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  • Four years ago, Safaricom launched M-Pesa in Kenya. The mobile operator which introduced the first mobile payment scheme in Africa on March 6th 2007 has since witnessed this service been introduced in several African countries by other mobile operators including its competitors in Kenya. Mobile payment services have launched in South Africa, Madagascar, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Tanzania, etc. However none of the payment services in these countries have attained yet the depth and reach of Safaricom’s mobile payment services. The mobile operator offers of course standard transfer services but also international remittance services, bank accounts, utilities payments, purchases facilities, cash cards – in short, all the services that you expect from a traditional retail bank. But for all the laurels that mobile payment services deserve for developing banking services, there are still improvements to be made in particular on the pricing structure that currently governs mobile payment services in Africa. Isabelle Gross analyses the payment services offered by 4 mobile operators: Safaricom in Kenya, Orange in Côte d’Ivoire, Telma in Madagascar and MTN in Uganda.

    Joining the mobile payment scheme offered by one of these four mobile operators is of course free. However a customer might need to swap its existing SIM card for a new one in order to be able to use the mobile payment services. At MTN Uganda, the SIM card swap is free for postpaid customers but prepaid customers will have to pay a small fee of US$0.64 (UGX1,500). Mobile operator Telma in Madagascar proposes a SIM swap at a little bit more than US1 (2,000 Ariary). However, all four mobile operators limit their mobile payment services to their own mobile subscribers. MTN Uganda puts it in a rather positive way by saying “this service is available to every MTN Mobile customer” while Safaricom in Kenya cursively mentioned the limitation when it lists the requirement details that a customer needs to provide to register for the service: “You will be required to give the agent your Safaricom mobile number, your first and last name, your date of birth, and show an original identification document”. This service restriction only encourages multi-SIM ownership. If a customer is not a existing subscriber of MTN Uganda or Orange Côte d’Ivoire or Telma Madagascar or Safaricom in Kenya but want to user their mobile payment service, he/she will need to get one of their SIM card and will end up with two SIM cards (one to use for the voice calls and one to use for mobile payment services).

    The “walled garden” commercial approach of mobile operators for payment services gets even tougher when it comes to the fees to pay for transfers. The common denominator among all four mobile operators is as follows: if you transfer money to another mobile user registered to the service, the fee will be rather small but if you transfer money to a person that is not registered to the service or has a subscription with another mobile operator, than the fee to pay can be 5 times more or even 20 times more than the fee to pay when you transfer money to a registered person.

    At Telma in Madagascar, transfers to registered mobile users attract the following fee. It costs US$0.13 (250 Ariary) to transfer between US$0.07 and US$3.7 (100 and 5,000 Ariary) to a register user but it will cost 3 times more to send the same amount of money to an unregistered user. For higher transfer amounts the fee gap gets even bigger. It costs US$2.2 (3,000 Ariary) to transfer between US$731 and US$3,652 (1,000,001 and 5,000,000 Ariary) to a register mobile user but 3.6 times more to an unregistered user.

    Safaricom in Kenya has similar price differences for the “on the network users” and “off the network users”. It costs US$0.12 (KShs10) to transfer between US$0.60 and US$1.20 (50KShs and 100KShs) to a register user but it will cost 7.5 times more to send the same amount of money to an unregistered user or a mobile user subscribed with another network. With higher transfer amounts the fee difference is also more important. It costs US$0.36 to transfer between US$1.20 and US$850 (KShs101 and KShs35,000) but nearly 14 times more to an unregistered user.

    At MTN Uganda, it is the same story all over again. It costs a flat fee of US$0.34 (UGX800) to transfer money between US$2.12 and US$425 (UGX5,000 and UGX1,000,000) to a register user but it is twice more expensive for a transfer of US$2.12 to an unregistered user and nearly 24 times more expensive for a transfer for the highest amount of US$425. The pricing of money transfers to unregistered users is just so prohibitive that it makes it even more compelling to get a SIM card from the mobile operator offering the payment service.

    Orange Money in Côte d’Ivoire doesn’t have this price differences but that’s just because the mobile operator only offers its mobile payment services to its own registered users. Just for a comparison purpose, it costs US$0.36 (CFA150) to transfer between US$0.1 and US$10.86 (CFA5 F and CFA5,000) and US$4.35 (CFA2,000) to transfer between US$109 and US$217.4 (CFA50,005 and CFA100,000).

    To withdraw the transferred money unregistered users are usually better off then registered users. At MTN Uganda, Telma Madagascar or Safaricom the withdrawal is free for unregistered users. This explains also partly why the transfer charges are so high at the start for unregistered users or mobile subscribers of another network. For registered users, mobile operators split the cost of transfer and withdrawal between the sender and the receiver. By spreading the cost between sender and receiver, the service also appears cheaper. Further, the charges incurred by a registered user who wants to withdraw the money transferred are much higher than the transfer charges incurred by the sender. Mobile operators are very fine psychologists and they know a lot about human mentality: it is easier to part yourself from money (withdrawal fee) that doesn’t totally belong to you yet (the transferred money). To withdraw US$850 (KShs35,000), it costs approximately US$2 (KShs170) with Safaricom. MTN Uganda charges nearly US$4 (UGX9,000) to withdraw US$425  (UGX1,000,000) while Telma Madagascar will ask for US$4.4 (6,000 Ariary) to withdraw US$3,652 (5,000,000 Ariary).

    Despite the withdrawal fee that registered users have to pay, there is still a difference in terms of total cost (transfer and withdrawal fees) between a registered and an unregistered user or a mobile subscriber of another network.

    At Telma Madagascar it is 1.2 times more expensive for an unregistered user.
    - 3,000 Ariary for the transfer and 6,000 Ariary for the withdrawal for a registered user
    - 11,000 Ariary for the transfer and withdrawal for an unregistered user

    At Safaricom, it is twice as expensive for an unregistered user
    - KShs30 for the transfer and KShs170 for the withdrawal for a registered user
    - KShs400 for the transfer and withdrawal for an unregistered user

    At MTN Uganda it is nearly twice as expensive
    - UGX800 for the transfer and UGX9,000 for the withdrawal for a registered user
    - UGX19,000 for the transfer and withdrawal for an unregistered user

    Why this difference in prices between registered and unregistered users and a mobile subscriber of another network? The processes behind the transfer and the withdrawal are the same for the two categories of users and therefore for the mobile operators, the cost should be the same too. MTN Uganda’s claim about “virtual banking, bridging the gap to the un-banked” sounds rather overdone when its mobile payment service is a two speed service: cheaper for its mobile subscribers and more expensive for mobile subscribers of other operators. Is it interoperability between competing mobile payment services that will finally get rid off this “walled garden” commercial approach? Let’s see how mobile operators will position themselves when they will be faced with interoperability implementation. It will happen sooner than later.

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  • 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 more information click here:

    Event: HR4ICT11 - Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy
    Date: 21-23 March 2011, Hilton Nairobi, Nairobi Kenya.

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is holding its annual HR4ICT Forum in Kenya, beginning 21 March 2011. The event will take place over three days addressing the human resource management aspect of business continuity planning.  With a theme focused on "Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy", HR4ICT'11 will focus on the challenges faced by major communications user groups (telecommunications, IT, finance, transport, energy, etc) in developing and implementing effective business continuity programmes. Visions, ideas, challenges, needs, success stories as well as best practices on the development and implementation of effective business continuity programmes, will be discussed by a selection of expert speakers.
    For more information click here: or email:  programmes@cto.int

    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 click 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 click here:


    Ghana ICT and Telecom Summit
    28-29 April 2011, Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre Accra, Ghana

    The summit will bring together over 200 decision-makers from Ghanaian operators and international stakeholders with an interest in the market to share experiences, knowledge and ideas with a view to overcoming the industry challenges. The 2 day summit agenda will address all aspects of Ghanaian ICT & telecoms strategies for attracting investment, broadband connectivity for all, solutions to boost operator ROI, Regulatory challenges & opportunities, infrastructure development, VAS and local content for Ghanaians, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, mobile banking, customer loyalty, future trends and more.
    For further information click 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 click here:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011

    Nairobi, Kenya
    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success. 
    For more information click here : 

  • MTN Group has appointed Ahmed Faroukh as its Vice President (VP) of the West and Central Africa (WECA) region.

    Faroukh was CEO of MTN Nigeria for almost five years and recently acting VP for the WECA region, which includes Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Congo Brazaville, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia and Benin.

    Brett Goschen, currently the CEO of MTN Ghana, becomes the new CEO of MTN Nigeria. Goschen, a chartered accountant, has provided strategic, operating and financial leadership to MTN’s large operations in West Africa in his capacity as Chief Financial Officer of MTN Nigeria from 2002 to 2006 before he was appointed MTN Ghana CEO.

    In Ghana, Goschen will be replaced by Michael Ikpoki, the Sales and Distribution Executive for MTN Nigeria. Ikpoki joined MTN Nigeria as Regulatory Advisor in 2001 and was promoted to General Manager: Regulatory Affairs in 2004.

  • NPO Project Manager – Kenya
    - More than 8 years experience in GSM technology with minumum 3 years experience in NPO Project management.
    - Excellent understanding of project delivery phases.
    - Good knowledgeof end to end network topology with excellence in at least one of the fields(RF, access, core)
    - Good understanding of KPIs
    - Able to schedule/deliver/manage drive tests teams.
    - Understands project financials and resource organization.
    - Proactive, excellent communicator, highly organized.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Main One and Cisco – Nigeria
    Main One Cable Company, the first privately owned submarine network cable in West Africa, will be deploying Cisco's Internet Protocol Next- Generation Network (IP-NGN) solution to take broadband capacity in West Africa to the next level. Working with Cisco, Main One will develop a high quality IP based network and application service offerings to create efficient content delivery highway to private and public communications networks in West Africa. Customers will benefit from various value-added services enabled by IP technology such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Voice Over IP (VOIP), IPTV and advanced collaboration technologies

telecoms

  • The Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Kyle Whitehill has kicked against the installation of international call monitoring systems on the premises of telecom operators to verify the volume of international traffic for revenue.

    He told journalists “we do not think the monitoring equipment are absolutely necessary because we have very transparent ways of accounting for all inbound international traffic on our network and we continue to pay government the required 6 cents per minute of international calls received on our network.”

    Vodafone in particular has been cited by the Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu for resisting the installation of international call monitoring equipment on their premises, but Mr. Whitehill said Vodafone is not resisting anything but only offering alternatives.

    “You can see how much international traffic comes onto our network on day to day basis – we do not think you have to install specific probing systems to do that,” he said.

    Meanwhile, government has hired a Haitian company called Global Voice Group (GVG), and they have installed monitoring equipment on the premises of some telecom operators to verify inbound international calls.

    Some operators have criticized the move as interference into the privacy of their customers and also a threat to network quality, as calls going through the monitoring system stand the risk of being distorted due to “too much equipment”.

    Vodafone was also the first to go public in expressing their nervousness about the GVG, which was relieved of their duties in some African countries after those countries decided they did not need a third party to monitor international calls for revenue.

    But the Ministry of Communications insists that since the coming of GVG, and the installation of monitoring equipment, government had gone from a loss of $5.8 million dollars a month in taxes to over $14 million dollars gain in taxes on inbound international calls.

    Some telecom experts had suggested that government’s gains have nothing to do with GVG’s work, but purely on the basis of fixing the cost of international call at 19 cents  per minute and using the various call reports of the various operators to determine the quantum of taxes thereof.

    One other issue closely related to the call monitoring is the SIM boxing activity, where some fraudsters route inbound international calls through local mobile phone numbers and make them appear as if they were local calls and by that they (the fraudsters) siphon moneys belonging to telecom operators and government.

    Reports from international research on SIM boxing activity indicated that telecom operators lost $150 million to sim box fraudsters last year.

    As at October last year, Vodafone Ghana was on NCA’s records as the network with the highest sim boxing activity, but

    Mr. Whitehill assured the Ministry of Communication that Vodafone has what it takes to lead the fighting against the sim box fraud.

    Chief Marketing Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Uche Ofodile noted that between October and now, Vodafone has identified and blocked 90 per cent of the fraudulent sim cards on its network used for sim boxing activities.

    “As a result Vodafone is now the network with the least SIM boxing activity in Ghana,” she said.

    Meanwhile Vodafone and the police CID recently busted SIM box operations in Teshie with fraudulent equipment worth $200,000 involved.

    Mr. Whitehill expressed the hope that the police would prosecute the perpetrators, saying “we support the police in taking on these criminals and prosecuting them in order to bring some sanity into the telecom industry.”

  • MTN's Swaziland subsidiary has confirmed that it will launch 3G services as soon as the telecoms regulator grants them permission. An application earlier this year for a license was however declined for unspecified reasons just a couple of months ago.

    The regulator is also the state-owned telecoms network - causing a conflict of interest that may be resolved if long-standing plans for an independent regulator are carried out.

    "Swazi Mtn is 3G ready, all we have to do is to press a button and make the service available to the MTN network users. We are ready, what is outstanding at the moment is to be granted the appropriate licence by the regulator. As soon as we get the licence, we advise that our customers will experience an immense improvement on the data speeds and all other benefits which will come with the 3G technology," MTN Swaziland's CEO, Ambrose Dlamini told the Swazi Observer.

    The company is also testing a mobile money platform which could be introduced in the near future.

  • MTN Rwanda has decided to scrap cross border roaming charges for its customers when they use the service in Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Zambia.

    According to company officials, the decision follows complaints from its subscribers that the receiving fee of Rwf60 per minute was too high.

    The operator introduced the fee, last year, saying it wanted to trim the swelling bill for call termination charges which it pays to international operators with which they have roaming partnerships. However, regional operators like Airtel, MTN Uganda and UTL don't charge roaming fees. .

    "We decided to drop the fee after long negotiations with our sister companies and agreed on the amount we will be charging each other," MTN's Public Relations Officer, Bosco Ssendahangarwa told Business Times in a phone interview yesterday.

    The new development means MTN subscribers will now be able to move freely across these countries making calls and sending SMS at local rates and receive incoming calls free of charge.

    In a statement sent to Business Times, MTN's CEO, Khaled Mikkawi said MTN has spent the past few months negotiating in response to their customers' requests to slash roaming costs.
    The re-introduction of 'MTN One World' seamless roaming in these countries is just the beginning of our determination to offer the same in all markets in which we operate and in strategic markets important to our region.

    Ssendahangarwa said that roaming fees with other countries and other East Africa member states will remain the same.

    Customers roaming within the five countries, will be able to top up their prepaid lines with locally bought airtime cards which can be bought at any of MTN's points of sale.

    After introducing the charges, countries of Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Belgium, Sudan, Swaziland and Botswana, were among the affected.

    "For prepaid customers the service is automatically activated upon crossing into any one of the MTN networks, with no prior registration required or sign up fee charged," the statement said.

  • The West African Cable System (WACS), being managed from Europe to Africa by MTN, is set to land on the shores of Nigeria, according to Corporate Services Executive of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Wale Goodluck.

    Speaking in an interview in Lagos at the weekend, Goodluck said, "WACS is on stream and a lot of work has been put into it within and outside Nigeria. The sub-sea cable is being laid all the way from Europe, and it is ready to land in Nigeria. We are in the process of finalising some of the necessary regulatory approvals.

    We have enjoyed fantastic cooperation from the Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Ports Authority and a lot of the other agencies who are responsible for the management and use of the territorial waters of Nigeria. We have also enjoyed a lot of cooperation from the Lagos State Government and we envisage that the cable will be landing by the end of first quarter of 2011."

    On envisaged problems of territorial landing as experienced by other operators like MainOne and Glo 1 that have already landed, Goodluck said the concern of MTN was primarily about the landing in Nigeria alone and not other West African territories where the cable would first land before arriving in Nigeria.

    The WACS cable, according to him, would be landing in several countries along the West African coast and other parts of Africa. In Nigeria, it has been a very comprehensive approval process and it has gone fairly well; we don't envisage any major problem.
    Asked if the coming of WACS would be necessary, given that MainOne and Glo 1 cables are already on ground, Goodluck said, "The more the infrastructure we can attract into the country, the better for us. We are definitely very far from capacity glut in Nigeria and the level of adoption of broadband in Nigeria is still at a very primary stage. Where we are going, honestly, I don't think anybody can put a finger on it.

    "When the broadband revolution takes off in Nigeria, we are going to see wonderful things. So, we need the capacity and we need to ensure that there is enough bandwidth to carry the traffic that people will require."

    He promised that WACS would change the business lifestyle of Nigerians and elevate Nigeria into becoming a broadband global village.

internet

  • The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has released new satellite imagery confirming the intentional burning of a third village, Tajalei, in Sudan's Abyei region, in addition to the deliberate destruction since March 2 of the villages of Maker Abior and Todach.

    At least 300 buildings at Tajalei were intentionally destroyed by fire, according to Satellite Sentinel Project analysis of the DigitalGlobe satellite image, taken March 6 and analyzed by UNITAR/UNOSAT and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, with additional analysis by DigitalGlobe.

    Roughly two-thirds of those buildings appear to be consistent with civilian residential structures, known as tukuls.

    George Clooney, who conceived of the Satellite Sentinel Project during a trip to Southern Sudan with Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast, stated:"The Satellite Sentinel Project is the first to confirm the widespread and systematic targeting of civilian infrastructure across the Abyei region.

    This is the kind of undeniable evidence we feared we'd see if we put a camera where we weren't welcome. Village burning has caused tens of thousands to be displaced, unknown numbers of civilian casualties, and the deliberate destruction of at least three communities. If this violence is left unchecked, it could put the entire North-South peace process at risk."

    Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast stated:"Satellite imagery combined with on-the-ground analysis is pointing to a deliberate attempt to subvert peace efforts by elements associated with the Khartoum government.

    By trying to displace Dinka residents from parts of Abyei, the case is strengthened to further divide the Abyei region between North and South.

    If mediators and concerned governments acquiesce to this strategy, it would legitimize local population clearing efforts and would be a recipe for a wider war."

    On Friday, SSP released a report, "Flashpoint: Abyei," documenting a significant increase in military activity by apparent Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in South Kordofan state, as well as apparent Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) buildup south of Abyei. The continuing militarization of this tense region, including evidence of battle tanks and other heavy equipment, has contributed to an already volatile situation.

    The SSP images, taken by DigitalGlobe, confirm widely reported attacks on multiple villages in the Abyei region since Sunday, February 27. Sources on the ground report the fighting may have begun between armed Misseriya and southern police, but that elements of the Popular Defense Force militias, historically supported by the Sudanese Armed Forces, participated in the attacks. Maker Abior was previously the scene of fighting just prior to the South Sudan referendum in early January. The fighting, as well as rumors of movement toward Abyei Town, has reportedly triggered the flight of tens of thousands of civilians southward toward Agok.

    SSP has also documented clear increases in military capacity by SAF and SPLA in areas around Abyei, including heavy equipment transport and tanks at a known SAF outpost in Kharassana, a new suspected SAF position near Heglig, and a rapid build-out of suspected SPLA encampment in Unity State during the past month.

    "The pattern in which these buildings were apparently burned is consistent with the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructure," said Charlie Clements, MD, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School and Director of Human Rights Documentation for SSP. "The systematic destruction of villages, primarily through the burning of civilian infrastructure, including residences, is a violation of the laws of war and represents a gross violation of human rights."

    The Satellite Sentinel Project, combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports with Google's Map Maker to deter the resumption of full-scale war between North and South Sudan. Not On Our Watch provided seed money to launch the Satellite Sentinel Project.

    The Enough Project contributes field reports and policy analysis, and, together with Not On Our Watch and our Sudan Now partners, pressures policymakers by urging the public to act. UNOSAT analyzes satellite images and collaborates with Google and Trellon to design the web platform.

    Harvard Humanitarian Initiative provides research and leads the collection, human rights analysis, and corroboration of on-the-ground reports that contextualizes the imagery. DigitalGlobe provides satellite imagery and additional analysis.

  • A Bulawayo man has become Zimbabwe's first "Facebook arrest" over an innocent comment he posted on the social networking site on the 13th February.

    Vikas Mavhudzi of Old Magwegwe, is being charged with "subverting a constitutional government" after he posted a message on a Facebook page allegedly belonging to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

    Mavhudzi's message simply read: "I am overwhelmed, I don't want to say Mr. or PM what happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose worth emulating, hey."

    The court was told that police arrested Mavhudzi on February 24th, after receiving an anonymous call that claimed he had sent a 'security threat' via his mobile phone. It was only after the arrest that police went through his phone and discovered the message in the sent folder.

    Prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa accused Mavhudzi of "advocating or attempting to take-over government by unconstitutional means". And the state opposed bail when he appeared before a city magistrate on Thursday. Mavhudzi was remanded in custody till March 9th.

    Protests against dictators in North Africa appear to have rattled Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, as any discussion of the events there is now considered a crime in Zimbabwe.

    A group of activists who gathered to watch video footage of the protests were arrested on February 19 and are still in detention. Lawyers said suspected ringleaders have been brutally assaulted.

    Meanwhile there are signs that the Mugabe regime intends to increase its ability to spy on innocent civilians. As we reported on SW Radio Africa this week, the government is allegedly moving at a 'very fast pace' with the construction of a secret electronic eavesdropping complex just outside Harare. A trusted source said that the Chinese, who are building the complex, have a system that enables most security agencies to 'spy at will' on emails, website visits, social networking sessions, and telephone calls made over the internet on a massive scale.

  • As from the second half of this year, Mozambican consumers will be able to pre-pay for their electricity online.

    The pre-payment system, known as Credelec, allows consumers to control how much energy they are using. It eliminates monthly bills, and meter readings, and is thus very convenient for the electricity company, EDM.

    The pre-paid price per kilowatt-hour is considerably more than the price paid by those consumers who opt to continue receiving monthly bills. But, just as with the pre-paid cards for mobile phones, consumers appear to believe that the convenience outweighs the extra cost. Currently 78 per cent of electricity consumers use Credelec.

    But since large scale consumers do not pre-pay, Credelec accounts for a minority of EDM revenue - 27 per cent in Maputo, 29 per cent in the rest of southern Mozambique, 24 per cent in the central provinces, and 20 per cent in the north.

    The project to allow consumers to pre-pay online involves a contract signed on Thursday between the chairperson of EDM, Manual Cuambe, and Damian Padachi, General Manager of the South African computer company, ITRON. EDM will pay 145.8 million meticais (about 4.7 million US dollars) for the system to be implemented by ITRON.

    Under the current arrangement, there are 15 isolated Credelec servers, and over 140 sales posts, without any interconnection. With the new scheme, the off-line Credelec systems will gradually be replaced by on-line ones, starting with Maputo in July-August this year, and covering the rest of the country by July 2012.

    The new system will allow consumers to purchase pre-paid vouchers, not only at EDM branches, but at many other shops, at the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) of banks, and via the internet or through mobile phone text messages. This is analogous to the way in which pre-paid vouchers for mobile phones are sold.

    And, just as mobile phone pre-paid vouchers can be purchased from itinerant vendors, this method will also be used for Credelec. "The recharge vouchers will be on sale in the streets", said EDM Commercial Manager Jose Buque. "This will greatly help those clients who live in rural areas, particular where there are no banks or shops".

    Perhaps the greatest innovation is that Credelec consumers will be able to buy their vouchers anywhere in the country, and not just the area where they live. The new system also eliminates the risk of paying taxes twice in the same month.

    All consumers of electricity must pay a monthly radio fee, and a municipal rubbish collection fee. Consumers who buy Credelec electricity more than once a month, have to struggle to avoid paying these fees more than once a month. Once the on-line system is installed, this will be dealt with automatically.

    At Thursday's ceremony, Cuambe said that putting Credelec online was part of EDM's modernisation. There would now be a single national data base for Credelec, which Cuambe believed would improve sales services and facilitate internal management.

    He predicted "a substantial improvement in the relationship with our clients, and in the company's financial management".

computing

  • Government has saved over R2 billion in tax payers' money and averted a protracted court case by settling a dispute over the upgrading of the Department of Home Affairs' information technology infrastructure and systems.

    The department aimed to modernise its systems through the "Who Am I Online (WAIO)" project, which was to process identity documents faster.

    The project, now jointly managed by the department and that of finance through the South African Revenue Service (SARS), is set for completion in the next two years.

    The department said that following transparent procedures, the tender for the project was awarded to service provider Gijima in 2006 at R2.1 billion. But the company failed to deliver by 2008 as agreed. By last year, project costs had sky-rocked to R4.5 billion, resulting in investigations by the department.

    The Auditor General and the Forensic Auditor are set to issue two separate reports on what could have gone wrong when the tender was signed.

    In the meantime, the department and SARS have started working together to ensure that the project is finished at a cost of about R2.4 billion, instead of the inflated figure and the attendant interests of R800 million.

    SARS Movement Control Systems was highly successful during the FIFA World Cup and has to date processed 25 million movements across the country's ports of entry.

    Gijima, IBM and HP, who are party to the settlement, would be involved in the completion of the project, which is bound to be strictly monitored on a daily basis.

    Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, her Director General Mkuseli Apleni and SARS officials addressed the media on the settlement in Parliament today.

    Dlamini Zuma said that in April last year, they notified Gijima as the prime contractor and IBM and HP, who had provided lease financing for the project, that the contract was now invalid.

    In order to avoid "indefinite delays to the project and lengthy litigation," she said they had entered into negotiations in the last 10 months in order to amicably resolve the matter and see to it that the project was delivered not far from its original budget.

    "In terms of the settlement agreement between the parties, the total final capital cost (excluding interest) of the items in the scope of the project, is estimated to be R2.27 billion. This is in line with the Treasury budget of R2.23 billion for the project, which was conditionally approved in 2009.

    "Government has paid R391 million to date, including interests on lease of R945 million between Gijima and the department. The revenue streams of these leases were purchased by IBM and HP," said Dlamini Zuma.

    She added that government would undertake to settle those leases in an amount of R815 million, saving itself roughly R34 million in capital and interest.

  • As the Joint Tax board get set to commance the e-registration of tax payers, one state from each geo-political zone would participate in the pilot scheme.

    This was disclosed by the JTB Secretary, Alhaji Lawal Abubakar when the committee paid a courtesy call on the emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Sulaiman Adamu at the week-end. The secretary revealed that a state from each geo-political zone of the country would serve as a pilot to the exercise, and said that the states are Bauchi, Jigawa, Kwara, Delta, Abia and Oyo.

    The responsibility of the board Abubakar noted was to advice government on tax administration as well as to generate more revenue for its three tiers. This even as he said that it would also provide a comprehensive data base for all eligible tax payers. According to Abubakar, "the purpose of the project is to ensure that all taxable individuals was captured through electronic system which will include their names, place of residence and their 10 fingers prints must be captured for easy identification".

    Abubakar further explained that other states would subsequently follow as that the selection was based on counter part funding which Bauchi happened to be the first to do so in the zone. He explained that the visit was to solicit for the Emir's support because of the important role traditional rulers play in enlightening their community, especially on an issue whch has to do with payments of tax.

    Abubakar Lawal stressed that the states in conjunction with Federal Government agencies such as States Board of Internal Revenues, Federal Inland Revenue Services, National Bureau of Statistics, National Population, Federal Road Safety Commissions as well as the EFCC among others would serve as members of the steering committee.

    In his remark the Emirs of Bauchi Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, commended the team for their effort to revive the tax system in the country.According to him, that tax collection would generate more revenue thereby bringing economic development to the people.

  • Core Group have responded in kind to Digicape's iPad price cuts

    The official distributors of Apple products in South Africa, Core Group, have cut the retail prices of iPads after Digicape announced yesterday that they would be dropping the prices of the iPad.

    “Due to the announcement of iPad 2 internationally, we will be decreasing the pricing on the first generation model locally,” Core revealed today.

    However, Core states that they had actually announced a reduction in the iPad prices through their channel yesterday – it just hadn't filtered into the public domain until this morning.

    Digicape's prices are in-line with Core's new recommended retail prices and it is expected that Apple Premium Resellers (iStore, Incredible Connection and Dion Wired) will also change their prices accordingly.

    Wi-Fi only iPads are to be sold for R500 less while the 3G models received a R600 price cut.

    RJ van Spaandonk, executive director of Core Group, said that the price cuts are simply a result of the reduced prices the device enjoyed internationally after the announcement of iPad 2.

    He explained that the original iPad is still considered a primary product and Core is still bringing stock into the country.

    Van Spaandonk said that the price reduction isn't a bid to get rid of stock, as it isn't clear yet when South Africa will be receiving the iPad 2. He added that the original iPad will still be sold alongside the iPad 2 when it does arrive.

    The table below shows South Africa's reduced iPad pricing and compares it to the reduced pricing overseas.

    A table with the pricing details is available here:

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • MTN saw a 22% increase in subscribers, to 141.6 million, for the year ended 31 December.

    The company says it enjoyed a “satisfactory operational performance” for the year, despite being negatively impacted by the strong rand.

    “Economies across our footprint have emerged relatively strongly from the challenges of the global financial crisis of 2008. The commodity cycle upswing, together with continued infrastructure investment and improved governance, helped maintain a positive trading momentum.”

    On a constant currency basis, revenue grew by 14%. “However, due to the continued strengthening of the rand, reported revenue at R114.7 billion was 2.5% higher than the prior year.”

    MTN says this is because 68% of its revenue is generated in currencies other than the rand.

    “Regulation of mobile termination rates, mainly in SA and Nigeria, resulted in a decline of 13% in interconnect revenue, while data revenue, including SMS and MTN Business Solutions, increased by 33%, albeit off a low base and notwithstanding the impact of the rand.”

    The company says the year saw a 23% increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), on a constant-currency basis.

    “The strong rand, however, meant the increase in reported EBITDA was 9.7%. The decrease in costs in the year was mainly due to the decrease in interconnect costs, together with a reduction in selling, distribution and marketing costs.”

    Net finance costs decreased by 29.5%, to R4.1 billion in 2010, from R5.8 billion the previous year. This was mainly due to a 61.8% reduction in functional currency losses to R1.2 billion, at the end of December.

    Foreign currency losses reduced by 16.5%, to R924 million, and the group's depreciation charge increased by 12%, to R13.2 billion, at December.

    MTN's reported capital expenditure was R19.5 billion, 38% lower than in 2009 and slightly below estimate.

    “The lower-than-expected expenditure was partially attributable to rand strength, as well as lower expenditure in Nigeria and Iran.”

    “MTN SA's performance was encouraging in a market that is technically more than 100% penetrated, driven by high growth in the prepaid segment,” says the company.

    The South African operation increased its market share to 36%. MTN attributes this to brand support during the 2010 Fifa World Cup and the Ayoba campaign.

    Subscribers increased by 17.3% for the period, to 18.8 million. “This was mainly due to the 18.6% increase in the prepaid segment, to 15.5 million users.”

    The company says the postpaid segment continued to grow, but at a slower pace, increasing its subscriber base by 11.3%, to 3.4 million, at the end of 2010.

    MTN SA's revenue grew by 8% for the year, driven mainly by an 8% growth in airtime and subscription revenue. Strong growth in data revenue of 47% was offset by a 10% decrease in interconnect revenue.

    “MTN SA's EBITDA margin increased by 2.6%, to 34%, from the prior year. This was partly driven by an increase in on-net traffic, which resulted in interconnect costs reducing by more than the reduction in interconnect revenue.”

    Capital expenditure reduced to 11% of revenue, from 18% in the prior year.

  • The European Investment Bank (EIB) has provided a EUR8 million (USD11 million) loan to the Seychelles Cable Systems Company (SCS) for the installation and operation of the island nation’s first international submarine fibre-optic cable. The planned 1,930km cable will link the main island of Mahe to the existing Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) in Tanzania, and is expected to be operational by the second half of 2012, according to a report on Afriquejet.com.

    The project will also benefit from a EUR4 million grant from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund to support shareholding in the project by the Seychelles government. A statutory dividend from this equity stake will be used to provide free internet access for schools, libraries, hospitals and other social development-related services. The EUR27 million overall project cost will be financed through 40% equity and 60% debt, the EIB said.

     Long-term debt will be co-financed equally by the EIB and the African Development Bank, and equity contributions split between three shareholders – the Government of Seychelles, Cable and Wireless Seychelles and Airtel. SCS executive Benjamin Choppy – who is also permanent secretary for ICT in the Seychelles – signed the deal with the EIB, which he called a key milestone for the project, and stressed that the cable will dramatically improve voice telephony and internet access in the Seychelles, with international transmission capacity predicted to be seven times cheaper than current prices. The EIB previously supported the EASSy project to connect 20 coastal and landlocked countries in East and Southern Africa using a high bandwidth undersea fibre-optic cable and terrestrial links.

  • As originally reported last November, American Tower has now, through its local South African subsidiary, acquired approximately 960 existing towers from South African mobile network operator, Cell C for an aggregate purchase price of approximately US$140 million, using cash on hand, local financing, and funds contributed by South African investors who currently hold an approximate 25% minority stake in the subsidiary.

    American Tower expects to acquire from Cell C approximately 440 additional existing towers during 2011 for an aggregate purchase price of approximately US$60 million, subject to customary closing conditions.

    American Tower may acquire up to an additional 1,800 towers that are either currently under construction or will be constructed over the next two to three years for an additional aggregate purchase price of up to approximately US$230 million. Cell C will be the anchor tenant on each of the towers being purchased.

  • One of the Nigerian Internets Service Providers (ISP), Internet Solutions (IS) has announced further investment of 1.5million dollars (N225 million) with the expansion of its Lagos data centre and hosting facility.

    The Managing Director of Internet Solutions West Africa, Mr. Steve Herridge said the expansion exercise came on the back of previous revelations made signaling the company's dedication and commitment to communications infrastructural development in Nigeria .

    According to Herridge, growth of IT data processing environment is multidimensional which requires continues innovations on how to do it better.

    He said, "Factors like business type, customer behaviour, storage, regulatory demands, risk management, and technology innovation all affect how businesses process and store data. Due to developments such as increasing demand, virtualization, and requirements for low latency data connectivity, the data centre has become a dynamic environment which must constantly be re-calibrated to maintain its effectiveness."

    Herridge explained that the expansion in the Victoria Island centre covers areas like Power Generation and upgraded Facilities to cater for the growth of the Data Centre.

    He stated that since the arrival of two new submarine cables in Nigeria , there has been an explosion of interest from international companies wanting to do business in Nigeria and has facilitated the growth in demand for server and application hosting.

    "We made the decision to expand the available space in our VI facility on the back of an order received from one of our major banking customers; but this expansion then allows us to cater for the high demand that we now see in the hosting and co-location business in Nigeria, both from businesses currently operating within Nigeria and business looking to enter the market," Herridge said.

    Herridge said, "At Internet Solutions, we believe that Infrastructure sharing of networks and facilities such as Data Centre's will help drive the cost of the services we provide down and assist in the growth of the internet and internet based businesses in Nigeria ."

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Etisalat Nigeria has announced a new tariff plan with the unveiling of new Homezone tariffs and Bonus on Incoming Calls (BOIC) campaigns on a modified easy starter package. The modified Easy Starter package retains the BOIC feature which rewards customers with one minute free call to any network for every 3minutes call received from other networks in Nigeria while the free bonus can be used to call all networks at anytime saying that the feature is also available on easy cliq subscribers.

    Neotel, South Africa's second national operator (SNO), has slashed the cost of calls to mobile phones by 23% in an effort to improve its market share. The lower rates – which were prompted by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA’s) ruling on termination fees last year – came into effect on 1 March. Neotel's Dr Angus Hay commented: 'Neotel continues to offer the most cost effective home phone service for consumers. For as little as ZAR99 (USD14.4) per month rental, you can get a wireless phone - no copper wires, no waiting for installation - and these new rates make it even more compelling.

Digital Content

  • Not content with violently invading farms and other businesses, ZANU PF has now begun invading the privacy of Net One mobile phone subscribers, by sending messages telling them to sign the so-called anti-sanctions petition.

    One message sent without the permission of the subscribers was; "The time has come for every Zimbabwean to sign the petition or dial 0044 7893227001 for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States of America."

    Under regulations governing the use of bulk SMS services, receivers have to first consent to receiving the messages or subscribe first before being put on any list. In this case it seemed ZANU PF simply abused the status of Net One as a state owned mobile network, to forcibly send the messages.

    Only last year threats from ZANU PF forced the privately owned Econet Wireless, to pull the plug on the use of some of its numbers for an audio news and information service launched by the MDC-T. Under the service dubbed 'Voice of Real Change' any phone subscriber in Zimbabwe could dial a set of given numbers and the service would call them back with various news and information options.

    With over 100 000 callers on the first day the service was launched, ZANU PF panicked and threatened the regulatory authority. An article in the state-owned Herald newspaper by Nathaniel Manheru (believed to be Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba), warned that operating licences were up for renewal and Econet needed to be careful since government 'has to deal with all manner of mischief.'

    Now with the state machinery heavily stacked against the MDC-T, the party has been challenged to do more to spread its message. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Facebook page for example already has nearly 60 000 followers but was last updated on the 8th October 2010, when the PM gave a statement on the state of the coalition government.

    With the MDC-T headed for a congress in May, many of its officials have been accused of focusing on retaining their positions and fighting factional wars, instead of keeping their eye on the ball.

    ZANU PF concluded its congress last year and is determined to destroy its rivals by hook or by crook and is using every means it can to do so.

  • As the battle to occupy the Presidential Villa continues among the Presidential candidates, one of the leading Presidential candidates for the elections, President Goodluck Jonathan has added a new dimension to his campaign strategy.

    The president is sending short voice messages to GSM subscribers to solicit for their votes during the April general elections.

    In the short voice messages, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate told Nigerians about his plans for the country if elected.

    President Jonathan said in the short voice messages which have been received by so many Nigerians as their caller tunes, "I am Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan. My goal is the total transformation to ensure that Nigeria is a true home for all its citizens. A country where there is adequate power supply, a secured environment for businesses and schools, to deliver the best education for our children, a country where no one will go to bed hungry. Vote me in for the next four years and together we will achieve the Nigeria of our dreams. I promise, I will not let you down".

    Investigations show that Nigerians have started reacting to the voice messages, describing it as a good initiative. Political Analysts also said that the strategy is one of the most effective ways of selling the manifestoes of a candidate to voters.

    They also said that those behind the initiatives should be encouraged. According to them, the approach is one of the most successful ways of campaigning and mobilizing voters for election.

Issue no 545 11th March 2011

node ref id: 21394

Top story

  • Four years ago, Safaricom launched M-Pesa in Kenya. The mobile operator which introduced the first mobile payment scheme in Africa on March 6th 2007 has since witnessed this service been introduced in several African countries by other mobile operators including its competitors in Kenya. Mobile payment services have launched in South Africa, Madagascar, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Tanzania, etc. However none of the payment services in these countries have attained yet the depth and reach of Safaricom’s mobile payment services. The mobile operator offers of course standard transfer services but also international remittance services, bank accounts, utilities payments, purchases facilities, cash cards – in short, all the services that you expect from a traditional retail bank. But for all the laurels that mobile payment services deserve for developing banking services, there are still improvements to be made in particular on the pricing structure that currently governs mobile payment services in Africa. Isabelle Gross analyses the payment services offered by 4 mobile operators: Safaricom in Kenya, Orange in Côte d’Ivoire, Telma in Madagascar and MTN in Uganda.

    Joining the mobile payment scheme offered by one of these four mobile operators is of course free. However a customer might need to swap its existing SIM card for a new one in order to be able to use the mobile payment services. At MTN Uganda, the SIM card swap is free for postpaid customers but prepaid customers will have to pay a small fee of US$0.64 (UGX1,500). Mobile operator Telma in Madagascar proposes a SIM swap at a little bit more than US1 (2,000 Ariary). However, all four mobile operators limit their mobile payment services to their own mobile subscribers. MTN Uganda puts it in a rather positive way by saying “this service is available to every MTN Mobile customer” while Safaricom in Kenya cursively mentioned the limitation when it lists the requirement details that a customer needs to provide to register for the service: “You will be required to give the agent your Safaricom mobile number, your first and last name, your date of birth, and show an original identification document”. This service restriction only encourages multi-SIM ownership. If a customer is not a existing subscriber of MTN Uganda or Orange Côte d’Ivoire or Telma Madagascar or Safaricom in Kenya but want to user their mobile payment service, he/she will need to get one of their SIM card and will end up with two SIM cards (one to use for the voice calls and one to use for mobile payment services).

    The “walled garden” commercial approach of mobile operators for payment services gets even tougher when it comes to the fees to pay for transfers. The common denominator among all four mobile operators is as follows: if you transfer money to another mobile user registered to the service, the fee will be rather small but if you transfer money to a person that is not registered to the service or has a subscription with another mobile operator, than the fee to pay can be 5 times more or even 20 times more than the fee to pay when you transfer money to a registered person.

    At Telma in Madagascar, transfers to registered mobile users attract the following fee. It costs US$0.13 (250 Ariary) to transfer between US$0.07 and US$3.7 (100 and 5,000 Ariary) to a register user but it will cost 3 times more to send the same amount of money to an unregistered user. For higher transfer amounts the fee gap gets even bigger. It costs US$2.2 (3,000 Ariary) to transfer between US$731 and US$3,652 (1,000,001 and 5,000,000 Ariary) to a register mobile user but 3.6 times more to an unregistered user.

    Safaricom in Kenya has similar price differences for the “on the network users” and “off the network users”. It costs US$0.12 (KShs10) to transfer between US$0.60 and US$1.20 (50KShs and 100KShs) to a register user but it will cost 7.5 times more to send the same amount of money to an unregistered user or a mobile user subscribed with another network. With higher transfer amounts the fee difference is also more important. It costs US$0.36 to transfer between US$1.20 and US$850 (KShs101 and KShs35,000) but nearly 14 times more to an unregistered user.

    At MTN Uganda, it is the same story all over again. It costs a flat fee of US$0.34 (UGX800) to transfer money between US$2.12 and US$425 (UGX5,000 and UGX1,000,000) to a register user but it is twice more expensive for a transfer of US$2.12 to an unregistered user and nearly 24 times more expensive for a transfer for the highest amount of US$425. The pricing of money transfers to unregistered users is just so prohibitive that it makes it even more compelling to get a SIM card from the mobile operator offering the payment service.

    Orange Money in Côte d’Ivoire doesn’t have this price differences but that’s just because the mobile operator only offers its mobile payment services to its own registered users. Just for a comparison purpose, it costs US$0.36 (CFA150) to transfer between US$0.1 and US$10.86 (CFA5 F and CFA5,000) and US$4.35 (CFA2,000) to transfer between US$109 and US$217.4 (CFA50,005 and CFA100,000).

    To withdraw the transferred money unregistered users are usually better off then registered users. At MTN Uganda, Telma Madagascar or Safaricom the withdrawal is free for unregistered users. This explains also partly why the transfer charges are so high at the start for unregistered users or mobile subscribers of another network. For registered users, mobile operators split the cost of transfer and withdrawal between the sender and the receiver. By spreading the cost between sender and receiver, the service also appears cheaper. Further, the charges incurred by a registered user who wants to withdraw the money transferred are much higher than the transfer charges incurred by the sender. Mobile operators are very fine psychologists and they know a lot about human mentality: it is easier to part yourself from money (withdrawal fee) that doesn’t totally belong to you yet (the transferred money). To withdraw US$850 (KShs35,000), it costs approximately US$2 (KShs170) with Safaricom. MTN Uganda charges nearly US$4 (UGX9,000) to withdraw US$425  (UGX1,000,000) while Telma Madagascar will ask for US$4.4 (6,000 Ariary) to withdraw US$3,652 (5,000,000 Ariary).

    Despite the withdrawal fee that registered users have to pay, there is still a difference in terms of total cost (transfer and withdrawal fees) between a registered and an unregistered user or a mobile subscriber of another network.

    At Telma Madagascar it is 1.2 times more expensive for an unregistered user.
    - 3,000 Ariary for the transfer and 6,000 Ariary for the withdrawal for a registered user
    - 11,000 Ariary for the transfer and withdrawal for an unregistered user

    At Safaricom, it is twice as expensive for an unregistered user
    - KShs30 for the transfer and KShs170 for the withdrawal for a registered user
    - KShs400 for the transfer and withdrawal for an unregistered user

    At MTN Uganda it is nearly twice as expensive
    - UGX800 for the transfer and UGX9,000 for the withdrawal for a registered user
    - UGX19,000 for the transfer and withdrawal for an unregistered user

    Why this difference in prices between registered and unregistered users and a mobile subscriber of another network? The processes behind the transfer and the withdrawal are the same for the two categories of users and therefore for the mobile operators, the cost should be the same too. MTN Uganda’s claim about “virtual banking, bridging the gap to the un-banked” sounds rather overdone when its mobile payment service is a two speed service: cheaper for its mobile subscribers and more expensive for mobile subscribers of other operators. Is it interoperability between competing mobile payment services that will finally get rid off this “walled garden” commercial approach? Let’s see how mobile operators will position themselves when they will be faced with interoperability implementation. It will happen sooner than later.

More

  • 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 more information click here:

    Event: HR4ICT11 - Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy
    Date: 21-23 March 2011, Hilton Nairobi, Nairobi Kenya.

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is holding its annual HR4ICT Forum in Kenya, beginning 21 March 2011. The event will take place over three days addressing the human resource management aspect of business continuity planning.  With a theme focused on "Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy", HR4ICT'11 will focus on the challenges faced by major communications user groups (telecommunications, IT, finance, transport, energy, etc) in developing and implementing effective business continuity programmes. Visions, ideas, challenges, needs, success stories as well as best practices on the development and implementation of effective business continuity programmes, will be discussed by a selection of expert speakers.
    For more information click here: or email:  programmes@cto.int

    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 click 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 click here:


    Ghana ICT and Telecom Summit
    28-29 April 2011, Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre Accra, Ghana

    The summit will bring together over 200 decision-makers from Ghanaian operators and international stakeholders with an interest in the market to share experiences, knowledge and ideas with a view to overcoming the industry challenges. The 2 day summit agenda will address all aspects of Ghanaian ICT & telecoms strategies for attracting investment, broadband connectivity for all, solutions to boost operator ROI, Regulatory challenges & opportunities, infrastructure development, VAS and local content for Ghanaians, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, mobile banking, customer loyalty, future trends and more.
    For further information click 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 click here:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011

    Nairobi, Kenya
    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success. 
    For more information click here : 

  • MTN Group has appointed Ahmed Faroukh as its Vice President (VP) of the West and Central Africa (WECA) region.

    Faroukh was CEO of MTN Nigeria for almost five years and recently acting VP for the WECA region, which includes Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Congo Brazaville, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia and Benin.

    Brett Goschen, currently the CEO of MTN Ghana, becomes the new CEO of MTN Nigeria. Goschen, a chartered accountant, has provided strategic, operating and financial leadership to MTN’s large operations in West Africa in his capacity as Chief Financial Officer of MTN Nigeria from 2002 to 2006 before he was appointed MTN Ghana CEO.

    In Ghana, Goschen will be replaced by Michael Ikpoki, the Sales and Distribution Executive for MTN Nigeria. Ikpoki joined MTN Nigeria as Regulatory Advisor in 2001 and was promoted to General Manager: Regulatory Affairs in 2004.

  • NPO Project Manager – Kenya
    - More than 8 years experience in GSM technology with minumum 3 years experience in NPO Project management.
    - Excellent understanding of project delivery phases.
    - Good knowledgeof end to end network topology with excellence in at least one of the fields(RF, access, core)
    - Good understanding of KPIs
    - Able to schedule/deliver/manage drive tests teams.
    - Understands project financials and resource organization.
    - Proactive, excellent communicator, highly organized.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Main One and Cisco – Nigeria
    Main One Cable Company, the first privately owned submarine network cable in West Africa, will be deploying Cisco's Internet Protocol Next- Generation Network (IP-NGN) solution to take broadband capacity in West Africa to the next level. Working with Cisco, Main One will develop a high quality IP based network and application service offerings to create efficient content delivery highway to private and public communications networks in West Africa. Customers will benefit from various value-added services enabled by IP technology such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Voice Over IP (VOIP), IPTV and advanced collaboration technologies

telecoms

  • The Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Kyle Whitehill has kicked against the installation of international call monitoring systems on the premises of telecom operators to verify the volume of international traffic for revenue.

    He told journalists “we do not think the monitoring equipment are absolutely necessary because we have very transparent ways of accounting for all inbound international traffic on our network and we continue to pay government the required 6 cents per minute of international calls received on our network.”

    Vodafone in particular has been cited by the Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu for resisting the installation of international call monitoring equipment on their premises, but Mr. Whitehill said Vodafone is not resisting anything but only offering alternatives.

    “You can see how much international traffic comes onto our network on day to day basis – we do not think you have to install specific probing systems to do that,” he said.

    Meanwhile, government has hired a Haitian company called Global Voice Group (GVG), and they have installed monitoring equipment on the premises of some telecom operators to verify inbound international calls.

    Some operators have criticized the move as interference into the privacy of their customers and also a threat to network quality, as calls going through the monitoring system stand the risk of being distorted due to “too much equipment”.

    Vodafone was also the first to go public in expressing their nervousness about the GVG, which was relieved of their duties in some African countries after those countries decided they did not need a third party to monitor international calls for revenue.

    But the Ministry of Communications insists that since the coming of GVG, and the installation of monitoring equipment, government had gone from a loss of $5.8 million dollars a month in taxes to over $14 million dollars gain in taxes on inbound international calls.

    Some telecom experts had suggested that government’s gains have nothing to do with GVG’s work, but purely on the basis of fixing the cost of international call at 19 cents  per minute and using the various call reports of the various operators to determine the quantum of taxes thereof.

    One other issue closely related to the call monitoring is the SIM boxing activity, where some fraudsters route inbound international calls through local mobile phone numbers and make them appear as if they were local calls and by that they (the fraudsters) siphon moneys belonging to telecom operators and government.

    Reports from international research on SIM boxing activity indicated that telecom operators lost $150 million to sim box fraudsters last year.

    As at October last year, Vodafone Ghana was on NCA’s records as the network with the highest sim boxing activity, but

    Mr. Whitehill assured the Ministry of Communication that Vodafone has what it takes to lead the fighting against the sim box fraud.

    Chief Marketing Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Uche Ofodile noted that between October and now, Vodafone has identified and blocked 90 per cent of the fraudulent sim cards on its network used for sim boxing activities.

    “As a result Vodafone is now the network with the least SIM boxing activity in Ghana,” she said.

    Meanwhile Vodafone and the police CID recently busted SIM box operations in Teshie with fraudulent equipment worth $200,000 involved.

    Mr. Whitehill expressed the hope that the police would prosecute the perpetrators, saying “we support the police in taking on these criminals and prosecuting them in order to bring some sanity into the telecom industry.”

  • MTN's Swaziland subsidiary has confirmed that it will launch 3G services as soon as the telecoms regulator grants them permission. An application earlier this year for a license was however declined for unspecified reasons just a couple of months ago.

    The regulator is also the state-owned telecoms network - causing a conflict of interest that may be resolved if long-standing plans for an independent regulator are carried out.

    "Swazi Mtn is 3G ready, all we have to do is to press a button and make the service available to the MTN network users. We are ready, what is outstanding at the moment is to be granted the appropriate licence by the regulator. As soon as we get the licence, we advise that our customers will experience an immense improvement on the data speeds and all other benefits which will come with the 3G technology," MTN Swaziland's CEO, Ambrose Dlamini told the Swazi Observer.

    The company is also testing a mobile money platform which could be introduced in the near future.

  • MTN Rwanda has decided to scrap cross border roaming charges for its customers when they use the service in Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland and Zambia.

    According to company officials, the decision follows complaints from its subscribers that the receiving fee of Rwf60 per minute was too high.

    The operator introduced the fee, last year, saying it wanted to trim the swelling bill for call termination charges which it pays to international operators with which they have roaming partnerships. However, regional operators like Airtel, MTN Uganda and UTL don't charge roaming fees. .

