit the disadvantaged in some manner.
    For further information visit here:


    Managed Services Growth Markets 2011
    4-5 April, Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE

    Now in its 4th year and attended by over 200 attendees in 2010, Informa Telecoms and Media’s Managed Services for Growth Markets event will take place on 4th - 5th April at the Moevenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE.With a proven track-record and repeat sponsorship from leading suppliers Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NokiaSiemens Networks and Motorola, this event is truly established as the ultimate meeting-place for the Managed Services industry in the growth markets.A 50% discount for operators ensures a high percentage operator attendance.  Extended break times and additional social functions will guarantee a further enhancement to the already unique networking opportunities. Informa’s Managed Services for Growth Markets conference is the only established event in the region, proven to deliver an industry focussed agenda, the highest level speakers, superior networking opportunities, and top class delegates year on year.
For more information visit here:


    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:

  • InMobi, a mobile advertising firm, has appointed a Kenyan-born Isis Nyong'o as its vice president and managing director for Africa as it seeks to get a larger share of the continent's advertising pie ahead of rival Google.

    In Tunisia, the Industry and Technology Minister announced the following nominations in the communication technologies sector:
    Raouf Chkir : CEO of Tunisie Telecom
    Kamel Saadaoui : President of the National Telecommunications Authority (INT)
    Moez Chakchouk : CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI)
    Samir Sidhom : Director General of the National Agency for Computer Security (ANSI)

    HP has announced the appointment of Graham Vorster as HP Networking Country Manager for HP South Africa, with immediate effect.

  • HR Manager’s job entails providing practical, consistent, and proactive support, direction and advice to other division managers on HR procedure, policy, best practice, employment rewards, benefits, and legislation to facilitate in achieving the objectives and targets of an organization. HR manager performs human resources management works relating to hiring, recruitment, training, compensation, promotion, termination, career development, or retirement. HR manager also develops, updates, and maintains personnel policies, policy manuals and employee handbook as required.
    For further information about the job or to apply click here

  • MTN and Radcom – East Africa
    Radcom, a provider of service assurance solutions, says that it has won a contract from South Africa based MTN for its Omni-Q Service Assurance solution to monitor one of MTN's mobile networks in East Africa.

    Safaricom and Alepo - Kenya

    Safaricom, East Africa’s largest mobile carrier, selected Alepo Technologies, Inc. to provide an integrated BSS/OSS solution for WiMAX and Wi-Fi, including Alepo’s award-winning 16e AAA Server and DHCP Server. The robust solution will allow Safaricom to extend more finely grained service offerings to customers while maintaining high network security and optimizing resources.

telecoms

  • State-owned broadband provider Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) has confirmed that it has launched Libya’s third mobile phone network, under the brand name LibyaPhone Mobile. Although no precise rollout details have been confirmed by the operator, it claims that its network has capacity for around 100,000 customers during the first phase of its operations. Further, LibyaPhone Mobile has pledged to extend coverage to areas under-served by fellow state-owned cellcos Libyana and Al Madar Telecomm Company. LTT claims that LibyaPhone Mobile will offer both 2G and 3G connectivity.

    Although speculation regarding the launch of a third mobile phone operator in Libya has been rife for some time, in July 2010 it was confirmed that UAE’s Etisalat and Turkcell of Turkey had both been overlooked for a new LYD1 billion (USD825 million) concession. The General Telecommunication Authority (GTA) had previously launched an international tender for a combined fixed and mobile licence in February 2009, although its final decision was severely delayed, and no clear reasons were given for the lack of progress, merely that the international telcos were ‘unsuitable’.

    According to TeleGeography, state-owned Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) is the country's dominant ISP and also acts as a moderator for the internet sector. The operator launched a commercial WiMAX network – operating in the 2.5GHz band – under the ‘LibyaMax’ banner in February 2009. Services have subsequently been expanded to over 25 locations, predominantly along the coast, covering around 65% of the population.

  • The much-anticipated rollout plan by Excellentcom (T) Limited, a new mobile phone company, has stalled. The firm, trading as Hits Tanzania, risks being wound up and has already laid off about 80 workers, out of the 140 it had employed, while more than 20 had left to pursue other interests after the company failed to take off this year as it had planned earlier.

    Huawei Technologies of China, which had entered into a contract to provide mobile phone network infrastructure technologies to Hits, has filed a petition at the High Court's main registry seeking to wind up the company. The bone of contention is failure by Hits to pay Huawei its dues after the latter had performed 10 per cent of its assignment of rolling out the mobile phone network countrywide.

    The two firms signed a $180 million (Sh216 billion) contract in June 2008 under which Huawei was required to build Excellentcom's mobile phone network to enable it to cover the whole country within 13 months.

    The advent of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 stalled Hits' plans to roll out a mobile network. The company managed to rollout out just an estimated 10 per cent of the intended network. Excellentcom (T) Limited chief executive officer (CEO) David Charles confirmed to The Citizen on Tuesday (January 25) that the company has shifted much of its attention to the case.

    "Our plans were well on course and we still believe we will achieve our goal of kicking off during the first months of this year," Charles said. But he declined to go into details over how much money the company is owed by Huawei because the issue was in the courts of law. But he claimed that the company has invested about $50 million since it started operations in the country.

    The 80 workers laid off last month were all paid their dues, according to Charles. 20 others were shifted to the firm's operations in Equatorial Guinea while 14 have been retained. He said, however, that the company would look into other alternatives to roll out its services, noting however that the process would depend on the judge's decision.

    "It should however, not be translated to mean that we have been idle...We have injected some $50 million into the country's telecom sector since we started operations," Mwinyi said in August.

  • The number of mobile phone subscribers in Kenya has grown to 22 million people, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya quarterly report for September 2010. The rise, attributed to price wars that pushed calling rates down, is the highest in the past three quarters. In June last year, Kenya had 20.1 million subscribers.

    Analysts said subscriber numbers will continue to shoot up in coming months but will soon stagnate. "There is an increasing number of people in possession of multiple sim cards, but a number are likely to drop them and retain one," said Eric Musau, an analyst with African Alliance Kenya Securities.

    The biggest player, Safaricom, however, lost part of its market share to rivals who were charging lower tariffs, dropping to 75.9 per cent from the previous quarter's 80.7 per cent.
    Airtel, which has been reducing its rates over the past few months and now ranks among the cheapest calling and messaging tariffs in Kenya, saw its market share rise by 4.4 per cent -- the highest gain across the market over the review period.

    Telkom Orange's market share also rose by 1.3 per cent while the tariff wars hived 0.7 per cent off Essar Telecom, which operates the Yu network. Subscribers spent a total of 6.63 billion minutes in making calls against 6.05 billion in the previous quarter.

    This is on the back of low tariffs that service providers introduced and availability of phones. Analysts predict Safaricom will continue losing its market share and could reach as low as 71 per cent by next month, although the listed firm will still remain the leader in data provision.

    "Safaricom contributes half of the data in the industry and can ride on its past investments," said Musau. In the long run, Safaricom is expected to benefit from its present settings including WiMAX protocol to provide fixed and mobile Internet access.
    "Other players might not lose on voice but will be restrained on data provision, which is expensive to upgrade," added Musau.

    During the quarter under review, the total number of broadband subscriptions rose to 84,726 from 18,626 in the previous quarter, representing 0.97 per cent of the total Internet subscriptions.

    Total Internet subscriptions saw Safaricom secure first place at 92.18 per cent with 2,977,584 subscribers while rivals Airtel Kenya Ltd and Telkom Orange followed at 149,053 and 77,668 subscribers, garnering 4.61 and 2.4 per cent respectively. Other operators secured less than 1 per cent each according to CCK reports.

    As the mobile subscriber numbers shot up, the period under review saw the fixed lines subscribers decline by 2.7 per cent from 234,522 to 228,391 lines. Fixed wireless service providers on the other hand recorded a 37.2 per cent decline from 225,592 in the previous period to 141,580.

  • The strong growth of mobile payment services in the country has led to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the services' joint supervision by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) and Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

    BoT has, in its maiden Financial Stability Report, attributed the sharp increase in the number of subscribers to the mobile payments mainly to limited access to formal banking services, especially in rural areas. "... in this regard, the mobile payment provides an avenue for linking bank account holders to the unbanked population," the central bank says in its 33- page report, which the bank's governor, Professor Benno Ndulu, launched in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.

    According to provisional data, as of June 30, 2010, the number of mobile phone subscribers stood at 18.5 million, with 9.2 million of them registered for mobile payment services. Mobile payment schemes involve not only funds transfers but also payment for retail goods and services.

    Mobile payment services are specifically used to top-up mobile phone credits, airtime transfers between mobile phones and corporate bill payments - water and electricity, for instance.

    Four mobile network operators - Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo and Zantel - are currently offering the mobile payment services. The service provision however requires that the phone companies partner with commercial banks.

    "The existing arrangement creates gaps in the regulatory framework because two regulators - BoT and TCRA - each with a limited scope of coverage, oversee the mobile payment services," the report says, noting that the signed MoU provides a mechanism for regulatory and supervisory coordination between the two regulators.

    While the central bank regulates the financial transactions, the TCRA focuses on the communication infrastructure. Industry analysts say that the significant growth in the usage of mobile phones offers great opportunity to extend financial and other services to millions of those in the unbanked community.

internet

  • Peak mobile broadband speeds are reaching tens of Mbps, but Vodacom CEO says that they will focus on giving everyone at least 1Mbps Mobile broadband technologies in South Africa are already supporting peak speeds of up to 42Mbps, with developments poised to push the 100Mbps limit in the near future.

    These innovations in the cellular environment get techies excited, but Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said that the focus should not be on producing high peak speeds in only selected areas, but rather to provide every South African with a 1Mbps broadband connection.

    Uys said that Vodacom has a strong focus on providing ubiquitous 1Mbps broadband access throughout the country, where subscribers can be assured of a good Internet experience wherever they are (both indoors and outdoors).

    Uys added that innovations in radio network capacity and speeds (like 42Mbps HSPA+) will help a great deal not only to increase the average throughput of users, but also to serve more users in the same area. He said that Vodacom currently has 9 million Internet users, but only around 2 million data bundle subscribers (which is a fair indication of broadband users on the network).

    Vodacom is focused on doubling the number of broadband users on their network in the next two to three years while also ensuring that all of their current 9 million Internet users get the best Internet experience possible on the Vodacom network.

    The Vodacom CEO said that continued network investments and cheaper smartphones and mobile computing devices like tablets will play a crucial role in making the Internet more accessible in South Africa and bringing broadband to the masses.

    He said that Vodacom aims to bring a quality Android smartphone to the market this year which will cost around R500, putting it within reach of most working class South Africans.

    Uys further highlighted the educational benefits of affordable mobile computing devices like Android smartphones, tablets and book readers, explaining that textbook distribution, online lessons and even interactive tutorials are all possible through these devices.

    However, Uys believes that the country needs the buy in from all sectors, including government, telecoms operators and the IT industry, to use technology to boost education and through this address the social ills in our society.

    When it comes to spectrum allocation - a vital ingredient in rolling out wireless broadband networks - Uys said that it is important that the regulator (ICASA) follow guidelines that ensure that this valuable resource is handed to companies that will make the most of it.

    “Spectrum should be taken away from companies which don’t use it and handed to operators who are willing to invest in networks [and] roll out services to the South African population,” said Uys.

    The Vodacom CEO appealed to ICASA to follow international standards in allocating spectrum, and further welcomed the idea of both giving some spectrum to large operators with national networks and to other players which will bring more competition to the market.

  • The Minister in the Office of the President in charge of ICT is set to appear before the Senate to explain how the government intends to manage and maintain the fibre-optic cable network. The decision to summon Ignace Gatare, was arrived at after Senator Wellars Gasamagera presented a paper to the House on the current status of ICT infrastructure in the country.

    "The government has spent $94m in laying 2,560-kilometre fibre optic cable across the country," said Gasamagera. The physical laying of the cable included civil works, laying of ducts and installation. "Now Kigali is connected to nine border-posts and all the country's 30 districts are networked." After full connection of the optic ring, the cable will link Rwanda to the Indian Ocean submarine cables via Uganda, through Kenya.

    It is assumed that with a backbone cable around the country, there is going to be a substantive decrease in the cost of telecom services, reductions estimated between 40- 50 %.

    "The Senate needs to know how government is going to manage and maintain the cable, how cyber criminality is going to be controlled and how much the government will benefit from this new technology," Gasamagera said. It is assumed that the cable will connect over 230 institutions in all 30 districts. Already 50 public institutions are connected and are using fibre optics.

    However, the Senate expressed deep concern on how the current ICT infrastructure will be replaced or upgraded and whether there is a joint plan between the government and private investors on how the cable will be managed.

    By press time, , Gatare was not available for comment while the RDB Deputy CEO-IT, Patrick Nyirishema, who oversees the project, said he had no time to talk to the press.

    Experts have indicated that, the infrastructure will boost access to various broadband services including fast tracking government initiatives like e-Governance, e-Banking, e-Learning, e-Health, and other applications.

  • Lack of political willingness and weak management of country code top-level domains has led to slow implementation of DNS Security Extensions in Africa.

    Africa was expected to extensively implement DNSSEC because it had no legacy registry systems, the few operational registries were manual and it was expected that DNSSEC would be implemented after the automation process.

    DNSSEC provides a set of new extensions to the DNS, protecting the Internet from distributed denial of service attacks, DNS cache poisoning and sabotage. DNSSEC uses digital signatures allowing the users to determine whether the information has been altered in anyway.

    DNSSEC implementation formally began in July last year, at a ceremony known as "signing of the root zone." Root signing signaled the beginning of IPv6, DNSSEC implementation and use of internationalized domain names.

    "Of the 67 TLD zones that are signed today, only two African countries are listed (.NA and .SC); this is bad, but if we look at the state of our DNS (ccTLD) landscape in the region the situation is not that surprising -- there is still a lot to do to reinforce our ccTLD infrastructure with a proper management," said Adiel Akplogan, CEO of AfriNIC, the organization tasked with managing IP resources in the region.

    For DNSSEC to be implemented, countries argue that there must be demand, which is created by a vibrant e-commerce industry and online banking. This online vibrancy is missing in many African countries.

    "For DNSSEC deployment to be successful, demand must be created. The push for its implementation by end-users can only come if users are aware of what DNSSEC has to offer as far as security and resilience of internet is concerned," said Joe Kiragu, administrative manager at KENIC, the .Ke registry.

    The role of government in managing Internet resources has been subject to debate with some countries questioning the role of the U.S. government in Internet governance. So, many TLDs in the region have had to consult with governments before implementing any changes to the ccTLD registry.

    "We have to appreciate potential political ramifications; we will raise the matter with our government because the .ZA namespace is a national resource over which our government bears some custodianship," added Vika.

    The issue of training and raising awareness has been discussed before, with some arguing that political will is needed more than the training while others hold that the problem with the continent is lack of skills and that is why policy making and appreciation of e-commerce is yet to take root.

computing

  • Innovators are lobbying to have the first option in developing software for government ministries, departments and parastatals, saying this would help the nascent segment grow while offering the public sector more customised solutions.

    With the government as the biggest buyer of software in Kenya, participants at an Institute of Economic Affairs pre-budget hearing said small tech firms have the capacity to develop software solutions that deepen checks and balances in government institutions.

    "The Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons, is a good candidate because its stock-in-trade is information about citizens and visitors to Kenya," said Seven Seas Technologies general manager Adam Nyaga.

    Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs said a directive should be passed similar to that of purchase of furniture for government offices from local firms.

    ICT is one of the drivers of the economy with small and medium enterprise (SME) sector seen as one to boost Kenya to a middle-income country. Promoting local entrepreneurs would help the government get back its return on investment, Kamau Gachigi from the University of Nairobi's Science and Technology Park said. "These are the products of our education," he said.

    Kenyan companies have proved that they are globally competitive and if local firms can shine abroad, servicing the government should be child's play, said Samuel Nyumba, a consultant at Intrepid Data Systems.

    Virtual City won the million dollar top prize at the Nokia World and Developer Summit in London is September last year and the Ushahidi platform, a crisis reporting tool was recognised globally and used during the Haiti earthquake.

    Kenya's 470 public institutions, 46 ministries, 178 state corporations, 175 local authorities and 71 tertiary institutions offer an opportunities for SMEs. "We need locally customised solutions as opposed top off the shelf software," said Nyumba.

  • The Department of Labour (DOL) will not renew its contract with Siemens to deliver its IT systems. DOL acting director-general Sam Morotoba presented the current status of the contract to Parliament's labour portfolio committee last week. He said a letter of termination, with the intention not to renew the contract, was given to Siemens.

    The public private partnership (PPP) began in 2002 and, apart from escalating costs, was plagued by other irregularities and challenges. The DOL sought outside help in the form of a diagnostic analysis by audit firm KPMG.

    Siemens had subcontracted the delivery of its services and the department was not happy with this. KPMG found that since the department had not agreed to this, there was a contractor default, and the department should ask Siemens to rectify it. The report also found there was no feasibility study done, nor any agreement from the department on the use of a SAP platform.

    In addition, there was no reconciliation done by Siemens against the baseline in the contract for licences, and so the report said the department is not liable for additional costs with regard to licences.

    Despite the contractor default on Siemens' part, the KPMG report says a termination of the contract will prove too onerous. For this reason, it suggests a negotiated termination since the legal route will also be costly.

    There are areas where the DOL can implement penalties, like for the late commencement of services, says KPMG. “There is evidence of billing inconsistently with the intention of the contract,” says the report. It adds that the department must review invoices and reclaim these bills.

    There are about eight projects still in progress by Siemens, with the longest term one set to be completed in October.

    The department has a strategic plan towards achieving the completion of the PPP. Thus it has done a diagnostic review of the partnership and established an internal steering committee to manage the transition to a new IT delivery model.

    The development of a draft plan for the exit and transfer of the PPP is currently in consultation; a new ICT strategy is being developed by the State IT Agency (SITA); and the department will conduct a feasibility study on a new ICT delivery model once the strategy is completed.

    Morotoba also said there is a process under way to resource the current office of the CIO to manage closure and transition. The department secured the involvement and participation of National Treasury, SITA and the State Attorney to assist in resolving current PPP contract problems.

    SITA's contract manager was appointed to oversee the PPP's contractual matters and high-level engagement with Siemens is under way, according to Morotoba. The DOL adds that it is also implementing the recommendations of the KPMG report and is requesting an early contract termination for October this year.

    The department also says it has strengthened governance structures to oversee current IT projects. The management committee receives regular progress reports and provides guidance to the IT steering committee. Morotoba said there is an increased participation of business stakeholders at forums.

    The costs of the PPP increased and are expected to rise further despite the many challenges that plague the systems, according to a National Treasury review in November.

    The partnership had initially been costed at R1.2 billion, but has now risen to R1.3 billion. Morotoba said this increase is due to the increase in the consumer price index, services relating to the annual report, and an increase in end-user devices.

    He also said there were still 22 months of the contract left to run. The projected cost at the end of the contract in November next year is R1.9 billion. The reasons for establishing the PPP include the high turnover of IT staff in the public sector; difficulty in reaching IT objectives; the automation of services towards e-government initiatives; the department's need to improve its IT capacity and expertise; and the need to exploit international best practice.

    The deliverables comprised of data centre services, local area network services, IT help-desk, office productivity, customer satisfaction, end-user access, and the deployment of end-user devices, such as desktops, laptops and printers.

    Systems development included training services for new systems; the design, construction and implementation of new systems; and maintenance, support and enhancement. The treasury's review of the system found several flaws in the PPP, including that there was insufficient monitoring and contract management by the DOL.

    There was no consistent change management implemented by the department for integration of the business into the new IT environment, and delays were encountered in implementation of the improvement services due to inadequate detail of business processes.

    The treasury also found that a lack of contract understanding by DOL stakeholders resulted in contractual remedies not being utilised when Siemens' performance was inadequate. Siemens did not respond to ITWeb's queries by the time of publication.

  • The R35m sale of 51% of disaster-recovery firm Continuity SA by JSE-listed outsourcing specialist the Dialogue Group, has been finalised. CoroCapital, the investment banking firm and subsidiary of Coronation, now owns a 49% stake, with the remaining 2% now in the hands of ContinuitySA staff and management.

    “Together with a well-funded equity partner, our solid financial standing puts us in a good position to grow the company both organically and through acquisitions over the coming years,” says Allen Smith, CEO of ContinuitySA. Dialogue walks away with not only the R35m, but also a special dividend of R2m.

    Dialogue faced a tough year in 2010. It principal subsidiary, Dialogue SA, was voluntarily liquidated. It also sold its 51% stake in call-centre recruitment business, Callforce.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Companies in the business of providing infrastructure services for telecom firms will now have to be partly owned by Ghanaians.

    According to a new directive from the Ministry of Communications, Ghanaians must own at least one-third of telecoms providers. The directive which sets out conditions for the issuance of Class One Communications Infrastructure license by the National Communications Authority, also adds that one third of their sub-contracts must also be carried out by indigenous enterprises. This should mean that the players will have to satisfy the conditions before they can secure the license to operate.

    Communications Minister Haruna Iddrisu told Joy Business the move is another initiative to break the dominance of foreigners in the sector. “Regrettably we’ve already lost all the giant players to foreign players as a result of the huge investments or capital outlay that is required [in the industry],” he said.

    He said the directive was necessitated by the fact that “almost all the telecom operators are ceding the ownership and control of their cell-sites to other entities.”

    “We have a duty and a responsibility to create business opportunities for the Ghanaian people and we are not ashamed about that,” he added. He insists Ghanaian businesses, though very capable have not been given a fair chance.

  • Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has reported a drop in profit for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2010, reflecting the absence of gains from discontinued operations included in results for the year-ago period. The Luxembourg-based telco said net profit declined to USD157.2 million from USD454.2 million in the same period of 2009, when the results included a gain of USD289 million from the disposal of non-core businesses in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone. Revenues for the quarter grew 10% to USD1.07 billion, while operating profit rose to USD281.4 million from USD243.8 million. For the full year MIC's profit surged to USD1.65 billion, while revenues grew 16% to USD3.92 billion. Capital expenditure for 2010 totalled USD731 million; for the current year the company expects CAPEX to exceed USD800 million. The company added that it expects to dispose of its operation in Laos in 2011.

    Customers in Africa increased by 23% year-on-year, bringing the total at the end of December to just below 15 million. The lower intake for the region as a whole compared to Q3 is partly due to mandatory customer registration processes in Ghana and Tanzania which give rise to greater volatility. This is best illustrated by the fact that the Tanzanian market contracted in Q4, probably as a consequence of lower multiple SIMs following mandatory registration.
     
    Revenues in Africa were up 5% year-on-year to $239 million, with local currency revenues up 12% following pricing pressure mainly in Ghana and Tanzania, with no elasticity yet at this stage. We also have limited capacity in Senegal as we are investing in capex only through the operation‟s own cash generation.  DRC and Tanzania continued to demonstrate the strongest local currency growth, recording year-on-year increases of 21% and 20% respectively.  In DRC, the regulator introduced high minimum tariffs for all operators in December, which we expect to cause a slow down in the rate of penetration growth.  VAS revenues increased by 41% in Africa year-on-year and now account for 10% of the region‟s recurring revenues.
     
    ARPU for the region was down 11% year-on-year in local currency.  We have seen increased pricing activity in Africa in recent months and in some markets we have adjusted our cross-net tariffs through headline price reductions or promotional activity in order to maintain affordability.  We will monitor closely whether elasticity will follow in the coming months. 
     
    EBITDA for Africa for Q4 10 reached $100 million, up 12% year-on-year. The EBITDA margin was 41.7%, up 2.4 percentage points over Q4 09. 
     
    Capex in Africa amounted to $120 million in Q4 and $278 million for the full year or 31% of revenues.  We expect capex in Africa to increase as a percentage of sales in 2011 as we invest in order to capitalize on the region‟s growth potential and to address the possible increase in traffic from lower tariffs.  We will also begin to invest in 3G in several major urban areas.

  • South African mobile operator Cell C has sold its 50% stake in Virgin Mobile South Africa for an undisclosed sum, the Virgin Group has confirmed. The deal will see co-owner Virgin Mobile raise its stake in the business to 55%, whilst Bahamas-based Calico Investments will acquire the remaining 45%. The transaction is subject to certain conditions, including approvals from the Competition Commission; it is expected to be finalised by April 2011. Cell C will continue to function as Virgin Mobile’s network partner, under an updated network services agreement. In August 2010 it was reported that Virgin Mobile was planning to launch its own mobile broadband service using Cell C’s new HSPA+ network.

    Steve Bailey, CEO of Virgin Mobile, commented: ‘Virgin Mobile has shown consistent high subscriber growth and has significantly increased its base of higher ARPU post-paid subscribers in South Africa over the last two years. It is time for us to capitalise on this growth and bring in an additional shareholder to invest in Virgin Mobile’s further expansion, which will enable us to deliver more exciting products and services to our valued customers. We also look forward to leveraging our updated network agreement with Cell C to provide improved performance to our customers’.

    Faisal Al Bannai, a director of Calico Investments, added: ‘Calico looks forward to working with Virgin Mobile to develop the business through the expansion of its offerings. Virgin Mobile has shown an ability to differentiate itself from the competition and, with our intended investment, there will now be even more potential to increase the range of quality products and services Virgin Mobile can offer going forward’. Virgin Mobile South Africa began life in 2006, as an equal joint venture between Cell C and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. When the possibility of a stake sale was first mooted in July 2010 Virgin claimed to have 300,000 customers, of whom 90% were post-paid.

  • Registered customers of mobile phone money transfer service, M-Pesa, can now withdraw cash in any currency from Visa branded automated teller machines (ATMs) anywhere in the world. They can also make purchases in accepted merchant outlets or shop online.

    This follows a partnership deal between Safaricom and I&M Bank under which the phone operator and the bank launched the first Visa branded card that can be loaded from a mobile phone through its M-Pesa money transfer service.

    "Users of this service will enjoy the convenience of online shopping as they can easily pay using the Pre-Paid Visa cards and also access their accounts via the internet," said I&M Bank chief executive officer Arun Mathur.

    Under the agreement, M-Pesa users will be able to transfer funds from their accounts to the PrePay Safari Card, which is an international Visa card co-branded with I&M Bank.

    "The PrePay Safari Card comes as a major boost in the push to broaden M-Pesa services from a money transfer service to a total mobile commerce solution," said Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, during the signing ceremony held at Safaricom House on Tuesday.

    The card can hold up to a maximum of Sh500,000 loaded through the M-Pesa paybill option. The balance can be refunded through I&M Bank branches without having to open an account there.

    "It can also be reloaded through M-Pesa in Kenya for a subscriber who has travelled internationally thus deepening its key propositions of convenience and accessibility," said Collymore of a money transfer service, which was launched four years ago and now has more than 13 million users and 23,000 agents.

    The partnership comes at a time when the Central Bank of Kenya latest statistics show that mobile money transfer service, which is viewed as holding the key to the future of e-commerce, is now the most widely used mode of financial transactions.

    According to the figures, in December last year, a daily average of 929,143 users transacted using mobile phones, dealing about Sh2.43 billion.

    In the same month, 558,808 Kenyans moved Sh3.1 billion through automated teller machines, while 34,709 used electronic fund transfers worth Sh1.1 billion. About 70,000 used cheques valued at Sh7 billion while 4,262 used the high value payment system - the real time gross settlement systems, transacting Sh64.9 billion.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Nigeria’s mobile operator Globacom has launched its prepaid 3G plus internet services in Kaduna.

    Morocco’s third largest mobile operator Wana, which launched a GSM-based network in February 2010 under the Inwi brand, is celebrating signing up a total of 4.3 million cellular users by end-December, compared to the 600,000 CDMA-only mobile subscribers it served a year earlier. The operator claims that the rapid growth gave it a 13.5% market share by the end of 2010 against 2.4% twelve months previously. Wana, which also provides CDMA-based 3G mobile broadband services under the Inwi brand, and fixed-wireless telephony under the Bayn banner, has also retained its leading positions in terms of subscribers in the fixed line and 3G internet markets, claiming shares of 66.7% and 40.7% respectively, as confirmed by figures from the regulator, the ANRT.

Digital Content

  • Handset manufacturer, Nokia, is set to launch a bicycle- charger that will help people in rural areas to harness energy from bicycles to charge mobile phones. In an interview with Daily Monitor last week, Kenneth Oyolla, Nokia General Manager for East and Southern Africa said the innovation will give people who live in areas with no electricity freedom to use their phones without worrying about battery life. The innovation is based around the dynamo that a bicycle uses to empower its lighting system.

    The charger kit includes a charger, a bottle dynamo and a phone holder that is can be attached to any bicycle. When a rider pedals, the device rotates as the wheel spins and generates electrical energy, which is transmitted up a wire to a handlebar, which a phone plugs into.

    To begin charging, a cyclist needs to travel around 6 kilometres per hour and while charging time will vary depending on battery model, a 10 minutes journey at a speed of 6 kilometres per hour will give you 28 minutes of talk time while riding the same distance at 20kmph gives you 50 minutes of talk time.

    Therefore, the faster one rides, the more battery life they generate. The charger can be used to power any Nokia phone with a 2mm power jack. The rate of electricity penetration is still low standing at on only 11 per cent.

  • Mobile application development in Kenya is gaining speed as players rush to tap into the vast pool of young tech entrepreneurs by offering training. Experts predict that mobile applications will be the next big thing in five years.

    Initiatives like mLab East Africa and several others by Nokia has seen Kenyans benefit from fully-sponsored trainings on creation of mobile apps and how best to launch them into the market, revealing a growing interest in the sector.

    Technology experts say the surge of investments into the mobile telephony sector is an indicator that the country is in step with the rest of the world in terms of software development as well as having the necessary pool of individuals to actualise it.

    "Kenya has a clear competitive advantage in the mobile application development space with hundreds of programmers skilled in making everything from USSD and SMS services to Android and iPhone apps", said Erik Hersman, director of operations at the non-profit Ushahidi.

    "It's such a big deal here that we're putting together a big event on June 14-15 called Pivot 25, where East Africa's top programmers and start-ups will vie for a position to pitch their new mobile apps and services to over 400 of the industry's leading experts and investors."

    iHub, a tech community in Nairobi, has integrated with four other technology-focused start-up incubators like itself across Africa with the aim of creating a web of connections, support, and mentorship that will help technology entrepreneurs link and share innovations.

    "Since the iHub concept has been so popular in Kenya, we are banding together with like-minded leaders of other labs and hubs around Africa to found AfriLabs, an association of African tech labs around the continent which will be the body that spreads this model across Africa", Hersman said.

    The mobile app industry offers a worldwide market for developers which Ken Mwenda, managing director of eMobilis, likens to a global mall where you upload your application and if people like and download it, you get paid.

Issue no 541 11th February 2011

node ref id: 21143

Top story

  • The number of green mobile base stations deployed in Africa remains small. It represents a mere 3.1% of the total number of deployments worldwide (9,558). This news comes amid headlines last week on oil prices soaring to their highest level for two years as the value of Brent crude broke the US$101 a barrel mark for the first time since October 2008.

    A large number of African mobile base stations require two sets of generators and in some cases up to three months supply of costly fuel in their tanks. More remote base stations may require fuelling by boat and hand-cart and in the larger markets, operators run large fleets of oil tankers to keep base stations supplied.

    Isabelle Gross, the author of the report published by Balancing Act called “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” says that “ mobile operators shouldn’t take the lack of technical expertise for an excuse to do nothing. African mobile operators have to shift focus onto the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures are among the top items on their list”. Gross makes the point that “voice ARPU will carry on decreasing due to reducing prices on voice calls and the acquisition of new customers with much lower disposable income”. This will put more pressure on mobile operators’ revenue. In Ghana for example voice ARPU went down from US$17 in 2006 to US$7 in 2010. In Kenya and Uganda the ongoing price war on voice calls has already impacted mobile operators’ revenue. MTN’s CEO, Themba Khumalo conceded that increased competition has impacted on the company's overall revenue in Uganda. In less than a year, the price of a call dropped from an average of sh11 per second to just sh3 – nearly 4 times less.

    When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution for African mobile operators but it can be done. The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay. The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. Mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction or not for example with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    While the report describes in details the various approaches implemented by mobile operators to run their base stations more efficiently, it also looks at the renewable energy solutions that are currently available on the market for mobile operators to further reduce their energy bill. There is a growing choice of green solutions available (solar energy, wind power, bio-fuel powered base station, hydrogen fuel cells) but they all require a substantial initial capital investment.

    The report defines the business case for rolling out “green” base stations and gives example of African mobile operators that have started to implement renewable energy projects to power their base stations. The report establishes that “at the low end in terms of capital investment first comes a combination of solar energy power combined to a diesel battery hybrid powering system. Operating costs like diesel are reduced but not totally eliminated. At the high end in terms of capital investment comes a combination of wind and solar power system backed by batteries which provides the maximum reduction in operating costs”.

    The 45 pages report “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” ends with a directory that has useful details on companies offering services and products to improve the energy efficiency of a base station or solution to roll renewable energy powered base station. It will come very handy to whoever will look into energy saving solutions.

    According to the report’s author, “the “quick fixes” will help reduce operating costs but only to a certain point. Further reduction in operating costs will require some capital investment because it implies purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy power solutions. Ultimately the financial decision lies with the mobile operator and depends on its capital investment strategy and its positioning in the market in the long term. For some mobile operators, “going green” means more than just reducing the energy bill or decreasing their carbon footprint. It has the potential to provide strong branding – a new way to differentiate them from the competition.

    Further details on the report are available here:

    News announcement: New clips this week on Balancing Act’s new Web TV Channel

    Do not miss our Web TV Channel which highlights recent interviews with top telecoms personalities. There are interviews in both English and French:

    Funke Opeke,
    CEO, Main One on sales, national blockages and extending the cable
    click here:

    Nigeria: IPnx’s Ejovi Aror talks about price falls and national blockages
    click here:

    Clips from Mobile Web West Africa in Lagos:

    Stefan Magdalinski, General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, MIH talks about its investment strategy
    click here:

    Ayo Alli, Business Development Consultant for Goal.com talks about its massive growth in West Africa
    click here:

    Akinde Aludamola, Team Leader, ConnectNigeria talks about search website:
    click here:

    NOTE:

    If you want to receive daily news tweets from around the continent, please follow us on Twitter:

    In English: @BalancingActAfr
    In French: @sylvainbeletre

    If you are putting out information about your company on Twitter, please send us your details so that we can follow you.

More

  • 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011
    7-9 March 2011, Cape Town, South Africa Venue BMW Pavilion, V&A Waterfront

    Our 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011 (AEF-2011) in Cape Town at the BMW-Imax Theatre, with Africa Exhibition is a landmark Conference on Africa and significant business networking occasion for the top corporate players active in, across and involved with the development of the African continent - Cape-to-Cairo, with Governments and officials in key industries and state institutions.
    Contact: babette@glopac.com For further information visit here:


    Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East & Africa
    9 March  2011, Grand Millennium Hotel, Dubai

    Taking place on the 9th March 2011, the Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East and Africa is a Free-to-attend event and will feature all of the key players within the Cloud Computing and SaaS market providing an introduction, discussion and look into the future for the ICT industry.
    This one day conference will provide the most complete and comprehensive platform for the global Cloud Computing and SaaS industry. Register Free today and get inspiration on how to address your latest issues with advice from real-life end-user case studies and practical examples.
    Show Highlights include:
    1 Day Conference on Cloud Computing and SaaS
    Featuring presentations on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Applications, IaaS, Virtualization and PaaS
    Keynote theatre featuring leading industry speakers
    More case studies than any other like event
    Learn from the key players offering leading products and services
    Pre-show online meeting planner
    Evening networking reception for all attendees
    For more information please visit here: or contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.


    Broadband World Forum MEA
    14-15 March 2011, Dubai UAE

    Network, learn and do business with 750+ decision-makers from across the regional Broadband ecosystem to deliver you inspiration, insights and ideas that will further your regional business.The conference programme features 60+ visionary speakers presenting across keynote plenary sessions, 4 in-depth technology tracks and a Rural Coverage and Connectivity focus day.  Co-located to the conference is a 35+ stand technology exhibition showcasing some of the region’s latest cutting-edge broadband technologies, applications, solutions and services to hit the market.
    Limited FREE passes for operators and early booking discounts apply to all others.  Register with VIP code: BBM11BAA
    For further information visit here:

    ICT For Development in Africa – Sustaining The Momentum, Extending The Reach
    23-26 March 2011, Ota, Nigeria
    The conference will initiate research and practice agenda where ICTs will aid the academia, organizations - public and private and non-governmental to improve socio-economic conditions and directly benefit the disadvantaged in some manner.
    For further information visit here:


    Managed Services Growth Markets 2011
    4-5 April, Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE

    Now in its 4th year and attended by over 200 attendees in 2010, Informa Telecoms and Media’s Managed Services for Growth Markets event will take place on 4th - 5th April at the Moevenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE.With a proven track-record and repeat sponsorship from leading suppliers Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NokiaSiemens Networks and Motorola, this event is truly established as the ultimate meeting-place for the Managed Services industry in the growth markets.A 50% discount for operators ensures a high percentage operator attendance.  Extended break times and additional social functions will guarantee a further enhancement to the already unique networking opportunities. Informa’s Managed Services for Growth Markets conference is the only established event in the region, proven to deliver an industry focussed agenda, the highest level speakers, superior networking opportunities, and top class delegates year on year.
For more information visit here:


    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:

  • InMobi, a mobile advertising firm, has appointed a Kenyan-born Isis Nyong'o as its vice president and managing director for Africa as it seeks to get a larger share of the continent's advertising pie ahead of rival Google.

    In Tunisia, the Industry and Technology Minister announced the following nominations in the communication technologies sector:
    Raouf Chkir : CEO of Tunisie Telecom
    Kamel Saadaoui : President of the National Telecommunications Authority (INT)
    Moez Chakchouk : CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI)
    Samir Sidhom : Director General of the National Agency for Computer Security (ANSI)

    HP has announced the appointment of Graham Vorster as HP Networking Country Manager for HP South Africa, with immediate effect.

  • HR Manager’s job entails providing practical, consistent, and proactive support, direction and advice to other division managers on HR procedure, policy, best practice, employment rewards, benefits, and legislation to facilitate in achieving the objectives and targets of an organization. HR manager performs human resources management works relating to hiring, recruitment, training, compensation, promotion, termination, career development, or retirement. HR manager also develops, updates, and maintains personnel policies, policy manuals and employee handbook as required.
    For further information about the job or to apply click here

  • MTN and Radcom – East Africa
    Radcom, a provider of service assurance solutions, says that it has won a contract from South Africa based MTN for its Omni-Q Service Assurance solution to monitor one of MTN's mobile networks in East Africa.

    Safaricom and Alepo - Kenya

    Safaricom, East Africa’s largest mobile carrier, selected Alepo Technologies, Inc. to provide an integrated BSS/OSS solution for WiMAX and Wi-Fi, including Alepo’s award-winning 16e AAA Server and DHCP Server. The robust solution will allow Safaricom to extend more finely grained service offerings to customers while maintaining high network security and optimizing resources.

telecoms

  • State-owned broadband provider Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) has confirmed that it has launched Libya’s third mobile phone network, under the brand name LibyaPhone Mobile. Although no precise rollout details have been confirmed by the operator, it claims that its network has capacity for around 100,000 customers during the first phase of its operations. Further, LibyaPhone Mobile has pledged to extend coverage to areas under-served by fellow state-owned cellcos Libyana and Al Madar Telecomm Company. LTT claims that LibyaPhone Mobile will offer both 2G and 3G connectivity.

    Although speculation regarding the launch of a third mobile phone operator in Libya has been rife for some time, in July 2010 it was confirmed that UAE’s Etisalat and Turkcell of Turkey had both been overlooked for a new LYD1 billion (USD825 million) concession. The General Telecommunication Authority (GTA) had previously launched an international tender for a combined fixed and mobile licence in February 2009, although its final decision was severely delayed, and no clear reasons were given for the lack of progress, merely that the international telcos were ‘unsuitable’.

    According to TeleGeography, state-owned Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) is the country's dominant ISP and also acts as a moderator for the internet sector. The operator launched a commercial WiMAX network – operating in the 2.5GHz band – under the ‘LibyaMax’ banner in February 2009. Services have subsequently been expanded to over 25 locations, predominantly along the coast, covering around 65% of the population.

  • The much-anticipated rollout plan by Excellentcom (T) Limited, a new mobile phone company, has stalled. The firm, trading as Hits Tanzania, risks being wound up and has already laid off about 80 workers, out of the 140 it had employed, while more than 20 had left to pursue other interests after the company failed to take off this year as it had planned earlier.

    Huawei Technologies of China, which had entered into a contract to provide mobile phone network infrastructure technologies to Hits, has filed a petition at the High Court's main registry seeking to wind up the company. The bone of contention is failure by Hits to pay Huawei its dues after the latter had performed 10 per cent of its assignment of rolling out the mobile phone network countrywide.

    The two firms signed a $180 million (Sh216 billion) contract in June 2008 under which Huawei was required to build Excellentcom's mobile phone network to enable it to cover the whole country within 13 months.

    The advent of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 stalled Hits' plans to roll out a mobile network. The company managed to rollout out just an estimated 10 per cent of the intended network. Excellentcom (T) Limited chief executive officer (CEO) David Charles confirmed to The Citizen on Tuesday (January 25) that the company has shifted much of its attention to the case.