    "We decided to drop the fee after long negotiations with our sister companies and agreed on the amount we will be charging each other," MTN's Public Relations Officer, Bosco Ssendahangarwa told Business Times in a phone interview yesterday.

    The new development means MTN subscribers will now be able to move freely across these countries making calls and sending SMS at local rates and receive incoming calls free of charge.

    In a statement sent to Business Times, MTN's CEO, Khaled Mikkawi said MTN has spent the past few months negotiating in response to their customers' requests to slash roaming costs.
    The re-introduction of 'MTN One World' seamless roaming in these countries is just the beginning of our determination to offer the same in all markets in which we operate and in strategic markets important to our region.

    Ssendahangarwa said that roaming fees with other countries and other East Africa member states will remain the same.

    Customers roaming within the five countries, will be able to top up their prepaid lines with locally bought airtime cards which can be bought at any of MTN's points of sale.

    After introducing the charges, countries of Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Belgium, Sudan, Swaziland and Botswana, were among the affected.

    "For prepaid customers the service is automatically activated upon crossing into any one of the MTN networks, with no prior registration required or sign up fee charged," the statement said.

  • The West African Cable System (WACS), being managed from Europe to Africa by MTN, is set to land on the shores of Nigeria, according to Corporate Services Executive of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Wale Goodluck.

    Speaking in an interview in Lagos at the weekend, Goodluck said, "WACS is on stream and a lot of work has been put into it within and outside Nigeria. The sub-sea cable is being laid all the way from Europe, and it is ready to land in Nigeria. We are in the process of finalising some of the necessary regulatory approvals.

    We have enjoyed fantastic cooperation from the Federal Ministry of Environment, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Ports Authority and a lot of the other agencies who are responsible for the management and use of the territorial waters of Nigeria. We have also enjoyed a lot of cooperation from the Lagos State Government and we envisage that the cable will be landing by the end of first quarter of 2011."

    On envisaged problems of territorial landing as experienced by other operators like MainOne and Glo 1 that have already landed, Goodluck said the concern of MTN was primarily about the landing in Nigeria alone and not other West African territories where the cable would first land before arriving in Nigeria.

    The WACS cable, according to him, would be landing in several countries along the West African coast and other parts of Africa. In Nigeria, it has been a very comprehensive approval process and it has gone fairly well; we don't envisage any major problem.
    Asked if the coming of WACS would be necessary, given that MainOne and Glo 1 cables are already on ground, Goodluck said, "The more the infrastructure we can attract into the country, the better for us. We are definitely very far from capacity glut in Nigeria and the level of adoption of broadband in Nigeria is still at a very primary stage. Where we are going, honestly, I don't think anybody can put a finger on it.

    "When the broadband revolution takes off in Nigeria, we are going to see wonderful things. So, we need the capacity and we need to ensure that there is enough bandwidth to carry the traffic that people will require."

    He promised that WACS would change the business lifestyle of Nigerians and elevate Nigeria into becoming a broadband global village.

internet

  • The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has released new satellite imagery confirming the intentional burning of a third village, Tajalei, in Sudan's Abyei region, in addition to the deliberate destruction since March 2 of the villages of Maker Abior and Todach.

    At least 300 buildings at Tajalei were intentionally destroyed by fire, according to Satellite Sentinel Project analysis of the DigitalGlobe satellite image, taken March 6 and analyzed by UNITAR/UNOSAT and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, with additional analysis by DigitalGlobe.

    Roughly two-thirds of those buildings appear to be consistent with civilian residential structures, known as tukuls.

    George Clooney, who conceived of the Satellite Sentinel Project during a trip to Southern Sudan with Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast, stated:"The Satellite Sentinel Project is the first to confirm the widespread and systematic targeting of civilian infrastructure across the Abyei region.

    This is the kind of undeniable evidence we feared we'd see if we put a camera where we weren't welcome. Village burning has caused tens of thousands to be displaced, unknown numbers of civilian casualties, and the deliberate destruction of at least three communities. If this violence is left unchecked, it could put the entire North-South peace process at risk."

    Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast stated:"Satellite imagery combined with on-the-ground analysis is pointing to a deliberate attempt to subvert peace efforts by elements associated with the Khartoum government.

    By trying to displace Dinka residents from parts of Abyei, the case is strengthened to further divide the Abyei region between North and South.

    If mediators and concerned governments acquiesce to this strategy, it would legitimize local population clearing efforts and would be a recipe for a wider war."

    On Friday, SSP released a report, "Flashpoint: Abyei," documenting a significant increase in military activity by apparent Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in South Kordofan state, as well as apparent Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) buildup south of Abyei. The continuing militarization of this tense region, including evidence of battle tanks and other heavy equipment, has contributed to an already volatile situation.

    The SSP images, taken by DigitalGlobe, confirm widely reported attacks on multiple villages in the Abyei region since Sunday, February 27. Sources on the ground report the fighting may have begun between armed Misseriya and southern police, but that elements of the Popular Defense Force militias, historically supported by the Sudanese Armed Forces, participated in the attacks. Maker Abior was previously the scene of fighting just prior to the South Sudan referendum in early January. The fighting, as well as rumors of movement toward Abyei Town, has reportedly triggered the flight of tens of thousands of civilians southward toward Agok.

    SSP has also documented clear increases in military capacity by SAF and SPLA in areas around Abyei, including heavy equipment transport and tanks at a known SAF outpost in Kharassana, a new suspected SAF position near Heglig, and a rapid build-out of suspected SPLA encampment in Unity State during the past month.

    "The pattern in which these buildings were apparently burned is consistent with the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructure," said Charlie Clements, MD, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School and Director of Human Rights Documentation for SSP. "The systematic destruction of villages, primarily through the burning of civilian infrastructure, including residences, is a violation of the laws of war and represents a gross violation of human rights."

    The Satellite Sentinel Project, combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports with Google's Map Maker to deter the resumption of full-scale war between North and South Sudan. Not On Our Watch provided seed money to launch the Satellite Sentinel Project.

    The Enough Project contributes field reports and policy analysis, and, together with Not On Our Watch and our Sudan Now partners, pressures policymakers by urging the public to act. UNOSAT analyzes satellite images and collaborates with Google and Trellon to design the web platform.

    Harvard Humanitarian Initiative provides research and leads the collection, human rights analysis, and corroboration of on-the-ground reports that contextualizes the imagery. DigitalGlobe provides satellite imagery and additional analysis.

  • A Bulawayo man has become Zimbabwe's first "Facebook arrest" over an innocent comment he posted on the social networking site on the 13th February.

    Vikas Mavhudzi of Old Magwegwe, is being charged with "subverting a constitutional government" after he posted a message on a Facebook page allegedly belonging to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

    Mavhudzi's message simply read: "I am overwhelmed, I don't want to say Mr. or PM what happened in Egypt is sending shockwaves to dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose worth emulating, hey."

    The court was told that police arrested Mavhudzi on February 24th, after receiving an anonymous call that claimed he had sent a 'security threat' via his mobile phone. It was only after the arrest that police went through his phone and discovered the message in the sent folder.

    Prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa accused Mavhudzi of "advocating or attempting to take-over government by unconstitutional means". And the state opposed bail when he appeared before a city magistrate on Thursday. Mavhudzi was remanded in custody till March 9th.

    Protests against dictators in North Africa appear to have rattled Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF, as any discussion of the events there is now considered a crime in Zimbabwe.

    A group of activists who gathered to watch video footage of the protests were arrested on February 19 and are still in detention. Lawyers said suspected ringleaders have been brutally assaulted.

    Meanwhile there are signs that the Mugabe regime intends to increase its ability to spy on innocent civilians. As we reported on SW Radio Africa this week, the government is allegedly moving at a 'very fast pace' with the construction of a secret electronic eavesdropping complex just outside Harare. A trusted source said that the Chinese, who are building the complex, have a system that enables most security agencies to 'spy at will' on emails, website visits, social networking sessions, and telephone calls made over the internet on a massive scale.

  • As from the second half of this year, Mozambican consumers will be able to pre-pay for their electricity online.

    The pre-payment system, known as Credelec, allows consumers to control how much energy they are using. It eliminates monthly bills, and meter readings, and is thus very convenient for the electricity company, EDM.

    The pre-paid price per kilowatt-hour is considerably more than the price paid by those consumers who opt to continue receiving monthly bills. But, just as with the pre-paid cards for mobile phones, consumers appear to believe that the convenience outweighs the extra cost. Currently 78 per cent of electricity consumers use Credelec.

    But since large scale consumers do not pre-pay, Credelec accounts for a minority of EDM revenue - 27 per cent in Maputo, 29 per cent in the rest of southern Mozambique, 24 per cent in the central provinces, and 20 per cent in the north.

    The project to allow consumers to pre-pay online involves a contract signed on Thursday between the chairperson of EDM, Manual Cuambe, and Damian Padachi, General Manager of the South African computer company, ITRON. EDM will pay 145.8 million meticais (about 4.7 million US dollars) for the system to be implemented by ITRON.

    Under the current arrangement, there are 15 isolated Credelec servers, and over 140 sales posts, without any interconnection. With the new scheme, the off-line Credelec systems will gradually be replaced by on-line ones, starting with Maputo in July-August this year, and covering the rest of the country by July 2012.

    The new system will allow consumers to purchase pre-paid vouchers, not only at EDM branches, but at many other shops, at the Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) of banks, and via the internet or through mobile phone text messages. This is analogous to the way in which pre-paid vouchers for mobile phones are sold.

    And, just as mobile phone pre-paid vouchers can be purchased from itinerant vendors, this method will also be used for Credelec. "The recharge vouchers will be on sale in the streets", said EDM Commercial Manager Jose Buque. "This will greatly help those clients who live in rural areas, particular where there are no banks or shops".

    Perhaps the greatest innovation is that Credelec consumers will be able to buy their vouchers anywhere in the country, and not just the area where they live. The new system also eliminates the risk of paying taxes twice in the same month.

    All consumers of electricity must pay a monthly radio fee, and a municipal rubbish collection fee. Consumers who buy Credelec electricity more than once a month, have to struggle to avoid paying these fees more than once a month. Once the on-line system is installed, this will be dealt with automatically.

    At Thursday's ceremony, Cuambe said that putting Credelec online was part of EDM's modernisation. There would now be a single national data base for Credelec, which Cuambe believed would improve sales services and facilitate internal management.

    He predicted "a substantial improvement in the relationship with our clients, and in the company's financial management".

computing

  • Government has saved over R2 billion in tax payers' money and averted a protracted court case by settling a dispute over the upgrading of the Department of Home Affairs' information technology infrastructure and systems.

    The department aimed to modernise its systems through the "Who Am I Online (WAIO)" project, which was to process identity documents faster.

    The project, now jointly managed by the department and that of finance through the South African Revenue Service (SARS), is set for completion in the next two years.

    The department said that following transparent procedures, the tender for the project was awarded to service provider Gijima in 2006 at R2.1 billion. But the company failed to deliver by 2008 as agreed. By last year, project costs had sky-rocked to R4.5 billion, resulting in investigations by the department.

    The Auditor General and the Forensic Auditor are set to issue two separate reports on what could have gone wrong when the tender was signed.

    In the meantime, the department and SARS have started working together to ensure that the project is finished at a cost of about R2.4 billion, instead of the inflated figure and the attendant interests of R800 million.

    SARS Movement Control Systems was highly successful during the FIFA World Cup and has to date processed 25 million movements across the country's ports of entry.

    Gijima, IBM and HP, who are party to the settlement, would be involved in the completion of the project, which is bound to be strictly monitored on a daily basis.

    Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, her Director General Mkuseli Apleni and SARS officials addressed the media on the settlement in Parliament today.

    Dlamini Zuma said that in April last year, they notified Gijima as the prime contractor and IBM and HP, who had provided lease financing for the project, that the contract was now invalid.

    In order to avoid "indefinite delays to the project and lengthy litigation," she said they had entered into negotiations in the last 10 months in order to amicably resolve the matter and see to it that the project was delivered not far from its original budget.

    "In terms of the settlement agreement between the parties, the total final capital cost (excluding interest) of the items in the scope of the project, is estimated to be R2.27 billion. This is in line with the Treasury budget of R2.23 billion for the project, which was conditionally approved in 2009.

    "Government has paid R391 million to date, including interests on lease of R945 million between Gijima and the department. The revenue streams of these leases were purchased by IBM and HP," said Dlamini Zuma.

    She added that government would undertake to settle those leases in an amount of R815 million, saving itself roughly R34 million in capital and interest.

  • As the Joint Tax board get set to commance the e-registration of tax payers, one state from each geo-political zone would participate in the pilot scheme.

    This was disclosed by the JTB Secretary, Alhaji Lawal Abubakar when the committee paid a courtesy call on the emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Sulaiman Adamu at the week-end. The secretary revealed that a state from each geo-political zone of the country would serve as a pilot to the exercise, and said that the states are Bauchi, Jigawa, Kwara, Delta, Abia and Oyo.

    The responsibility of the board Abubakar noted was to advice government on tax administration as well as to generate more revenue for its three tiers. This even as he said that it would also provide a comprehensive data base for all eligible tax payers. According to Abubakar, "the purpose of the project is to ensure that all taxable individuals was captured through electronic system which will include their names, place of residence and their 10 fingers prints must be captured for easy identification".

    Abubakar further explained that other states would subsequently follow as that the selection was based on counter part funding which Bauchi happened to be the first to do so in the zone. He explained that the visit was to solicit for the Emir's support because of the important role traditional rulers play in enlightening their community, especially on an issue whch has to do with payments of tax.

    Abubakar Lawal stressed that the states in conjunction with Federal Government agencies such as States Board of Internal Revenues, Federal Inland Revenue Services, National Bureau of Statistics, National Population, Federal Road Safety Commissions as well as the EFCC among others would serve as members of the steering committee.

    In his remark the Emirs of Bauchi Alhaji Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, commended the team for their effort to revive the tax system in the country.According to him, that tax collection would generate more revenue thereby bringing economic development to the people.

  • Core Group have responded in kind to Digicape's iPad price cuts

    The official distributors of Apple products in South Africa, Core Group, have cut the retail prices of iPads after Digicape announced yesterday that they would be dropping the prices of the iPad.

    “Due to the announcement of iPad 2 internationally, we will be decreasing the pricing on the first generation model locally,” Core revealed today.

    However, Core states that they had actually announced a reduction in the iPad prices through their channel yesterday – it just hadn't filtered into the public domain until this morning.

    Digicape's prices are in-line with Core's new recommended retail prices and it is expected that Apple Premium Resellers (iStore, Incredible Connection and Dion Wired) will also change their prices accordingly.

    Wi-Fi only iPads are to be sold for R500 less while the 3G models received a R600 price cut.

    RJ van Spaandonk, executive director of Core Group, said that the price cuts are simply a result of the reduced prices the device enjoyed internationally after the announcement of iPad 2.

    He explained that the original iPad is still considered a primary product and Core is still bringing stock into the country.

    Van Spaandonk said that the price reduction isn't a bid to get rid of stock, as it isn't clear yet when South Africa will be receiving the iPad 2. He added that the original iPad will still be sold alongside the iPad 2 when it does arrive.

    The table below shows South Africa's reduced iPad pricing and compares it to the reduced pricing overseas.

    A table with the pricing details is available here:

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • MTN saw a 22% increase in subscribers, to 141.6 million, for the year ended 31 December.

    The company says it enjoyed a “satisfactory operational performance” for the year, despite being negatively impacted by the strong rand.

    “Economies across our footprint have emerged relatively strongly from the challenges of the global financial crisis of 2008. The commodity cycle upswing, together with continued infrastructure investment and improved governance, helped maintain a positive trading momentum.”

    On a constant currency basis, revenue grew by 14%. “However, due to the continued strengthening of the rand, reported revenue at R114.7 billion was 2.5% higher than the prior year.”

    MTN says this is because 68% of its revenue is generated in currencies other than the rand.

    “Regulation of mobile termination rates, mainly in SA and Nigeria, resulted in a decline of 13% in interconnect revenue, while data revenue, including SMS and MTN Business Solutions, increased by 33%, albeit off a low base and notwithstanding the impact of the rand.”

    The company says the year saw a 23% increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), on a constant-currency basis.

    “The strong rand, however, meant the increase in reported EBITDA was 9.7%. The decrease in costs in the year was mainly due to the decrease in interconnect costs, together with a reduction in selling, distribution and marketing costs.”

    Net finance costs decreased by 29.5%, to R4.1 billion in 2010, from R5.8 billion the previous year. This was mainly due to a 61.8% reduction in functional currency losses to R1.2 billion, at the end of December.

    Foreign currency losses reduced by 16.5%, to R924 million, and the group's depreciation charge increased by 12%, to R13.2 billion, at December.

    MTN's reported capital expenditure was R19.5 billion, 38% lower than in 2009 and slightly below estimate.

    “The lower-than-expected expenditure was partially attributable to rand strength, as well as lower expenditure in Nigeria and Iran.”

    “MTN SA's performance was encouraging in a market that is technically more than 100% penetrated, driven by high growth in the prepaid segment,” says the company.

    The South African operation increased its market share to 36%. MTN attributes this to brand support during the 2010 Fifa World Cup and the Ayoba campaign.

    Subscribers increased by 17.3% for the period, to 18.8 million. “This was mainly due to the 18.6% increase in the prepaid segment, to 15.5 million users.”

    The company says the postpaid segment continued to grow, but at a slower pace, increasing its subscriber base by 11.3%, to 3.4 million, at the end of 2010.

    MTN SA's revenue grew by 8% for the year, driven mainly by an 8% growth in airtime and subscription revenue. Strong growth in data revenue of 47% was offset by a 10% decrease in interconnect revenue.

    “MTN SA's EBITDA margin increased by 2.6%, to 34%, from the prior year. This was partly driven by an increase in on-net traffic, which resulted in interconnect costs reducing by more than the reduction in interconnect revenue.”

    Capital expenditure reduced to 11% of revenue, from 18% in the prior year.

  • The European Investment Bank (EIB) has provided a EUR8 million (USD11 million) loan to the Seychelles Cable Systems Company (SCS) for the installation and operation of the island nation’s first international submarine fibre-optic cable. The planned 1,930km cable will link the main island of Mahe to the existing Eastern Africa Submarine System (EASSy) in Tanzania, and is expected to be operational by the second half of 2012, according to a report on Afriquejet.com.

    The project will also benefit from a EUR4 million grant from the EU-Africa Infrastructure Trust Fund to support shareholding in the project by the Seychelles government. A statutory dividend from this equity stake will be used to provide free internet access for schools, libraries, hospitals and other social development-related services. The EUR27 million overall project cost will be financed through 40% equity and 60% debt, the EIB said.

     Long-term debt will be co-financed equally by the EIB and the African Development Bank, and equity contributions split between three shareholders – the Government of Seychelles, Cable and Wireless Seychelles and Airtel. SCS executive Benjamin Choppy – who is also permanent secretary for ICT in the Seychelles – signed the deal with the EIB, which he called a key milestone for the project, and stressed that the cable will dramatically improve voice telephony and internet access in the Seychelles, with international transmission capacity predicted to be seven times cheaper than current prices. The EIB previously supported the EASSy project to connect 20 coastal and landlocked countries in East and Southern Africa using a high bandwidth undersea fibre-optic cable and terrestrial links.

  • As originally reported last November, American Tower has now, through its local South African subsidiary, acquired approximately 960 existing towers from South African mobile network operator, Cell C for an aggregate purchase price of approximately US$140 million, using cash on hand, local financing, and funds contributed by South African investors who currently hold an approximate 25% minority stake in the subsidiary.

    American Tower expects to acquire from Cell C approximately 440 additional existing towers during 2011 for an aggregate purchase price of approximately US$60 million, subject to customary closing conditions.

    American Tower may acquire up to an additional 1,800 towers that are either currently under construction or will be constructed over the next two to three years for an additional aggregate purchase price of up to approximately US$230 million. Cell C will be the anchor tenant on each of the towers being purchased.

  • One of the Nigerian Internets Service Providers (ISP), Internet Solutions (IS) has announced further investment of 1.5million dollars (N225 million) with the expansion of its Lagos data centre and hosting facility.

    The Managing Director of Internet Solutions West Africa, Mr. Steve Herridge said the expansion exercise came on the back of previous revelations made signaling the company's dedication and commitment to communications infrastructural development in Nigeria .

    According to Herridge, growth of IT data processing environment is multidimensional which requires continues innovations on how to do it better.

    He said, "Factors like business type, customer behaviour, storage, regulatory demands, risk management, and technology innovation all affect how businesses process and store data. Due to developments such as increasing demand, virtualization, and requirements for low latency data connectivity, the data centre has become a dynamic environment which must constantly be re-calibrated to maintain its effectiveness."

    Herridge explained that the expansion in the Victoria Island centre covers areas like Power Generation and upgraded Facilities to cater for the growth of the Data Centre.

    He stated that since the arrival of two new submarine cables in Nigeria , there has been an explosion of interest from international companies wanting to do business in Nigeria and has facilitated the growth in demand for server and application hosting.

    "We made the decision to expand the available space in our VI facility on the back of an order received from one of our major banking customers; but this expansion then allows us to cater for the high demand that we now see in the hosting and co-location business in Nigeria, both from businesses currently operating within Nigeria and business looking to enter the market," Herridge said.

    Herridge said, "At Internet Solutions, we believe that Infrastructure sharing of networks and facilities such as Data Centre's will help drive the cost of the services we provide down and assist in the growth of the internet and internet based businesses in Nigeria ."

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Etisalat Nigeria has announced a new tariff plan with the unveiling of new Homezone tariffs and Bonus on Incoming Calls (BOIC) campaigns on a modified easy starter package. The modified Easy Starter package retains the BOIC feature which rewards customers with one minute free call to any network for every 3minutes call received from other networks in Nigeria while the free bonus can be used to call all networks at anytime saying that the feature is also available on easy cliq subscribers.

    Neotel, South Africa's second national operator (SNO), has slashed the cost of calls to mobile phones by 23% in an effort to improve its market share. The lower rates – which were prompted by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA’s) ruling on termination fees last year – came into effect on 1 March. Neotel's Dr Angus Hay commented: 'Neotel continues to offer the most cost effective home phone service for consumers. For as little as ZAR99 (USD14.4) per month rental, you can get a wireless phone - no copper wires, no waiting for installation - and these new rates make it even more compelling.

Digital Content

  • Not content with violently invading farms and other businesses, ZANU PF has now begun invading the privacy of Net One mobile phone subscribers, by sending messages telling them to sign the so-called anti-sanctions petition.

    One message sent without the permission of the subscribers was; "The time has come for every Zimbabwean to sign the petition or dial 0044 7893227001 for the removal of illegal sanctions imposed by the European Union and the United States of America."

    Under regulations governing the use of bulk SMS services, receivers have to first consent to receiving the messages or subscribe first before being put on any list. In this case it seemed ZANU PF simply abused the status of Net One as a state owned mobile network, to forcibly send the messages.

    Only last year threats from ZANU PF forced the privately owned Econet Wireless, to pull the plug on the use of some of its numbers for an audio news and information service launched by the MDC-T. Under the service dubbed 'Voice of Real Change' any phone subscriber in Zimbabwe could dial a set of given numbers and the service would call them back with various news and information options.

    With over 100 000 callers on the first day the service was launched, ZANU PF panicked and threatened the regulatory authority. An article in the state-owned Herald newspaper by Nathaniel Manheru (believed to be Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba), warned that operating licences were up for renewal and Econet needed to be careful since government 'has to deal with all manner of mischief.'

    Now with the state machinery heavily stacked against the MDC-T, the party has been challenged to do more to spread its message. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Facebook page for example already has nearly 60 000 followers but was last updated on the 8th October 2010, when the PM gave a statement on the state of the coalition government.

    With the MDC-T headed for a congress in May, many of its officials have been accused of focusing on retaining their positions and fighting factional wars, instead of keeping their eye on the ball.

    ZANU PF concluded its congress last year and is determined to destroy its rivals by hook or by crook and is using every means it can to do so.

  • As the battle to occupy the Presidential Villa continues among the Presidential candidates, one of the leading Presidential candidates for the elections, President Goodluck Jonathan has added a new dimension to his campaign strategy.

    The president is sending short voice messages to GSM subscribers to solicit for their votes during the April general elections.

    In the short voice messages, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate told Nigerians about his plans for the country if elected.

    President Jonathan said in the short voice messages which have been received by so many Nigerians as their caller tunes, "I am Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan. My goal is the total transformation to ensure that Nigeria is a true home for all its citizens. A country where there is adequate power supply, a secured environment for businesses and schools, to deliver the best education for our children, a country where no one will go to bed hungry. Vote me in for the next four years and together we will achieve the Nigeria of our dreams. I promise, I will not let you down".

    Investigations show that Nigerians have started reacting to the voice messages, describing it as a good initiative. Political Analysts also said that the strategy is one of the most effective ways of selling the manifestoes of a candidate to voters.

    They also said that those behind the initiatives should be encouraged. According to them, the approach is one of the most successful ways of campaigning and mobilizing voters for election.

Edition Française, 10 mars 2011, No 153

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Editorial

  • Il y a quatre ans presque jour pour jour, Safaricom laissait M-Pesa au Kenya. L’opérateur mobile qui a introduit le premier service de paiement via mobile le 6 mars 2007, a depuis été témoin de l’introduction de ce service par d’autres opérateurs mobiles dans plusieurs autres pays africains incluant des services concurrents dans son propre pays. Juste pour nommer quelques pays qui ont introduit des services de paiement via mobile, on peut citer l’Afrique du Sud, Madagascar, l’Ouganda ou encore la Côte d’Ivoire. Pourtant  aucun des services mobiles dans ces pays n’ont encore atteint la diversité et l’étendue des services de paiements via mobile offerts par Safaricom. L’opérateur mobile offre bien sur les services standards de paiements via mobile mais aussi des transferts internationaux, des comptes bancaires, le paiement de factures, l’achat de biens et de services ou encore une carte de retrait – en somme tous les services que vous escomptez d’une banque traditionnelle. Les services de paiement via mobile ont bien pris racine en Afrique et ils s’en développeront plus dans le futur. Ces services ont aussi démontré qu’il est bien possible d’en faire beaucoup plus avec un téléphone standard que de simplement passer des appels. Si les services de paiement via mobile méritent qu’on leurs décerne des couronnes de lauriers, il n’en reste pas moins que des améliorations restent à faire et en particulier en ce qui concerne la structure des prix qui gouverne ces services en Afrique. C’est la conclusion à laquelle aboutit l’analyse réalisée par Isabelle Gross des services de paiement via mobile de quatre opérateurs à savoir Safaricom au Kenya, Orange en Côte d’Ivoire, Telma à Madagascar et MTN en Ouganda.

    L’inscription au service de paiement via mobile proposé par chacun de ces quatre opérateurs est bien sur gratuite. Le client sera peut-être amené à échanger sa puce SIM pour une nouvelle pour être en mesure d’utiliser le service de paiement via mobile. A MTN Ouganda, l’échange de la puce SIM est gratuit pour les clients post-payés mais les clients prépayés devront payer une petite charge de moins d’un dollar US (1,500UGX). L’opérateur mobile Telma à Madagascar propose l’échange de la puce SIM pour un plus d’un dollar US (2,000 Ariary). Cependant, tous les quatre opérateurs limitent l’accès au service de paiement via mobile à leurs propres abonnés. MTN Ouganda présente cette limitation d’une manière plutôt positive en disant « ce service est ouvert à tous les abonnés mobiles de MTN » tandis que Safaricom au Kenya mentionne cette limitation de façon plus cursive lorsqu’il détaille les informations dont les clients doivent se munir pour s’inscrire au service. « Vous devrez présenter à l’agent votre numéro de mobile Safaricom, votre nom de famille et votre prénom, votre date de naissance et un document officiel attestant votre état civil ». La limitation du service aux abonnés de l’opérateur mobile encourage grandement à posséder plusieurs puces SIM. Si un client n’est pas un abonné de MTN Ouganda ou d’ Orange Côte d’Ivoire ou encore de Telma Madagascar et de Safaricom mais souhaite utiliser leur service de paiement via mobile, il ne lui reste plus qu’à acheter une puce SIM de l’un de ces opérateurs. Enfin de compte il se retrouvera avec deux puces SIM l’une qu’il utilisera pour ses appels et l’autre pour ses transferts d’argent par mobile.

    Cette approche commerciale « du jardin clôturé » que les opérateurs mobiles pratiquent pour l’inscription à leur service de paiement devient encore plus évidente lorsqu’on analyse la structure des prix des transferts. Le dénominateur commun entre ces quatre opérateur est le suivant: si vous faites un transfert d’argent à un abonné qui a souscrit au service de paiement via mobile, les frais de transferts seront moins chers mais si vous transférez de l’argent à une personne qui n’a pas souscrit au service ou qui est abonné auprès d’un autre opérateur mobile alors les frais à payer peuvent être cinq fois voire même 20 fois plus que les frais à payer pour un transfert vers un abonné inscrit.

    A Telma Madagascar, les transferts en faveur d’un abonné qui a souscrit au service s’établissent comme suivent: il vous faudra payer 0.14 dollar US (250 Ariary) pour transférer un montant entre 0.07 dollar US et 3.7 dollars US (100 à 500 Ariary) mais il vous en coûtera  trois fois plus pour transférer le même montant d’argent à une personne qui n’a pas souscrit au service ou qui n’est pas un abonné de Telma. Pour des transferts d’argent d’un montant plus élevé, la différence entre les frais de transferts s’accentue. Il vous en coûtera 2.2 dollars US (3,000 Ariary) pour transférer un montant entre 731 dollars US et 3,652 dollars US (1,000,001 et 5,000,000 Ariary) mais il vous faudra débourser 3.6 fois plus si ce transfert est en faveur d’une personne non-inscrite.

    A Safaricom au Kenya, la différence entre les frais est similaire lorsqu’il s’agit d’un transfert vers « une personne membre du réseau » et « une personne qui n’est pas membre du réseau ». Il vous en coûtera  0.12 dollar US (10 KShs) pour transférer un montant d’argent entre 0.60 dollar US et 1.20 dollar US (50KShs et 100KShs) à un abonné inscrit au service tandis que cela vous faudra débourser 7.5 fois plus pour transférer le même montant à une personne non-inscrite ou d’un autre réseau mobile. Pour des transferts d’un montant plus élevé, la différence entre les frais est encore plus importante. Il vous en coûtera 0.36 dollar US pour transférer un montant entre 1.2 dollars US et 850 dollars US (101KShs et 35,000KShs) mais 14 fois plus pour un transfert vers une personne non-inscrite.

    Chez MTN Ouganda, c’est la même histoire à nouveau. Il vous en coûtera 0.34 dollar US (800UGX) pour transférer un montant entre 2.12 dollars US et 425 dollars US (5,000UGX et 1,000,000UGX) en faveur d’une personne inscrite au service mais cela sera deux  fois plus cher de transférer 2.12 dollars US à une personne non-inscrite et presque 24 fois plus cher de transférer le montant plus élevé de 425 dollars US. Les prix des frais de transferts à des abonnés non-inscrits et à des abonnés d’autres réseaux sont tellement prohibitifs qu’ils deviennent un argument supplémentaire pour obtenir une puce SIM de l’opérateur proposant le service de paiement via mobile.

    Orange en Côte d’Ivoire ne pratique pas cette différence de prix dans les frais de transferts mais c’est seulement parce que l’opérateur mobile propose uniquement son service de paiement via mobile à ses abonnés inscrit. Juste pour le plaisir de la comparaison, il vous coûtera 0.36 dollar US (150 CFA) pour transférer un montant d’argent entre 0.1 dollar US et 10.86 dollar US (5CFA et 5,000 CFA) et 4.35 dollars US pour transférer un montant entre 109 dollars US et 217.4 dollars US (50,005 CFA et 100,000 CFA).

    Pour retirer l’argent transféré, les personnes non-inscrites sont mieux loties que les abonnés qui ont souscrit au service. Chez MTN Ouganda, Telma Madagascar et Safaricom au Kenya, le retrait est gratuit pour des abonnés non-inscrits et les abonnés des autres opérateurs. Cela explique partiellement pourquoi les frais de transferts sont si élevés pour les personnes non-inscrites. Pour les abonnés inscrits, les opérateurs mobiles partage les frais de transfert et de retrait entre l’envoyeur et le receveur. En répartissant les frais entre l’envoyeur et le receveur, le service parait aussi moins cher. En plus les frais de retrait d’un abonné inscrit sont bien plus élevés que les frais de transfert dont l’envoyeur doit s’acquitter.  Les opérateurs mobiles sont de fins psychologues et ils en savent long sur les mentalités humaines: il est plus facile de payer (les frais de retrait) avec de l’argent qui ne vous appartient pas encore totalement (l’argent transféré). Pour retirer 850 dollars US (35,000KShs), il vous en coûtera environ 2 dollars US (170KShs) avec Safaricom. MTN Ouganda vous facturera presque 4 dollars US (9,000UGX) pour un retrait d’un montant de 425 dollars US (1,000,000UGX) tandis que Telma Madagascar exigera 4.4 dollars US (6,000 Ariary) pour retirer 3,652 dollars US (5,000,000 Ariary).

    Malgré les frais de retrait dont les abonnés inscrits doivent s’acquitter, la différence en terme de coût total (les frais de  transfert et les frais de retrait) entre les abonnés inscrites les personnes non-inscrites reste considérable.

    A Telma Madagascar, c’est 1.2 fois plus cher pour une personne non-inscrite.
    - 3,000 Ariary pour le transfert et 6,000 Ariary pour le retrait pour un abonné inscrit
    - 11 Ariary pour le transfert et le retrait pour une personne non-inscrite

    Chez Safaricom, c’est deux fois plus cher pour une personne non-inscrite.
    - 30KSsh pour le transfert et 170KSsh pour le retrait pour un abonné inscrit
    - 400KSsh pour le transfert et le retrait pour une personne non-inscrite

    A MTN Ouganda, c’est aussi presque deux fois plus cher pour une personne non-inscrite.
    - 800UGX pour le transfert et 9,000UGX pour le retrait pour un abonné inscrit
    - 19,000UGX pour le transfert et le retrait pour une personne non-inscrite

    Pourquoi une telle différence de prix entre un abonné inscrit et l’abonné d’un autre réseau ? Les processus sous-jacents au transfert et au retrait sont les mêmes pour les abonnés inscrites et les abonnés des autres réseaux  et par conséquent les coûts pour les opérateurs mobiles sont les mêmes aussi. MTN Ouganda présente son service de paiement via mobile comme «la banque virtuelle qui comble le fossé envers la population n’ayant pas accès au service bancaire». Cela semble un peu surfait lorsque son service de paiement fonctionne comme un service à deux vitesses: un service moins cher pour les abonnés de l’opérateur et un service plus cher pour les abonnés des autres opérateurs. Est-ce l’inter polarité entre des systèmes de paiement concurrents qui aura raison de cette approche commerciale de « jardin clôturé ». Nous verrons bien quelle position les opérateurs mobiles adopteront lorsqu’ils devront mettre en œuvre une inter polarité de leurs services. Cela arrivera tôt out tard.

    Les tarifs des quatre opérateurs sont disponibles aux liens suivants :
    - Safaricom: http://www.safaricom.co.ke/index.php?id=255
    - MTN Uganda: http://www.mtn.co.ug/MTN-Services/Mobile-Banking/MTN-MobileMoney-Rates.aspx
    - Orange Money Côte d’Ivoire: http://orangemoney.orange.ci/transfert.php
    - Telma Madagascar: http://www.mvola.mg/tarifs.html
      
    Les stratégies web de médias d'Afrique:

    stratégie web d'Afrik.com - par Frank Salin, rédacteur en chef
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrqKyCJcJlM&feature=channel_video_title

    stratégie web d'Africa no.1 - par Dominique Guihot - Dir
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSsR-Qpyvh0&feature=channel_video_title

    stratégie web de TV5 Monde Afrique - par Denise Epoté, directrice de TV5 Monde Afrique
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6-daYgbSi0&feature=channel_video_title

    stratégie web de Canal+ Afrique, émission "+ d'Afrique" - par JF Hassoun, co-producteur, Libero Films
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OqCQ3Poq_o&feature=channel_video_title

  • Le président de l'Agence de régulation des Télécommunication (ARTEL), Lin Mombo a échangé mercredi dernier avec les responsables des entreprises de téléphonie en vue de trouver des solutions au problème de règlement des taxes d'interconnexion qui assombrit les relations entre les différentes maisons de téléphonie du pays et contribue à perturber les communications sur ces réseaux.

    Cette réunion a été initiée selon le responsable de l'Artel à cause des problèmes d'interconnexion qui subsistent entre les opérateurs de la maison de téléphonie Gabon télécom -Libertis et l'autre opérateur privé Bharti Airtel.

    Dans les explications données pour présenter le noeud du problème, l'on retient lors des transactions en ce qui concernent les appels d'un opérateur à un autre, les taxes de répartition doivent être rétribuées à celui vers qui on émet l'appel. Ce qui fait qu'au terme d'une période donnée, la balance des comptes peut aboutir à des dettes qu'une entreprise doit reverser à une autre.

    Pour Lin Mombo, « il fallait assainir cette situation financière ». « Nous avions au cours des réunions itératives entre les opérateurs fait en sorte que :

    1- chaque opérateur puisse reconnaître sa dette à travers les échanges de trafics;

    2- chaque opérateur s'engage à régler les sommes dues à l'autre ».

    Cependant monsieur Mombo a regretté le fait que la réunion permanente réglementaire qui devrait se faire tous les trois (3) mois où chaque opérateur devrait indiquer à l'autre le montant dû dans les opérations de trafic ne soit pas respectée.

    « Il y a donc eu une accumulation des arriérés », a-t-il reconnu avant de fustiger le comportement des opérateurs qui prennent en otage les abonnés qui s'acquittent, eux, de leur frais de communication, pour résoudre leur différend.

     « Nous disons aux opérateurs qui essaient de régler les problèmes financiers en prenant en otage l'abonné, que ce n'est pas une bonne chose. Ils doivent ouvrir leur porte afin que l'abonné continue normalement à opérer et régler les problèmes financiers en amont sous l'arbitrage de l'ARTEL », a indiqué le président du Conseil de régulation.

    « Je rappelle que le domaine des télécommunications est un domaine régalien », a-t-il précisé avant de souligner que « la loi interdit de se faire justice soi-même ».

    A l'issue de cette séance de travail, Monsieur Lin Mombo a tenu à préciser que la sérénité s'installait et que des solutions commençaient à être trouvées grâce à la compréhension et à la responsabilité des patrons de ces maisons de téléphonie mobile.

    Gabonnews
  • Orange Tunisie et ses actionnaires ont réfuté «catégoriquement», hier, les informations diffusées par les médias concernant les circonstances de l'acquisition de la 3e licence fixe, mobile 2G/3G en Tunisie.

    Des informations ont circulé, accusant le groupe d'avoir «monnayé son implantation» en Tunisie avec les proches du président déchu et d'avoir acquis cette licence «à un prix inférieur à sa valeur réelle».

    L'opérateur précise, dans un communiqué rendu public, à Tunis, qu'il a acquis cette licence «dans le parfait respect des règles d'attribution de l'appel d'offres international lancé par l'Etat tunisien».

    Il a indiqué, également, que cette licence a été attribuée sur la base de la meilleure offre au prix de 257 millions de dinars tunisiens, réglée à l'Etat tunisien en août 2010 à travers un virement au Trésor public de 187 MDT et de 70 MDT sous forme d'une garantie bancaire à première demande payable au Trésor public le 31 mars 2011 en contrepartie de l'exclusivité d'un an de la 3G.

    Cette licence a été acquise, selon le groupe, «à son juste prix en référence aux normes admises pour un troisième entrant», qui plus est sur un marché où le taux d'équipement des foyers est supérieur à 90%, soit 8,5 millions d'abonnées.

    La deuxième licence téléphonique a été attribuée, d'après les responsables du groupe, non pas il y a quelques mois, comme il a été dit, mais en 2002 sur un marché quasiment vierge de 500.000 abonnés.

    La Presse
  • Une expérience indo-africaine pour donner un aperçu de l'efficacité des synergies transcontinentales Nairobi 2 mars 2011 ... Airtel Afrique a donné le coup d\'envoi à un programme exceptionnel de transfert de personnel qui permettra à la première vague d'employés venant d'Afrique de travailler dans les divisions de la société mère en Inde à compter du 23 février 2011. La phase initiale du programme a vu l\'intégration du personnel spécialisé de Bharti Airtel dans certains marchés. Dans cette phase du programme, le premier groupe venant d'Afrique en direction de l'Inde sera composé d'employés d'Airtel en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), Tanzanie, Kenya, Nigeria et Zambie. Ils travailleront pendant au moins un an au sein de différents départements de la société mère Bharti Airtel notamment le réseau de développement d'infrastructures, les solutions pour les entreprises de taille moyenne, la vente et la distribution, les systèmes financiers, le marketing et bien d'autres. S\'exprimant sur l'initiative, Manoj Kohli, PDG du groupe et co-directeur Général de Bharti Airtel, a déclaré : «Notre plus grand pilier est la ressource humaine. Nous investissons des ressources considérables dans le développement des capacités tout en donnant à notre capital humain des possibilités de progresser.

    Le transfert des connaissances est une stratégie consciente inspirée par le fait que la mondialisation a changé la donne en termes de compétences requises chez l'employé. " Selon M. Kohli, le programme de transfert est une initiative mutuellement bénéfique pour l\'ensemble des opérations Airtel en Afrique et en Inde. "La nécessité pour les consommateurs de dépasser les technologies existantes et d'adopter de nouvelles innovations est une réalité comme en témoignent certaines des dernières innovations introduites par Airtel en Afrique. Nous devons nous assurer que nos solutions sont adaptées au contexte culturel et socio-économique "a-t-il ajouté. "Cette initiative n'est qu'une première étape visant à rapprocher nos équipes à travers le Globe." Lors du lancement de ses opérations en Afrique, l\'opérateur avait réitéré son intention d'utiliser la main-d'oeuvre locale qui s'élève à plus de 6.500 employés sur le continent africain. Au-delà des investissements pour renforcer les capacités, Airtel a noué des partenariats avec certains des fournisseurs de technologies de pointe pour développer des compétences spécialisées et appuyer les possibilités d'emploi sur le continent.

    La société a lancé des partenariats avec les leaders technologiques mondiaux tels que : IBM, Nokia Siemens, Huawei, Ericsson et des entreprises partenaires de sous-traitance comme Spanco & Tech Mahindra. A propos d'Airtel Afrique Airtel est la nouvelle marque pour les 16 branches de Zain à travers l'Afrique qui ont été acquises par Airtel International en Juin 2010. Airtel est guidé par la vision d\'offrir des services mobiles abordables et innovants à tous. Airtel compte des branches en Afrique dans les pays suivants : Burkina Faso, Tchad, République démocratique du Congo, République du Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzanie, Ouganda et Zambie. Airtel International est une société de Bharti Airtel.

    La Prospérité
  • En RDC, le procès des assassins présumés de Floribert Chebeya se poursuit : 8 policiers comparaissent devant la cour militaire de Kinshasa, pour la mort du militant des droits de l'homme, en juin dernier. Hier les avocats des parties civiles ont accusé une société de téléphonie mobile d'avoir dissimulé certaines communications entre les principaux suspects.

    Des relevés téléphoniques fournis à la cour militaire sont désormais remis en cause par les avocats de la partie civile. Vodacom, l'une des sociétés de téléphonie cellulaire opérant en RDC, est singulièrement suspectée d'avoir dissimulée plusieurs communications passées entre les différents suspects, notamment l'inspecteur général de la police, le général John Numbi.

     « Plus ou moins soixante communications, entre John Numbi et Christian Ngoy, entre lui et Paul Mwilambue d'une part et d'autre part, entre lui et Daniel Mukalay, n'ont pas été révélées par le relevé d'appels. Le réseau Vodacom a tenté d'effacer sur l'un des prévenus », relève l'avocat Kabengela Ilunga.

    « C'est une omission », a répondu l'expert mandaté par Vodacom pour défendre le rapport devant les juges. Le ministère public est aussitôt venu à sa rescousse et la cour a accordé que la firme enquête en son sein pour expliquer à la prochaine audience ce qui s'est réellement passé.

    RFI
  • L’Algérie compte actuellement 5 millions d’internautes, soit près de 15% de la population. C’est dire l’effort déployé, puisqu’en décembre 2010, le groupe Algérie-Télécom a enregistré un taux de croissance d’ADSL.

    Satisfaisant par rapport à 2008; près de 830.000 abonnés haut débit, plus de 10.000 sur l’EVDO et le WIMAX (réservés au professionnels) 300 abonnés sur le FTTH pour l’offre triple-play. Invité, hier, au forum d’El Moudjahid, le directeur général du groupe Algérie Télécom M’hamed Dabouz, a souligné que les revenus d’Internet sont en hausse de 50%. Il a souligné que cette tendance se poursuit, parallèlement à la mise à niveau des infrastructures afin d’assurer la qualité de service requise.Le groupe compte être, en plus de fournisseur de lignes téléphoniques, un intégrateur majeur de solutions pour les professionnels.

    Cet objectif est inscrit dans la stratégie du gouvernement pour le secteur. Il consiste en la généralisation des usages des TIC en Algérie au profit de l’économie  et du citoyen. Les supports Internet haut et très haut débit constituent un préalable.

    L’ONU considère  l’accès «large bande» comme un cinquième besoin vital après la nourriture, l’eau l’abri et l’éclairage. L’Algérie prévoit d’ailleurs 6 millions d’accès haut débit, dans le cadre de projet e-Algérie. En terme de raccordement, le groupe compte 3.100.000 abonnés au réseau fixe soit une télé densité  globale de 9%. Elle atteint dans certains endroits plus de 12%, notamment dans certaines zones urbaines. Selon le conférencier, plus de 15 millions de citoyens possèdent un accès permanent au réseau d’Algérie Télécom.

    Le groupe dispose de 4.750.000 d’accès téléphoniques en équipements et de 1.800.000 accès – haut débit – installés dans les réseaux (contre 400.000 accès en juin 2008). Dans le cadre de la modernisation et l’extension de capacités des infrastructures et les couches des réseaux, il affirme qu’en 2010, le groupe a installé plus de 5000   fibres optiques. «Nous comptons développer et densifier les programmes (fibre optique) dans toutes les localités  du pays», a souligné le conférencier, se référant à l’élaboration d’un plan spécial fibre optique.

    Le groupe a signé en 2009 un contrat de performance avec le gouvernement. Il est toujours en vigueur, c’est ce qui explique selon l’intervenant la détermination du groupe à respecter ses engagements d’ici 2014.Par ailleurs, en termes de raccordement, il estime qu’il faut le densifier à même de le rendre éligible et apte à supporter les offres de haut et très débit à travers deux technologies essentiellement les MSAN et FFTH.

    En plus des 400.000 accès acquis en 2010 et en phase d’achèvement d’installation dans cinq wilayas du pays (Alger, Oran, Chlef, Sétif et Constantine), le groupe prévoit 500.000 accès pour cette année. Ces derniers sont planifiés pour moderniser et étendre les réseaux d’Algérie Télécom à travers plus de 14 wilayas. L’objectif du groupe est de marquer sa présence au plan international. Une étude d’opportunité est lancée pour confirmer, dans une première étape, cette présence entre Alger et Marseille et entre Oran et Valence. «Il n’y a aucun empêchement, il faudrait seulement développer le processus de maturation», a-t-il souligné.

    Revenant sur le différend qui oppose depuis quelques  années le groupe à l’Eepad, le conférencier a tenu à confirmer qu’il est purement commercial. «L’affaire est actuellement au niveau de la justice», a-t-il souligné rappelant que d’autres options sont à l’étude.

    Il rappelle que les ingénieurs et techniciens de cet établissement ont intégré le groupe Algérie Télécom. Il rappelle dans ce même contexte que l’ARPT a enregistré 34 retraits d’autorisation (fournisseurs de service). Quant au recouvrement des créances, il a fait part de bons résultats. «Le dossier est pris en charge. Le recouvrement est entamé suite à l’instruction du Premier ministre. Nous sommes actuellement à 400 millions DA», a-t-il souligné.

    Algérie 360
  • A la faveur de la crise que traverse la Côte d'Ivoire, la diffusion de l'information emprunte des chemins de traverse. Les blogs, les réseaux sociaux et la téléphonie mobile jouent un rôle de plus en plus important. Ils sont souvent à la source de l'information et envoient au monde entier des nouvelles de Yopougon, Abobo ou Cocody.

    Qu'ils soient sur place ou à l'étranger, les Ivoiriens, déjà très nombreux sur les réseaux sociaux, utilisent de plus en plus cette voie pour s'informer. Dans chaque camp, les pages Facebook se multiplient en faveur de l'un ou l'autre président du pays. Pendant la campagne, les équipes de Laurent Gbagbo et Alassane Ouattara avaient déjà développé des pages officielles.

    Mais beaucoup d'autres ont fait leur apparition. Les blogs jouent également la carte du « contre-pouvoir » avec des prises de positions tranchées à la mesure de la scission de la société.

    On s'y échange points de vue, petites infos, articles, vidéo, voire interviews audio, sur la crise, avec des commentaires, le plus souvent partisans en fonction de la tendance défendue.

    Pour beaucoup d'entre eux, ces réseaux sont devenus une source alternative d'information. Elle leur permet de disposer à la fois d'une revue de presse multimédia et de se transmettre les dernières faits et gestes des acteurs de la crise. Elle permet également aux membres de la diaspora de participer, de loin, au débat sur la vie politique de leur pays.

    Dans les deux camps, les réseaux sociaux sont une forme de « contre-médias ». Du côté des partisans de Laurent Gbagbo, il s'agit de faire barrage, au « complot politico-médiatique », comme ils le disent, contre le président proclamé par le Conseil constitutionnel, en partageant avec les autres Facebookers pro-Ggabgo tout ce qui va dans le sens de leur poulain, notamment des vidéos contredisant systématiquement les positions du camp Ouattara et de la « communauté internationale ». (Voir la video diffusée sur Facebook à la gloire de Laurent Gbagbo, intitulée « Un chef n'est pas un chiffon » )

    Dans le camp Ouattara, l'objectif est bien sûr inverse, à savoir partager le maximum d'informations allant dans le sens du chef de l'Etat reconnu par la communauté internationale.

    Il s'agit, par exemple de contrecarrer l'omniprésence de la télévision nationale RTI, fidèle à Laurent Gbagbo, en diffusant des éléments de Télé Côte d'Ivoire, une chaîne pirate fidèle au président reconnu par la communauté internationale. ( Voir la vidéo )

    Mais l'autre révolution, se déroule sur Twitter, le réseau de microblogging, qui, selon certains, prendrait le pas sur Facebook et même sur les grands médias, en publiant de nombreuses infos, voire des scoops.

    C'est sur ce réseau que l'on signale au matin du 27 février que la RTI, télévision publique ivoirienne, ne diffuse plus sur Abidjan : une information confirmée par la suite par les médias internationaux.

    Twitter est peut-être donc en train de gagner la bataille de l'information. Grâce au « hashtag » #civ2010, les ivoiriens font sortir l'info hors des frontières. Les propos, à l'image des scènes de rues, se radicalisent comme l'a signalé @Sanders225, très actif sur Twitter.

    Pas de censure pour le moment comme celle vécue en Egypte. Il faut dire que les deux protagonistes se sont eux même saisis de l'outil avec des comptes personnels, conseillés en cela - et c'est sans doute leur point commun-, par des professionnels de la communication et des fervents défenseurs des TIC (technologies de l'information et de la communication).

    Beaucoup ont compris l'enjeu des réseaux sociaux en ces périodes de crise politique, y compris les propagateurs de rumeurs. Depuis de longues semaines, la plus insistante aura été celle de la « grave maladie », voire de la mort d'Alassane Ouattara.

    Elle s'est répandue comme une traînée de poudre, jusqu'à ce que des photos ou des vidéos le montrant en entretien avec des visiteurs, ne pouvant souffrir de contestation, viennent la battre en brèche. Pour autant, celle-ci continue à ressurgir régulièrement.