    "Our plans were well on course and we still believe we will achieve our goal of kicking off during the first months of this year," Charles said. But he declined to go into details over how much money the company is owed by Huawei because the issue was in the courts of law. But he claimed that the company has invested about $50 million since it started operations in the country.

    The 80 workers laid off last month were all paid their dues, according to Charles. 20 others were shifted to the firm's operations in Equatorial Guinea while 14 have been retained. He said, however, that the company would look into other alternatives to roll out its services, noting however that the process would depend on the judge's decision.

    "It should however, not be translated to mean that we have been idle...We have injected some $50 million into the country's telecom sector since we started operations," Mwinyi said in August.

  • The number of mobile phone subscribers in Kenya has grown to 22 million people, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya quarterly report for September 2010. The rise, attributed to price wars that pushed calling rates down, is the highest in the past three quarters. In June last year, Kenya had 20.1 million subscribers.

    Analysts said subscriber numbers will continue to shoot up in coming months but will soon stagnate. "There is an increasing number of people in possession of multiple sim cards, but a number are likely to drop them and retain one," said Eric Musau, an analyst with African Alliance Kenya Securities.

    The biggest player, Safaricom, however, lost part of its market share to rivals who were charging lower tariffs, dropping to 75.9 per cent from the previous quarter's 80.7 per cent.
    Airtel, which has been reducing its rates over the past few months and now ranks among the cheapest calling and messaging tariffs in Kenya, saw its market share rise by 4.4 per cent -- the highest gain across the market over the review period.

    Telkom Orange's market share also rose by 1.3 per cent while the tariff wars hived 0.7 per cent off Essar Telecom, which operates the Yu network. Subscribers spent a total of 6.63 billion minutes in making calls against 6.05 billion in the previous quarter.

    This is on the back of low tariffs that service providers introduced and availability of phones. Analysts predict Safaricom will continue losing its market share and could reach as low as 71 per cent by next month, although the listed firm will still remain the leader in data provision.

    "Safaricom contributes half of the data in the industry and can ride on its past investments," said Musau. In the long run, Safaricom is expected to benefit from its present settings including WiMAX protocol to provide fixed and mobile Internet access.
    "Other players might not lose on voice but will be restrained on data provision, which is expensive to upgrade," added Musau.

    During the quarter under review, the total number of broadband subscriptions rose to 84,726 from 18,626 in the previous quarter, representing 0.97 per cent of the total Internet subscriptions.

    Total Internet subscriptions saw Safaricom secure first place at 92.18 per cent with 2,977,584 subscribers while rivals Airtel Kenya Ltd and Telkom Orange followed at 149,053 and 77,668 subscribers, garnering 4.61 and 2.4 per cent respectively. Other operators secured less than 1 per cent each according to CCK reports.

    As the mobile subscriber numbers shot up, the period under review saw the fixed lines subscribers decline by 2.7 per cent from 234,522 to 228,391 lines. Fixed wireless service providers on the other hand recorded a 37.2 per cent decline from 225,592 in the previous period to 141,580.

  • The strong growth of mobile payment services in the country has led to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the services' joint supervision by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) and Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

    BoT has, in its maiden Financial Stability Report, attributed the sharp increase in the number of subscribers to the mobile payments mainly to limited access to formal banking services, especially in rural areas. "... in this regard, the mobile payment provides an avenue for linking bank account holders to the unbanked population," the central bank says in its 33- page report, which the bank's governor, Professor Benno Ndulu, launched in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.

    According to provisional data, as of June 30, 2010, the number of mobile phone subscribers stood at 18.5 million, with 9.2 million of them registered for mobile payment services. Mobile payment schemes involve not only funds transfers but also payment for retail goods and services.

    Mobile payment services are specifically used to top-up mobile phone credits, airtime transfers between mobile phones and corporate bill payments - water and electricity, for instance.

    Four mobile network operators - Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo and Zantel - are currently offering the mobile payment services. The service provision however requires that the phone companies partner with commercial banks.

    "The existing arrangement creates gaps in the regulatory framework because two regulators - BoT and TCRA - each with a limited scope of coverage, oversee the mobile payment services," the report says, noting that the signed MoU provides a mechanism for regulatory and supervisory coordination between the two regulators.

    While the central bank regulates the financial transactions, the TCRA focuses on the communication infrastructure. Industry analysts say that the significant growth in the usage of mobile phones offers great opportunity to extend financial and other services to millions of those in the unbanked community.

internet

  • Peak mobile broadband speeds are reaching tens of Mbps, but Vodacom CEO says that they will focus on giving everyone at least 1Mbps Mobile broadband technologies in South Africa are already supporting peak speeds of up to 42Mbps, with developments poised to push the 100Mbps limit in the near future.

    These innovations in the cellular environment get techies excited, but Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said that the focus should not be on producing high peak speeds in only selected areas, but rather to provide every South African with a 1Mbps broadband connection.

    Uys said that Vodacom has a strong focus on providing ubiquitous 1Mbps broadband access throughout the country, where subscribers can be assured of a good Internet experience wherever they are (both indoors and outdoors).

    Uys added that innovations in radio network capacity and speeds (like 42Mbps HSPA+) will help a great deal not only to increase the average throughput of users, but also to serve more users in the same area. He said that Vodacom currently has 9 million Internet users, but only around 2 million data bundle subscribers (which is a fair indication of broadband users on the network).

    Vodacom is focused on doubling the number of broadband users on their network in the next two to three years while also ensuring that all of their current 9 million Internet users get the best Internet experience possible on the Vodacom network.

    The Vodacom CEO said that continued network investments and cheaper smartphones and mobile computing devices like tablets will play a crucial role in making the Internet more accessible in South Africa and bringing broadband to the masses.

    He said that Vodacom aims to bring a quality Android smartphone to the market this year which will cost around R500, putting it within reach of most working class South Africans.

    Uys further highlighted the educational benefits of affordable mobile computing devices like Android smartphones, tablets and book readers, explaining that textbook distribution, online lessons and even interactive tutorials are all possible through these devices.

    However, Uys believes that the country needs the buy in from all sectors, including government, telecoms operators and the IT industry, to use technology to boost education and through this address the social ills in our society.

    When it comes to spectrum allocation - a vital ingredient in rolling out wireless broadband networks - Uys said that it is important that the regulator (ICASA) follow guidelines that ensure that this valuable resource is handed to companies that will make the most of it.

    “Spectrum should be taken away from companies which don’t use it and handed to operators who are willing to invest in networks [and] roll out services to the South African population,” said Uys.

    The Vodacom CEO appealed to ICASA to follow international standards in allocating spectrum, and further welcomed the idea of both giving some spectrum to large operators with national networks and to other players which will bring more competition to the market.

  • The Minister in the Office of the President in charge of ICT is set to appear before the Senate to explain how the government intends to manage and maintain the fibre-optic cable network. The decision to summon Ignace Gatare, was arrived at after Senator Wellars Gasamagera presented a paper to the House on the current status of ICT infrastructure in the country.

    "The government has spent $94m in laying 2,560-kilometre fibre optic cable across the country," said Gasamagera. The physical laying of the cable included civil works, laying of ducts and installation. "Now Kigali is connected to nine border-posts and all the country's 30 districts are networked." After full connection of the optic ring, the cable will link Rwanda to the Indian Ocean submarine cables via Uganda, through Kenya.

    It is assumed that with a backbone cable around the country, there is going to be a substantive decrease in the cost of telecom services, reductions estimated between 40- 50 %.

    "The Senate needs to know how government is going to manage and maintain the cable, how cyber criminality is going to be controlled and how much the government will benefit from this new technology," Gasamagera said. It is assumed that the cable will connect over 230 institutions in all 30 districts. Already 50 public institutions are connected and are using fibre optics.

    However, the Senate expressed deep concern on how the current ICT infrastructure will be replaced or upgraded and whether there is a joint plan between the government and private investors on how the cable will be managed.

    By press time, , Gatare was not available for comment while the RDB Deputy CEO-IT, Patrick Nyirishema, who oversees the project, said he had no time to talk to the press.

    Experts have indicated that, the infrastructure will boost access to various broadband services including fast tracking government initiatives like e-Governance, e-Banking, e-Learning, e-Health, and other applications.

  • Lack of political willingness and weak management of country code top-level domains has led to slow implementation of DNS Security Extensions in Africa.

    Africa was expected to extensively implement DNSSEC because it had no legacy registry systems, the few operational registries were manual and it was expected that DNSSEC would be implemented after the automation process.

    DNSSEC provides a set of new extensions to the DNS, protecting the Internet from distributed denial of service attacks, DNS cache poisoning and sabotage. DNSSEC uses digital signatures allowing the users to determine whether the information has been altered in anyway.

    DNSSEC implementation formally began in July last year, at a ceremony known as "signing of the root zone." Root signing signaled the beginning of IPv6, DNSSEC implementation and use of internationalized domain names.

    "Of the 67 TLD zones that are signed today, only two African countries are listed (.NA and .SC); this is bad, but if we look at the state of our DNS (ccTLD) landscape in the region the situation is not that surprising -- there is still a lot to do to reinforce our ccTLD infrastructure with a proper management," said Adiel Akplogan, CEO of AfriNIC, the organization tasked with managing IP resources in the region.

    For DNSSEC to be implemented, countries argue that there must be demand, which is created by a vibrant e-commerce industry and online banking. This online vibrancy is missing in many African countries.

    "For DNSSEC deployment to be successful, demand must be created. The push for its implementation by end-users can only come if users are aware of what DNSSEC has to offer as far as security and resilience of internet is concerned," said Joe Kiragu, administrative manager at KENIC, the .Ke registry.

    The role of government in managing Internet resources has been subject to debate with some countries questioning the role of the U.S. government in Internet governance. So, many TLDs in the region have had to consult with governments before implementing any changes to the ccTLD registry.

    "We have to appreciate potential political ramifications; we will raise the matter with our government because the .ZA namespace is a national resource over which our government bears some custodianship," added Vika.

    The issue of training and raising awareness has been discussed before, with some arguing that political will is needed more than the training while others hold that the problem with the continent is lack of skills and that is why policy making and appreciation of e-commerce is yet to take root.

computing

  • Innovators are lobbying to have the first option in developing software for government ministries, departments and parastatals, saying this would help the nascent segment grow while offering the public sector more customised solutions.

    With the government as the biggest buyer of software in Kenya, participants at an Institute of Economic Affairs pre-budget hearing said small tech firms have the capacity to develop software solutions that deepen checks and balances in government institutions.

    "The Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons, is a good candidate because its stock-in-trade is information about citizens and visitors to Kenya," said Seven Seas Technologies general manager Adam Nyaga.

    Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs said a directive should be passed similar to that of purchase of furniture for government offices from local firms.

    ICT is one of the drivers of the economy with small and medium enterprise (SME) sector seen as one to boost Kenya to a middle-income country. Promoting local entrepreneurs would help the government get back its return on investment, Kamau Gachigi from the University of Nairobi's Science and Technology Park said. "These are the products of our education," he said.

    Kenyan companies have proved that they are globally competitive and if local firms can shine abroad, servicing the government should be child's play, said Samuel Nyumba, a consultant at Intrepid Data Systems.

    Virtual City won the million dollar top prize at the Nokia World and Developer Summit in London is September last year and the Ushahidi platform, a crisis reporting tool was recognised globally and used during the Haiti earthquake.

    Kenya's 470 public institutions, 46 ministries, 178 state corporations, 175 local authorities and 71 tertiary institutions offer an opportunities for SMEs. "We need locally customised solutions as opposed top off the shelf software," said Nyumba.

  • The Department of Labour (DOL) will not renew its contract with Siemens to deliver its IT systems. DOL acting director-general Sam Morotoba presented the current status of the contract to Parliament's labour portfolio committee last week. He said a letter of termination, with the intention not to renew the contract, was given to Siemens.

    The public private partnership (PPP) began in 2002 and, apart from escalating costs, was plagued by other irregularities and challenges. The DOL sought outside help in the form of a diagnostic analysis by audit firm KPMG.

    Siemens had subcontracted the delivery of its services and the department was not happy with this. KPMG found that since the department had not agreed to this, there was a contractor default, and the department should ask Siemens to rectify it. The report also found there was no feasibility study done, nor any agreement from the department on the use of a SAP platform.

    In addition, there was no reconciliation done by Siemens against the baseline in the contract for licences, and so the report said the department is not liable for additional costs with regard to licences.

    Despite the contractor default on Siemens' part, the KPMG report says a termination of the contract will prove too onerous. For this reason, it suggests a negotiated termination since the legal route will also be costly.

    There are areas where the DOL can implement penalties, like for the late commencement of services, says KPMG. “There is evidence of billing inconsistently with the intention of the contract,” says the report. It adds that the department must review invoices and reclaim these bills.

    There are about eight projects still in progress by Siemens, with the longest term one set to be completed in October.

    The department has a strategic plan towards achieving the completion of the PPP. Thus it has done a diagnostic review of the partnership and established an internal steering committee to manage the transition to a new IT delivery model.

    The development of a draft plan for the exit and transfer of the PPP is currently in consultation; a new ICT strategy is being developed by the State IT Agency (SITA); and the department will conduct a feasibility study on a new ICT delivery model once the strategy is completed.

    Morotoba also said there is a process under way to resource the current office of the CIO to manage closure and transition. The department secured the involvement and participation of National Treasury, SITA and the State Attorney to assist in resolving current PPP contract problems.

    SITA's contract manager was appointed to oversee the PPP's contractual matters and high-level engagement with Siemens is under way, according to Morotoba. The DOL adds that it is also implementing the recommendations of the KPMG report and is requesting an early contract termination for October this year.

    The department also says it has strengthened governance structures to oversee current IT projects. The management committee receives regular progress reports and provides guidance to the IT steering committee. Morotoba said there is an increased participation of business stakeholders at forums.

    The costs of the PPP increased and are expected to rise further despite the many challenges that plague the systems, according to a National Treasury review in November.

    The partnership had initially been costed at R1.2 billion, but has now risen to R1.3 billion. Morotoba said this increase is due to the increase in the consumer price index, services relating to the annual report, and an increase in end-user devices.

    He also said there were still 22 months of the contract left to run. The projected cost at the end of the contract in November next year is R1.9 billion. The reasons for establishing the PPP include the high turnover of IT staff in the public sector; difficulty in reaching IT objectives; the automation of services towards e-government initiatives; the department's need to improve its IT capacity and expertise; and the need to exploit international best practice.

    The deliverables comprised of data centre services, local area network services, IT help-desk, office productivity, customer satisfaction, end-user access, and the deployment of end-user devices, such as desktops, laptops and printers.

    Systems development included training services for new systems; the design, construction and implementation of new systems; and maintenance, support and enhancement. The treasury's review of the system found several flaws in the PPP, including that there was insufficient monitoring and contract management by the DOL.

    There was no consistent change management implemented by the department for integration of the business into the new IT environment, and delays were encountered in implementation of the improvement services due to inadequate detail of business processes.

    The treasury also found that a lack of contract understanding by DOL stakeholders resulted in contractual remedies not being utilised when Siemens' performance was inadequate. Siemens did not respond to ITWeb's queries by the time of publication.

  • The R35m sale of 51% of disaster-recovery firm Continuity SA by JSE-listed outsourcing specialist the Dialogue Group, has been finalised. CoroCapital, the investment banking firm and subsidiary of Coronation, now owns a 49% stake, with the remaining 2% now in the hands of ContinuitySA staff and management.

    “Together with a well-funded equity partner, our solid financial standing puts us in a good position to grow the company both organically and through acquisitions over the coming years,” says Allen Smith, CEO of ContinuitySA. Dialogue walks away with not only the R35m, but also a special dividend of R2m.

    Dialogue faced a tough year in 2010. It principal subsidiary, Dialogue SA, was voluntarily liquidated. It also sold its 51% stake in call-centre recruitment business, Callforce.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Companies in the business of providing infrastructure services for telecom firms will now have to be partly owned by Ghanaians.

    According to a new directive from the Ministry of Communications, Ghanaians must own at least one-third of telecoms providers. The directive which sets out conditions for the issuance of Class One Communications Infrastructure license by the National Communications Authority, also adds that one third of their sub-contracts must also be carried out by indigenous enterprises. This should mean that the players will have to satisfy the conditions before they can secure the license to operate.

    Communications Minister Haruna Iddrisu told Joy Business the move is another initiative to break the dominance of foreigners in the sector. “Regrettably we’ve already lost all the giant players to foreign players as a result of the huge investments or capital outlay that is required [in the industry],” he said.

    He said the directive was necessitated by the fact that “almost all the telecom operators are ceding the ownership and control of their cell-sites to other entities.”

    “We have a duty and a responsibility to create business opportunities for the Ghanaian people and we are not ashamed about that,” he added. He insists Ghanaian businesses, though very capable have not been given a fair chance.

  • Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has reported a drop in profit for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2010, reflecting the absence of gains from discontinued operations included in results for the year-ago period. The Luxembourg-based telco said net profit declined to USD157.2 million from USD454.2 million in the same period of 2009, when the results included a gain of USD289 million from the disposal of non-core businesses in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone. Revenues for the quarter grew 10% to USD1.07 billion, while operating profit rose to USD281.4 million from USD243.8 million. For the full year MIC's profit surged to USD1.65 billion, while revenues grew 16% to USD3.92 billion. Capital expenditure for 2010 totalled USD731 million; for the current year the company expects CAPEX to exceed USD800 million. The company added that it expects to dispose of its operation in Laos in 2011.

    Customers in Africa increased by 23% year-on-year, bringing the total at the end of December to just below 15 million. The lower intake for the region as a whole compared to Q3 is partly due to mandatory customer registration processes in Ghana and Tanzania which give rise to greater volatility. This is best illustrated by the fact that the Tanzanian market contracted in Q4, probably as a consequence of lower multiple SIMs following mandatory registration.
     
    Revenues in Africa were up 5% year-on-year to $239 million, with local currency revenues up 12% following pricing pressure mainly in Ghana and Tanzania, with no elasticity yet at this stage. We also have limited capacity in Senegal as we are investing in capex only through the operation‟s own cash generation.  DRC and Tanzania continued to demonstrate the strongest local currency growth, recording year-on-year increases of 21% and 20% respectively.  In DRC, the regulator introduced high minimum tariffs for all operators in December, which we expect to cause a slow down in the rate of penetration growth.  VAS revenues increased by 41% in Africa year-on-year and now account for 10% of the region‟s recurring revenues.
     
    ARPU for the region was down 11% year-on-year in local currency.  We have seen increased pricing activity in Africa in recent months and in some markets we have adjusted our cross-net tariffs through headline price reductions or promotional activity in order to maintain affordability.  We will monitor closely whether elasticity will follow in the coming months. 
     
    EBITDA for Africa for Q4 10 reached $100 million, up 12% year-on-year. The EBITDA margin was 41.7%, up 2.4 percentage points over Q4 09. 
     
    Capex in Africa amounted to $120 million in Q4 and $278 million for the full year or 31% of revenues.  We expect capex in Africa to increase as a percentage of sales in 2011 as we invest in order to capitalize on the region‟s growth potential and to address the possible increase in traffic from lower tariffs.  We will also begin to invest in 3G in several major urban areas.

  • South African mobile operator Cell C has sold its 50% stake in Virgin Mobile South Africa for an undisclosed sum, the Virgin Group has confirmed. The deal will see co-owner Virgin Mobile raise its stake in the business to 55%, whilst Bahamas-based Calico Investments will acquire the remaining 45%. The transaction is subject to certain conditions, including approvals from the Competition Commission; it is expected to be finalised by April 2011. Cell C will continue to function as Virgin Mobile’s network partner, under an updated network services agreement. In August 2010 it was reported that Virgin Mobile was planning to launch its own mobile broadband service using Cell C’s new HSPA+ network.

    Steve Bailey, CEO of Virgin Mobile, commented: ‘Virgin Mobile has shown consistent high subscriber growth and has significantly increased its base of higher ARPU post-paid subscribers in South Africa over the last two years. It is time for us to capitalise on this growth and bring in an additional shareholder to invest in Virgin Mobile’s further expansion, which will enable us to deliver more exciting products and services to our valued customers. We also look forward to leveraging our updated network agreement with Cell C to provide improved performance to our customers’.

    Faisal Al Bannai, a director of Calico Investments, added: ‘Calico looks forward to working with Virgin Mobile to develop the business through the expansion of its offerings. Virgin Mobile has shown an ability to differentiate itself from the competition and, with our intended investment, there will now be even more potential to increase the range of quality products and services Virgin Mobile can offer going forward’. Virgin Mobile South Africa began life in 2006, as an equal joint venture between Cell C and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. When the possibility of a stake sale was first mooted in July 2010 Virgin claimed to have 300,000 customers, of whom 90% were post-paid.

  • Registered customers of mobile phone money transfer service, M-Pesa, can now withdraw cash in any currency from Visa branded automated teller machines (ATMs) anywhere in the world. They can also make purchases in accepted merchant outlets or shop online.

    This follows a partnership deal between Safaricom and I&M Bank under which the phone operator and the bank launched the first Visa branded card that can be loaded from a mobile phone through its M-Pesa money transfer service.

    "Users of this service will enjoy the convenience of online shopping as they can easily pay using the Pre-Paid Visa cards and also access their accounts via the internet," said I&M Bank chief executive officer Arun Mathur.

    Under the agreement, M-Pesa users will be able to transfer funds from their accounts to the PrePay Safari Card, which is an international Visa card co-branded with I&M Bank.

    "The PrePay Safari Card comes as a major boost in the push to broaden M-Pesa services from a money transfer service to a total mobile commerce solution," said Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, during the signing ceremony held at Safaricom House on Tuesday.

    The card can hold up to a maximum of Sh500,000 loaded through the M-Pesa paybill option. The balance can be refunded through I&M Bank branches without having to open an account there.

    "It can also be reloaded through M-Pesa in Kenya for a subscriber who has travelled internationally thus deepening its key propositions of convenience and accessibility," said Collymore of a money transfer service, which was launched four years ago and now has more than 13 million users and 23,000 agents.

    The partnership comes at a time when the Central Bank of Kenya latest statistics show that mobile money transfer service, which is viewed as holding the key to the future of e-commerce, is now the most widely used mode of financial transactions.

    According to the figures, in December last year, a daily average of 929,143 users transacted using mobile phones, dealing about Sh2.43 billion.

    In the same month, 558,808 Kenyans moved Sh3.1 billion through automated teller machines, while 34,709 used electronic fund transfers worth Sh1.1 billion. About 70,000 used cheques valued at Sh7 billion while 4,262 used the high value payment system - the real time gross settlement systems, transacting Sh64.9 billion.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Nigeria’s mobile operator Globacom has launched its prepaid 3G plus internet services in Kaduna.

    Morocco’s third largest mobile operator Wana, which launched a GSM-based network in February 2010 under the Inwi brand, is celebrating signing up a total of 4.3 million cellular users by end-December, compared to the 600,000 CDMA-only mobile subscribers it served a year earlier. The operator claims that the rapid growth gave it a 13.5% market share by the end of 2010 against 2.4% twelve months previously. Wana, which also provides CDMA-based 3G mobile broadband services under the Inwi brand, and fixed-wireless telephony under the Bayn banner, has also retained its leading positions in terms of subscribers in the fixed line and 3G internet markets, claiming shares of 66.7% and 40.7% respectively, as confirmed by figures from the regulator, the ANRT.

Digital Content

  • Handset manufacturer, Nokia, is set to launch a bicycle- charger that will help people in rural areas to harness energy from bicycles to charge mobile phones. In an interview with Daily Monitor last week, Kenneth Oyolla, Nokia General Manager for East and Southern Africa said the innovation will give people who live in areas with no electricity freedom to use their phones without worrying about battery life. The innovation is based around the dynamo that a bicycle uses to empower its lighting system.

    The charger kit includes a charger, a bottle dynamo and a phone holder that is can be attached to any bicycle. When a rider pedals, the device rotates as the wheel spins and generates electrical energy, which is transmitted up a wire to a handlebar, which a phone plugs into.

    To begin charging, a cyclist needs to travel around 6 kilometres per hour and while charging time will vary depending on battery model, a 10 minutes journey at a speed of 6 kilometres per hour will give you 28 minutes of talk time while riding the same distance at 20kmph gives you 50 minutes of talk time.

    Therefore, the faster one rides, the more battery life they generate. The charger can be used to power any Nokia phone with a 2mm power jack. The rate of electricity penetration is still low standing at on only 11 per cent.

  • Mobile application development in Kenya is gaining speed as players rush to tap into the vast pool of young tech entrepreneurs by offering training. Experts predict that mobile applications will be the next big thing in five years.

    Initiatives like mLab East Africa and several others by Nokia has seen Kenyans benefit from fully-sponsored trainings on creation of mobile apps and how best to launch them into the market, revealing a growing interest in the sector.

    Technology experts say the surge of investments into the mobile telephony sector is an indicator that the country is in step with the rest of the world in terms of software development as well as having the necessary pool of individuals to actualise it.

    "Kenya has a clear competitive advantage in the mobile application development space with hundreds of programmers skilled in making everything from USSD and SMS services to Android and iPhone apps", said Erik Hersman, director of operations at the non-profit Ushahidi.

    "It's such a big deal here that we're putting together a big event on June 14-15 called Pivot 25, where East Africa's top programmers and start-ups will vie for a position to pitch their new mobile apps and services to over 400 of the industry's leading experts and investors."

    iHub, a tech community in Nairobi, has integrated with four other technology-focused start-up incubators like itself across Africa with the aim of creating a web of connections, support, and mentorship that will help technology entrepreneurs link and share innovations.

    "Since the iHub concept has been so popular in Kenya, we are banding together with like-minded leaders of other labs and hubs around Africa to found AfriLabs, an association of African tech labs around the continent which will be the body that spreads this model across Africa", Hersman said.

    The mobile app industry offers a worldwide market for developers which Ken Mwenda, managing director of eMobilis, likens to a global mall where you upload your application and if people like and download it, you get paid.

Issue no 541 11th February 2011

node ref id: 21143

Top story

  • The number of green mobile base stations deployed in Africa remains small. It represents a mere 3.1% of the total number of deployments worldwide (9,558). This news comes amid headlines last week on oil prices soaring to their highest level for two years as the value of Brent crude broke the US$101 a barrel mark for the first time since October 2008.

    A large number of African mobile base stations require two sets of generators and in some cases up to three months supply of costly fuel in their tanks. More remote base stations may require fuelling by boat and hand-cart and in the larger markets, operators run large fleets of oil tankers to keep base stations supplied.

    Isabelle Gross, the author of the report published by Balancing Act called “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” says that “ mobile operators shouldn’t take the lack of technical expertise for an excuse to do nothing. African mobile operators have to shift focus onto the cost side of the business that they are running. Energy expenditures are among the top items on their list”. Gross makes the point that “voice ARPU will carry on decreasing due to reducing prices on voice calls and the acquisition of new customers with much lower disposable income”. This will put more pressure on mobile operators’ revenue. In Ghana for example voice ARPU went down from US$17 in 2006 to US$7 in 2010. In Kenya and Uganda the ongoing price war on voice calls has already impacted mobile operators’ revenue. MTN’s CEO, Themba Khumalo conceded that increased competition has impacted on the company's overall revenue in Uganda. In less than a year, the price of a call dropped from an average of sh11 per second to just sh3 – nearly 4 times less.

    When it comes to saving on the energy bills, there is not an “out of the box” solution for African mobile operators but it can be done. The best approach is to first look at how to run existing base stations more efficiently. In other words, the “quick fix” which consists of tweaking various elements of the base station to realise operational savings without incurring additional capital outlay. The cooling system is obviously a good starting point because it represents as much as 35% of the total electricity consumption of the base station. This proportion can increase to 50% if there are fewer transmitters in use. Mobile operators like Vodacom, Orange or MTN have started to experiment with “free cooling system” technology in conjunction or not for example with introducing higher operating temperature in the base station.

    While the report describes in details the various approaches implemented by mobile operators to run their base stations more efficiently, it also looks at the renewable energy solutions that are currently available on the market for mobile operators to further reduce their energy bill. There is a growing choice of green solutions available (solar energy, wind power, bio-fuel powered base station, hydrogen fuel cells) but they all require a substantial initial capital investment.

    The report defines the business case for rolling out “green” base stations and gives example of African mobile operators that have started to implement renewable energy projects to power their base stations. The report establishes that “at the low end in terms of capital investment first comes a combination of solar energy power combined to a diesel battery hybrid powering system. Operating costs like diesel are reduced but not totally eliminated. At the high end in terms of capital investment comes a combination of wind and solar power system backed by batteries which provides the maximum reduction in operating costs”.

    The 45 pages report “Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy” ends with a directory that has useful details on companies offering services and products to improve the energy efficiency of a base station or solution to roll renewable energy powered base station. It will come very handy to whoever will look into energy saving solutions.

    According to the report’s author, “the “quick fixes” will help reduce operating costs but only to a certain point. Further reduction in operating costs will require some capital investment because it implies purchasing more energy efficient equipment or switching to renewable energy power solutions. Ultimately the financial decision lies with the mobile operator and depends on its capital investment strategy and its positioning in the market in the long term. For some mobile operators, “going green” means more than just reducing the energy bill or decreasing their carbon footprint. It has the potential to provide strong branding – a new way to differentiate them from the competition.

    Further details on the report are available here:

    News announcement: New clips this week on Balancing Act’s new Web TV Channel

    Do not miss our Web TV Channel which highlights recent interviews with top telecoms personalities. There are interviews in both English and French:

    Funke Opeke,
    CEO, Main One on sales, national blockages and extending the cable
    click here:

    Nigeria: IPnx’s Ejovi Aror talks about price falls and national blockages
    click here:

    Clips from Mobile Web West Africa in Lagos:

    Stefan Magdalinski, General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, MIH talks about its investment strategy
    click here:

    Ayo Alli, Business Development Consultant for Goal.com talks about its massive growth in West Africa
    click here:

    Akinde Aludamola, Team Leader, ConnectNigeria talks about search website:
    click here:

    NOTE:

    If you want to receive daily news tweets from around the continent, please follow us on Twitter:

    In English: @BalancingActAfr
    In French: @sylvainbeletre

    If you are putting out information about your company on Twitter, please send us your details so that we can follow you.

More

  • 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011
    7-9 March 2011, Cape Town, South Africa Venue BMW Pavilion, V&A Waterfront

    Our 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011 (AEF-2011) in Cape Town at the BMW-Imax Theatre, with Africa Exhibition is a landmark Conference on Africa and significant business networking occasion for the top corporate players active in, across and involved with the development of the African continent - Cape-to-Cairo, with Governments and officials in key industries and state institutions.
    Contact: babette@glopac.com For further information visit here:


    Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East & Africa
    9 March  2011, Grand Millennium Hotel, Dubai

    Taking place on the 9th March 2011, the Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East and Africa is a Free-to-attend event and will feature all of the key players within the Cloud Computing and SaaS market providing an introduction, discussion and look into the future for the ICT industry.
    This one day conference will provide the most complete and comprehensive platform for the global Cloud Computing and SaaS industry. Register Free today and get inspiration on how to address your latest issues with advice from real-life end-user case studies and practical examples.
    Show Highlights include:
    1 Day Conference on Cloud Computing and SaaS
    Featuring presentations on Cloud Computing, SaaS, Applications, IaaS, Virtualization and PaaS
    Keynote theatre featuring leading industry speakers
    More case studies than any other like event
    Learn from the key players offering leading products and services
    Pre-show online meeting planner
    Evening networking reception for all attendees
    For more information please visit here: or contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.


    Broadband World Forum MEA
    14-15 March 2011, Dubai UAE

    Network, learn and do business with 750+ decision-makers from across the regional Broadband ecosystem to deliver you inspiration, insights and ideas that will further your regional business.The conference programme features 60+ visionary speakers presenting across keynote plenary sessions, 4 in-depth technology tracks and a Rural Coverage and Connectivity focus day.  Co-located to the conference is a 35+ stand technology exhibition showcasing some of the region’s latest cutting-edge broadband technologies, applications, solutions and services to hit the market.
    Limited FREE passes for operators and early booking discounts apply to all others.  Register with VIP code: BBM11BAA
    For further information visit here:

    ICT For Development in Africa – Sustaining The Momentum, Extending The Reach
    23-26 March 2011, Ota, Nigeria
    The conference will initiate research and practice agenda where ICTs will aid the academia, organizations - public and private and non-governmental to improve socio-economic conditions and directly benefit the disadvantaged in some manner.
    For further information visit here:


    Managed Services Growth Markets 2011
    4-5 April, Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE

    Now in its 4th year and attended by over 200 attendees in 2010, Informa Telecoms and Media’s Managed Services for Growth Markets event will take place on 4th - 5th April at the Moevenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE.With a proven track-record and repeat sponsorship from leading suppliers Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NokiaSiemens Networks and Motorola, this event is truly established as the ultimate meeting-place for the Managed Services industry in the growth markets.A 50% discount for operators ensures a high percentage operator attendance.  Extended break times and additional social functions will guarantee a further enhancement to the already unique networking opportunities. Informa’s Managed Services for Growth Markets conference is the only established event in the region, proven to deliver an industry focussed agenda, the highest level speakers, superior networking opportunities, and top class delegates year on year.
For more information visit here:


    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:

  • InMobi, a mobile advertising firm, has appointed a Kenyan-born Isis Nyong'o as its vice president and managing director for Africa as it seeks to get a larger share of the continent's advertising pie ahead of rival Google.

    In Tunisia, the Industry and Technology Minister announced the following nominations in the communication technologies sector:
    Raouf Chkir : CEO of Tunisie Telecom
    Kamel Saadaoui : President of the National Telecommunications Authority (INT)
    Moez Chakchouk : CEO of the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI)
    Samir Sidhom : Director General of the National Agency for Computer Security (ANSI)

    HP has announced the appointment of Graham Vorster as HP Networking Country Manager for HP South Africa, with immediate effect.

  • HR Manager’s job entails providing practical, consistent, and proactive support, direction and advice to other division managers on HR procedure, policy, best practice, employment rewards, benefits, and legislation to facilitate in achieving the objectives and targets of an organization. HR manager performs human resources management works relating to hiring, recruitment, training, compensation, promotion, termination, career development, or retirement. HR manager also develops, updates, and maintains personnel policies, policy manuals and employee handbook as required.
    For further information about the job or to apply click here

  • MTN and Radcom – East Africa
    Radcom, a provider of service assurance solutions, says that it has won a contract from South Africa based MTN for its Omni-Q Service Assurance solution to monitor one of MTN's mobile networks in East Africa.

    Safaricom and Alepo - Kenya

    Safaricom, East Africa’s largest mobile carrier, selected Alepo Technologies, Inc. to provide an integrated BSS/OSS solution for WiMAX and Wi-Fi, including Alepo’s award-winning 16e AAA Server and DHCP Server. The robust solution will allow Safaricom to extend more finely grained service offerings to customers while maintaining high network security and optimizing resources.

telecoms

  • State-owned broadband provider Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) has confirmed that it has launched Libya’s third mobile phone network, under the brand name LibyaPhone Mobile. Although no precise rollout details have been confirmed by the operator, it claims that its network has capacity for around 100,000 customers during the first phase of its operations. Further, LibyaPhone Mobile has pledged to extend coverage to areas under-served by fellow state-owned cellcos Libyana and Al Madar Telecomm Company. LTT claims that LibyaPhone Mobile will offer both 2G and 3G connectivity.

    Although speculation regarding the launch of a third mobile phone operator in Libya has been rife for some time, in July 2010 it was confirmed that UAE’s Etisalat and Turkcell of Turkey had both been overlooked for a new LYD1 billion (USD825 million) concession. The General Telecommunication Authority (GTA) had previously launched an international tender for a combined fixed and mobile licence in February 2009, although its final decision was severely delayed, and no clear reasons were given for the lack of progress, merely that the international telcos were ‘unsuitable’.

    According to TeleGeography, state-owned Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) is the country's dominant ISP and also acts as a moderator for the internet sector. The operator launched a commercial WiMAX network – operating in the 2.5GHz band – under the ‘LibyaMax’ banner in February 2009. Services have subsequently been expanded to over 25 locations, predominantly along the coast, covering around 65% of the population.

  • The much-anticipated rollout plan by Excellentcom (T) Limited, a new mobile phone company, has stalled. The firm, trading as Hits Tanzania, risks being wound up and has already laid off about 80 workers, out of the 140 it had employed, while more than 20 had left to pursue other interests after the company failed to take off this year as it had planned earlier.

    Huawei Technologies of China, which had entered into a contract to provide mobile phone network infrastructure technologies to Hits, has filed a petition at the High Court's main registry seeking to wind up the company. The bone of contention is failure by Hits to pay Huawei its dues after the latter had performed 10 per cent of its assignment of rolling out the mobile phone network countrywide.

    The two firms signed a $180 million (Sh216 billion) contract in June 2008 under which Huawei was required to build Excellentcom's mobile phone network to enable it to cover the whole country within 13 months.

    The advent of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008 stalled Hits' plans to roll out a mobile network. The company managed to rollout out just an estimated 10 per cent of the intended network. Excellentcom (T) Limited chief executive officer (CEO) David Charles confirmed to The Citizen on Tuesday (January 25) that the company has shifted much of its attention to the case.

    "Our plans were well on course and we still believe we will achieve our goal of kicking off during the first months of this year," Charles said. But he declined to go into details over how much money the company is owed by Huawei because the issue was in the courts of law. But he claimed that the company has invested about $50 million since it started operations in the country.

    The 80 workers laid off last month were all paid their dues, according to Charles. 20 others were shifted to the firm's operations in Equatorial Guinea while 14 have been retained. He said, however, that the company would look into other alternatives to roll out its services, noting however that the process would depend on the judge's decision.

    "It should however, not be translated to mean that we have been idle...We have injected some $50 million into the country's telecom sector since we started operations," Mwinyi said in August.

  • The number of mobile phone subscribers in Kenya has grown to 22 million people, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya quarterly report for September 2010. The rise, attributed to price wars that pushed calling rates down, is the highest in the past three quarters. In June last year, Kenya had 20.1 million subscribers.

    Analysts said subscriber numbers will continue to shoot up in coming months but will soon stagnate. "There is an increasing number of people in possession of multiple sim cards, but a number are likely to drop them and retain one," said Eric Musau, an analyst with African Alliance Kenya Securities.

    The biggest player, Safaricom, however, lost part of its market share to rivals who were charging lower tariffs, dropping to 75.9 per cent from the previous quarter's 80.7 per cent.
    Airtel, which has been reducing its rates over the past few months and now ranks among the cheapest calling and messaging tariffs in Kenya, saw its market share rise by 4.4 per cent -- the highest gain across the market over the review period.

    Telkom Orange's market share also rose by 1.3 per cent while the tariff wars hived 0.7 per cent off Essar Telecom, which operates the Yu network. Subscribers spent a total of 6.63 billion minutes in making calls against 6.05 billion in the previous quarter.

    This is on the back of low tariffs that service providers introduced and availability of phones. Analysts predict Safaricom will continue losing its market share and could reach as low as 71 per cent by next month, although the listed firm will still remain the leader in data provision.

    "Safaricom contributes half of the data in the industry and can ride on its past investments," said Musau. In the long run, Safaricom is expected to benefit from its present settings including WiMAX protocol to provide fixed and mobile Internet access.
    "Other players might not lose on voice but will be restrained on data provision, which is expensive to upgrade," added Musau.

    During the quarter under review, the total number of broadband subscriptions rose to 84,726 from 18,626 in the previous quarter, representing 0.97 per cent of the total Internet subscriptions.

    Total Internet subscriptions saw Safaricom secure first place at 92.18 per cent with 2,977,584 subscribers while rivals Airtel Kenya Ltd and Telkom Orange followed at 149,053 and 77,668 subscribers, garnering 4.61 and 2.4 per cent respectively. Other operators secured less than 1 per cent each according to CCK reports.

    As the mobile subscriber numbers shot up, the period under review saw the fixed lines subscribers decline by 2.7 per cent from 234,522 to 228,391 lines. Fixed wireless service providers on the other hand recorded a 37.2 per cent decline from 225,592 in the previous period to 141,580.

  • The strong growth of mobile payment services in the country has led to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the services' joint supervision by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) and Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

    BoT has, in its maiden Financial Stability Report, attributed the sharp increase in the number of subscribers to the mobile payments mainly to limited access to formal banking services, especially in rural areas. "... in this regard, the mobile payment provides an avenue for linking bank account holders to the unbanked population," the central bank says in its 33- page report, which the bank's governor, Professor Benno Ndulu, launched in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.

    According to provisional data, as of June 30, 2010, the number of mobile phone subscribers stood at 18.5 million, with 9.2 million of them registered for mobile payment services. Mobile payment schemes involve not only funds transfers but also payment for retail goods and services.

    Mobile payment services are specifically used to top-up mobile phone credits, airtime transfers between mobile phones and corporate bill payments - water and electricity, for instance.

    Four mobile network operators - Vodacom, Airtel, Tigo and Zantel - are currently offering the mobile payment services. The service provision however requires that the phone companies partner with commercial banks.

    "The existing arrangement creates gaps in the regulatory framework because two regulators - BoT and TCRA - each with a limited scope of coverage, oversee the mobile payment services," the report says, noting that the signed MoU provides a mechanism for regulatory and supervisory coordination between the two regulators.