    Certes bien avant Facebook et autre Twitter, le bouche à oreille suffisait largement à faire passer ce type d'information. Ce fut le cas, pour l'ancien président guinéen Lansana Conté, donné maintes fois pour mort, des années avant son décès effectif, en décembre 2008. Mais l'apparition des réseaux sociaux est un excellent accélérateur de rumeurs.

    RFI
  • Les sénégalais sont entrés dans la danse de la révolution 2.0 en s’inspirant des pays comme la Tunisie, l’Egypte, la lybie... Une page facebook dénommée Révolution Sénégalaise vient d’être créée pour sonner la révolte contre le régime en Place.

    La page a vu le jour après l’appel à une grande marche de protestation ce 19 mars à la place de l’indépendance, initié par Sidy Lamine Niasse, PDG du groupe de Presse Wal Fadjri . Elle (la page) ne compte pour le moment qu’une centaine de fans, mais déjà certains internautes ont commencé leur propre « révolution ». C’est à se demander si les sénégalais seront capables de réussir une révolution sur la toile dans la mesure où, au Sénégal, il y a moins de 10% de la population qui a accès aux réseaux sociaux, et moins de 1% à l’ADSL, pour reprendre les propos d’Olivier Sagna de Osiris.

  • Une structure commune d'ingénierie produit sera créée, au cours du deuxième semestre 2011, entre TELNET, groupe tunisien spécialisé dans le conseil, l'innovation et les hautes technologies et Lacroix Electronique, acteur majeur européen de la sous-traitance électronique.

    Selon la lettre d'intention, signée le 24 février 2011 à Tunis, les deux groupes vont unir leur savoir-faire et compétences pour proposer une offre commune d'ingénierie produit complète basée sur la conception, le développement et la validation de prototypes.

    Cette alliance est basée sur les compétences de chaque groupe dans les domaines du logiciel embarqué, de l'électronique, de la micro-électronique et de la mécatronique (combinaison de la mécanique, de l'électronique et de l'informatique).

    A rappeler que le Groupe Telnet Holding a reçu, le 18 février 2011, l'accord de principe pour l'admission de son capital  au marché principal de la cote de la Bourse, ainsi que des 800 mille actions nouvelles souscrites, à émettre dans le cadre de l'augmentation de capital, soit au total 11 000 000 actions d'un nominal d'un dinar chacune.

    La Presse
  • Le ministère des Transports, à travers la direction générale du Conseil burkinabè des chargeurs (CBC), organise les 23 et 24 février 2011 à Ouagadougou, un atelier de formation sur les logiciels de suivi du trafic de marchandises du CBC. Au cours de cette formation, il s'agira de mettre à la disposition des participants des outils de nouvelle génération qui leur permettront de mener à bien leurs affaires et d'en tirer de réels profits.

    En vue d'améliorer ses activités de suivi et de rationalisation du trafic, le Conseil burkinabè des chargeurs (CBC) a développé trois systèmes d'information performants pour le monde des affaires.

    Il s'agit du Bordereau électronique de suivi des cargaisons (BESC), du logiciel bourse virtuelle de fret et du système de gestion du transport terrestre et aérien des marchandises (SYGESTRAN).

    Pour permettre aux acteurs de la chaîne des transports de maîtriser ces outils, le CBC tient les 23 et 24 février 2011, à Ouagadougou, un atelier de formation. Il s'agira au cours de cet atelier, de mettre à leur disposition, des outils de nouvelle génération qui leur permettront de mener à bien leurs affaires.

    Ces outils ont été développés avec l'appui de la Banque mondiale dans le cadre du programme sectoriel des transports (PST 2). Selon le directeur général du CBC, représentant le ministre des Transports à l'ouverture des travaux, ils doivent être, pour les acteurs de la chaîne, des outils de suivi de leur trafic et de conclusions de leurs affaires. Et d'ajouter qu'ils devraient se les approprier et les intégrer désormais dans leurs activités quotidiennes.

    Le BESC est un logiciel de gestion du transport maritime qui permet la traçabilité du fret maritime et la disponibilité en temps réel d'informations fiables sur le transport maritime. Le logiciel bourse virtuelle de fret lui, est un système de gestion du marché du fret et des transports.

    Il met en place un marché virtuel où se rencontrent l'offre et la demande de transport ; permettant ainsi aux chargeurs et aux transporteurs de procéder, au moyen d'échanges électroniques, à la négociation directe et à la formation de contrats de transport entre eux.

    Le SYGESTRAN, quant à lui, assure la traçabilité et le suivi du fret routier, ferroviaire et aérien en temps réel. De l'avis du DG du CBC, le marché virtuel de fret est une plate-forme qui permet de mettre en relation l'offre et la demande de transport en temps réel.

    Ce qui veut dire que si quelqu'un a vingt têtes de boeufs à Dori, il peut remplir cette information dans le système et les transporteurs qui sont à Ouagadougou peuvent savoir que celui-ci a tant de boeufs à Dori et il propose de les amener par exemple à Cotonou à tant de francs et ils pourront eux aussi se manifester.

    L'offre et la demande se rencontrent donc dans ce système et concluent un contrat, sans un intermédiaire ; les intermédiaires ne faisant que renchérir les coûts. Les participants à cet atelier sont des représentants de ministères, des membres de la délégation du Conseil nigérien des utilisateurs des transports (CNUT), le secrétaire général du Conseil malien des chargeurs (CMC), des directeurs et chefs de service, des responsables des structures actrices de la chaîne des transports, des responsables des points focaux et des acteurs de la chaîne.

    Le Pays
  • Le ministre de la Communication et des Télécommunications, Moustapha Guirassy, a indiqué, jeudi à Dakar, que son ministère entreprendra des consultations, pour plancher sur ce que pourraient "apporter" les technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) aux départements ministériels.

    "Très bientôt, en rapport avec les professionnels du secteur des télécommunications, nous allons entreprendre des consultations en favorisant un contact avec les différents départements ministériels, pour voir dans chaque département ce que les TIC peuvent apporter à chacun des départements, dans chaque secteur ", a annoncé M. Guirassy.

    Venu présider la journée du ministère de la Communication et des Télécommunications, à la 19ème Foire internationale de Dakar, il a ajouté : "Parmi ces secteurs, je pense particulièrement à l'agriculture".

    "On le nomme souvent secteur primaire, mais ce secteur comme d'autres ont besoin d'être soutenus, et les TIC doivent jouer un rôle important déterminant, un rôle extrêmement important", a dit M. Guirassy.

    Citant l'éducation et la santé en particulier, il a estimé que presque tous les secteurs d'activités qui intéressent la nation devraient s'appuyer sur les technologies de l'information et de la communication.

    Moustapha Guirassy a par ailleurs souligné l'importance que représente pour le secteur des télécommunications et de la presse, le vote par l'Assemblée nationale d'un code des télécommunications.

    "Ce code, a-t-il expliqué, permettra à ce secteur de connaître un développement fulgurant parce que, du point de vue réglementaire, d'un point de vue juridique, des dispositions, le cadre est là pour soutenir les entreprises de presse et les entrepreneurs qui évoluent dans ce secteur".

    Moustapha Guirassy a aussi mis l'accent sur la place et le rôle de son ministère. " Il s'agit, a-t-il expliqué, de mettre en avant les réalisations de l'Etat du Sénégal, mais aussi de favoriser la transparence et la bonne gouvernance par ses efforts de communication pour partager avec les citoyens sénégalais les politique de l'Etat."

    APS
  • Gabon Télécom a annoncé pour, l’exercice 2010 un résultat financier en chute de 14,4% par rapport à 2009, soit un repli de 61,1 milliards de francs CFA. Des chiffres consécutifs à la forte concurrence dans la téléphonie mobile notamment. 

    Au terme de l’exercice 2010, Gabon Télécom a annoncé un résultat financier en baisse de 14,4% sur l’ensemble des activités de téléphonie mobile, fixe et internet, soit une chute de 61,1 milliards de francs CFA par rapport à 2009. Selon le groupe Maroc Télécom, contre performance est due à un contexte fortement concurrentiel, marqué notamment par une percée de l’opérateur de téléphonie mobile Bharti Airtel qui a fortement revu à la baisse les tarifs des télécommunications au Gabon.
    En effet, dans le secteur de la téléphonie mobile, Gabon Télécom, à travers sa filiale Libertis, est fortement concurrencée par Bharti Airtel (leader avec environ un million d’abonnés), Moov et Azur. En revanche, les campagnes promotionnelles ont permis à Gabon Télécom de réaliser quelques bons résultats en 2010, notamment dans le segment de la téléphonie mobile où il a enregistré une croissance en termes d’abonnés.

    A travers sa filiale Libertis, l’entreprise compte désormais 700.000 abonnés alors qu’elle ne dépassait pas les 500.000 auparavant. Dans le domaine du téléphone filaire, Gabon Télécom, bien que détenant encore le monopole, a accusé une baisse de 27% et stagne à près de 27.000 lignes.

    Selon toujours le rapport de Maroc Télécom, le secteur de l’Internet a atteint 22.000 clients, en net progression de 9,6% par rapport à 2009. Actionnaire majoritaire de Gabon Télécom avec 51% des actions, Maroc Télécom est également présent en Mauritanie (Mauritel), au Burkina Faso (Onatel) et au Mali (Sotelma) où il détient aussi la majorité du capital.

    Gabon Eco
  • C'est la première et la seule école spécialisée en matière de ventes et relation clients à Madagascar.

    Une bonne nouvelle pour les jeunes malgaches désirant entrer dans le monde du travail, notamment dans les secteurs du commerce et de la télécommunication. En effet, Orange school est maintenant reconnue et agréée par l'Etat par le biais de l'accord du ministère en charge de la Formation professionnelle, a-t-on communiqué à la presse par le responsable de Orange Madagascar. C'est la seule école spécialisée en matière de ventes et relation clients jouissant d'un excellent niveau de formation et qui permet aux apprenants de devenir des managers commerciaux ou des téléopérateurs.

    Taux d'accès à l'emploi à 60%. La mise en place de cette école professionnalisante, depuis un an déjà, a été une réussite. Plus d'une centaine de jeunes y ont été formés avec un taux d'accès à l'emploi atteignant les 60%, a-t-on appris. Notons que Orange School ne se limite pas à la formation de ces jeunes mais elle les appuie en même temps à trouver un emploi décent notamment au sein des entreprises partenaires de Orange Madagascar. C'est le cas entre autres, de Dina Elia Fanomezantsoa R., qui a été immédiatement embauché chez Vivatec. Cette école répond entre-temps aux besoins des clients de Orange Madagascar utilisant le haut débit comme les entreprises qui se spécialisent dans le domaine des centres d'appels. En effet, ces dernières exigent des agents qualifiés en tant que téléopérateurs qui maîtrisent bien évidemment le TIC.

    Niveau bac + 2. Il faut remarquer que la formation professionnalisane de 3 mois prodiguée par Orange school est distillée par des formateurs nationaux et étrangers ayant du savoir-faire et des compétences reconnus. Il y a également des formations sur mesure selon les besoins des clients entreprises ou des formations sur catalogue. Comme critère de sélection, les jeunes ayant un niveau de bac + 2 et étudiant plutôt dans les domaines de la télécommunication et du commerce peuvent y accéder. Voilà de bon augure pour les centaines d'étudiants qui postulent à l'Orange school à chaque nouvelle rentrée.

  • L’Office de Radio diffusion et Télévision du Mali (ORTM) a organisé lundi 14 février 2011 au CICB, un séminaire de formation des directeurs généraux et directeurs techniques des radios et télévision publiques.

    Le but de la rencontre est de contribuer à la mise en place des stratégies en vue d’une migration réussie de la transition de l’analogie vers le numérique. C’était sous la présidence du Secrétaire Général du département de la communication et des nouvelles technologies, M. Cheick Oumar Maïga en présence du Directeur Général de l’ORTM, M. Sidiki N’fa Konaté et de plusieurs acteurs de l’audiovisuel public et privé.

    Ce séminaire selon les organisateurs vient en appoint de la rencontre internationale organisée du 1er au 04 septembre 2010 à Bamako par l’ORTM et le Réseau de l’Audiovisuel Public d’Afrique Francophone (RAPAF). On se rappelle que cette rencontre qui a regroupé les directeurs généraux et directeurs techniques des radios télévisions publiques d’Afrique francophone, avait pour thème «Le passage au numérique d’ici 2015: enjeux stratégiques et techniques».

    Le présent séminaire entre donc dans le cadre de cette migration vers le numérique.

    Pour le Secrétaire général du département de tutelle, M. Cheick Oumar Maïga, le basculement de l’analogie au numérique est un nouvel challenge pour le monde de l’audiovisuel. Il permettra selon lui de faire reculer les frontières de l’accessoire.

    Les participants ont débattu les questions liées à l’état des lieux dans les pays membres du RAPAF, les défis pour les radiotélévisions africaines, le rôle et la tâche à assumer par les différents acteurs, la restitution des lignes directrices de l’Union Internationale des Télécommunication portant sur la migration, le partage des expériences des partenaires professionnels.

    A l’issue des travaux en groupes et en plénières, les participants ont formulé une multitude de recommandations à savoir :

    La promotion d’un cadre de partenariat avec les différents acteurs du secteur et de coopérer avec les organisations internationales ; la création de structures de diffusion autonome ; la mise en place de mesures adéquates pour la revalorisation et la sécurisation des archives audiovisuelles ; la mise en place d’un système transparent pour les redevances audiovisuelles ; la garantie de l’octroi des licences pour les fréquences numériques aux télévisions et radios existantes sans passer par le procédure d’appel à candidatures ; l’adoption d’un procédure d’appel à candidatures pour les nouveaux postulants pour la TNT, la TMP et la TVHD.

    Le choix entre l’octroi de licence unique ou globale autorisant l’offre à tous les services (télévision, internet et téléphone fixe et/ ou portable) et la licence individualisée  par service spécifique ; l’imposition d’une obligation de mutualisation des sites de diffuser pour optimiser les investissements et minimiser les coûts ; la mise en place d’un dispositif anti-concentration pour éviter les abus de position dominante et les ententes illicites.

    La fixation d’un calendrier d’extinction du signal analogique avec une date butoir et choisir l’approche d’arrêt de la TV analogique par phases ou par région ; l’instauration d’une autorité de régulation unique indépendante de tous pouvoirs et doté d’un statut législatif ou constitutionnel ; l’imposition d’une obligation aux opérateurs de réseau d’intégrer dans leurs offres des chaînes d’intérêt général ; la fixation des règles de quota pour favoriser la production audiovisuelle nationale, notamment un quota de production qui intègre un pourcentage de production indépendante.

    La prévision des dispositions qui protègent le consommateur en matière de publicité, de sponsoring et de parrainage ; la réforme du fonds d’accès universel pour le télécommunications et l’audiovisuel ; la mise en place de structures de formation et de renforcement des capacités des acteurs du secteur de la communication audiovisuelle, y compris la formation interne au sein des entreprises ; la mise en place d’un dispositif d’évaluation périodique de la mise en œuvre de la transition vers le numérique ; enfin, l’organisation d’une rencontre, au mois une fois par an, des membres du RAPAF pour assurer le suivi et l’échange d’expériences.

    Malijet
  • 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

  • La société Africa Cellular Towers (gestions et sous-locations de BTS) vient la nomination de Pieter Nicolass en tant que nouveau directeur financier.

  • Solicitation de manifestation d’intérèt de service de consultants pour l’étude, la mise en place et la mise en œuvre d’un atelier pour la lecture automatique de document (LAD), du recensement général de la population, de l’habitat et de l’agriculture

    L’Agence Nationale de la Statistique et de la Démographie (ANSD) est l’organe central responsable de la collecte, de la compilation, de l'analyse et de la diffusion de statistiques officielles concernant les activités économiques et sociales de la République du Sénégal. Elle se propose de recourir à des services de consultants pour une mission d’assistance technique pour l’étude et la mise en place d’un atelier de
    lecture automatique (LAD) des questionnaires du Recensement Général de la Population et de l’Habitat, de l’Agriculture et de l’Elevage (RGPHAE).
    Pour plus d’infos cliquez ici 

issue 153

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Editorial

  • Il y a quatre ans presque jour pour jour, Safaricom laissait M-Pesa au Kenya. L’opérateur mobile qui a introduit le premier service de paiement via mobile le 6 mars 2007, a depuis été témoin de l’introduction de ce service par d’autres opérateurs mobiles dans plusieurs autres pays africains incluant des services concurrents dans son propre pays. Juste pour nommer quelques pays qui ont introduit des services de paiement via mobile, on peut citer l’Afrique du Sud, Madagascar, l’Ouganda ou encore la Côte d’Ivoire. Pourtant  aucun des services mobiles dans ces pays n’ont encore atteint la diversité et l’étendue des services de paiements via mobile offerts par Safaricom. L’opérateur mobile offre bien sur les services standards de paiements via mobile mais aussi des transferts internationaux, des comptes bancaires, le paiement de factures, l’achat de biens et de services ou encore une carte de retrait – en somme tous les services que vous escomptez d’une banque traditionnelle. Les services de paiement via mobile ont bien pris racine en Afrique et ils s’en développeront plus dans le futur. Ces services ont aussi démontré qu’il est bien possible d’en faire beaucoup plus avec un téléphone standard que de simplement passer des appels. Si les services de paiement via mobile méritent qu’on leurs décerne des couronnes de lauriers, il n’en reste pas moins que des améliorations restent à faire et en particulier en ce qui concerne la structure des prix qui gouverne ces services en Afrique. C’est la conclusion à laquelle aboutit l’analyse réalisée par Isabelle Gross des services de paiement via mobile de quatre opérateurs à savoir Safaricom au Kenya, Orange en Côte d’Ivoire, Telma à Madagascar et MTN en Ouganda.

    L’inscription au service de paiement via mobile proposé par chacun de ces quatre opérateurs est bien sur gratuite. Le client sera peut-être amené à échanger sa puce SIM pour une nouvelle pour être en mesure d’utiliser le service de paiement via mobile. A MTN Ouganda, l’échange de la puce SIM est gratuit pour les clients post-payés mais les clients prépayés devront payer une petite charge de moins d’un dollar US (1,500UGX). L’opérateur mobile Telma à Madagascar propose l’échange de la puce SIM pour un plus d’un dollar US (2,000 Ariary). Cependant, tous les quatre opérateurs limitent l’accès au service de paiement via mobile à leurs propres abonnés. MTN Ouganda présente cette limitation d’une manière plutôt positive en disant « ce service est ouvert à tous les abonnés mobiles de MTN » tandis que Safaricom au Kenya mentionne cette limitation de façon plus cursive lorsqu’il détaille les informations dont les clients doivent se munir pour s’inscrire au service. « Vous devrez présenter à l’agent votre numéro de mobile Safaricom, votre nom de famille et votre prénom, votre date de naissance et un document officiel attestant votre état civil ». La limitation du service aux abonnés de l’opérateur mobile encourage grandement à posséder plusieurs puces SIM. Si un client n’est pas un abonné de MTN Ouganda ou d’ Orange Côte d’Ivoire ou encore de Telma Madagascar et de Safaricom mais souhaite utiliser leur service de paiement via mobile, il ne lui reste plus qu’à acheter une puce SIM de l’un de ces opérateurs. Enfin de compte il se retrouvera avec deux puces SIM l’une qu’il utilisera pour ses appels et l’autre pour ses transferts d’argent par mobile.

    Cette approche commerciale « du jardin clôturé » que les opérateurs mobiles pratiquent pour l’inscription à leur service de paiement devient encore plus évidente lorsqu’on analyse la structure des prix des transferts. Le dénominateur commun entre ces quatre opérateur est le suivant: si vous faites un transfert d’argent à un abonné qui a souscrit au service de paiement via mobile, les frais de transferts seront moins chers mais si vous transférez de l’argent à une personne qui n’a pas souscrit au service ou qui est abonné auprès d’un autre opérateur mobile alors les frais à payer peuvent être cinq fois voire même 20 fois plus que les frais à payer pour un transfert vers un abonné inscrit.

    A Telma Madagascar, les transferts en faveur d’un abonné qui a souscrit au service s’établissent comme suivent: il vous faudra payer 0.14 dollar US (250 Ariary) pour transférer un montant entre 0.07 dollar US et 3.7 dollars US (100 à 500 Ariary) mais il vous en coûtera  trois fois plus pour transférer le même montant d’argent à une personne qui n’a pas souscrit au service ou qui n’est pas un abonné de Telma. Pour des transferts d’argent d’un montant plus élevé, la différence entre les frais de transferts s’accentue. Il vous en coûtera 2.2 dollars US (3,000 Ariary) pour transférer un montant entre 731 dollars US et 3,652 dollars US (1,000,001 et 5,000,000 Ariary) mais il vous faudra débourser 3.6 fois plus si ce transfert est en faveur d’une personne non-inscrite.

    A Safaricom au Kenya, la différence entre les frais est similaire lorsqu’il s’agit d’un transfert vers « une personne membre du réseau » et « une personne qui n’est pas membre du réseau ». Il vous en coûtera  0.12 dollar US (10 KShs) pour transférer un montant d’argent entre 0.60 dollar US et 1.20 dollar US (50KShs et 100KShs) à un abonné inscrit au service tandis que cela vous faudra débourser 7.5 fois plus pour transférer le même montant à une personne non-inscrite ou d’un autre réseau mobile. Pour des transferts d’un montant plus élevé, la différence entre les frais est encore plus importante. Il vous en coûtera 0.36 dollar US pour transférer un montant entre 1.2 dollars US et 850 dollars US (101KShs et 35,000KShs) mais 14 fois plus pour un transfert vers une personne non-inscrite.

    Chez MTN Ouganda, c’est la même histoire à nouveau. Il vous en coûtera 0.34 dollar US (800UGX) pour transférer un montant entre 2.12 dollars US et 425 dollars US (5,000UGX et 1,000,000UGX) en faveur d’une personne inscrite au service mais cela sera deux  fois plus cher de transférer 2.12 dollars US à une personne non-inscrite et presque 24 fois plus cher de transférer le montant plus élevé de 425 dollars US. Les prix des frais de transferts à des abonnés non-inscrits et à des abonnés d’autres réseaux sont tellement prohibitifs qu’ils deviennent un argument supplémentaire pour obtenir une puce SIM de l’opérateur proposant le service de paiement via mobile.

    Orange en Côte d’Ivoire ne pratique pas cette différence de prix dans les frais de transferts mais c’est seulement parce que l’opérateur mobile propose uniquement son service de paiement via mobile à ses abonnés inscrit. Juste pour le plaisir de la comparaison, il vous coûtera 0.36 dollar US (150 CFA) pour transférer un montant d’argent entre 0.1 dollar US et 10.86 dollar US (5CFA et 5,000 CFA) et 4.35 dollars US pour transférer un montant entre 109 dollars US et 217.4 dollars US (50,005 CFA et 100,000 CFA).

    Pour retirer l’argent transféré, les personnes non-inscrites sont mieux loties que les abonnés qui ont souscrit au service. Chez MTN Ouganda, Telma Madagascar et Safaricom au Kenya, le retrait est gratuit pour des abonnés non-inscrits et les abonnés des autres opérateurs. Cela explique partiellement pourquoi les frais de transferts sont si élevés pour les personnes non-inscrites. Pour les abonnés inscrits, les opérateurs mobiles partage les frais de transfert et de retrait entre l’envoyeur et le receveur. En répartissant les frais entre l’envoyeur et le receveur, le service parait aussi moins cher. En plus les frais de retrait d’un abonné inscrit sont bien plus élevés que les frais de transfert dont l’envoyeur doit s’acquitter.  Les opérateurs mobiles sont de fins psychologues et ils en savent long sur les mentalités humaines: il est plus facile de payer (les frais de retrait) avec de l’argent qui ne vous appartient pas encore totalement (l’argent transféré). Pour retirer 850 dollars US (35,000KShs), il vous en coûtera environ 2 dollars US (170KShs) avec Safaricom. MTN Ouganda vous facturera presque 4 dollars US (9,000UGX) pour un retrait d’un montant de 425 dollars US (1,000,000UGX) tandis que Telma Madagascar exigera 4.4 dollars US (6,000 Ariary) pour retirer 3,652 dollars US (5,000,000 Ariary).

    Malgré les frais de retrait dont les abonnés inscrits doivent s’acquitter, la différence en terme de coût total (les frais de  transfert et les frais de retrait) entre les abonnés inscrites les personnes non-inscrites reste considérable.

    A Telma Madagascar, c’est 1.2 fois plus cher pour une personne non-inscrite.
    - 3,000 Ariary pour le transfert et 6,000 Ariary pour le retrait pour un abonné inscrit
    - 11 Ariary pour le transfert et le retrait pour une personne non-inscrite

    Chez Safaricom, c’est deux fois plus cher pour une personne non-inscrite.
    - 30KSsh pour le transfert et 170KSsh pour le retrait pour un abonné inscrit
    - 400KSsh pour le transfert et le retrait pour une personne non-inscrite

    A MTN Ouganda, c’est aussi presque deux fois plus cher pour une personne non-inscrite.
    - 800UGX pour le transfert et 9,000UGX pour le retrait pour un abonné inscrit
    - 19,000UGX pour le transfert et le retrait pour une personne non-inscrite

    Pourquoi une telle différence de prix entre un abonné inscrit et l’abonné d’un autre réseau ? Les processus sous-jacents au transfert et au retrait sont les mêmes pour les abonnés inscrites et les abonnés des autres réseaux  et par conséquent les coûts pour les opérateurs mobiles sont les mêmes aussi. MTN Ouganda présente son service de paiement via mobile comme «la banque virtuelle qui comble le fossé envers la population n’ayant pas accès au service bancaire». Cela semble un peu surfait lorsque son service de paiement fonctionne comme un service à deux vitesses: un service moins cher pour les abonnés de l’opérateur et un service plus cher pour les abonnés des autres opérateurs. Est-ce l’inter polarité entre des systèmes de paiement concurrents qui aura raison de cette approche commerciale de « jardin clôturé ». Nous verrons bien quelle position les opérateurs mobiles adopteront lorsqu’ils devront mettre en œuvre une inter polarité de leurs services. Cela arrivera tôt out tard.

    Les tarifs des quatre opérateurs sont disponibles aux liens suivants :
    - Safaricom: http://www.safaricom.co.ke/index.php?id=255
    - MTN Uganda: http://www.mtn.co.ug/MTN-Services/Mobile-Banking/MTN-MobileMoney-Rates.aspx
    - Orange Money Côte d’Ivoire: http://orangemoney.orange.ci/transfert.php
    - Telma Madagascar: http://www.mvola.mg/tarifs.html
      
    Les stratégies web de médias d'Afrique:

    stratégie web d'Afrik.com - par Frank Salin, rédacteur en chef
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrqKyCJcJlM&feature=channel_video_title

    stratégie web d'Africa no.1 - par Dominique Guihot - Dir
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSsR-Qpyvh0&feature=channel_video_title

    stratégie web de TV5 Monde Afrique - par Denise Epoté, directrice de TV5 Monde Afrique
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6-daYgbSi0&feature=channel_video_title

    stratégie web de Canal+ Afrique, émission "+ d'Afrique" - par JF Hassoun, co-producteur, Libero Films
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OqCQ3Poq_o&feature=channel_video_title

  • Le président de l'Agence de régulation des Télécommunication (ARTEL), Lin Mombo a échangé mercredi dernier avec les responsables des entreprises de téléphonie en vue de trouver des solutions au problème de règlement des taxes d'interconnexion qui assombrit les relations entre les différentes maisons de téléphonie du pays et contribue à perturber les communications sur ces réseaux.

    Cette réunion a été initiée selon le responsable de l'Artel à cause des problèmes d'interconnexion qui subsistent entre les opérateurs de la maison de téléphonie Gabon télécom -Libertis et l'autre opérateur privé Bharti Airtel.

    Dans les explications données pour présenter le noeud du problème, l'on retient lors des transactions en ce qui concernent les appels d'un opérateur à un autre, les taxes de répartition doivent être rétribuées à celui vers qui on émet l'appel. Ce qui fait qu'au terme d'une période donnée, la balance des comptes peut aboutir à des dettes qu'une entreprise doit reverser à une autre.

    Pour Lin Mombo, « il fallait assainir cette situation financière ». « Nous avions au cours des réunions itératives entre les opérateurs fait en sorte que :

    1- chaque opérateur puisse reconnaître sa dette à travers les échanges de trafics;

    2- chaque opérateur s'engage à régler les sommes dues à l'autre ».

    Cependant monsieur Mombo a regretté le fait que la réunion permanente réglementaire qui devrait se faire tous les trois (3) mois où chaque opérateur devrait indiquer à l'autre le montant dû dans les opérations de trafic ne soit pas respectée.

    « Il y a donc eu une accumulation des arriérés », a-t-il reconnu avant de fustiger le comportement des opérateurs qui prennent en otage les abonnés qui s'acquittent, eux, de leur frais de communication, pour résoudre leur différend.

     « Nous disons aux opérateurs qui essaient de régler les problèmes financiers en prenant en otage l'abonné, que ce n'est pas une bonne chose. Ils doivent ouvrir leur porte afin que l'abonné continue normalement à opérer et régler les problèmes financiers en amont sous l'arbitrage de l'ARTEL », a indiqué le président du Conseil de régulation.

    « Je rappelle que le domaine des télécommunications est un domaine régalien », a-t-il précisé avant de souligner que « la loi interdit de se faire justice soi-même ».

    A l'issue de cette séance de travail, Monsieur Lin Mombo a tenu à préciser que la sérénité s'installait et que des solutions commençaient à être trouvées grâce à la compréhension et à la responsabilité des patrons de ces maisons de téléphonie mobile.

    Gabonnews
  • Orange Tunisie et ses actionnaires ont réfuté «catégoriquement», hier, les informations diffusées par les médias concernant les circonstances de l'acquisition de la 3e licence fixe, mobile 2G/3G en Tunisie.

    Des informations ont circulé, accusant le groupe d'avoir «monnayé son implantation» en Tunisie avec les proches du président déchu et d'avoir acquis cette licence «à un prix inférieur à sa valeur réelle».

    L'opérateur précise, dans un communiqué rendu public, à Tunis, qu'il a acquis cette licence «dans le parfait respect des règles d'attribution de l'appel d'offres international lancé par l'Etat tunisien».

    Il a indiqué, également, que cette licence a été attribuée sur la base de la meilleure offre au prix de 257 millions de dinars tunisiens, réglée à l'Etat tunisien en août 2010 à travers un virement au Trésor public de 187 MDT et de 70 MDT sous forme d'une garantie bancaire à première demande payable au Trésor public le 31 mars 2011 en contrepartie de l'exclusivité d'un an de la 3G.

    Cette licence a été acquise, selon le groupe, «à son juste prix en référence aux normes admises pour un troisième entrant», qui plus est sur un marché où le taux d'équipement des foyers est supérieur à 90%, soit 8,5 millions d'abonnées.

    La deuxième licence téléphonique a été attribuée, d'après les responsables du groupe, non pas il y a quelques mois, comme il a été dit, mais en 2002 sur un marché quasiment vierge de 500.000 abonnés.

    La Presse
  • Une expérience indo-africaine pour donner un aperçu de l'efficacité des synergies transcontinentales Nairobi 2 mars 2011 ... Airtel Afrique a donné le coup d\'envoi à un programme exceptionnel de transfert de personnel qui permettra à la première vague d'employés venant d'Afrique de travailler dans les divisions de la société mère en Inde à compter du 23 février 2011. La phase initiale du programme a vu l\'intégration du personnel spécialisé de Bharti Airtel dans certains marchés. Dans cette phase du programme, le premier groupe venant d'Afrique en direction de l'Inde sera composé d'employés d'Airtel en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), Tanzanie, Kenya, Nigeria et Zambie. Ils travailleront pendant au moins un an au sein de différents départements de la société mère Bharti Airtel notamment le réseau de développement d'infrastructures, les solutions pour les entreprises de taille moyenne, la vente et la distribution, les systèmes financiers, le marketing et bien d'autres. S\'exprimant sur l'initiative, Manoj Kohli, PDG du groupe et co-directeur Général de Bharti Airtel, a déclaré : «Notre plus grand pilier est la ressource humaine. Nous investissons des ressources considérables dans le développement des capacités tout en donnant à notre capital humain des possibilités de progresser.

    Le transfert des connaissances est une stratégie consciente inspirée par le fait que la mondialisation a changé la donne en termes de compétences requises chez l'employé. " Selon M. Kohli, le programme de transfert est une initiative mutuellement bénéfique pour l\'ensemble des opérations Airtel en Afrique et en Inde. "La nécessité pour les consommateurs de dépasser les technologies existantes et d'adopter de nouvelles innovations est une réalité comme en témoignent certaines des dernières innovations introduites par Airtel en Afrique. Nous devons nous assurer que nos solutions sont adaptées au contexte culturel et socio-économique "a-t-il ajouté. "Cette initiative n'est qu'une première étape visant à rapprocher nos équipes à travers le Globe." Lors du lancement de ses opérations en Afrique, l\'opérateur avait réitéré son intention d'utiliser la main-d'oeuvre locale qui s'élève à plus de 6.500 employés sur le continent africain. Au-delà des investissements pour renforcer les capacités, Airtel a noué des partenariats avec certains des fournisseurs de technologies de pointe pour développer des compétences spécialisées et appuyer les possibilités d'emploi sur le continent.

    La société a lancé des partenariats avec les leaders technologiques mondiaux tels que : IBM, Nokia Siemens, Huawei, Ericsson et des entreprises partenaires de sous-traitance comme Spanco & Tech Mahindra. A propos d'Airtel Afrique Airtel est la nouvelle marque pour les 16 branches de Zain à travers l'Afrique qui ont été acquises par Airtel International en Juin 2010. Airtel est guidé par la vision d\'offrir des services mobiles abordables et innovants à tous. Airtel compte des branches en Afrique dans les pays suivants : Burkina Faso, Tchad, République démocratique du Congo, République du Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzanie, Ouganda et Zambie. Airtel International est une société de Bharti Airtel.

    La Prospérité
  • En RDC, le procès des assassins présumés de Floribert Chebeya se poursuit : 8 policiers comparaissent devant la cour militaire de Kinshasa, pour la mort du militant des droits de l'homme, en juin dernier. Hier les avocats des parties civiles ont accusé une société de téléphonie mobile d'avoir dissimulé certaines communications entre les principaux suspects.

    Des relevés téléphoniques fournis à la cour militaire sont désormais remis en cause par les avocats de la partie civile. Vodacom, l'une des sociétés de téléphonie cellulaire opérant en RDC, est singulièrement suspectée d'avoir dissimulée plusieurs communications passées entre les différents suspects, notamment l'inspecteur général de la police, le général John Numbi.

     « Plus ou moins soixante communications, entre John Numbi et Christian Ngoy, entre lui et Paul Mwilambue d'une part et d'autre part, entre lui et Daniel Mukalay, n'ont pas été révélées par le relevé d'appels. Le réseau Vodacom a tenté d'effacer sur l'un des prévenus », relève l'avocat Kabengela Ilunga.

    « C'est une omission », a répondu l'expert mandaté par Vodacom pour défendre le rapport devant les juges. Le ministère public est aussitôt venu à sa rescousse et la cour a accordé que la firme enquête en son sein pour expliquer à la prochaine audience ce qui s'est réellement passé.

    RFI
  • L’Algérie compte actuellement 5 millions d’internautes, soit près de 15% de la population. C’est dire l’effort déployé, puisqu’en décembre 2010, le groupe Algérie-Télécom a enregistré un taux de croissance d’ADSL.

    Satisfaisant par rapport à 2008; près de 830.000 abonnés haut débit, plus de 10.000 sur l’EVDO et le WIMAX (réservés au professionnels) 300 abonnés sur le FTTH pour l’offre triple-play. Invité, hier, au forum d’El Moudjahid, le directeur général du groupe Algérie Télécom M’hamed Dabouz, a souligné que les revenus d’Internet sont en hausse de 50%. Il a souligné que cette tendance se poursuit, parallèlement à la mise à niveau des infrastructures afin d’assurer la qualité de service requise.Le groupe compte être, en plus de fournisseur de lignes téléphoniques, un intégrateur majeur de solutions pour les professionnels.

    Cet objectif est inscrit dans la stratégie du gouvernement pour le secteur. Il consiste en la généralisation des usages des TIC en Algérie au profit de l’économie  et du citoyen. Les supports Internet haut et très haut débit constituent un préalable.

    L’ONU considère  l’accès «large bande» comme un cinquième besoin vital après la nourriture, l’eau l’abri et l’éclairage. L’Algérie prévoit d’ailleurs 6 millions d’accès haut débit, dans le cadre de projet e-Algérie. En terme de raccordement, le groupe compte 3.100.000 abonnés au réseau fixe soit une télé densité  globale de 9%. Elle atteint dans certains endroits plus de 12%, notamment dans certaines zones urbaines. Selon le conférencier, plus de 15 millions de citoyens possèdent un accès permanent au réseau d’Algérie Télécom.

    Le groupe dispose de 4.750.000 d’accès téléphoniques en équipements et de 1.800.000 accès – haut débit – installés dans les réseaux (contre 400.000 accès en juin 2008). Dans le cadre de la modernisation et l’extension de capacités des infrastructures et les couches des réseaux, il affirme qu’en 2010, le groupe a installé plus de 5000   fibres optiques. «Nous comptons développer et densifier les programmes (fibre optique) dans toutes les localités  du pays», a souligné le conférencier, se référant à l’élaboration d’un plan spécial fibre optique.

    Le groupe a signé en 2009 un contrat de performance avec le gouvernement. Il est toujours en vigueur, c’est ce qui explique selon l’intervenant la détermination du groupe à respecter ses engagements d’ici 2014.Par ailleurs, en termes de raccordement, il estime qu’il faut le densifier à même de le rendre éligible et apte à supporter les offres de haut et très débit à travers deux technologies essentiellement les MSAN et FFTH.

    En plus des 400.000 accès acquis en 2010 et en phase d’achèvement d’installation dans cinq wilayas du pays (Alger, Oran, Chlef, Sétif et Constantine), le groupe prévoit 500.000 accès pour cette année. Ces derniers sont planifiés pour moderniser et étendre les réseaux d’Algérie Télécom à travers plus de 14 wilayas. L’objectif du groupe est de marquer sa présence au plan international. Une étude d’opportunité est lancée pour confirmer, dans une première étape, cette présence entre Alger et Marseille et entre Oran et Valence. «Il n’y a aucun empêchement, il faudrait seulement développer le processus de maturation», a-t-il souligné.

    Revenant sur le différend qui oppose depuis quelques  années le groupe à l’Eepad, le conférencier a tenu à confirmer qu’il est purement commercial. «L’affaire est actuellement au niveau de la justice», a-t-il souligné rappelant que d’autres options sont à l’étude.

    Il rappelle que les ingénieurs et techniciens de cet établissement ont intégré le groupe Algérie Télécom. Il rappelle dans ce même contexte que l’ARPT a enregistré 34 retraits d’autorisation (fournisseurs de service). Quant au recouvrement des créances, il a fait part de bons résultats. «Le dossier est pris en charge. Le recouvrement est entamé suite à l’instruction du Premier ministre. Nous sommes actuellement à 400 millions DA», a-t-il souligné.

    Algérie 360
  • A la faveur de la crise que traverse la Côte d'Ivoire, la diffusion de l'information emprunte des chemins de traverse. Les blogs, les réseaux sociaux et la téléphonie mobile jouent un rôle de plus en plus important. Ils sont souvent à la source de l'information et envoient au monde entier des nouvelles de Yopougon, Abobo ou Cocody.

    Qu'ils soient sur place ou à l'étranger, les Ivoiriens, déjà très nombreux sur les réseaux sociaux, utilisent de plus en plus cette voie pour s'informer. Dans chaque camp, les pages Facebook se multiplient en faveur de l'un ou l'autre président du pays. Pendant la campagne, les équipes de Laurent Gbagbo et Alassane Ouattara avaient déjà développé des pages officielles.

    Mais beaucoup d'autres ont fait leur apparition. Les blogs jouent également la carte du « contre-pouvoir » avec des prises de positions tranchées à la mesure de la scission de la société.

    On s'y échange points de vue, petites infos, articles, vidéo, voire interviews audio, sur la crise, avec des commentaires, le plus souvent partisans en fonction de la tendance défendue.

    Pour beaucoup d'entre eux, ces réseaux sont devenus une source alternative d'information. Elle leur permet de disposer à la fois d'une revue de presse multimédia et de se transmettre les dernières faits et gestes des acteurs de la crise. Elle permet également aux membres de la diaspora de participer, de loin, au débat sur la vie politique de leur pays.

    Dans les deux camps, les réseaux sociaux sont une forme de « contre-médias ». Du côté des partisans de Laurent Gbagbo, il s'agit de faire barrage, au « complot politico-médiatique », comme ils le disent, contre le président proclamé par le Conseil constitutionnel, en partageant avec les autres Facebookers pro-Ggabgo tout ce qui va dans le sens de leur poulain, notamment des vidéos contredisant systématiquement les positions du camp Ouattara et de la « communauté internationale ». (Voir la video diffusée sur Facebook à la gloire de Laurent Gbagbo, intitulée « Un chef n'est pas un chiffon » )

    Dans le camp Ouattara, l'objectif est bien sûr inverse, à savoir partager le maximum d'informations allant dans le sens du chef de l'Etat reconnu par la communauté internationale.

    Il s'agit, par exemple de contrecarrer l'omniprésence de la télévision nationale RTI, fidèle à Laurent Gbagbo, en diffusant des éléments de Télé Côte d'Ivoire, une chaîne pirate fidèle au président reconnu par la communauté internationale. ( Voir la vidéo )

    Mais l'autre révolution, se déroule sur Twitter, le réseau de microblogging, qui, selon certains, prendrait le pas sur Facebook et même sur les grands médias, en publiant de nombreuses infos, voire des scoops.

    C'est sur ce réseau que l'on signale au matin du 27 février que la RTI, télévision publique ivoirienne, ne diffuse plus sur Abidjan : une information confirmée par la suite par les médias internationaux.

    Twitter est peut-être donc en train de gagner la bataille de l'information. Grâce au « hashtag » #civ2010, les ivoiriens font sortir l'info hors des frontières. Les propos, à l'image des scènes de rues, se radicalisent comme l'a signalé @Sanders225, très actif sur Twitter.

    Pas de censure pour le moment comme celle vécue en Egypte. Il faut dire que les deux protagonistes se sont eux même saisis de l'outil avec des comptes personnels, conseillés en cela - et c'est sans doute leur point commun-, par des professionnels de la communication et des fervents défenseurs des TIC (technologies de l'information et de la communication).

    Beaucoup ont compris l'enjeu des réseaux sociaux en ces périodes de crise politique, y compris les propagateurs de rumeurs. Depuis de longues semaines, la plus insistante aura été celle de la « grave maladie », voire de la mort d'Alassane Ouattara.

    Elle s'est répandue comme une traînée de poudre, jusqu'à ce que des photos ou des vidéos le montrant en entretien avec des visiteurs, ne pouvant souffrir de contestation, viennent la battre en brèche. Pour autant, celle-ci continue à ressurgir régulièrement.

    Certes bien avant Facebook et autre Twitter, le bouche à oreille suffisait largement à faire passer ce type d'information. Ce fut le cas, pour l'ancien président guinéen Lansana Conté, donné maintes fois pour mort, des années avant son décès effectif, en décembre 2008. Mais l'apparition des réseaux sociaux est un excellent accélérateur de rumeurs.

    RFI
  • Les sénégalais sont entrés dans la danse de la révolution 2.0 en s’inspirant des pays comme la Tunisie, l’Egypte, la lybie... Une page facebook dénommée Révolution Sénégalaise vient d’être créée pour sonner la révolte contre le régime en Place.

    La page a vu le jour après l’appel à une grande marche de protestation ce 19 mars à la place de l’indépendance, initié par Sidy Lamine Niasse, PDG du groupe de Presse Wal Fadjri . Elle (la page) ne compte pour le moment qu’une centaine de fans, mais déjà certains internautes ont commencé leur propre « révolution ». C’est à se demander si les sénégalais seront capables de réussir une révolution sur la toile dans la mesure où, au Sénégal, il y a moins de 10% de la population qui a accès aux réseaux sociaux, et moins de 1% à l’ADSL, pour reprendre les propos d’Olivier Sagna de Osiris.

  • Une structure commune d'ingénierie produit sera créée, au cours du deuxième semestre 2011, entre TELNET, groupe tunisien spécialisé dans le conseil, l'innovation et les hautes technologies et Lacroix Electronique, acteur majeur européen de la sous-traitance électronique.

    Selon la lettre d'intention, signée le 24 février 2011 à Tunis, les deux groupes vont unir leur savoir-faire et compétences pour proposer une offre commune d'ingénierie produit complète basée sur la conception, le développement et la validation de prototypes.

    Cette alliance est basée sur les compétences de chaque groupe dans les domaines du logiciel embarqué, de l'électronique, de la micro-électronique et de la mécatronique (combinaison de la mécanique, de l'électronique et de l'informatique).

    A rappeler que le Groupe Telnet Holding a reçu, le 18 février 2011, l'accord de principe pour l'admission de son capital  au marché principal de la cote de la Bourse, ainsi que des 800 mille actions nouvelles souscrites, à émettre dans le cadre de l'augmentation de capital, soit au total 11 000 000 actions d'un nominal d'un dinar chacune.

    La Presse
  • Le ministère des Transports, à travers la direction générale du Conseil burkinabè des chargeurs (CBC), organise les 23 et 24 février 2011 à Ouagadougou, un atelier de formation sur les logiciels de suivi du trafic de marchandises du CBC. Au cours de cette formation, il s'agira de mettre à la disposition des participants des outils de nouvelle génération qui leur permettront de mener à bien leurs affaires et d'en tirer de réels profits.

    En vue d'améliorer ses activités de suivi et de rationalisation du trafic, le Conseil burkinabè des chargeurs (CBC) a développé trois systèmes d'information performants pour le monde des affaires.

    Il s'agit du Bordereau électronique de suivi des cargaisons (BESC), du logiciel bourse virtuelle de fret et du système de gestion du transport terrestre et aérien des marchandises (SYGESTRAN).

    Pour permettre aux acteurs de la chaîne des transports de maîtriser ces outils, le CBC tient les 23 et 24 février 2011, à Ouagadougou, un atelier de formation. Il s'agira au cours de cet atelier, de mettre à leur disposition, des outils de nouvelle génération qui leur permettront de mener à bien leurs affaires.

    Ces outils ont été développés avec l'appui de la Banque mondiale dans le cadre du programme sectoriel des transports (PST 2). Selon le directeur général du CBC, représentant le ministre des Transports à l'ouverture des travaux, ils doivent être, pour les acteurs de la chaîne, des outils de suivi de leur trafic et de conclusions de leurs affaires. Et d'ajouter qu'ils devraient se les approprier et les intégrer désormais dans leurs activités quotidiennes.

    Le BESC est un logiciel de gestion du transport maritime qui permet la traçabilité du fret maritime et la disponibilité en temps réel d'informations fiables sur le transport maritime. Le logiciel bourse virtuelle de fret lui, est un système de gestion du marché du fret et des transports.

    Il met en place un marché virtuel où se rencontrent l'offre et la demande de transport ; permettant ainsi aux chargeurs et aux transporteurs de procéder, au moyen d'échanges électroniques, à la négociation directe et à la formation de contrats de transport entre eux.

    Le SYGESTRAN, quant à lui, assure la traçabilité et le suivi du fret routier, ferroviaire et aérien en temps réel. De l'avis du DG du CBC, le marché virtuel de fret est une plate-forme qui permet de mettre en relation l'offre et la demande de transport en temps réel.

    Ce qui veut dire que si quelqu'un a vingt têtes de boeufs à Dori, il peut remplir cette information dans le système et les transporteurs qui sont à Ouagadougou peuvent savoir que celui-ci a tant de boeufs à Dori et il propose de les amener par exemple à Cotonou à tant de francs et ils pourront eux aussi se manifester.

    L'offre et la demande se rencontrent donc dans ce système et concluent un contrat, sans un intermédiaire ; les intermédiaires ne faisant que renchérir les coûts. Les participants à cet atelier sont des représentants de ministères, des membres de la délégation du Conseil nigérien des utilisateurs des transports (CNUT), le secrétaire général du Conseil malien des chargeurs (CMC), des directeurs et chefs de service, des responsables des structures actrices de la chaîne des transports, des responsables des points focaux et des acteurs de la chaîne.

    Le Pays
  • Le ministre de la Communication et des Télécommunications, Moustapha Guirassy, a indiqué, jeudi à Dakar, que son ministère entreprendra des consultations, pour plancher sur ce que pourraient "apporter" les technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC) aux départements ministériels.

    "Très bientôt, en rapport avec les professionnels du secteur des télécommunications, nous allons entreprendre des consultations en favorisant un contact avec les différents départements ministériels, pour voir dans chaque département ce que les TIC peuvent apporter à chacun des départements, dans chaque secteur ", a annoncé M. Guirassy.

    Venu présider la journée du ministère de la Communication et des Télécommunications, à la 19ème Foire internationale de Dakar, il a ajouté : "Parmi ces secteurs, je pense particulièrement à l'agriculture".

    "On le nomme souvent secteur primaire, mais ce secteur comme d'autres ont besoin d'être soutenus, et les TIC doivent jouer un rôle important déterminant, un rôle extrêmement important", a dit M. Guirassy.

    Citant l'éducation et la santé en particulier, il a estimé que presque tous les secteurs d'activités qui intéressent la nation devraient s'appuyer sur les technologies de l'information et de la communication.

    Moustapha Guirassy a par ailleurs souligné l'importance que représente pour le secteur des télécommunications et de la presse, le vote par l'Assemblée nationale d'un code des télécommunications.

    "Ce code, a-t-il expliqué, permettra à ce secteur de connaître un développement fulgurant parce que, du point de vue réglementaire, d'un point de vue juridique, des dispositions, le cadre est là pour soutenir les entreprises de presse et les entrepreneurs qui évoluent dans ce secteur".

    Moustapha Guirassy a aussi mis l'accent sur la place et le rôle de son ministère. " Il s'agit, a-t-il expliqué, de mettre en avant les réalisations de l'Etat du Sénégal, mais aussi de favoriser la transparence et la bonne gouvernance par ses efforts de communication pour partager avec les citoyens sénégalais les politique de l'Etat."

    APS
  • Gabon Télécom a annoncé pour, l’exercice 2010 un résultat financier en chute de 14,4% par rapport à 2009, soit un repli de 61,1 milliards de francs CFA. Des chiffres consécutifs à la forte concurrence dans la téléphonie mobile notamment. 

    Au terme de l’exercice 2010, Gabon Télécom a annoncé un résultat financier en baisse de 14,4% sur l’ensemble des activités de téléphonie mobile, fixe et internet, soit une chute de 61,1 milliards de francs CFA par rapport à 2009. Selon le groupe Maroc Télécom, contre performance est due à un contexte fortement concurrentiel, marqué notamment par une percée de l’opérateur de téléphonie mobile Bharti Airtel qui a fortement revu à la baisse les tarifs des télécommunications au Gabon.
    En effet, dans le secteur de la téléphonie mobile, Gabon Télécom, à travers sa filiale Libertis, est fortement concurrencée par Bharti Airtel (leader avec environ un million d’abonnés), Moov et Azur. En revanche, les campagnes promotionnelles ont permis à Gabon Télécom de réaliser quelques bons résultats en 2010, notamment dans le segment de la téléphonie mobile où il a enregistré une croissance en termes d’abonnés.

    A travers sa filiale Libertis, l’entreprise compte désormais 700.000 abonnés alors qu’elle ne dépassait pas les 500.000 auparavant. Dans le domaine du téléphone filaire, Gabon Télécom, bien que détenant encore le monopole, a accusé une baisse de 27% et stagne à près de 27.000 lignes.

    Selon toujours le rapport de Maroc Télécom, le secteur de l’Internet a atteint 22.000 clients, en net progression de 9,6% par rapport à 2009. Actionnaire majoritaire de Gabon Télécom avec 51% des actions, Maroc Télécom est également présent en Mauritanie (Mauritel), au Burkina Faso (Onatel) et au Mali (Sotelma) où il détient aussi la majorité du capital.

    Gabon Eco
  • C'est la première et la seule école spécialisée en matière de ventes et relation clients à Madagascar.

    Une bonne nouvelle pour les jeunes malgaches désirant entrer dans le monde du travail, notamment dans les secteurs du commerce et de la télécommunication. En effet, Orange school est maintenant reconnue et agréée par l'Etat par le biais de l'accord du ministère en charge de la Formation professionnelle, a-t-on communiqué à la presse par le responsable de Orange Madagascar. C'est la seule école spécialisée en matière de ventes et relation clients jouissant d'un excellent niveau de formation et qui permet aux apprenants de devenir des managers commerciaux ou des téléopérateurs.

    Taux d'accès à l'emploi à 60%. La mise en place de cette école professionnalisante, depuis un an déjà, a été une réussite. Plus d'une centaine de jeunes y ont été formés avec un taux d'accès à l'emploi atteignant les 60%, a-t-on appris. Notons que Orange School ne se limite pas à la formation de ces jeunes mais elle les appuie en même temps à trouver un emploi décent notamment au sein des entreprises partenaires de Orange Madagascar. C'est le cas entre autres, de Dina Elia Fanomezantsoa R., qui a été immédiatement embauché chez Vivatec. Cette école répond entre-temps aux besoins des clients de Orange Madagascar utilisant le haut débit comme les entreprises qui se spécialisent dans le domaine des centres d'appels. En effet, ces dernières exigent des agents qualifiés en tant que téléopérateurs qui maîtrisent bien évidemment le TIC.

    Niveau bac + 2. Il faut remarquer que la formation professionnalisane de 3 mois prodiguée par Orange school est distillée par des formateurs nationaux et étrangers ayant du savoir-faire et des compétences reconnus. Il y a également des formations sur mesure selon les besoins des clients entreprises ou des formations sur catalogue. Comme critère de sélection, les jeunes ayant un niveau de bac + 2 et étudiant plutôt dans les domaines de la télécommunication et du commerce peuvent y accéder. Voilà de bon augure pour les centaines d'étudiants qui postulent à l'Orange school à chaque nouvelle rentrée.

  • L’Office de Radio diffusion et Télévision du Mali (ORTM) a organisé lundi 14 février 2011 au CICB, un séminaire de formation des directeurs généraux et directeurs techniques des radios et télévision publiques.

    Le but de la rencontre est de contribuer à la mise en place des stratégies en vue d’une migration réussie de la transition de l’analogie vers le numérique. C’était sous la présidence du Secrétaire Général du département de la communication et des nouvelles technologies, M. Cheick Oumar Maïga en présence du Directeur Général de l’ORTM, M. Sidiki N’fa Konaté et de plusieurs acteurs de l’audiovisuel public et privé.

    Ce séminaire selon les organisateurs vient en appoint de la rencontre internationale organisée du 1er au 04 septembre 2010 à Bamako par l’ORTM et le Réseau de l’Audiovisuel Public d’Afrique Francophone (RAPAF). On se rappelle que cette rencontre qui a regroupé les directeurs généraux et directeurs techniques des radios télévisions publiques d’Afrique francophone, avait pour thème «Le passage au numérique d’ici 2015: enjeux stratégiques et techniques».

    Le présent séminaire entre donc dans le cadre de cette migration vers le numérique.

    Pour le Secrétaire général du département de tutelle, M. Cheick Oumar Maïga, le basculement de l’analogie au numérique est un nouvel challenge pour le monde de l’audiovisuel. Il permettra selon lui de faire reculer les frontières de l’accessoire.

    Les participants ont débattu les questions liées à l’état des lieux dans les pays membres du RAPAF, les défis pour les radiotélévisions africaines, le rôle et la tâche à assumer par les différents acteurs, la restitution des lignes directrices de l’Union Internationale des Télécommunication portant sur la migration, le partage des expériences des partenaires professionnels.

    A l’issue des travaux en groupes et en plénières, les participants ont formulé une multitude de recommandations à savoir :

    La promotion d’un cadre de partenariat avec les différents acteurs du secteur et de coopérer avec les organisations internationales ; la création de structures de diffusion autonome ; la mise en place de mesures adéquates pour la revalorisation et la sécurisation des archives audiovisuelles ; la mise en place d’un système transparent pour les redevances audiovisuelles ; la garantie de l’octroi des licences pour les fréquences numériques aux télévisions et radios existantes sans passer par le procédure d’appel à candidatures ; l’adoption d’un procédure d’appel à candidatures pour les nouveaux postulants pour la TNT, la TMP et la TVHD.

    Le choix entre l’octroi de licence unique ou globale autorisant l’offre à tous les services (télévision, internet et téléphone fixe et/ ou portable) et la licence individualisée  par service spécifique ; l’imposition d’une obligation de mutualisation des sites de diffuser pour optimiser les investissements et minimiser les coûts ; la mise en place d’un dispositif anti-concentration pour éviter les abus de position dominante et les ententes illicites.

    La fixation d’un calendrier d’extinction du signal analogique avec une date butoir et choisir l’approche d’arrêt de la TV analogique par phases ou par région ; l’instauration d’une autorité de régulation unique indépendante de tous pouvoirs et doté d’un statut législatif ou constitutionnel ; l’imposition d’une obligation aux opérateurs de réseau d’intégrer dans leurs offres des chaînes d’intérêt général ; la fixation des règles de quota pour favoriser la production audiovisuelle nationale, notamment un quota de production qui intègre un pourcentage de production indépendante.

    La prévision des dispositions qui protègent le consommateur en matière de publicité, de sponsoring et de parrainage ; la réforme du fonds d’accès universel pour le télécommunications et l’audiovisuel ; la mise en place de structures de formation et de renforcement des capacités des acteurs du secteur de la communication audiovisuelle, y compris la formation interne au sein des entreprises ; la mise en place d’un dispositif d’évaluation périodique de la mise en œuvre de la transition vers le numérique ; enfin, l’organisation d’une rencontre, au mois une fois par an, des membres du RAPAF pour assurer le suivi et l’échange d’expériences.

    Malijet
  • 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

  • La société Africa Cellular Towers (gestions et sous-locations de BTS) vient la nomination de Pieter Nicolass en tant que nouveau directeur financier.

  • Solicitation de manifestation d’intérèt de service de consultants pour l’étude, la mise en place et la mise en œuvre d’un atelier pour la lecture automatique de document (LAD), du recensement général de la population, de l’habitat et de l’agriculture

    L’Agence Nationale de la Statistique et de la Démographie (ANSD) est l’organe central responsable de la collecte, de la compilation, de l'analyse et de la diffusion de statistiques officielles concernant les activités économiques et sociales de la République du Sénégal. Elle se propose de recourir à des services de consultants pour une mission d’assistance technique pour l’étude et la mise en place d’un atelier de
    lecture automatique (LAD) des questionnaires du Recensement Général de la Population et de l’Habitat, de l’Agriculture et de l’Elevage (RGPHAE).
    Pour plus d’infos cliquez ici 

Issue no 544 4th March 2011

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Top story

  • With cheaper bandwidth access coming across Africa, cyber-cafes have been having a hard time surviving. Their non-profit cousins telecentres have always struggled to gain traction, particularly their Internet element, with poor network access and unreliable power. Also, not-for-profit management has not always driven high levels of skills and service. NICE International is a Dutch social venture that operates solar-powered ICT service centers with local entrepreneurs on a franchise-basis in Gambia. Recently it got EU funding to expand into Tanzania and Zambia. Russell Southwood looks at whether this new way of providing access might work and talks to its MD, Ties Kroezen.

    NICE started in 2006 with two pilot NICE-centers in The Gambia in West-Africa. After a successful completion of the pilot, a third center was opened in The Gambia in 2009 and four more where opened in 2010. Six of the centers are operated by local entrepreneurs on a franchise-basis. NICE International plans to expand the network of NICE-centers in The Gambia and to other developing countries in partnership with local organizations.

    As Kroezen recalls:”We set up the Energy for All Foundation with other energy industry people to offer decentralized energy provision in developing countries. We put together a container in a village with a grid offering power to the village. We knew it would never be financially feasible just through electricity sales so we thought, if we add ICT services, people might also pay for those as well. That’s the core of the NICE concept.”  So it set up and ran a pilot in Gambia through its local subsidiary NICE Gambia and afterwards went on to open two more centres.

    “We used the first two years to get the technology right. At first, the solar panels didn’t produce enough electricity and the computers over-heated. But as the technology became more stable, we began to put more emphasis on generating revenues. So by the end of 2009, the first two pilot locations were making a profit”.

    At this point, NICE initiated a change in how it did things:“We decided to change the business model to a franchise so 6 of the centres are now operated by local entrepreneurs through franchise companies who get leased equipment. The capex is about 30,000 euros so the franchisee pays a fixed monthly fee and there is a local company that takes care of maintenance”.

    In physical terms, the NICE centres have a reception and 1-2 computer rooms and can accommodate 15-35 people:”Ideally these are not all in the same room as education users and other customers need to be separated.” The centres are designed for energy efficiency and NICE has tried to push down energy consumption by using thin client computers connected to a server. Total power needed is 1,500W and 50% of the cooling is done by fans.

    “On the computers, our own software system runs all the processes in the system. Every customer gets a personal account with their own password. Once they’ve logged in, they get their own desktop so it’s as if they are working on their own computers. There’s also a timer for Internet use. We also sell physical products like USB sticks and pre-paid cards.”

    “Most NICE centres have a cinema where 50-150 people can watch things on a large, flat screen TV connected to a satellite TV provider and with a DVD player. They’re charged for the service and have to buy a ticket. So we sell primarily these kinds of ICT services but also sell snacks and drinks.”

    So how many people use these centres?:”One location gets 2,000-3,000 people a month but the intensity of use varies widely. Most of the Gambian centres are in peri-urban locations. All of them are in Greater Banjul in places like Lamin and Serrekunda. It needs lots of customers to generate revenues but were are planning to go ahead in places like Basse.We want to use the centres as a distribution channel to Bottom of the Pyramid markets. We think we can reach them fairly easily to sell physical products and things like education services:.

    NICE International has been granted a EUR 2.5 million subsidy from the EU for expansion over the next 4 years. This will allow NICE to expand to Tanzania and Zambia, setting up a total of 50 new NICE-centers in the 3 countries (including The Gambia) and develop new services that can be delivered through the NICE-centers. Furthermore, the project includes a pilot with a rural version of the NICE-concept in Zambia and the development of a solution for the e-waste of the NICE-centers.

    Maybe, just maybe, this is the shape of second generation cyber-cafes and telecentres, bringing together all the first generation functions with the traditional African “video booth” and other retail sales.

    Ties Kroezen of NICE is looking for other investors and can be contacted on: Ties.Kroezen@Nice-International.com

    Five video clips on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange at presentation of FY2010 financials, on how Orange in Egypt is faring and the overall results for Africa:
    Click here:

    Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange at presentation of FY201 financials, on overall results for the group:

    Click here:

    Aline Rutily, Average, a consultancy that helps emerging markets’ companies source investment, particularly in the ICT sector:

    Click here:

    Patrick Akushie, Commercial Manager, Agence France-Presse talks about its strategy for selling news video in Africa using mobile:

    Click here:

    Funke Opeke, CEO, Main One on bandwidth sales and network blockages and extending the cable:

    Click here: 

telecoms

  • WikiLeaks , the online media organization that is drip-feeding leaked U.S. diplomatic cables into the public domain, has published a document, identified as a communication from the U.S. embassy in Kenya, that details reactions to Chinese companies' business practices in Africa, with particular reference to Huawei.

    There are a few things to note about this document, entitled "KENYA - DOING BUSINESS THE CHINESE WAY," which is marked as "Sensitive-but-unclassified."

    Although it was published by WikiLeaks late on March 1, the document is dated Oct. 30, 2007, so is more than three years old. It also, in a series of "anecdotes," attributes comments to senior executives at African telecom operators, which are probably best treated as hearsay, as there is no absolute proof of their veracity.

    That doesn't make them less interesting, though. Some are directly attributable to named individuals, the most notable of which is the series of comments allegedly made by Michael Joseph, the then-CEO (and currently non-executive board member) of Kenya's leading mobile operator Safaricom Ltd. , to U.S. Mission staff on Oct. 18, 2007:

    Echoing the views of many industry contacts, he [Joseph] said the quality of the ICT equipment provided by companies like Huawai and ZTE is pretty good, and their prices are low. But he used a monosyllabic expletive beginning with "S" to describe after-sales service. When there are equipment problems later, he said, the Chinese run for the door, and matters are made worse by the language barrier. Safaricom purchased equipment last year from Huawei, but the deal was too good to be true. Huawei effectively reneged and only delivered half the equipment promised in the contract. Joseph went to China personally, eventually got the Huawai CEO to admit that the company had lied, and then forced it to cancel the contract.

    The cable goes on to cite Joseph as saying he was put under pressure by Kenyan government officials to reinstate the contract with Huawei.

    It would appear that any doubts harbored by Joseph, who recently stepped down after 10 years as Safaricom CEO, about Huawei's ability to deliver on its promises were soon assuaged. Following the initial transmission of the U.S. diplomatic cable from the embassy in Nairobi in late 2007, and during Joseph's tenure as CEO, Safaricom continued to award deals to the Chinese vendor. In 2010 Huawei was awarded softswitch and convergent billing system deals by the Kenyan operator, while Joseph agreed to a trial of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology only months ago, reports IT News Africa. (See Safaricom Bills With Huawei and Safaricom Deploys Huawei Softswitch.)

    The document published by WikiLeaks also suggests that the country's state-owned operator, Telkom Kenya , awarded Huawei a CDMA contract without issuing a competitive tender, a process that should have been undertaken by law. The then-CEO of Telekom Kenya, Sammy Kirui, is also cited as suggesting that after-sales service from Chinese technology suppliers was poor. He also allegedly noted that ZTE was pressing hard to be an alternative supplier, but that he was insisting "the company's second strategic tech partner must be non-Chinese."

    ZTE did, though, land an optical equipment contract awarded by the Kenyan government. (See ZTE Wins in Kenya.)

    The cable concludes:

    The views and anecdotes conveyed by people like Joseph and Ndemo [Kenya's Permanent Secretary of Information and Communications] put a bit flesh on the bones of the oft-repeated (but seldom proven) contention that Chinese companies play dirty. Most disturbing in this case is the idea that Chinese influence is so great that it's actually distorting critical investment decisions in Kenya's all-important ICT sector. For further investigation is the role of the Chinese government. We wonder if it simply turns a blind eye to the dirty work of Chinese firms, or if it actively contributes to the problem.

    ZTE declined to comment "on what are effectively unfounded rumors from unproven sources."

    Huawei is currently preparing a response. Safaricom has yet to respond to Light Reading requests for comment.

    The publication of the document on WikiLeaks comes at a sensitive time for Huawei, which is seeking to build trust and credibility in the U.S. market as well as counter suggestions of anti-competitive trading practices in Europe.

  • Airtel Africa employees will now be able to work at its parent company in India under a new exchange programme launched. The mobile operator announced that a number of employees from Africa will be transferred to India for a period of one year.

    The initial group from Africa to India will be employees from the firm's operations in Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Zambia. The initial phase of this new programme has also lead to the integration of specialized staff from Bharti airtel into some African markets: "They will spend up to one year working within various units which include Bharti airtel's network infrastructure development, solutions for medium sized enterprises, sales and distribution, financial systems, marketing and other functions," a statement from the company said.

    Bharti Airtel intends to replicate its low cost model in India in the African market and this programme is a way to equip key staff with the necessary experience.

  • Mobile phone users in Kenya may cease to enjoy dramatic call tariff cuts if intense lobbying by Safaricom and Telkom Kenya for the government to intervene and put a break to any further price reductions bear fruit. The pair has succeeded in having the Prime Minister's office form a taskforce to study whether Kenya's mobile phone pricing is sustainable and what would be the future.

    Operators seem to have won one soul - the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo who says that low rates will hurt the economy. "Already some operators have lost revenue; we are taking this matter seriously. We need to talk sense on this pricing issue," said Ndemo on Wednesday.

    He said only 40 per cent of the country's landmass is covered and it will be difficult to reach the rest of the country with the ongoing price war. "We can't sit and wait for companies to close," he added, as Safaricom chief executive officer Bob Collymore echoed, "We want conducive business environment for the telecoms industry. Low calling rates means we will have to go slow on our expansion plans."

    Speaking during a press briefing on the upcoming Connected Kenya Summit, Collymore proposed that the government must ensure healthy pricing in the industry, and attach strict rollout and coverage requirements to mobile licences. Others are effectively manage spectrum allocation and pricing by allocating it where it is needed and apply the principle of use or lose as well as try to moderate levels of taxation.

    If operators succeed to woo the government to put price floors, Kenya will be joining its neighbour, Uganda. The country recently issued guidelines that will become effective March 15. They will empower Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to establish minimum rates below which players will not be allowed to offer services, even under promotions. The guidelines are intended to curb anti-competitive practices, encourage new investments (including new players), enhance tariff transparency and protect consumers.

    The new rules target aggressive companies like Warid Telecom that have shaken up the sector with unprecedented tariff cuts and highly popular promotions like Pakalast, Kawa, Pepeya and Berako.

  • The dominant player in Namibia's cellphone communication industry, MTC, last week abandoned an attempt to get an urgent court interdict to stall a Namibian Communications Commission decision that would force it to lower the price of some of its services.

    For the second time in five days, MTC conceded that an urgent application that it had lodged against the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC), Telecom Namibia and Powercom, which owns MTC's main competitor, Leo, should be removed from the court roll in the High Court in Windhoek.

    In the urgent application, which was first removed from the court roll on Friday last week, MTC was asking the court to issue an urgent interdict that would have prevented the NCC from implementing a decision that should result in cellphone users paying less for calls made to cellphones on other cellphone networks and to land line phones.

    The NCC's board decided on February 9 that Namibia's cellphone network operators have to stop charging higher prices for calls that their subscribers make to other operators' networks and to fixed line telephones than the tariffs they charge for calls made on their own networks only.

    With the urgent component of its case against the NCC, Telecom Namibia and Powercom now abandoned, MTC is however continuing with the review application that it has filed with the High Court, the company's legal counsel, Sakeus Akweenda, told Acting Judge Harald Geier last week.

    In the review application MTC is asking the court to set aside and declare as unconstitutional and null and void the NCC board's decision to implement a price cap on the tariffs that cellphone operators charge for calls made from their networks to other cellphone operators' networks and to fixed-line phones.

    The NCC directed that these price changes had to be implemented by March 1. MTC spokesperson Tim Ekandjo said on enquiry yesterday that MTC will abide by the NCC's decision in the meantime. "The fact that we had differences of opinion with the NCC on their direction does not mean that we will not respect their decision, after all they are the regulatory authority of the telecommunications industry," he remarked.

    MTC is claiming that the NCC did not give it a proper hearing before the decision on implementing a price cap was taken. In an affidavit filed with the court MTC Managing Director Miguel Geraldes accuses the NCC of acting "unfairly and unreasonably" towards MTC. He also claims the NCC took its decision arbitrarily and without first having conducted an independent and comprehensive study on cell phone services tariffs and fees.

    MTC is further claiming that a study that has been done showed that its rates were price competitive in Namibia and when compared with prices in the Southern African Development Community as a whole.

    According to the NCC, though, MTC has known for the last nine months that the NCC was considering the issues that resulted in the price cap decision. The company has since May last year also been given ample opportunities to make presentations to the NCC on these issues, the regulatory authority has responded.

    MTC is also charging that the measures taken by the NCC are "anti-competitive, and have the effect of price fixing". In its response filed with the High Court, Telecom Namibia is throwing MTC's allegation of anti-competitive behaviour back at the company.

    Accusing MTC of itself being responsible for anti-competitive conduct, Telecom Namibia's General Manager: Strategy, Theo Klein, is arguing that MTC cannot ask the court to grant it an interdict to protect the revenue it earns as a result of anti-competitive conduct.

    MTC is claiming that the price cap would affect its earnings negatively, and could ultimately result in the company closing down. Whether this gloomy scenario would ever come to pass is being disputed by Telecom Namibia and leo, though.

    They note that according to MTC's latest annual report, the company had a turnover of N$1,389 billion in the year to the end of September 2009. MTC ended that financial year with a very healthy after-tax profit of N$387 million.

internet

  • Internet Solutions is betting big on telecommunications infrastructure, with plans to participate in a wireless spectrum auction later this year that could result in it building a national wireless broadband network.

    MD Derek Wilcocks says the company, which is a division of Dimension Data, is considering building the network in as many as 25 of South Africa’s towns and cities using a technology called long-term evolution (LTE). LTE is the successor technology to the 3G wireless networks deployed by MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and 8ta.

    Wilcocks says it’s too early to know how much Internet Solutions will invest in the network, but based on 2010 estimates by the company, it could spend as much as R2bn to R3bn over a period of years. The amount of investment that will be required will be firmed up only once the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has provided more details of an upcoming spectrum auction and set out how bidders will be expected to invest in infrastructure in rural and other underserviced parts of the country.
    An investment proposal will then be sent to the Didata board for approval. It appears likely that if Internet Solutions gets the go-ahead to bid for spectrum and is successful, it will use LTE technology. “A year ago, we would almost certainly have used WiMax, but by the time the spectrum auction happens, I certainly think we could use LTE,” Wilcocks says. “There appears to be a lot more weight behind LTE.”

    Internet Solutions has no plans to compete directly in the consumer market, preferring to deal with business customers, but it will sell wholesale capacity on the network to consumer-facing Internet service providers with which it has partnered. The company already provides wholesale bandwidth to Internet service providers such as Axxess and Afrihost that provide connectivity to consumers over Telkom’s broadband digital subscriber lines. A wireless network would give these providers another connectivity option for their customers.

    Wilcocks says Internet Solutions would prefer not to invest in its own networks, but is being forced to because of the high cost of bandwidth from wholesale operators like Telkom. If it were able to get access to national backhaul, for example, at lower rates, it would not have to invest as much in infrastructure. But he says at current market prices it makes business sense for it to build its own fibre and wireless networks. He describes the cost of leasing national backhaul links as “unacceptably” high.

    Internet Solutions is also a one-third shareholder in FibreCo Telecommunications, a consortium that plans to spend billions of rand on a national fibre-optic network that will connect the country’s major towns and cities to business customers and to undersea cables such as Seacom and under-construction West African Cable System. FibreCo investors are Internet Solutions, mobile operator Cell C and Convergence Partners, a company controlled by Didata SA chairman Andile Ngcaba.

    Wilcocks says to remain competitive in the enterprise market — and given that its main rivals are businesses that are owned by telecoms operators such as MTN and Vodacom — Internet Solutions has to invest in underlying network infrastructure. “A few years ago, it would have been inconceivable for us from a licensing and economic point of view, but the entry into SA of independent cable operators and operators like Cell C … create opportunities for us to enter into partnerships that make these investments very viable.”

    Wilcocks believes the demand for bandwidth will continue to surpass even the most optimistic expectations as e-commerce, video-on-demand, cloud computing and other services continue to drive demand for data from businesses and retail consumers. “We see a situation where 100 or 1,000 times more bandwidth will be required to meet the needs of businesses and consumers,” he says.

    Construction of the FibreCo network will begin soon. The consortium is at an advanced stage of selecting suppliers, after which trenching will begin. Specialist firms have been contracted to help FibreCo understand the complexities involved in building the network, such as gaining access to private land, running fibre over natural obstacles like rivers and mountain passes, and obtaining the necessary environmental assessment clearances.

    Wilcocks expects the first components of the FibreCo network will be switched on within the next 18-24 months. The focus initially is connecting the major metropolitan areas and providing connectivity to undersea cables at Mtunzini in KwaZulu-Natal and Yzerfontein in the Western Cape.

    On Icasa’s upcoming frequency auction — in the 2,6GHz and 3,5GHz bands — Wilcocks says Internet Solutions has invested a lot of time modelling the spectrum and considering various options. But he warns that the company won’t bid for access to the spectrum at any cost. “It really depends on universal service obligations and the price of the spectrum. There is a point where we can’t justify the investment.”

    Wilcocks says Internet Solutions wants to provide always-on connectivity to businesses. It expects to build wireless infrastructure in 17-25 metropolitan areas, including smaller towns such as Polokwane, Upington and Kimberley. Universal service requirements may also result in it expanding the network into more far-flung parts of the country, though Wilcocks admits this will “make the business case more challenging”. “But we are not averse to the idea.”

    He says Internet Solutions has already begun talking to potential partners that operate in remoter parts of the country. “If the licence conditions require us to go into underserviced areas, we will work with those partners to come up with a model for those areas.”

  • MTN Zambia last week launched the broadband internet services, to make it one of the fastest internet service. MTN Zambia managing director, Farhad Khan said his company had made substantial investment in technology such as easy cable to ensure that the broadband internet was the best on the market with higher speed and reliability. He said MTN was using integrated network and was offering 3G and EDGE technologies.

    Speaking at the launch in Lusaka lastt week, Khan said US$200 million was invested to ensure delivery of quality services to its customers.

    Khan said moving with global technological trends; internet has become key for business and consumer needs. "We believe that what is of importance and reliance is the fact that all our subscribers now have access to high speed internet anywhere on the MTN Zambia network.

    Equally important is the fact that our customers need not concern themselves about settings and configurations because all the settings are done by us as service providers," he said. He said the MTN broadband service was designed in such a way that mobile phones or modem automatically choose the fastest connection available expending on the, capability of the mobile phone or modem. This also depends on how busy the network would be at that particular time.

    Khan disclosed that MTN has doubled its subscribers on the network across the country from one million to two million.

  • A global education partnership is working to help selected pioneer African universities make significant savings on their internet bandwidth costs. Through the Bandwidth Consortium (BWC) initiative developed by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA), selected institutions of higher learning have saved about $19.7 million in the first three years since its launch.

    A report titled "Accomplishments of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, 2000-2010" aimed to act as a review of a decade of collaborative foundation investment, says that the savings "equals 3.5 times the PHEA investments of $5.5 million for subsidised bandwidth and the administrative and technical support of the BWC unit."

    "The lower cost afforded through the Bandwidth Consortium allowed universities to increase their purchase from an aggregated 12 Mbps of bandwidth, thereby ensuring that Africans were not left behind by their overseas peers," notes the report.

    Launched in 2000, the PHEA was formed by four foundations - Carnegie Corporation, John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Andrew W Mellon Foundation and later joined by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

    It works to coordinate its members' support for higher education in Africa. The foundations pledged $100 million in 2000 to cover the following five years. By end of 2005, the four PHEA founder members had made grants totaling $191 million for various higher education projects on the continent.

    "To address the issue of bandwidth costs, Carnegie Corporation worked various ICT consortia in various countries - including the Kenya Education Network (Kenet)- and other ISPs from the continent to see how to cheaply purchase bandwidth," said Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corporation president

    The BWC project also worked via UbuntuNet Alliance, a partnership established to capitalise on the emergence of optical fibre and other terrestrial infrastructure opportunities and thus become the Research and Education Network backbone of Eastern and Southern Africa tertiary education and research institutions.

    "The BWC works in a consortium comprising 35 universities in Africa to help them purchase internet bandwidth cheaply to enhance learning and is in recognition of the fact that Africa has the highest volume of unutilized bandwidth," noted Gregorian.

    The PHEA was formed in response to trends of democratisation, public policy reform and the increasing participation of civil society organisations in various African countries.

    Apart from the bandwidth support, notes the report, the PHEA support has helped 12 universities and research institutions to develop the capacity to manage their IT networks in collaboration with the Africa Network Operators' Group (AfNOG).

    Through PHEA support, seven universities are currently implementing action plans to use educational technology to improve teaching and learning through PHEA's Educational Technology Initiative.

    Projects in this area include deployment of learning management systems; development of digital content for health sciences, engineering and other disciplines; and creation of multi-media "tele-classrooms."

    Others are exploring use of mobile phones and radios for distance learning, digitizing of dissertations and past exams as well as development of students' e-portfolios.
    The body focuses its support in nine African countries - Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Mdagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana - which have a combined population of about 460 million.

    Overall, South Africa has been the highest recipient of PHEA grants at $124 million (28 per cent); followed by Nigeria with $61 million (14 per cent) with Uganda coming in third with $43 million (10 per cent).

    Tanzania has received $19 million (4 per cent); while Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Madagascar and Mozambique have each received grants worth more than 2 per cent of the total amount.

    The partnership's efforts will help improve Africa's tertiary enrolment ratio of 3 per cent and has so far improved conditions for about 4.1 million African students enrolled at 39 universities and colleges in the continent.

computing

  • JSE-listed technology distributor has unveiled a Windows 7-based tablet computer, the Mecer Xpress, on the same evening Apple announced the iPad 2. But Mustek says the Mecer Xpress is aimed at a different market to the Apple product. The company’s chief technology officer, Dimitri Tserpes, says the Xpress slate is aimed firmly at the business market.

    The Xpress, which will is available at prices starting at R5 959, ships with Windows 7 Home Premium, and is upgradeable to the Ultimate edition of Microsoft’s operating system.

    The 990g device, made by China’s Megatron, has a 1,6GHz Intel Atom processor, a 32GB solid-state hard drive, an 11,6-inch LCD TFT display (resolution: 1 366×768 pixels), 2GB of RAM, USB port and mini HDMI port. It comes with Wi-Fi support; 3G connectivity is an optional extra.

    According to Tserpes, the Xpress slate can be upgraded to future versions of Windows. Microsoft is expected to unveil a tablet-specific version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system later this year.

    Battery life of the new tablet is about three hours, significantly shorter than the 10-plus hours of battery offered by the iPad. But Mustek emphasises the Xpress slate is not aimed at the same market as Apple’s popular product.

  • The Experts Meeting on Health and Telemedicine Harmonization in Africa, opened today, Monday 28th February, 2011 at the Headquarter of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to present its outcome to the 5th session of the Conference of the African Union Health  Ministers scheduled for April 2011,in Namibia.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony of the experts meeting , African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, her Excellency Bience Gawanas said  a number of strategies ,plan of action and initiatives directly or indirectly related with ICT for health have been developed and supported by the AU and its NEPAD coordinating and planning Agency in collaboration with AU Partners.

    The commissioner stressed that the AU will not succeed without the concerted effort of all member states ,RECs, the Development Partners, and especially the private sector that play an important role at national level.

    The commissioner added that the AU will continue to provide leadership in playing its role of Advocacy ,Harmonization and coordination as well as resource mobilization to ensure that ICT for health is placed high on Africa’s agenda and also to ensure that the necessary policies are in place for the progress and sustainability of relevant initiatives.

    According to Prof. Derege Kebede, World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office for Africa said on behalf of the regional director Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo in his opening remarks, eHealth can contribute to health system strengthening in several ways by improving the availability, quality and use of information and evidence through strengthened health information system and public health surveillance system; developing the health workforce and improving performance by eliminating distance and time barriers (reducing cost) through continuing medical or public health education.

    He added  “ Unfortunately , the availability of these technologies in the region is far from adequate, and eHealth project continue to exist on a small scale and are fragmented." Prof. Kbede noted that WHO has for many years now given an important priority to eHealth and has worked with AUC and many partners to leverage eHealth in strengthening national health system.

    The Network of Experts main responsibility under the supervision of the DSA/AUC will be to assist in, contribute to , and support eHealth policy development; provide policy advice; and offer technical expertise for ensuring sustainable projects development and implementations.
     
    Jointly organized by the Department of Social Affairs and partners.

    Proposed Objectives of the Network of Experts are:

    - To support the AUC in the development of eHealth Policy for Africa.
    - To be in standing position to provide expert advice to the AUC on matters pertaining to eHealth in Africa.
    - To develop a framework for and facilitate the process of harmonizing eHealth initiatives and policies in Africa.
    - To support AUC’s efforts in endorsing and supporting eHealth projects by local and international partners in Africa.
    - To assist the AUC members states and RECs, upon  request in developing ,harmonising and implementing eHealth projects
    - The Experts Meeting on eHealth and Telemedicine Harmonization in Africa ends Tomorrow 1st March, 2011.

  • The Minister of Lands and Environment, Stanislas Kamanzi ,wants to use ICT to facilitate land transactions. His Ministry intends to introduce Land Administration Information System (LAIS) in all districts. Kamanzi made the remarks during the swearing in ceremony of district land officers at the ministry's headquarters in Kimihurura. "LAIS will help in legal land documents exchange whether buying, donating or inheriting any piece of land," Kamanzi explained.

    He said the Ministry also intends to support projects to draw up a proper District land master plan. It is necessary that all District land Officers are trained in Geographic Information System (GIS) and how a land use master plan can be developed. It is estimated that 8 million plots of land are yet to be demarcated. 4 million have already been recorded.

    Legal documentation of all land plots is scheduled to end in December 2013, according to the minister. The job of the newly sworn in district land officers will be the awarding of building permits, deed plans, and resolving conflicts. They will work as District land notaries who will also advise citizens on legal procedures of acquiring or transferring land before going to National Land Centre for land titles.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Senegalese incumbent telecoms operator Sonatel said its net profits for FY2010 were hit as increased competition in the markets in which it operates trimmed its margins and it was hit by a temporary tax surcharge on incoming traffic.

    The group also warned about the future impact of fiscal and regulatory pressure, which it says ‘is becoming a major concern’. Nevertheless, the group is upbeat about the future noting: ‘The macroeconomic outlook is good for 2011 with higher GDP growth than in 2010 seen in all our countries.’

    Sonatel's consolidated turnover rose 6.5% year-on-year to CFA599 billion (USD1.2 billion) as it expanded its business operations in Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and its home market – where mobile subscribers topped the five-million mark for the first time. However, net profit fell to CFA184.8 billion in 2010 from 185.0 billion a year earlier and its EBITDA margin fell to 54.1% from 56.2% over the same period.

    Between June and November 2010, Sonatel was adversely impacted by a surcharge on incoming international calls as Senegal sought to monitor telecom traffic and boost public finances. This measure was suspended after union protests caused a shut down and disruption of some long-distance and internet services. Sonatel, 42%-owned by France Telecom, has a total market share of 60% in Senegal and 69% in Mali.

  • Kenya's smaller mobile networks want the country's Central Bank to set up a centralised clearing house for mobile payment transfers - in a deliberate attempt to reduce the dominance of Safaricom's M-Pesa platform.

    The networks argue in a letter sent to the Prime Minister that inter-network transfers are currently too expensive and that a central clearing house would lower the costs - and make it easier for Safaricom customers to switch to an alternative mobile network.

    Currently, the cost of sending funds from M-Pesa to a customer on a rival network costs Sh400 for a Sh25,000 transaction - about double what Airtel charges for a similar service on its own mobile money platform.

    Currently transactions between networks still rely on the recipient being sent an SMS and them having to visit a money agent to collect the cash. Under the proposal, the money would be transferred electronically between accounts as happens with transfers between customers on the same network.

  • House of Representative Committee on Communications yesterday recommended the immediate disengagement of the entire 3,389 staff of the nation's moribund Nigeria Telecommunications and its mobile subsidiary, M-Tel.

    It also suggested the re-engagement of 455 transition staff from the 3389 staff so as to reduce the monthly wage bill to N115.5 million from the current N695 million.

    This was as the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) said the communications outfit is currently weighed down by over N208 billion indebtedness being claims filled in by its various creditors.

    The House Committee made the recommendations while meeting with the top management of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) led by the Director-General, Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa over the lingering controversy surrounding the settlement of the ex-staff of the communication's outfit.

    It would be recalled that recently, crisis erupted between workers in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and protesting ex-staff of the nation's first communication's outfit who were agitating over non-settlement of the entitlements.

    That was shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan approved the payment of the outstanding staff entitlements of N33.4 billion due to the ex-staff of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile arm, M-tel. The payments to be effected in two installments in March and May, 2011, will commence next week.

    The BPE Director-General said the verification and payment of all NITEL/M-tel staff and pensioners, except the casual staff, was carried out in 14 designated centres across the country between December 6 and 21, 2010.

    Ms Onagoruwa in a release by the BPE Spokesman, Chukwuma Nwoko, said the sum of N54.4billion was sourced to settle outstanding staff liabilities which include salary arrears, entitlements to current disengaging NITEL/M-tel staff, allowances payable following court judgment in respect of the staff disengaged by Transcorp in 2006, pensioners and casual workers of the two telecoms outfits.

    National Council on Privatisation (NCP) had at its meeting on June 11, 2010 reactivated the Presidential Task Force on NITEL/M-tel Labour Restructuring (Taskforce) headed by the Minister of Labour and Productivity to address the issue of outstanding salaries and allowances owed Nitel/M-tel staff and to determine the number of staff to be disengaged to reduce the wage liabilities of government since the enterprises are not operating.

    The committee recommended that all employees of Nitel/M-tel be disengaged and that 455 transition staff from the 3389 staff should be reengaged. The plan would reduce the monthly wage bill to N115.5 million from the current N695 million.

    The re-engaged staff will remain till handover to a core investor while the existing security arrangements will also be maintained to secure the assets of the companies.

    Director-General added that owing to the poor record keeping of the pre-and-during Transcorp management of NITEL/M-tel, it was impossible to establish the actual debts of NITEL/M-tel.

    She said in order to attract reasonable bids, the National Council on Privatization (NCP) approved to sell the enterprise net of all debts: "The entire debts of NITEL/Mtel were assumed by government and would be warehoused for subsequent settlement from the proceeds realised from the sale," she said.

  • Telecel Zimbabwe has come under fire for being slow in regularising its shareholding structure, which is heavily skewed in favour of foreigners.

    The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology, chaired by Nketa Member of the House of Assembly Seiso Moyo, said it was concerned about Telecel's management and shareholding structure. .

    Moyo criticised Telecel Zimbabwe managing director Aimable Mpore, a Rwandese, saying even the management structure was dominated by foreigners. He said it was more prudent to second Zimbabweans to other countries where they could gain the required expertise on new technology than to bring in foreigners to run the firm. Moyo was responding to Mr Mpore's claims that they seconded foreigners because Zimbabwe lacked expertise in "some" technological fields.

    Uzumba MP Simba Mudarikwa asked the company for an update on the their licence, which was revoked by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe over the same issues.

    In response, Mpore said his company supported Zimbabwe's indigenisation laws. "We are here as management and our responsibility is to run the company, I can't answer on behalf of shareholders. It's up to the shareholders and the Government - whatever they say we will comply with," said Mpore.

    In her contribution, company secretary Ms Angeline Vere said Telecel Zimbabwe had appealed against a decision by Potraz to Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche against the decision to cancel their licence.

    She said there had been correspondence to the parent ministry as well as to the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere regarding their roadmap to indigenisation.

    "We were asked to write an implementation plan," she said. "Pursuant to that, we have since responded. One of the options was to consider listing but it was said listing was not a good option because the shares can be bought by foreigners."

    Ms Vere said the two shareholders had agreed that Telecel International would nominate the chief executive officer while the Empowerment Corporation would nominate the chairperson of the firm.

    Mrs Jane Mutasa, representing the Empowerment Corporation, was suspended as the Telecel chairperson last year on allegations of misappropriating of funds. The company is yet to appoint a replacement.

    Turning to operational issues, Mpore said while the law provided that telecommunication service firms could share base stations, some of the companies had refused to co-operate in this regard. "We have worked well with TelOne and Econet in sharing towers. NetOne has dismantled our equipment just because the facilities belong to them," said Mpore.

    He said NetOne should have approached them and asked them to pay rent if necessary.
    "For site-sharing to happen there has to be an enforcement and that cannot be done by operators. As Telecel, we welcome the sharing, but it's not the view of other players."
    He said one reason why some players resisted sharing was that they feared losing their competitive advantage.

    The Telecel boss said the Universal Services Fund administered by Potraz, should be used in making lawful interception of communications rather than have players bankroll the exercise.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Telkom Kenya has introduced competitive prices for data and voice on its network. The two months promotional offer, dubbed Jienjoy na Mbao, Orange Mobile customers will enjoy a daily bundle of 200 minutes on-net calls, 100 on-net SMS and 10MB of data at a cost of Sh20 per day.

    Angola and Namibia mobile users can now roam. The services will be operated by the Angolan telecommunications company of UNITEL and its Namibian counterpart of MTC.

    Norman Moyo, Zantel CEO informs that the firm is set to roll out its 3G network in April, raising the stakes in the battle for the Internet market in Tanzania. The 3G technology, he says, will be implemented in phases starting with Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and later to other parts of the country.

    Airtel Zambia is set to launch 3G services in the second quarter of this year, reports the Lusaka Times. 150 W-CDMA base stations have already been deployed, and the Bharti-owned company says it will roll out an additional 300 sites by the end of September.

    Nashua Mobile, South Africa’s leading independent telecommunications service provider has expanded its product offering with the introduction of its EasiVoice Solution – commonly known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Digital Content

  • A farmer in Niger learns how to protect his crops from insects. A resident of Port-au-Prince or a rural Haitian village learns how to avoid exposure to cholera. An entrepreneur in Mali gets step-by-step instructions on extracting the oil from shea seeds to make shea butter she can sell at a local market.

    These people are benefiting from a new approach to sustainable development education that reaches a much larger audience than traditional methods - and at a fraction of the cost. ­The initiative, led by a team of extension educators and faculty at the University of Illinois, produces animated educational videos that people around the world can watch at home, over and over again, on their cell phones.

    "This is a very different paradigm from some other current development projects, where U.S.-based educators are flown to another part of the world, interact with people in the field for a few weeks to several months, and leave," said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, a member of the team that is developing the animations. "From a financial perspective, this is a much cheaper way to do international development."

    The initiative, Scientific Animations Without Borders, takes advantage of the widespread availability of cell phones in the developing world. According to recent research, nearly 60 percent of the 2.4 billion cell phone users in the world live in developing countries.

    As of 2006, more than 150 million cell phone users lived in Africa, for example, with cell phone technology spreading faster there than anywhere else in the world.

    Animation reduces the costs associated with making a video on a particular topic, and allows the videos themselves to have near-universal appeal. The videos are narrated, and the narration can be recorded in any language with any dialect or accent.

    "The way these animated videos are designed, they can be easily adapted to other cultures," said Julia Bello-Bravo, a University of Illinois field extension specialist and leader of the project. "We are also capturing indigenous knowledge and putting it into the video, so when they see the video it is familiar to them."

    The first animated videos developed by the Illinois team (with funding from the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP - U.S. Agency for International Development and created in collaboration with aid workers and farmers in West Africa) demonstrate safe insect-control methods that are already in use in some regions. The scientifically validated techniques make use of local plants or widely available materials - such as black plastic sheets, ashes, or plastic bags - to control or eradicate insect pests from cowpeas, a staple in many parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

    In one video, a farmer processes the fruits of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) to make a liquid insecticide that he sprays on his cowpea crop. The neem is a drought-tolerant tree found in Southeast Asia and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers working with extension educators in West Africa developed the methods depicted in the video, Bello-Bravo said. Scientific studies had validated the methods and the materials needed were cheap and widely available, she said. But explaining the technique to large numbers of people would be difficult and costly.

    "In Mali they are using this technique and it's very effective, but in Burkina Faso, for example, there are not many people using this technique," she said. "If we can show these animated videos in different parts of West Africa where this tree grows, we can get the information to many, many more people."

    A newer video demonstrates how to boil or treat water to avoid exposure to cholera. This video is available in English, French, Haitian Creole and other languages.

    The process of producing the videos is fairly fast and cheap. Communicating primarily via e-mail, aid workers, farmers, entrepreneurs and an animator collaborate on the videos with the Illinois team. Once the content is approved, the collaborators produce two scripts: one to be read by a narrator and the other describing the actions the animated character is to perform. The animator builds the animation in stages with input from the collaborative team. Once a video is complete, the voice-over narration can be swapped out to match that of a particular country or region.

    In this way, the team is building a library of educational videos that can be distributed around the world via e-mail or through the sustainable development website, SusDeViki.

    Future videos will touch on other agricultural or health issues, such as bed bugs, lice or malaria, and will target viewers in the developed and developing world.

  • Online search company WinDeed has come up with what it thinks is a solution, at least in part, to the fraud problems plaguing the Companies & Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro). In the past year, fraudsters have hijacked a number of high-profile companies, including Kalahari Resources, leaving SA business owners concerned about the security of their assets.

    Now WinDeed has launched a website, CompanyAlert, that notifies registered users via e-mail of any changes in the Cipro database. WinDeed has access to several public databases that it downloads on a daily basis, the most popular of these being those belonging to the SA Deeds Office and Cipro. CEO Colin Day says users can register at CompanyAlert, allowing them to be alerted as soon as any changes are made.

    Day says the idea came to him one morning while listening to a security specialist discussing the matter on radio. “He suggested the best way to protect companies from becoming victims of these kinds of attacks was to check the information on Cipro regularly.”

    However, that wasn’t a practical solution. “Since we already had access to the database, I thought we could use it to help SA companies keep track of any changes in a much easier way,” says Day.

    “In the event of identity theft taking place, companies can act immediately to limit any material damage by contacting Cipro, their bank and the police,” says Day.

    Day says although CompanyAlert can’t actually prevent the fraud from taking place on Cipro registrations, early detection can save a company many hassles in the long run.

    “Fraudsters have used illegitimately updated details to set up new bank accounts and then illegally claim tax rebates from the SA Revenue Service or invoice the company’s creditors with phony bank account details,” he says.

More

  • Listed cellular infrastructure company Africa Cellular Towers has appointed a new FD. The company last week told shareholders Pieter Nicolaas would take up the position from the beginning of this month. He replaced Redik du Toit, who was appointed acting CFO on 1 October last year.

  • 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:

    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.
    contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.
    For further information visit: 

    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:

    HR4ICT11 - Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy
    21-23 March 2011,  Hilton Nairobi, Nairobi Kenya.

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is holding its annual HR4ICT Forum in Kenya, beginning 21 March 2011. The event will take place over three days addressing the human resource management aspect of business continuity planning.  With a theme focused on "Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy", HR4ICT'11 will focus on the challenges faced by major communications user groups (telecommunications, IT, finance, transport, energy, etc) in developing and implementing effective business continuity programmes. Visions, ideas, challenges, needs, success stories as well as best practices on the development and implementation of effective business continuity programmes, will be discussed by a selection of expert speakers.
    For further information email: programmes@cto.int or visit:

    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:

    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 further information visit: 

    Ghana ICT and Telecom Summit
    28-29 April 2011, Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre Accra, Ghana

    The summit will bring together over 200 decision-makers from Ghanaian operators and international stakeholders with an interest in the market to share experiences, knowledge and ideas with a view to overcoming the industry challenges. The 2 day summit agenda will address all aspects of Ghanaian ICT & telecoms strategies for attracting investment, broadband connectivity for all, solutions to boost operator ROI, Regulatory challenges & opportunities, infrastructure development, VAS and local content for Ghanaians, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, mobile banking, customer loyalty, future trends and more.
    For further information visit:

    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:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011
    Nairobi, Kenya

    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success. 
    For further information visit: 

     

  • IP Network Design Engineer - Telecom Services Company - South Africa

    A major provider of pan African network services, which delivers high quality connectivity solutions to hundreds of network operators. They're looking to hrie an IP Network Design Engineer to join their expanding technical team and are looking for a professional to take on the following responsibilities:-

    - Design IP (MPLS/VOIP/Wireless) Networks
    - Provision of timely design reviews of all IP related requests
    - Issue implementation documentation as regards changes on the network
    - Design the optimization of the Gateway IP network and issue documentation to implement changes
    - Integrate and control the installation of Gateway Data networks and provide procedures for acceptance of tasks performed
    - Maintain a database of IP networks
    - Monitor and control the utilization of IP Network capacity
    - Design the formulation and implementation of the Gateway Internet service policy
    - Interface with internal department on projects and IP design related issues

    For further information or to apply click here:

  • Cell C and Huawei – South Africa
    Huawei Technologies (“Huawei”), a provider of next generation telecommunications network solutions, announced the successful live deployment of a New Generation Business Support System (NGBSS) solution in Cell C, South Africa. With this NGBSS solution going live, Cell C  is now able to bill for its postpaid, prepaid and hybrid services in real-time, and in one single bill for all services. This provides Cell C with sustainable advantages of rapid time-to-market, cost efficiency, and enhanced customer experience in today’s competitive environment.

    The Institute of Directors (IoD) and Software Technologies Limited (STL) - Kenya

    Software Technologies Limited (STL) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have signed a reseller agreement that will facilitate IoD to resell STL’s eHorizon eBoard on SaaS (Software as a Service) model.
    The eHorizon eBoard System that has been developed by STL will help transform the Boardroom by making it more efficient, cost effective and assisting Boards to “go green”. The product which is the first of its kind anywhere in the World has already created a “buzz” with several Directors in both the private and public listed companies who are excited at how the eBoard system will help drive corporate governance to new heights.

Issue no 544 4th March 2011

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Top story

  • With cheaper bandwidth access coming across Africa, cyber-cafes have been having a hard time surviving. Their non-profit cousins telecentres have always struggled to gain traction, particularly their Internet element, with poor network access and unreliable power. Also, not-for-profit management has not always driven high levels of skills and service. NICE International is a Dutch social venture that operates solar-powered ICT service centers with local entrepreneurs on a franchise-basis in Gambia. Recently it got EU funding to expand into Tanzania and Zambia. Russell Southwood looks at whether this new way of providing access might work and talks to its MD, Ties Kroezen.

    NICE started in 2006 with two pilot NICE-centers in The Gambia in West-Africa. After a successful completion of the pilot, a third center was opened in The Gambia in 2009 and four more where opened in 2010. Six of the centers are operated by local entrepreneurs on a franchise-basis. NICE International plans to expand the network of NICE-centers in The Gambia and to other developing countries in partnership with local organizations.

    As Kroezen recalls:”We set up the Energy for All Foundation with other energy industry people to offer decentralized energy provision in developing countries. We put together a container in a village with a grid offering power to the village. We knew it would never be financially feasible just through electricity sales so we thought, if we add ICT services, people might also pay for those as well. That’s the core of the NICE concept.”  So it set up and ran a pilot in Gambia through its local subsidiary NICE Gambia and afterwards went on to open two more centres.

    “We used the first two years to get the technology right. At first, the solar panels didn’t produce enough electricity and the computers over-heated. But as the technology became more stable, we began to put more emphasis on generating revenues. So by the end of 2009, the first two pilot locations were making a profit”.

    At this point, NICE initiated a change in how it did things:“We decided to change the business model to a franchise so 6 of the centres are now operated by local entrepreneurs through franchise companies who get leased equipment. The capex is about 30,000 euros so the franchisee pays a fixed monthly fee and there is a local company that takes care of maintenance”.

    In physical terms, the NICE centres have a reception and 1-2 computer rooms and can accommodate 15-35 people:”Ideally these are not all in the same room as education users and other customers need to be separated.” The centres are designed for energy efficiency and NICE has tried to push down energy consumption by using thin client computers connected to a server. Total power needed is 1,500W and 50% of the cooling is done by fans.

    “On the computers, our own software system runs all the processes in the system. Every customer gets a personal account with their own password. Once they’ve logged in, they get their own desktop so it’s as if they are working on their own computers. There’s also a timer for Internet use. We also sell physical products like USB sticks and pre-paid cards.”

    “Most NICE centres have a cinema where 50-150 people can watch things on a large, flat screen TV connected to a satellite TV provider and with a DVD player. They’re charged for the service and have to buy a ticket. So we sell primarily these kinds of ICT services but also sell snacks and drinks.”