    While the central bank regulates the financial transactions, the TCRA focuses on the communication infrastructure. Industry analysts say that the significant growth in the usage of mobile phones offers great opportunity to extend financial and other services to millions of those in the unbanked community.

internet

  • Peak mobile broadband speeds are reaching tens of Mbps, but Vodacom CEO says that they will focus on giving everyone at least 1Mbps Mobile broadband technologies in South Africa are already supporting peak speeds of up to 42Mbps, with developments poised to push the 100Mbps limit in the near future.

    These innovations in the cellular environment get techies excited, but Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys said that the focus should not be on producing high peak speeds in only selected areas, but rather to provide every South African with a 1Mbps broadband connection.

    Uys said that Vodacom has a strong focus on providing ubiquitous 1Mbps broadband access throughout the country, where subscribers can be assured of a good Internet experience wherever they are (both indoors and outdoors).

    Uys added that innovations in radio network capacity and speeds (like 42Mbps HSPA+) will help a great deal not only to increase the average throughput of users, but also to serve more users in the same area. He said that Vodacom currently has 9 million Internet users, but only around 2 million data bundle subscribers (which is a fair indication of broadband users on the network).

    Vodacom is focused on doubling the number of broadband users on their network in the next two to three years while also ensuring that all of their current 9 million Internet users get the best Internet experience possible on the Vodacom network.

    The Vodacom CEO said that continued network investments and cheaper smartphones and mobile computing devices like tablets will play a crucial role in making the Internet more accessible in South Africa and bringing broadband to the masses.

    He said that Vodacom aims to bring a quality Android smartphone to the market this year which will cost around R500, putting it within reach of most working class South Africans.

    Uys further highlighted the educational benefits of affordable mobile computing devices like Android smartphones, tablets and book readers, explaining that textbook distribution, online lessons and even interactive tutorials are all possible through these devices.

    However, Uys believes that the country needs the buy in from all sectors, including government, telecoms operators and the IT industry, to use technology to boost education and through this address the social ills in our society.

    When it comes to spectrum allocation - a vital ingredient in rolling out wireless broadband networks - Uys said that it is important that the regulator (ICASA) follow guidelines that ensure that this valuable resource is handed to companies that will make the most of it.

    “Spectrum should be taken away from companies which don’t use it and handed to operators who are willing to invest in networks [and] roll out services to the South African population,” said Uys.

    The Vodacom CEO appealed to ICASA to follow international standards in allocating spectrum, and further welcomed the idea of both giving some spectrum to large operators with national networks and to other players which will bring more competition to the market.

  • The Minister in the Office of the President in charge of ICT is set to appear before the Senate to explain how the government intends to manage and maintain the fibre-optic cable network. The decision to summon Ignace Gatare, was arrived at after Senator Wellars Gasamagera presented a paper to the House on the current status of ICT infrastructure in the country.

    "The government has spent $94m in laying 2,560-kilometre fibre optic cable across the country," said Gasamagera. The physical laying of the cable included civil works, laying of ducts and installation. "Now Kigali is connected to nine border-posts and all the country's 30 districts are networked." After full connection of the optic ring, the cable will link Rwanda to the Indian Ocean submarine cables via Uganda, through Kenya.

    It is assumed that with a backbone cable around the country, there is going to be a substantive decrease in the cost of telecom services, reductions estimated between 40- 50 %.

    "The Senate needs to know how government is going to manage and maintain the cable, how cyber criminality is going to be controlled and how much the government will benefit from this new technology," Gasamagera said. It is assumed that the cable will connect over 230 institutions in all 30 districts. Already 50 public institutions are connected and are using fibre optics.

    However, the Senate expressed deep concern on how the current ICT infrastructure will be replaced or upgraded and whether there is a joint plan between the government and private investors on how the cable will be managed.

    By press time, , Gatare was not available for comment while the RDB Deputy CEO-IT, Patrick Nyirishema, who oversees the project, said he had no time to talk to the press.

    Experts have indicated that, the infrastructure will boost access to various broadband services including fast tracking government initiatives like e-Governance, e-Banking, e-Learning, e-Health, and other applications.

  • Lack of political willingness and weak management of country code top-level domains has led to slow implementation of DNS Security Extensions in Africa.

    Africa was expected to extensively implement DNSSEC because it had no legacy registry systems, the few operational registries were manual and it was expected that DNSSEC would be implemented after the automation process.

    DNSSEC provides a set of new extensions to the DNS, protecting the Internet from distributed denial of service attacks, DNS cache poisoning and sabotage. DNSSEC uses digital signatures allowing the users to determine whether the information has been altered in anyway.

    DNSSEC implementation formally began in July last year, at a ceremony known as "signing of the root zone." Root signing signaled the beginning of IPv6, DNSSEC implementation and use of internationalized domain names.

    "Of the 67 TLD zones that are signed today, only two African countries are listed (.NA and .SC); this is bad, but if we look at the state of our DNS (ccTLD) landscape in the region the situation is not that surprising -- there is still a lot to do to reinforce our ccTLD infrastructure with a proper management," said Adiel Akplogan, CEO of AfriNIC, the organization tasked with managing IP resources in the region.

    For DNSSEC to be implemented, countries argue that there must be demand, which is created by a vibrant e-commerce industry and online banking. This online vibrancy is missing in many African countries.

    "For DNSSEC deployment to be successful, demand must be created. The push for its implementation by end-users can only come if users are aware of what DNSSEC has to offer as far as security and resilience of internet is concerned," said Joe Kiragu, administrative manager at KENIC, the .Ke registry.

    The role of government in managing Internet resources has been subject to debate with some countries questioning the role of the U.S. government in Internet governance. So, many TLDs in the region have had to consult with governments before implementing any changes to the ccTLD registry.

    "We have to appreciate potential political ramifications; we will raise the matter with our government because the .ZA namespace is a national resource over which our government bears some custodianship," added Vika.

    The issue of training and raising awareness has been discussed before, with some arguing that political will is needed more than the training while others hold that the problem with the continent is lack of skills and that is why policy making and appreciation of e-commerce is yet to take root.

computing

  • Innovators are lobbying to have the first option in developing software for government ministries, departments and parastatals, saying this would help the nascent segment grow while offering the public sector more customised solutions.

    With the government as the biggest buyer of software in Kenya, participants at an Institute of Economic Affairs pre-budget hearing said small tech firms have the capacity to develop software solutions that deepen checks and balances in government institutions.

    "The Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons, is a good candidate because its stock-in-trade is information about citizens and visitors to Kenya," said Seven Seas Technologies general manager Adam Nyaga.

    Kwame Owino of the Institute of Economic Affairs said a directive should be passed similar to that of purchase of furniture for government offices from local firms.

    ICT is one of the drivers of the economy with small and medium enterprise (SME) sector seen as one to boost Kenya to a middle-income country. Promoting local entrepreneurs would help the government get back its return on investment, Kamau Gachigi from the University of Nairobi's Science and Technology Park said. "These are the products of our education," he said.

    Kenyan companies have proved that they are globally competitive and if local firms can shine abroad, servicing the government should be child's play, said Samuel Nyumba, a consultant at Intrepid Data Systems.

    Virtual City won the million dollar top prize at the Nokia World and Developer Summit in London is September last year and the Ushahidi platform, a crisis reporting tool was recognised globally and used during the Haiti earthquake.

    Kenya's 470 public institutions, 46 ministries, 178 state corporations, 175 local authorities and 71 tertiary institutions offer an opportunities for SMEs. "We need locally customised solutions as opposed top off the shelf software," said Nyumba.

  • The Department of Labour (DOL) will not renew its contract with Siemens to deliver its IT systems. DOL acting director-general Sam Morotoba presented the current status of the contract to Parliament's labour portfolio committee last week. He said a letter of termination, with the intention not to renew the contract, was given to Siemens.

    The public private partnership (PPP) began in 2002 and, apart from escalating costs, was plagued by other irregularities and challenges. The DOL sought outside help in the form of a diagnostic analysis by audit firm KPMG.

    Siemens had subcontracted the delivery of its services and the department was not happy with this. KPMG found that since the department had not agreed to this, there was a contractor default, and the department should ask Siemens to rectify it. The report also found there was no feasibility study done, nor any agreement from the department on the use of a SAP platform.

    In addition, there was no reconciliation done by Siemens against the baseline in the contract for licences, and so the report said the department is not liable for additional costs with regard to licences.

    Despite the contractor default on Siemens' part, the KPMG report says a termination of the contract will prove too onerous. For this reason, it suggests a negotiated termination since the legal route will also be costly.

    There are areas where the DOL can implement penalties, like for the late commencement of services, says KPMG. “There is evidence of billing inconsistently with the intention of the contract,” says the report. It adds that the department must review invoices and reclaim these bills.

    There are about eight projects still in progress by Siemens, with the longest term one set to be completed in October.

    The department has a strategic plan towards achieving the completion of the PPP. Thus it has done a diagnostic review of the partnership and established an internal steering committee to manage the transition to a new IT delivery model.

    The development of a draft plan for the exit and transfer of the PPP is currently in consultation; a new ICT strategy is being developed by the State IT Agency (SITA); and the department will conduct a feasibility study on a new ICT delivery model once the strategy is completed.

    Morotoba also said there is a process under way to resource the current office of the CIO to manage closure and transition. The department secured the involvement and participation of National Treasury, SITA and the State Attorney to assist in resolving current PPP contract problems.

    SITA's contract manager was appointed to oversee the PPP's contractual matters and high-level engagement with Siemens is under way, according to Morotoba. The DOL adds that it is also implementing the recommendations of the KPMG report and is requesting an early contract termination for October this year.

    The department also says it has strengthened governance structures to oversee current IT projects. The management committee receives regular progress reports and provides guidance to the IT steering committee. Morotoba said there is an increased participation of business stakeholders at forums.

    The costs of the PPP increased and are expected to rise further despite the many challenges that plague the systems, according to a National Treasury review in November.

    The partnership had initially been costed at R1.2 billion, but has now risen to R1.3 billion. Morotoba said this increase is due to the increase in the consumer price index, services relating to the annual report, and an increase in end-user devices.

    He also said there were still 22 months of the contract left to run. The projected cost at the end of the contract in November next year is R1.9 billion. The reasons for establishing the PPP include the high turnover of IT staff in the public sector; difficulty in reaching IT objectives; the automation of services towards e-government initiatives; the department's need to improve its IT capacity and expertise; and the need to exploit international best practice.

    The deliverables comprised of data centre services, local area network services, IT help-desk, office productivity, customer satisfaction, end-user access, and the deployment of end-user devices, such as desktops, laptops and printers.

    Systems development included training services for new systems; the design, construction and implementation of new systems; and maintenance, support and enhancement. The treasury's review of the system found several flaws in the PPP, including that there was insufficient monitoring and contract management by the DOL.

    There was no consistent change management implemented by the department for integration of the business into the new IT environment, and delays were encountered in implementation of the improvement services due to inadequate detail of business processes.

    The treasury also found that a lack of contract understanding by DOL stakeholders resulted in contractual remedies not being utilised when Siemens' performance was inadequate. Siemens did not respond to ITWeb's queries by the time of publication.

  • The R35m sale of 51% of disaster-recovery firm Continuity SA by JSE-listed outsourcing specialist the Dialogue Group, has been finalised. CoroCapital, the investment banking firm and subsidiary of Coronation, now owns a 49% stake, with the remaining 2% now in the hands of ContinuitySA staff and management.

    “Together with a well-funded equity partner, our solid financial standing puts us in a good position to grow the company both organically and through acquisitions over the coming years,” says Allen Smith, CEO of ContinuitySA. Dialogue walks away with not only the R35m, but also a special dividend of R2m.

    Dialogue faced a tough year in 2010. It principal subsidiary, Dialogue SA, was voluntarily liquidated. It also sold its 51% stake in call-centre recruitment business, Callforce.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Companies in the business of providing infrastructure services for telecom firms will now have to be partly owned by Ghanaians.

    According to a new directive from the Ministry of Communications, Ghanaians must own at least one-third of telecoms providers. The directive which sets out conditions for the issuance of Class One Communications Infrastructure license by the National Communications Authority, also adds that one third of their sub-contracts must also be carried out by indigenous enterprises. This should mean that the players will have to satisfy the conditions before they can secure the license to operate.

    Communications Minister Haruna Iddrisu told Joy Business the move is another initiative to break the dominance of foreigners in the sector. “Regrettably we’ve already lost all the giant players to foreign players as a result of the huge investments or capital outlay that is required [in the industry],” he said.

    He said the directive was necessitated by the fact that “almost all the telecom operators are ceding the ownership and control of their cell-sites to other entities.”

    “We have a duty and a responsibility to create business opportunities for the Ghanaian people and we are not ashamed about that,” he added. He insists Ghanaian businesses, though very capable have not been given a fair chance.

  • Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has reported a drop in profit for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2010, reflecting the absence of gains from discontinued operations included in results for the year-ago period. The Luxembourg-based telco said net profit declined to USD157.2 million from USD454.2 million in the same period of 2009, when the results included a gain of USD289 million from the disposal of non-core businesses in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone. Revenues for the quarter grew 10% to USD1.07 billion, while operating profit rose to USD281.4 million from USD243.8 million. For the full year MIC's profit surged to USD1.65 billion, while revenues grew 16% to USD3.92 billion. Capital expenditure for 2010 totalled USD731 million; for the current year the company expects CAPEX to exceed USD800 million. The company added that it expects to dispose of its operation in Laos in 2011.

    Customers in Africa increased by 23% year-on-year, bringing the total at the end of December to just below 15 million. The lower intake for the region as a whole compared to Q3 is partly due to mandatory customer registration processes in Ghana and Tanzania which give rise to greater volatility. This is best illustrated by the fact that the Tanzanian market contracted in Q4, probably as a consequence of lower multiple SIMs following mandatory registration.
     
    Revenues in Africa were up 5% year-on-year to $239 million, with local currency revenues up 12% following pricing pressure mainly in Ghana and Tanzania, with no elasticity yet at this stage. We also have limited capacity in Senegal as we are investing in capex only through the operation‟s own cash generation.  DRC and Tanzania continued to demonstrate the strongest local currency growth, recording year-on-year increases of 21% and 20% respectively.  In DRC, the regulator introduced high minimum tariffs for all operators in December, which we expect to cause a slow down in the rate of penetration growth.  VAS revenues increased by 41% in Africa year-on-year and now account for 10% of the region‟s recurring revenues.
     
    ARPU for the region was down 11% year-on-year in local currency.  We have seen increased pricing activity in Africa in recent months and in some markets we have adjusted our cross-net tariffs through headline price reductions or promotional activity in order to maintain affordability.  We will monitor closely whether elasticity will follow in the coming months. 
     
    EBITDA for Africa for Q4 10 reached $100 million, up 12% year-on-year. The EBITDA margin was 41.7%, up 2.4 percentage points over Q4 09. 
     
    Capex in Africa amounted to $120 million in Q4 and $278 million for the full year or 31% of revenues.  We expect capex in Africa to increase as a percentage of sales in 2011 as we invest in order to capitalize on the region‟s growth potential and to address the possible increase in traffic from lower tariffs.  We will also begin to invest in 3G in several major urban areas.

  • South African mobile operator Cell C has sold its 50% stake in Virgin Mobile South Africa for an undisclosed sum, the Virgin Group has confirmed. The deal will see co-owner Virgin Mobile raise its stake in the business to 55%, whilst Bahamas-based Calico Investments will acquire the remaining 45%. The transaction is subject to certain conditions, including approvals from the Competition Commission; it is expected to be finalised by April 2011. Cell C will continue to function as Virgin Mobile’s network partner, under an updated network services agreement. In August 2010 it was reported that Virgin Mobile was planning to launch its own mobile broadband service using Cell C’s new HSPA+ network.

    Steve Bailey, CEO of Virgin Mobile, commented: ‘Virgin Mobile has shown consistent high subscriber growth and has significantly increased its base of higher ARPU post-paid subscribers in South Africa over the last two years. It is time for us to capitalise on this growth and bring in an additional shareholder to invest in Virgin Mobile’s further expansion, which will enable us to deliver more exciting products and services to our valued customers. We also look forward to leveraging our updated network agreement with Cell C to provide improved performance to our customers’.

    Faisal Al Bannai, a director of Calico Investments, added: ‘Calico looks forward to working with Virgin Mobile to develop the business through the expansion of its offerings. Virgin Mobile has shown an ability to differentiate itself from the competition and, with our intended investment, there will now be even more potential to increase the range of quality products and services Virgin Mobile can offer going forward’. Virgin Mobile South Africa began life in 2006, as an equal joint venture between Cell C and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. When the possibility of a stake sale was first mooted in July 2010 Virgin claimed to have 300,000 customers, of whom 90% were post-paid.

  • Registered customers of mobile phone money transfer service, M-Pesa, can now withdraw cash in any currency from Visa branded automated teller machines (ATMs) anywhere in the world. They can also make purchases in accepted merchant outlets or shop online.

    This follows a partnership deal between Safaricom and I&M Bank under which the phone operator and the bank launched the first Visa branded card that can be loaded from a mobile phone through its M-Pesa money transfer service.

    "Users of this service will enjoy the convenience of online shopping as they can easily pay using the Pre-Paid Visa cards and also access their accounts via the internet," said I&M Bank chief executive officer Arun Mathur.

    Under the agreement, M-Pesa users will be able to transfer funds from their accounts to the PrePay Safari Card, which is an international Visa card co-branded with I&M Bank.

    "The PrePay Safari Card comes as a major boost in the push to broaden M-Pesa services from a money transfer service to a total mobile commerce solution," said Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, during the signing ceremony held at Safaricom House on Tuesday.

    The card can hold up to a maximum of Sh500,000 loaded through the M-Pesa paybill option. The balance can be refunded through I&M Bank branches without having to open an account there.

    "It can also be reloaded through M-Pesa in Kenya for a subscriber who has travelled internationally thus deepening its key propositions of convenience and accessibility," said Collymore of a money transfer service, which was launched four years ago and now has more than 13 million users and 23,000 agents.

    The partnership comes at a time when the Central Bank of Kenya latest statistics show that mobile money transfer service, which is viewed as holding the key to the future of e-commerce, is now the most widely used mode of financial transactions.

    According to the figures, in December last year, a daily average of 929,143 users transacted using mobile phones, dealing about Sh2.43 billion.

    In the same month, 558,808 Kenyans moved Sh3.1 billion through automated teller machines, while 34,709 used electronic fund transfers worth Sh1.1 billion. About 70,000 used cheques valued at Sh7 billion while 4,262 used the high value payment system - the real time gross settlement systems, transacting Sh64.9 billion.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Nigeria’s mobile operator Globacom has launched its prepaid 3G plus internet services in Kaduna.

    Morocco’s third largest mobile operator Wana, which launched a GSM-based network in February 2010 under the Inwi brand, is celebrating signing up a total of 4.3 million cellular users by end-December, compared to the 600,000 CDMA-only mobile subscribers it served a year earlier. The operator claims that the rapid growth gave it a 13.5% market share by the end of 2010 against 2.4% twelve months previously. Wana, which also provides CDMA-based 3G mobile broadband services under the Inwi brand, and fixed-wireless telephony under the Bayn banner, has also retained its leading positions in terms of subscribers in the fixed line and 3G internet markets, claiming shares of 66.7% and 40.7% respectively, as confirmed by figures from the regulator, the ANRT.

Digital Content

  • Handset manufacturer, Nokia, is set to launch a bicycle- charger that will help people in rural areas to harness energy from bicycles to charge mobile phones. In an interview with Daily Monitor last week, Kenneth Oyolla, Nokia General Manager for East and Southern Africa said the innovation will give people who live in areas with no electricity freedom to use their phones without worrying about battery life. The innovation is based around the dynamo that a bicycle uses to empower its lighting system.

    The charger kit includes a charger, a bottle dynamo and a phone holder that is can be attached to any bicycle. When a rider pedals, the device rotates as the wheel spins and generates electrical energy, which is transmitted up a wire to a handlebar, which a phone plugs into.

    To begin charging, a cyclist needs to travel around 6 kilometres per hour and while charging time will vary depending on battery model, a 10 minutes journey at a speed of 6 kilometres per hour will give you 28 minutes of talk time while riding the same distance at 20kmph gives you 50 minutes of talk time.

    Therefore, the faster one rides, the more battery life they generate. The charger can be used to power any Nokia phone with a 2mm power jack. The rate of electricity penetration is still low standing at on only 11 per cent.

  • Mobile application development in Kenya is gaining speed as players rush to tap into the vast pool of young tech entrepreneurs by offering training. Experts predict that mobile applications will be the next big thing in five years.

    Initiatives like mLab East Africa and several others by Nokia has seen Kenyans benefit from fully-sponsored trainings on creation of mobile apps and how best to launch them into the market, revealing a growing interest in the sector.

    Technology experts say the surge of investments into the mobile telephony sector is an indicator that the country is in step with the rest of the world in terms of software development as well as having the necessary pool of individuals to actualise it.

    "Kenya has a clear competitive advantage in the mobile application development space with hundreds of programmers skilled in making everything from USSD and SMS services to Android and iPhone apps", said Erik Hersman, director of operations at the non-profit Ushahidi.

    "It's such a big deal here that we're putting together a big event on June 14-15 called Pivot 25, where East Africa's top programmers and start-ups will vie for a position to pitch their new mobile apps and services to over 400 of the industry's leading experts and investors."

    iHub, a tech community in Nairobi, has integrated with four other technology-focused start-up incubators like itself across Africa with the aim of creating a web of connections, support, and mentorship that will help technology entrepreneurs link and share innovations.

    "Since the iHub concept has been so popular in Kenya, we are banding together with like-minded leaders of other labs and hubs around Africa to found AfriLabs, an association of African tech labs around the continent which will be the body that spreads this model across Africa", Hersman said.

    The mobile app industry offers a worldwide market for developers which Ken Mwenda, managing director of eMobilis, likens to a global mall where you upload your application and if people like and download it, you get paid.

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Top story

  • Jamii Telecom is breaking the mould by launching a GPON network that will deliver Fibre-To-The-Home for the first time in Sub-Saharan African. It plans to deliver a host of services on it including, VoIP, Internet, video and security applications. This will give the Kenyan market two players at the high-bandwidth end of the market: Jamii Telecom and Wananchi. On a recent trip Russell Southwood spoke to Jamii’s General Manager John Kamau  and Wananchi’s CEO Richard Bell about their respective ambitions.

    Five years ago it would have been hard to imagine that there would be two high-bandwidth players vying for consumers attention in Kenya. You would have assumed that Telkom Kenya or Kenya Data Networks (KDN) would have been the natural players to emerge in this part of the market. But Telkom Kenya’s management from Orange is struggling with getting it right in the mobile market and KDN which seemed to have the wind in its sails, now seems becalmed.

    Jamii Telecom has steadily built itself a set of fibre metronets and connecting pieces of national backbone. So why Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH)? According to General Manager John Kamau:”We asked ourselves what is the next big application? We can’t go for more spectrum (to deliver wirelessly). The mobile operators already have an edge there. So we though a GPON network enabling FTTH would draw new excitement.”

    The network will be able to deliver 2.4 Gbps downstream and 1.25 Gbps upstream. The residential or SME customer will get a CPE that has 5-6 ports, delivering video content, VoIP, Internet, and a Wi-Fi hot-spot (just for your own house or flat):”It will enable the user to have massive bandwidth of over 100 mbps. It will deliver Video On Demand and be able to power 3-4 TVs, offering HD delivery. It will offer things like plug-and-play VoIP, video conferencing and security cameras. The network can provide an ecosystem for IPTV and this presents a considerably opportunity. Also you can do things like remote teleworking.” Many of these services and applications are things that WiMAX simply cannot support.

    Jamii Telecom’s stated aim is to “bulletproof the future” and it has been doing trials for 18 months with 200 households, all in Nairobi:”These people are so happy with the service that they don’t want to be cut off as we put up the new network.” The vendor for the project is Chinese-owned ZTE. The aim is to invest US$15 million in stages, targeting 100,000 households and to have the service ready to launch in Q2, 2011. It will cost between US$100-150 to connect each household. Rates will be benchmarked against prevailing rates which are currently between US$5,000-7,000 for between 512 kbps to 1 mbps:”The most expensive component of building the network is the civil works.”

    It sees itself as a “transport company” carrying other people’s signals, rather than a vertically integrated company offering content as well as networks. It is in discussion with DStv and others on the content side and has a relationship with Safaricom to deliver data that is causing some nervousness in the market. But Kamau says:”Our philosophy is open access. It’s a whole new market and it needs a new philosophy. It’s a mass market that needs a head-end, a call centre and a web portal to deliver.”

    In the other corner of this particular ring is Wananchi led by long-time industry veteran Richard Bell. It has rolled out an HFC cable network which will has already passed 45,000 households in Nairobi and the this figure will rise to 100,000 in three years time. The ultimate target is a million households by 2015. According to Bell:”The HFC network can deliver 250 channels, 50 in HD and 120 mbps into every household.”

    In technology terms, the strategy also has two other prongs to reach those beyond the cable network: WiMAX for voice and data and DTH satellite for television:”Half our channels will be in HD and we’re enhancing HD on our satellite platform.”

    Wananchi’s strategy differs from Jamii in that it sees content as the cornerstone for its success and has its own content division:”We will be offering 10 new channels for general African entertainment, documentary and sports. These will be launched between September and December of this year. We’re offering the first multi-channel African content since M-Net. Our strategy is around localizing content and we have a platform to produce our own content and it won’t be copied in a hurry. So our mission is both to find and make rich local content”.

    “We’ve made a decision not to go after premium sports rights as we believe the market will always want alternatives. We’re going to go out of our way to be strong in the family and childrens’ space. South Africa’s Top TV is making significant inroads into that market and Nigeria’s HiTV is still getting subs on a different positioning. Women are the decision-makers and the education of children is the biggest draw.”

    The Programming Group is headed up by Hannelei Bekker, a South African who formerly worked for Telkom Media and the Retail Group is headed by Peter Reinertz who used to be at Orange Kenya:”Currently we’re doing double play (voice and Internet) and triple play (adding television) will come on stream in Q3 this year.” It also plans to roll out a similar networks in Dar es Salaam and Kampala. So far it has invested US$120 million:”It’s an infrastructure business with a need for continuous additional investment.”

    It is a sign of how fast the market is changing that two seasoned independents have seized the initiative by investing in the high bandwidth space.

    Correction: Telegeography last week published a story suggesting that Vodacom was taking over Lap Green. This was based on an article in issue 393 published over two years ago (which was picked up by New Times, Rwanda) that was denied by both parties at the time. We are happy to make this clear to our readers.

    News announcement: This week on Balancing Act’s new Web TV Channel

    Do not miss our Web TV Channel which highlights recent interviews with top telecoms personalities. There are interviews in both English and French:

    Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore on customer care shortfalls, its local record label and LTE:
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#grid/uploads

    iHub founder Erik Hersman on creating an ICT entrepreneur community in Kenya and elsewhere on the continent
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#p/u/78/BUlgKrGqToc

    John Kamau of Kenya’s Jamii Telecom on Sub-Saharan Africa’s first Fibre-To-The-Home network
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#p/u/32/1ygqFP-VXJ0

    Eric Kamau of True African on dodgy practices in the SMS market in Uganda and on the banking products they are selling
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#p/u/74/ppb3C8KSvKY

    Reg Swart, Fundamo on M-Money services in Africa
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#p/u/17/0gHelksND38

    NOTE:

    If you want to receive daily news tweets from around the continent, please follow us on Twitter:

    In English: @BalancingActAfr
    In French: @sylvainbeletre

    If you are putting out information about your company on Twitter, please send us your details so that we can follow you.

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    Taking place on the 9th March 2011, the Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East and Africa is a Free-to-attend event and will feature all of the key players within the Cloud Computing and SaaS market providing an introduction, discussion and look into the future for the ICT industry. This one day conference will provide the most complete and comprehensive platform for the global Cloud Computing and SaaS industry. Register Free today and get inspiration on how to address your latest issues with advice from real-life end-user case studies and practical examples.
    For more information please visit here:  or contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.

    Broadband World Forum MEA
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    eLearning Africa 2011 - Spotlight on Youth, Skills and Employability
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    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?
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  • The President of Information Technology Association of Nigeria, (ITAN), Dr Jimson Olufuye has been appointed by United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) as a representative to the new Working Group on Internet Governance.

    Incumbent operator Tunisie Télécom has lost its boss. Montasser Ouaili resigned from his position as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the group. Mr. Ouaili sent, on Monday, January 31, 2011, an open letter to the Industry and Technology Minister.

    A Telecel Zimbabwe senior official has been arrested and deported for working illegally in the country while three Chinese from another telecommunications company were arrested for working without permits. The Telecel official, Simon Payne, was arrested by immigration officials last Friday and appeared before a Harare magistrate on Monday. He was fined US$1 000 or six months in prison for violating the Immigration Act for working in the country without a requisite permit.

    Shake up at NCC, as Juwah Redeploys Nine Directors

    In an effort to infuse new lease of life into the telecommunication regulatory house, the executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, reorganised the management, which saw some directors being moved.

    Conforming this, head, media and public relations at NCC, Reuben Muoka said the movement of directors to in the recent re-shuffle takes immediate effect.

    He said the latest redeployment of directors and the creation of a new department were done to refocus the commission, in line with the vision of the new management.

    The new changes announced through an official memo sent to the affected staff at the commission, showed that Engr. Maska Ubale, a deputy director, was drafted to head the compliance, monitoring and enforcement department; an area which Dr. Juwah said would receive a lot of attention in his regime as most of the issues confronting the industry are traced to poor level of compliance by the operators.

    Juwah also in the memo proclaimed the creation of a new department, projects office, which would oversee the implementation of the various project of the commission, including SIM Card registration, emergency communication centres and number portability among others.

    Abdullahi Maikano is to assume the head of the department and report directly to his office.

    Others affected in he redeployment include the swapping of positions between former director of policy, competition and economic analysis (PCEA), Mary Uduma, who was moved to head the consumer affairs department; while Lolia Emakpore now heads the PCEA.

    Former director of compliance and enforcement monitoring, Funlola Akiode, was also moved to head the department of corporate planning and strategy, while Efosa Idehen, an assistant director in corporate planning department, takes her place at the compliance monitoring and enforcement department to head the enforcement unit.

    Additionally, the assistant director, formally of the PCEA, Abubakar Yakubu, takes over at the corporate planning department as the head, consultancy unit of the department, whereas another assistant director, Augustine Odoh, formerly of the compliance monitoring department now heads the NCC's zonal office in Port Harcourt.

    Odoh takes over from Inatimi Spiff, an assistant director and formerly the head of the Port Harcourt Zonal Office who has been redeployed to the PCEA department.

    Okoh Aihe, formerly the head of the Corporate Services Unit of the Universal Services Provision Fund (USPF), moves over to the office of the executive vice chairman as the special assistant to the EVC on media.

    Daily Champion gathered that Dr. Juwah in the memo informed the affected staff that the "exercise is meant to re-energise the departments and functional lines of the commission to re-inject dynamism and functional mobility in the deployment of staff, geared towards making the workforce more rounded and challenges them to optimal performance."

  • ITU: HIPSSA CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

    Opened positions and requests for proposal:

     - G-3.1 (d) [WA]: Spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.1[WA].pdf

    - G-3.1 (d) [EA]: Spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.3[EA].pdf

    - G-3.3 (d) [CA]: Spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.2[CA].pdf

    - G-3.4 (d) [SA]: Spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.4[SA].pdf

    - G-3.5 (d) [INT]: International spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)

    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.5[INT].pdf

    - G-3.6 (d) [PM]: Senior international spectrum management expert [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3%206[PM].pdf

    [HIPSSA/G-6] Call for Application related to ICT statistics

    The expert will be responsible for designing regional statistical reports about ICT/telecommunication indicators with a specific focus in regional organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa. These statistical reports shall include factsheets for each member country of the identified regional organisations and an aggregated and comparative view for each of the regions.

    To download the job description, please click on the link below or copy the URL in your browser: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-6.1...

    For further information visit the ITU's website.

  • SEA-ME-WE and Alcatel-Lucent – North Africa
    The co-owners of the South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) international submarine cable system have selected Alcatel-Lucent and Ciena Corporation for a network expansion project. Alcatel-Lucent was selected for an upgrade to 40Gbps (40G) transmission of all submarine segments. Ciena was selected to supply optical switching equipment for all 16 cable landing sites as well as for 100Gbps (100G) transport for an upgrade of the terrestrial link connecting Alexandria to Suez in Egypt. The deployment will commence in the first quarter of 2011, providing a substantial capacity increase to the existing cable system (ultimate capacity of 2.4Tbps per fibre pair), which supports the delivery of high speed internet and other broadband-based services along the approximately 20,000km route connecting Europe to the Middle East and South East Asia.

telecoms

  • The African Union (AU) has unveiled its plans for a single standardized SIM card for all African mobile phone operators. According to AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Elham Ibrahim, a study on the introduction of a single African SIM card has been underway and is expected to be completed within a month. The Commission would then hold a validation workshop with the key industry players in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to agree on the technical details for the SIM card, which it hopes would reduce the cost of roaming phone services.

    According to AU’s Head of Telecommunication Division, Moctar Yedaly, funds for the assessment of the technical requirements to be fulfilled before the launch of the SIM are estimated at US$100,000.

    He added that the plan includes an agreement on revenue-sharing and the validity of prepaid airtime if the users of the single SIM card migrate to other operators in the various African countries. The AU is looking at the networks operated by the South African multinational MTN Group, which has operations in over 16 African countries.

    The AU is also working on the registration of the domain name dot Africa, which it hopes to register. Yedely noted that a taskforce has been established to work out the modalities of registering the dot Africa internet domain.

  • MTN has had its application for a 3G license in Swaziland rejected by the incumbent telco, the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), which also managed the regulatory regime in the country.

    The phone company and the regulator did not say why the license was rejected. MTN's CEO, Ambrose Dlamini had said last year that the company was at an advanced stage in negotiations for a 3G license and had hoped to be awarded the license by the end of last year.

    MTN has been lobbying for an independent regulator for some years, saying that the combination of phone company and regulator causes obvious conflicts of interest. As we reported last year, MTN dropped its objection to SPTC building a fixed wireless network, in exchange for the government pressing ahead with splitting the phone company from its regulatory role.

    SPTC is also the majority shareholder of MTN Swaziland with 51% of the shares. Of the remainder, 30% is owned by South Africa's MTN and 19% by a local Swaziland Empowerment group.

  • Forced to comply with a government order to disrupt their own services, mobile operators have looked far from comfortable in Egypt. Last Friday, the Egyptian government ordered the country’s three mobile operators – Vodafone Egypt, Mobinil and Etisalat Misr – to blackout their services in selected parts of the country. The government’s objective was to stifle the opposition that has rocked the regime in recent days. Protesters used mobile networks (as well as the internet and social networks) to organise the large-scale demonstrations that have threatened the position of President Hosni Mubarak. By Saturday, the three operators were able to resume service, although there have been subsequent rumours that another suspension might be imposed by the government.

    The mobile phone networks have fared better than the internet which has been closed down for longer by the government. In fact, Google has announced a special service that allows Egyptians to send Twitter messages by voicemail. However while bypassing the blocked internet, the new service would still be undone by another phone blackout.

    Vodafone emphasised how it had no choice – either technically or legally – but to follow the government’s order last week. The company said in a statement: “We would like to make it clear that the authorities in Egypt have the technical capability to close our network...It has been made clear to us that there were no legal or practical options open to Vodafone, or any of the mobile operators in Egypt, but to comply with the demands of the authorities." The company also introduced another dimension to the debate by mentioning its staff whose “safety” is the company’s “other priority”.

    It should be noted that although Vodafone Egypt is 55 percent owned by the operator itself, the remaining stake is held by state-controlled Telecom Egypt. France Telecom, which is the largest shareholder in Mobinil, spoke to its Egyptian customers rather than an international audience, when it emphasised how the authorities had taken “technical measures” to prevent it from offering a service. Etisalat, the majority shareholder in Etisalat Misr, made a statement too that it had been told to suspend service by the government.

    At other times, Egypt has been a less stressful place to work. In the third quarter of 2010 (the most recent period for which figures are available) Vodafone led the market with record-breaking net additions of 2.4 million, according to figures from Wireless Intelligence. Mobinil, also breaking its quarterly record, made 2.3 million net additions, said the research firm. Meanwhile Etisalat had to settle for merely gaining its best results for nearly a year, a total of 260,000 net additions.

  • Jean Pierre Biyiti-bi Essam unveiled his 2011 plan of action Friday while receiving New Year Wishes. Government during the ongoing fiscal year plans to set up 120 community telecommunication centres nationwide and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MINPOSTEL) is determined to take additional measures to step up telecommunications, at reduced cost.

    MINPOSTEL boss, Jean Pierre Biyiti-bi Essam, reiterated the commitment to strive for excellence last Friday January 28, 2011 as he received best wishes for 2011 from his staff during a colourful and crowd-pulling ceremony on the campus of the Yaounde School of Posts and Telecommunications.

    Drawing the ministry's balance sheet for 2011, MINPOSTEL's Secretary General, Edouard Abbah, said strides were recorded especially with the national optical fibre and the Central African Backbone projects which, he said, greatly improved the quality of telecommunications.

    Control, he added, was also made in the use of mobile telephones with a call on users to register their numbers as well as order set in the use of air frequencies. The country's postal services were also revived with the appointment of a new management team at CAMPOST and the bringing in of a French international postal company, SOFREPOST, to give technical boost to CAMPOST activities.

internet

  • The US$600-million West African Cable System (WACS) linking parts of Africa to Europe has reached the shores of Namibia. Local telecommunications operator, Telecom Namibia, partner in the intercontinental project through the WACS consortium, is ready to connect the fibre-optic cable to its network grid nationwide.

    The WACS consortium consists of 12 companies: Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, Congo Telecom, MTN, Office Congolais des Postes et Télécommunications, Portugal Telecom/Cabo Verde Telecom, Tata Communications/Neotel, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA, Togo Tele-com and Vodacom.

    The landing station in Namibia is Swakopmund where Telecom has already established infrastructure to route the under-sea cable to its networks.

    It will connect Namibia to Europe through its landing station in Swakopmund, similarly Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, and Portugal. It will also provide Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo and the Republic of Congo with the first direct access to the global submarine cable communication network.

    WACS, which was initially supposed to end in Portugal but has now been extended to the United Kingdom, will provide mega spaces of broadband to Africa and enable the continent reliable, faster and cost-effective connectivity, says Telecom Managing Director Frans Ndoroma.

    Ndoroma, joined by Information and Communication Minister, Joel Kaapanda, recently assessed Namibia's readiness when they visited the coastal region to see the progress being made on the cable. Paris-based French company, Alcatel-Lucent, is responsible for installing the 2000-kilometre line on the west African coast.

    It would be operating at 40 gigabit per second (40G), to increase the overall design capacity from 3.8 Terabit/s (Tbit/s) to 5.12 Tbit/s, equal to the download of 8 million MP3 files or more than 8000 DVDs in 60 seconds.

    This would bolster connectivity along the Africa-Europe route, by enabling improved communications and Internet services that are crucial for social and economic development, revealed Kaapanda.

    Commercial service is expected before the second quarter of this year.

  • Glo has announced a reduction in the price of its 3G Internet modem from N8,500 to N5,000 (US$32), making it the most affordable product of its kind in the market. The modems are available in all Gloworld Shops nationwide and some selected dealers.

    The company also reduced the monthly rental fee for its Always Max plan and increased the data volume for the package. Details of the revised offer show that subscribers to Always Max package will now enjoy a 25% reduction in rental fee as they will henceforth pay N7,500 instead of N10,000 charged previously. In addition to the reduced tariff, the data volume for the package which gives all-day Internet access for 30 days has been increased from 5GB to 6GB.

    Glo also announced that data volume on the G300 pack with 90 days validity has been increased by over 100% from 4GB to 9GB. This enables subscribers to the package to download much more than they did before now at no additional cost.

    The revised packages give more value to the customer and are the best 3G internet packages in the industry in terms of value and pricing, stated Wunmi Jewesimi, Head of Glo 3G/Blackberry Sales.

    "The Always Max subscriber makes a savings of N2,500 every month and is able to do more with the increased data volume. The G300 customer has also been empowered to do much more with the additional 5 gigabytes," Jewesimi added.

    Other packages on the Glo 3G Plus High Speed Internet offer include the Always Min package which gives the user a month all-day access to the internet for N5,000, the Always Day pack with a fee of N500 for all day access for 24 hours and the G100 which has a monthly fee of N6,000 with 100 hours, all day access.

  • After public outrage over the sell of Somalia’s domain to a Japanese firm by Somali officials, the Ministry of Information denied recent reports saying that a Japanese company has purchased the Internet domain of Somalia.

    Speaking at a recent news conference he held in Mogadishu, the minister of information, posts and telecommunication, Abdikarin Hassan Jama, denied that the Internet domain of Somalia had been sold to a Japanese company. Saying those reports to that effect were baseless. “That’s not true and we as Somali government cannot allow such grubby deals” he said.

    Similarly, the Director General of the Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunication, Eng Ahmad Mohammad Adan, who spoke on the occasion, said that the previous government had signed a contract with a Japanese company which, he said, maintains the Somali Internet. However, he said there are people being trained for the TFG government of Somalia and their training was going on in Nairobi, Kenya.

    However, there have been allegations in recent times that the Internet domain of Somalia had been selling to a Japanese company although the minister strongly denied it.

computing

  • Local technology firms are cashing in on demand from the financial sector as banks move to automate their processes and streamline operations.

    While the development has seen a number of institutions whittle down their employee numbers as technology takes over key functions, local technology firms have recorded a corresponding upswing in the number of requests for customised software solutions.

    Some of the companies that are positioning themselves to take advantage of the spending surge are Seven Seas Technologies, Alliance Technologies, Turnkey Africa and Craft Silicon, who are betting on a continued automation drive by Kenyan firms to create more demand for locally developed solutions.

    "Increased confidence in local developers has meant that our offering has come of age. Banks are now localising their software products and we expect that the continued rise in spending will continue to benefit local software houses, said Patrick Njenga of Alliance Technologies.

    Most Kenyan banks have in the past two years introduced electronic banking products that have not only increased the efficiency of transactions but also significantly reduced the number of people going to the banking halls for services.

    This has called for a revamp of their core banking systems--with some spending between Sh600 and Sh750 million to comply with new regulations or to offer new services--reducing the need for paper work and back room offices Increasingly, the drive to automate branches has rendered a number of workers redundant.

    Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that banks increased their branch count by 12 per cent in 2009 compared to 20 per cent and 28 per cent in 2008 and 2007 respectively with analyst predicting a growth of less than 10 per cent this year.

    These developments have positioned local and international software firms in a position to reap from heavy spending by banks, with many taking on international firms in the race to win business from financial firms.

    "We expect more localisation of global approaches to fit the Kenyan context. Out of this will also come capital infusion into local firms via private equity investors, and potentially strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions may happen which will enable local businesses to cash in on their investments and generate more cash-flow into the Kenyan economy," said Michael Macharia, CEO of Seven Seas Technologies.

    Last year, Craft Silicon, run by Kamal Budhabati, raked in a record Sh600 million, with the majority of earnings coming from its software development while the remaining 10 percent of its revenues come from installations, support and maintenance services. The company expects that number to increase exponentially over the next 12 months.

    The most popular software suites being bought by Kenyan institutions are those that can automate core banking systems, manage risk in various processes and reduce paperwork across the operation.

    For many local banks, the spending is being driven by the regulatory effect of Basel standards, the set of recommendations created by the Bank for International Settlements to streamline global banking operations, which has pushed more investment in technology solutions

    In addition, the last five years has seen a number of realignments in the financial services sector through mergers and acquisitions, calling for integrated services that merge bank functions across regions and borders.

    Local banks like Kenya Commercial Bank have extended their presence regionally in countries like Southern Sudan, while others like CFC Bank who merged with the South African Standard Bank to form CFC Stanbic a few years ago leaned heavily on technology solutions to integrate processes across operations.

    "We are now able to introduce new products rapidly and boost our capabilities in areas such as business intelligence and automation of our trade finance and treasury operations. We will count on a new system developed by Misys to provide the technological support needed to expand our presence across more market segments not just in Kenya, but across the region," said Gideon Muriuki, Group Managing Director & CEO, Co-operative Bank of Kenya.

    Recently, Misys, a global application software and services company, deployed an integrated BankFusion Universal Banking solution for Co-operative Bank that will cover retail banking, trade finance and treasury functions at the institution.

    Enhanced ICT platforms have helped banks to introduce internet and mobile banking services that enable customers to check their statements of accounts, make inquiries on status of cheques, cheque book requests, transfer of funds between designated accounts and make utility payments.

  • Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body for IT professionals in the country, has blamed the observed irregularities and difficulties encountered by Nigerians in the ongoing voter registration exercise, on the software deployed.

    Worried by the difficulties, which range from long delay in registration, non-functioning and low sensitivity of fingerprint scanners, insufficient ink to print voter's card, low battery back-up, over-heating and malfunctioning of computers, insufficient Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines, poor managerial skills in handling the machines by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to the inability of INEC officials to test the machines for troubleshooting, NCS said the problems are more of software than computer hardware.

    President of NCS, Prof. Charles Uwadia, while addressing a press conference last weekend in Lagos on the performance of INEC in handling the voter registration, equally blamed INEC for not being transparent enough in its strategies for deploying IT for the entire electoral process.

    According to him, if INEC was transparent enough, it would have worked with IT professionals in the country for advice in key technical areas to avoid the problems currently being experienced.

    Uwadia faulted the type of software deployed and its specifications. Software, he said, remained the main driver of the hardware, and that once the specification of the software is wrong, it would affect the performance of the hardware itself.

    Linux, which is Open Source Software, does not have high security features needed for a nation's voter registration exercise, he said.

    He explained further that NCS offered to bring in its professional competence to bear, for free, and wrote INEC severally, but INEC turned down its letters, only to consult and employ the services of people who are not registered with or known by the computer professional body in the country.

    Such action, he said, was a violation of the ethics of the IT profession in the country and not tolerated anywhere in the world.

  • Technology firms, Computer Point and IBM, have signed an agreement aimed at improving Uganda's information and communication technology (ICT) to transform the country's business operations.

    "This partnership is a positive step in closing the ICT gap, especially among businesses operating in the East African Community. The move will speed up economic development across the region through our enhanced services," said Anil Kuruvilla, the Computer Point managing director.

    The partnership mandates Computer Point, an IT systems integrator, to offer IT solutions including infrastructure, application maintenance and development to willing financial institutions, the Government, telecoms and other corporate companies in Uganda on behalf of IBM.

    Tony Mwai, the IBM country general manager for East Africa, said the alliance will leverage the firm's IT expertise to support Ugandan businesses.

    On September 2010, IBM and Bharti Airtel signed a 10 year contract, where IBM will consolidate and transform the 16 different IT environments across Airtel's African operations into an integrated system.

    Mwai says IBM's cutting edge technology can unite business and IT, offering seamless access to IT services and resources, and cohesively integrating and managing the exploding volume of information.

    "IBM's goal is all about making businesses and IT environments ready to be part of a planet that is becoming smarter. It will do this by helping with unique technologies and services for virtualisation, energy efficiency, data management and business resiliency," he added.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • South Africa-based Vodacom Group has reported consolidated revenues of ZAR16.03 billion (USD2.24 billion) for the three months ended 31 December 2010. This figure represents an increase of 3.9% year-on-year. Vodacom’s domestic unit, Vodacom South Africa accounted for ZAR14.07 billion in sales, or 87.7% of the group’s total quarterly revenues. The telecoms firm has yet to release figures for EBITDA or net profit. Of Vodacom South Africa’s revenues, mobile voice traffic was responsible for the lion’s share of the takings, generating ZAR7.43 billion, whilst mobile interconnection fees contributed ZAR1.78 billion, mobile data ZAR1.75 billion and mobile messaging ZAR644 million. Data exhibited the largest increase year-on-year, growing 50.5%.

    In operational terms, Vodacom South Africa remains the firm’s largest unit by subscribers, although its customer base dropped 6.6% year-on-year, to 25.3 million. However, any losses have been offset by the company’s enlarged post-paid subscriber base which grew 14.8% year-on-year. Elsewhere, Vodacom units in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho all increased their subscriber bases in the twelve months ended 31 December. Lesotho contributed the largest proportion of growth, increasing its customer base 28.6% to 823,000. Tanzania grew its subscriber base 26%, to end the year with 8.7 million subscribers, whilst Mozambique weighed in with 2.9 million customers (up 27.7%) and Democratic Republic of Congo 3.8 million subscribers (up 9.2%). Vodacom Group ended the calendar year with a consolidated wireless subscriber base of 41.6 million.

    Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys commented: ‘Our strategy of focusing on operational delivery and offering increased value to customers has paid off with group customers increasing by more than two million to 41.6 million. In South Africa, the data business was a star performer, with growth in mobile connect cards and smartphones driving a 33.8% increase in overall data revenue. The international operations also continued to respond well to management actions with service revenue growth of 13.2%’.

  • The pattern of consumption in Uganda is increasingly being dictated by mobile phone usage, shifting emphasis away from food. As a result, the consumer price index was restructured to accommodate communication as a separate basket. A market basket is a collection of goods and services. Communication was previously part of the transport and communication basket. Food weighs 28% in the consumer price index. Communication, which hardly existed in the index a decade a go, weighs 6%.

    Communication comprises mobile phone air time, fixed line telephones and Internet services. Other components of the consumer price index include housing, water and electricity, clothing and foot wear, recreation and culture. Others are restaurants and hotels, health, furnishing and household equipment, alcohol beverages, tobacco, education, narcotics and miscellaneous goods and services.

    David Katende,who runs a small business in Kampala, says several years ago, he was not spending on airtime. "Now I have two mobile phones. One for Warid and the other for MTN. I spend between sh5,000 to sh10,00 on airtime daily. However, I plan for all the money I use to buy airtime, but on a busy day when I have to make a lot of calls, I spend about sh25,000," he explains. Katende says he ensures that all his phones have airtime in case of an emergency.

    The reduction in mobile phone call charges last October caused a major fall in inflation rates. The effect of this reduction will keep inflation low for the whole of 2011 even if there are pressures pushing it up, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) officials have predicted. In October, there was a 46% reduction in call charges because of the stiff and growing competition among the telecom firms. "During that month, we discovered that the consumer price index fell by 0.3% and, hence reducing the October inflation rate.This resulted in the annual inflation rate falling by 0.1%," Ronald Ssombwe, a senior statistician UBOS told Business Vision.

    In 2009, the annual average headline inflation rate stood at 13%, but fell to 4% in 2010. Ssombwe said mobile phone call charges contributed about nine percentage points to the reduction of the inflation rate between 2009 and 2010.

    Twelve months ago, the industry average mobile call rate was sh11 per second, which fell to sh5 and then to sh3 per second. Orange, Airtel and Warid have promised to keep their rates at three shillings per second. Warid is offering sh1 per second from 6:00am to 6:00pm.

    For the short message service (SMS), Airtel is offering unlimited short messages to its subscribers for sh200 per day and sh50 to other networks.

    Ssombwe says the impact of the telecommunications sector can no longer be underrated in the consumer price index.

    "There was excitement among various stakeholders, especially the customers, but airtime sellers were not happy with the result of the competition," he explains.

    He, however, revealed that last November inflation had started rising. "Although it went up, it was supressed by the fall in call charges," Ssobwe says.

    He adds that this effect would take a year to phase out, and that inflation was rising at a declining rate. There will be a one-year effect on inflation because of this drop in call charges. There have been questions whether the effect of the one-month drop of charges has had any effect on the economy.

    "The new innovations in the telecom sector, like giving customers airtime on credit, may drive the call charges even lower. "If we get more competitors in the sector, it will also drive the charges lower. It will have a direct impact in reducing the total inflation rate."

  • Vox Telecom, listed on the JSE’s AltX exchange, is becoming well known for its inventive annual reports, which each year resemble a popular magazine. The 2010 annual report, released this week, is no exception. The report, called Vox Stuff, has been designed by agency Xfacta to look like an edition of the popular gadgets magazine, Stuff.

    Previous annual reports have mimicked magazines such as Time (“Team”), National Geographic (“Vox Geographic”) and Sports Illustrated (“Vox Illustrated”).

    The latest annual report, printed on high-quality glossy paper and edited by Vox’s head of marketing, Clayton Timcke, features a full-page spread of the company’s directors hamming it up while playing Guitar Hero.

    CEO Tony van Marken is seen deejaying in the picture, with fellow executives Douglas Reed and Jacques du Toit hamming it up on guitar. Tony van Marken, Jacques du Toit and Gary Sweidan ham it up.

    There are the usual directors’ reports, but even these are done in a fun way, with a conversation between Van Marken and Reed laid out as if the two men were writing on each other’s walls on Facebook.

    However, Vox’s 2010 report has been toned down slightly from the material used in the real Stuff magazine, which is known for its covers featuring scantily clad women. The Vox report has a beautiful model — Jennifer Bettencourt from the Heads modelling agency — on its cover, but she has more clothing on than the models that appear in the real Stuff. That’s perhaps not surprising given that this is, after all, still an annual report of financial results. We don’t want the bean counters to get too hot under the collar, do we?

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Subscribers with Airtel Africa in Tanzania will soon be able to make online purchases from MasterCard merchants around the world, thanks to an initiative by the mobile communication firm in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank and MasterCard Worldwide. The three firms have partnered to provide a virtual card that operates off a wallet residing on a mobile phone.

    According to figures published by Ghana’s telecoms regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA), fixed and mobile penetration in the country reached 75.4% at the end of last year, up from around 71% at the start of 2010. The watchdog’s figures show that the primary driver of growth is mobile usage: the cellular penetration rate stood at 74.2% at the same date, with more than 17.436 million registered SIM cards. Mobile growth in the second half of last year came despite a compulsory SIM registration scheme, which entered into effect on 1 July, and which was expected to dampen growth for the year, compared with 2009. The scheme is also expected to have pruned out a number of inactive and/or unregistered mobile users.

    Airtel Zambia, the recently acquired unit of India’s Bharti Airtel, is planning to invest up to USD150 million on the development of new infrastructure with a view to bolstering its customers, according to Bloomberg, which cites the former’s managing director, Fayaz King.

    Green Network Sierra Leone has gone live. Green Network Chief Executive Officer, Elmabruk S. Elgembari, said they were committed in partnering with the government to bring world-class telecommunications services to Sierra Leoneans. The operator currently has approximately 86 sites in the city and 42 in the provinces.

    Subscribers that are hoping to port their GSM numbers from one network to another and still retain their original numbers, under the Number Portability platform, may have to wait for more time before enjoying such service. The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) say number portability across all networks must wait until Nigeria completes her SIM registration and obtains a national database of users.

    The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ)  could soon crack down on mobile phone operators following numerous complaints from the public about the quality of services, vis-à-vis costs, they are being given. POTRAZ is currently carrying out its own evaluation of the services on offer. Complaints by mobile technology users have become commonplace, with people decrying crossed lines, dropped calls, slow Internet connectivity, the cost of services and network unavailability.

    In Tanzania, Sasatel has launched a new promotion. The company will offer a new price of TS39,900/- (US$26( for the internet modem to new individual customers while business firms will have to pay a new price of TS179,000/- for the wireless Internet router. Sasatel was licensed to provide wireless telecommunication services in June 2008 and it officially launched its CDMA technology for commercial operation in June 2009.

    Zimbabwe's Barnfords Financial Services has partnered with UK-based WorldRemit to launch a new Internet-based money transfer service for Zimbabweans living abroad.

Digital Content

  • Cellphone banking has surged in the past year, as South African consumers gain confidence in their handheld devices as a tool for both communications and efficiency.

    Among urban cellphone users, 44% now use cellphone banking services, compared to 27% a year earlier, according to the Mobility 2011 research project conducted by World Wide Worx and backed by First National Bank. In smaller centres and towns, 27% now use cellphone banking, suggesting that rural areas lag urban users by about a year in take-up of these services. In total, 37% of South Africans in urban and rural areas aged 16 and above now use cellphone banking.

    "Our predominant customer base resides within the mainstream market: 65% of FNB's 2.6 million customer base earns less than R100 000 per annum and are between the ages of 18 - 40 years old. Cellphone Banking is becoming the preferred alternative as people across the board are driven by the 'anywhere, anytime' concept of banking." says Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions

    Usage of cellphone banking peaks in the 26-34 age group, at 41%, and drops to 11% in the over-45 group. Male usage far outpaces that of females, at 56% against 44%. While education is a factor in usage of cellphone banking, with 43% of cellphone banking users having matric, and 38% with post-matric qualifications, the biggest proportion of cellphone banking users - no less than 27% - earn less than a R1000 a month.

    The vast majority of cellphone banking customers still use the basic services, such as balance enquiries (78%) and notifications (58%).

    However, transactional services are for the first time major components of cellphone banking services, with half of respondents buying airtime, 24% paying accounts, and 17% transferring funds between accounts. Emerging Mobile commerce transactions such as purchases and sending money to another persons' cellphone are also appearing on the radar screen for the first time. 12% of cellphone banking users also sending money to other individuals, and 11% making a purchase via their cellphone.

    For most of these services, urban respondents are far more likely to have made use of them, except in the case of sending airtime to someone: 33% of rural users of cellphone banking have done so, versus 22% of urban users.

    "Products like the FNB eWallet are allowing us to bridge the gap between the banked and the unbanked and address the real need of access to financial services. This also allows for the transfer of cash and airtime to be done safely and easily." says Yolande van Wyk CEO of FNB Smart Services.

    Most of this growth in usage comes off the back of another surprising finding: more than 80% of cellphone banking users are satisfied with the security of cellphone banking. The proportion of urban users slightly outweighs that of rural users, but not significantly so.

    "Previous studies had shown satisfaction with security as below 60%, indicating that market education and experience has made the difference in uptake," says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx.

    The Mobility 2011 project comprises two reports, namely the Mobile Consumer in SA 2011 and the Mobile Internet in SA 2011. It is based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of South Africans, conducted towards the end of 2010.

  • Mobile phone firms offering money transfer services will be required to lower their charges as a pre-condition for being allowed to send higher amounts in a single transaction, the banking sector regulator has said.

    Central Bank of Kenya governor Njuguna Ndung'u on Monday said that mobile phone operators who have applied for CBK's approval to raise their transaction thresholds have been told to cut their costs.

    Prof Ndung'u said the requirement is meant to promote inclusion of a majority of Kenyans -- including low income earners- in the formal financial system.

    Safaricom announced last year that it had doubled the daily transaction limits on its M-Pesa service to Sh140,000 from Sh70,000. Users of the service are only however allowed to send up to Sh70,000 in a single transaction, meaning that they incur double transaction charges to send the daily limit.

    Safaricom currently charges a maximum of Sh300 to withdraw between Sh50,001 and Sh70,000 for registered users and Sh400 for non-registered users. The telecommunication company's CEO, Bob Collymore, said that the company had been working closely with the CBK on transaction charges for M-Pesa.

    "Safaricom works closely with the Central Bank of Kenya, in determining the pricing for M-Pesa services. We have regular reviews of M-Pesa and we will take into account the Governor's concerns going forward," said Collymore in an e-mail response.

    He said that the company had reviewed its charges following the change of upper and lower limits of transactions. "We did (revise charges for various transaction amounts) following a revision of the upper and lower limits on transactions and the amount that can be held as M-Pesa in one's account," said Collymore.

    The revision of the transaction amounts showed that a customer can keep up to Sh100,000 in their account while doing a maximum daily transaction of Sh140,000. Customers who send the new lower limit amount of Sh50 are charged Sh15 for withdrawal.

    Safaricom declined to disclose the new charges it intends to implement. Airtel and Yu, the other mobile phone operators offering money transfer services, are yet to announce changes of their transaction limits.

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Top story

  • Jamii Telecom is breaking the mould by launching a GPON network that will deliver Fibre-To-The-Home for the first time in Sub-Saharan African. It plans to deliver a host of services on it including, VoIP, Internet, video and security applications. This will give the Kenyan market two players at the high-bandwidth end of the market: Jamii Telecom and Wananchi. On a recent trip Russell Southwood spoke to Jamii’s General Manager John Kamau  and Wananchi’s CEO Richard Bell about their respective ambitions.

    Five years ago it would have been hard to imagine that there would be two high-bandwidth players vying for consumers attention in Kenya. You would have assumed that Telkom Kenya or Kenya Data Networks (KDN) would have been the natural players to emerge in this part of the market. But Telkom Kenya’s management from Orange is struggling with getting it right in the mobile market and KDN which seemed to have the wind in its sails, now seems becalmed.

    Jamii Telecom has steadily built itself a set of fibre metronets and connecting pieces of national backbone. So why Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH)? According to General Manager John Kamau:”We asked ourselves what is the next big application? We can’t go for more spectrum (to deliver wirelessly). The mobile operators already have an edge there. So we though a GPON network enabling FTTH would draw new excitement.”

    The network will be able to deliver 2.4 Gbps downstream and 1.25 Gbps upstream. The residential or SME customer will get a CPE that has 5-6 ports, delivering video content, VoIP, Internet, and a Wi-Fi hot-spot (just for your own house or flat):”It will enable the user to have massive bandwidth of over 100 mbps. It will deliver Video On Demand and be able to power 3-4 TVs, offering HD delivery. It will offer things like plug-and-play VoIP, video conferencing and security cameras. The network can provide an ecosystem for IPTV and this presents a considerably opportunity. Also you can do things like remote teleworking.” Many of these services and applications are things that WiMAX simply cannot support.

    Jamii Telecom’s stated aim is to “bulletproof the future” and it has been doing trials for 18 months with 200 households, all in Nairobi:”These people are so happy with the service that they don’t want to be cut off as we put up the new network.” The vendor for the project is Chinese-owned ZTE. The aim is to invest US$15 million in stages, targeting 100,000 households and to have the service ready to launch in Q2, 2011. It will cost between US$100-150 to connect each household. Rates will be benchmarked against prevailing rates which are currently between US$5,000-7,000 for between 512 kbps to 1 mbps:”The most expensive component of building the network is the civil works.”

    It sees itself as a “transport company” carrying other people’s signals, rather than a vertically integrated company offering content as well as networks. It is in discussion with DStv and others on the content side and has a relationship with Safaricom to deliver data that is causing some nervousness in the market. But Kamau says:”Our philosophy is open access. It’s a whole new market and it needs a new philosophy. It’s a mass market that needs a head-end, a call centre and a web portal to deliver.”

    In the other corner of this particular ring is Wananchi led by long-time industry veteran Richard Bell. It has rolled out an HFC cable network which will has already passed 45,000 households in Nairobi and the this figure will rise to 100,000 in three years time. The ultimate target is a million households by 2015. According to Bell:”The HFC network can deliver 250 channels, 50 in HD and 120 mbps into every household.”

    In technology terms, the strategy also has two other prongs to reach those beyond the cable network: WiMAX for voice and data and DTH satellite for television:”Half our channels will be in HD and we’re enhancing HD on our satellite platform.”

    Wananchi’s strategy differs from Jamii in that it sees content as the cornerstone for its success and has its own content division:”We will be offering 10 new channels for general African entertainment, documentary and sports. These will be launched between September and December of this year. We’re offering the first multi-channel African content since M-Net. Our strategy is around localizing content and we have a platform to produce our own content and it won’t be copied in a hurry. So our mission is both to find and make rich local content”.

    “We’ve made a decision not to go after premium sports rights as we believe the market will always want alternatives. We’re going to go out of our way to be strong in the family and childrens’ space. South Africa’s Top TV is making significant inroads into that market and Nigeria’s HiTV is still getting subs on a different positioning. Women are the decision-makers and the education of children is the biggest draw.”

    The Programming Group is headed up by Hannelei Bekker, a South African who formerly worked for Telkom Media and the Retail Group is headed by Peter Reinertz who used to be at Orange Kenya:”Currently we’re doing double play (voice and Internet) and triple play (adding television) will come on stream in Q3 this year.” It also plans to roll out a similar networks in Dar es Salaam and Kampala. So far it has invested US$120 million:”It’s an infrastructure business with a need for continuous additional investment.”

    It is a sign of how fast the market is changing that two seasoned independents have seized the initiative by investing in the high bandwidth space.

    Correction: Telegeography last week published a story suggesting that Vodacom was taking over Lap Green. This was based on an article in issue 393 published over two years ago (which was picked up by New Times, Rwanda) that was denied by both parties at the time. We are happy to make this clear to our readers.

    News announcement: This week on Balancing Act’s new Web TV Channel

    Do not miss our Web TV Channel which highlights recent interviews with top telecoms personalities. There are interviews in both English and French:

    Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore on customer care shortfalls, its local record label and LTE:
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#grid/uploads

    iHub founder Erik Hersman on creating an ICT entrepreneur community in Kenya and elsewhere on the continent
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#p/u/78/BUlgKrGqToc

    John Kamau of Kenya’s Jamii Telecom on Sub-Saharan Africa’s first Fibre-To-The-Home network
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#p/u/32/1ygqFP-VXJ0

    Eric Kamau of True African on dodgy practices in the SMS market in Uganda and on the banking products they are selling
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#p/u/74/ppb3C8KSvKY

    Reg Swart, Fundamo on M-Money services in Africa
    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=BalancingActAfrica#p/u/17/0gHelksND38

    NOTE:

    If you want to receive daily news tweets from around the continent, please follow us on Twitter:

    In English: @BalancingActAfr
    In French: @sylvainbeletre

    If you are putting out information about your company on Twitter, please send us your details so that we can follow you.

More

  • 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011
    7-9 March 2011, Cape Town, South Africa Venue BMW Pavilion, V&A Waterfront

    Our 5th Africa Economic Forum 2011 (AEF-2011) in Cape Town at the BMW-Imax Theatre, with Africa Exhibition is a landmark Conference on Africa and significant business networking occasion for the top corporate players active in, across and involved with the development of the African continent - Cape-to-Cairo, with Governments and officials in key industries and state institutions.
    Contact: babette@glopac.com
    For further information visit here:

    Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East & Africa
    9 March  2011, Grand Millennium Hotel, Dubai

    Taking place on the 9th March 2011, the Cloud Computing World Forum Middle East and Africa is a Free-to-attend event and will feature all of the key players within the Cloud Computing and SaaS market providing an introduction, discussion and look into the future for the ICT industry. This one day conference will provide the most complete and comprehensive platform for the global Cloud Computing and SaaS industry. Register Free today and get inspiration on how to address your latest issues with advice from real-life end-user case studies and practical examples.
    For more information please visit here:  or contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.

    Broadband World Forum MEA
    14-15 March 2011, Dubai UAE

    The conference programme features 60+ visionary speakers presenting across keynote plenary sessions, 4 in-depth technology tracks and a Rural Coverage and Connectivity focus day.  Co-located to the conference is a 35+ stand technology exhibition showcasing some of the region’s latest cutting-edge broadband technologies, applications, solutions and services to hit the market. Limited FREE passes for operators and early booking discounts apply to all others.  Register with VIP code: BBM11BAA
    For further information visit here:

    ICT For Development in Africa – Sustaining The Momentum, Extending The Reach
    23-26 March 2011, Ota, Nigeria

    The conference will initiate research and practice agenda where ICTs will aid the academia, organizations - public and private and non-governmental to improve socio-economic conditions and directly benefit the disadvantaged in some manner.
    For further information visit here:

    Managed Services Growth Markets 2011
    4-5 April, Movenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE

    Now in its 4th year and attended by over 200 attendees in 2010, Informa Telecoms and Media’s Managed Services for Growth Markets event will take place on 4th - 5th April at the Moevenpick Jumeirah Beach, Dubai, UAE.With a proven track-record and repeat sponsorship from leading suppliers Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NokiaSiemens Networks and Motorola, this event is truly established as the ultimate meeting-place for the Managed Services industry in the growth markets.A 50% discount for operators ensures a high percentage operator attendance.  Extended break times and additional social functions will guarantee a further enhancement to the already unique networking opportunities. Informa’s Managed Services for Growth Markets conference is the only established event in the region, proven to deliver an industry focussed agenda, the highest level speakers, superior networking opportunities, and top class delegates year on year.
For more information visit here:

    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:

  • The President of Information Technology Association of Nigeria, (ITAN), Dr Jimson Olufuye has been appointed by United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) as a representative to the new Working Group on Internet Governance.

    Incumbent operator Tunisie Télécom has lost its boss. Montasser Ouaili resigned from his position as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the group. Mr. Ouaili sent, on Monday, January 31, 2011, an open letter to the Industry and Technology Minister.

    A Telecel Zimbabwe senior official has been arrested and deported for working illegally in the country while three Chinese from another telecommunications company were arrested for working without permits. The Telecel official, Simon Payne, was arrested by immigration officials last Friday and appeared before a Harare magistrate on Monday. He was fined US$1 000 or six months in prison for violating the Immigration Act for working in the country without a requisite permit.

    Shake up at NCC, as Juwah Redeploys Nine Directors

    In an effort to infuse new lease of life into the telecommunication regulatory house, the executive vice chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Eugene Juwah, reorganised the management, which saw some directors being moved.

    Conforming this, head, media and public relations at NCC, Reuben Muoka said the movement of directors to in the recent re-shuffle takes immediate effect.

    He said the latest redeployment of directors and the creation of a new department were done to refocus the commission, in line with the vision of the new management.

    The new changes announced through an official memo sent to the affected staff at the commission, showed that Engr. Maska Ubale, a deputy director, was drafted to head the compliance, monitoring and enforcement department; an area which Dr. Juwah said would receive a lot of attention in his regime as most of the issues confronting the industry are traced to poor level of compliance by the operators.

    Juwah also in the memo proclaimed the creation of a new department, projects office, which would oversee the implementation of the various project of the commission, including SIM Card registration, emergency communication centres and number portability among others.

    Abdullahi Maikano is to assume the head of the department and report directly to his office.

    Others affected in he redeployment include the swapping of positions between former director of policy, competition and economic analysis (PCEA), Mary Uduma, who was moved to head the consumer affairs department; while Lolia Emakpore now heads the PCEA.

    Former director of compliance and enforcement monitoring, Funlola Akiode, was also moved to head the department of corporate planning and strategy, while Efosa Idehen, an assistant director in corporate planning department, takes her place at the compliance monitoring and enforcement department to head the enforcement unit.

    Additionally, the assistant director, formally of the PCEA, Abubakar Yakubu, takes over at the corporate planning department as the head, consultancy unit of the department, whereas another assistant director, Augustine Odoh, formerly of the compliance monitoring department now heads the NCC's zonal office in Port Harcourt.

    Odoh takes over from Inatimi Spiff, an assistant director and formerly the head of the Port Harcourt Zonal Office who has been redeployed to the PCEA department.

    Okoh Aihe, formerly the head of the Corporate Services Unit of the Universal Services Provision Fund (USPF), moves over to the office of the executive vice chairman as the special assistant to the EVC on media.

    Daily Champion gathered that Dr. Juwah in the memo informed the affected staff that the "exercise is meant to re-energise the departments and functional lines of the commission to re-inject dynamism and functional mobility in the deployment of staff, geared towards making the workforce more rounded and challenges them to optimal performance."

  • ITU: HIPSSA CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

    Opened positions and requests for proposal:

     - G-3.1 (d) [WA]: Spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.1[WA].pdf

    - G-3.1 (d) [EA]: Spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.3[EA].pdf

    - G-3.3 (d) [CA]: Spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.2[CA].pdf

    - G-3.4 (d) [SA]: Spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.4[SA].pdf

    - G-3.5 (d) [INT]: International spectrum management expert specialized in cross-border coordination [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)

    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3.5[INT].pdf

    - G-3.6 (d) [PM]: Senior international spectrum management expert [EN] (Deadline February 11, 2011)
    click on the link below to download the application or copy the URL in your browser
    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-3%206[PM].pdf

    [HIPSSA/G-6] Call for Application related to ICT statistics

    The expert will be responsible for designing regional statistical reports about ICT/telecommunication indicators with a specific focus in regional organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa. These statistical reports shall include factsheets for each member country of the identified regional organisations and an aggregated and comparative view for each of the regions.

    To download the job description, please click on the link below or copy the URL in your browser: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/projects/ITU_EC_ACP/hipssa/tor/G-3/HIPSSA_G-6.1...

    For further information visit the ITU's website.

  • SEA-ME-WE and Alcatel-Lucent – North Africa
    The co-owners of the South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) international submarine cable system have selected Alcatel-Lucent and Ciena Corporation for a network expansion project. Alcatel-Lucent was selected for an upgrade to 40Gbps (40G) transmission of all submarine segments. Ciena was selected to supply optical switching equipment for all 16 cable landing sites as well as for 100Gbps (100G) transport for an upgrade of the terrestrial link connecting Alexandria to Suez in Egypt. The deployment will commence in the first quarter of 2011, providing a substantial capacity increase to the existing cable system (ultimate capacity of 2.4Tbps per fibre pair), which supports the delivery of high speed internet and other broadband-based services along the approximately 20,000km route connecting Europe to the Middle East and South East Asia.

telecoms

  • The African Union (AU) has unveiled its plans for a single standardized SIM card for all African mobile phone operators. According to AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Elham Ibrahim, a study on the introduction of a single African SIM card has been underway and is expected to be completed within a month. The Commission would then hold a validation workshop with the key industry players in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to agree on the technical details for the SIM card, which it hopes would reduce the cost of roaming phone services.

    According to AU’s Head of Telecommunication Division, Moctar Yedaly, funds for the assessment of the technical requirements to be fulfilled before the launch of the SIM are estimated at US$100,000.

    He added that the plan includes an agreement on revenue-sharing and the validity of prepaid airtime if the users of the single SIM card migrate to other operators in the various African countries. The AU is looking at the networks operated by the South African multinational MTN Group, which has operations in over 16 African countries.

    The AU is also working on the registration of the domain name dot Africa, which it hopes to register. Yedely noted that a taskforce has been established to work out the modalities of registering the dot Africa internet domain.

  • MTN has had its application for a 3G license in Swaziland rejected by the incumbent telco, the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC), which also managed the regulatory regime in the country.

    The phone company and the regulator did not say why the license was rejected. MTN's CEO, Ambrose Dlamini had said last year that the company was at an advanced stage in negotiations for a 3G license and had hoped to be awarded the license by the end of last year.

    MTN has been lobbying for an independent regulator for some years, saying that the combination of phone company and regulator causes obvious conflicts of interest. As we reported last year, MTN dropped its objection to SPTC building a fixed wireless network, in exchange for the government pressing ahead with splitting the phone company from its regulatory role.

    SPTC is also the majority shareholder of MTN Swaziland with 51% of the shares. Of the remainder, 30% is owned by South Africa's MTN and 19% by a local Swaziland Empowerment group.

  • Forced to comply with a government order to disrupt their own services, mobile operators have looked far from comfortable in Egypt. Last Friday, the Egyptian government ordered the country’s three mobile operators – Vodafone Egypt, Mobinil and Etisalat Misr – to blackout their services in selected parts of the country. The government’s objective was to stifle the opposition that has rocked the regime in recent days. Protesters used mobile networks (as well as the internet and social networks) to organise the large-scale demonstrations that have threatened the position of President Hosni Mubarak. By Saturday, the three operators were able to resume service, although there have been subsequent rumours that another suspension might be imposed by the government.

    The mobile phone networks have fared better than the internet which has been closed down for longer by the government. In fact, Google has announced a special service that allows Egyptians to send Twitter messages by voicemail. However while bypassing the blocked internet, the new service would still be undone by another phone blackout.

    Vodafone emphasised how it had no choice – either technically or legally – but to follow the government’s order last week. The company said in a statement: “We would like to make it clear that the authorities in Egypt have the technical capability to close our network...It has been made clear to us that there were no legal or practical options open to Vodafone, or any of the mobile operators in Egypt, but to comply with the demands of the authorities." The company also introduced another dimension to the debate by mentioning its staff whose “safety” is the company’s “other priority”.

    It should be noted that although Vodafone Egypt is 55 percent owned by the operator itself, the remaining stake is held by state-controlled Telecom Egypt. France Telecom, which is the largest shareholder in Mobinil, spoke to its Egyptian customers rather than an international audience, when it emphasised how the authorities had taken “technical measures” to prevent it from offering a service. Etisalat, the majority shareholder in Etisalat Misr, made a statement too that it had been told to suspend service by the government.

    At other times, Egypt has been a less stressful place to work. In the third quarter of 2010 (the most recent period for which figures are available) Vodafone led the market with record-breaking net additions of 2.4 million, according to figures from Wireless Intelligence. Mobinil, also breaking its quarterly record, made 2.3 million net additions, said the research firm. Meanwhile Etisalat had to settle for merely gaining its best results for nearly a year, a total of 260,000 net additions.

  • Jean Pierre Biyiti-bi Essam unveiled his 2011 plan of action Friday while receiving New Year Wishes. Government during the ongoing fiscal year plans to set up 120 community telecommunication centres nationwide and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MINPOSTEL) is determined to take additional measures to step up telecommunications, at reduced cost.

    MINPOSTEL boss, Jean Pierre Biyiti-bi Essam, reiterated the commitment to strive for excellence last Friday January 28, 2011 as he received best wishes for 2011 from his staff during a colourful and crowd-pulling ceremony on the campus of the Yaounde School of Posts and Telecommunications.

    Drawing the ministry's balance sheet for 2011, MINPOSTEL's Secretary General, Edouard Abbah, said strides were recorded especially with the national optical fibre and the Central African Backbone projects which, he said, greatly improved the quality of telecommunications.

    Control, he added, was also made in the use of mobile telephones with a call on users to register their numbers as well as order set in the use of air frequencies. The country's postal services were also revived with the appointment of a new management team at CAMPOST and the bringing in of a French international postal company, SOFREPOST, to give technical boost to CAMPOST activities.

internet

  • The US$600-million West African Cable System (WACS) linking parts of Africa to Europe has reached the shores of Namibia. Local telecommunications operator, Telecom Namibia, partner in the intercontinental project through the WACS consortium, is ready to connect the fibre-optic cable to its network grid nationwide.

    The WACS consortium consists of 12 companies: Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, Congo Telecom, MTN, Office Congolais des Postes et Télécommunications, Portugal Telecom/Cabo Verde Telecom, Tata Communications/Neotel, Telecom Namibia, Telkom SA, Togo Tele-com and Vodacom.

    The landing station in Namibia is Swakopmund where Telecom has already established infrastructure to route the under-sea cable to its networks.

    It will connect Namibia to Europe through its landing station in Swakopmund, similarly Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, and Portugal. It will also provide Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo and the Republic of Congo with the first direct access to the global submarine cable communication network.

    WACS, which was initially supposed to end in Portugal but has now been extended to the United Kingdom, will provide mega spaces of broadband to Africa and enable the continent reliable, faster and cost-effective connectivity, says Telecom Managing Director Frans Ndoroma.

    Ndoroma, joined by Information and Communication Minister, Joel Kaapanda, recently assessed Namibia's readiness when they visited the coastal region to see the progress being made on the cable. Paris-based French company, Alcatel-Lucent, is responsible for installing the 2000-kilometre line on the west African coast.

    It would be operating at 40 gigabit per second (40G), to increase the overall design capacity from 3.8 Terabit/s (Tbit/s) to 5.12 Tbit/s, equal to the download of 8 million MP3 files or more than 8000 DVDs in 60 seconds.

    This would bolster connectivity along the Africa-Europe route, by enabling improved communications and Internet services that are crucial for social and economic development, revealed Kaapanda.

    Commercial service is expected before the second quarter of this year.

  • Glo has announced a reduction in the price of its 3G Internet modem from N8,500 to N5,000 (US$32), making it the most affordable product of its kind in the market. The modems are available in all Gloworld Shops nationwide and some selected dealers.

    The company also reduced the monthly rental fee for its Always Max plan and increased the data volume for the package. Details of the revised offer show that subscribers to Always Max package will now enjoy a 25% reduction in rental fee as they will henceforth pay N7,500 instead of N10,000 charged previously. In addition to the reduced tariff, the data volume for the package which gives all-day Internet access for 30 days has been increased from 5GB to 6GB.

    Glo also announced that data volume on the G300 pack with 90 days validity has been increased by over 100% from 4GB to 9GB. This enables subscribers to the package to download much more than they did before now at no additional cost.

    The revised packages give more value to the customer and are the best 3G internet packages in the industry in terms of value and pricing, stated Wunmi Jewesimi, Head of Glo 3G/Blackberry Sales.

    "The Always Max subscriber makes a savings of N2,500 every month and is able to do more with the increased data volume. The G300 customer has also been empowered to do much more with the additional 5 gigabytes," Jewesimi added.

    Other packages on the Glo 3G Plus High Speed Internet offer include the Always Min package which gives the user a month all-day access to the internet for N5,000, the Always Day pack with a fee of N500 for all day access for 24 hours and the G100 which has a monthly fee of N6,000 with 100 hours, all day access.

  • After public outrage over the sell of Somalia’s domain to a Japanese firm by Somali officials, the Ministry of Information denied recent reports saying that a Japanese company has purchased the Internet domain of Somalia.

    Speaking at a recent news conference he held in Mogadishu, the minister of information, posts and telecommunication, Abdikarin Hassan Jama, denied that the Internet domain of Somalia had been sold to a Japanese company. Saying those reports to that effect were baseless. “That’s not true and we as Somali government cannot allow such grubby deals” he said.

    Similarly, the Director General of the Ministry of Information, Posts and Telecommunication, Eng Ahmad Mohammad Adan, who spoke on the occasion, said that the previous government had signed a contract with a Japanese company which, he said, maintains the Somali Internet. However, he said there are people being trained for the TFG government of Somalia and their training was going on in Nairobi, Kenya.

    However, there have been allegations in recent times that the Internet domain of Somalia had been selling to a Japanese company although the minister strongly denied it.

computing

  • Local technology firms are cashing in on demand from the financial sector as banks move to automate their processes and streamline operations.

    While the development has seen a number of institutions whittle down their employee numbers as technology takes over key functions, local technology firms have recorded a corresponding upswing in the number of requests for customised software solutions.

    Some of the companies that are positioning themselves to take advantage of the spending surge are Seven Seas Technologies, Alliance Technologies, Turnkey Africa and Craft Silicon, who are betting on a continued automation drive by Kenyan firms to create more demand for locally developed solutions.

    "Increased confidence in local developers has meant that our offering has come of age. Banks are now localising their software products and we expect that the continued rise in spending will continue to benefit local software houses, said Patrick Njenga of Alliance Technologies.

    Most Kenyan banks have in the past two years introduced electronic banking products that have not only increased the efficiency of transactions but also significantly reduced the number of people going to the banking halls for services.