    So how many people use these centres?:”One location gets 2,000-3,000 people a month but the intensity of use varies widely. Most of the Gambian centres are in peri-urban locations. All of them are in Greater Banjul in places like Lamin and Serrekunda. It needs lots of customers to generate revenues but were are planning to go ahead in places like Basse.We want to use the centres as a distribution channel to Bottom of the Pyramid markets. We think we can reach them fairly easily to sell physical products and things like education services:.

    NICE International has been granted a EUR 2.5 million subsidy from the EU for expansion over the next 4 years. This will allow NICE to expand to Tanzania and Zambia, setting up a total of 50 new NICE-centers in the 3 countries (including The Gambia) and develop new services that can be delivered through the NICE-centers. Furthermore, the project includes a pilot with a rural version of the NICE-concept in Zambia and the development of a solution for the e-waste of the NICE-centers.

    Maybe, just maybe, this is the shape of second generation cyber-cafes and telecentres, bringing together all the first generation functions with the traditional African “video booth” and other retail sales.

    Ties Kroezen of NICE is looking for other investors and can be contacted on: Ties.Kroezen@Nice-International.com

    Five video clips on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange at presentation of FY2010 financials, on how Orange in Egypt is faring and the overall results for Africa:
    Click here:

    Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange at presentation of FY201 financials, on overall results for the group:

    Click here:

    Aline Rutily, Average, a consultancy that helps emerging markets’ companies source investment, particularly in the ICT sector:

    Click here:

    Patrick Akushie, Commercial Manager, Agence France-Presse talks about its strategy for selling news video in Africa using mobile:

    Click here:

    Funke Opeke, CEO, Main One on bandwidth sales and network blockages and extending the cable:

    Click here: 

telecoms

  • WikiLeaks , the online media organization that is drip-feeding leaked U.S. diplomatic cables into the public domain, has published a document, identified as a communication from the U.S. embassy in Kenya, that details reactions to Chinese companies' business practices in Africa, with particular reference to Huawei.

    There are a few things to note about this document, entitled "KENYA - DOING BUSINESS THE CHINESE WAY," which is marked as "Sensitive-but-unclassified."

    Although it was published by WikiLeaks late on March 1, the document is dated Oct. 30, 2007, so is more than three years old. It also, in a series of "anecdotes," attributes comments to senior executives at African telecom operators, which are probably best treated as hearsay, as there is no absolute proof of their veracity.

    That doesn't make them less interesting, though. Some are directly attributable to named individuals, the most notable of which is the series of comments allegedly made by Michael Joseph, the then-CEO (and currently non-executive board member) of Kenya's leading mobile operator Safaricom Ltd. , to U.S. Mission staff on Oct. 18, 2007:

    Echoing the views of many industry contacts, he [Joseph] said the quality of the ICT equipment provided by companies like Huawai and ZTE is pretty good, and their prices are low. But he used a monosyllabic expletive beginning with "S" to describe after-sales service. When there are equipment problems later, he said, the Chinese run for the door, and matters are made worse by the language barrier. Safaricom purchased equipment last year from Huawei, but the deal was too good to be true. Huawei effectively reneged and only delivered half the equipment promised in the contract. Joseph went to China personally, eventually got the Huawai CEO to admit that the company had lied, and then forced it to cancel the contract.

    The cable goes on to cite Joseph as saying he was put under pressure by Kenyan government officials to reinstate the contract with Huawei.

    It would appear that any doubts harbored by Joseph, who recently stepped down after 10 years as Safaricom CEO, about Huawei's ability to deliver on its promises were soon assuaged. Following the initial transmission of the U.S. diplomatic cable from the embassy in Nairobi in late 2007, and during Joseph's tenure as CEO, Safaricom continued to award deals to the Chinese vendor. In 2010 Huawei was awarded softswitch and convergent billing system deals by the Kenyan operator, while Joseph agreed to a trial of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology only months ago, reports IT News Africa. (See Safaricom Bills With Huawei and Safaricom Deploys Huawei Softswitch.)

    The document published by WikiLeaks also suggests that the country's state-owned operator, Telkom Kenya , awarded Huawei a CDMA contract without issuing a competitive tender, a process that should have been undertaken by law. The then-CEO of Telekom Kenya, Sammy Kirui, is also cited as suggesting that after-sales service from Chinese technology suppliers was poor. He also allegedly noted that ZTE was pressing hard to be an alternative supplier, but that he was insisting "the company's second strategic tech partner must be non-Chinese."

    ZTE did, though, land an optical equipment contract awarded by the Kenyan government. (See ZTE Wins in Kenya.)

    The cable concludes:

    The views and anecdotes conveyed by people like Joseph and Ndemo [Kenya's Permanent Secretary of Information and Communications] put a bit flesh on the bones of the oft-repeated (but seldom proven) contention that Chinese companies play dirty. Most disturbing in this case is the idea that Chinese influence is so great that it's actually distorting critical investment decisions in Kenya's all-important ICT sector. For further investigation is the role of the Chinese government. We wonder if it simply turns a blind eye to the dirty work of Chinese firms, or if it actively contributes to the problem.

    ZTE declined to comment "on what are effectively unfounded rumors from unproven sources."

    Huawei is currently preparing a response. Safaricom has yet to respond to Light Reading requests for comment.

    The publication of the document on WikiLeaks comes at a sensitive time for Huawei, which is seeking to build trust and credibility in the U.S. market as well as counter suggestions of anti-competitive trading practices in Europe.

  • Airtel Africa employees will now be able to work at its parent company in India under a new exchange programme launched. The mobile operator announced that a number of employees from Africa will be transferred to India for a period of one year.

    The initial group from Africa to India will be employees from the firm's operations in Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Zambia. The initial phase of this new programme has also lead to the integration of specialized staff from Bharti airtel into some African markets: "They will spend up to one year working within various units which include Bharti airtel's network infrastructure development, solutions for medium sized enterprises, sales and distribution, financial systems, marketing and other functions," a statement from the company said.

    Bharti Airtel intends to replicate its low cost model in India in the African market and this programme is a way to equip key staff with the necessary experience.

  • Mobile phone users in Kenya may cease to enjoy dramatic call tariff cuts if intense lobbying by Safaricom and Telkom Kenya for the government to intervene and put a break to any further price reductions bear fruit. The pair has succeeded in having the Prime Minister's office form a taskforce to study whether Kenya's mobile phone pricing is sustainable and what would be the future.

    Operators seem to have won one soul - the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo who says that low rates will hurt the economy. "Already some operators have lost revenue; we are taking this matter seriously. We need to talk sense on this pricing issue," said Ndemo on Wednesday.

    He said only 40 per cent of the country's landmass is covered and it will be difficult to reach the rest of the country with the ongoing price war. "We can't sit and wait for companies to close," he added, as Safaricom chief executive officer Bob Collymore echoed, "We want conducive business environment for the telecoms industry. Low calling rates means we will have to go slow on our expansion plans."

    Speaking during a press briefing on the upcoming Connected Kenya Summit, Collymore proposed that the government must ensure healthy pricing in the industry, and attach strict rollout and coverage requirements to mobile licences. Others are effectively manage spectrum allocation and pricing by allocating it where it is needed and apply the principle of use or lose as well as try to moderate levels of taxation.

    If operators succeed to woo the government to put price floors, Kenya will be joining its neighbour, Uganda. The country recently issued guidelines that will become effective March 15. They will empower Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to establish minimum rates below which players will not be allowed to offer services, even under promotions. The guidelines are intended to curb anti-competitive practices, encourage new investments (including new players), enhance tariff transparency and protect consumers.

    The new rules target aggressive companies like Warid Telecom that have shaken up the sector with unprecedented tariff cuts and highly popular promotions like Pakalast, Kawa, Pepeya and Berako.

  • The dominant player in Namibia's cellphone communication industry, MTC, last week abandoned an attempt to get an urgent court interdict to stall a Namibian Communications Commission decision that would force it to lower the price of some of its services.

    For the second time in five days, MTC conceded that an urgent application that it had lodged against the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC), Telecom Namibia and Powercom, which owns MTC's main competitor, Leo, should be removed from the court roll in the High Court in Windhoek.

    In the urgent application, which was first removed from the court roll on Friday last week, MTC was asking the court to issue an urgent interdict that would have prevented the NCC from implementing a decision that should result in cellphone users paying less for calls made to cellphones on other cellphone networks and to land line phones.

    The NCC's board decided on February 9 that Namibia's cellphone network operators have to stop charging higher prices for calls that their subscribers make to other operators' networks and to fixed line telephones than the tariffs they charge for calls made on their own networks only.

    With the urgent component of its case against the NCC, Telecom Namibia and Powercom now abandoned, MTC is however continuing with the review application that it has filed with the High Court, the company's legal counsel, Sakeus Akweenda, told Acting Judge Harald Geier last week.

    In the review application MTC is asking the court to set aside and declare as unconstitutional and null and void the NCC board's decision to implement a price cap on the tariffs that cellphone operators charge for calls made from their networks to other cellphone operators' networks and to fixed-line phones.

    The NCC directed that these price changes had to be implemented by March 1. MTC spokesperson Tim Ekandjo said on enquiry yesterday that MTC will abide by the NCC's decision in the meantime. "The fact that we had differences of opinion with the NCC on their direction does not mean that we will not respect their decision, after all they are the regulatory authority of the telecommunications industry," he remarked.

    MTC is claiming that the NCC did not give it a proper hearing before the decision on implementing a price cap was taken. In an affidavit filed with the court MTC Managing Director Miguel Geraldes accuses the NCC of acting "unfairly and unreasonably" towards MTC. He also claims the NCC took its decision arbitrarily and without first having conducted an independent and comprehensive study on cell phone services tariffs and fees.

    MTC is further claiming that a study that has been done showed that its rates were price competitive in Namibia and when compared with prices in the Southern African Development Community as a whole.

    According to the NCC, though, MTC has known for the last nine months that the NCC was considering the issues that resulted in the price cap decision. The company has since May last year also been given ample opportunities to make presentations to the NCC on these issues, the regulatory authority has responded.

    MTC is also charging that the measures taken by the NCC are "anti-competitive, and have the effect of price fixing". In its response filed with the High Court, Telecom Namibia is throwing MTC's allegation of anti-competitive behaviour back at the company.

    Accusing MTC of itself being responsible for anti-competitive conduct, Telecom Namibia's General Manager: Strategy, Theo Klein, is arguing that MTC cannot ask the court to grant it an interdict to protect the revenue it earns as a result of anti-competitive conduct.

    MTC is claiming that the price cap would affect its earnings negatively, and could ultimately result in the company closing down. Whether this gloomy scenario would ever come to pass is being disputed by Telecom Namibia and leo, though.

    They note that according to MTC's latest annual report, the company had a turnover of N$1,389 billion in the year to the end of September 2009. MTC ended that financial year with a very healthy after-tax profit of N$387 million.

internet

  • Internet Solutions is betting big on telecommunications infrastructure, with plans to participate in a wireless spectrum auction later this year that could result in it building a national wireless broadband network.

    MD Derek Wilcocks says the company, which is a division of Dimension Data, is considering building the network in as many as 25 of South Africa’s towns and cities using a technology called long-term evolution (LTE). LTE is the successor technology to the 3G wireless networks deployed by MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and 8ta.

    Wilcocks says it’s too early to know how much Internet Solutions will invest in the network, but based on 2010 estimates by the company, it could spend as much as R2bn to R3bn over a period of years. The amount of investment that will be required will be firmed up only once the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has provided more details of an upcoming spectrum auction and set out how bidders will be expected to invest in infrastructure in rural and other underserviced parts of the country.
    An investment proposal will then be sent to the Didata board for approval. It appears likely that if Internet Solutions gets the go-ahead to bid for spectrum and is successful, it will use LTE technology. “A year ago, we would almost certainly have used WiMax, but by the time the spectrum auction happens, I certainly think we could use LTE,” Wilcocks says. “There appears to be a lot more weight behind LTE.”

    Internet Solutions has no plans to compete directly in the consumer market, preferring to deal with business customers, but it will sell wholesale capacity on the network to consumer-facing Internet service providers with which it has partnered. The company already provides wholesale bandwidth to Internet service providers such as Axxess and Afrihost that provide connectivity to consumers over Telkom’s broadband digital subscriber lines. A wireless network would give these providers another connectivity option for their customers.

    Wilcocks says Internet Solutions would prefer not to invest in its own networks, but is being forced to because of the high cost of bandwidth from wholesale operators like Telkom. If it were able to get access to national backhaul, for example, at lower rates, it would not have to invest as much in infrastructure. But he says at current market prices it makes business sense for it to build its own fibre and wireless networks. He describes the cost of leasing national backhaul links as “unacceptably” high.

    Internet Solutions is also a one-third shareholder in FibreCo Telecommunications, a consortium that plans to spend billions of rand on a national fibre-optic network that will connect the country’s major towns and cities to business customers and to undersea cables such as Seacom and under-construction West African Cable System. FibreCo investors are Internet Solutions, mobile operator Cell C and Convergence Partners, a company controlled by Didata SA chairman Andile Ngcaba.

    Wilcocks says to remain competitive in the enterprise market — and given that its main rivals are businesses that are owned by telecoms operators such as MTN and Vodacom — Internet Solutions has to invest in underlying network infrastructure. “A few years ago, it would have been inconceivable for us from a licensing and economic point of view, but the entry into SA of independent cable operators and operators like Cell C … create opportunities for us to enter into partnerships that make these investments very viable.”

    Wilcocks believes the demand for bandwidth will continue to surpass even the most optimistic expectations as e-commerce, video-on-demand, cloud computing and other services continue to drive demand for data from businesses and retail consumers. “We see a situation where 100 or 1,000 times more bandwidth will be required to meet the needs of businesses and consumers,” he says.

    Construction of the FibreCo network will begin soon. The consortium is at an advanced stage of selecting suppliers, after which trenching will begin. Specialist firms have been contracted to help FibreCo understand the complexities involved in building the network, such as gaining access to private land, running fibre over natural obstacles like rivers and mountain passes, and obtaining the necessary environmental assessment clearances.

    Wilcocks expects the first components of the FibreCo network will be switched on within the next 18-24 months. The focus initially is connecting the major metropolitan areas and providing connectivity to undersea cables at Mtunzini in KwaZulu-Natal and Yzerfontein in the Western Cape.

    On Icasa’s upcoming frequency auction — in the 2,6GHz and 3,5GHz bands — Wilcocks says Internet Solutions has invested a lot of time modelling the spectrum and considering various options. But he warns that the company won’t bid for access to the spectrum at any cost. “It really depends on universal service obligations and the price of the spectrum. There is a point where we can’t justify the investment.”

    Wilcocks says Internet Solutions wants to provide always-on connectivity to businesses. It expects to build wireless infrastructure in 17-25 metropolitan areas, including smaller towns such as Polokwane, Upington and Kimberley. Universal service requirements may also result in it expanding the network into more far-flung parts of the country, though Wilcocks admits this will “make the business case more challenging”. “But we are not averse to the idea.”

    He says Internet Solutions has already begun talking to potential partners that operate in remoter parts of the country. “If the licence conditions require us to go into underserviced areas, we will work with those partners to come up with a model for those areas.”

  • MTN Zambia last week launched the broadband internet services, to make it one of the fastest internet service. MTN Zambia managing director, Farhad Khan said his company had made substantial investment in technology such as easy cable to ensure that the broadband internet was the best on the market with higher speed and reliability. He said MTN was using integrated network and was offering 3G and EDGE technologies.

    Speaking at the launch in Lusaka lastt week, Khan said US$200 million was invested to ensure delivery of quality services to its customers.

    Khan said moving with global technological trends; internet has become key for business and consumer needs. "We believe that what is of importance and reliance is the fact that all our subscribers now have access to high speed internet anywhere on the MTN Zambia network.

    Equally important is the fact that our customers need not concern themselves about settings and configurations because all the settings are done by us as service providers," he said. He said the MTN broadband service was designed in such a way that mobile phones or modem automatically choose the fastest connection available expending on the, capability of the mobile phone or modem. This also depends on how busy the network would be at that particular time.

    Khan disclosed that MTN has doubled its subscribers on the network across the country from one million to two million.

  • A global education partnership is working to help selected pioneer African universities make significant savings on their internet bandwidth costs. Through the Bandwidth Consortium (BWC) initiative developed by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA), selected institutions of higher learning have saved about $19.7 million in the first three years since its launch.

    A report titled "Accomplishments of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, 2000-2010" aimed to act as a review of a decade of collaborative foundation investment, says that the savings "equals 3.5 times the PHEA investments of $5.5 million for subsidised bandwidth and the administrative and technical support of the BWC unit."

    "The lower cost afforded through the Bandwidth Consortium allowed universities to increase their purchase from an aggregated 12 Mbps of bandwidth, thereby ensuring that Africans were not left behind by their overseas peers," notes the report.

    Launched in 2000, the PHEA was formed by four foundations - Carnegie Corporation, John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Andrew W Mellon Foundation and later joined by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

    It works to coordinate its members' support for higher education in Africa. The foundations pledged $100 million in 2000 to cover the following five years. By end of 2005, the four PHEA founder members had made grants totaling $191 million for various higher education projects on the continent.

    "To address the issue of bandwidth costs, Carnegie Corporation worked various ICT consortia in various countries - including the Kenya Education Network (Kenet)- and other ISPs from the continent to see how to cheaply purchase bandwidth," said Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corporation president

    The BWC project also worked via UbuntuNet Alliance, a partnership established to capitalise on the emergence of optical fibre and other terrestrial infrastructure opportunities and thus become the Research and Education Network backbone of Eastern and Southern Africa tertiary education and research institutions.

    "The BWC works in a consortium comprising 35 universities in Africa to help them purchase internet bandwidth cheaply to enhance learning and is in recognition of the fact that Africa has the highest volume of unutilized bandwidth," noted Gregorian.

    The PHEA was formed in response to trends of democratisation, public policy reform and the increasing participation of civil society organisations in various African countries.

    Apart from the bandwidth support, notes the report, the PHEA support has helped 12 universities and research institutions to develop the capacity to manage their IT networks in collaboration with the Africa Network Operators' Group (AfNOG).

    Through PHEA support, seven universities are currently implementing action plans to use educational technology to improve teaching and learning through PHEA's Educational Technology Initiative.

    Projects in this area include deployment of learning management systems; development of digital content for health sciences, engineering and other disciplines; and creation of multi-media "tele-classrooms."

    Others are exploring use of mobile phones and radios for distance learning, digitizing of dissertations and past exams as well as development of students' e-portfolios.
    The body focuses its support in nine African countries - Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Mdagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana - which have a combined population of about 460 million.

    Overall, South Africa has been the highest recipient of PHEA grants at $124 million (28 per cent); followed by Nigeria with $61 million (14 per cent) with Uganda coming in third with $43 million (10 per cent).

    Tanzania has received $19 million (4 per cent); while Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Madagascar and Mozambique have each received grants worth more than 2 per cent of the total amount.

    The partnership's efforts will help improve Africa's tertiary enrolment ratio of 3 per cent and has so far improved conditions for about 4.1 million African students enrolled at 39 universities and colleges in the continent.

computing

  • JSE-listed technology distributor has unveiled a Windows 7-based tablet computer, the Mecer Xpress, on the same evening Apple announced the iPad 2. But Mustek says the Mecer Xpress is aimed at a different market to the Apple product. The company’s chief technology officer, Dimitri Tserpes, says the Xpress slate is aimed firmly at the business market.

    The Xpress, which will is available at prices starting at R5 959, ships with Windows 7 Home Premium, and is upgradeable to the Ultimate edition of Microsoft’s operating system.

    The 990g device, made by China’s Megatron, has a 1,6GHz Intel Atom processor, a 32GB solid-state hard drive, an 11,6-inch LCD TFT display (resolution: 1 366×768 pixels), 2GB of RAM, USB port and mini HDMI port. It comes with Wi-Fi support; 3G connectivity is an optional extra.

    According to Tserpes, the Xpress slate can be upgraded to future versions of Windows. Microsoft is expected to unveil a tablet-specific version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system later this year.

    Battery life of the new tablet is about three hours, significantly shorter than the 10-plus hours of battery offered by the iPad. But Mustek emphasises the Xpress slate is not aimed at the same market as Apple’s popular product.

  • The Experts Meeting on Health and Telemedicine Harmonization in Africa, opened today, Monday 28th February, 2011 at the Headquarter of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to present its outcome to the 5th session of the Conference of the African Union Health  Ministers scheduled for April 2011,in Namibia.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony of the experts meeting , African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, her Excellency Bience Gawanas said  a number of strategies ,plan of action and initiatives directly or indirectly related with ICT for health have been developed and supported by the AU and its NEPAD coordinating and planning Agency in collaboration with AU Partners.

    The commissioner stressed that the AU will not succeed without the concerted effort of all member states ,RECs, the Development Partners, and especially the private sector that play an important role at national level.

    The commissioner added that the AU will continue to provide leadership in playing its role of Advocacy ,Harmonization and coordination as well as resource mobilization to ensure that ICT for health is placed high on Africa’s agenda and also to ensure that the necessary policies are in place for the progress and sustainability of relevant initiatives.

    According to Prof. Derege Kebede, World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office for Africa said on behalf of the regional director Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo in his opening remarks, eHealth can contribute to health system strengthening in several ways by improving the availability, quality and use of information and evidence through strengthened health information system and public health surveillance system; developing the health workforce and improving performance by eliminating distance and time barriers (reducing cost) through continuing medical or public health education.

    He added  “ Unfortunately , the availability of these technologies in the region is far from adequate, and eHealth project continue to exist on a small scale and are fragmented." Prof. Kbede noted that WHO has for many years now given an important priority to eHealth and has worked with AUC and many partners to leverage eHealth in strengthening national health system.

    The Network of Experts main responsibility under the supervision of the DSA/AUC will be to assist in, contribute to , and support eHealth policy development; provide policy advice; and offer technical expertise for ensuring sustainable projects development and implementations.
     
    Jointly organized by the Department of Social Affairs and partners.

    Proposed Objectives of the Network of Experts are:

    - To support the AUC in the development of eHealth Policy for Africa.
    - To be in standing position to provide expert advice to the AUC on matters pertaining to eHealth in Africa.
    - To develop a framework for and facilitate the process of harmonizing eHealth initiatives and policies in Africa.
    - To support AUC’s efforts in endorsing and supporting eHealth projects by local and international partners in Africa.
    - To assist the AUC members states and RECs, upon  request in developing ,harmonising and implementing eHealth projects
    - The Experts Meeting on eHealth and Telemedicine Harmonization in Africa ends Tomorrow 1st March, 2011.

  • The Minister of Lands and Environment, Stanislas Kamanzi ,wants to use ICT to facilitate land transactions. His Ministry intends to introduce Land Administration Information System (LAIS) in all districts. Kamanzi made the remarks during the swearing in ceremony of district land officers at the ministry's headquarters in Kimihurura. "LAIS will help in legal land documents exchange whether buying, donating or inheriting any piece of land," Kamanzi explained.

    He said the Ministry also intends to support projects to draw up a proper District land master plan. It is necessary that all District land Officers are trained in Geographic Information System (GIS) and how a land use master plan can be developed. It is estimated that 8 million plots of land are yet to be demarcated. 4 million have already been recorded.

    Legal documentation of all land plots is scheduled to end in December 2013, according to the minister. The job of the newly sworn in district land officers will be the awarding of building permits, deed plans, and resolving conflicts. They will work as District land notaries who will also advise citizens on legal procedures of acquiring or transferring land before going to National Land Centre for land titles.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Senegalese incumbent telecoms operator Sonatel said its net profits for FY2010 were hit as increased competition in the markets in which it operates trimmed its margins and it was hit by a temporary tax surcharge on incoming traffic.

    The group also warned about the future impact of fiscal and regulatory pressure, which it says ‘is becoming a major concern’. Nevertheless, the group is upbeat about the future noting: ‘The macroeconomic outlook is good for 2011 with higher GDP growth than in 2010 seen in all our countries.’

    Sonatel's consolidated turnover rose 6.5% year-on-year to CFA599 billion (USD1.2 billion) as it expanded its business operations in Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and its home market – where mobile subscribers topped the five-million mark for the first time. However, net profit fell to CFA184.8 billion in 2010 from 185.0 billion a year earlier and its EBITDA margin fell to 54.1% from 56.2% over the same period.

    Between June and November 2010, Sonatel was adversely impacted by a surcharge on incoming international calls as Senegal sought to monitor telecom traffic and boost public finances. This measure was suspended after union protests caused a shut down and disruption of some long-distance and internet services. Sonatel, 42%-owned by France Telecom, has a total market share of 60% in Senegal and 69% in Mali.

  • Kenya's smaller mobile networks want the country's Central Bank to set up a centralised clearing house for mobile payment transfers - in a deliberate attempt to reduce the dominance of Safaricom's M-Pesa platform.

    The networks argue in a letter sent to the Prime Minister that inter-network transfers are currently too expensive and that a central clearing house would lower the costs - and make it easier for Safaricom customers to switch to an alternative mobile network.

    Currently, the cost of sending funds from M-Pesa to a customer on a rival network costs Sh400 for a Sh25,000 transaction - about double what Airtel charges for a similar service on its own mobile money platform.

    Currently transactions between networks still rely on the recipient being sent an SMS and them having to visit a money agent to collect the cash. Under the proposal, the money would be transferred electronically between accounts as happens with transfers between customers on the same network.

  • House of Representative Committee on Communications yesterday recommended the immediate disengagement of the entire 3,389 staff of the nation's moribund Nigeria Telecommunications and its mobile subsidiary, M-Tel.

    It also suggested the re-engagement of 455 transition staff from the 3389 staff so as to reduce the monthly wage bill to N115.5 million from the current N695 million.

    This was as the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) said the communications outfit is currently weighed down by over N208 billion indebtedness being claims filled in by its various creditors.

    The House Committee made the recommendations while meeting with the top management of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) led by the Director-General, Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa over the lingering controversy surrounding the settlement of the ex-staff of the communication's outfit.

    It would be recalled that recently, crisis erupted between workers in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and protesting ex-staff of the nation's first communication's outfit who were agitating over non-settlement of the entitlements.

    That was shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan approved the payment of the outstanding staff entitlements of N33.4 billion due to the ex-staff of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile arm, M-tel. The payments to be effected in two installments in March and May, 2011, will commence next week.

    The BPE Director-General said the verification and payment of all NITEL/M-tel staff and pensioners, except the casual staff, was carried out in 14 designated centres across the country between December 6 and 21, 2010.

    Ms Onagoruwa in a release by the BPE Spokesman, Chukwuma Nwoko, said the sum of N54.4billion was sourced to settle outstanding staff liabilities which include salary arrears, entitlements to current disengaging NITEL/M-tel staff, allowances payable following court judgment in respect of the staff disengaged by Transcorp in 2006, pensioners and casual workers of the two telecoms outfits.

    National Council on Privatisation (NCP) had at its meeting on June 11, 2010 reactivated the Presidential Task Force on NITEL/M-tel Labour Restructuring (Taskforce) headed by the Minister of Labour and Productivity to address the issue of outstanding salaries and allowances owed Nitel/M-tel staff and to determine the number of staff to be disengaged to reduce the wage liabilities of government since the enterprises are not operating.

    The committee recommended that all employees of Nitel/M-tel be disengaged and that 455 transition staff from the 3389 staff should be reengaged. The plan would reduce the monthly wage bill to N115.5 million from the current N695 million.

    The re-engaged staff will remain till handover to a core investor while the existing security arrangements will also be maintained to secure the assets of the companies.

    Director-General added that owing to the poor record keeping of the pre-and-during Transcorp management of NITEL/M-tel, it was impossible to establish the actual debts of NITEL/M-tel.

    She said in order to attract reasonable bids, the National Council on Privatization (NCP) approved to sell the enterprise net of all debts: "The entire debts of NITEL/Mtel were assumed by government and would be warehoused for subsequent settlement from the proceeds realised from the sale," she said.

  • Telecel Zimbabwe has come under fire for being slow in regularising its shareholding structure, which is heavily skewed in favour of foreigners.

    The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology, chaired by Nketa Member of the House of Assembly Seiso Moyo, said it was concerned about Telecel's management and shareholding structure. .

    Moyo criticised Telecel Zimbabwe managing director Aimable Mpore, a Rwandese, saying even the management structure was dominated by foreigners. He said it was more prudent to second Zimbabweans to other countries where they could gain the required expertise on new technology than to bring in foreigners to run the firm. Moyo was responding to Mr Mpore's claims that they seconded foreigners because Zimbabwe lacked expertise in "some" technological fields.

    Uzumba MP Simba Mudarikwa asked the company for an update on the their licence, which was revoked by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe over the same issues.

    In response, Mpore said his company supported Zimbabwe's indigenisation laws. "We are here as management and our responsibility is to run the company, I can't answer on behalf of shareholders. It's up to the shareholders and the Government - whatever they say we will comply with," said Mpore.

    In her contribution, company secretary Ms Angeline Vere said Telecel Zimbabwe had appealed against a decision by Potraz to Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche against the decision to cancel their licence.

    She said there had been correspondence to the parent ministry as well as to the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere regarding their roadmap to indigenisation.

    "We were asked to write an implementation plan," she said. "Pursuant to that, we have since responded. One of the options was to consider listing but it was said listing was not a good option because the shares can be bought by foreigners."

    Ms Vere said the two shareholders had agreed that Telecel International would nominate the chief executive officer while the Empowerment Corporation would nominate the chairperson of the firm.

    Mrs Jane Mutasa, representing the Empowerment Corporation, was suspended as the Telecel chairperson last year on allegations of misappropriating of funds. The company is yet to appoint a replacement.

    Turning to operational issues, Mpore said while the law provided that telecommunication service firms could share base stations, some of the companies had refused to co-operate in this regard. "We have worked well with TelOne and Econet in sharing towers. NetOne has dismantled our equipment just because the facilities belong to them," said Mpore.

    He said NetOne should have approached them and asked them to pay rent if necessary.
    "For site-sharing to happen there has to be an enforcement and that cannot be done by operators. As Telecel, we welcome the sharing, but it's not the view of other players."
    He said one reason why some players resisted sharing was that they feared losing their competitive advantage.

    The Telecel boss said the Universal Services Fund administered by Potraz, should be used in making lawful interception of communications rather than have players bankroll the exercise.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Telkom Kenya has introduced competitive prices for data and voice on its network. The two months promotional offer, dubbed Jienjoy na Mbao, Orange Mobile customers will enjoy a daily bundle of 200 minutes on-net calls, 100 on-net SMS and 10MB of data at a cost of Sh20 per day.

    Angola and Namibia mobile users can now roam. The services will be operated by the Angolan telecommunications company of UNITEL and its Namibian counterpart of MTC.

    Norman Moyo, Zantel CEO informs that the firm is set to roll out its 3G network in April, raising the stakes in the battle for the Internet market in Tanzania. The 3G technology, he says, will be implemented in phases starting with Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and later to other parts of the country.

    Airtel Zambia is set to launch 3G services in the second quarter of this year, reports the Lusaka Times. 150 W-CDMA base stations have already been deployed, and the Bharti-owned company says it will roll out an additional 300 sites by the end of September.

    Nashua Mobile, South Africa’s leading independent telecommunications service provider has expanded its product offering with the introduction of its EasiVoice Solution – commonly known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Digital Content

  • A farmer in Niger learns how to protect his crops from insects. A resident of Port-au-Prince or a rural Haitian village learns how to avoid exposure to cholera. An entrepreneur in Mali gets step-by-step instructions on extracting the oil from shea seeds to make shea butter she can sell at a local market.

    These people are benefiting from a new approach to sustainable development education that reaches a much larger audience than traditional methods - and at a fraction of the cost. ­The initiative, led by a team of extension educators and faculty at the University of Illinois, produces animated educational videos that people around the world can watch at home, over and over again, on their cell phones.

    "This is a very different paradigm from some other current development projects, where U.S.-based educators are flown to another part of the world, interact with people in the field for a few weeks to several months, and leave," said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, a member of the team that is developing the animations. "From a financial perspective, this is a much cheaper way to do international development."

    The initiative, Scientific Animations Without Borders, takes advantage of the widespread availability of cell phones in the developing world. According to recent research, nearly 60 percent of the 2.4 billion cell phone users in the world live in developing countries.

    As of 2006, more than 150 million cell phone users lived in Africa, for example, with cell phone technology spreading faster there than anywhere else in the world.

    Animation reduces the costs associated with making a video on a particular topic, and allows the videos themselves to have near-universal appeal. The videos are narrated, and the narration can be recorded in any language with any dialect or accent.

    "The way these animated videos are designed, they can be easily adapted to other cultures," said Julia Bello-Bravo, a University of Illinois field extension specialist and leader of the project. "We are also capturing indigenous knowledge and putting it into the video, so when they see the video it is familiar to them."

    The first animated videos developed by the Illinois team (with funding from the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP - U.S. Agency for International Development and created in collaboration with aid workers and farmers in West Africa) demonstrate safe insect-control methods that are already in use in some regions. The scientifically validated techniques make use of local plants or widely available materials - such as black plastic sheets, ashes, or plastic bags - to control or eradicate insect pests from cowpeas, a staple in many parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

    In one video, a farmer processes the fruits of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) to make a liquid insecticide that he sprays on his cowpea crop. The neem is a drought-tolerant tree found in Southeast Asia and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers working with extension educators in West Africa developed the methods depicted in the video, Bello-Bravo said. Scientific studies had validated the methods and the materials needed were cheap and widely available, she said. But explaining the technique to large numbers of people would be difficult and costly.

    "In Mali they are using this technique and it's very effective, but in Burkina Faso, for example, there are not many people using this technique," she said. "If we can show these animated videos in different parts of West Africa where this tree grows, we can get the information to many, many more people."

    A newer video demonstrates how to boil or treat water to avoid exposure to cholera. This video is available in English, French, Haitian Creole and other languages.

    The process of producing the videos is fairly fast and cheap. Communicating primarily via e-mail, aid workers, farmers, entrepreneurs and an animator collaborate on the videos with the Illinois team. Once the content is approved, the collaborators produce two scripts: one to be read by a narrator and the other describing the actions the animated character is to perform. The animator builds the animation in stages with input from the collaborative team. Once a video is complete, the voice-over narration can be swapped out to match that of a particular country or region.

    In this way, the team is building a library of educational videos that can be distributed around the world via e-mail or through the sustainable development website, SusDeViki.

    Future videos will touch on other agricultural or health issues, such as bed bugs, lice or malaria, and will target viewers in the developed and developing world.

  • Online search company WinDeed has come up with what it thinks is a solution, at least in part, to the fraud problems plaguing the Companies & Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro). In the past year, fraudsters have hijacked a number of high-profile companies, including Kalahari Resources, leaving SA business owners concerned about the security of their assets.

    Now WinDeed has launched a website, CompanyAlert, that notifies registered users via e-mail of any changes in the Cipro database. WinDeed has access to several public databases that it downloads on a daily basis, the most popular of these being those belonging to the SA Deeds Office and Cipro. CEO Colin Day says users can register at CompanyAlert, allowing them to be alerted as soon as any changes are made.

    Day says the idea came to him one morning while listening to a security specialist discussing the matter on radio. “He suggested the best way to protect companies from becoming victims of these kinds of attacks was to check the information on Cipro regularly.”

    However, that wasn’t a practical solution. “Since we already had access to the database, I thought we could use it to help SA companies keep track of any changes in a much easier way,” says Day.

    “In the event of identity theft taking place, companies can act immediately to limit any material damage by contacting Cipro, their bank and the police,” says Day.

    Day says although CompanyAlert can’t actually prevent the fraud from taking place on Cipro registrations, early detection can save a company many hassles in the long run.

    “Fraudsters have used illegitimately updated details to set up new bank accounts and then illegally claim tax rebates from the SA Revenue Service or invoice the company’s creditors with phony bank account details,” he says.

More

  • Listed cellular infrastructure company Africa Cellular Towers has appointed a new FD. The company last week told shareholders Pieter Nicolaas would take up the position from the beginning of this month. He replaced Redik du Toit, who was appointed acting CFO on 1 October last year.

  • 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:

    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.
    contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.
    For further information visit: 

    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:

    HR4ICT11 - Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy
    21-23 March 2011,  Hilton Nairobi, Nairobi Kenya.

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is holding its annual HR4ICT Forum in Kenya, beginning 21 March 2011. The event will take place over three days addressing the human resource management aspect of business continuity planning.  With a theme focused on "Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy", HR4ICT'11 will focus on the challenges faced by major communications user groups (telecommunications, IT, finance, transport, energy, etc) in developing and implementing effective business continuity programmes. Visions, ideas, challenges, needs, success stories as well as best practices on the development and implementation of effective business continuity programmes, will be discussed by a selection of expert speakers.
    For further information email: programmes@cto.int or visit:

    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:

    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 further information visit: 

    Ghana ICT and Telecom Summit
    28-29 April 2011, Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre Accra, Ghana

    The summit will bring together over 200 decision-makers from Ghanaian operators and international stakeholders with an interest in the market to share experiences, knowledge and ideas with a view to overcoming the industry challenges. The 2 day summit agenda will address all aspects of Ghanaian ICT & telecoms strategies for attracting investment, broadband connectivity for all, solutions to boost operator ROI, Regulatory challenges & opportunities, infrastructure development, VAS and local content for Ghanaians, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, mobile banking, customer loyalty, future trends and more.
    For further information visit:

    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:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011
    Nairobi, Kenya

    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success. 
    For further information visit: 

     

  • IP Network Design Engineer - Telecom Services Company - South Africa

    A major provider of pan African network services, which delivers high quality connectivity solutions to hundreds of network operators. They're looking to hrie an IP Network Design Engineer to join their expanding technical team and are looking for a professional to take on the following responsibilities:-

    - Design IP (MPLS/VOIP/Wireless) Networks
    - Provision of timely design reviews of all IP related requests
    - Issue implementation documentation as regards changes on the network
    - Design the optimization of the Gateway IP network and issue documentation to implement changes
    - Integrate and control the installation of Gateway Data networks and provide procedures for acceptance of tasks performed
    - Maintain a database of IP networks
    - Monitor and control the utilization of IP Network capacity
    - Design the formulation and implementation of the Gateway Internet service policy
    - Interface with internal department on projects and IP design related issues

    For further information or to apply click here:

  • Cell C and Huawei – South Africa
    Huawei Technologies (“Huawei”), a provider of next generation telecommunications network solutions, announced the successful live deployment of a New Generation Business Support System (NGBSS) solution in Cell C, South Africa. With this NGBSS solution going live, Cell C  is now able to bill for its postpaid, prepaid and hybrid services in real-time, and in one single bill for all services. This provides Cell C with sustainable advantages of rapid time-to-market, cost efficiency, and enhanced customer experience in today’s competitive environment.

    The Institute of Directors (IoD) and Software Technologies Limited (STL) - Kenya

    Software Technologies Limited (STL) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have signed a reseller agreement that will facilitate IoD to resell STL’s eHorizon eBoard on SaaS (Software as a Service) model.
    The eHorizon eBoard System that has been developed by STL will help transform the Boardroom by making it more efficient, cost effective and assisting Boards to “go green”. The product which is the first of its kind anywhere in the World has already created a “buzz” with several Directors in both the private and public listed companies who are excited at how the eBoard system will help drive corporate governance to new heights.

Issue no 544 4th March 2011

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Top story

  • With cheaper bandwidth access coming across Africa, cyber-cafes have been having a hard time surviving. Their non-profit cousins telecentres have always struggled to gain traction, particularly their Internet element, with poor network access and unreliable power. Also, not-for-profit management has not always driven high levels of skills and service. NICE International is a Dutch social venture that operates solar-powered ICT service centers with local entrepreneurs on a franchise-basis in Gambia. Recently it got EU funding to expand into Tanzania and Zambia. Russell Southwood looks at whether this new way of providing access might work and talks to its MD, Ties Kroezen.

    NICE started in 2006 with two pilot NICE-centers in The Gambia in West-Africa. After a successful completion of the pilot, a third center was opened in The Gambia in 2009 and four more where opened in 2010. Six of the centers are operated by local entrepreneurs on a franchise-basis. NICE International plans to expand the network of NICE-centers in The Gambia and to other developing countries in partnership with local organizations.

    As Kroezen recalls:”We set up the Energy for All Foundation with other energy industry people to offer decentralized energy provision in developing countries. We put together a container in a village with a grid offering power to the village. We knew it would never be financially feasible just through electricity sales so we thought, if we add ICT services, people might also pay for those as well. That’s the core of the NICE concept.”  So it set up and ran a pilot in Gambia through its local subsidiary NICE Gambia and afterwards went on to open two more centres.

    “We used the first two years to get the technology right. At first, the solar panels didn’t produce enough electricity and the computers over-heated. But as the technology became more stable, we began to put more emphasis on generating revenues. So by the end of 2009, the first two pilot locations were making a profit”.

    At this point, NICE initiated a change in how it did things:“We decided to change the business model to a franchise so 6 of the centres are now operated by local entrepreneurs through franchise companies who get leased equipment. The capex is about 30,000 euros so the franchisee pays a fixed monthly fee and there is a local company that takes care of maintenance”.

    In physical terms, the NICE centres have a reception and 1-2 computer rooms and can accommodate 15-35 people:”Ideally these are not all in the same room as education users and other customers need to be separated.” The centres are designed for energy efficiency and NICE has tried to push down energy consumption by using thin client computers connected to a server. Total power needed is 1,500W and 50% of the cooling is done by fans.

    “On the computers, our own software system runs all the processes in the system. Every customer gets a personal account with their own password. Once they’ve logged in, they get their own desktop so it’s as if they are working on their own computers. There’s also a timer for Internet use. We also sell physical products like USB sticks and pre-paid cards.”

    “Most NICE centres have a cinema where 50-150 people can watch things on a large, flat screen TV connected to a satellite TV provider and with a DVD player. They’re charged for the service and have to buy a ticket. So we sell primarily these kinds of ICT services but also sell snacks and drinks.”

    So how many people use these centres?:”One location gets 2,000-3,000 people a month but the intensity of use varies widely. Most of the Gambian centres are in peri-urban locations. All of them are in Greater Banjul in places like Lamin and Serrekunda. It needs lots of customers to generate revenues but were are planning to go ahead in places like Basse.We want to use the centres as a distribution channel to Bottom of the Pyramid markets. We think we can reach them fairly easily to sell physical products and things like education services:.

    NICE International has been granted a EUR 2.5 million subsidy from the EU for expansion over the next 4 years. This will allow NICE to expand to Tanzania and Zambia, setting up a total of 50 new NICE-centers in the 3 countries (including The Gambia) and develop new services that can be delivered through the NICE-centers. Furthermore, the project includes a pilot with a rural version of the NICE-concept in Zambia and the development of a solution for the e-waste of the NICE-centers.

    Maybe, just maybe, this is the shape of second generation cyber-cafes and telecentres, bringing together all the first generation functions with the traditional African “video booth” and other retail sales.

    Ties Kroezen of NICE is looking for other investors and can be contacted on: Ties.Kroezen@Nice-International.com

    Five video clips on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange at presentation of FY2010 financials, on how Orange in Egypt is faring and the overall results for Africa:
    Click here:

    Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange at presentation of FY201 financials, on overall results for the group:

    Click here:

    Aline Rutily, Average, a consultancy that helps emerging markets’ companies source investment, particularly in the ICT sector:

    Click here:

    Patrick Akushie, Commercial Manager, Agence France-Presse talks about its strategy for selling news video in Africa using mobile:

    Click here:

    Funke Opeke, CEO, Main One on bandwidth sales and network blockages and extending the cable:

    Click here: 

telecoms

  • WikiLeaks , the online media organization that is drip-feeding leaked U.S. diplomatic cables into the public domain, has published a document, identified as a communication from the U.S. embassy in Kenya, that details reactions to Chinese companies' business practices in Africa, with particular reference to Huawei.

    There are a few things to note about this document, entitled "KENYA - DOING BUSINESS THE CHINESE WAY," which is marked as "Sensitive-but-unclassified."

    Although it was published by WikiLeaks late on March 1, the document is dated Oct. 30, 2007, so is more than three years old. It also, in a series of "anecdotes," attributes comments to senior executives at African telecom operators, which are probably best treated as hearsay, as there is no absolute proof of their veracity.

    That doesn't make them less interesting, though. Some are directly attributable to named individuals, the most notable of which is the series of comments allegedly made by Michael Joseph, the then-CEO (and currently non-executive board member) of Kenya's leading mobile operator Safaricom Ltd. , to U.S. Mission staff on Oct. 18, 2007:

    Echoing the views of many industry contacts, he [Joseph] said the quality of the ICT equipment provided by companies like Huawai and ZTE is pretty good, and their prices are low. But he used a monosyllabic expletive beginning with "S" to describe after-sales service. When there are equipment problems later, he said, the Chinese run for the door, and matters are made worse by the language barrier. Safaricom purchased equipment last year from Huawei, but the deal was too good to be true. Huawei effectively reneged and only delivered half the equipment promised in the contract. Joseph went to China personally, eventually got the Huawai CEO to admit that the company had lied, and then forced it to cancel the contract.

    The cable goes on to cite Joseph as saying he was put under pressure by Kenyan government officials to reinstate the contract with Huawei.

    It would appear that any doubts harbored by Joseph, who recently stepped down after 10 years as Safaricom CEO, about Huawei's ability to deliver on its promises were soon assuaged. Following the initial transmission of the U.S. diplomatic cable from the embassy in Nairobi in late 2007, and during Joseph's tenure as CEO, Safaricom continued to award deals to the Chinese vendor. In 2010 Huawei was awarded softswitch and convergent billing system deals by the Kenyan operator, while Joseph agreed to a trial of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology only months ago, reports IT News Africa. (See Safaricom Bills With Huawei and Safaricom Deploys Huawei Softswitch.)

    The document published by WikiLeaks also suggests that the country's state-owned operator, Telkom Kenya , awarded Huawei a CDMA contract without issuing a competitive tender, a process that should have been undertaken by law. The then-CEO of Telekom Kenya, Sammy Kirui, is also cited as suggesting that after-sales service from Chinese technology suppliers was poor. He also allegedly noted that ZTE was pressing hard to be an alternative supplier, but that he was insisting "the company's second strategic tech partner must be non-Chinese."

    ZTE did, though, land an optical equipment contract awarded by the Kenyan government. (See ZTE Wins in Kenya.)

    The cable concludes:

    The views and anecdotes conveyed by people like Joseph and Ndemo [Kenya's Permanent Secretary of Information and Communications] put a bit flesh on the bones of the oft-repeated (but seldom proven) contention that Chinese companies play dirty. Most disturbing in this case is the idea that Chinese influence is so great that it's actually distorting critical investment decisions in Kenya's all-important ICT sector. For further investigation is the role of the Chinese government. We wonder if it simply turns a blind eye to the dirty work of Chinese firms, or if it actively contributes to the problem.

    ZTE declined to comment "on what are effectively unfounded rumors from unproven sources."

    Huawei is currently preparing a response. Safaricom has yet to respond to Light Reading requests for comment.

    The publication of the document on WikiLeaks comes at a sensitive time for Huawei, which is seeking to build trust and credibility in the U.S. market as well as counter suggestions of anti-competitive trading practices in Europe.

  • Airtel Africa employees will now be able to work at its parent company in India under a new exchange programme launched. The mobile operator announced that a number of employees from Africa will be transferred to India for a period of one year.

    The initial group from Africa to India will be employees from the firm's operations in Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Zambia. The initial phase of this new programme has also lead to the integration of specialized staff from Bharti airtel into some African markets: "They will spend up to one year working within various units which include Bharti airtel's network infrastructure development, solutions for medium sized enterprises, sales and distribution, financial systems, marketing and other functions," a statement from the company said.

    Bharti Airtel intends to replicate its low cost model in India in the African market and this programme is a way to equip key staff with the necessary experience.

  • Mobile phone users in Kenya may cease to enjoy dramatic call tariff cuts if intense lobbying by Safaricom and Telkom Kenya for the government to intervene and put a break to any further price reductions bear fruit. The pair has succeeded in having the Prime Minister's office form a taskforce to study whether Kenya's mobile phone pricing is sustainable and what would be the future.

    Operators seem to have won one soul - the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo who says that low rates will hurt the economy. "Already some operators have lost revenue; we are taking this matter seriously. We need to talk sense on this pricing issue," said Ndemo on Wednesday.

    He said only 40 per cent of the country's landmass is covered and it will be difficult to reach the rest of the country with the ongoing price war. "We can't sit and wait for companies to close," he added, as Safaricom chief executive officer Bob Collymore echoed, "We want conducive business environment for the telecoms industry. Low calling rates means we will have to go slow on our expansion plans."

    Speaking during a press briefing on the upcoming Connected Kenya Summit, Collymore proposed that the government must ensure healthy pricing in the industry, and attach strict rollout and coverage requirements to mobile licences. Others are effectively manage spectrum allocation and pricing by allocating it where it is needed and apply the principle of use or lose as well as try to moderate levels of taxation.

    If operators succeed to woo the government to put price floors, Kenya will be joining its neighbour, Uganda. The country recently issued guidelines that will become effective March 15. They will empower Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to establish minimum rates below which players will not be allowed to offer services, even under promotions. The guidelines are intended to curb anti-competitive practices, encourage new investments (including new players), enhance tariff transparency and protect consumers.

    The new rules target aggressive companies like Warid Telecom that have shaken up the sector with unprecedented tariff cuts and highly popular promotions like Pakalast, Kawa, Pepeya and Berako.

  • The dominant player in Namibia's cellphone communication industry, MTC, last week abandoned an attempt to get an urgent court interdict to stall a Namibian Communications Commission decision that would force it to lower the price of some of its services.

    For the second time in five days, MTC conceded that an urgent application that it had lodged against the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC), Telecom Namibia and Powercom, which owns MTC's main competitor, Leo, should be removed from the court roll in the High Court in Windhoek.

    In the urgent application, which was first removed from the court roll on Friday last week, MTC was asking the court to issue an urgent interdict that would have prevented the NCC from implementing a decision that should result in cellphone users paying less for calls made to cellphones on other cellphone networks and to land line phones.

    The NCC's board decided on February 9 that Namibia's cellphone network operators have to stop charging higher prices for calls that their subscribers make to other operators' networks and to fixed line telephones than the tariffs they charge for calls made on their own networks only.

    With the urgent component of its case against the NCC, Telecom Namibia and Powercom now abandoned, MTC is however continuing with the review application that it has filed with the High Court, the company's legal counsel, Sakeus Akweenda, told Acting Judge Harald Geier last week.

    In the review application MTC is asking the court to set aside and declare as unconstitutional and null and void the NCC board's decision to implement a price cap on the tariffs that cellphone operators charge for calls made from their networks to other cellphone operators' networks and to fixed-line phones.

    The NCC directed that these price changes had to be implemented by March 1. MTC spokesperson Tim Ekandjo said on enquiry yesterday that MTC will abide by the NCC's decision in the meantime. "The fact that we had differences of opinion with the NCC on their direction does not mean that we will not respect their decision, after all they are the regulatory authority of the telecommunications industry," he remarked.

    MTC is claiming that the NCC did not give it a proper hearing before the decision on implementing a price cap was taken. In an affidavit filed with the court MTC Managing Director Miguel Geraldes accuses the NCC of acting "unfairly and unreasonably" towards MTC. He also claims the NCC took its decision arbitrarily and without first having conducted an independent and comprehensive study on cell phone services tariffs and fees.

    MTC is further claiming that a study that has been done showed that its rates were price competitive in Namibia and when compared with prices in the Southern African Development Community as a whole.

    According to the NCC, though, MTC has known for the last nine months that the NCC was considering the issues that resulted in the price cap decision. The company has since May last year also been given ample opportunities to make presentations to the NCC on these issues, the regulatory authority has responded.

    MTC is also charging that the measures taken by the NCC are "anti-competitive, and have the effect of price fixing". In its response filed with the High Court, Telecom Namibia is throwing MTC's allegation of anti-competitive behaviour back at the company.