    This has called for a revamp of their core banking systems--with some spending between Sh600 and Sh750 million to comply with new regulations or to offer new services--reducing the need for paper work and back room offices Increasingly, the drive to automate branches has rendered a number of workers redundant.

    Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data shows that banks increased their branch count by 12 per cent in 2009 compared to 20 per cent and 28 per cent in 2008 and 2007 respectively with analyst predicting a growth of less than 10 per cent this year.

    These developments have positioned local and international software firms in a position to reap from heavy spending by banks, with many taking on international firms in the race to win business from financial firms.

    "We expect more localisation of global approaches to fit the Kenyan context. Out of this will also come capital infusion into local firms via private equity investors, and potentially strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions may happen which will enable local businesses to cash in on their investments and generate more cash-flow into the Kenyan economy," said Michael Macharia, CEO of Seven Seas Technologies.

    Last year, Craft Silicon, run by Kamal Budhabati, raked in a record Sh600 million, with the majority of earnings coming from its software development while the remaining 10 percent of its revenues come from installations, support and maintenance services. The company expects that number to increase exponentially over the next 12 months.

    The most popular software suites being bought by Kenyan institutions are those that can automate core banking systems, manage risk in various processes and reduce paperwork across the operation.

    For many local banks, the spending is being driven by the regulatory effect of Basel standards, the set of recommendations created by the Bank for International Settlements to streamline global banking operations, which has pushed more investment in technology solutions

    In addition, the last five years has seen a number of realignments in the financial services sector through mergers and acquisitions, calling for integrated services that merge bank functions across regions and borders.

    Local banks like Kenya Commercial Bank have extended their presence regionally in countries like Southern Sudan, while others like CFC Bank who merged with the South African Standard Bank to form CFC Stanbic a few years ago leaned heavily on technology solutions to integrate processes across operations.

    "We are now able to introduce new products rapidly and boost our capabilities in areas such as business intelligence and automation of our trade finance and treasury operations. We will count on a new system developed by Misys to provide the technological support needed to expand our presence across more market segments not just in Kenya, but across the region," said Gideon Muriuki, Group Managing Director & CEO, Co-operative Bank of Kenya.

    Recently, Misys, a global application software and services company, deployed an integrated BankFusion Universal Banking solution for Co-operative Bank that will cover retail banking, trade finance and treasury functions at the institution.

    Enhanced ICT platforms have helped banks to introduce internet and mobile banking services that enable customers to check their statements of accounts, make inquiries on status of cheques, cheque book requests, transfer of funds between designated accounts and make utility payments.

  • Nigeria Computer Society (NCS), the umbrella body for IT professionals in the country, has blamed the observed irregularities and difficulties encountered by Nigerians in the ongoing voter registration exercise, on the software deployed.

    Worried by the difficulties, which range from long delay in registration, non-functioning and low sensitivity of fingerprint scanners, insufficient ink to print voter's card, low battery back-up, over-heating and malfunctioning of computers, insufficient Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines, poor managerial skills in handling the machines by officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to the inability of INEC officials to test the machines for troubleshooting, NCS said the problems are more of software than computer hardware.

    President of NCS, Prof. Charles Uwadia, while addressing a press conference last weekend in Lagos on the performance of INEC in handling the voter registration, equally blamed INEC for not being transparent enough in its strategies for deploying IT for the entire electoral process.

    According to him, if INEC was transparent enough, it would have worked with IT professionals in the country for advice in key technical areas to avoid the problems currently being experienced.

    Uwadia faulted the type of software deployed and its specifications. Software, he said, remained the main driver of the hardware, and that once the specification of the software is wrong, it would affect the performance of the hardware itself.

    Linux, which is Open Source Software, does not have high security features needed for a nation's voter registration exercise, he said.

    He explained further that NCS offered to bring in its professional competence to bear, for free, and wrote INEC severally, but INEC turned down its letters, only to consult and employ the services of people who are not registered with or known by the computer professional body in the country.

    Such action, he said, was a violation of the ethics of the IT profession in the country and not tolerated anywhere in the world.

  • Technology firms, Computer Point and IBM, have signed an agreement aimed at improving Uganda's information and communication technology (ICT) to transform the country's business operations.

    "This partnership is a positive step in closing the ICT gap, especially among businesses operating in the East African Community. The move will speed up economic development across the region through our enhanced services," said Anil Kuruvilla, the Computer Point managing director.

    The partnership mandates Computer Point, an IT systems integrator, to offer IT solutions including infrastructure, application maintenance and development to willing financial institutions, the Government, telecoms and other corporate companies in Uganda on behalf of IBM.

    Tony Mwai, the IBM country general manager for East Africa, said the alliance will leverage the firm's IT expertise to support Ugandan businesses.

    On September 2010, IBM and Bharti Airtel signed a 10 year contract, where IBM will consolidate and transform the 16 different IT environments across Airtel's African operations into an integrated system.

    Mwai says IBM's cutting edge technology can unite business and IT, offering seamless access to IT services and resources, and cohesively integrating and managing the exploding volume of information.

    "IBM's goal is all about making businesses and IT environments ready to be part of a planet that is becoming smarter. It will do this by helping with unique technologies and services for virtualisation, energy efficiency, data management and business resiliency," he added.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • South Africa-based Vodacom Group has reported consolidated revenues of ZAR16.03 billion (USD2.24 billion) for the three months ended 31 December 2010. This figure represents an increase of 3.9% year-on-year. Vodacom’s domestic unit, Vodacom South Africa accounted for ZAR14.07 billion in sales, or 87.7% of the group’s total quarterly revenues. The telecoms firm has yet to release figures for EBITDA or net profit. Of Vodacom South Africa’s revenues, mobile voice traffic was responsible for the lion’s share of the takings, generating ZAR7.43 billion, whilst mobile interconnection fees contributed ZAR1.78 billion, mobile data ZAR1.75 billion and mobile messaging ZAR644 million. Data exhibited the largest increase year-on-year, growing 50.5%.

    In operational terms, Vodacom South Africa remains the firm’s largest unit by subscribers, although its customer base dropped 6.6% year-on-year, to 25.3 million. However, any losses have been offset by the company’s enlarged post-paid subscriber base which grew 14.8% year-on-year. Elsewhere, Vodacom units in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho all increased their subscriber bases in the twelve months ended 31 December. Lesotho contributed the largest proportion of growth, increasing its customer base 28.6% to 823,000. Tanzania grew its subscriber base 26%, to end the year with 8.7 million subscribers, whilst Mozambique weighed in with 2.9 million customers (up 27.7%) and Democratic Republic of Congo 3.8 million subscribers (up 9.2%). Vodacom Group ended the calendar year with a consolidated wireless subscriber base of 41.6 million.

    Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys commented: ‘Our strategy of focusing on operational delivery and offering increased value to customers has paid off with group customers increasing by more than two million to 41.6 million. In South Africa, the data business was a star performer, with growth in mobile connect cards and smartphones driving a 33.8% increase in overall data revenue. The international operations also continued to respond well to management actions with service revenue growth of 13.2%’.

  • The pattern of consumption in Uganda is increasingly being dictated by mobile phone usage, shifting emphasis away from food. As a result, the consumer price index was restructured to accommodate communication as a separate basket. A market basket is a collection of goods and services. Communication was previously part of the transport and communication basket. Food weighs 28% in the consumer price index. Communication, which hardly existed in the index a decade a go, weighs 6%.

    Communication comprises mobile phone air time, fixed line telephones and Internet services. Other components of the consumer price index include housing, water and electricity, clothing and foot wear, recreation and culture. Others are restaurants and hotels, health, furnishing and household equipment, alcohol beverages, tobacco, education, narcotics and miscellaneous goods and services.

    David Katende,who runs a small business in Kampala, says several years ago, he was not spending on airtime. "Now I have two mobile phones. One for Warid and the other for MTN. I spend between sh5,000 to sh10,00 on airtime daily. However, I plan for all the money I use to buy airtime, but on a busy day when I have to make a lot of calls, I spend about sh25,000," he explains. Katende says he ensures that all his phones have airtime in case of an emergency.

    The reduction in mobile phone call charges last October caused a major fall in inflation rates. The effect of this reduction will keep inflation low for the whole of 2011 even if there are pressures pushing it up, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) officials have predicted. In October, there was a 46% reduction in call charges because of the stiff and growing competition among the telecom firms. "During that month, we discovered that the consumer price index fell by 0.3% and, hence reducing the October inflation rate.This resulted in the annual inflation rate falling by 0.1%," Ronald Ssombwe, a senior statistician UBOS told Business Vision.

    In 2009, the annual average headline inflation rate stood at 13%, but fell to 4% in 2010. Ssombwe said mobile phone call charges contributed about nine percentage points to the reduction of the inflation rate between 2009 and 2010.

    Twelve months ago, the industry average mobile call rate was sh11 per second, which fell to sh5 and then to sh3 per second. Orange, Airtel and Warid have promised to keep their rates at three shillings per second. Warid is offering sh1 per second from 6:00am to 6:00pm.

    For the short message service (SMS), Airtel is offering unlimited short messages to its subscribers for sh200 per day and sh50 to other networks.

    Ssombwe says the impact of the telecommunications sector can no longer be underrated in the consumer price index.

    "There was excitement among various stakeholders, especially the customers, but airtime sellers were not happy with the result of the competition," he explains.

    He, however, revealed that last November inflation had started rising. "Although it went up, it was supressed by the fall in call charges," Ssobwe says.

    He adds that this effect would take a year to phase out, and that inflation was rising at a declining rate. There will be a one-year effect on inflation because of this drop in call charges. There have been questions whether the effect of the one-month drop of charges has had any effect on the economy.

    "The new innovations in the telecom sector, like giving customers airtime on credit, may drive the call charges even lower. "If we get more competitors in the sector, it will also drive the charges lower. It will have a direct impact in reducing the total inflation rate."

  • Vox Telecom, listed on the JSE’s AltX exchange, is becoming well known for its inventive annual reports, which each year resemble a popular magazine. The 2010 annual report, released this week, is no exception. The report, called Vox Stuff, has been designed by agency Xfacta to look like an edition of the popular gadgets magazine, Stuff.

    Previous annual reports have mimicked magazines such as Time (“Team”), National Geographic (“Vox Geographic”) and Sports Illustrated (“Vox Illustrated”).

    The latest annual report, printed on high-quality glossy paper and edited by Vox’s head of marketing, Clayton Timcke, features a full-page spread of the company’s directors hamming it up while playing Guitar Hero.

    CEO Tony van Marken is seen deejaying in the picture, with fellow executives Douglas Reed and Jacques du Toit hamming it up on guitar. Tony van Marken, Jacques du Toit and Gary Sweidan ham it up.

    There are the usual directors’ reports, but even these are done in a fun way, with a conversation between Van Marken and Reed laid out as if the two men were writing on each other’s walls on Facebook.

    However, Vox’s 2010 report has been toned down slightly from the material used in the real Stuff magazine, which is known for its covers featuring scantily clad women. The Vox report has a beautiful model — Jennifer Bettencourt from the Heads modelling agency — on its cover, but she has more clothing on than the models that appear in the real Stuff. That’s perhaps not surprising given that this is, after all, still an annual report of financial results. We don’t want the bean counters to get too hot under the collar, do we?

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Subscribers with Airtel Africa in Tanzania will soon be able to make online purchases from MasterCard merchants around the world, thanks to an initiative by the mobile communication firm in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank and MasterCard Worldwide. The three firms have partnered to provide a virtual card that operates off a wallet residing on a mobile phone.

    According to figures published by Ghana’s telecoms regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA), fixed and mobile penetration in the country reached 75.4% at the end of last year, up from around 71% at the start of 2010. The watchdog’s figures show that the primary driver of growth is mobile usage: the cellular penetration rate stood at 74.2% at the same date, with more than 17.436 million registered SIM cards. Mobile growth in the second half of last year came despite a compulsory SIM registration scheme, which entered into effect on 1 July, and which was expected to dampen growth for the year, compared with 2009. The scheme is also expected to have pruned out a number of inactive and/or unregistered mobile users.

    Airtel Zambia, the recently acquired unit of India’s Bharti Airtel, is planning to invest up to USD150 million on the development of new infrastructure with a view to bolstering its customers, according to Bloomberg, which cites the former’s managing director, Fayaz King.

    Green Network Sierra Leone has gone live. Green Network Chief Executive Officer, Elmabruk S. Elgembari, said they were committed in partnering with the government to bring world-class telecommunications services to Sierra Leoneans. The operator currently has approximately 86 sites in the city and 42 in the provinces.

    Subscribers that are hoping to port their GSM numbers from one network to another and still retain their original numbers, under the Number Portability platform, may have to wait for more time before enjoying such service. The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) say number portability across all networks must wait until Nigeria completes her SIM registration and obtains a national database of users.

    The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ)  could soon crack down on mobile phone operators following numerous complaints from the public about the quality of services, vis-à-vis costs, they are being given. POTRAZ is currently carrying out its own evaluation of the services on offer. Complaints by mobile technology users have become commonplace, with people decrying crossed lines, dropped calls, slow Internet connectivity, the cost of services and network unavailability.

    In Tanzania, Sasatel has launched a new promotion. The company will offer a new price of TS39,900/- (US$26( for the internet modem to new individual customers while business firms will have to pay a new price of TS179,000/- for the wireless Internet router. Sasatel was licensed to provide wireless telecommunication services in June 2008 and it officially launched its CDMA technology for commercial operation in June 2009.

    Zimbabwe's Barnfords Financial Services has partnered with UK-based WorldRemit to launch a new Internet-based money transfer service for Zimbabweans living abroad.

Digital Content

  • Cellphone banking has surged in the past year, as South African consumers gain confidence in their handheld devices as a tool for both communications and efficiency.

    Among urban cellphone users, 44% now use cellphone banking services, compared to 27% a year earlier, according to the Mobility 2011 research project conducted by World Wide Worx and backed by First National Bank. In smaller centres and towns, 27% now use cellphone banking, suggesting that rural areas lag urban users by about a year in take-up of these services. In total, 37% of South Africans in urban and rural areas aged 16 and above now use cellphone banking.

    "Our predominant customer base resides within the mainstream market: 65% of FNB's 2.6 million customer base earns less than R100 000 per annum and are between the ages of 18 - 40 years old. Cellphone Banking is becoming the preferred alternative as people across the board are driven by the 'anywhere, anytime' concept of banking." says Ravesh Ramlakan, CEO FNB Cellphone Banking Solutions

    Usage of cellphone banking peaks in the 26-34 age group, at 41%, and drops to 11% in the over-45 group. Male usage far outpaces that of females, at 56% against 44%. While education is a factor in usage of cellphone banking, with 43% of cellphone banking users having matric, and 38% with post-matric qualifications, the biggest proportion of cellphone banking users - no less than 27% - earn less than a R1000 a month.

    The vast majority of cellphone banking customers still use the basic services, such as balance enquiries (78%) and notifications (58%).

    However, transactional services are for the first time major components of cellphone banking services, with half of respondents buying airtime, 24% paying accounts, and 17% transferring funds between accounts. Emerging Mobile commerce transactions such as purchases and sending money to another persons' cellphone are also appearing on the radar screen for the first time. 12% of cellphone banking users also sending money to other individuals, and 11% making a purchase via their cellphone.

    For most of these services, urban respondents are far more likely to have made use of them, except in the case of sending airtime to someone: 33% of rural users of cellphone banking have done so, versus 22% of urban users.

    "Products like the FNB eWallet are allowing us to bridge the gap between the banked and the unbanked and address the real need of access to financial services. This also allows for the transfer of cash and airtime to be done safely and easily." says Yolande van Wyk CEO of FNB Smart Services.

    Most of this growth in usage comes off the back of another surprising finding: more than 80% of cellphone banking users are satisfied with the security of cellphone banking. The proportion of urban users slightly outweighs that of rural users, but not significantly so.

    "Previous studies had shown satisfaction with security as below 60%, indicating that market education and experience has made the difference in uptake," says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx.

    The Mobility 2011 project comprises two reports, namely the Mobile Consumer in SA 2011 and the Mobile Internet in SA 2011. It is based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of South Africans, conducted towards the end of 2010.

  • Mobile phone firms offering money transfer services will be required to lower their charges as a pre-condition for being allowed to send higher amounts in a single transaction, the banking sector regulator has said.

    Central Bank of Kenya governor Njuguna Ndung'u on Monday said that mobile phone operators who have applied for CBK's approval to raise their transaction thresholds have been told to cut their costs.

    Prof Ndung'u said the requirement is meant to promote inclusion of a majority of Kenyans -- including low income earners- in the formal financial system.

    Safaricom announced last year that it had doubled the daily transaction limits on its M-Pesa service to Sh140,000 from Sh70,000. Users of the service are only however allowed to send up to Sh70,000 in a single transaction, meaning that they incur double transaction charges to send the daily limit.

    Safaricom currently charges a maximum of Sh300 to withdraw between Sh50,001 and Sh70,000 for registered users and Sh400 for non-registered users. The telecommunication company's CEO, Bob Collymore, said that the company had been working closely with the CBK on transaction charges for M-Pesa.

    "Safaricom works closely with the Central Bank of Kenya, in determining the pricing for M-Pesa services. We have regular reviews of M-Pesa and we will take into account the Governor's concerns going forward," said Collymore in an e-mail response.

    He said that the company had reviewed its charges following the change of upper and lower limits of transactions. "We did (revise charges for various transaction amounts) following a revision of the upper and lower limits on transactions and the amount that can be held as M-Pesa in one's account," said Collymore.

    The revision of the transaction amounts showed that a customer can keep up to Sh100,000 in their account while doing a maximum daily transaction of Sh140,000. Customers who send the new lower limit amount of Sh50 are charged Sh15 for withdrawal.

    Safaricom declined to disclose the new charges it intends to implement. Airtel and Yu, the other mobile phone operators offering money transfer services, are yet to announce changes of their transaction limits.

Edition Française, 10 février 2011, No 151

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Editorial

  • Le nombre de stations de base utilisant des énergies renouvelables en Afrique reste faible. Seulement 3.1% du nombre total de déploiements à travers le monde (9,558) sont situés en Afrique. Cette annonce tombe tandis que la presse rapportait la semaine dernière une augmentation alarmante du prix du pétrole brut avec le baril de brut Brent franchissant le seuil des 101 dollars US pour la première fois depuis octobre 2008.

    Un grand nombre de stations de base en Afrique nécessitent deux générateurs et dans certains cas leurs réservoirs peuvent contenir parfois jusqu’à trois mois d’approvisionnement en fuel. Des stations de base dans les régions plus reculées doivent être approvisionnées par bateau ou par chariot et dans les pays les plus grands, les opérateurs gère une importante flotte de camions pour assurer l’approvisionnement en fuel de leurs stations de base.

    Isabelle Gross, l’auteur du rapport publié par Balancing Act intitulé « Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy » explique 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. Isabelle Gross souligne aussi que « l’ARPU voix va continuer son érosion par le bas en raison de la baisse continue des prix des appels téléphoniques et l’acquisition de nouveaux clients disposant de revenus plus bas. La pression de côté du chiffre d’affaires va aller en augmentant pour les opérateurs mobiles ». Au Ghana par exemple, l’ARPU voix est passé de 17 dollars US en 2006 à 7 dollars US en 2010.

    Le rapport indique que lorsqu’il s’agit de réduire les dépenses énergétiques « il n’y a de solutions clef en main mais cela peut être fait ». La meilleure approche consiste d’abord à voir comment gérer les stations de base de façon plus efficace sur le plan énergétique. En d’autres termes, il s’agit de l’approche « système D » qui consiste à modifier ou à re-paramétrer certains équipements dans la station de base pour réaliser des économies d’énergie sans avoir besoin de réaliser des investissements. Le système de refroidissement est par essence un bon point de départ parce qu’il peut représenter jusqu’à 35% de la consommation totale d’électricité d’une station de base. Cette part peut augmenter à 50% s’il y a moins d’émetteurs utilisés. Des opérateurs mobiles comme Vodacom, Orange ou MTN ont commencé à expérimenter des solutions de refroidissement naturel en combinaison ou non avec par exemple une augmentation de la température dans la cabine de la station de base.

    En parallèle à l’analyse détaillée des différentes systèmes mis en place par les opérateurs mobiles pour gérer plus efficacement leurs stations de base, le rapport présente aussi les solutions « vertes » disponibles sur le marché et qui permettraient aux opérateurs mobiles de réduire encore plus leur facture énergétique. Il y a de plus en plus de solutions à disposition utilisant des énergies renouvelables (énergie solaire ou éolienne, solutions fonctionnant avec des biocarburants, pile à combustible à l’hydrogène) mais toutes impliquent au départ un investissement considérable en capital.

    Le rapport propose une analyse commerciale des solutions « vertes » pour les stations de base tout en donnant des exemples d’opérateurs mobiles africains qui ont commencé à déployer des projets d’énergie renouvelable pour alimenter leurs stations de base. Le rapport établit que l’énergie solaire en conjonction avec un générateur diesel requiert le plus faible investissement en capital. Dans ce cas de figure, les coûts d’exploitation seront réduits (baisse de la facture carburant) mais pas totalement éliminés. Une combinaison énergie solaire et éolienne supporté par des batteries permet de réduire au maximum les frais d’exploitation mais représente l’investissement en capital le plus lourd.

    Selon l’auteur du rapport, l’approche « système D » permettra de réduire les coûts d’exploitation mais seulement jusqu’à un certain niveau. Pour réduire d’avantage ces coûts, il va falloir faire un investissement en capital pour soit acheter des équipements plus efficaces soit pour déployer des solutions d’énergie renouvelable. La décision financière revient en fin de compte aux opérateurs mobiles et dépend de leur stratégie d’investissements et ainsi que de leur vision quant à leur rôle au long terme.

    Ce rapport de 45 pages contient 5 illustrations, 4 tableaux, 8 graphiques et 4 cartes. Il se termine par un annuaire de sociétés offrant des équipements et des services pour améliorer l’efficacité énergétique des stations de base ainsi que les coordonnées d’entreprises proposant des solutions utilisant des énergies renouvelables. Cet annuaire sera bien à toute personne qui va se trouver en charge de ces questions dans l’avenir.

    Pour plus de détails cliquez sur le lien suivant visitez:

    NTIC en Afrique: Ne manquez pas nos dernières vidéos sur notre Web TV qui
    vous apportent des interviews récentes de personnalités d'Afrique et de la
    Diaspora. Ces entrevues sont en anglais et en français:

    Télécoms en Afrique
    visitez:

    Les Data Centers et le Cloud en Afrique
    visitez:

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    visitez:

    Stratégie Web en Afrique
    visitez:

  • Au Sénégal, ça a été une affaire brulante tout au long de l’été dernier. Il y a deux mois de ça Madagascar s’est aussi mis en tête que le contrôle du traffic international entrant était une « poule aux œufs d’or » et qu’il fallait absolument ne pas la  laisser s’échapper (voir l’article dans le numéro précédent « Madagascar: Le Ministre s’entête avec son projet de passerelle unique » au lien suivant visite:). Voila maintenant que la Mauritanie entre dans la danse aussi. Ci-dessous un extrait de l’avis d’appel à manifestation publié le 23 janvier dernier par l’ARE, l’autorité de régulation de Mauritanie (pour lire l’avis complet cliquez sur le lien suivant visite:)

    La question à mille francs qui suit: Quelles sont selon vous les sociétés qui vont répondre à l’avis d’appel à manifestation ? Envoyez vos suggestions à igross@balancingact-africa.com.

    « Avis d’appel à manifestation d’intérêt pour la fourniture, l’installation et la mise en service d’un système de contrôle du trafic international entrant et de lutte contre la fraude, au siège de l’Autorité de Régulation

    Par décret N°2010-268 en date du 12 décembre 2010, le Gouvernement de la République Islamique de Mauritanie a institué un seuil minimum pour la tarification de la terminaison d’appel des communications téléphoniques internationales entrantes en Mauritanie et a chargé l’Autorité de Régulation (ARE) de son application.

    Dans ce cadre, l’ARE lance le présent appel international à manifestation d’intérêt à l’intention des entreprises réputées de gestion des passerelles internationales, possédant une expérience démontrable ainsi que l’expertise et la capacité technique nécessaires pour assister l’ARE en tant que partenaire stratégique.

    Cette assistance portera sur le développement et la mise en place des mesures administratives, procédurales et techniques ainsi que des plateformes. Elle permettra ainsi à l’ARE de superviser, de contrôler et de collecter efficacement les données relatives au trafic international entrant, de facturer et de calculer les différents revenus afférents. Cette assistance portera également sur la mise en place d’un système de lutte contre la fraude téléphonique. »

  • La nouvelle loi portant Code des télécommunications, adoptée par l'Assemblée nationale, vise notamment à changer le statut juridique de l'Agence de régulation des Télécommunications et des Postes (ARTP) qui doit devenir à terme une autorité administrative indépendante, selon le ministère de tutelle.

     Le ministre de la Communication, des Télécommunications et des TIC Moustapha Guirassy a présenté vendredi devant l'Assemblée nationale le projet de loi portant Code des Télécommunications. Le texte a été adopté par les députés réunis en séance plénière.

    Le nouveau Code des télécommunications devrait permettre à l'ARTP de disposer de "moyens financiers et humains lui permettant d'assurer ses missions, de manière impartiale, autonome et transparente par l'affectation des redevances et autres contreparties financières versées par les opérateurs pour l'exercice de leurs activités", précise l'exposé des motifs de ce projet de loi.

    D'une façon générale, la nouvelle loi vise à rendre le secteur des télécommunications et des technologies de l'information et de la communication conforme avec le droit communautaire UEMOA/CEDEAO.

    Le projet soumis aux députés met en exergue "les principaux aspects de la régulation des télécommunications, notamment la concurrence, l'interconnexion, l'accès/service universel, les ressources rares et la tarification", selon le document.

    Il permet en même temps une mise à jour des définitions technico-juridiques des termes utilisés et prend en compte de nouveaux domaines de la régulation dont l'affirmation du principe de la neutralité technologique de la règlementation des télécommunications et des TIC.

    APS
  • L'Agence de régulation des postes et des communications électroniques (Arpce) traite pour la presse de l'évolution du marché des télécommunications

    Yves Castanou, directeur général de l'Arpce, a animé le vendredi 4 février à Pointe-Noire un point de presse portant sur les thèmes suivants : « Le marché de la téléphonie mobile en 2010 », « La question de l'identification des abonnés mobiles » et « La question des pylônes ».

    Pour Sondé-Ndé, directeur de réseau et du service communications électroniques, l'Arpce a eu à organiser au cours de l'année 2010 plusieurs réunions à Brazzaville avec chaque sous-secteur des postes et communications électroniques. Elle a de même participé aux travaux d'exploitation au niveau de la Cémac visant à mettre en œuvre une réglementation unique, de sorte que toutes les communications électroniques de la zone soient considérées comme locales. De même, elle a maintes fois participé aux travaux de l'Union internationale des télécommunications.

    En terme de réalisations, souligne l'orateur, l'Arpce a élaboré et réalisé le plan national de numérotation à neuf chiffres, ainsi que le plan national des fréquences, dont la publication est prévue pour la semaine prochaine. Parlant du cadre qui doit être réglementé, Sondé-Ndé s'en est expliqué : « Il est impératif pour le Congo d'avoir un cadre réglementé pour nous permettre d'être en avance par rapport aux opérateurs du secteur, car l'absence de réglementation peut retarder l'arrivée des techniciens », a conclu l'orateur.

    Parlant de la fibre optique, le directeur indique que l'Arpce a depuis l'année dernière commencé la caractérisation du marché. Et plusieurs questions sont restées en suspens à propos de la réglementation de la fibre optique. Car, se demande l'orateur, dans quelles conditions sera-t-elle partagée, et dans quelles conditions un opérateur pourra-t-il se permettre d'utiliser ce réseau ?
    « Nous avons commencé 2011 avec le programme d'identification des abonnés, et nous comptons prochainement nous attaquer à la portabilité des numéros », a-t-il ajouté. Toujours dans le souci de faire mieux, l'Arpce va organiser la semaine prochaine à Brazzaville des rencontres avec les fournisseurs d'internet.

    Le marché de la téléphonie mobile est en pleine croissance, le nombre d'abonnés a augmenté de 26,51% entre 2009 et 2010, jusqu'à atteindre 3,646 millions en 2010. La même année, le taux de pénétration de la téléphonie mobile a gagné 17 points pour s'établir à 93,39%, contre 75,97% en 2009.

    À la fin de la rencontre, les deux orateurs ont souhaité voir les médias travailler avec eux la main dans la main dans le but de structurer, moderniser et dynamiser le secteur stratégique des postes et communications électroniques.

  • Le long procès des policiers accusés d'avoir assassiné le défenseur des droits de l'homme Floribert Chebeya se poursuit à Kinshasa. Les prévenus dans le box n'ont rien avoué, et les témoins ne disent pas grand-chose. Bref, on est encore loin de la vérité. A la recherche de preuves, l'accusation fait appel aux listings téléphoniques pour démêler les fils du complot.

     Dans ce procès, il n'y a quasiment que des policiers, dans le box bien sûr, mais aussi à la barre des témoins. Le problème est qu'ils ont tous tendance soit à se soutenir les uns les autres soit à avoir peur les uns des autres. C'est au prix de longs interrogatoires laborieux qu'on ne leur arrache que quelques bribes d'information.

    Le tribunal fait donc appel à la technologie de la téléphonie mobile pour savoir qui a appelé qui, à quelle heure, avant et après l'assassinat de Floribert Chebeya et de son chauffeur Fidèle Bazana. Des experts des sociétés de téléphonie mobile sont appelés à la barre. Chargés de longs listings d'appels, et sous serment, ils doivent décortiquer les coups de téléphone, émis ou reçus, à quelle heure, et combien de secondes.

    La technologie permet aussi de savoir dans quelle zone se trouvait un téléphone car, sur ces mêmes listings, on peut retrouver la trace des différentes antennes des réseaux. En RDC c'est encore plus compliqué qu'ailleurs car presque tout le monde a deux, voire trois portables suivant le nombre de sociétés de téléphonie, vous multipliez par le nombre d'accusés et de témoins. Cela aboutit à un exercice proche du casse-tête.

    RFI
  • M. Sami Zaoui, secrétaire d'Etat chargé des Technologies de la communication, a rencontré, hier, à Tunis, des représentants de la presse tunisienne, le but étant de présenter les priorités du secrétariat pour la période future et de faire le point sur les dossiers en cours d'étude.

     M. Zaoui s'est, principalement, attardé lors de cette rencontre sur les questions de libéralisation totale d'Internet, la mise en place d'une loi Internet, le renforcement de l'INT (Instance nationale des télécommunications) et sa restructuration.

    Il a, ainsi, tenu à rappeler que le principe était d'offrir un Internet libre, tout en respectant certaines règles, notamment l'interdiction de sites qui inciteraient à la violence et ceux dont le contenu serait contraire aux moeurs.

    Il a, par ailleurs, relevé que face à certaines revendications qui plaident pour une liberté totale de l'Internet, la solution idéale serait de proposer deux types d'accès, un accès libre pour les administrations et un accès contrôlé pour les familles. Le secrétaire d'Etat a noté que deux difficultés se posent à ce niveau. La première est d'ordre technique et se rattache au fait que les opérateurs nationaux n'ont point de techniques appropriées pour assurer ce contrôle, la seconde est économique, elle est inhérente au coût supplémentaire de cette opération de contrôle et qui serait lourde à supporter pour les utilisateurs.

    Evoquant la question de la sécurité informatique, il a souligné que l'ATI (Agence tunisienne d'internet) est sereine sur ce plan. Il a, par ailleurs, relevé que le secteur doit aujourd'hui faire face à un vide juridique en attendant de publier une loi Internet.

    S'agissant de l'INT, il a relevé que cette instance, empêchée pendant longtemps de jouer pleinement son rôle, sera renforcée.

    M. Zaoui a, en outre, précisé qu'il n'était pas possible de nier que le secteur des télécommunications est un secteur qui a été pénalisé par un ensemble de restrictions et qui a été empêché de se développer. Il a noté, à ce propos, que le secrétariat chargé des Technologies de la communication veillera, durant les six mois à venir, à permettre à cette instance de jouer son rôle conformément aux standards internationaux. Il s'agit, notamment, de gommer tous les éléments de distorsion de concurrence et d'assurer une équité entre les opérateurs qui pourront, dès lors, bénéficier d'une concurrence saine et constructive.

    Pour ce qui est des 25% du capital de Tunisiana acquis par Sakhr Materi, le secrétaire d'Etat a noté que ces parts reviennent à l'Etat et que Qatar Télécom reconnaît l'Etat tunisien comme interlocuteur unique.

    Cette rencontre avec la presse a, également, été une occasion pour parler de l'ATI ( Agence tunisienne d'internet). M. Zaoui a annoncé qu'un plan de restructuration de cette agence est en cours, un plan qui intègre, notamment, l'élimination de la notion de point d'entrée unique sur le territoire.
     
    Pour ce qui est de l'introduction en Bourse de Tunisie Télécom (initialement prévue en février 2011), il a précisé que la décision sera prise dans les jours qui viennent tout en prenant compte de certaines données, notamment la nervosité du marché financier et la phase difficile par laquelle passe, aujourd'hui, la Bourse de Tunis.

    Il a également évoqué les problèmes internes que connaît aujourd'hui TT et a souligné qu'il était important, à ce propos, de renforcer la communication entre la direction, les syndicats et les employés afin d'informer ces intervenants sur la stratégie et les objectifs de l'entreprise.

    La Presse
  • Un accord est intervenu jeudi entre le fournisseur d'accès à internet (FAI), Cafe Informatique, et l'Autorité de réglementation des postes et télécommunication (ART&P) grâce auquel la société pourra poursuivre ses activités au Togo.

     L'ART&P avait annoncé fin janvier que Cafe n'avait pas acquitté les redevances depuis plusieurs années et lui reprochait d'être dans l'incapacité de fournir un plan d'investissement et de développement comme l'exige le cadre réglementaire.

    Le FAI s'est engagé à acquitter les licences et a soumis un plan d'apurement de dettes validé par l'Autorité de réglementation.

    Cafe Informatique propose à ses clients des connexions à débit rapide par Vsat (liaisons satellite) en y intégrant également des solutions téléphoniques avec le VoIp.

    L'autre fournisseur togolais est Hélim (groupe Togo Telecom) qui lui fait appel à la technologie ADSL.

  • Après avoir totalement coupé la connexion durant 5 jours, les autorités égyptiennes ont rebranché les tuyaux de l’Internet mercredi. Les effets de cette censure pourtant sans précédent ont montré leurs limites. Au nom du principe de respect des libertés numériques, plusieurs fournisseurs d’accès étrangers ainsi que les géants Google et Twitter ont mis en place des stratégies de contournement de la censure, permettant aux mots d’ordre des manifestants anti-Moubarak de se répandre.

    Fin du black out sur l’Internet égyptien. Après cinq jours de coupure, le gouvernement égyptien a annoncé mercredi le retour progressif du Web, selon la chaîne qatarie al-djazeera. Internet était au moins rétabli mercredi matin au Caire, ont confirmé des internautes et des journalistes de l’AFP. Des internautes égyptiens ont toutefois indiqué à l’agence Reuters que les sites des réseaux sociaux Twitter et Facebook étaient toujours inaccessibles mercredi matin, malgré le retour de l’Internet.

    La société Cedexis, qui mesure le trafic Internet pour une centaine de clients dans le monde, a confirmé la nouvelle. « Tous les fournisseurs d’accès ont repris plus ou moins au même moment, ce qui signifie qu’il s’agit d’une décision gouvernementale de rétablir le réseau », a expliqué Julien Coulon, fondateur de Cedexis, à France24.com, précisant que la connexion a été rétablie à 10h50 (heure égyptienne).

    Comme en Tunisie, Internet et la téléphonie mobile ont joué un rôle crucial dans le déclenchement des manifestations le 25 janvier dernier en Egypte, organisées à l’appel du mouvement du 6 avril et d’autres organisations des droits de l’Homme via le réseau Facebook. Et l’omerta imposée par le régime égyptien sur la toile depuis le début de la contestation n’a eu qu’un effet limité. Grâce au soutien actif de plusieurs fournisseurs d’accès étrangers et des géants Google et Twitter, des stratégies de contournement ont été en effet rapidement mises en place pour permettre aux manifestants d’échanger des informations, de mobiliser et de s’organiser.

    Twitter et Google ont mis en place, lundi soir, un système permettant de twitter sans avoir à recourir à une connexion Web. Baptisé Speak2tweet, l’outil permet de laisser un message vocal, depuis une ligne fixe, vers trois numéros hébergés à l’étranger.

    Speak2tweet n’est pas la seule solution proposée pour contourner le black out imposé par le régime Moubarak. Le fournisseur d’accès à Internet associatif français FDN a proposé dès vendredi 31 janvier un accès à distance via modem analogique. Le groupe suédois des défenseurs des libertés numériques a également mis en place un numéro (+46850009990) et des codes d’accès et mots de passe (telecomix/telecomix) pour permettre aux Egyptiens de se connecter via la ligne fixe. Bien que le Web ait joué un rôle important dans le déclenchement de la contestation en Egypte et Tunisie, de nombreux observateurs estiment que les réseaux sociaux n’ont pas provoqué la révolution, mais n’ont fait que l’accompagner. « Cette grande théorie selon laquelle les mouvements de protestation actuels en Tunisie, l’an dernier en Iran et en Birmanie, puiseraient leur source dans les réseaux sociaux ou seraient relayés par eux est une grande escroquerie intellectuelle », affirme Gilles Fontaines, le rédacteur en chef délégué du magazine Challenge, sur son blog consacré aux nouvelles technologies. Ce que les Tunisiens et les Egyptiens ont accompli ces derniers jours, ils le doivent d’abord au courage de beaucoup d’entre eux, dont certains ont payé leur audace de leur vie.

    Afrik Com
  • Il fut un temps ou les entreprises africaines appelaient des ingénieurs d'Europe ou d'ailleurs pour intervenir sur des problématiques informatiques locales. Ce phénomène est en train de changer avec l'émergence de nouvelles SSII locales en Afrique. Konan Systems est l'une d'entre elles.

    La société, établie à Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) apporte des réponses aux problèmes de sécurité et de fiabilité des systèmes d'information. Konan Systems est le premier pôle organisationnel spécialisé dans la sécurité et la fiabilité des systèmes d'information à travers les technologies Unix, Linux et Open-source.

    Stéphane Konan, directeur de la société est interviewé par Sylvain Béletre, Balancing Act Africa. Voir les deux interviews en vidéos:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDCCXMEhhBQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ4gJm2CnSQ

    Décrivez-nous votre société:
    Konan Systems est un spécialiste du déploiement et de la maintenance des data centres et des services informatiques en Afrique. L'entreprise a 3 ans d'existence puisque nous avons démarré en décembre 2007. Nous sommes spécialisés dans les technologies open source Unix, Linux, et nous garantissons la continuité de service et la sécurité des Data Centres. Nous mettons par exemple en place des plateformes de support technique qui peuvent être contrôlées à distance.

    Nous fournissons aussi des formations, des audits en sécurité et en performance.

    Nos clients sont des opérateurs de téléphonie, des banques, grandes entreprises de l'industrie et quelques fois des gouvernements. Nous employons de jeunes ingénieurs, tous africain et formés par Konan Systems.

    Parlons des data centres en Afrique: pouvons-nous nous en dire plus sur le besoin local dans ces équipements?
    L'Afrique a besoin de plus de data centres mutualisés, partagés. Nous intervenons actuellement sur 11  data centres (propriétaires) en Afrique. L'information est capitale dans les économies du 21ème siècle. Cette information se trouve ou transite par les data centres.

    C'est une raison suffisante pour affirmer qu'il est important que des data centres soient implantés sur le continent africain et non en dehors du continent.

    Par ailleurs, ces data centres requièrent des expertises locales. L'apport en terme de développement économique pour l'Afrique est évident.

    Enfin, il existe des réglementations qui obligent les acteurs locaux à héberger leurs données localement.

    Comment vous est venue l'idée de monter cette société?
    L'entreprise est née à partir de l'idée que, au-delà de l'informatique, le développement des pays du tiers-monde reposera entre autres sur le partage et la diffusion du savoir:

    On le voit avec l'essor des technologies Open Source, technologies Wiki (encyclopédies collaboratives, telles que Wikipedia), éducation à distance (OCW, OpenCourseWare), etc.

    Nous avons également estimé qu'il était important que l'Afrique acquière, mais soit également capable d'exporter de l'expertise, de la matière grise. C'est ainsi qu'un accent particulier est mis sur le savoir-faire technologique.

    Combien de personnes employez-vous?
    Nous sommes 32 personnes dont 3 au service administratif, le reste étant des ingénieurs et consultants internes ou externes.

    Sur quels territoires travaillez-vous?
    Nous travaillons uniquement sur l'Afrique francophone, 10 pays d'Afrique aujourd'hui. Nous sommes intervenus également à Dubaï et au Danemark en 2010; tandis que des marchés important se profilent à l'horizon en Italie. Notre spécificité est de vendre notre expertise qui peut être proposée partout dans le monde.

    Comment formez-vous les équipes?
    25-30% de notre CA va à la formation interne. Nous avons mis en place une veille technologique continuelle avec des sessions ponctuelles animés par des experts (que je remercie au passage pour leur aide bénévole) et l'utilisation d'outils e-Learning. La formation est notre élément moteur.
     