    Accusing MTC of itself being responsible for anti-competitive conduct, Telecom Namibia's General Manager: Strategy, Theo Klein, is arguing that MTC cannot ask the court to grant it an interdict to protect the revenue it earns as a result of anti-competitive conduct.

    MTC is claiming that the price cap would affect its earnings negatively, and could ultimately result in the company closing down. Whether this gloomy scenario would ever come to pass is being disputed by Telecom Namibia and leo, though.

    They note that according to MTC's latest annual report, the company had a turnover of N$1,389 billion in the year to the end of September 2009. MTC ended that financial year with a very healthy after-tax profit of N$387 million.

internet

  • Internet Solutions is betting big on telecommunications infrastructure, with plans to participate in a wireless spectrum auction later this year that could result in it building a national wireless broadband network.

    MD Derek Wilcocks says the company, which is a division of Dimension Data, is considering building the network in as many as 25 of South Africa’s towns and cities using a technology called long-term evolution (LTE). LTE is the successor technology to the 3G wireless networks deployed by MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and 8ta.

    Wilcocks says it’s too early to know how much Internet Solutions will invest in the network, but based on 2010 estimates by the company, it could spend as much as R2bn to R3bn over a period of years. The amount of investment that will be required will be firmed up only once the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has provided more details of an upcoming spectrum auction and set out how bidders will be expected to invest in infrastructure in rural and other underserviced parts of the country.
    An investment proposal will then be sent to the Didata board for approval. It appears likely that if Internet Solutions gets the go-ahead to bid for spectrum and is successful, it will use LTE technology. “A year ago, we would almost certainly have used WiMax, but by the time the spectrum auction happens, I certainly think we could use LTE,” Wilcocks says. “There appears to be a lot more weight behind LTE.”

    Internet Solutions has no plans to compete directly in the consumer market, preferring to deal with business customers, but it will sell wholesale capacity on the network to consumer-facing Internet service providers with which it has partnered. The company already provides wholesale bandwidth to Internet service providers such as Axxess and Afrihost that provide connectivity to consumers over Telkom’s broadband digital subscriber lines. A wireless network would give these providers another connectivity option for their customers.

    Wilcocks says Internet Solutions would prefer not to invest in its own networks, but is being forced to because of the high cost of bandwidth from wholesale operators like Telkom. If it were able to get access to national backhaul, for example, at lower rates, it would not have to invest as much in infrastructure. But he says at current market prices it makes business sense for it to build its own fibre and wireless networks. He describes the cost of leasing national backhaul links as “unacceptably” high.

    Internet Solutions is also a one-third shareholder in FibreCo Telecommunications, a consortium that plans to spend billions of rand on a national fibre-optic network that will connect the country’s major towns and cities to business customers and to undersea cables such as Seacom and under-construction West African Cable System. FibreCo investors are Internet Solutions, mobile operator Cell C and Convergence Partners, a company controlled by Didata SA chairman Andile Ngcaba.

    Wilcocks says to remain competitive in the enterprise market — and given that its main rivals are businesses that are owned by telecoms operators such as MTN and Vodacom — Internet Solutions has to invest in underlying network infrastructure. “A few years ago, it would have been inconceivable for us from a licensing and economic point of view, but the entry into SA of independent cable operators and operators like Cell C … create opportunities for us to enter into partnerships that make these investments very viable.”

    Wilcocks believes the demand for bandwidth will continue to surpass even the most optimistic expectations as e-commerce, video-on-demand, cloud computing and other services continue to drive demand for data from businesses and retail consumers. “We see a situation where 100 or 1,000 times more bandwidth will be required to meet the needs of businesses and consumers,” he says.

    Construction of the FibreCo network will begin soon. The consortium is at an advanced stage of selecting suppliers, after which trenching will begin. Specialist firms have been contracted to help FibreCo understand the complexities involved in building the network, such as gaining access to private land, running fibre over natural obstacles like rivers and mountain passes, and obtaining the necessary environmental assessment clearances.

    Wilcocks expects the first components of the FibreCo network will be switched on within the next 18-24 months. The focus initially is connecting the major metropolitan areas and providing connectivity to undersea cables at Mtunzini in KwaZulu-Natal and Yzerfontein in the Western Cape.

    On Icasa’s upcoming frequency auction — in the 2,6GHz and 3,5GHz bands — Wilcocks says Internet Solutions has invested a lot of time modelling the spectrum and considering various options. But he warns that the company won’t bid for access to the spectrum at any cost. “It really depends on universal service obligations and the price of the spectrum. There is a point where we can’t justify the investment.”

    Wilcocks says Internet Solutions wants to provide always-on connectivity to businesses. It expects to build wireless infrastructure in 17-25 metropolitan areas, including smaller towns such as Polokwane, Upington and Kimberley. Universal service requirements may also result in it expanding the network into more far-flung parts of the country, though Wilcocks admits this will “make the business case more challenging”. “But we are not averse to the idea.”

    He says Internet Solutions has already begun talking to potential partners that operate in remoter parts of the country. “If the licence conditions require us to go into underserviced areas, we will work with those partners to come up with a model for those areas.”

  • MTN Zambia last week launched the broadband internet services, to make it one of the fastest internet service. MTN Zambia managing director, Farhad Khan said his company had made substantial investment in technology such as easy cable to ensure that the broadband internet was the best on the market with higher speed and reliability. He said MTN was using integrated network and was offering 3G and EDGE technologies.

    Speaking at the launch in Lusaka lastt week, Khan said US$200 million was invested to ensure delivery of quality services to its customers.

    Khan said moving with global technological trends; internet has become key for business and consumer needs. "We believe that what is of importance and reliance is the fact that all our subscribers now have access to high speed internet anywhere on the MTN Zambia network.

    Equally important is the fact that our customers need not concern themselves about settings and configurations because all the settings are done by us as service providers," he said. He said the MTN broadband service was designed in such a way that mobile phones or modem automatically choose the fastest connection available expending on the, capability of the mobile phone or modem. This also depends on how busy the network would be at that particular time.

    Khan disclosed that MTN has doubled its subscribers on the network across the country from one million to two million.

  • A global education partnership is working to help selected pioneer African universities make significant savings on their internet bandwidth costs. Through the Bandwidth Consortium (BWC) initiative developed by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA), selected institutions of higher learning have saved about $19.7 million in the first three years since its launch.

    A report titled "Accomplishments of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, 2000-2010" aimed to act as a review of a decade of collaborative foundation investment, says that the savings "equals 3.5 times the PHEA investments of $5.5 million for subsidised bandwidth and the administrative and technical support of the BWC unit."

    "The lower cost afforded through the Bandwidth Consortium allowed universities to increase their purchase from an aggregated 12 Mbps of bandwidth, thereby ensuring that Africans were not left behind by their overseas peers," notes the report.

    Launched in 2000, the PHEA was formed by four foundations - Carnegie Corporation, John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Andrew W Mellon Foundation and later joined by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

    It works to coordinate its members' support for higher education in Africa. The foundations pledged $100 million in 2000 to cover the following five years. By end of 2005, the four PHEA founder members had made grants totaling $191 million for various higher education projects on the continent.

    "To address the issue of bandwidth costs, Carnegie Corporation worked various ICT consortia in various countries - including the Kenya Education Network (Kenet)- and other ISPs from the continent to see how to cheaply purchase bandwidth," said Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corporation president

    The BWC project also worked via UbuntuNet Alliance, a partnership established to capitalise on the emergence of optical fibre and other terrestrial infrastructure opportunities and thus become the Research and Education Network backbone of Eastern and Southern Africa tertiary education and research institutions.

    "The BWC works in a consortium comprising 35 universities in Africa to help them purchase internet bandwidth cheaply to enhance learning and is in recognition of the fact that Africa has the highest volume of unutilized bandwidth," noted Gregorian.

    The PHEA was formed in response to trends of democratisation, public policy reform and the increasing participation of civil society organisations in various African countries.

    Apart from the bandwidth support, notes the report, the PHEA support has helped 12 universities and research institutions to develop the capacity to manage their IT networks in collaboration with the Africa Network Operators' Group (AfNOG).

    Through PHEA support, seven universities are currently implementing action plans to use educational technology to improve teaching and learning through PHEA's Educational Technology Initiative.

    Projects in this area include deployment of learning management systems; development of digital content for health sciences, engineering and other disciplines; and creation of multi-media "tele-classrooms."

    Others are exploring use of mobile phones and radios for distance learning, digitizing of dissertations and past exams as well as development of students' e-portfolios.
    The body focuses its support in nine African countries - Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Mdagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana - which have a combined population of about 460 million.

    Overall, South Africa has been the highest recipient of PHEA grants at $124 million (28 per cent); followed by Nigeria with $61 million (14 per cent) with Uganda coming in third with $43 million (10 per cent).

    Tanzania has received $19 million (4 per cent); while Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Madagascar and Mozambique have each received grants worth more than 2 per cent of the total amount.

    The partnership's efforts will help improve Africa's tertiary enrolment ratio of 3 per cent and has so far improved conditions for about 4.1 million African students enrolled at 39 universities and colleges in the continent.

computing

  • JSE-listed technology distributor has unveiled a Windows 7-based tablet computer, the Mecer Xpress, on the same evening Apple announced the iPad 2. But Mustek says the Mecer Xpress is aimed at a different market to the Apple product. The company’s chief technology officer, Dimitri Tserpes, says the Xpress slate is aimed firmly at the business market.

    The Xpress, which will is available at prices starting at R5 959, ships with Windows 7 Home Premium, and is upgradeable to the Ultimate edition of Microsoft’s operating system.

    The 990g device, made by China’s Megatron, has a 1,6GHz Intel Atom processor, a 32GB solid-state hard drive, an 11,6-inch LCD TFT display (resolution: 1 366×768 pixels), 2GB of RAM, USB port and mini HDMI port. It comes with Wi-Fi support; 3G connectivity is an optional extra.

    According to Tserpes, the Xpress slate can be upgraded to future versions of Windows. Microsoft is expected to unveil a tablet-specific version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system later this year.

    Battery life of the new tablet is about three hours, significantly shorter than the 10-plus hours of battery offered by the iPad. But Mustek emphasises the Xpress slate is not aimed at the same market as Apple’s popular product.

  • The Experts Meeting on Health and Telemedicine Harmonization in Africa, opened today, Monday 28th February, 2011 at the Headquarter of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to present its outcome to the 5th session of the Conference of the African Union Health  Ministers scheduled for April 2011,in Namibia.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony of the experts meeting , African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, her Excellency Bience Gawanas said  a number of strategies ,plan of action and initiatives directly or indirectly related with ICT for health have been developed and supported by the AU and its NEPAD coordinating and planning Agency in collaboration with AU Partners.

    The commissioner stressed that the AU will not succeed without the concerted effort of all member states ,RECs, the Development Partners, and especially the private sector that play an important role at national level.

    The commissioner added that the AU will continue to provide leadership in playing its role of Advocacy ,Harmonization and coordination as well as resource mobilization to ensure that ICT for health is placed high on Africa’s agenda and also to ensure that the necessary policies are in place for the progress and sustainability of relevant initiatives.

    According to Prof. Derege Kebede, World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office for Africa said on behalf of the regional director Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo in his opening remarks, eHealth can contribute to health system strengthening in several ways by improving the availability, quality and use of information and evidence through strengthened health information system and public health surveillance system; developing the health workforce and improving performance by eliminating distance and time barriers (reducing cost) through continuing medical or public health education.

    He added  “ Unfortunately , the availability of these technologies in the region is far from adequate, and eHealth project continue to exist on a small scale and are fragmented." Prof. Kbede noted that WHO has for many years now given an important priority to eHealth and has worked with AUC and many partners to leverage eHealth in strengthening national health system.

    The Network of Experts main responsibility under the supervision of the DSA/AUC will be to assist in, contribute to , and support eHealth policy development; provide policy advice; and offer technical expertise for ensuring sustainable projects development and implementations.
     
    Jointly organized by the Department of Social Affairs and partners.

    Proposed Objectives of the Network of Experts are:

    - To support the AUC in the development of eHealth Policy for Africa.
    - To be in standing position to provide expert advice to the AUC on matters pertaining to eHealth in Africa.
    - To develop a framework for and facilitate the process of harmonizing eHealth initiatives and policies in Africa.
    - To support AUC’s efforts in endorsing and supporting eHealth projects by local and international partners in Africa.
    - To assist the AUC members states and RECs, upon  request in developing ,harmonising and implementing eHealth projects
    - The Experts Meeting on eHealth and Telemedicine Harmonization in Africa ends Tomorrow 1st March, 2011.

  • The Minister of Lands and Environment, Stanislas Kamanzi ,wants to use ICT to facilitate land transactions. His Ministry intends to introduce Land Administration Information System (LAIS) in all districts. Kamanzi made the remarks during the swearing in ceremony of district land officers at the ministry's headquarters in Kimihurura. "LAIS will help in legal land documents exchange whether buying, donating or inheriting any piece of land," Kamanzi explained.

    He said the Ministry also intends to support projects to draw up a proper District land master plan. It is necessary that all District land Officers are trained in Geographic Information System (GIS) and how a land use master plan can be developed. It is estimated that 8 million plots of land are yet to be demarcated. 4 million have already been recorded.

    Legal documentation of all land plots is scheduled to end in December 2013, according to the minister. The job of the newly sworn in district land officers will be the awarding of building permits, deed plans, and resolving conflicts. They will work as District land notaries who will also advise citizens on legal procedures of acquiring or transferring land before going to National Land Centre for land titles.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Senegalese incumbent telecoms operator Sonatel said its net profits for FY2010 were hit as increased competition in the markets in which it operates trimmed its margins and it was hit by a temporary tax surcharge on incoming traffic.

    The group also warned about the future impact of fiscal and regulatory pressure, which it says ‘is becoming a major concern’. Nevertheless, the group is upbeat about the future noting: ‘The macroeconomic outlook is good for 2011 with higher GDP growth than in 2010 seen in all our countries.’

    Sonatel's consolidated turnover rose 6.5% year-on-year to CFA599 billion (USD1.2 billion) as it expanded its business operations in Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and its home market – where mobile subscribers topped the five-million mark for the first time. However, net profit fell to CFA184.8 billion in 2010 from 185.0 billion a year earlier and its EBITDA margin fell to 54.1% from 56.2% over the same period.

    Between June and November 2010, Sonatel was adversely impacted by a surcharge on incoming international calls as Senegal sought to monitor telecom traffic and boost public finances. This measure was suspended after union protests caused a shut down and disruption of some long-distance and internet services. Sonatel, 42%-owned by France Telecom, has a total market share of 60% in Senegal and 69% in Mali.

  • Kenya's smaller mobile networks want the country's Central Bank to set up a centralised clearing house for mobile payment transfers - in a deliberate attempt to reduce the dominance of Safaricom's M-Pesa platform.

    The networks argue in a letter sent to the Prime Minister that inter-network transfers are currently too expensive and that a central clearing house would lower the costs - and make it easier for Safaricom customers to switch to an alternative mobile network.

    Currently, the cost of sending funds from M-Pesa to a customer on a rival network costs Sh400 for a Sh25,000 transaction - about double what Airtel charges for a similar service on its own mobile money platform.

    Currently transactions between networks still rely on the recipient being sent an SMS and them having to visit a money agent to collect the cash. Under the proposal, the money would be transferred electronically between accounts as happens with transfers between customers on the same network.

  • House of Representative Committee on Communications yesterday recommended the immediate disengagement of the entire 3,389 staff of the nation's moribund Nigeria Telecommunications and its mobile subsidiary, M-Tel.

    It also suggested the re-engagement of 455 transition staff from the 3389 staff so as to reduce the monthly wage bill to N115.5 million from the current N695 million.

    This was as the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) said the communications outfit is currently weighed down by over N208 billion indebtedness being claims filled in by its various creditors.

    The House Committee made the recommendations while meeting with the top management of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) led by the Director-General, Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa over the lingering controversy surrounding the settlement of the ex-staff of the communication's outfit.

    It would be recalled that recently, crisis erupted between workers in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and protesting ex-staff of the nation's first communication's outfit who were agitating over non-settlement of the entitlements.

    That was shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan approved the payment of the outstanding staff entitlements of N33.4 billion due to the ex-staff of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile arm, M-tel. The payments to be effected in two installments in March and May, 2011, will commence next week.

    The BPE Director-General said the verification and payment of all NITEL/M-tel staff and pensioners, except the casual staff, was carried out in 14 designated centres across the country between December 6 and 21, 2010.

    Ms Onagoruwa in a release by the BPE Spokesman, Chukwuma Nwoko, said the sum of N54.4billion was sourced to settle outstanding staff liabilities which include salary arrears, entitlements to current disengaging NITEL/M-tel staff, allowances payable following court judgment in respect of the staff disengaged by Transcorp in 2006, pensioners and casual workers of the two telecoms outfits.

    National Council on Privatisation (NCP) had at its meeting on June 11, 2010 reactivated the Presidential Task Force on NITEL/M-tel Labour Restructuring (Taskforce) headed by the Minister of Labour and Productivity to address the issue of outstanding salaries and allowances owed Nitel/M-tel staff and to determine the number of staff to be disengaged to reduce the wage liabilities of government since the enterprises are not operating.

    The committee recommended that all employees of Nitel/M-tel be disengaged and that 455 transition staff from the 3389 staff should be reengaged. The plan would reduce the monthly wage bill to N115.5 million from the current N695 million.

    The re-engaged staff will remain till handover to a core investor while the existing security arrangements will also be maintained to secure the assets of the companies.

    Director-General added that owing to the poor record keeping of the pre-and-during Transcorp management of NITEL/M-tel, it was impossible to establish the actual debts of NITEL/M-tel.

    She said in order to attract reasonable bids, the National Council on Privatization (NCP) approved to sell the enterprise net of all debts: "The entire debts of NITEL/Mtel were assumed by government and would be warehoused for subsequent settlement from the proceeds realised from the sale," she said.

  • Telecel Zimbabwe has come under fire for being slow in regularising its shareholding structure, which is heavily skewed in favour of foreigners.

    The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology, chaired by Nketa Member of the House of Assembly Seiso Moyo, said it was concerned about Telecel's management and shareholding structure. .

    Moyo criticised Telecel Zimbabwe managing director Aimable Mpore, a Rwandese, saying even the management structure was dominated by foreigners. He said it was more prudent to second Zimbabweans to other countries where they could gain the required expertise on new technology than to bring in foreigners to run the firm. Moyo was responding to Mr Mpore's claims that they seconded foreigners because Zimbabwe lacked expertise in "some" technological fields.

    Uzumba MP Simba Mudarikwa asked the company for an update on the their licence, which was revoked by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe over the same issues.

    In response, Mpore said his company supported Zimbabwe's indigenisation laws. "We are here as management and our responsibility is to run the company, I can't answer on behalf of shareholders. It's up to the shareholders and the Government - whatever they say we will comply with," said Mpore.

    In her contribution, company secretary Ms Angeline Vere said Telecel Zimbabwe had appealed against a decision by Potraz to Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche against the decision to cancel their licence.

    She said there had been correspondence to the parent ministry as well as to the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere regarding their roadmap to indigenisation.

    "We were asked to write an implementation plan," she said. "Pursuant to that, we have since responded. One of the options was to consider listing but it was said listing was not a good option because the shares can be bought by foreigners."

    Ms Vere said the two shareholders had agreed that Telecel International would nominate the chief executive officer while the Empowerment Corporation would nominate the chairperson of the firm.

    Mrs Jane Mutasa, representing the Empowerment Corporation, was suspended as the Telecel chairperson last year on allegations of misappropriating of funds. The company is yet to appoint a replacement.

    Turning to operational issues, Mpore said while the law provided that telecommunication service firms could share base stations, some of the companies had refused to co-operate in this regard. "We have worked well with TelOne and Econet in sharing towers. NetOne has dismantled our equipment just because the facilities belong to them," said Mpore.

    He said NetOne should have approached them and asked them to pay rent if necessary.
    "For site-sharing to happen there has to be an enforcement and that cannot be done by operators. As Telecel, we welcome the sharing, but it's not the view of other players."
    He said one reason why some players resisted sharing was that they feared losing their competitive advantage.

    The Telecel boss said the Universal Services Fund administered by Potraz, should be used in making lawful interception of communications rather than have players bankroll the exercise.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Telkom Kenya has introduced competitive prices for data and voice on its network. The two months promotional offer, dubbed Jienjoy na Mbao, Orange Mobile customers will enjoy a daily bundle of 200 minutes on-net calls, 100 on-net SMS and 10MB of data at a cost of Sh20 per day.

    Angola and Namibia mobile users can now roam. The services will be operated by the Angolan telecommunications company of UNITEL and its Namibian counterpart of MTC.

    Norman Moyo, Zantel CEO informs that the firm is set to roll out its 3G network in April, raising the stakes in the battle for the Internet market in Tanzania. The 3G technology, he says, will be implemented in phases starting with Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and later to other parts of the country.

    Airtel Zambia is set to launch 3G services in the second quarter of this year, reports the Lusaka Times. 150 W-CDMA base stations have already been deployed, and the Bharti-owned company says it will roll out an additional 300 sites by the end of September.

    Nashua Mobile, South Africa’s leading independent telecommunications service provider has expanded its product offering with the introduction of its EasiVoice Solution – commonly known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Digital Content

  • A farmer in Niger learns how to protect his crops from insects. A resident of Port-au-Prince or a rural Haitian village learns how to avoid exposure to cholera. An entrepreneur in Mali gets step-by-step instructions on extracting the oil from shea seeds to make shea butter she can sell at a local market.

    These people are benefiting from a new approach to sustainable development education that reaches a much larger audience than traditional methods - and at a fraction of the cost. ­The initiative, led by a team of extension educators and faculty at the University of Illinois, produces animated educational videos that people around the world can watch at home, over and over again, on their cell phones.

    "This is a very different paradigm from some other current development projects, where U.S.-based educators are flown to another part of the world, interact with people in the field for a few weeks to several months, and leave," said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, a member of the team that is developing the animations. "From a financial perspective, this is a much cheaper way to do international development."

    The initiative, Scientific Animations Without Borders, takes advantage of the widespread availability of cell phones in the developing world. According to recent research, nearly 60 percent of the 2.4 billion cell phone users in the world live in developing countries.

    As of 2006, more than 150 million cell phone users lived in Africa, for example, with cell phone technology spreading faster there than anywhere else in the world.

    Animation reduces the costs associated with making a video on a particular topic, and allows the videos themselves to have near-universal appeal. The videos are narrated, and the narration can be recorded in any language with any dialect or accent.

    "The way these animated videos are designed, they can be easily adapted to other cultures," said Julia Bello-Bravo, a University of Illinois field extension specialist and leader of the project. "We are also capturing indigenous knowledge and putting it into the video, so when they see the video it is familiar to them."

    The first animated videos developed by the Illinois team (with funding from the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP - U.S. Agency for International Development and created in collaboration with aid workers and farmers in West Africa) demonstrate safe insect-control methods that are already in use in some regions. The scientifically validated techniques make use of local plants or widely available materials - such as black plastic sheets, ashes, or plastic bags - to control or eradicate insect pests from cowpeas, a staple in many parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

    In one video, a farmer processes the fruits of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) to make a liquid insecticide that he sprays on his cowpea crop. The neem is a drought-tolerant tree found in Southeast Asia and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers working with extension educators in West Africa developed the methods depicted in the video, Bello-Bravo said. Scientific studies had validated the methods and the materials needed were cheap and widely available, she said. But explaining the technique to large numbers of people would be difficult and costly.

    "In Mali they are using this technique and it's very effective, but in Burkina Faso, for example, there are not many people using this technique," she said. "If we can show these animated videos in different parts of West Africa where this tree grows, we can get the information to many, many more people."

    A newer video demonstrates how to boil or treat water to avoid exposure to cholera. This video is available in English, French, Haitian Creole and other languages.

    The process of producing the videos is fairly fast and cheap. Communicating primarily via e-mail, aid workers, farmers, entrepreneurs and an animator collaborate on the videos with the Illinois team. Once the content is approved, the collaborators produce two scripts: one to be read by a narrator and the other describing the actions the animated character is to perform. The animator builds the animation in stages with input from the collaborative team. Once a video is complete, the voice-over narration can be swapped out to match that of a particular country or region.

    In this way, the team is building a library of educational videos that can be distributed around the world via e-mail or through the sustainable development website, SusDeViki.

    Future videos will touch on other agricultural or health issues, such as bed bugs, lice or malaria, and will target viewers in the developed and developing world.

  • Online search company WinDeed has come up with what it thinks is a solution, at least in part, to the fraud problems plaguing the Companies & Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro). In the past year, fraudsters have hijacked a number of high-profile companies, including Kalahari Resources, leaving SA business owners concerned about the security of their assets.

    Now WinDeed has launched a website, CompanyAlert, that notifies registered users via e-mail of any changes in the Cipro database. WinDeed has access to several public databases that it downloads on a daily basis, the most popular of these being those belonging to the SA Deeds Office and Cipro. CEO Colin Day says users can register at CompanyAlert, allowing them to be alerted as soon as any changes are made.

    Day says the idea came to him one morning while listening to a security specialist discussing the matter on radio. “He suggested the best way to protect companies from becoming victims of these kinds of attacks was to check the information on Cipro regularly.”

    However, that wasn’t a practical solution. “Since we already had access to the database, I thought we could use it to help SA companies keep track of any changes in a much easier way,” says Day.

    “In the event of identity theft taking place, companies can act immediately to limit any material damage by contacting Cipro, their bank and the police,” says Day.

    Day says although CompanyAlert can’t actually prevent the fraud from taking place on Cipro registrations, early detection can save a company many hassles in the long run.

    “Fraudsters have used illegitimately updated details to set up new bank accounts and then illegally claim tax rebates from the SA Revenue Service or invoice the company’s creditors with phony bank account details,” he says.

More

  • Listed cellular infrastructure company Africa Cellular Towers has appointed a new FD. The company last week told shareholders Pieter Nicolaas would take up the position from the beginning of this month. He replaced Redik du Toit, who was appointed acting CFO on 1 October last year.

  • 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:

    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.
    contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.
    For further information visit: 

    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:

    HR4ICT11 - Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy
    21-23 March 2011,  Hilton Nairobi, Nairobi Kenya.

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is holding its annual HR4ICT Forum in Kenya, beginning 21 March 2011. The event will take place over three days addressing the human resource management aspect of business continuity planning.  With a theme focused on "Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy", HR4ICT'11 will focus on the challenges faced by major communications user groups (telecommunications, IT, finance, transport, energy, etc) in developing and implementing effective business continuity programmes. Visions, ideas, challenges, needs, success stories as well as best practices on the development and implementation of effective business continuity programmes, will be discussed by a selection of expert speakers.
    For further information email: programmes@cto.int or visit:

    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:

    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 further information visit: 

    Ghana ICT and Telecom Summit
    28-29 April 2011, Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre Accra, Ghana

    The summit will bring together over 200 decision-makers from Ghanaian operators and international stakeholders with an interest in the market to share experiences, knowledge and ideas with a view to overcoming the industry challenges. The 2 day summit agenda will address all aspects of Ghanaian ICT & telecoms strategies for attracting investment, broadband connectivity for all, solutions to boost operator ROI, Regulatory challenges & opportunities, infrastructure development, VAS and local content for Ghanaians, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, mobile banking, customer loyalty, future trends and more.
    For further information visit:

    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:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011
    Nairobi, Kenya

    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success. 
    For further information visit: 

     

  • IP Network Design Engineer - Telecom Services Company - South Africa

    A major provider of pan African network services, which delivers high quality connectivity solutions to hundreds of network operators. They're looking to hrie an IP Network Design Engineer to join their expanding technical team and are looking for a professional to take on the following responsibilities:-

    - Design IP (MPLS/VOIP/Wireless) Networks
    - Provision of timely design reviews of all IP related requests
    - Issue implementation documentation as regards changes on the network
    - Design the optimization of the Gateway IP network and issue documentation to implement changes
    - Integrate and control the installation of Gateway Data networks and provide procedures for acceptance of tasks performed
    - Maintain a database of IP networks
    - Monitor and control the utilization of IP Network capacity
    - Design the formulation and implementation of the Gateway Internet service policy
    - Interface with internal department on projects and IP design related issues

    For further information or to apply click here:

  • Cell C and Huawei – South Africa
    Huawei Technologies (“Huawei”), a provider of next generation telecommunications network solutions, announced the successful live deployment of a New Generation Business Support System (NGBSS) solution in Cell C, South Africa. With this NGBSS solution going live, Cell C  is now able to bill for its postpaid, prepaid and hybrid services in real-time, and in one single bill for all services. This provides Cell C with sustainable advantages of rapid time-to-market, cost efficiency, and enhanced customer experience in today’s competitive environment.

    The Institute of Directors (IoD) and Software Technologies Limited (STL) - Kenya

    Software Technologies Limited (STL) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have signed a reseller agreement that will facilitate IoD to resell STL’s eHorizon eBoard on SaaS (Software as a Service) model.
    The eHorizon eBoard System that has been developed by STL will help transform the Boardroom by making it more efficient, cost effective and assisting Boards to “go green”. The product which is the first of its kind anywhere in the World has already created a “buzz” with several Directors in both the private and public listed companies who are excited at how the eBoard system will help drive corporate governance to new heights.

Issue no 544 4th March 2011

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Top story

  • With cheaper bandwidth access coming across Africa, cyber-cafes have been having a hard time surviving. Their non-profit cousins telecentres have always struggled to gain traction, particularly their Internet element, with poor network access and unreliable power. Also, not-for-profit management has not always driven high levels of skills and service. NICE International is a Dutch social venture that operates solar-powered ICT service centers with local entrepreneurs on a franchise-basis in Gambia. Recently it got EU funding to expand into Tanzania and Zambia. Russell Southwood looks at whether this new way of providing access might work and talks to its MD, Ties Kroezen.

    NICE started in 2006 with two pilot NICE-centers in The Gambia in West-Africa. After a successful completion of the pilot, a third center was opened in The Gambia in 2009 and four more where opened in 2010. Six of the centers are operated by local entrepreneurs on a franchise-basis. NICE International plans to expand the network of NICE-centers in The Gambia and to other developing countries in partnership with local organizations.

    As Kroezen recalls:”We set up the Energy for All Foundation with other energy industry people to offer decentralized energy provision in developing countries. We put together a container in a village with a grid offering power to the village. We knew it would never be financially feasible just through electricity sales so we thought, if we add ICT services, people might also pay for those as well. That’s the core of the NICE concept.”  So it set up and ran a pilot in Gambia through its local subsidiary NICE Gambia and afterwards went on to open two more centres.

    “We used the first two years to get the technology right. At first, the solar panels didn’t produce enough electricity and the computers over-heated. But as the technology became more stable, we began to put more emphasis on generating revenues. So by the end of 2009, the first two pilot locations were making a profit”.

    At this point, NICE initiated a change in how it did things:“We decided to change the business model to a franchise so 6 of the centres are now operated by local entrepreneurs through franchise companies who get leased equipment. The capex is about 30,000 euros so the franchisee pays a fixed monthly fee and there is a local company that takes care of maintenance”.

    In physical terms, the NICE centres have a reception and 1-2 computer rooms and can accommodate 15-35 people:”Ideally these are not all in the same room as education users and other customers need to be separated.” The centres are designed for energy efficiency and NICE has tried to push down energy consumption by using thin client computers connected to a server. Total power needed is 1,500W and 50% of the cooling is done by fans.

    “On the computers, our own software system runs all the processes in the system. Every customer gets a personal account with their own password. Once they’ve logged in, they get their own desktop so it’s as if they are working on their own computers. There’s also a timer for Internet use. We also sell physical products like USB sticks and pre-paid cards.”

    “Most NICE centres have a cinema where 50-150 people can watch things on a large, flat screen TV connected to a satellite TV provider and with a DVD player. They’re charged for the service and have to buy a ticket. So we sell primarily these kinds of ICT services but also sell snacks and drinks.”

    So how many people use these centres?:”One location gets 2,000-3,000 people a month but the intensity of use varies widely. Most of the Gambian centres are in peri-urban locations. All of them are in Greater Banjul in places like Lamin and Serrekunda. It needs lots of customers to generate revenues but were are planning to go ahead in places like Basse.We want to use the centres as a distribution channel to Bottom of the Pyramid markets. We think we can reach them fairly easily to sell physical products and things like education services:.

    NICE International has been granted a EUR 2.5 million subsidy from the EU for expansion over the next 4 years. This will allow NICE to expand to Tanzania and Zambia, setting up a total of 50 new NICE-centers in the 3 countries (including The Gambia) and develop new services that can be delivered through the NICE-centers. Furthermore, the project includes a pilot with a rural version of the NICE-concept in Zambia and the development of a solution for the e-waste of the NICE-centers.

    Maybe, just maybe, this is the shape of second generation cyber-cafes and telecentres, bringing together all the first generation functions with the traditional African “video booth” and other retail sales.

    Ties Kroezen of NICE is looking for other investors and can be contacted on: Ties.Kroezen@Nice-International.com

    Five video clips on Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel:

    Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange at presentation of FY2010 financials, on how Orange in Egypt is faring and the overall results for Africa:
    Click here:

    Stephane Richard, CEO, Orange at presentation of FY201 financials, on overall results for the group:

    Click here:

    Aline Rutily, Average, a consultancy that helps emerging markets’ companies source investment, particularly in the ICT sector:

    Click here:

    Patrick Akushie, Commercial Manager, Agence France-Presse talks about its strategy for selling news video in Africa using mobile:

    Click here:

    Funke Opeke, CEO, Main One on bandwidth sales and network blockages and extending the cable:

    Click here: 

telecoms

  • WikiLeaks , the online media organization that is drip-feeding leaked U.S. diplomatic cables into the public domain, has published a document, identified as a communication from the U.S. embassy in Kenya, that details reactions to Chinese companies' business practices in Africa, with particular reference to Huawei.

    There are a few things to note about this document, entitled "KENYA - DOING BUSINESS THE CHINESE WAY," which is marked as "Sensitive-but-unclassified."

    Although it was published by WikiLeaks late on March 1, the document is dated Oct. 30, 2007, so is more than three years old. It also, in a series of "anecdotes," attributes comments to senior executives at African telecom operators, which are probably best treated as hearsay, as there is no absolute proof of their veracity.

    That doesn't make them less interesting, though. Some are directly attributable to named individuals, the most notable of which is the series of comments allegedly made by Michael Joseph, the then-CEO (and currently non-executive board member) of Kenya's leading mobile operator Safaricom Ltd. , to U.S. Mission staff on Oct. 18, 2007:

    Echoing the views of many industry contacts, he [Joseph] said the quality of the ICT equipment provided by companies like Huawai and ZTE is pretty good, and their prices are low. But he used a monosyllabic expletive beginning with "S" to describe after-sales service. When there are equipment problems later, he said, the Chinese run for the door, and matters are made worse by the language barrier. Safaricom purchased equipment last year from Huawei, but the deal was too good to be true. Huawei effectively reneged and only delivered half the equipment promised in the contract. Joseph went to China personally, eventually got the Huawai CEO to admit that the company had lied, and then forced it to cancel the contract.

    The cable goes on to cite Joseph as saying he was put under pressure by Kenyan government officials to reinstate the contract with Huawei.

    It would appear that any doubts harbored by Joseph, who recently stepped down after 10 years as Safaricom CEO, about Huawei's ability to deliver on its promises were soon assuaged. Following the initial transmission of the U.S. diplomatic cable from the embassy in Nairobi in late 2007, and during Joseph's tenure as CEO, Safaricom continued to award deals to the Chinese vendor. In 2010 Huawei was awarded softswitch and convergent billing system deals by the Kenyan operator, while Joseph agreed to a trial of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology only months ago, reports IT News Africa. (See Safaricom Bills With Huawei and Safaricom Deploys Huawei Softswitch.)

    The document published by WikiLeaks also suggests that the country's state-owned operator, Telkom Kenya , awarded Huawei a CDMA contract without issuing a competitive tender, a process that should have been undertaken by law. The then-CEO of Telekom Kenya, Sammy Kirui, is also cited as suggesting that after-sales service from Chinese technology suppliers was poor. He also allegedly noted that ZTE was pressing hard to be an alternative supplier, but that he was insisting "the company's second strategic tech partner must be non-Chinese."

    ZTE did, though, land an optical equipment contract awarded by the Kenyan government. (See ZTE Wins in Kenya.)

    The cable concludes:

    The views and anecdotes conveyed by people like Joseph and Ndemo [Kenya's Permanent Secretary of Information and Communications] put a bit flesh on the bones of the oft-repeated (but seldom proven) contention that Chinese companies play dirty. Most disturbing in this case is the idea that Chinese influence is so great that it's actually distorting critical investment decisions in Kenya's all-important ICT sector. For further investigation is the role of the Chinese government. We wonder if it simply turns a blind eye to the dirty work of Chinese firms, or if it actively contributes to the problem.

    ZTE declined to comment "on what are effectively unfounded rumors from unproven sources."

    Huawei is currently preparing a response. Safaricom has yet to respond to Light Reading requests for comment.

    The publication of the document on WikiLeaks comes at a sensitive time for Huawei, which is seeking to build trust and credibility in the U.S. market as well as counter suggestions of anti-competitive trading practices in Europe.

  • Airtel Africa employees will now be able to work at its parent company in India under a new exchange programme launched. The mobile operator announced that a number of employees from Africa will be transferred to India for a period of one year.

    The initial group from Africa to India will be employees from the firm's operations in Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzania, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger and Zambia. The initial phase of this new programme has also lead to the integration of specialized staff from Bharti airtel into some African markets: "They will spend up to one year working within various units which include Bharti airtel's network infrastructure development, solutions for medium sized enterprises, sales and distribution, financial systems, marketing and other functions," a statement from the company said.

    Bharti Airtel intends to replicate its low cost model in India in the African market and this programme is a way to equip key staff with the necessary experience.

  • Mobile phone users in Kenya may cease to enjoy dramatic call tariff cuts if intense lobbying by Safaricom and Telkom Kenya for the government to intervene and put a break to any further price reductions bear fruit. The pair has succeeded in having the Prime Minister's office form a taskforce to study whether Kenya's mobile phone pricing is sustainable and what would be the future.

    Operators seem to have won one soul - the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr Bitange Ndemo who says that low rates will hurt the economy. "Already some operators have lost revenue; we are taking this matter seriously. We need to talk sense on this pricing issue," said Ndemo on Wednesday.

    He said only 40 per cent of the country's landmass is covered and it will be difficult to reach the rest of the country with the ongoing price war. "We can't sit and wait for companies to close," he added, as Safaricom chief executive officer Bob Collymore echoed, "We want conducive business environment for the telecoms industry. Low calling rates means we will have to go slow on our expansion plans."

    Speaking during a press briefing on the upcoming Connected Kenya Summit, Collymore proposed that the government must ensure healthy pricing in the industry, and attach strict rollout and coverage requirements to mobile licences. Others are effectively manage spectrum allocation and pricing by allocating it where it is needed and apply the principle of use or lose as well as try to moderate levels of taxation.

    If operators succeed to woo the government to put price floors, Kenya will be joining its neighbour, Uganda. The country recently issued guidelines that will become effective March 15. They will empower Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to establish minimum rates below which players will not be allowed to offer services, even under promotions. The guidelines are intended to curb anti-competitive practices, encourage new investments (including new players), enhance tariff transparency and protect consumers.

    The new rules target aggressive companies like Warid Telecom that have shaken up the sector with unprecedented tariff cuts and highly popular promotions like Pakalast, Kawa, Pepeya and Berako.

  • The dominant player in Namibia's cellphone communication industry, MTC, last week abandoned an attempt to get an urgent court interdict to stall a Namibian Communications Commission decision that would force it to lower the price of some of its services.

    For the second time in five days, MTC conceded that an urgent application that it had lodged against the Namibian Communications Commission (NCC), Telecom Namibia and Powercom, which owns MTC's main competitor, Leo, should be removed from the court roll in the High Court in Windhoek.

    In the urgent application, which was first removed from the court roll on Friday last week, MTC was asking the court to issue an urgent interdict that would have prevented the NCC from implementing a decision that should result in cellphone users paying less for calls made to cellphones on other cellphone networks and to land line phones.

    The NCC's board decided on February 9 that Namibia's cellphone network operators have to stop charging higher prices for calls that their subscribers make to other operators' networks and to fixed line telephones than the tariffs they charge for calls made on their own networks only.

    With the urgent component of its case against the NCC, Telecom Namibia and Powercom now abandoned, MTC is however continuing with the review application that it has filed with the High Court, the company's legal counsel, Sakeus Akweenda, told Acting Judge Harald Geier last week.

    In the review application MTC is asking the court to set aside and declare as unconstitutional and null and void the NCC board's decision to implement a price cap on the tariffs that cellphone operators charge for calls made from their networks to other cellphone operators' networks and to fixed-line phones.

    The NCC directed that these price changes had to be implemented by March 1. MTC spokesperson Tim Ekandjo said on enquiry yesterday that MTC will abide by the NCC's decision in the meantime. "The fact that we had differences of opinion with the NCC on their direction does not mean that we will not respect their decision, after all they are the regulatory authority of the telecommunications industry," he remarked.

    MTC is claiming that the NCC did not give it a proper hearing before the decision on implementing a price cap was taken. In an affidavit filed with the court MTC Managing Director Miguel Geraldes accuses the NCC of acting "unfairly and unreasonably" towards MTC. He also claims the NCC took its decision arbitrarily and without first having conducted an independent and comprehensive study on cell phone services tariffs and fees.

    MTC is further claiming that a study that has been done showed that its rates were price competitive in Namibia and when compared with prices in the Southern African Development Community as a whole.

    According to the NCC, though, MTC has known for the last nine months that the NCC was considering the issues that resulted in the price cap decision. The company has since May last year also been given ample opportunities to make presentations to the NCC on these issues, the regulatory authority has responded.

    MTC is also charging that the measures taken by the NCC are "anti-competitive, and have the effect of price fixing". In its response filed with the High Court, Telecom Namibia is throwing MTC's allegation of anti-competitive behaviour back at the company.

    Accusing MTC of itself being responsible for anti-competitive conduct, Telecom Namibia's General Manager: Strategy, Theo Klein, is arguing that MTC cannot ask the court to grant it an interdict to protect the revenue it earns as a result of anti-competitive conduct.

    MTC is claiming that the price cap would affect its earnings negatively, and could ultimately result in the company closing down. Whether this gloomy scenario would ever come to pass is being disputed by Telecom Namibia and leo, though.

    They note that according to MTC's latest annual report, the company had a turnover of N$1,389 billion in the year to the end of September 2009. MTC ended that financial year with a very healthy after-tax profit of N$387 million.

internet

  • Internet Solutions is betting big on telecommunications infrastructure, with plans to participate in a wireless spectrum auction later this year that could result in it building a national wireless broadband network.

    MD Derek Wilcocks says the company, which is a division of Dimension Data, is considering building the network in as many as 25 of South Africa’s towns and cities using a technology called long-term evolution (LTE). LTE is the successor technology to the 3G wireless networks deployed by MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and 8ta.

    Wilcocks says it’s too early to know how much Internet Solutions will invest in the network, but based on 2010 estimates by the company, it could spend as much as R2bn to R3bn over a period of years. The amount of investment that will be required will be firmed up only once the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has provided more details of an upcoming spectrum auction and set out how bidders will be expected to invest in infrastructure in rural and other underserviced parts of the country.
    An investment proposal will then be sent to the Didata board for approval. It appears likely that if Internet Solutions gets the go-ahead to bid for spectrum and is successful, it will use LTE technology. “A year ago, we would almost certainly have used WiMax, but by the time the spectrum auction happens, I certainly think we could use LTE,” Wilcocks says. “There appears to be a lot more weight behind LTE.”

    Internet Solutions has no plans to compete directly in the consumer market, preferring to deal with business customers, but it will sell wholesale capacity on the network to consumer-facing Internet service providers with which it has partnered. The company already provides wholesale bandwidth to Internet service providers such as Axxess and Afrihost that provide connectivity to consumers over Telkom’s broadband digital subscriber lines. A wireless network would give these providers another connectivity option for their customers.

    Wilcocks says Internet Solutions would prefer not to invest in its own networks, but is being forced to because of the high cost of bandwidth from wholesale operators like Telkom. If it were able to get access to national backhaul, for example, at lower rates, it would not have to invest as much in infrastructure. But he says at current market prices it makes business sense for it to build its own fibre and wireless networks. He describes the cost of leasing national backhaul links as “unacceptably” high.

    Internet Solutions is also a one-third shareholder in FibreCo Telecommunications, a consortium that plans to spend billions of rand on a national fibre-optic network that will connect the country’s major towns and cities to business customers and to undersea cables such as Seacom and under-construction West African Cable System. FibreCo investors are Internet Solutions, mobile operator Cell C and Convergence Partners, a company controlled by Didata SA chairman Andile Ngcaba.

    Wilcocks says to remain competitive in the enterprise market — and given that its main rivals are businesses that are owned by telecoms operators such as MTN and Vodacom — Internet Solutions has to invest in underlying network infrastructure. “A few years ago, it would have been inconceivable for us from a licensing and economic point of view, but the entry into SA of independent cable operators and operators like Cell C … create opportunities for us to enter into partnerships that make these investments very viable.”

    Wilcocks believes the demand for bandwidth will continue to surpass even the most optimistic expectations as e-commerce, video-on-demand, cloud computing and other services continue to drive demand for data from businesses and retail consumers. “We see a situation where 100 or 1,000 times more bandwidth will be required to meet the needs of businesses and consumers,” he says.

    Construction of the FibreCo network will begin soon. The consortium is at an advanced stage of selecting suppliers, after which trenching will begin. Specialist firms have been contracted to help FibreCo understand the complexities involved in building the network, such as gaining access to private land, running fibre over natural obstacles like rivers and mountain passes, and obtaining the necessary environmental assessment clearances.

    Wilcocks expects the first components of the FibreCo network will be switched on within the next 18-24 months. The focus initially is connecting the major metropolitan areas and providing connectivity to undersea cables at Mtunzini in KwaZulu-Natal and Yzerfontein in the Western Cape.

    On Icasa’s upcoming frequency auction — in the 2,6GHz and 3,5GHz bands — Wilcocks says Internet Solutions has invested a lot of time modelling the spectrum and considering various options. But he warns that the company won’t bid for access to the spectrum at any cost. “It really depends on universal service obligations and the price of the spectrum. There is a point where we can’t justify the investment.”

    Wilcocks says Internet Solutions wants to provide always-on connectivity to businesses. It expects to build wireless infrastructure in 17-25 metropolitan areas, including smaller towns such as Polokwane, Upington and Kimberley. Universal service requirements may also result in it expanding the network into more far-flung parts of the country, though Wilcocks admits this will “make the business case more challenging”. “But we are not averse to the idea.”

    He says Internet Solutions has already begun talking to potential partners that operate in remoter parts of the country. “If the licence conditions require us to go into underserviced areas, we will work with those partners to come up with a model for those areas.”

  • MTN Zambia last week launched the broadband internet services, to make it one of the fastest internet service. MTN Zambia managing director, Farhad Khan said his company had made substantial investment in technology such as easy cable to ensure that the broadband internet was the best on the market with higher speed and reliability. He said MTN was using integrated network and was offering 3G and EDGE technologies.

    Speaking at the launch in Lusaka lastt week, Khan said US$200 million was invested to ensure delivery of quality services to its customers.

    Khan said moving with global technological trends; internet has become key for business and consumer needs. "We believe that what is of importance and reliance is the fact that all our subscribers now have access to high speed internet anywhere on the MTN Zambia network.

    Equally important is the fact that our customers need not concern themselves about settings and configurations because all the settings are done by us as service providers," he said. He said the MTN broadband service was designed in such a way that mobile phones or modem automatically choose the fastest connection available expending on the, capability of the mobile phone or modem. This also depends on how busy the network would be at that particular time.

    Khan disclosed that MTN has doubled its subscribers on the network across the country from one million to two million.

  • A global education partnership is working to help selected pioneer African universities make significant savings on their internet bandwidth costs. Through the Bandwidth Consortium (BWC) initiative developed by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA), selected institutions of higher learning have saved about $19.7 million in the first three years since its launch.

    A report titled "Accomplishments of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, 2000-2010" aimed to act as a review of a decade of collaborative foundation investment, says that the savings "equals 3.5 times the PHEA investments of $5.5 million for subsidised bandwidth and the administrative and technical support of the BWC unit."

    "The lower cost afforded through the Bandwidth Consortium allowed universities to increase their purchase from an aggregated 12 Mbps of bandwidth, thereby ensuring that Africans were not left behind by their overseas peers," notes the report.

    Launched in 2000, the PHEA was formed by four foundations - Carnegie Corporation, John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, Andrew W Mellon Foundation and later joined by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

    It works to coordinate its members' support for higher education in Africa. The foundations pledged $100 million in 2000 to cover the following five years. By end of 2005, the four PHEA founder members had made grants totaling $191 million for various higher education projects on the continent.

    "To address the issue of bandwidth costs, Carnegie Corporation worked various ICT consortia in various countries - including the Kenya Education Network (Kenet)- and other ISPs from the continent to see how to cheaply purchase bandwidth," said Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corporation president

    The BWC project also worked via UbuntuNet Alliance, a partnership established to capitalise on the emergence of optical fibre and other terrestrial infrastructure opportunities and thus become the Research and Education Network backbone of Eastern and Southern Africa tertiary education and research institutions.

    "The BWC works in a consortium comprising 35 universities in Africa to help them purchase internet bandwidth cheaply to enhance learning and is in recognition of the fact that Africa has the highest volume of unutilized bandwidth," noted Gregorian.

    The PHEA was formed in response to trends of democratisation, public policy reform and the increasing participation of civil society organisations in various African countries.

    Apart from the bandwidth support, notes the report, the PHEA support has helped 12 universities and research institutions to develop the capacity to manage their IT networks in collaboration with the Africa Network Operators' Group (AfNOG).

    Through PHEA support, seven universities are currently implementing action plans to use educational technology to improve teaching and learning through PHEA's Educational Technology Initiative.

    Projects in this area include deployment of learning management systems; development of digital content for health sciences, engineering and other disciplines; and creation of multi-media "tele-classrooms."

    Others are exploring use of mobile phones and radios for distance learning, digitizing of dissertations and past exams as well as development of students' e-portfolios.
    The body focuses its support in nine African countries - Kenya, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Mdagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana - which have a combined population of about 460 million.

    Overall, South Africa has been the highest recipient of PHEA grants at $124 million (28 per cent); followed by Nigeria with $61 million (14 per cent) with Uganda coming in third with $43 million (10 per cent).

    Tanzania has received $19 million (4 per cent); while Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Madagascar and Mozambique have each received grants worth more than 2 per cent of the total amount.

    The partnership's efforts will help improve Africa's tertiary enrolment ratio of 3 per cent and has so far improved conditions for about 4.1 million African students enrolled at 39 universities and colleges in the continent.

computing

  • JSE-listed technology distributor has unveiled a Windows 7-based tablet computer, the Mecer Xpress, on the same evening Apple announced the iPad 2. But Mustek says the Mecer Xpress is aimed at a different market to the Apple product. The company’s chief technology officer, Dimitri Tserpes, says the Xpress slate is aimed firmly at the business market.

    The Xpress, which will is available at prices starting at R5 959, ships with Windows 7 Home Premium, and is upgradeable to the Ultimate edition of Microsoft’s operating system.

    The 990g device, made by China’s Megatron, has a 1,6GHz Intel Atom processor, a 32GB solid-state hard drive, an 11,6-inch LCD TFT display (resolution: 1 366×768 pixels), 2GB of RAM, USB port and mini HDMI port. It comes with Wi-Fi support; 3G connectivity is an optional extra.

    According to Tserpes, the Xpress slate can be upgraded to future versions of Windows. Microsoft is expected to unveil a tablet-specific version of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system later this year.