    Est-ce que le gouvernement accompagne votre formation?
    Non, et il n'existe pas à ma connaissance d'aide gouvernementale en CI pour aider à ce type de formation. En tout cas nous n'en bénéficions pas. Le gouvernement fait des efforts certes, avec par exemple le FDFP (fond pour le développement de la formation professionnelle) mais qui ne couvre pas notre champ d'activité.

    Cherchez-vous des partenaires et lesquels?
    Nous sommes en quête permanente de savoir; à ce titre et dans le cadre de l'extension de notre champ de compétences au Cloud Computing et à la Cybersécurité, nous sollicitons des partenariats techniques.

    Avez-vous besoin de plus d'ingénieurs locaux?
    Le marché mondial est demandeur. Notre principal motif de fierté pour l'heure est d'avoir imposé un modèle économique qui marche.  Le secteur des nouvelles technologies de l'information a besoin de spécialistes en virtualisation capable par exemple de définir des architectures de Cloud Computing ou de spécialiste en analyse forensique informatique pour aider dans des enquêtes de police: pourquoi pas des jeunes africains?

    Avec les récents évènements en CI, comment gérez-vous la situation?
    Le fait que nous intervenions principalement hors du pays n'a pas beaucoup affecté nos contrats. La demande ne faiblit pas. Néanmoins les problématiques de sécurité impactent nos opérations.

    Comment vous différenciez-vous de la concurrence?
    Nous ne voyions pas les choses de cette manière. Nous regardons avec beaucoup d'attention et de respect nos vrais concurrents, c'est à dire ceux qui mènent le débat sur le plan de la technique et des solutions. Nous essayons de surpasser nos prédécesseurs, ce n'est pas chose aisée mais c'est stimulant.
     
    Votre CA 2010?
    Insuffisant au regard de nos ambitions. Je me réjouis par contre de la satisfaction de nos clients et surtout du fait de contribuer humblement à donner des perspectives sociales nouvelles à de jeunes frères africains.
    Plus d'info sur: http://www.konansystems.net

  • Peut-on savoir quel est le rôle d'Emploitic.com dans le marché de l'emploi en Algérie ?

    Emploitic. com a été créé avec l'ambition de rapprocher les entreprises et les demandeurs d'emploi. Il a été conçu pour faciliter la recherche d'emploi aux candidats et permettre aux recruteurs de trouver les profils recherchés dans les plus brefs délais.
    Comment se font les recrutements au niveau des entreprises qui passent par Emploitic.com ?

     Etant un organisme privé agréé, les entreprises nous contactent dès que leur besoin en recrutement est défini pour diffuser des annonces d'emploi ou accéder à la base de données de CV.

    L'avantage du recrutement sur Internet est de profiter d'un service rapide avec une publication immédiate de l'annonce. Un service efficace avec réception dans les minutes qui suivent des premières candidatures, et finalement un service très économique comparé aux moyens traditionnels.

    Pensez-vous que l'existence d'entreprises opérant comme Emploitic.com peuvent aider à la résorption du chômage ?

    Notre rôle n'est pas d'absorber le chômage, nous agissons plutôt comme média de recrutement pour accélérer le processus du recrutement. Aussi, en tant qu'entreprise créée dans le cadre de l'Ansej, il est vrai que nous sommes nous-mêmes créateurs d'emplois puisque nous sommes passés de 2 employés/créateurs en 2006 à 30 employés aujourd'hui.

    Peut-on savoir combien de demandeurs ont réussi à trouver un poste d'emploi via votre boîte, ces deux dernières années ?

    En 2010, il y a eu plus de 10 000 recrutements réalisés par l'intermédiaire d'Emploitic. Parmi les secteurs les plus actifs, on trouve l'industrie avec 25%, le commerce et la distribution avec 25% et les télécommunications avec 16% des offres.

    Le secteur des services représente 12% et est principalement constitué de PME, vient ensuite le secteur du BTP avec 10%, principalement pour le personnel d'encadrement, d'ingénieurs, techniciens et administratif.

    Pouvez-vous nous décrire le mode opératoire du recrutement dans votre boîte ?

    Pour les candidats, le processus est très simple. Il faut d'abord s'inscrire, ensuite renseigner son CV en ligne. Une fois le dossier prêt, le candidat utilise notre moteur de recherche pour trouver les annonces qui lui correspondent et postuler en un clic.

    La candidature est transmise automatiquement à l'entreprise qui prend en charge la suite du processus. Nous conseillons les candidats de bien renseigner leur profil sur le site et se donner le temps nécessaire, nous leur disons souvent «la recherche d'un emploi est en soi un premier job qui demande organisation, rigueur et persévérance».

    Quant aux entreprises, c'est encore plus simple, elles n'ont qu'à envoyer leurs annonces d'emploi par mail ou nous contacter par téléphone, les annonces seront diffusées juste après confirmation avec le recruteur qui recevra les candidatures directement soit sur son adresse mail, ou sur son espace privé sur Emploitic.

    Nous avons aussi développé une nouvelle technologie qui permet d'optimiser le temps de traitement, de répondre aux candidats, de trier les CV par pertinence et gérer tout le processus de recrutement en ligne.

    La Tribune
  • Il n’est plus rare de voir sur le marché la version contrefaites des derniers logiciels mis sur le marché par Microsoft. A Abidjan comme dans la plupart des capitales de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, c’est chose courante de voir des étudiants en possession de logiciels contrefaits. Même dans le commerce aussi, des revendeurs informatiques ont décidé de se mettre sur la niche de la distribution des logiciels Microsoft contrefaits. Le piratage fait désormais partie de la vie des logiciels. Avant, c’était des particuliers qui fraudaient sur l’utilisation d’un logiciel dans le secret de leurs maisons. Mais aujourd’hui, les PME-PMI ont franchi le pas de la contrefaçon. Le piratage a pignon sur rue à Abidjan.

    Rien qu`en 2009, Microsoft a recensé plus de 150 000 signalements de logiciels contrefaits, à travers le monde ! Et selon le logiciel contrefait, la facture peut être salée pour Microsoft, tant le prix de certains logiciels peut se chiffrer à plusieurs millions francs par licence. Si la contrefaçon de logiciels chez les particuliers est connue, elle ne constitue qu`en fait que la partie émergée de l`iceberg : car les entreprises ne se montrent pas toutes diligentes lorsqu`il s`agit d`acheter des licences pour chaque poste dans l`entreprise !

    Selon des experts de Microsoft Abidjan, les PME-PMI qui ont recours à des « petits installateurs » de logiciels ne doivent comprendre qu’elles ne piratent Windows par exemple, mais plutôt qu’elles utilisent une version piratée. Car en réalité, les "pirates" partent d`un système d`exploitation légal qu`ils modifient à leur guise. Ces logiciels sont ensuite vendus à vil prix avec une possibilité d’utilisation à l’infini. Sur les logiciels contrefaits, on trouve souvent les modifications suivantes : suppression ou contournement des systèmes anti-piratage, ajout/suppression de composants, de logiciels ou d`utilitaires, modification de fichiers systèmes.

    Presque systématiquement aujourd’hui, sans doute pour des questions de coût, les nouvelles PME-PMI en Côte d’Ivoire font appel à des prestataires de services informels pour l’installation de nouveaux logiciels sortis chez Microsoft. C’est le cas de N.A qui travaille dans une société de communication que nous avons rencontré à Yopougon, dans la banlieue abidjanaise :

    « J’ai un CD d’installation de toutes les nouveautés en matière de logiciels. Donc quand une entreprise le souhaite je leur installe ces logiciels moyennant un petit paiement.»

    Les clients de N.A se comptent ainsi à l’appel. L’installation des logiciels « crackés » marche comme des petits pains. Pour une somme forfaitaire qui varie entre 50 et 100 mille francs CFA, N.A semble avoir trouvé le créneau.

    Il en est ainsi de cette affiche placardée sur un mur dans le centre des affaires au Plateau, dans la capitale économique ivoirienne. On lit : « INSTALLATION INFORMATIQUE : WINDOW XP, WINDOW 7 (HOME, PROFESSIONNAL, ENTERPRISE) » etc. etc.

    En effet, à côté des logiciels comme Acrobat et Photoshop ou des antivirus, ce sont les logiciels bureautiques et les systèmes d`exploitation qui sont les plus piratés en entreprise. Ils représentent respectivement 34% et 23% des logiciels piratés en entreprises selon des spécialistes.
    Par cette pratique, les entreprises semblent en fait contourner l`acquisition des logiciels coûteux à l`achat... ou en maintenance.

    Selon M. Ibrahim Youssry, le Directeur Général Afrique de l’Ouest, du Centre et Australe de Microsoft, ce sont des sommes colossales qui sont ainsi perdues qui représentent un manque à gagner non seulement pour Microsoft mais aussi pour l’Etat de Côte d’Ivoire. Aucune évaluation chiffrée n’existe, mais du côté de la représentation ivoirienne du N°1 mondial de logiciels, on affirme que la note de la contrefaçon est des plus salée.

    La contrefaçon est de toute évidence un délit condamné par la loi sur le respect de la propriété intellectuelle. Les entreprises le savent. Pour celles qui ne le savent pas, car il peut arriver que des entreprises soit « victimes », comme Microsoft, de piratage, et utilisent des logiciels piratés sans le savoir, elles peuvent bénéficier de plus de clémence.

    Mais, en général, l`utilisation d`un logiciel contrefait ou piraté peut coûter très cher à l`entreprise ou aux individus qui se rendent coupable de ce délit. Le BSA (Business Software Alliance), une association regroupant les éditeurs de logiciels a par exemple calculé qu`en 2008, l`ensemble des procès intentés contre des entreprises situées en Europe, au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique aurait coûté plus de 18 millions d`euros aux entreprises condamnées pour piratage, en additionnant les dommages et intérêts et le rachat de logiciels licites. Mais le Code de la propriété intellectuelle prévoit des peines beaucoup plus lourdes en cas de piratage de logiciels !

    Ainsi, les entreprises peuvent se voir condamnées à payer lourdes amendes assortie de la fermeture totale ou partielle, définitive ou temporaire de l`établissement ayant servi à commettre l`infraction et de la confiscation du matériel ayant servi à commettre le délit.

    Autrefois, un logiciel acheté pouvait être installé plusieurs fois et sur plusieurs ordinateurs. Chez Microsoft, il y avait comme une volonté de compter sur la bonne fois des utilisateurs en se disant qu’ils respecteraient « la propriété intellectuelle » et que conséquemment, ils n’en limiteraient l’usage qu’à une portée personnelle.
    C’était trop confiance aux hommes. Depuis lors donc, d’autres moyens de contrôle plus coercitifs ont été trouvés en dehors des campagnes de sensibilisation ou des mécanismes de dénonciation:

    Microsoft propose désormais des procédures d`installation du plus en plus longues et de plus en plus sécurisés pour lutter contre la contrefaçon de logiciels. Ainsi, Microsoft ne se contente plus uniquement de demander la clé d`activation lors de l`installation du logiciel. Microsoft oblige plus les utilisateurs à re-renseigner leur numéro de licence et à enregistrer le logiciel sur le site de la marque afin de vérifier l`authenticité du produit. Mieux, il n`hésite pas à resserrer les mailles du filet et à compliquer la tâche des utilisateurs qui souhaiteraient utiliser le logiciel indûment !

    Microsoft est plus que jamais décider à ne pas se faire échapper le produit de son travail. Il n’hésite plus à déployer de grands moyens et à imposer des contrôles réguliers d`authenticité du logiciel aux utilisateurs. Ainsi, depuis quelques années, Microsoft propose aux utilisateurs de ses logiciels de participer au programme Windows Genuine Advantage. Ce programme permet à Microsoft de vérifier que le logiciel, comme Windows 7, par exemple est bien authentique et qu`il ne s`agit pas d`une contrefaçon. Dès le que Windows Genuine détecte une version contrefaite, il le signale à l`utilisateur via l`apparition d`une petite pastille dans la barre de tâches. Dès qu`un logiciel piraté est détecté, il est impossible à l`utilisateur d`effectuer des mises à jour de sécurité, ce qui peut se révéler fatal s`il s`agit du système d`exploitation !

    Abidjan.net
  • France Télécom ne remet pas en cause ses ambitions en Afrique et au Moyen-Orient et déclare que les événements récents en Egypte et en Tunisie n'amoindrissent pas son intérêt pour la région, notamment en termes d'acquisitions.

    France Télécom, le téléopérateur français de télécommunication qui détient 49% du capital d’Orange Tunisie, vient d’exprimer son intérêt pour la Tunisie ainsi que pour l’Egypte malgré les troubles survenus récemment sur les deux pays.

    En effet, selon son PDG, Stephane Richard, le groupe continue encore à exploiter toutes les opportunités existant dans ces deux pays. « La persistance des tensions politiques et sociales en Tunisie et en Egypte n’ont pas minimisé notre intérêt pour investir (…) Même, il va devenir plus important d'avoir des partenaires dans ces pays dans le futur », ajoute-t-il.

    S'exprimant en marge d'une conférence de presse, tenue jeudi en France, M. Richard a également déclaré que le groupe porte une attention particulière à la sécurité de ses 6.300 employés existant en ces deux régions. Il a indiqué déjà que le groupe a procédé à rapatrier 26 familles du personnel à la France.

    En effet, la baisse récente des services mobiles dans le pays a eu un négligeable  impact sur les recettes de France Telecom, selon Richard. En effet, depuis la semaine dernière, les autorités égyptiennes avaient pris des mesures pour bloquer les services mobiles de sa filiale locale Mobinil, dont France Telecom la détient conjointement avec Orascom.

    Tunisia IT
  • Le prix en Bourse du titre Sonatel (Société nationale des télécommunications) a connu une forte baisse de 12.300 FCFA à l’issue de la séance de cotation de ce mardi, a appris APA auprès de la Bourse régionale des valeurs mobilières (BRVM).

    Le cours en Bourse de cette valeur est ainsi passé de 164.000 FCFA la veille à 151.700 FCFA, soit une variation de 7,5% (1 FCFA équivaut à 0,0019 dollar).

    Apanews
  • La santé et la protection des populations sont en théorie l’une des priorités des gouvernements. Malgré de nettes améliorations ces dernières décennies, l'état de la santé en Afrique est toujours aussi préoccupant, affirmait encore récemment un rapport de l'OMS. Mais cette tendance est loin d'être irréversible. Grâce notamment à l'e-santé (santé par des technologies électroniques), et en particulier la m-santé (santé mobile), la santé en Afrique peut être nettement améliorée.

    Le 28 février 2011, Sylvain Béletre de Balancing Act a pris part aux "Amphis de la santé" lors d'un séminaire interne à Orange et axé sur l'e-santé en Afrique. Voici son résumé.

    Du point de vue de l'opérateur, largement présent en Afrique, les technologies sont aujourd'hui matures et disponibles sur différents réseaux et terminaux. Récemment, la croissance du marché mobile et de l’Internet en Afrique a été deux fois plus importante que celle enregistrée au niveau mondial. De grands écarts existent selon les pays mais tous ont connu une progression sensible et l'e-santé peut désormais s'appuyer sur ces nouvelles structures.

    Améliorer l'organisation et la qualité des soins de base, répondre aux urgences plus  rapidement, offrir plus de réactivité, de confort et de sécurité aux patients tout en réduisant les coûts, obtenir des données globale et locales en temps réel sur la santé en Afrique, former le personnel en continue sont quelques-uns des enjeux parfois difficiles à concilier des directions hospitalières et NGO en Afrique. Les nouvelles technologies sont l'un des outils majeurs pour atteindre ces objectifs.

    C'est pourquoi Orange se lance dans une réflexion sur une offre « e-santé » pour améliorer la santé des africains.

    Ce séminaire était un RV interne aux employés d'Orange auxquels des participants extérieurs ont pris part. "Ces moments d'échange avec des visions extérieures au groupe sont toujours extrêmement riches et contribuent à alimenter la réflexion" explique Françoise Valla, organisatrice du séminaire. Parmi les participants furent présents une sociologue, un bailleur de fonds, deux grandes NGO santé, et Sylvain Béletre du cabinet Balancing-Act (cabinet études spécialisé TIC en Afrique).

    La réunion a démarré par une présentation basée sur une étude rétrospective et prospective de l'Afrique par une sociologue. En utilisant des éléments socioculturels, politiques et historiques, il s'agissait de connaître et de changer le regard occidental porté sur l'Afrique. Le but était de fournir une photographie socioculturelle réaliste, débarrassée des clichés habituels de ce continent à multiples facettes. Cette présentation fut l'occasion de mettre en avant des éléments majeurs à retenir, comme par exemple l'évolutions des représentations de ce continent, le poids de l'histoire, le panafricanisme, les dynamiques transfrontalières, les flux migratoires, les nouveaux équilibres politiques et économiques, les langues et les corridors, ou encore la géronto-croissance.

    Cette présentation fut suivie de la diffusion d'une vidéo qui montrait un exemple de projet de télémédecine en Afrique.

    Le séminaire a enchaîné en abordant divers aspects intéressants sur le continent africain: les dynamiques de transfert de connaissances via les TIC, le concept de l'émergence d'une classe moyenne qui dépenserait plus pour l'éducation et la santé, le modèle des mutuelles santé, la mise en place d'un système d'assurance obligatoire dans certains pays africains.

    La discussion a abordé les spécificités du secteur de la santé en Afrique qui inclut l’absence de structure financière (pas de système d’assurance dans la plupart des pays), la pénurie de professionnels de santé, la manque d'investissement dans le secteur, le traitement financier peu élevé de ces professionnels et l'insuffisance des infrastructures. Les applications possibles en e-santé sont vastes et touchent toute la chaîne logistique de la santé : des premiers soins à l'assurance maladie en passant par les données des centres de soin, le carnet de santé et de vaccinations, les alertes épidémiques, la traçabilité des médicaments pour lutter contre la contrefaçon et pour les distribuer aux bons endroits, l'accès aux services de santé, les équipements hospitaliers, les statistiques nationales, les remboursements de soins, et bien plus encore.

    Des problèmes comme les transports - avec des infrastructures insuffisantes et des coûts élevés - qui dissuadent certaines populations de se rendre à l’hôpital éloigné ou ralentissent le transit de médicaments, les faux médicaments, le détournement de aides sanitaires ou encore les coupures régulières d'électricité empêchent souvent l'utilisation de services de santé vitaux aux populations.

    Cette équation de paramètres, sans doute simplificatrice, laisse penser que les TIC pourraient pallier en partie ces insuffisances et permettre un accès élargi aux soins. Il ne fait plus de doute que l'e-santé peu réduire le coût de la médecine en Afrique (et ailleurs), et qu'elle peut soutenir une amélioration durable de l'espérance de vie. Demeure une difficulté aujourd’hui non résolue : la définition de modèles économiques viables permettant la diffusion de ces outils.

    Deux axes de réflexion ressortent de ce RV : pourquoi et comment agir ?
    Quelle est la perception des africains concernant la santé, et est-ce qu’Orange peut légitimement contribuer à cette révolution africaines ?

    Est-ce que l'Afrique tout entière doit mettre en place une assurance maladie à bas coût assurant un minimum de soin pour tous comme c'est le cas dans certains pays ? Est-ce que ce ne sont pas aux gouvernements africains de donner l'impulsion du lancement de ces outils e-santé ? L'union africaine ne doit-elle pas prendre part à l'élaboration et au financement d'un système de santé harmonisé à toute l'Afrique?

    Quels sont les outils durables les plus simples et les moins coûteux à mettre en place ? Sur quels TICs s'appuyer pour soutenir ces projets (mobile, satellite, fixe, GPS, IT, audiovisuel) ? Est-ce que ces services doivent dégager une marge minimale pour assurer leur pérennité ? Quels sont les scénarios de retours sur investissements ? Avec quels partenaires internationaux et locaux faut-il mettre ces outils en place sur le terrain ? Qui peut et qui doit financer (gouvernements africains, bailleurs, donneurs/NGO, investisseurs privés, populations) ? Doit-on tendre vers une standardisation et une harmonisation des protocoles de systèmes d'e-santé entre opérateurs télécoms africains ? Pourquoi les logiciels ouverts pourraient-ils être utilisés ? Et bien d'autres questions encore.

    Balancing Act a manifesté son intention de contribuer à cette réflexion pour apporter des réponses concrètes sur le terrain en Afrique.

    Contact: sbeletre@balancingact-africa.com

  • Air Madagascar, la grande compagnie de l'Océan Indien, et Airtel, le plus grand réseau de téléphonie mobile, ont signé hier un partenariat qui lance « Flysmart » le premier mode de paiement de billets d'avion par téléphone mobile ou m.paiement qui, associé avec le e-ticket, service déjà disponible chez Air Madagascar permet, aux voyageurs de payer leur billet d'avion sans se déplacer.

     Le système est simple, mais efficace. Le voyageur effectue en premier lieu sa réservation à travers le call center d'Air Madagascar. La compagnie lui renvoie par la suite, par courrier électronique son dossier de réservation avec les tarifs et une facture pro-forma.

    Dès la possession de ces données, le client peut payer le billet à travers Airtel Money, le système de paiement par mobile d'Airtel. Une fois le paiement reçu par Air Madagascar, à travers son TPE, cette dernière envoie au voyageur, son billet électronique par e-mail.

    Bref, « Flysmart » permet un énorme gain de temps et d'argent pour les voyageurs. « Les voyageurs n'ont plus besoin de se déplacer auprès des agences à faire une longue queue pour acheter leur billet », a expliqué hier Fidy Rakotonirina Administrateur Délégué d'Air Madagascar.

    Pour Heiko Schlittke, D.G d'Airtel Madagascar, ce partenariat avec Air Madagascar va encore augmenter le nombre des personnes qui vont bénéficier des bienfaits d'Airtel Money.

    Prouvant la volonté des dirigeants d'Air Madagascar d'offrir des services innovants aux voyageurs, le système de paiement Flysmart a, par ailleurs, l'avantage de ne pas engendrer des coûts supplémentaires, pour le client. Flysmart, un service de qualité que très peu de compagnies dans le monde offrent actuellement, est déjà opérationnel au sein d'Air Madagascar.

  • Un atelier de deux jours sur «le cinéma africain, la vidéo et l'impact social de nouvelles technologies» aura lieu les 27 et 28 février à Ouagadougou, sous l'égide du Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique (CODESRIA).

    La chaine AFRICA 24  a annoncé qu’elle va bientôt lancer son site internet.

    Les sites Seneweb, PressAfrik et Ferloo.com vont signer un accord de partenariat portant sur un échange de contenus. Selon un communiqué conjoint parvenu à SenewebNews, « cet accord va permettre à ces sites d’informations générales de pouvoir échanger et partager gratuitement des liens, des articles, des videos ou photos

  • Défis et Enjeux de Régulation
    17-19 Mars 2011, Marrakech, Maroc

    Le secteur des télécoms a connu un essor considérable durant la dernière décennie grâce notamment aux innovations technologiques et au processus de libéralisation entamé par de nombreux pays. A cet égard, la régulation des télécoms en Afrique parait comme un maillon essentiel pour généraliser l’accessibilité, et assurer un développement sain et équilibré du secteur qui garanti les intérêts des différentes parties prenantes. C’est pour débattre des enjeux de la régulation en Afrique du Nord, du Centre et de l’Ouest que i-conférences organise en partenariat avec la Banque Africaine de Développement le Forum Africain des Télécoms.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

    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

  • M. Montassar Ouaili a démissionné de son poste de PDG de Tunisie Telecom.
    Montassar Ouaili avait succédé à monsieur Ahmed Mahjoub en tant que président directeur général de Tunisie Télécom.

  • Prix TIGA 2011 pour l’utilisation de la Technologie dans l’Administration  en Afrique

    Date limite de candidature : le 28 février 2011
     
    La Commission Economique pour l’Afrique et le Gouvernement de la Finlande ont le plaisir d’annoncer le troisième prix pour l’utilisation de la technologie dans l’administration en Afrique.

    Les prix pour l’utilisation de la Technologie dans l’Administration  en Afrique visent à récompenser le travail des Etats Africains dans l’utilisation effective des Technologies de l’ Information et de la Communication (TIC) dans la délivrance des services publics mis en œuvre dans le cadre de l’Initiative pour la Société de l’Information en Afrique (AISI) de la CEA et de la Stratégie de la Coopération pour le Développement du Gouvernement de la Finlande. Les prix sont destinés aux Etats Africains et aux institutions basées en Afrique qui sont engagés dans la conception, le développement, et  la mise en œuvre des programmes TIC pour les services publics et  contribuant à la mise en œuvre de  la Société de l’Information dans le continent. Les objectifs sont :
    de susciter une plus grande conscience sur le rôle des TICs dans les services publics et le processus de développement dans le cadre de l’Initiative pour la Société de l’Information en Afrique (AISI) ;
    d’encourager les Etats et les Institutions africaines à utiliser les TICs pour le développement en général et pour améliorer les services publics en particulier ;
    d’influencer les autres acteurs africains à utiliser effectivement les TICs  au service des citoyens.

    Initié en 2007 ce programme pionnier africain récompensera publiquement l’innovation, l’excellence et le leadership dans le développement du e-gouvernement (administration électronique) dans le secteur public en Afrique. La nomination aux Prix TIGA devrait être considérée comme un honneur et une réussite de carrière dans le secteur public pour les membres des équipes qui seront sélectionnées.
    Les premiers prix TIGA ont été décernés à douze projets dans neuf pays, et les seconds organisés en 2009 ont considérés des projets d’innovation dans dix pays qui ont permis des changements dans l’utilisation des TICs pour les services publics.
    Le prix TIGA est un événement biennal. Pour plus informations consulter le site : http://www.uneca.org/tiga

Issue No 151 - 10 February 2011

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Editorial

  • Le nombre de stations de base utilisant des énergies renouvelables en Afrique reste faible. Seulement 3.1% du nombre total de déploiements à travers le monde (9,558) sont situés en Afrique. Cette annonce tombe tandis que la presse rapportait la semaine dernière une augmentation alarmante du prix du pétrole brut avec le baril de brut Brent franchissant le seuil des 101 dollars US pour la première fois depuis octobre 2008.

    Un grand nombre de stations de base en Afrique nécessitent deux générateurs et dans certains cas leurs réservoirs peuvent contenir parfois jusqu’à trois mois d’approvisionnement en fuel. Des stations de base dans les régions plus reculées doivent être approvisionnées par bateau ou par chariot et dans les pays les plus grands, les opérateurs gère une importante flotte de camions pour assurer l’approvisionnement en fuel de leurs stations de base.

    Isabelle Gross, l’auteur du rapport publié par Balancing Act intitulé « Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy » explique 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. Isabelle Gross souligne aussi que « l’ARPU voix va continuer son érosion par le bas en raison de la baisse continue des prix des appels téléphoniques et l’acquisition de nouveaux clients disposant de revenus plus bas. La pression de côté du chiffre d’affaires va aller en augmentant pour les opérateurs mobiles ». Au Ghana par exemple, l’ARPU voix est passé de 17 dollars US en 2006 à 7 dollars US en 2010.

    Le rapport indique que lorsqu’il s’agit de réduire les dépenses énergétiques « il n’y a de solutions clef en main mais cela peut être fait ». La meilleure approche consiste d’abord à voir comment gérer les stations de base de façon plus efficace sur le plan énergétique. En d’autres termes, il s’agit de l’approche « système D » qui consiste à modifier ou à re-paramétrer certains équipements dans la station de base pour réaliser des économies d’énergie sans avoir besoin de réaliser des investissements. Le système de refroidissement est par essence un bon point de départ parce qu’il peut représenter jusqu’à 35% de la consommation totale d’électricité d’une station de base. Cette part peut augmenter à 50% s’il y a moins d’émetteurs utilisés. Des opérateurs mobiles comme Vodacom, Orange ou MTN ont commencé à expérimenter des solutions de refroidissement naturel en combinaison ou non avec par exemple une augmentation de la température dans la cabine de la station de base.

    En parallèle à l’analyse détaillée des différentes systèmes mis en place par les opérateurs mobiles pour gérer plus efficacement leurs stations de base, le rapport présente aussi les solutions « vertes » disponibles sur le marché et qui permettraient aux opérateurs mobiles de réduire encore plus leur facture énergétique. Il y a de plus en plus de solutions à disposition utilisant des énergies renouvelables (énergie solaire ou éolienne, solutions fonctionnant avec des biocarburants, pile à combustible à l’hydrogène) mais toutes impliquent au départ un investissement considérable en capital.

    Le rapport propose une analyse commerciale des solutions « vertes » pour les stations de base tout en donnant des exemples d’opérateurs mobiles africains qui ont commencé à déployer des projets d’énergie renouvelable pour alimenter leurs stations de base. Le rapport établit que l’énergie solaire en conjonction avec un générateur diesel requiert le plus faible investissement en capital. Dans ce cas de figure, les coûts d’exploitation seront réduits (baisse de la facture carburant) mais pas totalement éliminés. Une combinaison énergie solaire et éolienne supporté par des batteries permet de réduire au maximum les frais d’exploitation mais représente l’investissement en capital le plus lourd.

    Selon l’auteur du rapport, l’approche « système D » permettra de réduire les coûts d’exploitation mais seulement jusqu’à un certain niveau. Pour réduire d’avantage ces coûts, il va falloir faire un investissement en capital pour soit acheter des équipements plus efficaces soit pour déployer des solutions d’énergie renouvelable. La décision financière revient en fin de compte aux opérateurs mobiles et dépend de leur stratégie d’investissements et ainsi que de leur vision quant à leur rôle au long terme.

    Ce rapport de 45 pages contient 5 illustrations, 4 tableaux, 8 graphiques et 4 cartes. Il se termine par un annuaire de sociétés offrant des équipements et des services pour améliorer l’efficacité énergétique des stations de base ainsi que les coordonnées d’entreprises proposant des solutions utilisant des énergies renouvelables. Cet annuaire sera bien à toute personne qui va se trouver en charge de ces questions dans l’avenir.

    Pour plus de détails cliquez sur le lien suivant visitez:

    NTIC en Afrique: Ne manquez pas nos dernières vidéos sur notre Web TV qui
    vous apportent des interviews récentes de personnalités d'Afrique et de la
    Diaspora. Ces entrevues sont en anglais et en français:

    Télécoms en Afrique
    visitez:

    Les Data Centers et le Cloud en Afrique
    visitez:

    Informatique en Afrique
    visitez:

    Stratégie Web en Afrique
    visitez:

  • Au Sénégal, ça a été une affaire brulante tout au long de l’été dernier. Il y a deux mois de ça Madagascar s’est aussi mis en tête que le contrôle du traffic international entrant était une « poule aux œufs d’or » et qu’il fallait absolument ne pas la  laisser s’échapper (voir l’article dans le numéro précédent « Madagascar: Le Ministre s’entête avec son projet de passerelle unique » au lien suivant visite:). Voila maintenant que la Mauritanie entre dans la danse aussi. Ci-dessous un extrait de l’avis d’appel à manifestation publié le 23 janvier dernier par l’ARE, l’autorité de régulation de Mauritanie (pour lire l’avis complet cliquez sur le lien suivant visite:)

    La question à mille francs qui suit: Quelles sont selon vous les sociétés qui vont répondre à l’avis d’appel à manifestation ? Envoyez vos suggestions à igross@balancingact-africa.com.

    « Avis d’appel à manifestation d’intérêt pour la fourniture, l’installation et la mise en service d’un système de contrôle du trafic international entrant et de lutte contre la fraude, au siège de l’Autorité de Régulation

    Par décret N°2010-268 en date du 12 décembre 2010, le Gouvernement de la République Islamique de Mauritanie a institué un seuil minimum pour la tarification de la terminaison d’appel des communications téléphoniques internationales entrantes en Mauritanie et a chargé l’Autorité de Régulation (ARE) de son application.

    Dans ce cadre, l’ARE lance le présent appel international à manifestation d’intérêt à l’intention des entreprises réputées de gestion des passerelles internationales, possédant une expérience démontrable ainsi que l’expertise et la capacité technique nécessaires pour assister l’ARE en tant que partenaire stratégique.

    Cette assistance portera sur le développement et la mise en place des mesures administratives, procédurales et techniques ainsi que des plateformes. Elle permettra ainsi à l’ARE de superviser, de contrôler et de collecter efficacement les données relatives au trafic international entrant, de facturer et de calculer les différents revenus afférents. Cette assistance portera également sur la mise en place d’un système de lutte contre la fraude téléphonique. »

  • La nouvelle loi portant Code des télécommunications, adoptée par l'Assemblée nationale, vise notamment à changer le statut juridique de l'Agence de régulation des Télécommunications et des Postes (ARTP) qui doit devenir à terme une autorité administrative indépendante, selon le ministère de tutelle.

     Le ministre de la Communication, des Télécommunications et des TIC Moustapha Guirassy a présenté vendredi devant l'Assemblée nationale le projet de loi portant Code des Télécommunications. Le texte a été adopté par les députés réunis en séance plénière.

    Le nouveau Code des télécommunications devrait permettre à l'ARTP de disposer de "moyens financiers et humains lui permettant d'assurer ses missions, de manière impartiale, autonome et transparente par l'affectation des redevances et autres contreparties financières versées par les opérateurs pour l'exercice de leurs activités", précise l'exposé des motifs de ce projet de loi.

    D'une façon générale, la nouvelle loi vise à rendre le secteur des télécommunications et des technologies de l'information et de la communication conforme avec le droit communautaire UEMOA/CEDEAO.

    Le projet soumis aux députés met en exergue "les principaux aspects de la régulation des télécommunications, notamment la concurrence, l'interconnexion, l'accès/service universel, les ressources rares et la tarification", selon le document.

    Il permet en même temps une mise à jour des définitions technico-juridiques des termes utilisés et prend en compte de nouveaux domaines de la régulation dont l'affirmation du principe de la neutralité technologique de la règlementation des télécommunications et des TIC.

    APS
  • L'Agence de régulation des postes et des communications électroniques (Arpce) traite pour la presse de l'évolution du marché des télécommunications

    Yves Castanou, directeur général de l'Arpce, a animé le vendredi 4 février à Pointe-Noire un point de presse portant sur les thèmes suivants : « Le marché de la téléphonie mobile en 2010 », « La question de l'identification des abonnés mobiles » et « La question des pylônes ».

    Pour Sondé-Ndé, directeur de réseau et du service communications électroniques, l'Arpce a eu à organiser au cours de l'année 2010 plusieurs réunions à Brazzaville avec chaque sous-secteur des postes et communications électroniques. Elle a de même participé aux travaux d'exploitation au niveau de la Cémac visant à mettre en œuvre une réglementation unique, de sorte que toutes les communications électroniques de la zone soient considérées comme locales. De même, elle a maintes fois participé aux travaux de l'Union internationale des télécommunications.

    En terme de réalisations, souligne l'orateur, l'Arpce a élaboré et réalisé le plan national de numérotation à neuf chiffres, ainsi que le plan national des fréquences, dont la publication est prévue pour la semaine prochaine. Parlant du cadre qui doit être réglementé, Sondé-Ndé s'en est expliqué : « Il est impératif pour le Congo d'avoir un cadre réglementé pour nous permettre d'être en avance par rapport aux opérateurs du secteur, car l'absence de réglementation peut retarder l'arrivée des techniciens », a conclu l'orateur.

    Parlant de la fibre optique, le directeur indique que l'Arpce a depuis l'année dernière commencé la caractérisation du marché. Et plusieurs questions sont restées en suspens à propos de la réglementation de la fibre optique. Car, se demande l'orateur, dans quelles conditions sera-t-elle partagée, et dans quelles conditions un opérateur pourra-t-il se permettre d'utiliser ce réseau ?
    « Nous avons commencé 2011 avec le programme d'identification des abonnés, et nous comptons prochainement nous attaquer à la portabilité des numéros », a-t-il ajouté. Toujours dans le souci de faire mieux, l'Arpce va organiser la semaine prochaine à Brazzaville des rencontres avec les fournisseurs d'internet.

    Le marché de la téléphonie mobile est en pleine croissance, le nombre d'abonnés a augmenté de 26,51% entre 2009 et 2010, jusqu'à atteindre 3,646 millions en 2010. La même année, le taux de pénétration de la téléphonie mobile a gagné 17 points pour s'établir à 93,39%, contre 75,97% en 2009.

    À la fin de la rencontre, les deux orateurs ont souhaité voir les médias travailler avec eux la main dans la main dans le but de structurer, moderniser et dynamiser le secteur stratégique des postes et communications électroniques.

  • Le long procès des policiers accusés d'avoir assassiné le défenseur des droits de l'homme Floribert Chebeya se poursuit à Kinshasa. Les prévenus dans le box n'ont rien avoué, et les témoins ne disent pas grand-chose. Bref, on est encore loin de la vérité. A la recherche de preuves, l'accusation fait appel aux listings téléphoniques pour démêler les fils du complot.

     Dans ce procès, il n'y a quasiment que des policiers, dans le box bien sûr, mais aussi à la barre des témoins. Le problème est qu'ils ont tous tendance soit à se soutenir les uns les autres soit à avoir peur les uns des autres. C'est au prix de longs interrogatoires laborieux qu'on ne leur arrache que quelques bribes d'information.

    Le tribunal fait donc appel à la technologie de la téléphonie mobile pour savoir qui a appelé qui, à quelle heure, avant et après l'assassinat de Floribert Chebeya et de son chauffeur Fidèle Bazana. Des experts des sociétés de téléphonie mobile sont appelés à la barre. Chargés de longs listings d'appels, et sous serment, ils doivent décortiquer les coups de téléphone, émis ou reçus, à quelle heure, et combien de secondes.

    La technologie permet aussi de savoir dans quelle zone se trouvait un téléphone car, sur ces mêmes listings, on peut retrouver la trace des différentes antennes des réseaux. En RDC c'est encore plus compliqué qu'ailleurs car presque tout le monde a deux, voire trois portables suivant le nombre de sociétés de téléphonie, vous multipliez par le nombre d'accusés et de témoins. Cela aboutit à un exercice proche du casse-tête.

    RFI
  • M. Sami Zaoui, secrétaire d'Etat chargé des Technologies de la communication, a rencontré, hier, à Tunis, des représentants de la presse tunisienne, le but étant de présenter les priorités du secrétariat pour la période future et de faire le point sur les dossiers en cours d'étude.

     M. Zaoui s'est, principalement, attardé lors de cette rencontre sur les questions de libéralisation totale d'Internet, la mise en place d'une loi Internet, le renforcement de l'INT (Instance nationale des télécommunications) et sa restructuration.

    Il a, ainsi, tenu à rappeler que le principe était d'offrir un Internet libre, tout en respectant certaines règles, notamment l'interdiction de sites qui inciteraient à la violence et ceux dont le contenu serait contraire aux moeurs.

    Il a, par ailleurs, relevé que face à certaines revendications qui plaident pour une liberté totale de l'Internet, la solution idéale serait de proposer deux types d'accès, un accès libre pour les administrations et un accès contrôlé pour les familles. Le secrétaire d'Etat a noté que deux difficultés se posent à ce niveau. La première est d'ordre technique et se rattache au fait que les opérateurs nationaux n'ont point de techniques appropriées pour assurer ce contrôle, la seconde est économique, elle est inhérente au coût supplémentaire de cette opération de contrôle et qui serait lourde à supporter pour les utilisateurs.

    Evoquant la question de la sécurité informatique, il a souligné que l'ATI (Agence tunisienne d'internet) est sereine sur ce plan. Il a, par ailleurs, relevé que le secteur doit aujourd'hui faire face à un vide juridique en attendant de publier une loi Internet.

    S'agissant de l'INT, il a relevé que cette instance, empêchée pendant longtemps de jouer pleinement son rôle, sera renforcée.

    M. Zaoui a, en outre, précisé qu'il n'était pas possible de nier que le secteur des télécommunications est un secteur qui a été pénalisé par un ensemble de restrictions et qui a été empêché de se développer. Il a noté, à ce propos, que le secrétariat chargé des Technologies de la communication veillera, durant les six mois à venir, à permettre à cette instance de jouer son rôle conformément aux standards internationaux. Il s'agit, notamment, de gommer tous les éléments de distorsion de concurrence et d'assurer une équité entre les opérateurs qui pourront, dès lors, bénéficier d'une concurrence saine et constructive.

    Pour ce qui est des 25% du capital de Tunisiana acquis par Sakhr Materi, le secrétaire d'Etat a noté que ces parts reviennent à l'Etat et que Qatar Télécom reconnaît l'Etat tunisien comme interlocuteur unique.

    Cette rencontre avec la presse a, également, été une occasion pour parler de l'ATI ( Agence tunisienne d'internet). M. Zaoui a annoncé qu'un plan de restructuration de cette agence est en cours, un plan qui intègre, notamment, l'élimination de la notion de point d'entrée unique sur le territoire.
     
    Pour ce qui est de l'introduction en Bourse de Tunisie Télécom (initialement prévue en février 2011), il a précisé que la décision sera prise dans les jours qui viennent tout en prenant compte de certaines données, notamment la nervosité du marché financier et la phase difficile par laquelle passe, aujourd'hui, la Bourse de Tunis.

    Il a également évoqué les problèmes internes que connaît aujourd'hui TT et a souligné qu'il était important, à ce propos, de renforcer la communication entre la direction, les syndicats et les employés afin d'informer ces intervenants sur la stratégie et les objectifs de l'entreprise.

    La Presse
  • Un accord est intervenu jeudi entre le fournisseur d'accès à internet (FAI), Cafe Informatique, et l'Autorité de réglementation des postes et télécommunication (ART&P) grâce auquel la société pourra poursuivre ses activités au Togo.

     L'ART&P avait annoncé fin janvier que Cafe n'avait pas acquitté les redevances depuis plusieurs années et lui reprochait d'être dans l'incapacité de fournir un plan d'investissement et de développement comme l'exige le cadre réglementaire.

    Le FAI s'est engagé à acquitter les licences et a soumis un plan d'apurement de dettes validé par l'Autorité de réglementation.

    Cafe Informatique propose à ses clients des connexions à débit rapide par Vsat (liaisons satellite) en y intégrant également des solutions téléphoniques avec le VoIp.

    L'autre fournisseur togolais est Hélim (groupe Togo Telecom) qui lui fait appel à la technologie ADSL.

  • Après avoir totalement coupé la connexion durant 5 jours, les autorités égyptiennes ont rebranché les tuyaux de l’Internet mercredi. Les effets de cette censure pourtant sans précédent ont montré leurs limites. Au nom du principe de respect des libertés numériques, plusieurs fournisseurs d’accès étrangers ainsi que les géants Google et Twitter ont mis en place des stratégies de contournement de la censure, permettant aux mots d’ordre des manifestants anti-Moubarak de se répandre.

    Fin du black out sur l’Internet égyptien. Après cinq jours de coupure, le gouvernement égyptien a annoncé mercredi le retour progressif du Web, selon la chaîne qatarie al-djazeera. Internet était au moins rétabli mercredi matin au Caire, ont confirmé des internautes et des journalistes de l’AFP. Des internautes égyptiens ont toutefois indiqué à l’agence Reuters que les sites des réseaux sociaux Twitter et Facebook étaient toujours inaccessibles mercredi matin, malgré le retour de l’Internet.

    La société Cedexis, qui mesure le trafic Internet pour une centaine de clients dans le monde, a confirmé la nouvelle. « Tous les fournisseurs d’accès ont repris plus ou moins au même moment, ce qui signifie qu’il s’agit d’une décision gouvernementale de rétablir le réseau », a expliqué Julien Coulon, fondateur de Cedexis, à France24.com, précisant que la connexion a été rétablie à 10h50 (heure égyptienne).

    Comme en Tunisie, Internet et la téléphonie mobile ont joué un rôle crucial dans le déclenchement des manifestations le 25 janvier dernier en Egypte, organisées à l’appel du mouvement du 6 avril et d’autres organisations des droits de l’Homme via le réseau Facebook. Et l’omerta imposée par le régime égyptien sur la toile depuis le début de la contestation n’a eu qu’un effet limité. Grâce au soutien actif de plusieurs fournisseurs d’accès étrangers et des géants Google et Twitter, des stratégies de contournement ont été en effet rapidement mises en place pour permettre aux manifestants d’échanger des informations, de mobiliser et de s’organiser.

    Twitter et Google ont mis en place, lundi soir, un système permettant de twitter sans avoir à recourir à une connexion Web. Baptisé Speak2tweet, l’outil permet de laisser un message vocal, depuis une ligne fixe, vers trois numéros hébergés à l’étranger.

    Speak2tweet n’est pas la seule solution proposée pour contourner le black out imposé par le régime Moubarak. Le fournisseur d’accès à Internet associatif français FDN a proposé dès vendredi 31 janvier un accès à distance via modem analogique. Le groupe suédois des défenseurs des libertés numériques a également mis en place un numéro (+46850009990) et des codes d’accès et mots de passe (telecomix/telecomix) pour permettre aux Egyptiens de se connecter via la ligne fixe. Bien que le Web ait joué un rôle important dans le déclenchement de la contestation en Egypte et Tunisie, de nombreux observateurs estiment que les réseaux sociaux n’ont pas provoqué la révolution, mais n’ont fait que l’accompagner. « Cette grande théorie selon laquelle les mouvements de protestation actuels en Tunisie, l’an dernier en Iran et en Birmanie, puiseraient leur source dans les réseaux sociaux ou seraient relayés par eux est une grande escroquerie intellectuelle », affirme Gilles Fontaines, le rédacteur en chef délégué du magazine Challenge, sur son blog consacré aux nouvelles technologies. Ce que les Tunisiens et les Egyptiens ont accompli ces derniers jours, ils le doivent d’abord au courage de beaucoup d’entre eux, dont certains ont payé leur audace de leur vie.

    Afrik Com
  • Il fut un temps ou les entreprises africaines appelaient des ingénieurs d'Europe ou d'ailleurs pour intervenir sur des problématiques informatiques locales. Ce phénomène est en train de changer avec l'émergence de nouvelles SSII locales en Afrique. Konan Systems est l'une d'entre elles.

    La société, établie à Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) apporte des réponses aux problèmes de sécurité et de fiabilité des systèmes d'information. Konan Systems est le premier pôle organisationnel spécialisé dans la sécurité et la fiabilité des systèmes d'information à travers les technologies Unix, Linux et Open-source.

    Stéphane Konan, directeur de la société est interviewé par Sylvain Béletre, Balancing Act Africa. Voir les deux interviews en vidéos:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDCCXMEhhBQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ4gJm2CnSQ

    Décrivez-nous votre société:
    Konan Systems est un spécialiste du déploiement et de la maintenance des data centres et des services informatiques en Afrique. L'entreprise a 3 ans d'existence puisque nous avons démarré en décembre 2007. Nous sommes spécialisés dans les technologies open source Unix, Linux, et nous garantissons la continuité de service et la sécurité des Data Centres. Nous mettons par exemple en place des plateformes de support technique qui peuvent être contrôlées à distance.

    Nous fournissons aussi des formations, des audits en sécurité et en performance.

    Nos clients sont des opérateurs de téléphonie, des banques, grandes entreprises de l'industrie et quelques fois des gouvernements. Nous employons de jeunes ingénieurs, tous africain et formés par Konan Systems.

    Parlons des data centres en Afrique: pouvons-nous nous en dire plus sur le besoin local dans ces équipements?
    L'Afrique a besoin de plus de data centres mutualisés, partagés. Nous intervenons actuellement sur 11  data centres (propriétaires) en Afrique. L'information est capitale dans les économies du 21ème siècle. Cette information se trouve ou transite par les data centres.

    C'est une raison suffisante pour affirmer qu'il est important que des data centres soient implantés sur le continent africain et non en dehors du continent.

    Par ailleurs, ces data centres requièrent des expertises locales. L'apport en terme de développement économique pour l'Afrique est évident.

    Enfin, il existe des réglementations qui obligent les acteurs locaux à héberger leurs données localement.

    Comment vous est venue l'idée de monter cette société?
    L'entreprise est née à partir de l'idée que, au-delà de l'informatique, le développement des pays du tiers-monde reposera entre autres sur le partage et la diffusion du savoir:

    On le voit avec l'essor des technologies Open Source, technologies Wiki (encyclopédies collaboratives, telles que Wikipedia), éducation à distance (OCW, OpenCourseWare), etc.

    Nous avons également estimé qu'il était important que l'Afrique acquière, mais soit également capable d'exporter de l'expertise, de la matière grise. C'est ainsi qu'un accent particulier est mis sur le savoir-faire technologique.

    Combien de personnes employez-vous?
    Nous sommes 32 personnes dont 3 au service administratif, le reste étant des ingénieurs et consultants internes ou externes.

    Sur quels territoires travaillez-vous?
    Nous travaillons uniquement sur l'Afrique francophone, 10 pays d'Afrique aujourd'hui. Nous sommes intervenus également à Dubaï et au Danemark en 2010; tandis que des marchés important se profilent à l'horizon en Italie. Notre spécificité est de vendre notre expertise qui peut être proposée partout dans le monde.

    Comment formez-vous les équipes?
    25-30% de notre CA va à la formation interne. Nous avons mis en place une veille technologique continuelle avec des sessions ponctuelles animés par des experts (que je remercie au passage pour leur aide bénévole) et l'utilisation d'outils e-Learning. La formation est notre élément moteur.
     
    Est-ce que le gouvernement accompagne votre formation?
    Non, et il n'existe pas à ma connaissance d'aide gouvernementale en CI pour aider à ce type de formation. En tout cas nous n'en bénéficions pas. Le gouvernement fait des efforts certes, avec par exemple le FDFP (fond pour le développement de la formation professionnelle) mais qui ne couvre pas notre champ d'activité.

    Cherchez-vous des partenaires et lesquels?
    Nous sommes en quête permanente de savoir; à ce titre et dans le cadre de l'extension de notre champ de compétences au Cloud Computing et à la Cybersécurité, nous sollicitons des partenariats techniques.

    Avez-vous besoin de plus d'ingénieurs locaux?
    Le marché mondial est demandeur. Notre principal motif de fierté pour l'heure est d'avoir imposé un modèle économique qui marche.  Le secteur des nouvelles technologies de l'information a besoin de spécialistes en virtualisation capable par exemple de définir des architectures de Cloud Computing ou de spécialiste en analyse forensique informatique pour aider dans des enquêtes de police: pourquoi pas des jeunes africains?

    Avec les récents évènements en CI, comment gérez-vous la situation?
    Le fait que nous intervenions principalement hors du pays n'a pas beaucoup affecté nos contrats. La demande ne faiblit pas. Néanmoins les problématiques de sécurité impactent nos opérations.

    Comment vous différenciez-vous de la concurrence?
    Nous ne voyions pas les choses de cette manière. Nous regardons avec beaucoup d'attention et de respect nos vrais concurrents, c'est à dire ceux qui mènent le débat sur le plan de la technique et des solutions. Nous essayons de surpasser nos prédécesseurs, ce n'est pas chose aisée mais c'est stimulant.
     
    Votre CA 2010?
    Insuffisant au regard de nos ambitions. Je me réjouis par contre de la satisfaction de nos clients et surtout du fait de contribuer humblement à donner des perspectives sociales nouvelles à de jeunes frères africains.
    Plus d'info sur: http://www.konansystems.net

  • Peut-on savoir quel est le rôle d'Emploitic.com dans le marché de l'emploi en Algérie ?

    Emploitic. com a été créé avec l'ambition de rapprocher les entreprises et les demandeurs d'emploi. Il a été conçu pour faciliter la recherche d'emploi aux candidats et permettre aux recruteurs de trouver les profils recherchés dans les plus brefs délais.
    Comment se font les recrutements au niveau des entreprises qui passent par Emploitic.com ?

     Etant un organisme privé agréé, les entreprises nous contactent dès que leur besoin en recrutement est défini pour diffuser des annonces d'emploi ou accéder à la base de données de CV.

    L'avantage du recrutement sur Internet est de profiter d'un service rapide avec une publication immédiate de l'annonce. Un service efficace avec réception dans les minutes qui suivent des premières candidatures, et finalement un service très économique comparé aux moyens traditionnels.

    Pensez-vous que l'existence d'entreprises opérant comme Emploitic.com peuvent aider à la résorption du chômage ?

    Notre rôle n'est pas d'absorber le chômage, nous agissons plutôt comme média de recrutement pour accélérer le processus du recrutement. Aussi, en tant qu'entreprise créée dans le cadre de l'Ansej, il est vrai que nous sommes nous-mêmes créateurs d'emplois puisque nous sommes passés de 2 employés/créateurs en 2006 à 30 employés aujourd'hui.

    Peut-on savoir combien de demandeurs ont réussi à trouver un poste d'emploi via votre boîte, ces deux dernières années ?

    En 2010, il y a eu plus de 10 000 recrutements réalisés par l'intermédiaire d'Emploitic. Parmi les secteurs les plus actifs, on trouve l'industrie avec 25%, le commerce et la distribution avec 25% et les télécommunications avec 16% des offres.

    Le secteur des services représente 12% et est principalement constitué de PME, vient ensuite le secteur du BTP avec 10%, principalement pour le personnel d'encadrement, d'ingénieurs, techniciens et administratif.

    Pouvez-vous nous décrire le mode opératoire du recrutement dans votre boîte ?

    Pour les candidats, le processus est très simple. Il faut d'abord s'inscrire, ensuite renseigner son CV en ligne. Une fois le dossier prêt, le candidat utilise notre moteur de recherche pour trouver les annonces qui lui correspondent et postuler en un clic.

    La candidature est transmise automatiquement à l'entreprise qui prend en charge la suite du processus. Nous conseillons les candidats de bien renseigner leur profil sur le site et se donner le temps nécessaire, nous leur disons souvent «la recherche d'un emploi est en soi un premier job qui demande organisation, rigueur et persévérance».

    Quant aux entreprises, c'est encore plus simple, elles n'ont qu'à envoyer leurs annonces d'emploi par mail ou nous contacter par téléphone, les annonces seront diffusées juste après confirmation avec le recruteur qui recevra les candidatures directement soit sur son adresse mail, ou sur son espace privé sur Emploitic.

    Nous avons aussi développé une nouvelle technologie qui permet d'optimiser le temps de traitement, de répondre aux candidats, de trier les CV par pertinence et gérer tout le processus de recrutement en ligne.

    La Tribune
  • Il n’est plus rare de voir sur le marché la version contrefaites des derniers logiciels mis sur le marché par Microsoft. A Abidjan comme dans la plupart des capitales de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, c’est chose courante de voir des étudiants en possession de logiciels contrefaits. Même dans le commerce aussi, des revendeurs informatiques ont décidé de se mettre sur la niche de la distribution des logiciels Microsoft contrefaits. Le piratage fait désormais partie de la vie des logiciels. Avant, c’était des particuliers qui fraudaient sur l’utilisation d’un logiciel dans le secret de leurs maisons. Mais aujourd’hui, les PME-PMI ont franchi le pas de la contrefaçon. Le piratage a pignon sur rue à Abidjan.

    Rien qu`en 2009, Microsoft a recensé plus de 150 000 signalements de logiciels contrefaits, à travers le monde ! Et selon le logiciel contrefait, la facture peut être salée pour Microsoft, tant le prix de certains logiciels peut se chiffrer à plusieurs millions francs par licence. Si la contrefaçon de logiciels chez les particuliers est connue, elle ne constitue qu`en fait que la partie émergée de l`iceberg : car les entreprises ne se montrent pas toutes diligentes lorsqu`il s`agit d`acheter des licences pour chaque poste dans l`entreprise !

    Selon des experts de Microsoft Abidjan, les PME-PMI qui ont recours à des « petits installateurs » de logiciels ne doivent comprendre qu’elles ne piratent Windows par exemple, mais plutôt qu’elles utilisent une version piratée. Car en réalité, les "pirates" partent d`un système d`exploitation légal qu`ils modifient à leur guise. Ces logiciels sont ensuite vendus à vil prix avec une possibilité d’utilisation à l’infini. Sur les logiciels contrefaits, on trouve souvent les modifications suivantes : suppression ou contournement des systèmes anti-piratage, ajout/suppression de composants, de logiciels ou d`utilitaires, modification de fichiers systèmes.

    Presque systématiquement aujourd’hui, sans doute pour des questions de coût, les nouvelles PME-PMI en Côte d’Ivoire font appel à des prestataires de services informels pour l’installation de nouveaux logiciels sortis chez Microsoft. C’est le cas de N.A qui travaille dans une société de communication que nous avons rencontré à Yopougon, dans la banlieue abidjanaise :

    « J’ai un CD d’installation de toutes les nouveautés en matière de logiciels. Donc quand une entreprise le souhaite je leur installe ces logiciels moyennant un petit paiement.»

    Les clients de N.A se comptent ainsi à l’appel. L’installation des logiciels « crackés » marche comme des petits pains. Pour une somme forfaitaire qui varie entre 50 et 100 mille francs CFA, N.A semble avoir trouvé le créneau.

    Il en est ainsi de cette affiche placardée sur un mur dans le centre des affaires au Plateau, dans la capitale économique ivoirienne. On lit : « INSTALLATION INFORMATIQUE : WINDOW XP, WINDOW 7 (HOME, PROFESSIONNAL, ENTERPRISE) » etc. etc.

    En effet, à côté des logiciels comme Acrobat et Photoshop ou des antivirus, ce sont les logiciels bureautiques et les systèmes d`exploitation qui sont les plus piratés en entreprise. Ils représentent respectivement 34% et 23% des logiciels piratés en entreprises selon des spécialistes.
    Par cette pratique, les entreprises semblent en fait contourner l`acquisition des logiciels coûteux à l`achat... ou en maintenance.

    Selon M. Ibrahim Youssry, le Directeur Général Afrique de l’Ouest, du Centre et Australe de Microsoft, ce sont des sommes colossales qui sont ainsi perdues qui représentent un manque à gagner non seulement pour Microsoft mais aussi pour l’Etat de Côte d’Ivoire. Aucune évaluation chiffrée n’existe, mais du côté de la représentation ivoirienne du N°1 mondial de logiciels, on affirme que la note de la contrefaçon est des plus salée.

    La contrefaçon est de toute évidence un délit condamné par la loi sur le respect de la propriété intellectuelle. Les entreprises le savent. Pour celles qui ne le savent pas, car il peut arriver que des entreprises soit « victimes », comme Microsoft, de piratage, et utilisent des logiciels piratés sans le savoir, elles peuvent bénéficier de plus de clémence.

    Mais, en général, l`utilisation d`un logiciel contrefait ou piraté peut coûter très cher à l`entreprise ou aux individus qui se rendent coupable de ce délit. Le BSA (Business Software Alliance), une association regroupant les éditeurs de logiciels a par exemple calculé qu`en 2008, l`ensemble des procès intentés contre des entreprises situées en Europe, au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique aurait coûté plus de 18 millions d`euros aux entreprises condamnées pour piratage, en additionnant les dommages et intérêts et le rachat de logiciels licites. Mais le Code de la propriété intellectuelle prévoit des peines beaucoup plus lourdes en cas de piratage de logiciels !

    Ainsi, les entreprises peuvent se voir condamnées à payer lourdes amendes assortie de la fermeture totale ou partielle, définitive ou temporaire de l`établissement ayant servi à commettre l`infraction et de la confiscation du matériel ayant servi à commettre le délit.

    Autrefois, un logiciel acheté pouvait être installé plusieurs fois et sur plusieurs ordinateurs. Chez Microsoft, il y avait comme une volonté de compter sur la bonne fois des utilisateurs en se disant qu’ils respecteraient « la propriété intellectuelle » et que conséquemment, ils n’en limiteraient l’usage qu’à une portée personnelle.
    C’était trop confiance aux hommes. Depuis lors donc, d’autres moyens de contrôle plus coercitifs ont été trouvés en dehors des campagnes de sensibilisation ou des mécanismes de dénonciation:

    Microsoft propose désormais des procédures d`installation du plus en plus longues et de plus en plus sécurisés pour lutter contre la contrefaçon de logiciels. Ainsi, Microsoft ne se contente plus uniquement de demander la clé d`activation lors de l`installation du logiciel. Microsoft oblige plus les utilisateurs à re-renseigner leur numéro de licence et à enregistrer le logiciel sur le site de la marque afin de vérifier l`authenticité du produit. Mieux, il n`hésite pas à resserrer les mailles du filet et à compliquer la tâche des utilisateurs qui souhaiteraient utiliser le logiciel indûment !

    Microsoft est plus que jamais décider à ne pas se faire échapper le produit de son travail. Il n’hésite plus à déployer de grands moyens et à imposer des contrôles réguliers d`authenticité du logiciel aux utilisateurs. Ainsi, depuis quelques années, Microsoft propose aux utilisateurs de ses logiciels de participer au programme Windows Genuine Advantage. Ce programme permet à Microsoft de vérifier que le logiciel, comme Windows 7, par exemple est bien authentique et qu`il ne s`agit pas d`une contrefaçon. Dès le que Windows Genuine détecte une version contrefaite, il le signale à l`utilisateur via l`apparition d`une petite pastille dans la barre de tâches. Dès qu`un logiciel piraté est détecté, il est impossible à l`utilisateur d`effectuer des mises à jour de sécurité, ce qui peut se révéler fatal s`il s`agit du système d`exploitation !

    Abidjan.net
  • France Télécom ne remet pas en cause ses ambitions en Afrique et au Moyen-Orient et déclare que les événements récents en Egypte et en Tunisie n'amoindrissent pas son intérêt pour la région, notamment en termes d'acquisitions.

    France Télécom, le téléopérateur français de télécommunication qui détient 49% du capital d’Orange Tunisie, vient d’exprimer son intérêt pour la Tunisie ainsi que pour l’Egypte malgré les troubles survenus récemment sur les deux pays.

    En effet, selon son PDG, Stephane Richard, le groupe continue encore à exploiter toutes les opportunités existant dans ces deux pays. « La persistance des tensions politiques et sociales en Tunisie et en Egypte n’ont pas minimisé notre intérêt pour investir (…) Même, il va devenir plus important d'avoir des partenaires dans ces pays dans le futur », ajoute-t-il.

    S'exprimant en marge d'une conférence de presse, tenue jeudi en France, M. Richard a également déclaré que le groupe porte une attention particulière à la sécurité de ses 6.300 employés existant en ces deux régions. Il a indiqué déjà que le groupe a procédé à rapatrier 26 familles du personnel à la France.

    En effet, la baisse récente des services mobiles dans le pays a eu un négligeable  impact sur les recettes de France Telecom, selon Richard. En effet, depuis la semaine dernière, les autorités égyptiennes avaient pris des mesures pour bloquer les services mobiles de sa filiale locale Mobinil, dont France Telecom la détient conjointement avec Orascom.

    Tunisia IT
  • Le prix en Bourse du titre Sonatel (Société nationale des télécommunications) a connu une forte baisse de 12.300 FCFA à l’issue de la séance de cotation de ce mardi, a appris APA auprès de la Bourse régionale des valeurs mobilières (BRVM).

    Le cours en Bourse de cette valeur est ainsi passé de 164.000 FCFA la veille à 151.700 FCFA, soit une variation de 7,5% (1 FCFA équivaut à 0,0019 dollar).

    Apanews
  • La santé et la protection des populations sont en théorie l’une des priorités des gouvernements. Malgré de nettes améliorations ces dernières décennies, l'état de la santé en Afrique est toujours aussi préoccupant, affirmait encore récemment un rapport de l'OMS. Mais cette tendance est loin d'être irréversible. Grâce notamment à l'e-santé (santé par des technologies électroniques), et en particulier la m-santé (santé mobile), la santé en Afrique peut être nettement améliorée.

    Le 28 février 2011, Sylvain Béletre de Balancing Act a pris part aux "Amphis de la santé" lors d'un séminaire interne à Orange et axé sur l'e-santé en Afrique. Voici son résumé.

    Du point de vue de l'opérateur, largement présent en Afrique, les technologies sont aujourd'hui matures et disponibles sur différents réseaux et terminaux. Récemment, la croissance du marché mobile et de l’Internet en Afrique a été deux fois plus importante que celle enregistrée au niveau mondial. De grands écarts existent selon les pays mais tous ont connu une progression sensible et l'e-santé peut désormais s'appuyer sur ces nouvelles structures.

    Améliorer l'organisation et la qualité des soins de base, répondre aux urgences plus  rapidement, offrir plus de réactivité, de confort et de sécurité aux patients tout en réduisant les coûts, obtenir des données globale et locales en temps réel sur la santé en Afrique, former le personnel en continue sont quelques-uns des enjeux parfois difficiles à concilier des directions hospitalières et NGO en Afrique. Les nouvelles technologies sont l'un des outils majeurs pour atteindre ces objectifs.

    C'est pourquoi Orange se lance dans une réflexion sur une offre « e-santé » pour améliorer la santé des africains.

    Ce séminaire était un RV interne aux employés d'Orange auxquels des participants extérieurs ont pris part. "Ces moments d'échange avec des visions extérieures au groupe sont toujours extrêmement riches et contribuent à alimenter la réflexion" explique Françoise Valla, organisatrice du séminaire. Parmi les participants furent présents une sociologue, un bailleur de fonds, deux grandes NGO santé, et Sylvain Béletre du cabinet Balancing-Act (cabinet études spécialisé TIC en Afrique).

    La réunion a démarré par une présentation basée sur une étude rétrospective et prospective de l'Afrique par une sociologue. En utilisant des éléments socioculturels, politiques et historiques, il s'agissait de connaître et de changer le regard occidental porté sur l'Afrique. Le but était de fournir une photographie socioculturelle réaliste, débarrassée des clichés habituels de ce continent à multiples facettes. Cette présentation fut l'occasion de mettre en avant des éléments majeurs à retenir, comme par exemple l'évolutions des représentations de ce continent, le poids de l'histoire, le panafricanisme, les dynamiques transfrontalières, les flux migratoires, les nouveaux équilibres politiques et économiques, les langues et les corridors, ou encore la géronto-croissance.

    Cette présentation fut suivie de la diffusion d'une vidéo qui montrait un exemple de projet de télémédecine en Afrique.

    Le séminaire a enchaîné en abordant divers aspects intéressants sur le continent africain: les dynamiques de transfert de connaissances via les TIC, le concept de l'émergence d'une classe moyenne qui dépenserait plus pour l'éducation et la santé, le modèle des mutuelles santé, la mise en place d'un système d'assurance obligatoire dans certains pays africains.

    La discussion a abordé les spécificités du secteur de la santé en Afrique qui inclut l’absence de structure financière (pas de système d’assurance dans la plupart des pays), la pénurie de professionnels de santé, la manque d'investissement dans le secteur, le traitement financier peu élevé de ces professionnels et l'insuffisance des infrastructures. Les applications possibles en e-santé sont vastes et touchent toute la chaîne logistique de la santé : des premiers soins à l'assurance maladie en passant par les données des centres de soin, le carnet de santé et de vaccinations, les alertes épidémiques, la traçabilité des médicaments pour lutter contre la contrefaçon et pour les distribuer aux bons endroits, l'accès aux services de santé, les équipements hospitaliers, les statistiques nationales, les remboursements de soins, et bien plus encore.

    Des problèmes comme les transports - avec des infrastructures insuffisantes et des coûts élevés - qui dissuadent certaines populations de se rendre à l’hôpital éloigné ou ralentissent le transit de médicaments, les faux médicaments, le détournement de aides sanitaires ou encore les coupures régulières d'électricité empêchent souvent l'utilisation de services de santé vitaux aux populations.

    Cette équation de paramètres, sans doute simplificatrice, laisse penser que les TIC pourraient pallier en partie ces insuffisances et permettre un accès élargi aux soins. Il ne fait plus de doute que l'e-santé peu réduire le coût de la médecine en Afrique (et ailleurs), et qu'elle peut soutenir une amélioration durable de l'espérance de vie. Demeure une difficulté aujourd’hui non résolue : la définition de modèles économiques viables permettant la diffusion de ces outils.

    Deux axes de réflexion ressortent de ce RV : pourquoi et comment agir ?
    Quelle est la perception des africains concernant la santé, et est-ce qu’Orange peut légitimement contribuer à cette révolution africaines ?

    Est-ce que l'Afrique tout entière doit mettre en place une assurance maladie à bas coût assurant un minimum de soin pour tous comme c'est le cas dans certains pays ? Est-ce que ce ne sont pas aux gouvernements africains de donner l'impulsion du lancement de ces outils e-santé ? L'union africaine ne doit-elle pas prendre part à l'élaboration et au financement d'un système de santé harmonisé à toute l'Afrique?

    Quels sont les outils durables les plus simples et les moins coûteux à mettre en place ? Sur quels TICs s'appuyer pour soutenir ces projets (mobile, satellite, fixe, GPS, IT, audiovisuel) ? Est-ce que ces services doivent dégager une marge minimale pour assurer leur pérennité ? Quels sont les scénarios de retours sur investissements ? Avec quels partenaires internationaux et locaux faut-il mettre ces outils en place sur le terrain ? Qui peut et qui doit financer (gouvernements africains, bailleurs, donneurs/NGO, investisseurs privés, populations) ? Doit-on tendre vers une standardisation et une harmonisation des protocoles de systèmes d'e-santé entre opérateurs télécoms africains ? Pourquoi les logiciels ouverts pourraient-ils être utilisés ? Et bien d'autres questions encore.

    Balancing Act a manifesté son intention de contribuer à cette réflexion pour apporter des réponses concrètes sur le terrain en Afrique.

    Contact: sbeletre@balancingact-africa.com

  • Air Madagascar, la grande compagnie de l'Océan Indien, et Airtel, le plus grand réseau de téléphonie mobile, ont signé hier un partenariat qui lance « Flysmart » le premier mode de paiement de billets d'avion par téléphone mobile ou m.paiement qui, associé avec le e-ticket, service déjà disponible chez Air Madagascar permet, aux voyageurs de payer leur billet d'avion sans se déplacer.

     Le système est simple, mais efficace. Le voyageur effectue en premier lieu sa réservation à travers le call center d'Air Madagascar. La compagnie lui renvoie par la suite, par courrier électronique son dossier de réservation avec les tarifs et une facture pro-forma.

    Dès la possession de ces données, le client peut payer le billet à travers Airtel Money, le système de paiement par mobile d'Airtel. Une fois le paiement reçu par Air Madagascar, à travers son TPE, cette dernière envoie au voyageur, son billet électronique par e-mail.

    Bref, « Flysmart » permet un énorme gain de temps et d'argent pour les voyageurs. « Les voyageurs n'ont plus besoin de se déplacer auprès des agences à faire une longue queue pour acheter leur billet », a expliqué hier Fidy Rakotonirina Administrateur Délégué d'Air Madagascar.

    Pour Heiko Schlittke, D.G d'Airtel Madagascar, ce partenariat avec Air Madagascar va encore augmenter le nombre des personnes qui vont bénéficier des bienfaits d'Airtel Money.

    Prouvant la volonté des dirigeants d'Air Madagascar d'offrir des services innovants aux voyageurs, le système de paiement Flysmart a, par ailleurs, l'avantage de ne pas engendrer des coûts supplémentaires, pour le client. Flysmart, un service de qualité que très peu de compagnies dans le monde offrent actuellement, est déjà opérationnel au sein d'Air Madagascar.

  • Un atelier de deux jours sur «le cinéma africain, la vidéo et l'impact social de nouvelles technologies» aura lieu les 27 et 28 février à Ouagadougou, sous l'égide du Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique (CODESRIA).

    La chaine AFRICA 24  a annoncé qu’elle va bientôt lancer son site internet.

    Les sites Seneweb, PressAfrik et Ferloo.com vont signer un accord de partenariat portant sur un échange de contenus. Selon un communiqué conjoint parvenu à SenewebNews, « cet accord va permettre à ces sites d’informations générales de pouvoir échanger et partager gratuitement des liens, des articles, des videos ou photos

  • Défis et Enjeux de Régulation
    17-19 Mars 2011, Marrakech, Maroc

    Le secteur des télécoms a connu un essor considérable durant la dernière décennie grâce notamment aux innovations technologiques et au processus de libéralisation entamé par de nombreux pays. A cet égard, la régulation des télécoms en Afrique parait comme un maillon essentiel pour généraliser l’accessibilité, et assurer un développement sain et équilibré du secteur qui garanti les intérêts des différentes parties prenantes. C’est pour débattre des enjeux de la régulation en Afrique du Nord, du Centre et de l’Ouest que i-conférences organise en partenariat avec la Banque Africaine de Développement le Forum Africain des Télécoms.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

    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

  • M. Montassar Ouaili a démissionné de son poste de PDG de Tunisie Telecom.
    Montassar Ouaili avait succédé à monsieur Ahmed Mahjoub en tant que président directeur général de Tunisie Télécom.

  • Prix TIGA 2011 pour l’utilisation de la Technologie dans l’Administration  en Afrique

    Date limite de candidature : le 28 février 2011
     
    La Commission Economique pour l’Afrique et le Gouvernement de la Finlande ont le plaisir d’annoncer le troisième prix pour l’utilisation de la technologie dans l’administration en Afrique.

    Les prix pour l’utilisation de la Technologie dans l’Administration  en Afrique visent à récompenser le travail des Etats Africains dans l’utilisation effective des Technologies de l’ Information et de la Communication (TIC) dans la délivrance des services publics mis en œuvre dans le cadre de l’Initiative pour la Société de l’Information en Afrique (AISI) de la CEA et de la Stratégie de la Coopération pour le Développement du Gouvernement de la Finlande. Les prix sont destinés aux Etats Africains et aux institutions basées en Afrique qui sont engagés dans la conception, le développement, et  la mise en œuvre des programmes TIC pour les services publics et  contribuant à la mise en œuvre de  la Société de l’Information dans le continent. Les objectifs sont :
    de susciter une plus grande conscience sur le rôle des TICs dans les services publics et le processus de développement dans le cadre de l’Initiative pour la Société de l’Information en Afrique (AISI) ;
    d’encourager les Etats et les Institutions africaines à utiliser les TICs pour le développement en général et pour améliorer les services publics en particulier ;
    d’influencer les autres acteurs africains à utiliser effectivement les TICs  au service des citoyens.

    Initié en 2007 ce programme pionnier africain récompensera publiquement l’innovation, l’excellence et le leadership dans le développement du e-gouvernement (administration électronique) dans le secteur public en Afrique. La nomination aux Prix TIGA devrait être considérée comme un honneur et une réussite de carrière dans le secteur public pour les membres des équipes qui seront sélectionnées.
    Les premiers prix TIGA ont été décernés à douze projets dans neuf pays, et les seconds organisés en 2009 ont considérés des projets d’innovation dans dix pays qui ont permis des changements dans l’utilisation des TICs pour les services publics.
    Le prix TIGA est un événement biennal. Pour plus informations consulter le site : http://www.uneca.org/tiga

Issue No 151 10th February 2011

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Editorial

  • Le nombre de stations de base utilisant des énergies renouvelables en Afrique reste faible. Seulement 3.1% du nombre total de déploiements à travers le monde (9,558) sont situés en Afrique. Cette annonce tombe tandis que la presse rapportait la semaine dernière une augmentation alarmante du prix du pétrole brut avec le baril de brut Brent franchissant le seuil des 101 dollars US pour la première fois depuis octobre 2008.

    Un grand nombre de stations de base en Afrique nécessitent deux générateurs et dans certains cas leurs réservoirs peuvent contenir parfois jusqu’à trois mois d’approvisionnement en fuel. Des stations de base dans les régions plus reculées doivent être approvisionnées par bateau ou par chariot et dans les pays les plus grands, les opérateurs gère une importante flotte de camions pour assurer l’approvisionnement en fuel de leurs stations de base.

    Isabelle Gross, l’auteur du rapport publié par Balancing Act intitulé « Energy for Cellular Base Stations in Africa: the quick fix approach and the long term perspective to saving energy » explique 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. Isabelle Gross souligne aussi que « l’ARPU voix va continuer son érosion par le bas en raison de la baisse continue des prix des appels téléphoniques et l’acquisition de nouveaux clients disposant de revenus plus bas. La pression de côté du chiffre d’affaires va aller en augmentant pour les opérateurs mobiles ». Au Ghana par exemple, l’ARPU voix est passé de 17 dollars US en 2006 à 7 dollars US en 2010.

    Le rapport indique que lorsqu’il s’agit de réduire les dépenses énergétiques « il n’y a de solutions clef en main mais cela peut être fait ». La meilleure approche consiste d’abord à voir comment gérer les stations de base de façon plus efficace sur le plan énergétique. En d’autres termes, il s’agit de l’approche « système D » qui consiste à modifier ou à re-paramétrer certains équipements dans la station de base pour réaliser des économies d’énergie sans avoir besoin de réaliser des investissements. Le système de refroidissement est par essence un bon point de départ parce qu’il peut représenter jusqu’à 35% de la consommation totale d’électricité d’une station de base. Cette part peut augmenter à 50% s’il y a moins d’émetteurs utilisés. Des opérateurs mobiles comme Vodacom, Orange ou MTN ont commencé à expérimenter des solutions de refroidissement naturel en combinaison ou non avec par exemple une augmentation de la température dans la cabine de la station de base.

    En parallèle à l’analyse détaillée des différentes systèmes mis en place par les opérateurs mobiles pour gérer plus efficacement leurs stations de base, le rapport présente aussi les solutions « vertes » disponibles sur le marché et qui permettraient aux opérateurs mobiles de réduire encore plus leur facture énergétique. Il y a de plus en plus de solutions à disposition utilisant des énergies renouvelables (énergie solaire ou éolienne, solutions fonctionnant avec des biocarburants, pile à combustible à l’hydrogène) mais toutes impliquent au départ un investissement considérable en capital.

    Le rapport propose une analyse commerciale des solutions « vertes » pour les stations de base tout en donnant des exemples d’opérateurs mobiles africains qui ont commencé à déployer des projets d’énergie renouvelable pour alimenter leurs stations de base. Le rapport établit que l’énergie solaire en conjonction avec un générateur diesel requiert le plus faible investissement en capital. Dans ce cas de figure, les coûts d’exploitation seront réduits (baisse de la facture carburant) mais pas totalement éliminés. Une combinaison énergie solaire et éolienne supporté par des batteries permet de réduire au maximum les frais d’exploitation mais représente l’investissement en capital le plus lourd.

    Selon l’auteur du rapport, l’approche « système D » permettra de réduire les coûts d’exploitation mais seulement jusqu’à un certain niveau. Pour réduire d’avantage ces coûts, il va falloir faire un investissement en capital pour soit acheter des équipements plus efficaces soit pour déployer des solutions d’énergie renouvelable. La décision financière revient en fin de compte aux opérateurs mobiles et dépend de leur stratégie d’investissements et ainsi que de leur vision quant à leur rôle au long terme.

    Ce rapport de 45 pages contient 5 illustrations, 4 tableaux, 8 graphiques et 4 cartes. Il se termine par un annuaire de sociétés offrant des équipements et des services pour améliorer l’efficacité énergétique des stations de base ainsi que les coordonnées d’entreprises proposant des solutions utilisant des énergies renouvelables. Cet annuaire sera bien à toute personne qui va se trouver en charge de ces questions dans l’avenir.

    Pour plus de détails cliquez sur le lien suivant visitez:

    NTIC en Afrique: Ne manquez pas nos dernières vidéos sur notre Web TV qui
    vous apportent des interviews récentes de personnalités d'Afrique et de la
    Diaspora. Ces entrevues sont en anglais et en français:

    Télécoms en Afrique
    visitez:

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  • Au Sénégal, ça a été une affaire brulante tout au long de l’été dernier. Il y a deux mois de ça Madagascar s’est aussi mis en tête que le contrôle du traffic international entrant était une « poule aux œufs d’or » et qu’il fallait absolument ne pas la  laisser s’échapper (voir l’article dans le numéro précédent « Madagascar: Le Ministre s’entête avec son projet de passerelle unique » au lien suivant visite:). Voila maintenant que la Mauritanie entre dans la danse aussi. Ci-dessous un extrait de l’avis d’appel à manifestation publié le 23 janvier dernier par l’ARE, l’autorité de régulation de Mauritanie (pour lire l’avis complet cliquez sur le lien suivant visite:)

    La question à mille francs qui suit: Quelles sont selon vous les sociétés qui vont répondre à l’avis d’appel à manifestation ? Envoyez vos suggestions à igross@balancingact-africa.com.

    « Avis d’appel à manifestation d’intérêt pour la fourniture, l’installation et la mise en service d’un système de contrôle du trafic international entrant et de lutte contre la fraude, au siège de l’Autorité de Régulation

    Par décret N°2010-268 en date du 12 décembre 2010, le Gouvernement de la République Islamique de Mauritanie a institué un seuil minimum pour la tarification de la terminaison d’appel des communications téléphoniques internationales entrantes en Mauritanie et a chargé l’Autorité de Régulation (ARE) de son application.

    Dans ce cadre, l’ARE lance le présent appel international à manifestation d’intérêt à l’intention des entreprises réputées de gestion des passerelles internationales, possédant une expérience démontrable ainsi que l’expertise et la capacité technique nécessaires pour assister l’ARE en tant que partenaire stratégique.

    Cette assistance portera sur le développement et la mise en place des mesures administratives, procédurales et techniques ainsi que des plateformes. Elle permettra ainsi à l’ARE de superviser, de contrôler et de collecter efficacement les données relatives au trafic international entrant, de facturer et de calculer les différents revenus afférents. Cette assistance portera également sur la mise en place d’un système de lutte contre la fraude téléphonique. »

  • La nouvelle loi portant Code des télécommunications, adoptée par l'Assemblée nationale, vise notamment à changer le statut juridique de l'Agence de régulation des Télécommunications et des Postes (ARTP) qui doit devenir à terme une autorité administrative indépendante, selon le ministère de tutelle.

     Le ministre de la Communication, des Télécommunications et des TIC Moustapha Guirassy a présenté vendredi devant l'Assemblée nationale le projet de loi portant Code des Télécommunications. Le texte a été adopté par les députés réunis en séance plénière.

    Le nouveau Code des télécommunications devrait permettre à l'ARTP de disposer de "moyens financiers et humains lui permettant d'assurer ses missions, de manière impartiale, autonome et transparente par l'affectation des redevances et autres contreparties financières versées par les opérateurs pour l'exercice de leurs activités", précise l'exposé des motifs de ce projet de loi.

    D'une façon générale, la nouvelle loi vise à rendre le secteur des télécommunications et des technologies de l'information et de la communication conforme avec le droit communautaire UEMOA/CEDEAO.

    Le projet soumis aux députés met en exergue "les principaux aspects de la régulation des télécommunications, notamment la concurrence, l'interconnexion, l'accès/service universel, les ressources rares et la tarification", selon le document.

    Il permet en même temps une mise à jour des définitions technico-juridiques des termes utilisés et prend en compte de nouveaux domaines de la régulation dont l'affirmation du principe de la neutralité technologique de la règlementation des télécommunications et des TIC.

    APS
  • L'Agence de régulation des postes et des communications électroniques (Arpce) traite pour la presse de l'évolution du marché des télécommunications

    Yves Castanou, directeur général de l'Arpce, a animé le vendredi 4 février à Pointe-Noire un point de presse portant sur les thèmes suivants : « Le marché de la téléphonie mobile en 2010 », « La question de l'identification des abonnés mobiles » et « La question des pylônes ».

    Pour Sondé-Ndé, directeur de réseau et du service communications électroniques, l'Arpce a eu à organiser au cours de l'année 2010 plusieurs réunions à Brazzaville avec chaque sous-secteur des postes et communications électroniques. Elle a de même participé aux travaux d'exploitation au niveau de la Cémac visant à mettre en œuvre une réglementation unique, de sorte que toutes les communications électroniques de la zone soient considérées comme locales. De même, elle a maintes fois participé aux travaux de l'Union internationale des télécommunications.

    En terme de réalisations, souligne l'orateur, l'Arpce a élaboré et réalisé le plan national de numérotation à neuf chiffres, ainsi que le plan national des fréquences, dont la publication est prévue pour la semaine prochaine. Parlant du cadre qui doit être réglementé, Sondé-Ndé s'en est expliqué : « Il est impératif pour le Congo d'avoir un cadre réglementé pour nous permettre d'être en avance par rapport aux opérateurs du secteur, car l'absence de réglementation peut retarder l'arrivée des techniciens », a conclu l'orateur.

    Parlant de la fibre optique, le directeur indique que l'Arpce a depuis l'année dernière commencé la caractérisation du marché. Et plusieurs questions sont restées en suspens à propos de la réglementation de la fibre optique. Car, se demande l'orateur, dans quelles conditions sera-t-elle partagée, et dans quelles conditions un opérateur pourra-t-il se permettre d'utiliser ce réseau ?
    « Nous avons commencé 2011 avec le programme d'identification des abonnés, et nous comptons prochainement nous attaquer à la portabilité des numéros », a-t-il ajouté. Toujours dans le souci de faire mieux, l'Arpce va organiser la semaine prochaine à Brazzaville des rencontres avec les fournisseurs d'internet.

    Le marché de la téléphonie mobile est en pleine croissance, le nombre d'abonnés a augmenté de 26,51% entre 2009 et 2010, jusqu'à atteindre 3,646 millions en 2010. La même année, le taux de pénétration de la téléphonie mobile a gagné 17 points pour s'établir à 93,39%, contre 75,97% en 2009.

    À la fin de la rencontre, les deux orateurs ont souhaité voir les médias travailler avec eux la main dans la main dans le but de structurer, moderniser et dynamiser le secteur stratégique des postes et communications électroniques.

  • Le long procès des policiers accusés d'avoir assassiné le défenseur des droits de l'homme Floribert Chebeya se poursuit à Kinshasa. Les prévenus dans le box n'ont rien avoué, et les témoins ne disent pas grand-chose. Bref, on est encore loin de la vérité. A la recherche de preuves, l'accusation fait appel aux listings téléphoniques pour démêler les fils du complot.

     Dans ce procès, il n'y a quasiment que des policiers, dans le box bien sûr, mais aussi à la barre des témoins. Le problème est qu'ils ont tous tendance soit à se soutenir les uns les autres soit à avoir peur les uns des autres. C'est au prix de longs interrogatoires laborieux qu'on ne leur arrache que quelques bribes d'information.

    Le tribunal fait donc appel à la technologie de la téléphonie mobile pour savoir qui a appelé qui, à quelle heure, avant et après l'assassinat de Floribert Chebeya et de son chauffeur Fidèle Bazana. Des experts des sociétés de téléphonie mobile sont appelés à la barre. Chargés de longs listings d'appels, et sous serment, ils doivent décortiquer les coups de téléphone, émis ou reçus, à quelle heure, et combien de secondes.

    La technologie permet aussi de savoir dans quelle zone se trouvait un téléphone car, sur ces mêmes listings, on peut retrouver la trace des différentes antennes des réseaux. En RDC c'est encore plus compliqué qu'ailleurs car presque tout le monde a deux, voire trois portables suivant le nombre de sociétés de téléphonie, vous multipliez par le nombre d'accusés et de témoins. Cela aboutit à un exercice proche du casse-tête.

    RFI
  • M. Sami Zaoui, secrétaire d'Etat chargé des Technologies de la communication, a rencontré, hier, à Tunis, des représentants de la presse tunisienne, le but étant de présenter les priorités du secrétariat pour la période future et de faire le point sur les dossiers en cours d'étude.

     M. Zaoui s'est, principalement, attardé lors de cette rencontre sur les questions de libéralisation totale d'Internet, la mise en place d'une loi Internet, le renforcement de l'INT (Instance nationale des télécommunications) et sa restructuration.

    Il a, ainsi, tenu à rappeler que le principe était d'offrir un Internet libre, tout en respectant certaines règles, notamment l'interdiction de sites qui inciteraient à la violence et ceux dont le contenu serait contraire aux moeurs.

    Il a, par ailleurs, relevé que face à certaines revendications qui plaident pour une liberté totale de l'Internet, la solution idéale serait de proposer deux types d'accès, un accès libre pour les administrations et un accès contrôlé pour les familles. Le secrétaire d'Etat a noté que deux difficultés se posent à ce niveau. La première est d'ordre technique et se rattache au fait que les opérateurs nationaux n'ont point de techniques appropriées pour assurer ce contrôle, la seconde est économique, elle est inhérente au coût supplémentaire de cette opération de contrôle et qui serait lourde à supporter pour les utilisateurs.

    Evoquant la question de la sécurité informatique, il a souligné que l'ATI (Agence tunisienne d'internet) est sereine sur ce plan. Il a, par ailleurs, relevé que le secteur doit aujourd'hui faire face à un vide juridique en attendant de publier une loi Internet.

    S'agissant de l'INT, il a relevé que cette instance, empêchée pendant longtemps de jouer pleinement son rôle, sera renforcée.

    M. Zaoui a, en outre, précisé qu'il n'était pas possible de nier que le secteur des télécommunications est un secteur qui a été pénalisé par un ensemble de restrictions et qui a été empêché de se développer. Il a noté, à ce propos, que le secrétariat chargé des Technologies de la communication veillera, durant les six mois à venir, à permettre à cette instance de jouer son rôle conformément aux standards internationaux. Il s'agit, notamment, de gommer tous les éléments de distorsion de concurrence et d'assurer une équité entre les opérateurs qui pourront, dès lors, bénéficier d'une concurrence saine et constructive.

    Pour ce qui est des 25% du capital de Tunisiana acquis par Sakhr Materi, le secrétaire d'Etat a noté que ces parts reviennent à l'Etat et que Qatar Télécom reconnaît l'Etat tunisien comme interlocuteur unique.

    Cette rencontre avec la presse a, également, été une occasion pour parler de l'ATI ( Agence tunisienne d'internet). M. Zaoui a annoncé qu'un plan de restructuration de cette agence est en cours, un plan qui intègre, notamment, l'élimination de la notion de point d'entrée unique sur le territoire.
     
    Pour ce qui est de l'introduction en Bourse de Tunisie Télécom (initialement prévue en février 2011), il a précisé que la décision sera prise dans les jours qui viennent tout en prenant compte de certaines données, notamment la nervosité du marché financier et la phase difficile par laquelle passe, aujourd'hui, la Bourse de Tunis.

    Il a également évoqué les problèmes internes que connaît aujourd'hui TT et a souligné qu'il était important, à ce propos, de renforcer la communication entre la direction, les syndicats et les employés afin d'informer ces intervenants sur la stratégie et les objectifs de l'entreprise.

    La Presse
  • Un accord est intervenu jeudi entre le fournisseur d'accès à internet (FAI), Cafe Informatique, et l'Autorité de réglementation des postes et télécommunication (ART&P) grâce auquel la société pourra poursuivre ses activités au Togo.

     L'ART&P avait annoncé fin janvier que Cafe n'avait pas acquitté les redevances depuis plusieurs années et lui reprochait d'être dans l'incapacité de fournir un plan d'investissement et de développement comme l'exige le cadre réglementaire.

    Le FAI s'est engagé à acquitter les licences et a soumis un plan d'apurement de dettes validé par l'Autorité de réglementation.

    Cafe Informatique propose à ses clients des connexions à débit rapide par Vsat (liaisons satellite) en y intégrant également des solutions téléphoniques avec le VoIp.

    L'autre fournisseur togolais est Hélim (groupe Togo Telecom) qui lui fait appel à la technologie ADSL.

  • Après avoir totalement coupé la connexion durant 5 jours, les autorités égyptiennes ont rebranché les tuyaux de l’Internet mercredi. Les effets de cette censure pourtant sans précédent ont montré leurs limites. Au nom du principe de respect des libertés numériques, plusieurs fournisseurs d’accès étrangers ainsi que les géants Google et Twitter ont mis en place des stratégies de contournement de la censure, permettant aux mots d’ordre des manifestants anti-Moubarak de se répandre.

    Fin du black out sur l’Internet égyptien. Après cinq jours de coupure, le gouvernement égyptien a annoncé mercredi le retour progressif du Web, selon la chaîne qatarie al-djazeera. Internet était au moins rétabli mercredi matin au Caire, ont confirmé des internautes et des journalistes de l’AFP. Des internautes égyptiens ont toutefois indiqué à l’agence Reuters que les sites des réseaux sociaux Twitter et Facebook étaient toujours inaccessibles mercredi matin, malgré le retour de l’Internet.

    La société Cedexis, qui mesure le trafic Internet pour une centaine de clients dans le monde, a confirmé la nouvelle. « Tous les fournisseurs d’accès ont repris plus ou moins au même moment, ce qui signifie qu’il s’agit d’une décision gouvernementale de rétablir le réseau », a expliqué Julien Coulon, fondateur de Cedexis, à France24.com, précisant que la connexion a été rétablie à 10h50 (heure égyptienne).

    Comme en Tunisie, Internet et la téléphonie mobile ont joué un rôle crucial dans le déclenchement des manifestations le 25 janvier dernier en Egypte, organisées à l’appel du mouvement du 6 avril et d’autres organisations des droits de l’Homme via le réseau Facebook. Et l’omerta imposée par le régime égyptien sur la toile depuis le début de la contestation n’a eu qu’un effet limité. Grâce au soutien actif de plusieurs fournisseurs d’accès étrangers et des géants Google et Twitter, des stratégies de contournement ont été en effet rapidement mises en place pour permettre aux manifestants d’échanger des informations, de mobiliser et de s’organiser.

    Twitter et Google ont mis en place, lundi soir, un système permettant de twitter sans avoir à recourir à une connexion Web. Baptisé Speak2tweet, l’outil permet de laisser un message vocal, depuis une ligne fixe, vers trois numéros hébergés à l’étranger.

    Speak2tweet n’est pas la seule solution proposée pour contourner le black out imposé par le régime Moubarak. Le fournisseur d’accès à Internet associatif français FDN a proposé dès vendredi 31 janvier un accès à distance via modem analogique. Le groupe suédois des défenseurs des libertés numériques a également mis en place un numéro (+46850009990) et des codes d’accès et mots de passe (telecomix/telecomix) pour permettre aux Egyptiens de se connecter via la ligne fixe. Bien que le Web ait joué un rôle important dans le déclenchement de la contestation en Egypte et Tunisie, de nombreux observateurs estiment que les réseaux sociaux n’ont pas provoqué la révolution, mais n’ont fait que l’accompagner. « Cette grande théorie selon laquelle les mouvements de protestation actuels en Tunisie, l’an dernier en Iran et en Birmanie, puiseraient leur source dans les réseaux sociaux ou seraient relayés par eux est une grande escroquerie intellectuelle », affirme Gilles Fontaines, le rédacteur en chef délégué du magazine Challenge, sur son blog consacré aux nouvelles technologies. Ce que les Tunisiens et les Egyptiens ont accompli ces derniers jours, ils le doivent d’abord au courage de beaucoup d’entre eux, dont certains ont payé leur audace de leur vie.

    Afrik Com
  • Il fut un temps ou les entreprises africaines appelaient des ingénieurs d'Europe ou d'ailleurs pour intervenir sur des problématiques informatiques locales. Ce phénomène est en train de changer avec l'émergence de nouvelles SSII locales en Afrique. Konan Systems est l'une d'entre elles.

    La société, établie à Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire) apporte des réponses aux problèmes de sécurité et de fiabilité des systèmes d'information. Konan Systems est le premier pôle organisationnel spécialisé dans la sécurité et la fiabilité des systèmes d'information à travers les technologies Unix, Linux et Open-source.

    Stéphane Konan, directeur de la société est interviewé par Sylvain Béletre, Balancing Act Africa. Voir les deux interviews en vidéos:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDCCXMEhhBQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ4gJm2CnSQ

    Décrivez-nous votre société:
    Konan Systems est un spécialiste du déploiement et de la maintenance des data centres et des services informatiques en Afrique. L'entreprise a 3 ans d'existence puisque nous avons démarré en décembre 2007. Nous sommes spécialisés dans les technologies open source Unix, Linux, et nous garantissons la continuité de service et la sécurité des Data Centres. Nous mettons par exemple en place des plateformes de support technique qui peuvent être contrôlées à distance.

    Nous fournissons aussi des formations, des audits en sécurité et en performance.

    Nos clients sont des opérateurs de téléphonie, des banques, grandes entreprises de l'industrie et quelques fois des gouvernements. Nous employons de jeunes ingénieurs, tous africain et formés par Konan Systems.

    Parlons des data centres en Afrique: pouvons-nous nous en dire plus sur le besoin local dans ces équipements?
    L'Afrique a besoin de plus de data centres mutualisés, partagés. Nous intervenons actuellement sur 11  data centres (propriétaires) en Afrique. L'information est capitale dans les économies du 21ème siècle. Cette information se trouve ou transite par les data centres.

    C'est une raison suffisante pour affirmer qu'il est important que des data centres soient implantés sur le continent africain et non en dehors du continent.

    Par ailleurs, ces data centres requièrent des expertises locales. L'apport en terme de développement économique pour l'Afrique est évident.

    Enfin, il existe des réglementations qui obligent les acteurs locaux à héberger leurs données localement.

    Comment vous est venue l'idée de monter cette société?
    L'entreprise est née à partir de l'idée que, au-delà de l'informatique, le développement des pays du tiers-monde reposera entre autres sur le partage et la diffusion du savoir:

    On le voit avec l'essor des technologies Open Source, technologies Wiki (encyclopédies collaboratives, telles que Wikipedia), éducation à distance (OCW, OpenCourseWare), etc.

    Nous avons également estimé qu'il était important que l'Afrique acquière, mais soit également capable d'exporter de l'expertise, de la matière grise. C'est ainsi qu'un accent particulier est mis sur le savoir-faire technologique.

    Combien de personnes employez-vous?
    Nous sommes 32 personnes dont 3 au service administratif, le reste étant des ingénieurs et consultants internes ou externes.

    Sur quels territoires travaillez-vous?
    Nous travaillons uniquement sur l'Afrique francophone, 10 pays d'Afrique aujourd'hui. Nous sommes intervenus également à Dubaï et au Danemark en 2010; tandis que des marchés important se profilent à l'horizon en Italie. Notre spécificité est de vendre notre expertise qui peut être proposée partout dans le monde.

    Comment formez-vous les équipes?
    25-30% de notre CA va à la formation interne. Nous avons mis en place une veille technologique continuelle avec des sessions ponctuelles animés par des experts (que je remercie au passage pour leur aide bénévole) et l'utilisation d'outils e-Learning. La formation est notre élément moteur.
     
    Est-ce que le gouvernement accompagne votre formation?
    Non, et il n'existe pas à ma connaissance d'aide gouvernementale en CI pour aider à ce type de formation. En tout cas nous n'en bénéficions pas. Le gouvernement fait des efforts certes, avec par exemple le FDFP (fond pour le développement de la formation professionnelle) mais qui ne couvre pas notre champ d'activité.

    Cherchez-vous des partenaires et lesquels?
    Nous sommes en quête permanente de savoir; à ce titre et dans le cadre de l'extension de notre champ de compétences au Cloud Computing et à la Cybersécurité, nous sollicitons des partenariats techniques.

    Avez-vous besoin de plus d'ingénieurs locaux?
    Le marché mondial est demandeur. Notre principal motif de fierté pour l'heure est d'avoir imposé un modèle économique qui marche.  Le secteur des nouvelles technologies de l'information a besoin de spécialistes en virtualisation capable par exemple de définir des architectures de Cloud Computing ou de spécialiste en analyse forensique informatique pour aider dans des enquêtes de police: pourquoi pas des jeunes africains?

    Avec les récents évènements en CI, comment gérez-vous la situation?
    Le fait que nous intervenions principalement hors du pays n'a pas beaucoup affecté nos contrats. La demande ne faiblit pas. Néanmoins les problématiques de sécurité impactent nos opérations.

    Comment vous différenciez-vous de la concurrence?
    Nous ne voyions pas les choses de cette manière. Nous regardons avec beaucoup d'attention et de respect nos vrais concurrents, c'est à dire ceux qui mènent le débat sur le plan de la technique et des solutions. Nous essayons de surpasser nos prédécesseurs, ce n'est pas chose aisée mais c'est stimulant.
     
    Votre CA 2010?
    Insuffisant au regard de nos ambitions. Je me réjouis par contre de la satisfaction de nos clients et surtout du fait de contribuer humblement à donner des perspectives sociales nouvelles à de jeunes frères africains.
    Plus d'info sur: http://www.konansystems.net

  • Peut-on savoir quel est le rôle d'Emploitic.com dans le marché de l'emploi en Algérie ?

    Emploitic. com a été créé avec l'ambition de rapprocher les entreprises et les demandeurs d'emploi. Il a été conçu pour faciliter la recherche d'emploi aux candidats et permettre aux recruteurs de trouver les profils recherchés dans les plus brefs délais.
    Comment se font les recrutements au niveau des entreprises qui passent par Emploitic.com ?

     Etant un organisme privé agréé, les entreprises nous contactent dès que leur besoin en recrutement est défini pour diffuser des annonces d'emploi ou accéder à la base de données de CV.

    L'avantage du recrutement sur Internet est de profiter d'un service rapide avec une publication immédiate de l'annonce. Un service efficace avec réception dans les minutes qui suivent des premières candidatures, et finalement un service très économique comparé aux moyens traditionnels.

    Pensez-vous que l'existence d'entreprises opérant comme Emploitic.com peuvent aider à la résorption du chômage ?

    Notre rôle n'est pas d'absorber le chômage, nous agissons plutôt comme média de recrutement pour accélérer le processus du recrutement. Aussi, en tant qu'entreprise créée dans le cadre de l'Ansej, il est vrai que nous sommes nous-mêmes créateurs d'emplois puisque nous sommes passés de 2 employés/créateurs en 2006 à 30 employés aujourd'hui.

    Peut-on savoir combien de demandeurs ont réussi à trouver un poste d'emploi via votre boîte, ces deux dernières années ?

    En 2010, il y a eu plus de 10 000 recrutements réalisés par l'intermédiaire d'Emploitic. Parmi les secteurs les plus actifs, on trouve l'industrie avec 25%, le commerce et la distribution avec 25% et les télécommunications avec 16% des offres.

    Le secteur des services représente 12% et est principalement constitué de PME, vient ensuite le secteur du BTP avec 10%, principalement pour le personnel d'encadrement, d'ingénieurs, techniciens et administratif.

    Pouvez-vous nous décrire le mode opératoire du recrutement dans votre boîte ?

    Pour les candidats, le processus est très simple. Il faut d'abord s'inscrire, ensuite renseigner son CV en ligne. Une fois le dossier prêt, le candidat utilise notre moteur de recherche pour trouver les annonces qui lui correspondent et postuler en un clic.

    La candidature est transmise automatiquement à l'entreprise qui prend en charge la suite du processus. Nous conseillons les candidats de bien renseigner leur profil sur le site et se donner le temps nécessaire, nous leur disons souvent «la recherche d'un emploi est en soi un premier job qui demande organisation, rigueur et persévérance».

    Quant aux entreprises, c'est encore plus simple, elles n'ont qu'à envoyer leurs annonces d'emploi par mail ou nous contacter par téléphone, les annonces seront diffusées juste après confirmation avec le recruteur qui recevra les candidatures directement soit sur son adresse mail, ou sur son espace privé sur Emploitic.

    Nous avons aussi développé une nouvelle technologie qui permet d'optimiser le temps de traitement, de répondre aux candidats, de trier les CV par pertinence et gérer tout le processus de recrutement en ligne.

    La Tribune
  • Il n’est plus rare de voir sur le marché la version contrefaites des derniers logiciels mis sur le marché par Microsoft. A Abidjan comme dans la plupart des capitales de l’Afrique de l’Ouest, c’est chose courante de voir des étudiants en possession de logiciels contrefaits. Même dans le commerce aussi, des revendeurs informatiques ont décidé de se mettre sur la niche de la distribution des logiciels Microsoft contrefaits. Le piratage fait désormais partie de la vie des logiciels. Avant, c’était des particuliers qui fraudaient sur l’utilisation d’un logiciel dans le secret de leurs maisons. Mais aujourd’hui, les PME-PMI ont franchi le pas de la contrefaçon. Le piratage a pignon sur rue à Abidjan.

    Rien qu`en 2009, Microsoft a recensé plus de 150 000 signalements de logiciels contrefaits, à travers le monde ! Et selon le logiciel contrefait, la facture peut être salée pour Microsoft, tant le prix de certains logiciels peut se chiffrer à plusieurs millions francs par licence. Si la contrefaçon de logiciels chez les particuliers est connue, elle ne constitue qu`en fait que la partie émergée de l`iceberg : car les entreprises ne se montrent pas toutes diligentes lorsqu`il s`agit d`acheter des licences pour chaque poste dans l`entreprise !

    Selon des experts de Microsoft Abidjan, les PME-PMI qui ont recours à des « petits installateurs » de logiciels ne doivent comprendre qu’elles ne piratent Windows par exemple, mais plutôt qu’elles utilisent une version piratée. Car en réalité, les "pirates" partent d`un système d`exploitation légal qu`ils modifient à leur guise. Ces logiciels sont ensuite vendus à vil prix avec une possibilité d’utilisation à l’infini. Sur les logiciels contrefaits, on trouve souvent les modifications suivantes : suppression ou contournement des systèmes anti-piratage, ajout/suppression de composants, de logiciels ou d`utilitaires, modification de fichiers systèmes.

    Presque systématiquement aujourd’hui, sans doute pour des questions de coût, les nouvelles PME-PMI en Côte d’Ivoire font appel à des prestataires de services informels pour l’installation de nouveaux logiciels sortis chez Microsoft. C’est le cas de N.A qui travaille dans une société de communication que nous avons rencontré à Yopougon, dans la banlieue abidjanaise :

    « J’ai un CD d’installation de toutes les nouveautés en matière de logiciels. Donc quand une entreprise le souhaite je leur installe ces logiciels moyennant un petit paiement.»

    Les clients de N.A se comptent ainsi à l’appel. L’installation des logiciels « crackés » marche comme des petits pains. Pour une somme forfaitaire qui varie entre 50 et 100 mille francs CFA, N.A semble avoir trouvé le créneau.

    Il en est ainsi de cette affiche placardée sur un mur dans le centre des affaires au Plateau, dans la capitale économique ivoirienne. On lit : « INSTALLATION INFORMATIQUE : WINDOW XP, WINDOW 7 (HOME, PROFESSIONNAL, ENTERPRISE) » etc. etc.

    En effet, à côté des logiciels comme Acrobat et Photoshop ou des antivirus, ce sont les logiciels bureautiques et les systèmes d`exploitation qui sont les plus piratés en entreprise. Ils représentent respectivement 34% et 23% des logiciels piratés en entreprises selon des spécialistes.
    Par cette pratique, les entreprises semblent en fait contourner l`acquisition des logiciels coûteux à l`achat... ou en maintenance.

    Selon M. Ibrahim Youssry, le Directeur Général Afrique de l’Ouest, du Centre et Australe de Microsoft, ce sont des sommes colossales qui sont ainsi perdues qui représentent un manque à gagner non seulement pour Microsoft mais aussi pour l’Etat de Côte d’Ivoire. Aucune évaluation chiffrée n’existe, mais du côté de la représentation ivoirienne du N°1 mondial de logiciels, on affirme que la note de la contrefaçon est des plus salée.

    La contrefaçon est de toute évidence un délit condamné par la loi sur le respect de la propriété intellectuelle. Les entreprises le savent. Pour celles qui ne le savent pas, car il peut arriver que des entreprises soit « victimes », comme Microsoft, de piratage, et utilisent des logiciels piratés sans le savoir, elles peuvent bénéficier de plus de clémence.

    Mais, en général, l`utilisation d`un logiciel contrefait ou piraté peut coûter très cher à l`entreprise ou aux individus qui se rendent coupable de ce délit. Le BSA (Business Software Alliance), une association regroupant les éditeurs de logiciels a par exemple calculé qu`en 2008, l`ensemble des procès intentés contre des entreprises situées en Europe, au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique aurait coûté plus de 18 millions d`euros aux entreprises condamnées pour piratage, en additionnant les dommages et intérêts et le rachat de logiciels licites. Mais le Code de la propriété intellectuelle prévoit des peines beaucoup plus lourdes en cas de piratage de logiciels !

    Ainsi, les entreprises peuvent se voir condamnées à payer lourdes amendes assortie de la fermeture totale ou partielle, définitive ou temporaire de l`établissement ayant servi à commettre l`infraction et de la confiscation du matériel ayant servi à commettre le délit.

    Autrefois, un logiciel acheté pouvait être installé plusieurs fois et sur plusieurs ordinateurs. Chez Microsoft, il y avait comme une volonté de compter sur la bonne fois des utilisateurs en se disant qu’ils respecteraient « la propriété intellectuelle » et que conséquemment, ils n’en limiteraient l’usage qu’à une portée personnelle.
    C’était trop confiance aux hommes. Depuis lors donc, d’autres moyens de contrôle plus coercitifs ont été trouvés en dehors des campagnes de sensibilisation ou des mécanismes de dénonciation:

    Microsoft propose désormais des procédures d`installation du plus en plus longues et de plus en plus sécurisés pour lutter contre la contrefaçon de logiciels. Ainsi, Microsoft ne se contente plus uniquement de demander la clé d`activation lors de l`installation du logiciel. Microsoft oblige plus les utilisateurs à re-renseigner leur numéro de licence et à enregistrer le logiciel sur le site de la marque afin de vérifier l`authenticité du produit. Mieux, il n`hésite pas à resserrer les mailles du filet et à compliquer la tâche des utilisateurs qui souhaiteraient utiliser le logiciel indûment !

    Microsoft est plus que jamais décider à ne pas se faire échapper le produit de son travail. Il n’hésite plus à déployer de grands moyens et à imposer des contrôles réguliers d`authenticité du logiciel aux utilisateurs. Ainsi, depuis quelques années, Microsoft propose aux utilisateurs de ses logiciels de participer au programme Windows Genuine Advantage. Ce programme permet à Microsoft de vérifier que le logiciel, comme Windows 7, par exemple est bien authentique et qu`il ne s`agit pas d`une contrefaçon. Dès le que Windows Genuine détecte une version contrefaite, il le signale à l`utilisateur via l`apparition d`une petite pastille dans la barre de tâches. Dès qu`un logiciel piraté est détecté, il est impossible à l`utilisateur d`effectuer des mises à jour de sécurité, ce qui peut se révéler fatal s`il s`agit du système d`exploitation !

    Abidjan.net
  • France Télécom ne remet pas en cause ses ambitions en Afrique et au Moyen-Orient et déclare que les événements récents en Egypte et en Tunisie n'amoindrissent pas son intérêt pour la région, notamment en termes d'acquisitions.

    France Télécom, le téléopérateur français de télécommunication qui détient 49% du capital d’Orange Tunisie, vient d’exprimer son intérêt pour la Tunisie ainsi que pour l’Egypte malgré les troubles survenus récemment sur les deux pays.

    En effet, selon son PDG, Stephane Richard, le groupe continue encore à exploiter toutes les opportunités existant dans ces deux pays. « La persistance des tensions politiques et sociales en Tunisie et en Egypte n’ont pas minimisé notre intérêt pour investir (…) Même, il va devenir plus important d'avoir des partenaires dans ces pays dans le futur », ajoute-t-il.

    S'exprimant en marge d'une conférence de presse, tenue jeudi en France, M. Richard a également déclaré que le groupe porte une attention particulière à la sécurité de ses 6.300 employés existant en ces deux régions. Il a indiqué déjà que le groupe a procédé à rapatrier 26 familles du personnel à la France.

    En effet, la baisse récente des services mobiles dans le pays a eu un négligeable  impact sur les recettes de France Telecom, selon Richard. En effet, depuis la semaine dernière, les autorités égyptiennes avaient pris des mesures pour bloquer les services mobiles de sa filiale locale Mobinil, dont France Telecom la détient conjointement avec Orascom.

    Tunisia IT
  • Le prix en Bourse du titre Sonatel (Société nationale des télécommunications) a connu une forte baisse de 12.300 FCFA à l’issue de la séance de cotation de ce mardi, a appris APA auprès de la Bourse régionale des valeurs mobilières (BRVM).

    Le cours en Bourse de cette valeur est ainsi passé de 164.000 FCFA la veille à 151.700 FCFA, soit une variation de 7,5% (1 FCFA équivaut à 0,0019 dollar).

    Apanews
  • La santé et la protection des populations sont en théorie l’une des priorités des gouvernements. Malgré de nettes améliorations ces dernières décennies, l'état de la santé en Afrique est toujours aussi préoccupant, affirmait encore récemment un rapport de l'OMS. Mais cette tendance est loin d'être irréversible. Grâce notamment à l'e-santé (santé par des technologies électroniques), et en particulier la m-santé (santé mobile), la santé en Afrique peut être nettement améliorée.

    Le 28 février 2011, Sylvain Béletre de Balancing Act a pris part aux "Amphis de la santé" lors d'un séminaire interne à Orange et axé sur l'e-santé en Afrique. Voici son résumé.

    Du point de vue de l'opérateur, largement présent en Afrique, les technologies sont aujourd'hui matures et disponibles sur différents réseaux et terminaux. Récemment, la croissance du marché mobile et de l’Internet en Afrique a été deux fois plus importante que celle enregistrée au niveau mondial. De grands écarts existent selon les pays mais tous ont connu une progression sensible et l'e-santé peut désormais s'appuyer sur ces nouvelles structures.

    Améliorer l'organisation et la qualité des soins de base, répondre aux urgences plus  rapidement, offrir plus de réactivité, de confort et de sécurité aux patients tout en réduisant les coûts, obtenir des données globale et locales en temps réel sur la santé en Afrique, former le personnel en continue sont quelques-uns des enjeux parfois difficiles à concilier des directions hospitalières et NGO en Afrique. Les nouvelles technologies sont l'un des outils majeurs pour atteindre ces objectifs.

    C'est pourquoi Orange se lance dans une réflexion sur une offre « e-santé » pour améliorer la santé des africains.

    Ce séminaire était un RV interne aux employés d'Orange auxquels des participants extérieurs ont pris part. "Ces moments d'échange avec des visions extérieures au groupe sont toujours extrêmement riches et contribuent à alimenter la réflexion" explique Françoise Valla, organisatrice du séminaire. Parmi les participants furent présents une sociologue, un bailleur de fonds, deux grandes NGO santé, et Sylvain Béletre du cabinet Balancing-Act (cabinet études spécialisé TIC en Afrique).

    La réunion a démarré par une présentation basée sur une étude rétrospective et prospective de l'Afrique par une sociologue. En utilisant des éléments socioculturels, politiques et historiques, il s'agissait de connaître et de changer le regard occidental porté sur l'Afrique. Le but était de fournir une photographie socioculturelle réaliste, débarrassée des clichés habituels de ce continent à multiples facettes. Cette présentation fut l'occasion de mettre en avant des éléments majeurs à retenir, comme par exemple l'évolutions des représentations de ce continent, le poids de l'histoire, le panafricanisme, les dynamiques transfrontalières, les flux migratoires, les nouveaux équilibres politiques et économiques, les langues et les corridors, ou encore la géronto-croissance.

    Cette présentation fut suivie de la diffusion d'une vidéo qui montrait un exemple de projet de télémédecine en Afrique.

    Le séminaire a enchaîné en abordant divers aspects intéressants sur le continent africain: les dynamiques de transfert de connaissances via les TIC, le concept de l'émergence d'une classe moyenne qui dépenserait plus pour l'éducation et la santé, le modèle des mutuelles santé, la mise en place d'un système d'assurance obligatoire dans certains pays africains.

    La discussion a abordé les spécificités du secteur de la santé en Afrique qui inclut l’absence de structure financière (pas de système d’assurance dans la plupart des pays), la pénurie de professionnels de santé, la manque d'investissement dans le secteur, le traitement financier peu élevé de ces professionnels et l'insuffisance des infrastructures. Les applications possibles en e-santé sont vastes et touchent toute la chaîne logistique de la santé : des premiers soins à l'assurance maladie en passant par les données des centres de soin, le carnet de santé et de vaccinations, les alertes épidémiques, la traçabilité des médicaments pour lutter contre la contrefaçon et pour les distribuer aux bons endroits, l'accès aux services de santé, les équipements hospitaliers, les statistiques nationales, les remboursements de soins, et bien plus encore.

    Des problèmes comme les transports - avec des infrastructures insuffisantes et des coûts élevés - qui dissuadent certaines populations de se rendre à l’hôpital éloigné ou ralentissent le transit de médicaments, les faux médicaments, le détournement de aides sanitaires ou encore les coupures régulières d'électricité empêchent souvent l'utilisation de services de santé vitaux aux populations.

    Cette équation de paramètres, sans doute simplificatrice, laisse penser que les TIC pourraient pallier en partie ces insuffisances et permettre un accès élargi aux soins. Il ne fait plus de doute que l'e-santé peu réduire le coût de la médecine en Afrique (et ailleurs), et qu'elle peut soutenir une amélioration durable de l'espérance de vie. Demeure une difficulté aujourd’hui non résolue : la définition de modèles économiques viables permettant la diffusion de ces outils.

    Deux axes de réflexion ressortent de ce RV : pourquoi et comment agir ?
    Quelle est la perception des africains concernant la santé, et est-ce qu’Orange peut légitimement contribuer à cette révolution africaines ?

    Est-ce que l'Afrique tout entière doit mettre en place une assurance maladie à bas coût assurant un minimum de soin pour tous comme c'est le cas dans certains pays ? Est-ce que ce ne sont pas aux gouvernements africains de donner l'impulsion du lancement de ces outils e-santé ? L'union africaine ne doit-elle pas prendre part à l'élaboration et au financement d'un système de santé harmonisé à toute l'Afrique?

    Quels sont les outils durables les plus simples et les moins coûteux à mettre en place ? Sur quels TICs s'appuyer pour soutenir ces projets (mobile, satellite, fixe, GPS, IT, audiovisuel) ? Est-ce que ces services doivent dégager une marge minimale pour assurer leur pérennité ? Quels sont les scénarios de retours sur investissements ? Avec quels partenaires internationaux et locaux faut-il mettre ces outils en place sur le terrain ? Qui peut et qui doit financer (gouvernements africains, bailleurs, donneurs/NGO, investisseurs privés, populations) ? Doit-on tendre vers une standardisation et une harmonisation des protocoles de systèmes d'e-santé entre opérateurs télécoms africains ? Pourquoi les logiciels ouverts pourraient-ils être utilisés ? Et bien d'autres questions encore.

    Balancing Act a manifesté son intention de contribuer à cette réflexion pour apporter des réponses concrètes sur le terrain en Afrique.

    Contact: sbeletre@balancingact-africa.com

  • Air Madagascar, la grande compagnie de l'Océan Indien, et Airtel, le plus grand réseau de téléphonie mobile, ont signé hier un partenariat qui lance « Flysmart » le premier mode de paiement de billets d'avion par téléphone mobile ou m.paiement qui, associé avec le e-ticket, service déjà disponible chez Air Madagascar permet, aux voyageurs de payer leur billet d'avion sans se déplacer.

     Le système est simple, mais efficace. Le voyageur effectue en premier lieu sa réservation à travers le call center d'Air Madagascar. La compagnie lui renvoie par la suite, par courrier électronique son dossier de réservation avec les tarifs et une facture pro-forma.

    Dès la possession de ces données, le client peut payer le billet à travers Airtel Money, le système de paiement par mobile d'Airtel. Une fois le paiement reçu par Air Madagascar, à travers son TPE, cette dernière envoie au voyageur, son billet électronique par e-mail.

    Bref, « Flysmart » permet un énorme gain de temps et d'argent pour les voyageurs. « Les voyageurs n'ont plus besoin de se déplacer auprès des agences à faire une longue queue pour acheter leur billet », a expliqué hier Fidy Rakotonirina Administrateur Délégué d'Air Madagascar.

    Pour Heiko Schlittke, D.G d'Airtel Madagascar, ce partenariat avec Air Madagascar va encore augmenter le nombre des personnes qui vont bénéficier des bienfaits d'Airtel Money.

    Prouvant la volonté des dirigeants d'Air Madagascar d'offrir des services innovants aux voyageurs, le système de paiement Flysmart a, par ailleurs, l'avantage de ne pas engendrer des coûts supplémentaires, pour le client. Flysmart, un service de qualité que très peu de compagnies dans le monde offrent actuellement, est déjà opérationnel au sein d'Air Madagascar.

  • Un atelier de deux jours sur «le cinéma africain, la vidéo et l'impact social de nouvelles technologies» aura lieu les 27 et 28 février à Ouagadougou, sous l'égide du Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique (CODESRIA).

    La chaine AFRICA 24  a annoncé qu’elle va bientôt lancer son site internet.

    Les sites Seneweb, PressAfrik et Ferloo.com vont signer un accord de partenariat portant sur un échange de contenus. Selon un communiqué conjoint parvenu à SenewebNews, « cet accord va permettre à ces sites d’informations générales de pouvoir échanger et partager gratuitement des liens, des articles, des videos ou photos

  • Défis et Enjeux de Régulation
    17-19 Mars 2011, Marrakech, Maroc

    Le secteur des télécoms a connu un essor considérable durant la dernière décennie grâce notamment aux innovations technologiques et au processus de libéralisation entamé par de nombreux pays. A cet égard, la régulation des télécoms en Afrique parait comme un maillon essentiel pour généraliser l’accessibilité, et assurer un développement sain et équilibré du secteur qui garanti les intérêts des différentes parties prenantes. C’est pour débattre des enjeux de la régulation en Afrique du Nord, du Centre et de l’Ouest que i-conférences organise en partenariat avec la Banque Africaine de Développement le Forum Africain des Télécoms.
    Pour plus d’informations visitez

    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

  • M. Montassar Ouaili a démissionné de son poste de PDG de Tunisie Telecom.
    Montassar Ouaili avait succédé à monsieur Ahmed Mahjoub en tant que président directeur général de Tunisie Télécom.

  • Prix TIGA 2011 pour l’utilisation de la Technologie dans l’Administration  en Afrique

    Date limite de candidature : le 28 février 2011
     
    La Commission Economique pour l’Afrique et le Gouvernement de la Finlande ont le plaisir d’annoncer le troisième prix pour l’utilisation de la technologie dans l’administration en Afrique.

    Les prix pour l’utilisation de la Technologie dans l’Administration  en Afrique visent à récompenser le travail des Etats Africains dans l’utilisation effective des Technologies de l’ Information et de la Communication (TIC) dans la délivrance des services publics mis en œuvre dans le cadre de l’Initiative pour la Société de l’Information en Afrique (AISI) de la CEA et de la Stratégie de la Coopération pour le Développement du Gouvernement de la Finlande. Les prix sont destinés aux Etats Africains et aux institutions basées en Afrique qui sont engagés dans la conception, le développement, et  la mise en œuvre des programmes TIC pour les services publics et  contribuant à la mise en œuvre de  la Société de l’Information dans le continent. Les objectifs sont :
    de susciter une plus grande conscience sur le rôle des TICs dans les services publics et le processus de développement dans le cadre de l’Initiative pour la Société de l’Information en Afrique (AISI) ;
    d’encourager les Etats et les Institutions africaines à utiliser les TICs pour le développement en général et pour améliorer les services publics en particulier ;
    d’influencer les autres acteurs africains à utiliser effectivement les TICs  au service des citoyens.

    Initié en 2007 ce programme pionnier africain récompensera publiquement l’innovation, l’excellence et le leadership dans le développement du e-gouvernement (administration électronique) dans le secteur public en Afrique. La nomination aux Prix TIGA devrait être considérée comme un honneur et une réussite de carrière dans le secteur public pour les membres des équipes qui seront sélectionnées.
    Les premiers prix TIGA ont été décernés à douze projets dans neuf pays, et les seconds organisés en 2009 ont considérés des projets d’innovation dans dix pays qui ont permis des changements dans l’utilisation des TICs pour les services publics.
    Le prix TIGA est un événement biennal. Pour plus informations consulter le site : http://www.uneca.org/tiga