    Battery life of the new tablet is about three hours, significantly shorter than the 10-plus hours of battery offered by the iPad. But Mustek emphasises the Xpress slate is not aimed at the same market as Apple’s popular product.

  • The Experts Meeting on Health and Telemedicine Harmonization in Africa, opened today, Monday 28th February, 2011 at the Headquarter of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to present its outcome to the 5th session of the Conference of the African Union Health  Ministers scheduled for April 2011,in Namibia.

    Speaking at the opening ceremony of the experts meeting , African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, her Excellency Bience Gawanas said  a number of strategies ,plan of action and initiatives directly or indirectly related with ICT for health have been developed and supported by the AU and its NEPAD coordinating and planning Agency in collaboration with AU Partners.

    The commissioner stressed that the AU will not succeed without the concerted effort of all member states ,RECs, the Development Partners, and especially the private sector that play an important role at national level.

    The commissioner added that the AU will continue to provide leadership in playing its role of Advocacy ,Harmonization and coordination as well as resource mobilization to ensure that ICT for health is placed high on Africa’s agenda and also to ensure that the necessary policies are in place for the progress and sustainability of relevant initiatives.

    According to Prof. Derege Kebede, World Health Organization (WHO), Regional Office for Africa said on behalf of the regional director Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo in his opening remarks, eHealth can contribute to health system strengthening in several ways by improving the availability, quality and use of information and evidence through strengthened health information system and public health surveillance system; developing the health workforce and improving performance by eliminating distance and time barriers (reducing cost) through continuing medical or public health education.

    He added  “ Unfortunately , the availability of these technologies in the region is far from adequate, and eHealth project continue to exist on a small scale and are fragmented." Prof. Kbede noted that WHO has for many years now given an important priority to eHealth and has worked with AUC and many partners to leverage eHealth in strengthening national health system.

    The Network of Experts main responsibility under the supervision of the DSA/AUC will be to assist in, contribute to , and support eHealth policy development; provide policy advice; and offer technical expertise for ensuring sustainable projects development and implementations.
     
    Jointly organized by the Department of Social Affairs and partners.

    Proposed Objectives of the Network of Experts are:

    - To support the AUC in the development of eHealth Policy for Africa.
    - To be in standing position to provide expert advice to the AUC on matters pertaining to eHealth in Africa.
    - To develop a framework for and facilitate the process of harmonizing eHealth initiatives and policies in Africa.
    - To support AUC’s efforts in endorsing and supporting eHealth projects by local and international partners in Africa.
    - To assist the AUC members states and RECs, upon  request in developing ,harmonising and implementing eHealth projects
    - The Experts Meeting on eHealth and Telemedicine Harmonization in Africa ends Tomorrow 1st March, 2011.

  • The Minister of Lands and Environment, Stanislas Kamanzi ,wants to use ICT to facilitate land transactions. His Ministry intends to introduce Land Administration Information System (LAIS) in all districts. Kamanzi made the remarks during the swearing in ceremony of district land officers at the ministry's headquarters in Kimihurura. "LAIS will help in legal land documents exchange whether buying, donating or inheriting any piece of land," Kamanzi explained.

    He said the Ministry also intends to support projects to draw up a proper District land master plan. It is necessary that all District land Officers are trained in Geographic Information System (GIS) and how a land use master plan can be developed. It is estimated that 8 million plots of land are yet to be demarcated. 4 million have already been recorded.

    Legal documentation of all land plots is scheduled to end in December 2013, according to the minister. The job of the newly sworn in district land officers will be the awarding of building permits, deed plans, and resolving conflicts. They will work as District land notaries who will also advise citizens on legal procedures of acquiring or transferring land before going to National Land Centre for land titles.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Senegalese incumbent telecoms operator Sonatel said its net profits for FY2010 were hit as increased competition in the markets in which it operates trimmed its margins and it was hit by a temporary tax surcharge on incoming traffic.

    The group also warned about the future impact of fiscal and regulatory pressure, which it says ‘is becoming a major concern’. Nevertheless, the group is upbeat about the future noting: ‘The macroeconomic outlook is good for 2011 with higher GDP growth than in 2010 seen in all our countries.’

    Sonatel's consolidated turnover rose 6.5% year-on-year to CFA599 billion (USD1.2 billion) as it expanded its business operations in Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and its home market – where mobile subscribers topped the five-million mark for the first time. However, net profit fell to CFA184.8 billion in 2010 from 185.0 billion a year earlier and its EBITDA margin fell to 54.1% from 56.2% over the same period.

    Between June and November 2010, Sonatel was adversely impacted by a surcharge on incoming international calls as Senegal sought to monitor telecom traffic and boost public finances. This measure was suspended after union protests caused a shut down and disruption of some long-distance and internet services. Sonatel, 42%-owned by France Telecom, has a total market share of 60% in Senegal and 69% in Mali.

  • Kenya's smaller mobile networks want the country's Central Bank to set up a centralised clearing house for mobile payment transfers - in a deliberate attempt to reduce the dominance of Safaricom's M-Pesa platform.

    The networks argue in a letter sent to the Prime Minister that inter-network transfers are currently too expensive and that a central clearing house would lower the costs - and make it easier for Safaricom customers to switch to an alternative mobile network.

    Currently, the cost of sending funds from M-Pesa to a customer on a rival network costs Sh400 for a Sh25,000 transaction - about double what Airtel charges for a similar service on its own mobile money platform.

    Currently transactions between networks still rely on the recipient being sent an SMS and them having to visit a money agent to collect the cash. Under the proposal, the money would be transferred electronically between accounts as happens with transfers between customers on the same network.

  • House of Representative Committee on Communications yesterday recommended the immediate disengagement of the entire 3,389 staff of the nation's moribund Nigeria Telecommunications and its mobile subsidiary, M-Tel.

    It also suggested the re-engagement of 455 transition staff from the 3389 staff so as to reduce the monthly wage bill to N115.5 million from the current N695 million.

    This was as the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) said the communications outfit is currently weighed down by over N208 billion indebtedness being claims filled in by its various creditors.

    The House Committee made the recommendations while meeting with the top management of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) led by the Director-General, Ms Bolanle Onagoruwa over the lingering controversy surrounding the settlement of the ex-staff of the communication's outfit.

    It would be recalled that recently, crisis erupted between workers in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and protesting ex-staff of the nation's first communication's outfit who were agitating over non-settlement of the entitlements.

    That was shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan approved the payment of the outstanding staff entitlements of N33.4 billion due to the ex-staff of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and its mobile arm, M-tel. The payments to be effected in two installments in March and May, 2011, will commence next week.

    The BPE Director-General said the verification and payment of all NITEL/M-tel staff and pensioners, except the casual staff, was carried out in 14 designated centres across the country between December 6 and 21, 2010.

    Ms Onagoruwa in a release by the BPE Spokesman, Chukwuma Nwoko, said the sum of N54.4billion was sourced to settle outstanding staff liabilities which include salary arrears, entitlements to current disengaging NITEL/M-tel staff, allowances payable following court judgment in respect of the staff disengaged by Transcorp in 2006, pensioners and casual workers of the two telecoms outfits.

    National Council on Privatisation (NCP) had at its meeting on June 11, 2010 reactivated the Presidential Task Force on NITEL/M-tel Labour Restructuring (Taskforce) headed by the Minister of Labour and Productivity to address the issue of outstanding salaries and allowances owed Nitel/M-tel staff and to determine the number of staff to be disengaged to reduce the wage liabilities of government since the enterprises are not operating.

    The committee recommended that all employees of Nitel/M-tel be disengaged and that 455 transition staff from the 3389 staff should be reengaged. The plan would reduce the monthly wage bill to N115.5 million from the current N695 million.

    The re-engaged staff will remain till handover to a core investor while the existing security arrangements will also be maintained to secure the assets of the companies.

    Director-General added that owing to the poor record keeping of the pre-and-during Transcorp management of NITEL/M-tel, it was impossible to establish the actual debts of NITEL/M-tel.

    She said in order to attract reasonable bids, the National Council on Privatization (NCP) approved to sell the enterprise net of all debts: "The entire debts of NITEL/Mtel were assumed by government and would be warehoused for subsequent settlement from the proceeds realised from the sale," she said.

  • Telecel Zimbabwe has come under fire for being slow in regularising its shareholding structure, which is heavily skewed in favour of foreigners.

    The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Media, Information and Communication Technology, chaired by Nketa Member of the House of Assembly Seiso Moyo, said it was concerned about Telecel's management and shareholding structure. .

    Moyo criticised Telecel Zimbabwe managing director Aimable Mpore, a Rwandese, saying even the management structure was dominated by foreigners. He said it was more prudent to second Zimbabweans to other countries where they could gain the required expertise on new technology than to bring in foreigners to run the firm. Moyo was responding to Mr Mpore's claims that they seconded foreigners because Zimbabwe lacked expertise in "some" technological fields.

    Uzumba MP Simba Mudarikwa asked the company for an update on the their licence, which was revoked by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe over the same issues.

    In response, Mpore said his company supported Zimbabwe's indigenisation laws. "We are here as management and our responsibility is to run the company, I can't answer on behalf of shareholders. It's up to the shareholders and the Government - whatever they say we will comply with," said Mpore.

    In her contribution, company secretary Ms Angeline Vere said Telecel Zimbabwe had appealed against a decision by Potraz to Transport, Communications and Infrastructural Development Minister Nicholas Goche against the decision to cancel their licence.

    She said there had been correspondence to the parent ministry as well as to the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere regarding their roadmap to indigenisation.

    "We were asked to write an implementation plan," she said. "Pursuant to that, we have since responded. One of the options was to consider listing but it was said listing was not a good option because the shares can be bought by foreigners."

    Ms Vere said the two shareholders had agreed that Telecel International would nominate the chief executive officer while the Empowerment Corporation would nominate the chairperson of the firm.

    Mrs Jane Mutasa, representing the Empowerment Corporation, was suspended as the Telecel chairperson last year on allegations of misappropriating of funds. The company is yet to appoint a replacement.

    Turning to operational issues, Mpore said while the law provided that telecommunication service firms could share base stations, some of the companies had refused to co-operate in this regard. "We have worked well with TelOne and Econet in sharing towers. NetOne has dismantled our equipment just because the facilities belong to them," said Mpore.

    He said NetOne should have approached them and asked them to pay rent if necessary.
    "For site-sharing to happen there has to be an enforcement and that cannot be done by operators. As Telecel, we welcome the sharing, but it's not the view of other players."
    He said one reason why some players resisted sharing was that they feared losing their competitive advantage.

    The Telecel boss said the Universal Services Fund administered by Potraz, should be used in making lawful interception of communications rather than have players bankroll the exercise.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • Telkom Kenya has introduced competitive prices for data and voice on its network. The two months promotional offer, dubbed Jienjoy na Mbao, Orange Mobile customers will enjoy a daily bundle of 200 minutes on-net calls, 100 on-net SMS and 10MB of data at a cost of Sh20 per day.

    Angola and Namibia mobile users can now roam. The services will be operated by the Angolan telecommunications company of UNITEL and its Namibian counterpart of MTC.

    Norman Moyo, Zantel CEO informs that the firm is set to roll out its 3G network in April, raising the stakes in the battle for the Internet market in Tanzania. The 3G technology, he says, will be implemented in phases starting with Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and later to other parts of the country.

    Airtel Zambia is set to launch 3G services in the second quarter of this year, reports the Lusaka Times. 150 W-CDMA base stations have already been deployed, and the Bharti-owned company says it will roll out an additional 300 sites by the end of September.

    Nashua Mobile, South Africa’s leading independent telecommunications service provider has expanded its product offering with the introduction of its EasiVoice Solution – commonly known as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

Digital Content

  • A farmer in Niger learns how to protect his crops from insects. A resident of Port-au-Prince or a rural Haitian village learns how to avoid exposure to cholera. An entrepreneur in Mali gets step-by-step instructions on extracting the oil from shea seeds to make shea butter she can sell at a local market.

    These people are benefiting from a new approach to sustainable development education that reaches a much larger audience than traditional methods - and at a fraction of the cost. ­The initiative, led by a team of extension educators and faculty at the University of Illinois, produces animated educational videos that people around the world can watch at home, over and over again, on their cell phones.

    "This is a very different paradigm from some other current development projects, where U.S.-based educators are flown to another part of the world, interact with people in the field for a few weeks to several months, and leave," said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, a member of the team that is developing the animations. "From a financial perspective, this is a much cheaper way to do international development."

    The initiative, Scientific Animations Without Borders, takes advantage of the widespread availability of cell phones in the developing world. According to recent research, nearly 60 percent of the 2.4 billion cell phone users in the world live in developing countries.

    As of 2006, more than 150 million cell phone users lived in Africa, for example, with cell phone technology spreading faster there than anywhere else in the world.

    Animation reduces the costs associated with making a video on a particular topic, and allows the videos themselves to have near-universal appeal. The videos are narrated, and the narration can be recorded in any language with any dialect or accent.

    "The way these animated videos are designed, they can be easily adapted to other cultures," said Julia Bello-Bravo, a University of Illinois field extension specialist and leader of the project. "We are also capturing indigenous knowledge and putting it into the video, so when they see the video it is familiar to them."

    The first animated videos developed by the Illinois team (with funding from the Dry Grain Pulses CRSP - U.S. Agency for International Development and created in collaboration with aid workers and farmers in West Africa) demonstrate safe insect-control methods that are already in use in some regions. The scientifically validated techniques make use of local plants or widely available materials - such as black plastic sheets, ashes, or plastic bags - to control or eradicate insect pests from cowpeas, a staple in many parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.

    In one video, a farmer processes the fruits of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) to make a liquid insecticide that he sprays on his cowpea crop. The neem is a drought-tolerant tree found in Southeast Asia and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Farmers working with extension educators in West Africa developed the methods depicted in the video, Bello-Bravo said. Scientific studies had validated the methods and the materials needed were cheap and widely available, she said. But explaining the technique to large numbers of people would be difficult and costly.

    "In Mali they are using this technique and it's very effective, but in Burkina Faso, for example, there are not many people using this technique," she said. "If we can show these animated videos in different parts of West Africa where this tree grows, we can get the information to many, many more people."

    A newer video demonstrates how to boil or treat water to avoid exposure to cholera. This video is available in English, French, Haitian Creole and other languages.

    The process of producing the videos is fairly fast and cheap. Communicating primarily via e-mail, aid workers, farmers, entrepreneurs and an animator collaborate on the videos with the Illinois team. Once the content is approved, the collaborators produce two scripts: one to be read by a narrator and the other describing the actions the animated character is to perform. The animator builds the animation in stages with input from the collaborative team. Once a video is complete, the voice-over narration can be swapped out to match that of a particular country or region.

    In this way, the team is building a library of educational videos that can be distributed around the world via e-mail or through the sustainable development website, SusDeViki.

    Future videos will touch on other agricultural or health issues, such as bed bugs, lice or malaria, and will target viewers in the developed and developing world.

  • Online search company WinDeed has come up with what it thinks is a solution, at least in part, to the fraud problems plaguing the Companies & Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro). In the past year, fraudsters have hijacked a number of high-profile companies, including Kalahari Resources, leaving SA business owners concerned about the security of their assets.

    Now WinDeed has launched a website, CompanyAlert, that notifies registered users via e-mail of any changes in the Cipro database. WinDeed has access to several public databases that it downloads on a daily basis, the most popular of these being those belonging to the SA Deeds Office and Cipro. CEO Colin Day says users can register at CompanyAlert, allowing them to be alerted as soon as any changes are made.

    Day says the idea came to him one morning while listening to a security specialist discussing the matter on radio. “He suggested the best way to protect companies from becoming victims of these kinds of attacks was to check the information on Cipro regularly.”

    However, that wasn’t a practical solution. “Since we already had access to the database, I thought we could use it to help SA companies keep track of any changes in a much easier way,” says Day.

    “In the event of identity theft taking place, companies can act immediately to limit any material damage by contacting Cipro, their bank and the police,” says Day.

    Day says although CompanyAlert can’t actually prevent the fraud from taking place on Cipro registrations, early detection can save a company many hassles in the long run.

    “Fraudsters have used illegitimately updated details to set up new bank accounts and then illegally claim tax rebates from the SA Revenue Service or invoice the company’s creditors with phony bank account details,” he says.

More

  • Listed cellular infrastructure company Africa Cellular Towers has appointed a new FD. The company last week told shareholders Pieter Nicolaas would take up the position from the beginning of this month. He replaced Redik du Toit, who was appointed acting CFO on 1 October last year.

  • 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:

    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.
    contact the Keynote team on +44 (0) 845 519 1230 or email info@keynoteworld.com.
    For further information visit: 

    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:

    HR4ICT11 - Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy
    21-23 March 2011,  Hilton Nairobi, Nairobi Kenya.

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is holding its annual HR4ICT Forum in Kenya, beginning 21 March 2011. The event will take place over three days addressing the human resource management aspect of business continuity planning.  With a theme focused on "Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy", HR4ICT'11 will focus on the challenges faced by major communications user groups (telecommunications, IT, finance, transport, energy, etc) in developing and implementing effective business continuity programmes. Visions, ideas, challenges, needs, success stories as well as best practices on the development and implementation of effective business continuity programmes, will be discussed by a selection of expert speakers.
    For further information email: programmes@cto.int or visit:

    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:

    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 further information visit: 

    Ghana ICT and Telecom Summit
    28-29 April 2011, Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre Accra, Ghana

    The summit will bring together over 200 decision-makers from Ghanaian operators and international stakeholders with an interest in the market to share experiences, knowledge and ideas with a view to overcoming the industry challenges. The 2 day summit agenda will address all aspects of Ghanaian ICT & telecoms strategies for attracting investment, broadband connectivity for all, solutions to boost operator ROI, Regulatory challenges & opportunities, infrastructure development, VAS and local content for Ghanaians, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, mobile banking, customer loyalty, future trends and more.
    For further information visit:

    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:

    MMT Africa Conference and Expo
    10 - 13 May 2011
    Nairobi, Kenya

    Some of Africa’s top mobile money transfer operators, financial institutions and high-tech innovators will gather for the annual MMT Africa conference and expo in Nairobi, Kenya which is still considered THE hub for mobile money transfer initiative and success. 
    For further information visit: 

     

  • IP Network Design Engineer - Telecom Services Company - South Africa

    A major provider of pan African network services, which delivers high quality connectivity solutions to hundreds of network operators. They're looking to hrie an IP Network Design Engineer to join their expanding technical team and are looking for a professional to take on the following responsibilities:-

    - Design IP (MPLS/VOIP/Wireless) Networks
    - Provision of timely design reviews of all IP related requests
    - Issue implementation documentation as regards changes on the network
    - Design the optimization of the Gateway IP network and issue documentation to implement changes
    - Integrate and control the installation of Gateway Data networks and provide procedures for acceptance of tasks performed
    - Maintain a database of IP networks
    - Monitor and control the utilization of IP Network capacity
    - Design the formulation and implementation of the Gateway Internet service policy
    - Interface with internal department on projects and IP design related issues

    For further information or to apply click here:

  • Cell C and Huawei – South Africa
    Huawei Technologies (“Huawei”), a provider of next generation telecommunications network solutions, announced the successful live deployment of a New Generation Business Support System (NGBSS) solution in Cell C, South Africa. With this NGBSS solution going live, Cell C  is now able to bill for its postpaid, prepaid and hybrid services in real-time, and in one single bill for all services. This provides Cell C with sustainable advantages of rapid time-to-market, cost efficiency, and enhanced customer experience in today’s competitive environment.

    The Institute of Directors (IoD) and Software Technologies Limited (STL) - Kenya

    Software Technologies Limited (STL) and the Institute of Directors (IoD) have signed a reseller agreement that will facilitate IoD to resell STL’s eHorizon eBoard on SaaS (Software as a Service) model.
    The eHorizon eBoard System that has been developed by STL will help transform the Boardroom by making it more efficient, cost effective and assisting Boards to “go green”. The product which is the first of its kind anywhere in the World has already created a “buzz” with several Directors in both the private and public listed companies who are excited at how the eBoard system will help drive corporate governance to new heights.

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  • With the changing of the guard at Africa’s mobile operators, their CEOs seem to be in the mood for a significant degree of disclosure. Last week it was the turn of Bob Colleymore, CEO of  Kenya’s Safaricom. This week, it’s Rajan Swaroop, CEO of Airtel Nigeria. He talks to Russell Southwood about the performance of this most important and largest of all of Airtel’s country markets.

    Q: What are the differences you see in Airtel in Nigeria and from your experience in India?

    A: There are two reasons for differences. Either because the company has been managed in a different fashion or because the people are culturally different. Most of the differences I see arise from the way the company was managed. In India, there is a high level of accountability. Here things like quality and cost might have been forgotten and this may be as a result of the last management or multiple past managements.

    There is an issue of (employees) understanding where their boundaries are. We’re an entrepreneurial set-up and there are few boundaries. Here there was an attitude, I’ve done my bit, I don’t go outside my boundaries. That’s not cultural, that’s a people issue.

    Q: How might this affect your ability to compete in the Nigerian market?

    A: There is a difference in the way the whole industry is here. It is more competitive and therefore operators themselves have speedier systems to market. It’s about getting ahead of the competition and this has been a good ground for MTN. There has not been significant competition to them (in the past), only pockets of competition.

    Q: So will you adopt the low tariff strategy that Airtel has introduced in places like Kenya?

    A: We have not dropped prices significantly (in Nigeria). It’s no good having a too good N12 product that is actually a N14 product. But with our new tariffs, we’ve created excitement and pull.

    Q: Has it actually changed your overall market share?

    A: There’s not been huge numbers but there has been some change. We wanted to see what kind of reaction there would be to this kind of offer and galvanise our sales distribution process. The question was: can we galvanise our own teams. If the answer was positive, then I think we can stand and fight. We didn’t want to do disruptive price packages because we don’t believe the lead to customer stickiness or loyalty. I’m going to see how I can take some customers from others but we don’t want to destroy the value in the business.

    Q: That’s voice. What’s happening with your data offer in Nigeria?

    We’re building a 3G infrastructure and by the time we’re finished, we will have covered 70-80% of the population and that’s maybe one year away. We currently have 100,000-150,000 subscribers but we believe the overall potential for is something like 2 million subscribers out of an overall  total of 16 million.

    Q: Are you going to be offering data to the home like some of your competitors elsewhere?

    A: Data to the home is driven by FWA and DSL and we’re not going to be doing that. We’ll stick to data on mobile.

    Q: Glo has been testing LTE. Will you also be doing it?

    A: Not yet.

    Q: What is happening about the introduction of Zap Money in the Nigerian market?

    A: Regulation of this sector is governed by the Central Bank of Nigeria and it has come up with its own criteria for mobile commerce. A bank would have to hold the licence for this activity. But it’s not clear how things will work out. The Central Bank of Nigeria has asked for proposals from the banks and then it will licence them. The model will be one where the banks and mobile operators all sit on the same platform in partnerships. It may take up to a year for anything to happen.

    Q: What’s the position in terms of the international fibre and your acquisition of capacity?

    A: We have taken capacity on both cables (Glo One and Main One). The price per meg is down to US$300-350 per meg per month at volume and this price is a substantial drop and what was available previously. We will probably double our capacity in the next 6-12 months and prices will come down again. They are currently pretty high compared to rates across the world. In India, it’s sub US$10 per meg.

    Q: So what are you keeping satellite for? Remote base stations?

    We’re in the process of exiting existing contracts and we only have a very small number of base stations on satellite.

    Q: Basic mobile services are all very similar outside the branding. How do you differentiate yourself?

    Services are sometimes down from one network therefore customers use another network. Therefore the first thing to do is to have a high level of availability. We want to take it from 95% to 98%+. The closer you get to the higher number, it gets more difficult. We need architectural changes and to manage infrastructure differently. Unfortunately factors like theft of diesel at base will not allow us to reach the levels achieved in India. This is a key enabler for loyalty.

    Q: What about customer care which operators often say differentiates them?

    A: We need to provide higher levels of customer service. 90% of our customer care calls failed to get though to the call centre. We’ve added 1,400 people and bought this number down by 30%. By April this year, we should have cleared the backlog out and got that figure down to 5% or less. We’re also enabled customers to use self-help services. And for example on what’s the balance a the end of a call?, we pumping up capacity on that. We’re setting a level of quality of service we should be able to sustain.

    Q: How is the business performing financially?

    A: Over the last 12 years, the performance of the business has been declining. Therefore the question is: how do you not allow it to decline? We have a major investment in infrastructure but that should be self-funding and we hope to be cash-flow positive in 18 months time.

    We want to encourage the regulator to introduce Mobile Number Portability. Then the best provider will be successful.

telecoms

  • The Competition Commission of Mauritius (CCM) announced an investigation into Mauritius Telecom’s MyT offering under the Competition Act 2007.

    MyT is a ‘bundled’ product offering high-speed internet access, TV, international calls and other services as a package. The Competition Commission is concerned that Mauritius Telecom might be using its effective monopoly of the ADSL (broadband internet) products to gain a competitive advantage in the sale of competitive products such as TV services and international calls. This could take the form of refusal to supply the higher-speed ADSL products except as part of a package, or for example through pricing the MyT bundle against the “ADSL-only” service in a way that unduly influences customers to choose MyT.

    The investigation is being carried out under the “monopoly situations” provisions of the Competition Act. If following an investigation and report by the Executive Director, the Commission finds that MT’s actions have the object or effect of “restricting, preventing or distorting competition”, then the Commission can impose remedial measures on MT. Whatever the outcome, there is no possibility of any financial penalties being levied in this case, as these relate only to collusive agreements between several competing companies.

    John Davies, Executive Director of the CCM said: “Several people have come forward to express concern about MT’s ‘MyT’ offering. The package mixes together broadband internet – a product in which MT has a monopoly - with products such as international calls and TV services, in which it competes with other companies. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that. Such packages might be in the interests of vigorous competition and convenient for customers. But if customers are unduly influenced towards buying TV services and international calls from MT, just because of its broadband monopoly, that could damage competition in those markets. I decided that we needed to investigate this matter in detail, in order to understand whether the current offering has anti-competitive effects. I look forward to working with MT, its competitors, ICTA and other interested parties on this matter.”

    The CCM has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Information and Communications Technology Authority (ICTA), setting out how the two agencies will work together in exercising their respective powers in the sector. Under the provisions of the MOU, the CCM has informed the ICTA of its intention to investigate this matter and the two bodies have agreed that it is more appropriate for the CCM to act, in this instance. The CCM will conduct its investigation independently, but will seek the advice and opinions of the ICTA throughout the case.

    If it finds a breach of the monopoly provisions of the Competition Act, following an investigation, the Commission has the power to force sales of assets or businesses, or require changes in company behaviour, to remedy the situation.
    The investigation is expected to take about a year.

  • Mobile users in Rwanda will have to wait a little longer to start enjoying Mobile Number Portability (MNP), a service that allows subscribers of one network to migrate to another network while maintaining their original phone number including the network code.

    Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) says that it is putting the move on a hold to allow current mobile operators to consolidate themselves in the market. The service was expected to be introduced this year.

    "We have decided to postpone the introduction of the service to 2012 because the market is not yet ready for it; we also want the market to have a 60 percent (mobile) penetration," RURA's Director General, Regis Gatarayiha told Business Times in phone interview.

    The country has 36.2 percent mobile penetration, the second lowest in the East African Community (EAC) region after Burundi.

    "The bigger advantage for a subscriber comes in the form of better network connectivity with competitive tariff plans. Only those service providers who will deliver on these two fronts will retain a customer," Gatarayiha explained.

  • Moroccan mobile, fixed and broadband group Maroc Telecom’s consolidated subscriber base grew by 19% in 2010 to reach 26 million customers, the company announced this week.

    With operations spread across Morocco, Mauritania, Gabon, Burkina Faso and Mali, revenues for the year grew by 4.3% to MAD31.7 billion (USD3.8 billion). Operating income rose 2.3% to MAD14.3 billion, representing an operating margin of 45.3%, whilst group net profit increased by 1.2% to MAD9.5 billion.

    The operator added that it forecasts ‘moderate’ growth in revenues in 2011, with profitability levels expected to be ‘maintained’. Domestic revenues for 2010 totalled MAD26.2 billion, an annual increase of 1.7%, helping to drive a 1.0% operating profit increase to MAD13.2 billion, as the Moroccan mobile customer base grew by 10.6% to 16.9 million.

    3G/3.5G mobile broadband internet subscribers more than tripled during the year to reach 549,000, overtaking the operator’s ADSL fixed broadband base. Maroc Telecom’s other African subsidiaries had a total of 6.8 million mobile customers between them by end-2010, up 58% year-on-year.

  • The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission Engr. Eugene Ikemefuna Juwah has emphasized the need for cooperation among all the regulatory agencies in the country to ensure interest of government and business operators are not jeopardised.

    Engr. Juwah who was a guest to Corporate Vanguard last week said the NCC is the agency that is charged with ensuring that environmental standards are maintained in the setting of masts at base stations.

    He said that "by law, the operators should carry out the environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), whenever they want to build their base stations, which is done in conjunction with the environmental agencies concerned. However, we actually should be the organ that should set these standards because we regulate the telecom industry".

    There have been issues between telecom operators and NESRA over violation of environmental standards in setting up of telecom masts at base stations Engr Juwah said "I know there was a time when telecom operators were having issues of Environment regulators over the masts at base stations, We are supposed to be the one to give them this standards. We know base stations. We know if they are radiating bad waves and by law, we are authorised to define this standards. There are issues that we will continue to dialogue with our sister agencies”.

    “We have been talking and dialoguing with them. We give them this standards. We can go as far as measuring this standards for every base station in this country and certifying it for them".

  • MTN wants to become a serious force to be reckoned with in the mobile content and application space, with plans to launch an app store and offer digital music downloads and other value-added services.

    The strategic shift in direction comes as growth in data on networks in the 21 countries in the Middle East and Africa in which it operates continues by far to outstrip the growth in its traditional voice business. The group had more that 116m customers on its books at the end of 2009.

    Christian de Faria, formerly the vice-president for MTN in West and Central Africa and now the group’s senior vice-president for commercial and innovation, is leading the initiative.

    De Faria, who has also taken on procurement and marketing responsibilities for the group, says the rise of services like Facebook in recent years have resulted in a dramatic change in the way consumers use their phones. He says MTN has to respond to these changes if it’s to prosper in a world of smartphones and tablet computers.

    “The time when operators could dictate what they offered to customers is over,” he says. Competition has increased dramatically in the markets in which it operates and consumers are being exposed to an ever-wider spectrum of products. “We realised we needed a function at group level that could really ensure we were on top of the game.”

    Though De Faria is reluctant to provide details of what an MTN-branded app store might look like, or even what it will be called, he hints that a number of offerings are in the pipeline, including a digital music download service. “We have concrete plans to broaden our offering in music, but I can’t be more specific. It is our strategic intent. But that’s all I can tell you at this stage.”

    Operators worldwide are concerned that they will become little more than low-cost (and low-margin) “dumb pipes” over which third-party developers will provide and profit from services. It’s clear MTN doesn’t want to be left out of the application and content party.

    “It’s no longer about selling airtime,” De Faria says. “Now it’s about bundling airtime with products and services. We need to ensure we can offer a range of services, from app stores to music to value-added services like m-health.”

    MTN, he says, is “shifting from distributing airtime to being a solution provider” to customers. “We could do it on our own, but we are going into partnership with content providers to offer services such as cloud computing, solutions for small and medium enterprises and to provide rich content in terms of music, gaming, entertainment and news.”

    These services will begin to be rolled out in 2011, though De Faria is reluctant to say when an MTN-branded app store or music service will be launched, citing competitive reasons.

    Although the shift in focus will mean that MTN will compete more directly with products such as Apple’s iTunes Store and Nokia’s Ovi Store, he says the group is also keen to work with those companies to provide services.

    “We have to develop solutions on our own or together with partners,” he says, adding that MTN won’t create a division specifically staffed to develop apps that compete with products like Facebook.

    MTN is already working on payments engines to make it easier for its customers to purchase apps and content. De Faria says the group wants to make it easy for consumers to buy services, even if they don’t have a credit card — using mobile wallets or airtime for payments, for example.

internet

  • Baharicom has refuted speculation that the R5.4bn ACE cable is no longer coming to South Africa’s shores. TechCentral reported earlier on Monday about growing speculation that the cable, which runs from France, will terminate instead at São Tomé and Príncipe, a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa.

    The speculation prompted Steve Song, author of a well-known cable map, to recraft the map to show Ace terminating at São Tomé. Baharicom, one of the larger investors in ACE, says the cable is still expected to arrive on South Africa’s shores sometime between August and October next year. However, Sentech, the original landing partner, is no longer involved.

    Parliament revealed last year that Sentech had signed a partnership agreement with the Ace consortium to use its licence to land the cable in the Western Cape. “We are in advanced discussions with two SA companies that have valid licences, one of which will land the cable,” says Baharicom CEO Carey Phillip.

    He will not say which two companies are vying to land the cable as discussions are ongoing. However, he says government owns neither of the companies. Phillip says more details should be available within the next fortnight.

    ACE will follow a similar course of its direct competitor, the West African Cable System, better known as WACS, which is expected to be ready for service later this year. Both cables have design capacities of 5,1Tbit/s.

    Phillip says construction of the Ace cable began in December and the project is on track to arrive at Yzerfontein, north of Cape Town, late next year. “How much of the capacity we light up when the cable goes live will depend on the demand in each country,” he says.

    Alcatel-Lucent has won the construction and maintenance agreement for the cable, which will extend for 17 000km along the coast and offer terrestrial links to landlocked countries like Mali.

  • The government will develop a content management web portal to market Kenyan films on a digital platform to raise international visibility. The portal, to be run by the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), will showcase the sectors' products that players say have been hit by poor marketing and lack of awareness. According to Information PS Bitange Ndemo, this will save producers the costs of marketing and distribution.

    "The Kenya Tourism Board through the content management portal will host all our local productions and make them accessible for preview and e-commerce," said Dr Ndemo during the release of a research to establish the economic contribution of film and TV industry in Kenya.

    "Distribution and exhibition of films in Kenya is almost non-existent. The majority of the theatrical distribution industry in Kenya is predominantly located in Nairobi," the research reads in part.

    The study, done by Strategic Public Relations and Research Limited says that majority of Kenyans prefer watching movies from their houses, vindicating the shifting of viewership trends to homes that has seen several theatres close.

    According to the study released by the Kenya Film Commission, 85.1 per cent of the respondents watch movies in their houses, 18 per cent watch movies in theatres, 4.7 per cent watch movies in their local or estate movie halls and 2.8 per cent watch movies via mobile cinemas.

    Rental shops remain the best source for movies with 48.9 per cent of the respondents saying they source their movies from rental shops, 31.8 per cent source from street vendors, 6.7 per cent get theirs from film theatres, 6.7 per cent from supermarkets while 3.5 per cent download movies from the internet.

    The web portal will shift the source of information about local movies to the internet as film producers will be expected to present their work alongside short previews for the purposes of teasing the audience.

    Analysts say the growth in take-up of 3G handsets, smartphones, iPads and other portable devices, the proliferation of high-speed fixed and mobile internet connectivity in the country will be the key drivers of the online marketing tool. The study reveals that the film industry contributed Sh1.8 billion directly to the economy in 2008.

    Indirectly the sector is estimated to have generated Sh48billion from ripple effects that include proceeds from filming licences, visa application fees for foreign film makers, tourism, spending by film makers in local hotels, skills and labour supply, culture and merchandising. The Film Commission says the sector is currently generating over Sh3 billion annually.

    The study cites high costs of production and the perception that Kenyan movies are inferior as some of the challenges stifling the sector's growth. "But it is difficult to tell the exact value of the industry since it's not mandatory to register a film or television production," said Peter Mutie, CEO of the Kenya Film Commission.

    Bitange says research findings will help the ministry to lobby for a revolving fund to support the local producers."We have been missing figures to use to convince the government on the contribution of the film industry on the economy. With this study, we can now convince the relevant ministries abotu the need to set up a revolving film fund to promote the industry," said Dr Ndemo. "Banks will also begin to understand what is happening in the sector," he added.

    The faster internet speeds have also been blamed for the sectors' woos having made it easier for traders to download movies and re-produce them in a matter of hours denying movie houses revenues a move that has seen several cinema halls in Kenya including Kenya Cinema, Odeon Cinema, Globe Cinema and Shan Cinema close shop.

    South Africa's Nu Metro exited the local market last year and sold its assets to Nigeria's Silverbird after it failed to stem losses. The research recommends calls for a study to estimate the revenue lost as a result of piracy as part of the contribution of the film industry to the Kenyan economy.

    The Copyright Board of Kenya launched an authentication device to be placed on all audiovisual material meant for sale to clamp down on the pirated movies. But the survey finds that Kenyans prefer to watch movies with local content over those with foreign content. In the survey 41.6 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to watch local productions while 35 per cent are slightly likely to watch a movie with local content over foreign content.

  • Vodacom answers questions as to why they haven't reduced their data pricing and suggests that rigid contract terms may become a thing of the past

    A couple of weeks ago I wrote a letter to Vodacom. To be fair I could have addressed that letter to MTN as well, but as a long term Vodacom customer I have a vested interest in getting the chaps from Midrand to deliver better value to their customers. Writing about what you know is also a lot easier than writing about abstract concepts.

    As a result of the letter, I was summoned to Midrand to answer for my impertinence. Okay, the truth is that Richard Boorman (the media liason at Vodacom) called me and asked if it would be helpful if I sat down with Pieter Uys (the Vodacom CEO) and had a chat about some of the issues I had raised. Of course I agreed. The discussion with Uys ranged fairly wide and as such there are a few issues that he touched on that I would like to talk about.

    One of the issues I raised in the letter was how Cell C appears to be kicking Vodacom all over the place in the broadband market. When we are paying significantly higher prices per MB on Vodacom than we are on Cell C, it would appear that Vodacom are falling behind the curve. Uys said that the price of data was going to fall, but that to engage in a wholesale price slashing would have a real impact on the quality of service that Vodacom customers experienced on its network.

    The problem Vodacom is facing is that while Cell C has built its HSPA network out in limited areas, Vodacom has a nationwide broadband network; a total of 4,000 base stations. That is out of the 8,000 base stations that Vodacom has in total across its network.

    Right now the bottleneck on the network is backhaul, getting data from the base stations to the core network. In most of the metropolitan areas Vodacom has built out a fibre network to enable it to self-provision the connections to its base stations. Although the core network is mostly built, Uys said that the company is having real problems getting local municipality approval to lay the cables that connect the base stations to the core network. That would require some digging and approvals for doing that have not been forthcoming.

    With a bottleneck on the network that already provides internet services to 9 million of its customers and which has 2 million regular users, you can understand why the company is not exactly keen to encourage even more people to use the network. The fact is that the more people that use the network the lower the quality of service will be. Encouraging power users to hammer the network by dropping costs will reduce the experience of the network for all users and I think we can all understand why Vodacom would not want that to happen.

    My impression is that Uys knows that broadband prices are higher than they should be but that the company is holding them steady until the network is ready to cope with additional load. His argument that it is better to provide a steady 1Mbps to all consumers than 42Mpbs to one consumer is something that resonates with me. Leave the heavy downloads to the wired connection and give us a decent connection for our smartphones, tablets and laptops and you will keep most of your customers happy most of the time.

    The other issue that I raised was that of contracts and why, in my view, contract customers seem to get the short end of the stick. Uys said that there have been, over the past year, increases in the amount of free minutes that contract customers have been entitled to as a way of increasing the value that they get from their contracts.

    The more pertinent issue is that looming on the horizon is the consumer protection act. This act will fundamentally change the way that the mobile networks structure their contracts. According to Uys, we can expect to see various contracts that offer: just a basic connectivity contract; a contract with a financed phone; and a contract with a subsidy and a financed phone. Essentially the consumer protection act allows you to cancel a contract at short notice with only limited recourse on the part of the service provider to penalise you. He said that if these new contracts aren’t already available they will be very shortly and that is good news for all of us.

    I would have preferred that Vodacom (and the other networks as well) were more proactive in getting their contracts in line with what they will be forced to do when the consumer protection act comes into effect, but at least when it does happen we should all be a bit better off.

computing

  • Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), last week began a five-day tour to assess the state of information and communication technologies within member states.

    They are members of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment in the regional assembly.

    The delegation which is led by Dr James Ndahiro, the chairman of the committee, will establish the impact of ICT development in the region, especially of new infrastructures like the fibre optic cable.

    According to a statement from EAC secretariat, the delegation will meet various stakeholders in the ICT sector in all member countries. The findings of the tour will acquaint EALA members with pertinent facts on the status of ICT development in the region, existing opportunities and challenges associated with the sector.

    The Committee is expected to take stock of the observations and recommendations and report back to EALA. The tour will further devise ways and means of how the environment and human population can be protected against negative effects of the ICT gadgets used in connectivity.

  • South Africa’s National treasury has allocated R2.2bn over five years for the department of home affairs’ “Who Am I Online?” project, which has been stalled by a legal dispute with Gijima, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his budget speech on Wednesday.

    “Although only partial funding has been allocated for the project, national treasury has approved the business case for the total lifecycle cost of R2.2bn beyond the [next three-year] period.” The department suspended a contract with Gijima (formerly GijimaAST) after it emerged that it was awarded R4.5bn, though the tender limit had been R1.9bn.

    Gijima threatened legal action, but is currently in the final stages of talks with the department, treasury and the SA Revenue Service about an out-of-court settlement, according to home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

    She expressed frustration last week that the dispute had forced her department to put on hold plans to set up an integrated IT system to process identity documents, birth and death certificates, visas, work permits and passports online.

    Dlamini-Zuma said a settlement was imminent, but denied reports that the state had agreed to a R2bn pay-off for Gijima. Gordhan confirmed that to date, R390.4m has been spent on the stalled project. Home affairs’ other allocations in treasury’s estimates of national expenditure document show that streamlining immigration processes and regularising the status of immigrants from Southern Africa remain a top priority.

    The department’s immigration budget of R587m will be spent on extending the special dispensation of documenting illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe to other nationals in SADC, overhauling immigration management and facilitating entry for foreign nationals with special skills.

  • The Parliamentary Accounts Committee has endorsed the proposal to set up a technology park at Konza, Eastern Province. This means that the centre, known as Konza Technology City, and intended to be one of the key ICT sites in the country, will be built as planned beginning June.

    The centre will be put up on a 64 square-mile stretch covering about 5,000 acres of land. The Ministry of Communication and Nairobi Metropolitan said that all preparations had been finalised. Nairobi Metropolitan Permanent Secretary Philip Sika said his ministry would be launching the project master plan next month.

    He said the park will have a more modern plan that will take into consideration possible expansions in future. Poor planning is one of the reasons blamed for congestion in Nairobi and other major towns in Kenya. The centre was proposed last year as one of the key drivers of the achievement of Vision 2030.

    The government has already allocated Sh1 billion for the initial stages of the project although the entire initiative is estimated to cost as much as Sh1.2 trillion. A feasibility study has already been conducted and according to Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo, Konza will be the most strategic place for the project.

    The government will use the construction to woo organisers of the GSMA annual conference to be hosted in Kenya in 2018. "We are doing everything to ensure that we've put up all facilities for that conference to be held here (Konza)," Dr Ndemo said.

    The annual ICT conference is usually hosted in one city for five consecutive years before moving to another and requires massive investment in accommodation facilities as well as communication and transport infrastructure to cater for over 60,000 delegates who attend.

    New structures like railways, roads, technology firms and stadia are likely to come up. Dr Ndemo said the government is planning to set up a link road between the Mombasa highway at Konza to Namanga to cut the distance covered by tourists between Amboseli National Park and the proposed hotels that will be built at the city.

    Much of the funding will come from the International Finance Corporation. However, private investors were also invited last year to take a share of the project. House team chairman Julius Kones dismissed earlier reports that the local community had rejected the project.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Mobile operator Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) has announced its results for the twelve months ended 31 December 2010, reporting a 21% year-on-year increase in revenue to MWK9.93 billion (USD64.8 million). Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for full year 2010 totalled MWK3.647 billion, up 25% compared to the MWK2.91 billion reported in the previous year.

    TNM attributed the rise in turnover and EBITDA to aggressive investment in infrastructure and related marketing activities. However, rising investment increased the depreciation charge by MWK571 million in 2010 to MWK1.61 billion and increased the levels of short-term debt, which resulted in a rise in borrowing costs by MWK273 million. As a result, net profit declined from MWK1.21 billion in FY 2009 to MWK1.06 billion a year later.

    The company said its key achievements in 2010 included the commissioning of a new pre-paid billing platform, the construction of 70 new base stations to boost coverage, and the launch of new voice and data tariff bundles for pre-paid users. TNM said it increased its market share from 33% to 37%, but did not release any subscriber figures.

  • The World Bank has provided $79 million - that is, about N11.8 billion - financing for IHS Plc, one of Nigeria's leading telecommunications infrastructure providers, to help it develop mobile phone coverage infrastructure across the country.

    The fund, which is coming through International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, would enhance IHS's efforts to build and acquire mobile phone towers in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa, thereby reducing communications cost across the region.

    This Day gathered that the World Bank investment, which is subject to regulatory approval, came after the signing of an agreement between Investec Asset Management (via its African private equity funds), IFC and the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

    IHS is one of the largest telecommunications infrastructure providers in West Africa with more than 2,700 towers under management and is aggressively expanding its ownership and leasing operations throughout Africa.

    The company owns, manages, and leases space on its mobile towers to telecom companies, helping to bring down costs, expand coverage, accelerate technology rollouts and improve the quality of service for subscribers in Africa.

    Commenting, Executive Director, IHS, Issam Darwish, said: "the additional financing package also include up to $115 million of IFC-led senior debt, mezzanine and syndicated loans, which will allow us to continue our leadership role in providing managed and co-location services to mobile operators and users in Africa."

  • Mobile operator Essar Telecom Kenya Ltd operating as yu, has terminated its contract with its sister firm Aegis Services Kenya Ltd, raising anxiety for more than 70 customer care employees over their jobs.

    The operator has instead opted for Horizon Contact Centre to handle its call centre services with affected employees being asked to reapply for their positions.

    This comes at a time when heightened competition, which has seen mobile tariffs fall to as low as Sh1 per minute, coupled with the enlisting of subscribers with low disposable income has seen the average revenue per user (ARPU) drop to record lows.

    Aegis, in its communication to employees, says its contract had been terminated by Essar Telecom and hence has been forced to move out of Kenya. "The business has been awarded to a new service provider. As a result Aegis has been given notification that they were not the successful service provider," said a communication to employees.

    Some of the staff, whose contract expires on February 28, 2011, told the Daily Nation that most have not been recruited by Horizon, while those who have been taken in will receive nearly half pay of what they have been earning.

    When contacted, Essar Telecom Kenya country manager Atul Chaturvedi said that Aegis along with three other local Kenya operators were recently evaluated for call centre business with Horizon Contact Centre emerging victor. "Aegis, like any other business organisation, assessed their business plans and have expressed their intention to withdraw their services in Kenya," he added.

    He, however, refused to discuss salary issues raised by employees, saying that Essar Telecom has no role in deciding the contractual terms of the agents who work on their assignments.

  • The Social Security Fund of Rwanda (SSFR) is Rwf125.65 million richer, after its Safaricom shares recorded a higher dividend over 2010. SSFR owns 0.24 percent shares in the giant Kenyan telecom company.

    In 2007, the Fund bought Rwf4.2 billion worth of Safricom shares. SSFR’s returns from the telecom company in 2009 were Rwf68.9m.

    Facing tight competition from major telecom companies like Airtel, Orange and YU, Safaricom is the market leadership with 78.3 percent or 17 million subscribers and a net profit of 15 billion Kenyan Shillings in 2010.

    A source at the Fund disclosed to the Business Times: “Shareholding by SSFR is a long term investment and does not immediately result into profit. Currently SSFR maintains a 2 percent increase in interest rate annually for clients who have been contributing for fifteen years and more.”

    Currently, SSFR holds shares valued at Rwf38.6 billion in 17 companies. In 2010, it registered contributions worth Rwf17.3 billion from its 37,274 members.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • In Tanzania, telecoms operator Sasatel has launched a new campaign to reward all new internet customers with free unlimited internet access. Customers will enjoy absolutely free unlimited Sasatel internet for one month if they purchase selected Internet enabled phones at newly discounted prices from any Sasatel shops and Dealers' outlets.

    Sierra Leone will be part of the 16 African countries to benefit from the IBM and Bharti Airtel partnership aimed at making mobile communications more affordable as the two firms announced the completion of the IT infrastructure agreement a couple of months ago.

    Angola’s private sector mobile provider Unitel has recently expanded its roaming service to Iraq and now has roaming agreements with 145 countries.

    Airtel Nigeria has once again brought smiles to the faces of post-paid individual customers with the introduction of 2Good tariff for post-paid. Post paid customers will now pay 20 Kobo per seconds for calls to any Nigerian number irrespective of the network and time of the day. Also, calls to Canada, UK and US will now cost 20 Kobo per second.

Digital Content

  • Competition in the digital marketing field is heating up as firms scramble to gain a larger share of the budding sector. Over five firms are now jostling for a share of the online advertising space, hoping to mark their territory ahead of mass adoption of internet services in the country.

    Analysts estimate that spending on digital media is set to reach Sh200 million by the end of the year on the back of aggressive advertising on social media websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Last week, listed media services firm Scangroup deepened its foray into the digital marketing field with the launch of a qualitative research house that will be known as Firefly.

    Scangroup hopes to tap into the growing influence of internet based communication in Kenya by providing specialised research services to companies which are considering using digital marketing. "There are fundamental shifts in how consumers communicate that brands must understand if they are to keep in touch with their customers.

    "In Kenya, a 372 per cent jump in Facebook users over the last year, signals the need for companies to start thinking about reaching their customers on the site," said Rakesh Kumar, Regional Head for Firefly. The venture is the latest in string of moves by Scangroup that have seen it diversify its product offering by creating focused consultancy offices that specialise in targeted communications.

    Recently, the firm launched Squad Digital, a digital marketing firm and a market research and insights company Millward Brown East Africa that Firefly falls under. It also announced a partnership with the South Africa based Smollan Group, a pairing that offered the firm an opportunity to tap into the Sh2.5 billion research industry, taking on incumbents such as Synovate, Research International and Consumer Insight.

    As the latest addition to Scangroup's stable, Firefly will offer corporate clients in the region enhanced research capabilities by helping them to navigate the relatively new digital marketing field, with an emphasis on social media use.

    The last six months have seen heightened interest by investors in social marketing initiatives, with a South African based company, Habari Media, being the latest firm to set up in the area. "The increasing levels of acceptance of Facebook as a major force in advertising have had a momentous effect on the advertising industry as a whole," said Adrian Hewlett, CEO Habari Media.

    Scangroup's competitor in the advertising space, Young and Rubicam, has also restructured its operations to focus on digital marketing in the recent past due to increased demand from clients who want to extend their brand presence online.

    The moves are informed by the fact that Kenya is among the most progressive markets on the continent when it comes to use of social media, with small businesses and news outlets dominating use of websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. According to data from social media monitor Socialbakers, the number of Kenyans on Facebook is growing by 35 per cent every month.

    Socialbakers research reveals that the most active brands on the site belong to Safaricom, Airtel and Yu, while news delivery is dominated by NTV, Citizen and Capital FM, in that order. Apart from the mobile firms, small businesses form the next largest group of users who use social media to market their goods.

    "While small retail outlets are dominating use in the country, the time has come for larger companies to start engaging their customers using social media outlets," said Kate Davidson, Qualitative Director at Firefly.

    According to a study carried out by Firefly in Kenya, 11 per cent of Kenyans have accessed internet in the past four weeks, and among those 53 per cent have accessed it on their mobile phone. This study was carried out across five regions. Firefly says that Kenya has just over one million Facebook users, representing 2.8 per cent of the population.

  • The traffic police department has introduced online registration to ease the process of applying for a driver’s license. Chief Supt. Vincent Sano, head of traffic police, confirmed this last week in an interview with The New Times. He explained that registering to sit for provisional tests, one sends an SMS as ‘ID No.-space-District-space-P-space-0’ to 3126.

    For those registering for the practical tests, he said, they send the SMS as ‘ID No.-space-District-space-Category required-space-Number of previous licence obtained’ to 3126.
    Both parties, he added, get a feedback message with the Identity number, district where one will sit the tests from and the category and the registration number, as confirmation.

    “We chose this system to avoid several malpractices that used to arise from the previous registration system,” said Sano. He noted that previously, aspirants would register more than once so as sit for tests in several areas as a way of increasing their chances of passing. He added that some aspirants would also hire people to do the tests on their behalf, and that under age people (below 18 years) would also register for the tests.

  • National treasury has allocated a significant budget to the department of communications over the next three years to assist in the country’s migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television. The department has been allocated more than R1bn over the three years for the project, with the money going to three state organs.

    Sentech, the SABC and the Universal Service & Access Agency of SA (Usaasa), which administers the Universal Service Fund, will play an integral role in the migration. Sentech has been allocated about R622m over three years to build new broadcasting infrastructure using the digital standard. It will receive R279m in the next financial year, R169m in 2012/2013 and R176m in 2013/2014.

    Sentech received R271m in 2010/2011 for migration. Usaasa has been allocated R220m for the subsidy of the set-top boxes (decoders) for the poor. This is in addition to the R180m it received in 2010/2011. The decoders are needed to receive digital TV signals.

    To support Sentech during the dual-illumination period, when both analogue and digital signals are being broadcast simultaneously, the department will give the company R120m the next financial year. It was given R110m in the current year for the same reason.

    The Department of Communications wants 96% population coverage for digital TV by 2013. The target for switchover to digital is December of that same year. To date, the department has allocated R515m for migration.

    This year, government plans to create a decoder manufacturing strategy meant to stimulate the sector. It will also put together a scheme that will govern the subsidy of set-top boxes. The department will present its proposals to cabinet by June. It will also start work on a local content development strategy, which it says should be completed by August.

More

  • Former Safaricom CEOMichael Joseph has been appointed the first World Bank global advisor on mobile phone banking. Joseph was named a World Bank fellow under a newly launched global fellowship program aimed to tap new expertise into the bank's development work and strengthen its knowledge network.

    In a surprise development, Dave Smith, the CEO of state-owned telecommunications infrastructure provider Broadband Infraco CEO has resigned. The resignation takes effect immediately.

  • 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 or click here for further information:

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

    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 click 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 more information click here:

    Event: HR4ICT11 - Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy
    Date: 21-23 March 2011, Hilton Nairobi, Nairobi Kenya.

    The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation is holding its annual HR4ICT Forum in Kenya, beginning 21 March 2011. The event will take place over three days addressing the human resource management aspect of business continuity planning.  With a theme focused on "Business Continuity Planning: Strategic and Organisational Imperatives in a Global Economy", HR4ICT'11 will focus on the challenges faced by major communications user groups (telecommunications, IT, finance, transport, energy, etc) in developing and implementing effective business continuity programmes. Visions, ideas, challenges, needs, success stories as well as best practices on the development and implementation of effective business continuity programmes, will be discussed by a selection of expert speakers.
    For more information click here  or email:  programmes@cto.int

    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 click 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 click here:

    Ghana ICT and Telecom Summit
    28-29 April 2011, Ghana-India Kofi Annan ICT Centre Accra, Ghana

    The summit will bring together over 200 decision-makers from Ghanaian operators and international stakeholders with an interest in the market to share experiences, knowledge and ideas with a view to overcoming the industry challenges. The 2 day summit agenda will address all aspects of Ghanaian ICT & telecoms strategies for attracting investment, broadband connectivity for all, solutions to boost operator ROI, Regulatory challenges & opportunities, infrastructure development, VAS and local content for Ghanaians, subscriber acquisition and retention strategies, mobile banking, customer loyalty, future trends and more.
    For further 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:

  • Oracle DB System Integrator – West Africa
    Oracle DB System Integrator required for a rolling contract in the EMEA region.

    You will be responsible for:
    Solaris jumpstart installation & IP configuration
    Accton LAN Switches – power-up & configure VLANs
    Big IP Load Balancers – power-up & configure.
    Brocade SAN Switches & 1 x StorageTek 2540 RAID Box – setup Storage & SAN.
    Solaris Data Cluster for NFS service
    Oracle RAC + DB installation & configuration.
    Oracle DG + DB installation & configuration.
    SNMP integration of HW, OS & Middleware to NMS server
    Document the final setup into “Implementation Guide” with the following details. 1. Access details to all equipments, servers & middleware (NFS, Storage Management, Oracle, etc) 2. Details on Sun Servers & Solaris, NFS service, Oracle RAC setup 3. Details on Network setup.
    For further information click here

  • Tigo and Alcatel-Lucent - Ghana
    Alcatel-Lucent and Millicom Ghana Ltd, under the brand of Tigo, one of Ghana's mobile network operators announced a strategic partnership to introduce the first permission- and preference-based mobile advertising service in Ghana. The innovative new service, Tigo Ads, is based on the Alcatel-Lucent Optism mobile marketing solution and enables Tigo’s customers to opt in to receive targeted promotions on their mobile phones. Subscribers can share information with Tigo about their preferences and receive interactive text messages containing important news, promotions, discounts and exclusive offers from their preferred brands.


    Airtel and Morvitu – Madagascar

    Movirtu, a provider of Mobile Identity Management (MIM) solutions to wireless telecommunication service providers, announced a contract with Airtel Madagascar to implement the Movirtu Cloud Phone services nationwide in Madagascar. The main channel for purchase will be the Village Phone Operators (VPOs) with whom the service has been piloted. Airtel has a stated goal to attract new subscribers from rural areas in Madagascar. 70% of rural consumers do not have access today to mobile. Cloud Phone and its associated mobile payment and information services will target those on between $1 and $2/day and in rural areas at a highly competitive price.

Issue no 99 - 2nd March 2011

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  • Last week Thursday saw the first premiere of a Nollywood movie – The Mirror Boy – in the heart of London’s cinemaland at the Empire, Leicester Square. However, this event was simply the culmination of over five years of work on encouraging premiers and theatrical release for Nollywood movies in the UK. With a new wave of more cinematic releases from Nollywood makers, they seem to be on the verge of a breakthrough into international theatrical release. Russell Southwood spoke to Moses Babatope, the Special Projects Manager, Odeon Cinemas about how things are changing.

    In 2010, Odeon Cinemas had 14 screenings of Nollywood films, of which a dozen were premieres with stars in attendance. These included films such as The Figurine and The Tenant (made in Yoruba by Tunde Kelani). As Babatope told us:”We’ve been doing this since 2006 and started with screenings in Odeon Surrey Quays (an area close to a large part of the Nigerian diaspora population. Sometimes the film-makers or producers approach me and sometimes I approach them. We’re always looking out for good films.”

    The deal is on a hire basis:”In trying to build a business case (within Odeon), we had to start by re-invigorating the culture (of going to the cinema) in the core audience. We needed to build this case by doing one-off screenings.” The screenings were held late night on either Tuesday or Friday and gave Odeon Cinemas additional income through hire revenues in a dead time and secondary revenues through retail (with sale of things like popcorn):”The promoters of the film deal with the ticketing. But the screenings are tapping into a different demographic for Odeon Cinemas and that interests them.”

    The latest premiere is The Mirror Boy and it’s big news because it got an evening showing in the Empire, Leicester Square, which is London’s cinema for most of the big Hollywood premieres in the UK. But almost as interestingly, the film is likely to get a theatrical release in 10 cinemas later in the year. That may not sound a lot of cinemas but if successful, and the genre establishes itself, it could lead to a new box office income stream for Nollywood makers in a world which there are not many of them.

    Written, produced anddirected by Obi Emelonye, an award winning UK based Nigerian filmmaker and starring Genevieve Nnaji and Osita Iheme – some of the biggest screen talents Africa has to offer - The Mirror Boy may become the blockbuster that fans of Nigerian cinema have been waiting for and its first crossover movie into mainstream global cinema.

    The Mirror Boy is a universal family adventure film that tells the uplifting story of a young teenage African British boy taken back to the land of his mother’s birth, but then gets mysteriously lost in a foreboding forest and embarks on a magical journey that teaches him about himself and the mystery of the father he has never seen.

    Shot in the truly beautiful terrain of the The Gambia and boasting high quality production values, despite its low (by international standards) budget, The Mirror Boy is said by many in the international movie business to be the Nollywood movie that can finally match it’s industry’s new found status. And interestingly is one of a new wave of Nollywood releases that are truly cinematic experiences. Watch this space for further developments.

    Also go to Balancing Act’s Web TV Channel to see:

    To see a video clip of Moses Babatope talking about how things have developed, click here:

    In English:

    Changing Nollywood Business Models by Matthew Brown, PhD.
    Click here:

    AlexOkosi, MD of MTV Network (Africa Region) on its Choose or Lose It voter registration initiative
    Click here:

    Farah Chaudhry, COO of A24 Media on the launch of a new programme called Africa's Voice
    Click here:

    Cinema: wikileaks, the book and film scenario - Hermann Djoumessi
    Click here:

    En Francais:

    Fespaco 2011: trading audiovisual content
    Click here:

    Supporting TV stations and production in Africa - CFI

    Click here:

  • Trying to make a positive, fun and entertaining fairytale about Africa, where you talk about hard issues such as HIV/Aids, child soldiers, refugee camps, child parents, arranged marriages and prostitution is what Africa United set out to achieve. Sylvain Beletre of Balancing Act looks at how well they succeeded.

    Directed by Debs Gardner-Paterson and written by Rhidian Brook, it mixes a British sense of humour mixed a special African playfulness and never give up attitude. The film opens with a young man explaining how to practice football using a free condom given by the UN, a plastic bag and some strings. Its story tells the epic journey of a group of African children from Rwanda who cross 3,000 miles to take part in the opening ceremony of the football World Cup.

     Football is used as a pretext to celebrate team spirit (and maybe also to attract more viewers). So if you do not like professional football, it does not matter, you might still enjoy the film.

    In Rwanda, Dudu is a self-proclaimed soccer manager and coach for his best mate Fabrice, from a middle class family whose mother refuses to accept his dream of playing professional soccer as she want him to become...a doctor. When a FIFA rep offers Fabrice the opportunity of a trial to represent Africa at the opening ceremonies of the 2010 football games, Fabrice, Dudu and Beatrice rush to the game. Trouble’s ahead as they take the wrong bus, and embark on a journey through seven countries, from the Congo to South Africa. Along the way, they meet a tough boy, a child soldier named Foreman George and the young Celeste, a sex worker stuck in a tourist resort who ran away from home. The A-team, calling themselves ‘Africa United’ overcome incredible challenges and Dudu discovers he has HIV/Aids. In the end, the five united children manage to reach Johannesburg just on time for the ceremonies.
     Viewers are taken back and forth between real life action and traditional African storytelling animation.

    The film had a good scenario painted with sensibility, a good director getting the best out of actors, budgets from top companies (Pathé UK and BBC included), an efficient technical team, some great music, talented actors, beautiful animations, and Africa's amazing landscapes, lights and colours.

    The launch has all the resemblance of a Hollywood production: extensive press promotion, a dedicated website, trailers on most video sites, Facebook page and so on. Click here: 

  • The Nigerian Premier League (NPL), has said that its Title Sponsorship suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos, did not affect its Broadcast Rights Agreement with Total Promotions Ltd (TPL).

    The Acting NPL Executive Secretary, Tunji Babalola, said that the title sponsorship tussle and broadcast rights agreement were parallel issues. "We have an existing broadcast rights agreement with TPL and the title sponsorship suit in the court has no bearing on this agreement," he said. He expressed the desire for a quick resolution of the suit and said that the lack of a title sponsor was taking its toll on the organisation of the competition.

    It would be recalled that TPL recently sued NPL following the revocation of the Premier league title sponsorship it won on behalf of MTN Nigeria last December. With the development, the NPL has been operating without a budget and relies on the meagre fund it receives from its broadcast rights agreement with TPL.

    Babalola said that the NPL was in a difficult situation because it had not been able to meet its numerous obligations. "On a daily basis we get inundated with calls from match officials and hotels over unpaid emoluments and bills. And we the administrators are not happy with this unpleasant development plaguing the Premier League.We earnestly hope that the matter in court will be quickly resolved in favour of football and those who earn their living from it," he said.

  • The film industry in Kenya has been identified as a key growth industry with great potential to spur economic growth and help in the realization of vision 2030 through tourist attraction, investment and employment creation. Currently the film industry is generating over Ksh.3 billion annually. However, when performing optimally the film industry can generate over Ksh.40 billion and create more than 250,000 jobs annually. Specifically, Kenya will realize the following economic benefits as a result a vibrant film industry:

    • More tourists due to the country appearing constantly on screens around the world;
    • Positioning the country at the centre of the world's spreading technological revolution;
    • Attracting significant levels of foreign spending on services in the country;
    • Providing employment and training opportunities in the audiovisual sector;
    • Ever growing film industry due to proper regulation and coordination
    • Boosting the domestic film and television industrial infrastructure by encouraging film production.

    The Kenyan landscape has graced the silver screen for over fifty years; from 1950's King Solomon's mines to the 2005 box-office hit The Constant Gardener. The lush Ngong Highlands, seen in Sydney Pollack's Oscar winning out of Africa to the arid Shaba reserves outwitted and outlasted in 'Survivor 3: Africa' show case Kenya's versatile landscapes that offer a great scope of filming locations. The producers of 'Survivor: Africa' felt that Kenya offers a perfect combination of beautiful locale, natural light, an array of wildlife and a beautiful people all set in adventurous territory.

    The Proposed programme of support for Kenya's Film Industry comprises a series of support measures for that focus on training local professionals, developing production projects, promoting films and audiovisual programmes, and supporting film festivals.
    More information on The Kenya Film Commission website here

  • Winners of the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAS) were announced 20 Feb. 2011 at an award ceremony held at Madame Zingara's Theatre of Dreams. The event was hosted by South Africa’s popular personalities Thami Ngubeni and Joey Rasdien.

    "We congratulate all the winners in the Non-Fiction categories and wish them the best for their future projects. The SAFTAs acknowledge all productions in both Fiction and Non-fiction awards sessions as they play a very significant role in the growth of our industry," says Eddie Mbalo NFVF CEO.

    The guests, made up of the industry, government representatives and industry personalities welcomed the results as they were categorically presented. Winners for the night included Into the Dragon’s Lair which won Best Wildlife Programme, Best Wildlife Director and Best Wildlife Cinematographer. The programme went on to receive two special mentions for Music Director and Sound Design.

    Other programmes that received accolades include Let’s chat with Mel for Best Talk Show, All Access for Best Magazine Show, Agter die Berger for Best Student Film, Ed and Eppa in the Wild for Best Youth & Children programme, A Country Imagined for Best Factual Educational Entertainment and Karoo for Best Short Film. The list of all the winners is attached.

    Gearhouse South Africa, which this year provides technical support for both the SAFTAS ceremonies, joined in celebrating the achievements of the industry. Robyn D'Alessandro, Gearhouse National Marketing Manager had this to say, "Although Gearhouse' involvement with the Film and Television industry is in the area of technical supply, we are firm supporters of the wealth of talent that abounds in this industry. We are proud to be able to contribute to the success of the South Africa Film and Television Awards in celebration of South Africa's achievements in this field."

    The SAFTAs are industry awards of which the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) of South Africa are the industry appointed custodians. The award's main objective is to honour, celebrate and promote the creativity, quality and excellence of South African, film and television talent, and encourage entrepreneurship and the development of new talent in the industry.

    The second session of the 5th SAFTAs awarding the Fiction Categories were held on Sunday 27th February at Madame Zingara's Theatre of Dreams in Jo’Burg.
    In the Feature Film category, Life, Above All came on top winning six awards out of eleven nominations. The film won the Best Feature Film, Best Feature Film Actress for Khomotso Manyaka as Chanda, Best Feature Film Supporting Actress for Harriet Manamela as Mrs. Tafa, Best Feature Film Ensemble, and the film’s director, Oliver Schmitz, won Ster-Kinekor Theatres' Best Feature Film Director Award, receiving a cash prize of R20 000.

    Other winners included: Best Documentary (Jammer as ek so Bitter by Black Brain Productions); Best TV Drama (Erfsondes by Imani Media);Best TV Drama Actor
    (Vusi Kunene  in Soul City); Best TV Drama Director (Amanda Lane for 4 Play);
    and Best TV Soap Director (Isidingo directing team for Isidingo).

  • Wannabe pay-TV operator Super 5 Media has requested yet another extension from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to launch services commercially. However, it is not clear whether the authority will grant its request this time around.

    Super 5 Media, formerly Telkom Media, was licensed, along with four other prospective operators to compete with incumbent pay-TV operator MultiChoice and its DStv service, about four years ago. Of the companies licensed, only On Digital Media has launched a product, TopTV.

    The fact that Super 5 is requesting a further extension suggests the company is not yet ready to bring a product to market. Last year, it retrenched all its staff amid talk that it would be forced to file for liquidation.

    Icasa spokesman Jubie Matlou says the embattled prospective broadcaster has applied for an extension to its launch date. The authority has responded to the request, but Matlou says that until Super 5 Media has had a chance to review Icasa’s response he can’t disclose the authority’s decision.

    This is the third time Super 5 Media has applied for an extension from Icasa. Under its broadcasting licence obligations, it was supposed to have a service up and running by June last year. However, shareholder changes and other troubles kept it from launching any channels.

    Its deadline was then extended to September last year and, later, until March this year. The company has faced several significant hurdles since it was licensed, not least of which was Telkom’s decision to divest of its stake.

    Telkom’s 75% shareholding was acquired by Shenzen Media, a company in which businessman Briss Mathabathe’s Imbani Holdings owns 80%. The remaining 20% is in the hands of the Sino-African Development Group, a business owned and led by Chinese businessman Philip Xiao.

    In July last year, TechCentral broke the news that Super 5 Media had retrenched all of its remaining employees — more than 40 people in total — and was facing the prospect of closure. “Without a product, we couldn’t keep on a full complement of staff,” Muhammad Lockhat, a Super 5 Media director, told TechCentral at the time.

    Full story here:

  • Segun Fayose is the Head, Corporate Communication, MultiChoice Nigeria. In this exclusive interview with Daily Independent Deputy Editor, Charles Okogene, he spoke on the challenges of his job and all the goodies that DStv has in the bouquet for its many subscribers.

    Q: Aside EPL (English Premier League), which is now on your platform, what other thing will your subscribers look out for this year?

    A: Our subscribers should look forward to more compelling contents from DStv. Having migrated from W4 Satellite to W7 Satellite in the first quarter of 2010, MultiChoice now has the capacity to upload more channels to the DStv platform; so our subscribers should look forward to more entertainment, more news, sports, movies and especially local content; MNET, our sister company has continued to invest in the local industry in Nigeria. Tinsel will continue, Big Brother is coming back, GLO/Naija Sings will enter another season this year, Comedy Club is back, Jara, a programme created specifically to highlight the triumphs and gains of the movie industry in Nigeria is right now on the DStv platform.

    So, there will be more channels and of course, we are investing a lot of money on new technology to make our subscribers enjoy our products with all the ease; we want it to be possible for our subscribers to pay their subscription in the comfort of their homes. That means we are going to increase our payment options, our subscribers will be able to pay using the internet, their ATM cards, their phones, via the banks, our dealers or even at our offices.

    Q: How true is it that DStv mobile service will be withdrawn from Nigerian market soon?

    A: DStv mobile will remain; what the company said is that free viewing will cease at the end of March this year. DStv mobile owners have had free access from last year and it is going to run into the end of March this year; so from April, subscribers will begin to pay subscription fees. That is what is going to happen not that it will be withdrawn from the market. It is also not true that HDVR decoder is been withdrawn from Nigerian market. It has come to stay and a lot of Nigerian subscribers are enjoying it, it is a niche product for those who can afford it but the value added is quite unique, that is why a lot of people who understand and can appreciate the advantage of high definition plus PVR functionalities are going for it. And we, on our part are doing our best to increase the number of HD contents we have on the DStv platform.

    Q: EPL still remains a big issue because it is only available on your premium bouquet. Is there any plan to make it available on other bouquets?

    A: It was initially only on the premium bouquet and that is understandable because of the cost of acquiring the EPL rights. Most journalists know how much it cost Supersports to get the EPL rights and for us to maximise profit from that huge investment. It stood to reason that premium content like the EPL was made available only to subscribers on our premium bouquet only. However, given our reputation as a listening company, we decided to meet our subscribers half way by creating a new bouquet called DStv Compact Plus.

    The DStv Compact Plus bouquet which goes for N6,800 monthly subscription was created specifically to cater for the demand of some soccer lovers especially followers of EPL and other seasoned leagues, who want to watch premium soccer at a cheaper price. So, those on Compact Plus bouquet can watch 90 per cent of EPL, the German Bundesliga, Nigerian Premier League and a host of others on the Compact Plus bouquet.

    Q: Did you need the competition from competitors like HiTV to adjust in the areas like making subscription payment seamless, decoder swap and so on?

    A: The issue of decoder swap has always been there. We have always done decoder swap for our subscribers. The issue of seamless payment has always been there too because when we pioneered payment options with the banks, we did that before the advent of some competitors, but a lot of people still preferred to remove their smartcards, come to our offices and make payment and have it activated immediately because they felt that going to the bank was like going to a third party; that the banks would still come to Multichoice and so, why not go to Multichoice directly? And beyond the banks, we had also created our value chain, the distribution network, to bring in super dealers via our enterprise development programme which we started as part of our strategy to empower SME's in Nigeria. We did a whole lot before our competitors came in.

    However, that is not enough to dismiss the positive impact of competitors that have helped to grow the industry. Competition brings out the best in you, it brings in different economies of scales, it makes you more innovative and it puts you on your toes. We welcome competition and we are happy about that.

    Q: A lot of us see DStv as a company that just takes and takes our money; in what ways has it given back to the society?

    A: We do give back to the society; for instance, the investments in local content by our sister company, M-Net, is our own creative way of giving back to our society. That is why you have African Magic, African Magic Yoruba and Hausa. These are our local investment initiatives. Like the Comedy Club, Let's Dance (that happened two years ago) GLO/Naija Sings, Tinsel and a host of others. Even the New Direction Initiative, are all part of investments in local content.

  • The Standard reported on 20 February 2011 that TV viewership fell sharply across the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) channels during the last quarter of 2010 as the country's sole broadcaster stepped up its propaganda against President Robert Mugabe's opponents, a study has revealed.

    Results of the Zimbabwe All Media Products and Services Survey (Zamps) released on Tuesday showed that viewership of ZBC TVI slumped from 34% of the population to 24% in the last quarter of 2010. The news hour programme, which airs during prime time, led the decline with viewership falling from 30 % in the previous quarter to 26 % although it remained the favourite programme among viewers.

    ZBC Channel 2, which entered the market with 14% viewership, is now watched by just 10% of the population. Satellite viewership remained constant at 46% as Zimbabweans continue to resort to foreign TV stations that provide better content.

    The latest statistics come at a time when ZBC is suing The Standard for US$10 million after it reported that viewers and listeners were deserting its stations because of partisan programming. ZBC has also taken offence with claims that towards the end of last year it was failing to pay its workers on time.

    In a letter of complaint to The Standard, ZBC CEO Happison Muchechetere said the fact that most Zimbabweans were opting for satellite television was because of "technological advances and variety of choice in broadcast viewership."

    He also dismissed reports that management was giving itself "obscene allowances" while ordinary workers were being given little and that ZBC was a Zanu PF propaganda tool. The Standard has in its possession ZBC pay slips that show low level journalists earning as little as US$350 a month.

    The MDC led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai recently wrote to Muchechetere complaining that ZBC had "displayed open bias against our party, its officials and their activities."

    Listenership of ZBC's radio stations also fell sharply during the quarter under review.

    A fortnight ago, ZBC demanded questions in writing when The Standard sought its response to the story detailing its multifaceted problems that has been dismissed by Muchechetere as malicious. But after the questions were sent to Elliot Kasu, the finance and administration manager said they would not respond because the paper had delayed in addressing their complaint.

    The ZBC CEO said the top of the range cars being driven by his senior management were "commensurate with performance contracts approval (sic) by the board and consistence (sic) with similar organisations."

  • On 21st February 2011, it was confirmed that TV5Monde is consolidating its position as the leading international broadcaster in Mali, leading the race according to the latest indicators published by TNS Sofres*.

    In Bamako, TV5Monde is watched weekly by 77.5% of the population aged 15 and older. Daily, nearly one in two people watches the channel (45%).
    Awareness of the French channel in the Malian capital reached 97.7% (+1.3 pts compared to 2009) at the end of 2010, where it is distributed on MMDS networks Multicanal and Malivision.

    TV5Monde is now positioned just behind ORTM Mali and Africable, but far ahead of all other international channels.
     
    * Face-to-face Survey conducted by TNS Sofres according to the quotas method from November 29 to December 5, 2010, with a representative sample of 1131 people aged 15 and over interviewed in Bamako.

  • South Africa’s local production industry received a boost back in 2010, with M-Net’s announcement of a new local content channel, Mzansi Magic, which show cases on screen since the 12 July, 2010. The channel has been available to MultiChoice subscribers on DStv Select, DStv Compact and DStv Premium.

    The channel provides locally produced content with a strong entertainment focus.” It has been shaped through dialogue with some of the our most successful actors, musicians, comedians and it is a privilege to be involved with an initiative that will promote local content both in South Africa and globally, “ explains Yolisa Phahle, Channel Director for Mzansi Magic.

    The channel offers a diverse content mix, including local and international feature films, music specials, documentaries and soapies. Programme manager, Lebone Maema says, “Subscribers will be treated to a host of new local programmes which will premiere on Mzansi Magic. These include interactive talk shows hosted by new and established television and radio personalities”.

    The channel also introduces to television the uniquely South African low budget film genre nicknamed “bubblegum cinema”. It broadcasts comedy hits such as Moruti wa tsotsi and Madhluphuthu, which have only been available on DVD to limited audiences (before).

    The channel’s diverse content procurement strategy provides a solid basis for existing and emerging South African producers and filmmakers to engage M-Net in the licensing and production of local content.

    M-Net aims to play its part in stimulating the growth and development of the industry in a sustainable way. “With this channel we want to engage producers and explore possibilities beyond traditional commissioning models. In partnership with South African filmmakers, we will seek to empower emerging talent to produce compelling content with local and universal appeal, but also to ensure that key skills are transferred to the industry,” explains Phahle.

  • The government will develop a content management web portal to market Kenyan films on a digital platform to raise international visibility. The portal, to be run by the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), will showcase the sectors' products that players say have been hit by poor marketing and lack of awareness.

    According to Information PS Bitange Ndemo, this will save producers the costs of marketing and distribution. "The Kenya Tourism Board through the content management portal will host all our local productions and make them accessible for preview and e-commerce," said Dr Ndemo during the release of a research to establish the economic contribution of film and TV industry in Kenya.

    "Distribution and exhibition of films in Kenya is almost non-existent. The majority of the theatrical distribution industry in Kenya is predominantly located in Nairobi," the research reads in part.

    The study, done by Strategic Public Relations and Research Limited says that majority of Kenyans prefer watching movies from their houses, vindicating the shifting of viewership trends to homes that has seen several theatres close.

    According to the study released by the Kenya Film Commission, 85.1 per cent of the respondents watch movies in their houses, 18 per cent watch movies in theatres, 4.7 per cent watch movies in their local or estate movie halls and 2.8 per cent watch movies via mobile cinemas.

    Rental shops remain the best source for movies with 48.9 per cent of the respondents saying they source their movies from rental shops, 31.8 per cent source from street vendors, 6.7 per cent get theirs from film theatres, 6.7 per cent from supermarkets while 3.5 per cent download movies from the internet.

    The web portal will shift the source of information about local movies to the internet as film producers will be expected to present their work alongside short previews for the purposes of teasing the audience.

    Analysts say the growth in take-up of 3G handsets, smartphones, iPads and other portable devices, the proliferation of high-speed fixed and mobile internet connectivity in the country will be the key drivers of the online marketing tool.

    "The ongoing transition to digital technologies that increases processing power and storage capacities of consumers will be instrumental in its success," said Moses Simiyu, an IT expert.

    The study reveals that the film industry contributed Sh1.8 billion directly to the economy in 2008. Indirectly the sector is estimated to have generated Sh48billion from ripple effects that include proceeds from filming licences, visa application fees for foreign film makers, tourism, spending by film makers in local hotels, skills and labour supply, culture and merchandising.

    The Film Commission says the sector is currently generating over Sh3 billion annually. The study cites high costs of production and the perception that Kenyan movies are inferior as some of the challenges stifling the sector's growth.

    "But it is difficult to tell the exact value of the industry since it's not mandatory to register a film or television production," said Peter Mutie, the chief executive officer of the Kenya Film Commission. Bitange says research findings will help the ministry to lobby for a revolving fund to support the local producers.

    "We have been missing figures to use to convince the government on the contribution of the film industry on the economy. With this study, we can now convince the relevant ministries abotu the need to set up a revolving film fund to promote the industry," said Dr Ndemo. "Banks will also begin to understand what is happening in the sector," he added.

    The Film Commission is also pushing for a regulated system of charging shooting fees to control costs. "Currently some of the regulations around filming and production are a deterrence to the industry's growth. One of the most disturbing is the shooting fees," said Mutie. For instance, a film maker today will be required to pay Sh100,000 to shoot in Malindi per day per site of a film location. In Nairobi, the City Council is said to have recently increased the charge to Sh50,000 per street per day.

    The faster internet speeds have also been blamed for the sectors' woos having made it easier for traders to download movies and re-produce them in a matter of hours denying movie houses revenues a move that has seen several cinema halls in Kenya including Kenya Cinema, Odeon Cinema, Globe Cinema and Shan Cinema close shop.

    South Africa's Nu Metro exited the local market last year and sold its assets to Nigeria's Silverbird after it failed to stem losses.

    The research recommends calls for a study to estimate the revenue lost as a result of piracy as part of the contribution of the film industry to the Kenyan economy. The Copyright Board of Kenya launched an authentication device to be placed on all audiovisual material meant for sale to clamp down on the pirated movies.

    But the survey finds that Kenyans prefer to watch movies with local content over those with foreign content. In the survey 41.6 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to watch local productions while 35 per cent are slightly likely to watch a movie with local content over foreign content.

  • Charles Hamya is the long-serving General Manager of Multichoice Uganda, the premier provider of satellite digital TV. The Independent's Haggai Matsiko spoke to him.

    Q: 2010 saw an influx of players into the pay TV market, how did that affect your year of doing business?

    A: Although we were hurt by the ever-depreciating shilling against the US dollar, we had a successful 2010, with the FIFA World Cup 2010 event being the key highlight for our business.

    Q: How have the new players affected Multichoice's market share and profitability?

    A: Currently, we only play in the satellite TV business and as far as this goes, we continue to register growth. I am not aware of any other legitimate player offering a direct-to-home proposition in Uganda. However, with new terrestrial players emerging on the market, there is no doubt that they would acquire customers for themselves. This in many ways has and will create a whole new market for the industry. Have our profits plummeted? What I can tell you is that our shareholder's are pleased with our performance.

    Q: As a manager how do you view competition?

    A: It is a healthy situation for any industry, particularly from a consumer standpoint. It affords them choice and flexibility. As service providers, it compels us to innovate in order to stay ahead and relevant to our consumers. For the business world, I think competition should be viewed as a good thing on condition that the competitors are legitimate and act commercially responsibly.

    Q: What is the future of TV in Uganda?

    A: From a service provider's standpoint, I see extremely exciting times ahead. With technology fast evolving, free to air broadcasters are now able to provide a digitised picture for example. For us, we are playing in the high definition (HD) space, where the clarity of the DStv HD picture is comparable to no other provider on this market. For the consumer; I believe they should brace themselves for a wider choice of better quality TV services. I also foresee a situation where TV will be consumed through non-traditional devices such as the telephone handset, PC and the ipad. All these devices are readily available on the market and it's no longer a question of if but when. This market will, however, remain miniscule.

    Q: The switch to digital, how will it impact the industry?

    A: The switch from analogue to digital is set to impact the industry in a positive way. Firstly, it will allow for the efficient and effective use and management of the frequency spectrum in the sense that where 9 free to air TV stations have been using 9 frequencies to offer their services, they will now only need to use one (1) frequency to provide all 9 services thus freeing up 8 frequencies for use to provide other services. Secondly, it is expected to bring about diversity in programming as well as a multitude of channels thus taking the Ugandan consumer to the next level of TV viewing. Over time local TV production houses should also flourish.

    Q: Exactly how big is the TV market and in your view how can it be served better?

    A: Television households in Uganda are sitting at approx 1.1 million and projected to increase to approximately 1.4 million within the next 3 years. The market can be served better through the provision of more informative, educative and up to date programmes. I also think that from a pay TV perspective, making services more affordable is a good ticket to increasing TV consumption. This we have done through reducing the cost of our equipment to less than Shs 140,000 as well as introducing affordable subscription packages such as the Access package that goes for Shs 23, 500 where one gets over 35 world class TV channels.

    Q: What is your big idea for doing business in 2011?

    A: Not just one big idea, we have a number of initiatives lined up for 2011 geared towards empowering us well as serving our target TV audiences better. I strongly believe that we are well positioned to take the industry to the next level especially at this time when the country is preparing to switch over to digital.

  • In addition to the mini-site devoted to Fespaco at tv5monde.com/fespaco which offers quizzes, «Y’a du Monde à Ouagadougou», with updates presented by Estelle Martin and all the latest news from the festival, Internet users around the world have free, on-demand access to the programming at TV5Monde+Afrique, the first 100% Africa web TV platform.

    TV5Monde+ Cinema: Launched in May 2010 at the Cannes Film Festival, this video-on-demand platform now offers nearly 300 films in their original French version, including some 20 films from the southern hemisphere, directed by renowned filmmakers such as Mahamt-Saleh Haroun, Youssef Chahine, Moussa Touré, Abderrahmane Sissako, Elia Suleiman, Yousri Nasrallah and Moufida Tatli, as well as today’s young film talents like Lyes Salem, Nadir Moknèche, Abdellatif Kechiche.
    TV5Monde+ Cinema also proposes a selection of short films and film news, all of which is available at tv5monde.com/cinema

    TV5Monde+Documentaire, launched on 4 October 2010, is home to a catalogue of more than 3,000 documentaries in their original French version, of which more than 200 focus on Africa, addressing various topics (history, society, discovery, travel, etc.). TV5Monde+Documentaire is scheduling one free documentary which is available to everyone; the promotion began with a documentary profiling Nelson Mandela. To coincide with Fespaco, the «Afrique, le Défi Vert» collection will be in the spotlight: «Mali, un Delta et des Hommes» will screen in February and “Adrar, la Fin des Oasis?” follows in March.
    To learn more visit:

  • Speech and press freedoms are new for Tunisia. With president Ben Ali gone, they're now being allowed to flourish. Along the main boulevard in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, stores are open and people drink coffee at sidewalk cafes. Just a few weeks ago this street was a war zone, with tear gas, stones and bullets whirring through the air.

    While all that was happening, there wasn't so much as a glimmer of it on Tunisian television. "The whole country was burning, people were revolting, and you know what they were showing on TV? A program on obesity, for God's sake!" said Noura Houisi, a 20-year-old student in Tunis. She said like many there, she had little use for the old Tunisian media.

    Hmidah Ben Romdhane, the new director of La Presse, one of Tunisia's major newspapers, said before Tunisia's long-term president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14, media chiefs there owed their jobs to the dictator. "When the boss who is faithful to the dictator, the journalist can't do anything because if you write a piece that seems unpleasant to the boss, you can't publish it," Ben Romdhane said. "This situation provoked a kind of self-censorship for the journalists."

    It was this reality that led Ben Romdhane to write an editorial, with the title, "Mea Culpa," on the front page of La Presse, two weeks after Ben Ali departed. Ben Romdhane apologized to readers for providing "everything but the news," and promised a press that would be accurate, inclusive, and diverse.

    Now, journalists at the paper are chomping at the bit to make that happen, he said. "People find themselves free and they behave as if they were always free, so there is no any kind of self censorship now," Ben Romdhane said.

    Things are indeed radically different now. News reports actually describe what is going on. Satire targeting public officials -- absolutely unheard of under Ben Ali -- flourishes on a popular radio station, Mosaique FM.

    Web pages are, ostensibly, no longer blocked -- apart from pornography and terrorism related sites. But there are still traces of the old ways. Some have complained about deleted Facebook pages and blocked videos of police brutality against protestors.

    Beyond the lingering censorship, self-censorship is a hard habit to break. On a national TV talk show a few weeks after the regime fell, one guest challenged the hosts after, he said, someone back stage told him not to talk about politics.

    "This is happening on national TV," the talk show guest said. "You are scared about your jobs. We have to get used to saying no. You should expose yourselves to losing your jobs like some of us who exposed our chests to bullets," the man said on the air.

    Ten years ago, Riadh Ben Fadhel was shot twice in the chest by unidentified gunmen after he wrote a commentary in the newspaper, "Le Monde," calling for Ben Ali to step down. Now Ben Fadhel runs a communications firm in Tunis. He said that he agrees that some outlets are having difficulty making the transition to a free press, but others are going too far in another direction.

    "Unfortunately, it has led to some excesses. Some journalists have a tendency to say everything. There was such a thirst for liberty, but this thirst has resulted in some unprofessional behavior," Ben Fadhel said. He pointed to some journalists who repeated and ran stories from Facebook that turned out not to be true.

    Ben Fadhel said that Tunisia needs to get back to the basics of professional journalism, and he added that he thought that Tunisia's journalists are trying to do that. A national council on communication is being set up to give guidance and training, though most are learning by trial and error.

  • On Monday 21 February 2011, Reporters Without Borders supported the campaign launched today by the National Press Owners Committee (CONAPP), the Togo Union of Independent Journalists (UJIT) and the Togolese Media Monitoring Centre (OTM) to draw attention to the plight of three privately-owned radio stations which the government closed three months ago.

    The three stations – Providence, Métropolys and X-Solaire – were closed by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulation Agency on 30 November of the grounds that their papers were not in order. They have since tried to obtain the required documents from the territorial administration ministry but without success. As result, they have been unable to resume broadcasting.

    Spots prepared by the CONAPP, UJIT and OTM that denounce this situation began being broadcast on all other radio stations today. The campaign will be stepped up next week with “Togo without media” days of action, sit-ins outside government agencies and protest marches in various cities.

    In support of the campaign, Reporters Without Borders wrote to territorial administration minister Pascal Bodjona today asking him to explain the slowness of the administrative procedures that have kept the three radio stations closed for the past three months.

    “Considerations of a political nature should not give rise to conflicts of interest between Togo’s governing class and media,” the letter said. “On the contrary, the role of the authorities is to preserve freedom of expression and to guarantee the constitution.”

  • Fast-moving events across northern Africa have shaken long-lasting regimes - and the news organizations struggling to provide timely coverage. But new media - plus the youngest news network, Al Jazeera - are providing compelling 24-hour coverage.
    Websites:click here and here:

    Libyans both inside and outside the country are using social media to plead for more visibility. No independent media is tolerated in Libya, and international journalists are being denied entry to the country.

    In Egypt, Al Jazeera's YouTube channel brings news of the weekend's uprising on the streets of Cairo and other cities against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.
     
    Back on 30 Jan. 2011, Egypt’s Information Minister Anas el-Fekki took the decision to shut down Qatar-based Al-Jazeera's operations in Egypt, where the pan-Arab satellite TV channel has been providing round-the-clock coverage of the anti-government protests that began on 25 January 2011.

    "By banning Al Jazeera, the government is trying to limit the circulation of TV footage of the six-day-old wave of protests," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. "Thus totally archaic decision is in completely contradiction with President Hosni Mubarak's promise of 'democratic' measures on 28 January. It is also the exact of opposite of the increase in freedom sought by the Egyptian population."

    The government news agency MENA reported this morning that Fekki had ordered "the suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff." Fekki is a member of a cabinet that has been acting in a caretaker capacity ever since Mubarak announced his intention to replace it on 28 January.

    In an earlier move, the Egyptian authorities shut down the country's Internet and mobile phone networks at around 10:30 p.m. on 27 January in an attempt to prevent the protests from being organized and to limit international coverage. Mobile phone communications were partially restored yesterday but connecting to the Internet still seems to be impossible.

    Al Jazeera has often had problems with Arab governments that accuse its coverage of being biased. The Iraqi government closed down its bureaux in 2006. The Moroccan and Kuwaiti authorities did the same in the latter part of 2010.

    Al Jazeera's bureaux in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Nablus were attacked in January after it revealed that the Palestinian Authority had offered major concessions in the course of confidential negotiations with Israel, including concessions on Jerusalem's status and the return of Palestinian refugees. The PA's negotiators accused Al Jazeera of lying and distorting the facts.

  • TechCentral reported that MTN has unveiled InternetOnTV, a R999 living-room product that connects consumers to the Internet through a television set. The announcement comes just days after Vodacom (Feb. 11) took the wraps off a similar product of its own, the R749 WebBox.

    MTN and Vodacom hope the offerings will extend Internet access to poorer South Africans. InternetOnTV and the WebBox are both targeted at consumers who don’t already have access to a computer or the Internet at home. Both devices connect to television sets using standard RCA cables. However, the two devices are vastly different.

    MTN’s InternetOnTV has three separate components: a keyboard, a mouse, and a telephone that resembles a Telkom handset. The telephone is the hub of the device, housing the Sim card and connecting everything to the television.

    Vodacom’s WebBox is far simpler, with the technology, including GPRS/Edge modem built into a keyboard, which connects to the TV. The cable on the MTN device is short, at 2m, shorter than the 3m on offer from Vodacom. MTN gains a little extra length because a keyboard cable extends its reach, but not by much.

    InternetOnTV costs R999, almost R250 more than the WebBox. However, MTN says the device will be available from SA retailer Jet stores across the country and consumers can pay off the device over six months, without incurring any interest. It also supports wireless broadband at speeds of up to 7,2Mbit/s and it can also make telephone calls.

    The R999 price tag includes a R60 airtime voucher, which MTN says can be converted to a 75MB data bundle. Much like Vodacom’s WebBox, which comes with a 100MB data bundle that must be used within three months, the InternetOnTV can be loaded with airtime denominations that can then be converted to data bundles.

    Interestingly, MTN has plans to introduce a new data bundle that may be aimed specifically at users of the device. The company will offer a 90-minute uncapped data bundle, a spin-off of its 24-hour uncapped service. It hasn’t revealed pricing for the planned bundle.

    InternetOnTV runs Qualcomm’s operating system, Brew. Qualcomm relaunched the operating system, originally developed for devices connecting to CDMA (code division multiple access) networks, intending to take it to mass-market devices.

    It is not yet clear whether Brew allows users to download and install other applications on the device. Vodacom’s WebBox runs on Android, but does not connect to the Android Market.

    Like the WebBox, MTN’s device also uses Opera Mini as its Web browser. It also offers social media integration, Microsoft Office document support (not yet supported on the WebBox) and access to e-mail. It has a built-in media player that plays MP3, AAC, DivX, WMA and Mpeg-4 files.

    TechCentral’s opinion:
    MTN has been slightly more innovative ideas around prepaid data, including timed access that can be purchased instead of only offering per-megabyte options.

    However, as with Vodacom’s offer, MTN could have taken a leaf out of BlackBerry’s book by offering unlimited on-device browsing for a set monthly amount — although, to be fair, MTN could run into trouble doing that given the InternetOnTV device supports 3G, unlike the WebBox.

    Still, the target market is one that would probably be keen to have access to cheap and “worry-free” browsing. Perhaps the planned 90-minute uncapped offering, if well priced, will encourage more users to take advantage of MTN’s offering.  —

    For the full story click here:

  • 26th February - 5th March 2011
    2011 FESPACO – 22nd edition
    Venue: Ouagadougou – Burkina Fasso

    Set up every two years, the well-known FESPACO festival is a week of celebration for Cinema for Africans and for the African Diaspora. Fespaco is considered as one of the biggest film events on the African continent. In 2011, it will be held under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Communication of Burkina Faso
    For more information visit here:

    15th March 2011
    BOBTV conference, exhibition and trade show
    African film and TV programmes expo
    Venue: Abuja, Nigeria

    Topic: new media tech
    For more information visit here:

    22nd - 27th March 2011
    Festival Cinema Africano Asia e America Latina 21° edizione
    Venue: Milano, Italy

    For more information visit here:

    22nd - 24th March 2011
    IPTV World Forum 2011
    Venue: Olympia, London UK

    IP is becoming compelling to an ever increasing group of service providers and utilised for an even wider range of environments. Not only have telcos widely deployed TV services over their IP networks, but cable companies are increasingly adopting IP from the flexibility and addressability it enables. With major initiatives such as YouView coming to fruition, building on the increasing consumer awareness created by the many early connected TV products already coming to market. The IP&TV World Forum again studies the IP based deployments in all these markets, whilst this year IP&TV World Forum brings a greater emphasis on TV business strategies, with a new track focussing on content acquisition, management and advertising.
    For more information visit here:

    23rd -25th March 2011
    AdExpo
    Venue: Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

    Mega Media AdExpo is a platform where the advertising industry, marketers, advertisers and media buyers gather and meet to discuss and plan advertising for the year ahead. Apart from the exhibits, the event also aims to educate with its offering of short 30 min workshops on interesting topics from Mobile marketing to internet advertising.

    25th March - 9th April 2011
    Afrika Filmfestival
    Venue: Leuven, 3220 Holsbeek - Belgium

    The Afrika Filmfestival in Leuven is the most important annual showcase for African films in the Benelux. The festival promotes African cinema. For more information visit here:

    4th -7th April 2011
    MIPTV
    Venue: Cannes, France

    MIPTV is the world's leading content market. It provides a unique opportunity to meet the key decision makers in the TV/Film, Digital media and Cinema industry. 21,000 m2 exhibition floor.
    For more information visit here:

    13th - 17th April 2011
    International Pan-African Film Festival of Cannes
    Venue: Cannes

    Submission of films and application for accreditation for the International Pan-African Film Festival of Cannes are now open.
    Closing date for film entries: February 20, 2011
    Film Genres Sought: Fiction/ Narrative, Documentary, Animation...
    Category: Long, Medium, Short film. For more information visit here:

    April - May 2011 (final dates tba)
    African film festival (AFF) in NYC
    Venue: NYC, USA

    Film Festival. AFF organisers accept submissions on an ongoing basis.
    For more information visit here:

    May 2010
    The Helsinki African Film Festival
    Venue: Andorra, Eerikinkatu 11, 00100 Helsinki

    Call for short film submissions - Deadline 31 December 2010
    Helsinki African Film Festival brings an entertaining and thought-provoking selection of contemporary African cinema to Finland. The festival aims to foster communication across cultures and support dialogue on wide-ranging issues related to Africa
    For more information visit here:

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

    For more information visit here:

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

    For more information visit here:

    2nd - 10th July, 2011
    Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF)
    Venue: Zanzibar, Tanzania

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

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

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

    21st -31st July 2011
    DIFF - 2nd Durban International Film Festival
    Venue: Durban (South Africa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    31st Oct - 7th Nov 2011
    Out In Africa
    South African Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
    Venue: various, see website

    For more information visit here:

    Oct - Nov, final dates tba
    Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival
    Venue: Edinburgh's Filmhouse cinema

    The UK's largest African Film Festival
    For more information visit here:

    30th Nov - 3rd Dec. 2011
    MYCONTENT, 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    Venue: Dubai
    MYCONTENT -
    (exhibition & conference) in dedicated to the Middle East & North Africa. It is MENA region’s 2nd entertainment content marketplace which will be held in conjunction with 4th Dubai International Character & Licensing Fair and 4th Dubai World Game Expo.
    For more information visit here:

  • The National Film and Video Foundation’s CEO Eddie Mbalo announced he was leaving last week. Karen Son will be CEO from 1April 2011.

    Former Independent Communications of Authority of SA (Icasa) Chairman Paris Mashile has been appointed as a nonexecutive director of state-owned broadcasting signal distributor Sentech.

    Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has announced the final two jury presidents for this year's event on 18 Feb 2011. South Africa's Keith Rose, director and founding partner of Velocity Films in South Africa, will chair the Film Craft Lions Jury while Maria Luisa Francoli Plaza, global chief executive officer of MPG, has been appointed Media Lions Jury president.

  • Kenya Film Commission (KFC) Animation Expo 2011 - Call for Entries
    The KFC Animation Expo is set to take place on 12th March 2011.
    The Expo will incorporate a showcase of animation work by Kenyan Animation Artistes as well as workshops.

    Calling all Animation Artists! Get your short Animation feature screened at the KFC Animation Expo!
    The feature needs be at least 2 minutes long and must be family friendly. The Animation shorts will be showcased at the Expo on March 12. The 10 best productions will get to be featured on the Animation Catalogue and the KFC Online Portal.

    Drop off your entries at the Kenya Film Commission, Jumuia Place, Lenana Road on or before Wednesday 2nd March 2011.

    Time: Saturday, March 12 · 9:00am - 5:00pm
    Location Venue: TBC, NAIROBI, KENYA
    You may email info@filmingkenya.com for any inquiries.

    Calling all music filmmakers...

    Filmmakers: Come show your work at the IMZ Film Screenings at WOMEX - your no. 1 platform for world music in audio-visual media.
     WOMEX's long-time partner IMZ, the International Music + Media Centre
    in Vienna, will jury the film proposals independently. Last year they received 50 submissions for 14 screening slots.
    Submitted films will also be considered for the World Music Films On Tour programme, a non-profit distribution project aimed at bringing musical diversity in film and video to a wider public.

    For more information visit here:


    Last call for film entries at DIFF

    The Durban International Film Festival has announced that its 32nd edition will take place from 21 to 31 July 2011.
    Supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (principal funder), National Film and Video Foundation and other valued funders and partners, the festival will present over 200 screenings of films from around the world, with a special focus on films from South African and Africa. Screenings will take place throughout Durban including township areas where cinemas are non-existent. The festival will also offer an extensive seminar and workshop programme featuring local and international filmmakers. 2011 will also see the return of Talent Campus Durban and the Durban FilmMart.

    The festival calls for entries from around the world. Feature films, short films and documentaries are all welcome. The festival does have a competition component. The deadline for entries is 31 March 2011 for short films and documentaries; 15 April 2011 for feature films. Early submissions are encouraged.

    All submissions will be done online via Eventival.
    Go to:

    South Africa: jobs at the brand new Killarney Mall CineCentre

    “The highly anticipated opening of the 708-seater Killarney Mall CineCentre will create jobs in management as well as ticket sales positions, and we are desirous to hire local individuals to fill these vacancies,” says Managing Director of Avalon Group, AB Moosa Jnr. “Applicants need to be young, dynamic, computer literate, and able to work long hours and preferably have their own transport.”

    The new Killarney Mall CineCentre will soon become an endearing cinematic venue in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, featuring state-of-the-art sound and projection technology as well as the finest in audience comfort.

    “The creation of jobs within our community, to the benefit of our shoppers and residents within Killarney, is an initiative we warmly welcome,” notes Debra Sharnock, Centre Manager of Killarney Mall. “The new cinema will become an endearing icon in Killarney, and we would like the community to be as involved in this initiative as possible.”

    Interested applicants can send their CV as well as a copy of their ID to cv4killarney@avalon-group.co.za or alternatively can contact Logan Pillay on 031 328 3334.

    Artslink.co.za Account:
    Alexia de Souza
    Marketing Concepts
    alexia@marketingconcepts.co.za
    011 783 0700
    Killarney Mall

    Visit here for Web site.
    Related Venue:
    Killarney Mall, Killarney Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa