Issue no. 114; 29 September 2011

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  • The Arab Spring has provided much needed momentum for Free-To-Air broadcast liberalisation in North Africa. The pace of change has been matched in Sub-Saharan Africa where the domestic airwaves are opening up to something more than Mr President TV and satellite Pay TV for the well-heeled elite, with the exception of North Africa where Satellite TV is a more democratic affair. Russell Southwood looks at those that have now got their foot on the accelerator and at the traffic jam at the back of the queue.

    Free-To-Air TV broadcast liberalisation is one of the litmus tests of freedom of expression and the desire to see a country’s economy develop. Allowing more than one mass channel for sending and receiving information and allowing commercial advertising into the market both change the communications dynamic in a country.

    Privately-owned TV channels also imply the weakening of the “direct-line” access from the President to the state broadcaster’s Director-General or News Editor. The private owner might be a friend (or close associate) of the President but friends can always fall out.

    Two North African countries have decided to go cross this line: Tunisia is to introduce 5 new private TV and Algeria will open itself up to private Free-To-Air broadcast stations in 2012.

    In Tunisia, the National Forum for the reform of information and communication (in French, L'Instance nationale pour la réforme de l'information et de la communication - Inric) recommended in a statement issued September 7, 2011, that five new TV licences be granted to: Tahar Ben Hassine (El Hiwar Ettounsi), Mohamed Hannachi (Golden TV), Mohamed Moncef Lem-Kachar (Khamsa TV), Nasr Ali Chakroun (Ulysses TV), Issam Kherigi (TWT).

    The Forum also recommended, in the same statement, the granting a license to create a public sports channel (via DTT) under the supervision of the Establishment of Tunisian Television (In French, l'Établissement de télévision tunisienne - ETT). The Forum recommended that these authorizations should be granted only to individuals and that they cannot be transferred in any manner to third parties.

    Tahar Ben Hassine already edits a service of the same name from London, while Mohamed and Mohamed Moncef Lemkachar Hannachi are owners of a local audiovisual production company. The other two lucky winners, Nasr Ali Chakroun (Ulysses TV) and Issam Kherigi (TWT) are respectively general manager of a company specialized in IT (3S Globalnet), and director of a production company, Spad (Société de production audiovisuelle).

    Tunisia had - even before the Arab Spring revolution - two public channels: Wataniya 1 and TV21 and two private channels: Hannibal TV and Nessma TV.  According to the Tunisian news agency, TAP, 33 requests for new TV channels have been filed, but only five licenses for the establishment of five new TV channels have been allocated.

    Moreover, the lawyer in charge, Sihem Ben Sedrine, said that RTCI  will get a provisional license to create its own radio station (Radio Kalima), but had not yet obtained the final license. Radio Kalima’s lawyer have been coing and going to Inric headquarters for a specification that is not yet ready.

    In Algeria, the local press has recently announced that private broadcasters will be licensed in 2012: The independent daily El-Watan, the Arabic El-Khabar and L'Expression all carried stories to that effect. Since 1962, state-run ENTV has had an almost monopoly on the national TV landscape. Except as in most of North Africa, there is widely distributed satellite TV with many Arabic and European channels. 

    The CEO of El Khabar, Zahreddine Smati, had already informed its editorial team before announcing its intention to start a TV station to the public, while El-Watan announced ‘El Watan-TV’ and a radio station loud and clear in its Wednesday edition. The French-language daily L'Expression has announced that its management will launch "Shems TV" (TV Soleil). Beur TV’s CEO Réda Mehigueni also wants to position itself on the Algerian market. ETRHB group seems to have taken several steps ahead of future competitors. Since 25 August 2011, a website - www.dzairwebtv.com - was launched.

    The Algerian government confirmed last Monday the opening of broadcasting licences through new laws reforming politics and media in the country. According to a 2008 study from French Médiamétrie that has an office in Algiers, 14 to 16 million Algerians watch foreign television against 8  to 10 million Algerians who follow ENTV programmes, which household penetration rate is about 23%.

    Meanwhile in Sub-Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe is dragging its heels and seeking to avoid giving any kind of licences that compete with the Government-controlled broadcast media. The Government appeared to be moving cautiously towards radio liberalisation when it called for applications 4 months ago but studiously avoided offering private TV licences. However, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe has not yet responded to the 15 or so applications it received for radio licences.

    So the roll-call of those with only one Government Free-To-Air TV station is shortening but not quickly enough. It currently stands at 19 countries: Algeria (see above); Cape Verde (private TV station piloted); Chad; Central African Republic; Comoros; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia (reports of 8 new private TV stations in 2011 but no sign yet with only 3 months to go); Eritrea; Gambia; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Lesotho; Libya (assumed to be coming soon); Mauritius; Rwanda; Sao Tome; Seychelles; and Zimbabwe.

    The next step is to open up the foreign ownership restrictions which effectively make it difficult to attract external investment and too often restrict ownership to the President’s family (see Angola), friends or hangers on. But more that another day….

    Please note, correction in Issue 113: The website Conrad Nkutu of Fast Track Productions is launching is: africafilmonline.tv

    This week on Balancing Act’s You Tube TV Channel:


    Conrad Nkutu, CEO, Fast Track Productions
    on its hit daily comedy, The Hostel

    Teju Babyface, CEO, Class Act Entertainment on his new comedy and variety show

    Bunmi Davies, CEO, Afrotainment on his hot comedy show Stand Up Nigeria

    Fathia Plange, Executive Director, Trend TV
    on season 2 of Make Me A Star

    Steve Ojo, CEO, Galaxy Entertainment on Africa's first telenovela Echoes

    David Campbell, CEO, Mediae on the new season of Shamba Shape Up

    Patrick Zuchowicki, CEO, Basic Lead on its new event TV Loves Africa

    Kalada Wilson, Managing Director, Trend TV on the revival of this Nigerian cable channel

    Santos Okottah, founder, eziki.tv on its livestreaming and downloads service

    Mike Aldridge, Broadcast Manager, Cape Town TV on this South African community TV station’s programming, audiences and business model

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

  • Ajala’s Dayo Osholuwu has launched the Ajala Travel Channel on Hi-TV and has far reaching ambitions to take it across the continent. The existence of a travel travel channel somehow validates the little-explored phenomenon of tourism amongst Africa’s growing middle class.

    The Channel was launched on Hi-TV in April of this year and it runs as a branded block for 8 hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with repeats on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

    The business model is a mixture of advertising (not much so far), sponsorship of programmes and people buying trips and packages from the company that also operates as a travel agent: currently 80% of revenues come from this source. On the advertising front, Osoluwu thinks it’s a matter of time and this will help establish that the channel’s credible.

    “Hi-TV had 200,000 subscribers when it launched but this has dropped over the last 8 month (without the EPL) to less than 100,000 subscribers. The big challenge is to take it from being a Nigerian Travel Channel to being one going out across the the continent, an African Travel Channel.

    “We’re in talks with DStv and Wananchi and want to get signed up on their platforms. We’ve also done a deal with Liberty TV for a strategic alliance that will develop a stand-alone channel. We need to deliver the ratings to convince advertisers.”

  • Doha, Qatar, 14 September 2011: There are more slaves than ever before, according to a shocking new documentary series premiering on Al Jazeera English on 10 October 2011.

    South African Oscar, BAFTA and Emmy winning executive producer Jon Blair says, " Slavery: A 21st Century Evil has been a year in the making and represents one of Al Jazeera's most important global investigations. Shot on three continents, this is the most in-depth study undertaken by any broadcaster of how and why modern day slavery persists.”

    Presented by Somali-born journalist Rageh Omaar, Slavery: A 21st Century Evilexposes how slavery is flourishing all over the world. “Today 27 million men, women and children are held, sold and trafficked as slaves throughout the world,” says Rageh. “That’s more than double the 12.5 million Africans who were taken into slavery during the several centuries of the Atlantic slave trade. This is atrade worth $32 billion a year – a trade that refuses to die and remains the most prolific evil in the world today.”
    Among other horrors, the different episodes explore:

    Food chain slaves in America and the largest slave labour case in living memory, where a Californian company is charged with enslaving more than 900 Thai child
     
    Series producer Tim Tate says, “Slavery: A 21st Century Evil reveals uncomfortable truths about the role of slave labour in modern life, like the way some of the food on the shelves of supermarkets has been harvested by slaves, or the use of slave labour to produce many of the goods consumers throughout the world take for granted.”

    Tim adds, “It’s also a challenge to governments throughout the world. There has never been an easier time to rid the world of slavery but we live in a world where a top lawyer charges £3 000 per hour and a slave can be bought for £55 or less. Yet the American government, despite its self-appointed role as the world’s anti-slavery police, devotes precious few resources to its own part in the 21st century slave trade.”

    The final episode will be an open public debate, which will discuss how the modern slave trade can be targeted and assess the efforts of the USA and the United Nations – the two major agencies involved.

    The seven 30-minute and one 60-minute episodes begin on 10 October 2011.

    For moreinformation, visit http://english.aljazeera.net. Watch a compilation of excerpts at http://www.vimeo.com/29040905. " target="_blank">here: Watch a compilation of excerpts here:

  • You might have previously heard about the local Indian government and railway ministries being reluctant to allow EON Productions to shoot Bond 23 in their country this winter and the back-up plan was always to move production to South Africa if an agreement couldn’t be reached.

    Now it’s confirmed the Plan B is moving ahead with India Take One Productions confirming to The Times of India (via MI6-HQ) newspaper over the weekend that an official EON note dated Thursday 22nd December had ruled out plans to film in India. Pravesh Sahni says; “Bond will not be coming to India,”

    However India Railways, widely believed to be the last hold-up on Bond 23 access in India, told the same newspaper via their executive director Chandralekha Mukherjee;

    “We’d given them all the permissions. They wanted to shoot in the Sabarmati yard and had asked to shoot on two gauges – broad gauge and meter gauge – and they wanted these for seven-hour stretches every day for seven days in a row, and we’d agreed. All had been worked out. They also wanted to shoot between Mumbai and Goa on the hero train, and wanted a special shot where a motorcycle from a bridge would jump on to a train, and the coach on which he’d jump needed to be reinforced, and we agreed.”

    “The matter was finalised by September 13. But a week later, we were informed that after an international discussion, the production team decided not to shoot in India. We’ve been very cooperative with them. We had ourselves hoped that the movie would be shot here,” she confirmed.

    Certainly one or two plot details to be garnered from the above though in truth we were already aware of the 738km Konkan Railway along and it’s stunning scenery that it was hoped would house some particularly memorable moments;

    So instead it will be South Africa that will house much of Bond 23, with also a stint in Istanbul and Pinewood Studios in the UK. Production will begin in the winter for an October 2012 release in the UK!

    Expectations are really high for this next instalment and it would seem that Bond 23 is shaping up to be an exciting prospect which we know has a title but EON are waiting for their usual press conference before they will unveil. With an a-list director on board (Sam Mendes), Craig well established in the lead role, Javier Bardem looking likely as the villain with Ralph Fiennes in a major role (could he be Blofeld?) and a welcome return for classic characters (Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny leading to the hope that Q might be back) things are shaping up very nicely indeed.

  • How to Steal 2 Million, South Africa director Charlie Vundla’s compelling debut feature film, has been selected for this year’s Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the US. The festival runs from 22 to 29 September 2011, and is held in Austin, Texas.

    "Fantastic Fest is a hugely popular film festival so this is excellent news for everyone involved in the movie," says Jeremy Nathan, producer of How to Steal 2 Million. "The festival specialises in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and action movies from all around the world. The organisers aim to choose only the best international films, so their selection is a wonderful accolade for How to Steal 2 Million, and especially for Charlie Vundla as this is his first feature film."

    In the tradition of the heist movie, How to Steal 2 Million has an intricate plot woven around the characters' attempts to formulate a plan, carry it out, and escape with the goods.

    The film tells the story of Jack (Menzi Ngubane), who has spent five long years in jail after being arrested for robbery. His partner in crime and best friend Twala (Rapulana Seiphemo) never got caught and Jack never talked. When he is released, Jack decides to go straight. He wants to start a construction business, but after being rejected for a loan he must find another way to get money. An opportunity presents itself when Twala suggests they rob a home where the take is worth R2 million. The film also stars Terry Pheto, Hlubi Mboya and John Kani.

    According to Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, How to Steal 2 Million performed 15% better than Jerusalema did on its opening weekend. "This is most encouraging. The film's attendances were also 7% higher at Ster Kinekor cinemas this past Tuesday than on opening Friday. That means word-of-mouth is working and that audiences are responding well. It's great to see that South African films are becoming increasingly popular."

  • A historical saga that traces the saga of the Bambara kingdom in the seventeenth century, this is the crazy bet of director Boubacar Sidibe, with ‘the Kings of Ségou‘ («Les rois de Ségou» in French).
    .
    This series of seven episodes of 78 minutes each, broadcast on TV5 Monde last July, is now available free on the French-language channel Web TV since Sept. 2, 2011 according to RFI. The saga takes the viewer on the steps of the “Bambara”, which dominated the region of present-day Mali between the seventeenth and nineteenth century.

    The stated goal of this production (deliberately simplified) is to: "give Africans the opportunity to see through the screen their past staged in an attractive and understandable way for the broader audience," says the director. It is also an opportunity to learn about the kingdom of Segou’s war customs beyond the borders of Mali.

    To write this history, we had to make a long archival work, but also meet many griots (traditional African poet-musicians) and specialized historians:"You know, the themes of many series focus on African ideas and realities. Far from despising the entertainment and intellectual enrichment aspects that these series provide, I feel, however as frustrated as the viewers of my continent, "says Boubacar Sidibé.

    Over the episodes, we discover the endless power struggles of legendary warriors, as Biton Coulibaly, founder of the kingdom of Segou, or the predictions of fetish who prepare their revenge..."The insult that cannot be cured in the blood. The challenge should be faced even if it is unreasonable and if the party is losing, "says the director.

    The shooting, which took place in the forest of Tienfala, a few kilometers from Bamako, the capital, and in the village of N'gami near Segou, lasted ten weeks, with the participation of 250 actors and extras from Mali.

    The series - a co-production of ORTM (TV channel Malian general public), Brico Films and Sarama Films - has cost 220 million CFA francs (335,000 Euros).

    Watch the series here:

  • SES announced today that Canal+ Overseas, the international subsidiary of French Pay-TV operator Canal+, has contracted multiple transponders and signed a long-term agreement for its subsidiary CANAL+ AFRIQUE in order to distribute the CANAL+/CANALSAT pay-TV bouquet of channels in Africa over the SES-4 satellite at the orbital location of 338 degrees East.

    CANAL+/CANALSAT is the first French-speaking pay-TV offer in Africa, distributed by CANAL+ AFRIQUE. The new contract with SES includes renewed and additional capacity and will allow Canal+ Overseas to extend its offer and migrate the pay-TV bouquet from the current NSS-7 spacecraft to the upcoming SES-4 satellite, without changing the orbital position and without a repointing of customer dishes. It ensures the long-term availability of the entire Canal+ Overseas programme line-up, standard definition as well as high-definition, via a single orbital position and to all of Canal+ Overseas’ target markets in Africa.

    The 338 degrees East position is one of the most highly demanded orbital locations for trans-Atlantic traffic serving Africa, Europe and the Americas. SES-4 has been built by Space System/Loral and will be launched on board an ILS/Proton booster from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, in the fourth quarter of this year. The massive spacecraft carries 52 C-band transponders as well as 72 Ku-band transponders and as such will be the largest satellite in the SES satellite fleet. SES-4 will replace the NSS-7 spacecraft, releasing this satellite for new missions at other orbital positions.

    States Ferdinand Kayser, Chief Commercial Officer of SES: “We are delighted to offer Canal+ Overseas a new satellite at 338 degrees East and extend our existing collaboration. This orbital location is already a well-established SES neighborhood over Africa and will offer our customers considerable incremental capacity for growth with SES-4. As Canal+ Overseas aims to increase the number of channels and services on offer and plans to introduce new HDTV services, SES will be pleased to provide the required state-of-the-art satellite capacity optimally covering all target markets in Africa.”
    For further information please contact:
    Markus Payer
    SES
    Tel + 352 710 725 500
    markus.payer@ses.com

  • TV5MONDE unveiled that the international TV channel is ahead of international channels in Togo, both in terms of reputation and audience.

    In the Togolese capital, 75% of people know TV5MONDE. They are 34% of the local population who watch the channel at least once a week (weekly cumulative audience) and 16% every day (daily cumulative audience).

    TV5MONDE consolidates its leading position in international channel in Togo with the excellent results of hearing, in a market wide open to local offers that make the country one of the most competitive in Francophone Africa.

    •    Survey Face-to-face conducted by TNS Sofres according to the method of quotas of 16 to 22 June 2011 with a sample of 1134 people aged 15 and over living in Lome.

  • URTI is holding its 63rd general Assembly of URTI and the Radio and Television Commissions in Paris, France, on Friday, October 21st 2011, at the invitation of France Télévisions, as an observer.

    There is also a programme of other events organised in partnership with the Le Radio fair, on Thursday, October 20th, around the prize-giving of the 23rd International URTI Radio Grand Prix (inc;uding a conference, official ceremony, and dinner dance).

    You will find the whole programme and the registration form in the enclosed documents, and also on its site here, where you will be able to register and get all the practical information.

    Participants are asked you to book your room as soon as possible in order to have the negotiated prices by mentioning the meeting organized by URTI. Please finalise your registration (on the Web site or by e-mail/fax) before September 30th 2011.

  • M-Net, the South African terrestrial pay-television channel, has sub-licensed the rights of its AfricaMagic content to international distributor THEMA TV. In a groundbreaking initiative, this deal will see a selection of AfricaMagic’s Nollywood content dubbed into the French language for the first time for television broadcast in Francophone Africa. 

    AfricaMagic is one of M-Net’s most popular entertainment channels, dedicated to broadcasting African content including drama series, documentaries and soaps. The channel also airs a vast selection of Nollywood films – formally known as the Nigerian video feature film industry – and is Africa’s largest movie industry in terms of the number of movies produced per year.

    Mike Dearham, Head of Sales & Library, M-Net says: “This deal marks an important milestone in M-Net’s growth in the global television market and supports our dedication to the development of Africa’s content industry. Nollywood is an African institution, which has showcased the continent’s rich pool of talent and creativity since its creation in the 1960s. We look forward to working with THEMA TV to present this content to new audiences, encouraging the expansion of the African production industry across the continent.”

    François Thiellet, CEO, THEMA TV adds: “We are very happy to announce our strong partnership with M-Net, reinforcing our strategy for the growth of the African media industry. With this new agreement added to the already existing creation of a SVOD offer entitled Films d’Afrique, THEMA TV is recognised as the provider of TV content for French-speaking Africans.”

    With a large portfolio, THEMA is the right partner to provide linear TV channels as well as content for VOD (SVOD) services.

    Major International Media Groups such as Digiturk, MBC Group, ART, ROTANA, ZEE Networks trust THEMA to handle the distibution of their channels, that is why THEMA has become the first provider of Ethnic TV channels in Europe, particularly in France, with the successful launch of "The African Bouquet", "The German Bouquet" and the "Indian Ocean Bouquet".

    Thema conveyed to Balancing Act that via this deal, Thema TV has acquired a selection of AfricaMagic programmes - 750 hours so far - with  rights for francophone Africa and Europe - namely France, Belgium and Switzerland. The programmes’ translation will be a large investment for which the company needs to make a return.

    Balancing Act’s Sylvain Béletre interviewed M-Net, Thema TV and analysed the deal’s impact.

    “M-Net’s AfricaMagic TV Channel is the African general entertainment channel showcases home-grown entertainment produced in Africa, by Africans, for Africans, mainly Nollywood content. AfricaMagic is recognised as one of the leading channels on the DStv bouquet and has been well-supported by the African audience and the advertising industry.”

    Mnet commented: “Africa Magic is one of DStv’s most popular entertainment channels. Dedicated to television broadcast of compelling African content, the channel showcases Nigerian films as well as filmed content from the rest of the continent. Africa Magic was launched on Dec 1st 2003 and began transmitting a mere 7 hours of content each day. Currently, the channel has a 24 hour uninterrupted broadcast of full length feature films, monthly soaps, drama series, magazine programmes, talk shows and documentaries. In 2008, the station launched Africa Magic Plus which differentiated itself because of its adoption of a broader Pan-African approach to programming. Channel growth further prompted a flowering of additional channels that catered for culturally (and language) specific African communities inclusive of Yoruba, Hausa and Swahili speaking groups.

    Juniper Musa, Channel Manager for Africa Magic & Magic World Africa said “The Channel through the years has continued to grow bigger and stronger, it has for several years been on the top performing channels across Africa. Fulfilling its promise to entertain its’ viewers by always dishing out fantastic and great TV series, Family Dramas and Reality shows. We can confidently say that the channel has become a part  and a true reflection of the African people and culture.”

    Beletre adds that “Thema TV now needs to decide what it will do with the programmes, whether these will be used to build a linear channel which could possibly be integrated in its ‘Bouquet Africain’, sold to francophone TV stations in Africa or Europe, made available on its SVOD service or on some third party VoD platform.

    This partnership could have a positive perspective on Mnet’s international visibility and on Thema’s packaging value because it provides a more compelling set of African content to meet the African diaspora’s demand in francophone market.

    So far, Thema has successfully launched its bouquet in France and since May 2011 via Numéricable Brussels in Belgium.

    However, the market impact of this deal will be moderate as only a few will be able to afford the bouquet, unless Thema TV manages to broadcast some of the programmes via free-to-air media.”

  • The award-winning gangster thriller feature film "Viva Riva!", directed by Congolese Djo Tunda wa Munga, is set to open in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland on 7 October 2011 and in several parts of the USA .

    The film has won several awards, including the inaugural 2011 MTV Movie Award for Best African Film, six African Movie Academy Awards and best feature from the 2011 Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles. The international co-production also screened at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

    Gangster thriller

    Shot on location in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in both French and Lingala, "Viva Riva!" is a thriller about a small-time thug, Riva, who returns to his energy-starved hometown of Kinshasa after stealing a truckload of fuel from an Angolan crime lord named Cesar.

    His bounty is worth a fortune in the city which has run out of petrol. Not only is the sharply dressed Cesar hot on his trail, but Riva also runs into trouble with the tough mob boss Azor, husband of the beautiful Nora, a woman he meets in a nightclub.

    "This is a high-definition portrait of urban Africa that is rarely seen on the big screen," says co-producer Steven Markovitz of Cape Town based Big World Cinema. "Rich with colour and movement, Munga's film takes audiences on a journey through crowded city streets and steamy nightclubs. He captures an atmosphere evocative of the DRC as it is today."

    Behind the scenes

    Congo-born R&B singer Patsha Bay Mukuna stars as Riva. Making her screen debut as the beautiful night club denizen Nora, is Paris-based actress Manie Malone. Cesar is played by Hoji Fortuna, an Angolan born actor who lives in New York. Diplome Amekindra takes on the role of Azor.

    The film's runaway success is a coup for Djo Tunda wa Munga who spent his childhood in Kinshasa and completed his schooling in Belgium, where he later studied film. He has directed several short films and documentaries. He also wrote Viva Riva! his first feature film, and secured finance for the film from France's Canal Plus. It's the first film shot in the Congo in 25 years after the industry was shut down by former president Mobutu Sese Seko.

    "What's really exciting is that we're witnessing the arrival of an electrifying new filmmaker," says Helen Kuun, CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution. "This is crime drama as it's never been seen before. It's an accomplished piece of filmmaking that has rightly been recognised as something new and special. We're really happy to be able to show it to South African audiences."

    Viva Riva is to be distributed by Indigenous Film Distribution and set to be released in Kenya and Uganda on 1 October 2011, followed by Mozambique, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe and the DRC. The film releases in Nigeria and Ghana on 1 December 2011.

    directed by Djo Tunda Wa Munga
    starring Patsha Bay Mukuna, Manie Malone, Hoji Fortuna, Marlene Longange, Diplome Amekindra, Alex Herabo

    Riva is a small time operator who has just returned to his hometown of Kinshasa, Congo after a decade away with a major score: a fortune in hijacked gasoline. Wads of cash in hand and out for a good time, Riva is soon entranced by beautiful night club denizen Nora, the kept woman of a local gangster. Into the mix comes an Angolan crime lord relentlessly seeking the return of his stolen shipment of gasoline. Director Djo Tunda Wa Munga’s Kinshasa is a seductively vibrant, lawless, fuel-starved sprawl of shantytowns, gated villas, bordellos and nightclubs and Riva is its perfect embodiment.

    Awards
    2011 MTV Movie Awards – Best African Film

    Winner of 6 African Movie Academy Awards 2011

    Best Film
    Best Director – Djo Tunda Wa Munga
    Best Supporting Actor – Hoji Fortuna
    Best Supporting Actress – Marlene Longange
    Best Cinematography
    Best Production Design
    Official Selection – 2010 Toronto International Film Festival
    Official Selection – 2011 Berlin International Film Festival
    Official Selection – 2011 South By Southwest Film Festival
    Winner – Best Feature Film – 2011 Pan African Film Festival

    Press Reactions
    « Four stars…One of the best neo-noirs from anywhere in recent memory. » – Eric Hynes, Time Out NY
    « Frenetic, sleazy and entertaining as all hell. » – Alison Willmore, The Onion
    « An exciting new filmmaking talent. » – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

    Technical Information
    Production Year: 2010
    Release Date: 10 Jun 2011
    Country of Production: Democratic Republic of Congo
    Language: Lingala, French, with English subtitles
    Running Time: 96
    Screen Ratio: 1.85:1
    Sound: Dolby Digital
    Color
    Rating: R

    For more, go to the official site:
    YouTube trailer:

  • International co-productions are an essential tool for the South African film and television industry. They not only allow the local industry to pool financing, but also attract creative talent with those from partner countries to make film and television products that enjoy the status of national productions in each of the respective countries.

    The NFVF reviews the performance and impact of the treaties annually, however starting from 2011 the review will be done twice a year with the first report released at the end of July 2011 and the second at the end of the financial year (March).This review is aimed at assessing the contribution of co-productions treaties to the entire South African film industry looking at the following factors; job creation, budgets and shooting locations and sources of funding, while also determining if the treaties meet the objectives they were signed for.

    South Africa has signed co-production treaties with six countries; Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany France and Australia, although the SA/Australia agreement is not yet operative.

    A total of 6 projects were submitted for a review at the end of July 2011. The SA/Germany has been the most successful in terms of production volumes and the most active partnership for both countries.

    The review reveals that for the first six months of 2011, a total of 4 projects were submitted from the Germany partnership with a total budget contribution of R111,417 465.00. South Africa contributed R41,172,918.00 and the remainder was sourced from Germany.

    A total of R57,549,996 was contributed by South African investors, and R14 398 327 was raised from the Department of Trade and Industry through the Film and television incentive scheme. Another total amount of R43,145,697 was sourced from private investors.

    Television was the most preferred format of production as 3 projects were TV series and 2 feature films and once off made for TV format was produced, and 3 projects were drama 2 family and 1 was a sci-fi.

    A total of 246 crew members were utilised for all the 6 projects and 152 of those were South Africans with 188 days spend shooting in South Africa.

    From the review it is apparent that the gender and race gap seems to be closing as there is a narrow margin between female and male participation and the participation between blacks and whites also reflects a narrow margin.

    For more information contact the NFVF/ Tsietsi Themane or call 0027 11 483 0880.

  • The African Union (AU) will, from 17 to 20 September 2011, participate in the Pan-African Conference on Access to Information (PACAI) in Cape Town, South Africa. This major event will bring together the cream of journalism in Africa and commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on freedom of expression.

    On the sidelines of the Conference, the AU, as a PACAI partner committed to promoting freedom of expression, access to information and the practice of independent journalism, will, on 19 September, launch the Pan-African Media Network (PAMEN).

    The PAMEN platform is an African Union initiative, run by the African Forum for Media Development of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) and the African Media Initiative (AMI). It will operate as a forum for exchange of information and practices among media professionals. It also aims to promote media development across Africa by fostering synergies between the initiatives of AU Member States, international institutions and development partners, including the media themselves. The network will pool projects for media development in Africa. On the whole, the PAMEN will serve as a reliable source of information for the AU and its partners to enable them to evaluate and monitor the changing media landscape in Africa. The PAMEN will also be a strategic tool that will help the AU to formulate better policies on aid and support to the media on the continent.

  • 23 September 2011: A government-imposed ban on media organizations reporting on the recent shooting that killed 39 people in Burundi has been broken by five radio stations and a private television channel.

    Information Minister Concilie Nibigira meanwhile said it would investigate the breach, saying the government's "decision must be respected."

    Victims of a massacre carried out in a bar in the Burundian town of Gatumba on 18 September 2011. While the scale of this attack was unprecedented in recent years, killings are reported almost daily in Burundi.

    The media outlets aired discussions on Sunday night's massacre at Gatumba, west of the capital Bujumbura, in a stronghold of the former National Liberation Forces (FNL) rebels whose leader Agathon Rwasa has been blamed for a recent spate of attacks.

    Burundi police said some of the attackers had come from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sources said FNL rebels, who are suspected of being behind the shooting, have a base in the east of the neighbouring country, where they have teamed up with Mai Mai groups. The government had announced a ban on media coverage of the attack inquiry.

    The small country is still struggling to emerge from 13 years of civil war that erupted in 1993 and left some 300,000 people dead. The escalating violence has raised fears of a resumption of all-out conflict.

  • The African Union (AU) took part on 17, September 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa, at the official opening ceremony of the first edition of the Pan-African Conference on Access to Information (PACAI) and the 15th meeting of Highway Africa. These two events are of paramount importance to media development in Africa.

    These two major pan-African conferences are historical for African media, given the role that media and social networks have played in the recent uprisings in North Africa and which resulted in unexpected political transitions and the establishment of institutions compliant with the demand for transparency and governance by the people. The ultimate goal of PACAI is to launch a continent-wide instrument to advocate for access to information through the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI).

    Mrs. Julia Dolly Joiner, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the AU, in her message delivered to participants on behalf of the Chairperson of the AUC, Dr. Jean Ping, emphasized the commitment of the AU to promote access to information as part of freedom of expression and as a cornerstone of the inalienable freedoms and rights. In this context, Mrs. Joiner stressed that access to information is not only the case of the media, it should also challenge the African citizens who are the primary actors in participatory democracy. “Access to information is not only important for human dignity but also for participation, accountability and democracy (…). Access to information is a human right” she emphasized.

    Africa is witnessing an unprecedented moment because of the technological revolution introduced by social media. However, Mrs. Joiner said that, despite the promises and progress already made on freedom of the press, expression and access to information, many cloudy areas remain. “In the post Windhoek Declaration era, (…) more still has to be done in order for media to play its rightful role in our African societies”. The AU has enshrined the right to information and freedom of expression in many of its texts. In accordance with these instruments, Mrs. Joiner said the AU Commission is committed to working more closely with African civil society organizations to promote greater access to information

    Commissioner Joiner hoped that the final declaration of the conference will be a strong instrument in accordance with the texts of the AU relating to the “right to development”. “It is the AU’s expectation, that the coming three days will enable our gathering to come up with ……… a declaration (…), not with the objective to name, blame and shame, but to assist our States in promoting access to information as a right to all Africans,” she said. (The speech by Commissioner Joiner is available here:)

    Launch of the Pan-African Media Network

    The Pan African Media Network (PAMEN), an AU initiative administered by the African Forum for Media Development of the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), the African Initiative Media (AMI), will be launched at the margins of the PACAI on Monday September 19. A workshop will be dedicated to the effective implementation and monitoring of PAMEN on the same day at12:45.

    At the opening ceremony of the PACAI and Highway Africa, all the speakers welcomed the support of the AU and its commitment to promoting access to information, a fundamental human right.

  • Middle Eastern and North African pay TV platform Orbit Showtime Network is launching a digital platform that will allow subscribers to watch programming on tablet computers and smartphones.

    The operator will launch My OSN later this year or early next year and will offer a catch up service and some channels streamed online.

    David Butorac, the chief executive of the Orbit Showtime Network, said: “You’d be able to catch up with your favourite series online. It’s a big step forward. We will expand the OSN experience to be across multiple platforms – so not just the broadcast platform that there is today, but also across tablets, smartphones and online.”

    The platform operator, is, separately, launching a new general entertainment channel OSN Yahala! HD. The high definition channel, which will launch over satellite in the Middle East and across Africa, will air a mix of entertainment and drama series and Hollywood movies.

  • New SA broadcast challenger edges closer to launch.

    Mobile TV, the company planning to introduce mobile television services in South Africa using Korea's digital multimedia broadcasting (DMB) standard, says it could be ready to start broadcasting commercially within three months in Gauteng.

    It is also planning to introduce SA's first digital audio broadcasting (DAB) radio stations - seen potentially as an eventual replacement to FM radio - as well as "visual radio" services, which offer visuals over normal radio broadcasts.

    Mobile TV founder and chairman Mothobi Mutloatse says the company is itching to get a commercial licence from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) so it can launch services. It currently has a 12-month test licence, which expires at the end of November 2011. It's been running a pilot broadcast from the Sentech tower in Brixton, Johannesburg.

    Continue reading the full story here:

  • Looking for the next NFVF CEO:

    Applications from suitably qualified candidates are invited to apply for the vacant position of Chief Executive Officer.

    The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is a statutory body mandated by an act of parliament (the National Film and Video Foundation Act 73 of 1997) to spearhead the equitable and development of the South African Film and Video Industry. The NFVF seeks to appoint a suitably qualified candidate for the following position:

    Position: Chief Executive Officer (3-5 year renewable contract)
    Reporting to: NFVF Council

    To be responsible for the management of the affairs of the Council of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) and to ensure that objectives of the NFVF are achieved, in accordance with the requirements of the NFVF Act No 73 of 1997. The incumbent must also have an understanding of government's key priorities, processes and governance. Have a broad understanding of the film and video sector and how film can make contributions to job creation, social cohesion and nation building.

    Key Responsibilities

    •Developing and managing strategic plan and budget
    •Reporting to the Council and its committee on projects of the organisation
    •Keeping the Council abreast with all international developments and best practice
    •Perform all duties in accordance with corporate governance practice and principles
    •Ensure that the NFVF its mission, programs and services are consistently presented in a strong and positive manner to stakeholders
    •Develops and maintains effective strategic relations with key stakeholders
    •Oversee the design, promotion and delivery of quality projects and services
    Qualifications and Experience

    Related tertiary qualification; post-graduate qualification will be advantageous; minimum of 10 years experience in senior management and executive leadership position; in-depth knowledge of the film and video industry and all legislation related to the sector; strong business acumen; strategic thinking and alignment; persuasion, negotiation and communication skills are imperative; high level of emotional intelligence and control; excellent people management skills; ability to network and engage with all stakeholders; obtain buy-in on crucial matters affecting the Council; highest integrity and adherence to corporate governance; ensure transformation and empowerment of the film industry.

    Market related package will be negotiated with successful candidate. If you have not heard from the NFVF by end October 2011, please note that your application has been unsuccessful. The NFVF applies the Employment Equity Act in its recruitment process and strives for a staff complement that is representative of South Africa.

    Applications from suitably qualified candidates are invited to apply and must include abridged curriculum vitae, via email to Rebecca Dube on rebecca@gpresourcing.co.za or fax to 0027 86 684 4057 by no later than 27 September 2011.

  • Call for South Africa and Australia Co-production of Films

    The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), hereby calls for applications for productions to be made in terms of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic South Africa and the Government of Australia concerning the Co-production of Films.

    The agreement came into effect on the 22nd August 2011 after all the necessary formalities between the two governments were concluded. The agreement was signed in South Africa on 18 June 2010.

    For the purposes of administration of the certification process, the designated competent authorities are the NFVF in South Africa and Screen Australia in Australia.

    Article 1 of the Agreement defines a film as any type of format including but not limited to feature films, television and animation but does not include an item which falls outside the applicable laws in South Africa and Australia.

    The NFVF advises producers to lodge their applications for an advance ruling at least 8 weeks before production to allow for further requests and interrogation of supporting documentations accompanying the applications. The signed copy of the agreement is available for downloading on the NFVF website.

    For any enquiries about the requirement of this treaty and other general co-productions contact Terrence Khumalo at 0027 11 483 0880.


    Call for social innovations across Africa

    Orange launches the African Social Venture Prize. The project aims at promoting social innovation for development, thanks to information and communication technologies, through financial and management support to new businesses rewarding ventures using technology for development purposes

    The African Social Venture Prize will reward three projects or enterprises addressing needs of the ‘bottom of pyramid’ market in Africa through technology.

    The digital projects range from e-health and mobile banking to digital and mobile applications for education or agriculture. They therefore represent huge opportunities for social development.

    An initiative part of a larger Innovation strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility policy

    Orange has commercial operations in 17 countries in Africa. This project is at the crossroads of its Corporate Social Responsibility policy and its Innovation strategy. By promoting social ventures, Orange aims at raising awareness about the role that Information and Communication Technologies can play in development.

    Prizes:

    The 3 winners will receive a financial grant (25K€, 15K€, 10K€) and they will also benefit from a 6-month mentoring by management experts.

    How to participate?

    Participants, regardless of nationality, must be more than 21 years old, can either be students, entrepreneurs or companies in activity since June 2008. The businesses or projects submitted are required to target at least one of the African countries of Orange’s footprint. Their core business has to use technology in an innovative way to enhance living conditions of local populations.

    The African countries of Orange's footprint are Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Botswana.

    Application will close on 30th. September2011.

    Contact : orange.socialventure@starafrica.com

Issue 573: Congo: “Fibre to the people” – how to make the best use of the new international capacity

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Top story

  • On September 12th, the ACE submarine fibre cable landed close to Banjul, the capital of the Gambia. Excitement and interest were high as you can see from the photos taken at the beach where the cable was pulled out of the sea (for the photos see Balancing Act’s website). The commercial launch of international fibre capacity will only start in July 2012 but the Gambia is already finalising the legal framework that will govern access to this new international capacity. Further down the west coast of Africa, Congo (Brazza) is still undecided as to how to deal with the international fibre capacity that will soon be on its doorstep.  Isabelle Gross looks at the some of the pitfalls that Congo has to avoid in order to make the best use of the forthcoming capacity.

    Congo is among the 12 countries on the west coast of Africa that for the first time will have a landing station providing access to international fibre capacity. It is not a small thing for the country to get connected to the WACS submarine cable but in order to harvest its benefits, such as cheaper and faster Internet access, the Congolese government has still to sort out issues regarding the management and access to the international fibre capacity.

    A look back over the history of the SAT3 submarine cable demonstrates that when the national incumbent manages the international capacity, the outcome is often less than optimal. With the exception of Sonatel in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, and more recently Benin Telecom, most of the national incumbents never seemed to understand how to maximize (in terms of revenue) the use of the international capacity available on SAT3. Among those who have failed to make full use of the opportunities are Camtel in Cameroon, Gabon Telecom, and Nitel in Nigeria. For many years, their management of the international capacity on SAT3 has led to very high prices (well above US$5,000 per MB) and a sub-standard service. Nitel in Nigeria managed its capacity so badly that Suburban Telecoms, an infrastructure provider in Nigeria, built a cross border fibre link to Benin, and thus opened up a second Nigerian access point to SAT3 capacity via Benin Telecom.

    The lessons from these failures are two-fold:
    - the national incumbent is not necessarily the best entity to manage the upcoming international capacity efficiently
    - monopoly management of the international fibre capacity helps to maintain artificially inflated high prices on international bandwidth

    So what should Congo do? If it gives the management of the international capacity to Congo Telecom, Congolese Internet users can say bye bye to the idea of cheaper and faster Internet at any time in the near future. Congo Telecom has neither the technical expertise nor the commercial skills (the level of the debts of the company is a good indicator of its incompetence) to manage the new international fibre capacity properly. If the Congolese Government wants to achieve its goal of seizing all the opportunities that international fibre capacity brings, it will need the political will to make some tough decisions. At present, the goal of bringing the Internet to the people seems far away. A basic 64KB connection still costs on average US$100 per month. By comparison, the average salary of a civil servant is between US$160 and US$200 per month.

    So how can Congo and other African countries avoid a situation in which consumers pay artificially inflated prices for the new international fibre capacity? In countries like Nigeria, which will soon have access to 5 international submarine cables (SAT3, Glo 1, Main One, WACS and ACE), competition between the various providers has already pushed down prices and this trend is likely to continue. Today international bandwidth comes for as little as US$300 per MB per month. In contrast, in Congo and in many of the 12 countries on the West coast of Africa that will get access to international fibre capacity for the first time, access will remain limited to one submarine cable, and relying on competition among providers to drive prices down won’t work. It is therefore up to the Congolese Government to take the decisions (e.g. putting in place an open access legal framework) that will best serve to the goal of putting the new international fibre capacity to work to support the development of the ICT sector in the country. The best way of achieving this would seem to be to introduce an open access model that will guarantee equal, transparent and non-discriminatory access to international capacity for all the players in the local market.

    With 5 submarine cables that will soon all be live, international capacity along the west coast of Africa will be plentiful. It is therefore unlikely that more cables will be built in the coming years. For Congo and some of the other 12 countries, it is important not to miss the boat when it comes to making the most efficient use of the new international fibre capacity.

telecoms

  • Six companies have lost their telecommunication business licenses in Uganda after failing to launch their services within the required time. The affected firms include; Talk Telecom, Mo Telecom, Mara Telecoms, a subsidiary of the Mara Group, Excellentcom Uganda Limited, Janu Communications Limited and Ace Networks Limited.

    “The commission hereby informs the general public that the licenses for the following operators have been revoked and they are therefore no longer recognised by the commission as licensed providers of communication services within Uganda,” Engineer Godfrey Mutabazi the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), said in a public notice last week.

    The firms had acquired Public Service Provider (PSP) licences from UCC to offer voice and data communication services in the country. A PSP licence in Uganda costs $10,000 (about Shs28 million).

    Under the provisions of the Uganda Communications Act, licences given to operator may be suspended if the licensee fails to commence services within 12 months, ceases operations without obtaining the commission’s approval, fails to submit the required information, and fails to renew one’s license upon the expiry of licence term.

    The exit of the five players leaves Uganda with 42 licenced telecommunication operators, according to the UCC data. The largest players in the market remain; MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda, Warid, Uganda Telecom Limited and Orange Uganda.

    Price competition in the telecommunications sector over the last three years has forced many firms to stay their operations in order to avoid running unsustainable or loss making businesses.

    Today, of the five large domestic operators, only MTN Uganda has paid the mandatory 1 per cent of its profits to UCC while the rest have either not broken even or continue to post losses because their expenses exceed their incomes.

    Mr Fred Otunnu, the UCC spokesman, told Daily Monitor that revocation of a licence is the final action, which the regulator takes to punish a firm that doesn’t comply with the requirements of an issued licence.

  • South Africa’s Vodacom is in talks to buy a stake in mobile operator Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM), the Daily Times newspaper said citing unidentified sources.
    Vodacom, which is majority owned by Britian’s Vodafone, had previously shown interest in TNM, the paper quoted the sources as saying. TMN has since streamlined some of its businesses to bring them closer in line with how Vodacom operates, the sources said.

    The TNM officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Vodacom’s CEO for international operations, Johan Dennelind, said in a statement the company would look at expansion opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, but declined to comment on specific countries or companies.

    Vodacom is the dominant mobile carrier in South Africa, but is dwarfed on the continent by rival MTN Group. In addition to its home market, it has operations in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho.

  • Mobile phone service provider Essar Telkom has agreed to pay Kenya Data Networks (KDN) Sh25 million upfront and Sh6.2 million in equal monthly instalments to settle a dispute involving Sh133 million.

    The parties recorded the consent in the Nairobi High Court where Essar owners of the Yu mobile brand, also agreed to pay KDN Sh6.2 million a month until an arbitrator concludes the dispute. However, failure by Essar to settle Sh24,948,900 within 14 days, the agreement would automatically lapse.

    According to the consent, the lump sum includes arrears for services KDN rendered to the mobile firm in the past four consecutive months from May to August this year. The parties agreed that KDN would not interfere with its services to Essar until the arbitrator makes its final findings.

    "KDN will not interfere with the 186 sites of inter-connections to other mobile telecommunications industry and will also not switch off the connectivity," read the consent, which was adopted as a court order.

    Mr Justice Muga Apondi said Essar was at liberty to reduce its sites depending on the services rendered by the private data supplier provided "they have notified KDN on the changes".

    KDN moved to court on May 25 seeking orders to compel Essar Telkom to clear a long-standing debt of Sh133 million or risk being switched off its connectivity.

  • The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has set down a provisional date for hearings on local-loop unbundling, the regulatory intervention that will force Telkom to open its “last mile” of copper cables to competitors in some or other form.

    The hearings, the most anticipated that Icasa has held since its investigations into call termination rates — the fees operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks — will provisionally take place from 10 to 14 October, according to Pieter Grootes, the GM of the authority’s markets and competition division.

    Grootes revealed the hearing date while speaking at the VoiceSA telecommunications conference in Midrand.

    Icasa has proposed four separate models for unbundling the fixed-line local loop, which is seen as an important way of promoting competition in broadband and potentially driving down prices.

    The first option mooted by Icasa is “bitstream” or wholesale access. This option doesn’t entail unbundling of the physical copper cable infrastructure, but rather Telkom providing other operators with access on a wholesale basis. Rivals won’t have access to Telkom’s network infrastructure, so it’s an option that the fixed-line incumbent may prefer.

    In its discussion document, Icasa says the advantage of bitstream access is that it won’t “hinder any progressive modernisation of the local access network by replacing copper cables with fibre cables”.

    The second option Icasa has proposed is line sharing, or shared access to the local loop. In this model, Telkom and companies seeking access to its local loop can share the same line where both provide different services such as voice and data on the same loop.

    “In this situation, consumers can acquire data services from facilities seekers [other operators] while retaining the voice services of the facilities provider [Telkom]. Some facilities seekers may choose to offer data services only, so with line sharing customers can retain their facilities provider for voice calls while getting higher bandwidth services from another operator without the need to install a second line,” Icasa says.

    Technically, the authority explains, a splitter is installed in the “main distribution frame” that separates the frequencies for voice telephony and those for higher bandwidth services. “Line sharing allows the facilities seeker to provide the service of their choice by covering either low-frequency bands or high-frequency bands,” it says. “When one frequency band is occupied by one operator, the other frequency band can be occupied by another operator.”

    Icasa says this option would broaden choices available to consumers as they could choose Telkom as their voice provider while at the same time choosing a new entrant, or any other operator, as the provider of broadband Internet services over the same loop.

    The third option that Icasa has tabled is full local-loop unbundling, or full access. This assigns the entire copper local loop to rival operators. In this model, other operators may place all required equipment inside or outside Telkom’s premises. Rival operators take over the full operation of the local loop allocated to them.

    The final option is sub-loop unbundling, where Telkom’s rivals get access to its “primary connection point” at street level. This form of unbundling is more suited to new forms of digital subscriber line technology, such as very high-speed DSL.

    In this model, Telkom’s rivals would provide their own networks all the way to the primary connection point. They locate their equipment adjacent to the connection point rather than in Telkom’s telephone exchanges. In all other respects, sub-loop unbundling is analogous to full local-loop unbundling.

    Icasa has said it should complete regulations for unbundling by no later than November, after it has consulted with industry stakeholders. Communications minister Roy Padayachie has said previously that he wants unbundling to be completed by that date.

internet

  • The Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL) has announced new tariff structures for the National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) and allowed its customers to sublet the service.

    In an advert posted in the print media, the company said the new plan named Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRU) prices, will allow customers connected to the backbone to lease out capacity for up to 10, 15 or 20 years.

    "While the IRU price will be paid once, operations and maintenance charges will be paid annually over the IRU period," the advert read in part.

    In a telephone interview yesterday, the TTCL Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Saidi Saidi, said the new arrangement will enable current and new users to sub-lease internet broadband to other users.

    "In simple words, it means we are the landlord who owns a big house. But our tenant is free to sub-let the space he or she rents to other tenants over a period of time," Mr Saidi explained.
    However, he said operation and maintenance charges would be calculated as five per cent of the IRU purchase price and paid annually.

    Since the first submarine fibre optic cable landed in the country, tariffs for internet broadband have decreased by 50 per cent, according to the Acting CEO.
    "Many people don't seem to appreciate this fact but they will in the end," he said during the interview.

    Customers wishing to subscribe to a 10-year plan will pay US $540,000 as the lowest package, while those subscribing to 20 years will have to dig deeper into their pockets to the tune of US $12.44 million for the uppermost package.

    Already some 14 regions have been linked, under phase one of the NICTBB. They include Dar es Salaam, Coast, Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, and Dodoma in addition to Singida, Manyara and Arusha. Also on the list are Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Mara.

    Currently, the backbone also offers services at established points of presence (PoPs) which include cross-border points at Rusumo (Rwanda), Kabanga (Burundi) and Kasumulo (Malawi).
    It also offers services at Tunduma (Zambia), Namanga (Kenya) and will soon connect Uganda through the border point of Mutukula.

    Implementation of phase two of NICTBB that commenced on October 1, last year, is expected to be completed in March, next year.

  • ZTE Corporation, a publicly listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions signed an agreement on 20 September 2011 with Burundi Backbone Systems Company (Burundi BBS) to build Burundi’s first national backbone network.

    The ZTE network will cover 17 provinces and cities in Burundi, dramatically reducing broadband costs and laying the foundation for further improvements. It will also link Burundi with eastern and central African countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, and Congo, connecting it to The Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy).

    Burundi BBS is a joint venture between five local telecommunication operators and is partially funded by the World Bank.

    “This year, ZTE established a strategic objective to change bearer network patterns,” said ZTE Bearer Network Product Line General Manager Fan Xiaobing.

    “The development of the backbone network in cooperation with Burundi BBS will help achieve that objective, while also improving the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.”

    As part of the project, ZTE will provide ZXR10 M6000 super-high-performance multi-service routers and multi-service access products such as the S385 and S325 to Burundi BBS. The ZXR10 M6000 slot supports 40G switching capability and provides upgrade capability to 100G.

    The S385 supports multi-service access and provides an upgrade from 2.5G to 10G, greatly reducing initial network construction costs. ZTE has shipped several thousand T8000/M6000 units based on the T8000 platform across China, Asia-Pacific, Southeast Asia and MEA in the first half of 2011. The units are in use by operators in China, such as China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom; and by other operators across those regions.

  • Telecommunication firms have now taken up more than 60 per cent of the capacity that we initially had. Demand has grown and we expect further growth as more and people start using internet, which would deplete the capacity that we have," said Mark Simpson, the firm’s Seacom chief executive.

    "We are planning to increase capacity on the cable and this should be done in another 12 to 15 months."

    Simpson spoke on the sidelines of an ongoing Capacity Africa conference in Nairobi.

    He said Seacom is still thrashing out fine details of the upgrade including the money to be invested and mode of financing, which would determine the actual capacity to add on the cable.

    He added that Seacom would in future start selling premium services to its clients to tap into the growing provision of content in Africa. Premium services that the firm plans to start selling will include multiprotocol label switching— a data carrying mechanism that allows a simple relay of information over a network.

    The move diversify service offering from the basic capacity provision to selling of premium services at the wholesale level is in part to fend off competition in the undersea cable segment.

  • Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba has again raised the possibility of a merger between state-owned enterprises Sentech and Broadband Infraco, but says nothing is imminent. “It would be the culmination of a process,” Gigaba says.

    There has been talk for at least a year that the two companies could be merged. Sentech, in addition to providing broadcast signal distribution services, is keen to roll out a broadband network in rural areas; Infraco is keen to do the same, though providing more of the backhaul-type services that would support the wireless access network Sentech is proposing.

    Gigaba says government has begun “emphasising cooperation” between the two companies and says a merger can’t be ruled out down the line.

    “We have begun discussions at ministerial, director-general and board levels to try to find the synergies to improve cooperation between the two organisations through entering into a venture agreement,” he says. “At one stage or another, depending on the programme we establish and follow, we might arrive at a point where we say both organisations need to merge to form one organisation.”

    Sentech reports to the department of communications, while Infraco is answerable to public enterprises, which could complicate attempts at cooperation. Gigaba explains the reason they report to different ministries is that they are “not the same types of organisations” because Sentech “gets its budget from government and Broadband Infraco raises its own resources to support its programmes”.

    He adds that the presidential review committee is trying to resolve a number of issues related to state-owned enterprises, including reporting lines and the need for rationalisation. Gigaba hopes the committee will close “that lacuna” by rationalising reporting lines.

computing

  • The African Development Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a USD 22.5m African Development Fund loan to the Republic of Mali to finance a major digital complex in the capital, Bamako. “This project is important for my country and the first of its kind in West Africa.  With the Bamako Digital Complex, before December 2011, Mali will be connected through fiber optic to six out of its seven neighbors. It is an innovative project in its design, positioning and vision. It has the ability to lay the necessary foundation today so that tomorrow our citizens have the competencies in an area as strategic as Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It will support and reinforce current national policies on job creation. It’s a project of tomorrow, it’s a project of the future”, said H.E. Mr. Modibo Ibrahim Toure, Minister of Posts and New Technologies of Mali at the signing ceremony held at the AfDB in Tunis.

    The main objectives of this project are to (i) increase the use of ICT and upgrade the skills of the population of Mali and other West African countries; and (ii) strengthen Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to support research and innovation in ICT.

    The AfDB is the largest financier of this USD 37 million project with contributions from the Government of Mali (USD 3 million) and the French development agency (USD 11.5 million).

    “Mali is pioneering a new approach breaking the walls between education systems and businesses. We hope to be doing more of such operations that combine PPPs, linking universities and training facilities to business incubators and using new technologies to improve learning outcomes” said AfDB’s Human Development Director, Agnès Soucat.

    The Bamako Digital Complex is composed of three main Information and Communication Technology development poles:

    A Techno Center to build human capital, increase competitiveness and create jobs especially for youth. It will seek to train 30 ICT engineers, 120 technicians, 600 civil servants and 150 job seekers per year, and increase women’s participation development.
    A Techno Park housing a data center, business incubators and technology firms; and
    A Techno Village - a convention center to showcase latest innovations in various developments sectors, hosting events gathering experts, researchers, and academics from Africa and globally.

  • Three solar panels, a battery, ten folding chairs, five tables, fifteen Intel-powered Classmate PCs and two teachers in a small van: This is the basic “equipment” of the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC).

    It has been a route through rural Uganda for two years now with the purpose of teaching pupils and teachers IT and computer skills.

    The initiator is Eric Morrow, founder of Maendeleo Foundation situated in Kampala and Seattle, who wants to bring Maendeleo (the Kiswahili term for progress) to Ugandan students in close cooperation with local experts.

    The robust Classmate PCs, powered and designed by Intel, which are run using a 200 Ah Solar Battery, proved to be perfect devices for the local circumstances, which were sometimes rather harsh.

    What could be a beneficial educational project for Uganda? How should such a project be designed really to foster children’s development? Personal affiliations with a Ugandan NGO and a strong desire to help were components that aided in blazing the trail for Eric Morrow’s Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC) Project. Consultations with other NGOs led Morrow, founder of Maendeleo Foundation, to consider how he might bring computers to Ugandan schools – most of which are boarding schools with few technology-savvy teachers and practically no money to spend on technology of any kind. Working with Ugandan development economist Asia Kamukama and experienced relief worker Richard Happy, Morrow sketched out a plan of action. Giving children – and their teachers – a first taste of what it means to work with a computer, was the goal set.

    However, the team soon realised that there were many obstacles to overcome. One of the first challenges identified was the near total lack of infrastructure: only five percent of Ugandans have access to electricity and just three percent can afford it. This meant that the solution to be put in place had to be self-powered and self-contained – a need that was met by mounting three 75-watt solar panels on top of an old four-wheel drive. The vehicle was also used to transport a custom-made tent and related equipment – the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom.

    As Internet access is unreliable in Uganda, Maendeleo Foundation could not depend on teaching skills with a live Web connection. Instead, the Foundation introduced purpose-built, proprietary training software that provides graduated skills training using cached Web content. This approach enabled continuity in lessons even though the MSCC might only visit a given school once a week.
    The local schools very much welcomed the idea of a mobile ICT training camp; however, the initial phase was tough. The low cost, low specification desktops proved to be unfit for the extremes of temperature, dust and durability they faced every day. Morrow had heard about the development of Intel-powered Classmate PCs and believed they might offer a better solution than the PCs used at first. After failing to find a local distributor, he bought several of the units from an online store in the US and had them delivered to Uganda. He found that they indeed offered a steady, reliable design that ran faster than the previous units – and delivered a standard Microsoft Windows XP desktop experience.
    The Intel-powered Classmate PCs were also more energy efficient: in one test, the units were run from the solar charged battery with the solar panels covered to prevent recharging. All ten Classmate PCs used in the project ran for over six hours without a problem – and this life could be extended further by using each unit’s individual battery. This meant that the project workers could teach an entire class of students at once, allowing them to reach significantly more students at no additional cost. So far, the staff taught more than 1,300 students, offering each one five hands-on sessions. Over 100 teachers were trained to carry out ICT classes, giving them skills to reinforce and extend their students’ computer knowledge throughout the rest of their education. In addition, Maendeleo Foundation visited several orphanages and community centres.

    Maendeleo started in early 2008 with five computers, then in August of 2008 switched to the Intel-powered Classmate PCs. There are currently five people running the operation in Uganda. In the longer term, Morrow hopes that steady and repeated exposure to computer technologies will encourage students to consider careers that might have previously seemed out of reach – including web design and roles in a potential services-outsourcing industry that could eventually expand across Eastern Africa.

    A new MSCC is already touring through Uganda. Using funds from the grant Maendeleo recently received from Intel’s Inspire-Empower challenge, the Foundation was able to put together a second MSCC that will serve rural areas in the same way as the original MSCC. With the grant, they have also been able to upgrade the original MSCC that they had (to run with fifteen computers). They are now also in the process of buying land and building an Advanced Training Centre, where they intend to give further individual training during school breaks to students who show potential and interest in working in the ICT industry.

  • Despite increasing deployment of broadband infrastructure and growth of mobile technology, Africa is the lowest-scoring region in the ICT Development Index (IDI) released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) last week.

    The 2011 edition of Measuring the Information Society scores the level of advancement of ICT in 152 countries worldwide, comparing progress made between 2008 and 2010. 

    The IDI, which ranked countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, puts the Republic of Korea as the world's most advanced ICT economy followed by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland. Most countries that rank high on the index are from Europe and Asia Pacific; the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Uruguay rank first within their regions.

    However, Africa remains the region with the lowest IDI values. Of the forty African countries listed, only six of them made the first 100 on the 2010 IDI. They are Mauritius (69), Seychelles (71), Tunisia (84), Morocco (90), Egypt (91) and South Africa (97).

    This year's report includes a special focus on broadband, looking at speed, quality of service and international bandwidth available in different countries worldwide and how this is affecting broadband take-up in the developed and developing worlds.

    Among the developing regions, Africa had the highest mobile growth rate. Mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of 10 years ago to over one fourth of the population today, the report noted.

    "While the IDI leaders are all from the developed world, it is extremely encouraging to see that the most dynamic performers are developing countries," ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré said in a release. "The 'mobile miracle' is putting ICT services within reach of even the most disadvantaged people and communities. Our challenge now is to replicate that success in broadband."

    However, the ITU report stated that Africa's fixed broadband service remains prohibitively expensive and in 2010 still represented almost three times the monthly average per capita income.

    Even though new submarine cables are providing African countries with access to more and cheaper international Internet bandwidth, the report stated, it still lags far behind other regions in terms of the bandwidth available to Internet users. For Africans to benefit from the continent's increased connectivity, operators must acquire greater amounts of international Internet bandwidth, expand and improve core networks, and make network access infrastructure available, as well as affordable, according to the report. 

    The report also analyzed the digital divide among Internet users, examining how factors like age, gender, educational level, and location affect people's ability to get online. The ITU indicated that targeting students may be the most effective way to increase the approximately 21 percent of the population that use the Internet in developing countries, through connecting educational institutions and improving enrollment rates.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • A few weeks ago Memeburn revealed that instant messaging platform MXit was rumoured to be in sale talks with startup investment firm World of Avatar. We can now confirm that those rumours are true.

    The acquisition will see current MXit head, Herman Heunis step down, with Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, the World of Avatar boss, taking over as CEO. The deal, which was finalised earlier yesterday, involves World of Avatar buying out both Heunis and Naspers, an US$18-billion emerging market media giant.

    Naspers, which also has stakes in Chinese IM TenCent and an indirect stake in Facebook, acquired a 30% interest in MXit in 2007. The new deal will see World of Avatar become 90 percent owners of the company while 10 percent will remain in a staff trust.

    The Stellenbosch-based World of Avatar, which appears to be targeting internet startups, is a relatively new investment firm. It was founded by Knott-Craig, the former head of iBurst and the son of former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig Snr.

    Knott-Craig was unable to give the exact figures of the deal, but confirms the funding was raised from private investors. Memeburn sources put the deal at around R500-million.

    The World of Avatar has been quietly investing in a range of local startups, including free SMS service FSMS, online organiser Toodu and politics-focused online publishing venture Daily Maverick.

    MXit was launched in 2005 by Heunis and has seen impressive growth both locally and globally since its inception. The service now claims to have around 40-million registered users “posting 700-million messages a day” — and is even used by the US-embassy to communicate with African audiences.

    “Creating and building MXit has been an enormously interesting journey for me, and I have had a lot of fun, but it is time to inject new and young energy into the company, and I believe that Alan and his team will do a superb job,” says Heunis.

    In an exclusive interview with Memeburn, Knott-Craig Jnr revealed that he has been in talks with MXit for the better part of this year: “About seven months ago I got wind that MXit might be selling, so I called up Herman Heunis, we had a coffee and I said to him, ‘if you guys ever wanted to sell let me know’ and that’s how it began.”

    The deal, which Knott-Craig says should have gone through in the space of a month, was halted by the global financial crisis, prompting renegotiation.

    Knott-Craig claims that he has some changes in mind for the IM platform but that they are “nothing drastic”. Knott-Craig says the core MXit community will remain the same but wants to focus on “what MXIT is good at and that is communication”.

    He hinted that MXit would focus on what it does best and that some of its functions, such as advertising, would be handled rather by another arm of his company.

    Knott-Craig explains that he would like to tell the story of MXit which he says is “a success story of likes of Facebook in its own context”.

    “Twitter does 8-billion messages a month, MXit does 22-billion a month. Your average Facebook user spends 15 hours a month on Facebook, your average MXit user spends 45 hours month on MXit, people don’t know this. It is a massively engaged, massively active audience.

    “We have to keep that community trusted, it can never be the case of Facebook where your information is available to advertisers, this is why I am heading there personally to run the show. Herman has done a good job of keeping the community guarded, the data is not sold and that is key and we need to keep that,” says Knott-Craig.

    MXit is available in 128 countries. It is represented in international markets that include Malaysia, Kenya, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United States, Nigeria, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where users have access to MXit’s chat function.

    This deal is possibly the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, Knott-Craig says.

  • The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has opened five satellite offices across the country to ensure that e-zwich services are running effectively throughout the country.

    The offices located in Accra, Takoradi, Kumasi, Sunyani, and Tamale, will carry out regular monitoring and support e-zwich services in the various outlets.

    This was contained in a statement issued by the Management of GhIPSS copied to Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday.

    The statement said the Accra office would have additional responsibility over the Central, Eastern and Southern parts of the Volta Region while that of Kumasi would be responsible for the entire Ashanti Region and the Takoradi office to have responsibility over the entire Western Region.

    It said the Sunyani office would however have responsibility over the Brong Ahafo and Upper West Regions while the satellite office in Tamale would be responsible for the Northern, Upper East and the Northern Sector of the Volta region.

    Mr Archie Hesse, General Manager in-charge of Project and Business Development at GhIPSS said “With this arrangement, we cover the entire country,” adding the satellite offices had been tasked to regularly visit all the financial institutions, as well as merchants under their areas of operation.

    He said the offices would ensure that the financial institutions and shops that operated e-zwich Point of Sales devices were providing the services at all times and would be readily available anytime there was any issue to be addressed.

    Mr Hesse said the satellite offices would also support the financial institutions to register customers who wanted the biometric card as well as scout for new shops to offer the e-zwich range of services.

    He said currently various e-zwich initiatives were being implemented including the Senior High School project, the various farmers’ e-zwich programmes as well as microfinance e-zwich initiatives at the urban and peri-urban areas in the various regions, adding the satellite teams would also be monitoring and supporting these initiatives.

    Mr Hesse said other activities that would be undertaken by the satellite offices include regular education for the various stakeholders, adding “These are administrative strategies that are adopted as we enter into various phases of the e-zwich project to further improve on the provision of the e-zwich range of services”.

    He noted that as more people particularly outside Accra patronised the biometric smart card, it had become necessary to deploy staff in the regions to provide regular support to financial institutions, agri-businesses, schools and shops offering the service.

    Mr Hesse encouraged the various institutions to work hand-in-hand with the satellite stations to ensure that their e-zwich customers were served well at all times.

  • Africa has been seen in recent years as an excellent opportunity to invest in telecommunications infrastructure, with many countries receiving trillions of dollars in funding in order to upgrade GSM networks, installing 3G and even to lay down just the basic fiber optic cables.

    South Africa has received the most backing when it comes to telecom infrastructure investments

    According to a report released by Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, it’s to no surprise that South Africa has received more than $18-trillion in investments from 1998 to 2008. Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, is a close second, receiving over $12-trillion for the same period. What rather shocking, is the fact that Kenya only managed to attract just under $3-trillion in investments, and sits third on the list.

    “Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been a remarkable success in Africa. Across the continent, the availability and quality of service have gone up and the cost has gone down. In just 10 years—dating from the end of the 1990s—mobile network coverage rose from 16 percent to 90 percent of the urban population,” the report stated. The report also noted that most of the investments come from Chinese companies, although a number of European companies are also involved.

    The top ten list of how investments in Africa’s telecommunications have been distributed from 1998 till 2008:

    1. South Africa ($18.1-trillion)
    2. Nigeria ($12.7-trillion)
    3. Kenya ($2.9-trillion)
    4. Sudan ($1.8-trillion)
    5. Uganda ($1.6-trillion)
    6. Senegal ($1.5-trillion)
    7. Tanzania ($1.4-trillion)
    8. Democratic Republic of the Congo ($1.2-trillion)
    9. Ghana ($1.1-trillion)
    10. Angola ($1-trillion)

  • Six suspects, not 10 as earlier reported by Sapa, were arrested on Thursday morning at MTN’s head office near Roodepoort. The operator explains the six — two of whom were MTN contractors — are suspected to have sold new Sim cards fraudulently loaded with airtime.

    The Sim cards were then sold to members of the public at “exorbitantly discounted amounts, thereby defrauding MTN”.

    “Our fraud and forensic department detected this scam and immediately followed up on leads and clues,” says Lily Zondo, GM for business risk management at MTN SA. “After irrefutable evidence was collected, MTN handed over the matter to the authorities, who made the arrests this morning.”

    MTN says consumers must be wary of “falling prey to offers that are ridiculously discounted. If it is too good to be true, it probably is”.

    “Customers should note that the law deems customers who purchase illegally sourced goods to be in commission of a crime,” says MTN SA customer service executive Eddie Moyce.

    MTN is still collating all the evidence to ascertain the revenue impact. The company says the R200m figure mentioned in the earlier Sapa story is “grossly misleading and inaccurate”.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - 8.ta, South Africa’s fourth mobile operator has entered into a partnership with Nedbank that allows for 8.ta’s prepaid airtime to be purchased from the bank’s online banking channel.

    - With the launch of Samsung’s dedicated app store, many users in South Africa have benefited from the wide range of apps available. To further the experience, Samsung has launched a handful of new local apps, which users will find informative and exciting. They include MXit, DStv Mobile Decoder and PriceCheck.co.za

Digital Content

  • For instance, the Broadband Commission meeting that took place on 8-9 September, 2011, focused on the role of youth in defining new ICT services and driving take-up.

    Rwanda has an exceptionally young population, with 42% of people under the age of 15.

    The conference attracted Broadband commissioners and representatives of several countries in Africa, the private sector and civil society. They examined how to get the continent wired to high-speed networks and also involve the role of the youth in getting Africa online.

    The discussion featured a competition Peoples choice Award showcasing 10 new applications created by Rwandan youth developers. They included; Gihamya, Turere Neza, Osca, Get it!, Cumbika, Umuhuza Hi-Tech Brokers, FINDiet, M-AHWIII, Igisekuru, Gahunda.

    M-AHWIII limited, was crowned the winner after getting 30 percent of votes from the public was followed by Gahunda which attained 21percent votes. Both applications will feature at the forthcoming ITU Telecom World 2011 Digital Innovators competition in October.

    Lillian Uwintwali, student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology is the Director of M-AHWIII limited was overjoyed after announcing them as the winner of the category.

    "The win is worth it because many will benefit from the application. M-AHWIII is an SMS-based application that will allow patients to request for medical appointments at any hospital of their choice subscribed on our system relieving them the trouble of having to go directly to the hospital in person," Uwintwali discloses.

    She adds that with her four colleagues they would develop their idea further.

    "We will have to first set its visibility in two hospitals as we aim at making the M-AHWII application effective and user friendly," she emphasizes.

    M-AHWII, the M stands for Mobile while the AHWII literally represent is an expression of relaxing.

    "I have already talked to the Ministry of Health and they liked the idea, hopefully the patients will be booking appointments for medical attention using SMS. One will only have to send a message indicating their illness and the hospital they would like to go to," Uwintwali explains.

    She said: "This is going to be a useful tool in making Rwanda a healthy country a reality. We all know for a fact that without good health there is no development.

    I request everyone to make M-AHWII application a reality so as to maintain the good health of Rwandans while achieving the broadband of digital development."

    The applications they create are income generating thus boost the standards of living with its related advantages.

    Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU), during the recent conference held in Kigali in relations to Broadband, he said that broadband is the single most powerful tool available to accelerate progress towards achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and a drive to social and economic development.

    "In the 21st century, with broadband, no young African should ever again need to be sent abroad in order to enjoy the benefits of an excellent education," says Touré.

    He said: "If you are connected, it no longer matters if you are geographically or socially isolated; you are still connected to the information society. But if you are not connected, you are literally cut off from a whole portion of the world's riches."

    In a phone interview with Serge Guillaume Nzabonimana, anAdvisor in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, he said that the Ministry funds youth projects in relations to Information and Communication and Technology.

    "We analyze the request for the project before for we fund it. There are a few factors that are considered for instance sustainability, the impact it will have on the people and the number of members involved in the project," Nzabonimana explains.

    ICT being one of the pillars of development, the youth need to be supported in the field thus a bright future.

    For instance the Ministry funded Kimisagara youth employment and productive center to by enhancing the IT skills for youth.

    The center identified 300 youth to be trained in IT this year and groups of 30 each concluded successfully the training of 4 weeks each.

    The IT training aims at promoting ICT and creating confidence among youth in computer skills as well as to use ICT as a tool for youth-to-youth communication, sensitize them in lessons related to health/nutrition, reading, writing, and other benefits.

  • In 2008, then US presidential candidate Barack Obama broke new ground by using social media in ways never seen before. Yet it was Goodluck Jonathan, the recently elected president of Nigeria, who took the extraordinary step of announcing his bid for the highest office on Facebook. On Wednesday, 15 September 2010, he informed his 217,000-plus fans on the world's most popular networking platform of his intent. Twenty four hours later, 4,000 more fans joined his page. By the day of the election, on 16 April 2011, he had over half a million followers.

    Mr. Jonathan's online campaign was only one illustration of the social media fever that gripped Africa's most populous country (with around 150 million people) during its most recent presidential, parliamentary and local elections. A report by two researchers who helped track online traffic during the month-long polls argues that the country's use of social media reached unprecedented levels.* "Nigeria set a new record for recent African elections in the number of reports tracked using social media," it says. In addition to the approximately 3 million registered Nigerians on Facebook and 60,000 on Twitter, almost every institution involved in Nigeria's elections conducted an aggressive social networking outreach, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, candidates, media houses, civil society groups and even the police.

    The report notes that between 10 March and 16 April 2011, the electoral commission posted almost 4,000 tweets, many in response to voter queries. Using Twitter, commission officials at polling stations around the country also were able to communicate among themselves, and even confirmed the death of one of their members who had been attacked. "Twitter ultimately proved to be the most efficient way to interact with INEC," the document authors report. The commission's use of social media led to its website receiving a record 25 million hits in three days during the presidential election. "By using social media to inspire voters, the electoral commission has redefined elections in Nigeria," analyzed Punch, the country's most circulated newspaper.

    The boom in use of social media during elections also helped the media expand their readerships. Shortly before the polls, the Daily Trust newspaper had 32,000 fans on Facebook. A few weeks later, the number had more than doubled to 65,000, placing its online reach beyond its print distribution of 50,000. To build up its fan base, the newspaper also used social media in its reporting. Journalists solicited and used questions from Facebook fans for interviews with the chairman of INEC. Since the elections, the Daily Trust has further increased its Facebook presence, with 95,000 fans by July 2011.

    The online networking platforms reflected popular interest. Unsurprisingly, social media use reached its peak during the presidential election on 16 April. On that day, a total of 33,460 text messages and 130,426 posts on Twitter and Facebook were sent by some 65,000 voters.

    The content was mixed, the authors point out. "Social media, especially Twitter, was used to report occurrences [of fraud] — truthful as well as fabricated." Yet, they add, it played a mostly constructive role during the post-election violence by exposing unfounded rumours.

    "Social media tools," the report concludes, "revolutionized the efficiency of election observing by increasing coverage and reporting, while minimizing costs.... They changed how information was disseminated in Nigeria. Citizens accessed information directly and more accurately, resulting in unsurpassed participation in politics during the 2011 elections." 

    That upbeat assessment, however, needs to be put in context: An estimated 70,000 people posted contents online during Nigeria's polls, but they were just a tiny fraction of the registered 73 million voters. Still, a new trend appears to have begun.

More

  • - Herman Heunis will leave the head of instant messaging platform MXit following the takeover of the company  by Alan Knott-Craig Jnr from the World of Avatar.

  • Information Technology Manager – Abuja, Nigeria
    The IT Manager will provide leadership support and maintenance to Family Health International (FHI) Nigeria computer and network infrastructure to ensure stable operations. S/He will be responsible for all IT related equipment and software that is part of the FHI-Nigeria inventory. S/He will take appropriate steps in solving problems, or where necessary, in identifying suitable vendors capable of solving them. The IT Manager will support the design and implementation of new IT solutions to improve business efficiency and productivity.

    Bachelor's degree with 7 to 9 years experience, in IT,  or a  Master's degree with 5 to 7 years experience in IT, OR PhD with 3 to 5 years experience in IT.
    For further information or to apply click here

    Technical Account Manager – Accra, Ghana
    Google's Partner Solutions Organization (PSO) is a technology group dedicated to developing and managing the company's largest and most strategic partnerships. Our multi-faceted professionals work together with teams throughout Google to address our partners' most pressing technology challenges – ones that have no simple answers. We create solutions for and build enduring long-term relationships with organizations that represent outstanding revenue opportunities and/or are strategically important for us to take new, world-shaping technologies to market.

    The role: Technical Account Manager
    As a Technical Account Manager, you are the engagement manager taking responsibility for the success of our largest partnerships. You lead deployments, optimize implementations and integrations to increase revenue, drive new business opportunities, and manage the overall technical aspects to build strong, successful, long- term partnerships. If you are a creative thinker who thrives in a fast-paced, market-driven environment, we want to talk to you. You should be a self-motivated individual looking to solidify Google's strategic partnerships across a variety of product lines made especially for Africa. These include search, mobile, video, Google Apps, e-commerce, and many other new initiatives.
    Responsibilities:

    Troubleshoot and train in relation to the Google Apps deployment project management with partner universities.
    Perform implementation reviews, evangelize new product features, and ensure the prompt and proper resolution of technical challenges.
    Improve product feature offerings by providing partner feedback to internal cross-functional teams including Product Management and Engineering.
    Guarantee the technical aspects of a partner’s integration (both new and ongoing) by providing necessary documentation, training and technical guidance.
    Develop proof-of-concept products and software tools to assist in closing deals.

    Requirements:
    BA/BS preferred in a technical field with a strong academic record. (MS/MBA is a plus).
    Extensive hands-on experience in Internet or telecom products and technologies in Africa or similar market.
    Experience in deadline-driven, large-scale technical project management or software development in the Internet/Telecommunications space.
    Excellent project management skills and attention to detail as well as experience working with external clients in a sales environment.
    Proficient in one or more programming languages, including Java, C/C++, JavaScript, Python, or PHP.
    Proficient in French, English and at least one other African language.
    Willing to travel extensively within Africa.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Essar Telecoms and Tata Communications - Kenya
    Tata Communications and Essar Telecom Kenya (yuMobile), a unit of Essar Group, have  announced the signing of a mutually beneficial strategic sourcing agreement. Under the deal, yuMobile would, exclusively, route all its international voice traffic through Tata Communications' network. yuMobile continues to be one of the company’s key suppliers of telecommunication services throughout Kenya.

Issue 573: Congo: “Fibre to the people” – how to make the best use of the new international capacity

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Top story

  • On September 12th, the ACE submarine fibre cable landed close to Banjul, the capital of the Gambia. Excitement and interest were high as you can see from the photos taken at the beach where the cable was pulled out of the sea (for the photos see Balancing Act’s website). The commercial launch of international fibre capacity will only start in July 2012 but the Gambia is already finalising the legal framework that will govern access to this new international capacity. Further down the west coast of Africa, Congo (Brazza) is still undecided as to how to deal with the international fibre capacity that will soon be on its doorstep.  Isabelle Gross looks at the some of the pitfalls that Congo has to avoid in order to make the best use of the forthcoming capacity.

    Congo is among the 12 countries on the west coast of Africa that for the first time will have a landing station providing access to international fibre capacity. It is not a small thing for the country to get connected to the WACS submarine cable but in order to harvest its benefits, such as cheaper and faster Internet access, the Congolese government has still to sort out issues regarding the management and access to the international fibre capacity.

    A look back over the history of the SAT3 submarine cable demonstrates that when the national incumbent manages the international capacity, the outcome is often less than optimal. With the exception of Sonatel in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, and more recently Benin Telecom, most of the national incumbents never seemed to understand how to maximize (in terms of revenue) the use of the international capacity available on SAT3. Among those who have failed to make full use of the opportunities are Camtel in Cameroon, Gabon Telecom, and Nitel in Nigeria. For many years, their management of the international capacity on SAT3 has led to very high prices (well above US$5,000 per MB) and a sub-standard service. Nitel in Nigeria managed its capacity so badly that Suburban Telecoms, an infrastructure provider in Nigeria, built a cross border fibre link to Benin, and thus opened up a second Nigerian access point to SAT3 capacity via Benin Telecom.

    The lessons from these failures are two-fold:
    - the national incumbent is not necessarily the best entity to manage the upcoming international capacity efficiently
    - monopoly management of the international fibre capacity helps to maintain artificially inflated high prices on international bandwidth

    So what should Congo do? If it gives the management of the international capacity to Congo Telecom, Congolese Internet users can say bye bye to the idea of cheaper and faster Internet at any time in the near future. Congo Telecom has neither the technical expertise nor the commercial skills (the level of the debts of the company is a good indicator of its incompetence) to manage the new international fibre capacity properly. If the Congolese Government wants to achieve its goal of seizing all the opportunities that international fibre capacity brings, it will need the political will to make some tough decisions. At present, the goal of bringing the Internet to the people seems far away. A basic 64KB connection still costs on average US$100 per month. By comparison, the average salary of a civil servant is between US$160 and US$200 per month.

    So how can Congo and other African countries avoid a situation in which consumers pay artificially inflated prices for the new international fibre capacity? In countries like Nigeria, which will soon have access to 5 international submarine cables (SAT3, Glo 1, Main One, WACS and ACE), competition between the various providers has already pushed down prices and this trend is likely to continue. Today international bandwidth comes for as little as US$300 per MB per month. In contrast, in Congo and in many of the 12 countries on the West coast of Africa that will get access to international fibre capacity for the first time, access will remain limited to one submarine cable, and relying on competition among providers to drive prices down won’t work. It is therefore up to the Congolese Government to take the decisions (e.g. putting in place an open access legal framework) that will best serve to the goal of putting the new international fibre capacity to work to support the development of the ICT sector in the country. The best way of achieving this would seem to be to introduce an open access model that will guarantee equal, transparent and non-discriminatory access to international capacity for all the players in the local market.

    With 5 submarine cables that will soon all be live, international capacity along the west coast of Africa will be plentiful. It is therefore unlikely that more cables will be built in the coming years. For Congo and some of the other 12 countries, it is important not to miss the boat when it comes to making the most efficient use of the new international fibre capacity.

telecoms

  • Six companies have lost their telecommunication business licenses in Uganda after failing to launch their services within the required time. The affected firms include; Talk Telecom, Mo Telecom, Mara Telecoms, a subsidiary of the Mara Group, Excellentcom Uganda Limited, Janu Communications Limited and Ace Networks Limited.

    “The commission hereby informs the general public that the licenses for the following operators have been revoked and they are therefore no longer recognised by the commission as licensed providers of communication services within Uganda,” Engineer Godfrey Mutabazi the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), said in a public notice last week.

    The firms had acquired Public Service Provider (PSP) licences from UCC to offer voice and data communication services in the country. A PSP licence in Uganda costs $10,000 (about Shs28 million).

    Under the provisions of the Uganda Communications Act, licences given to operator may be suspended if the licensee fails to commence services within 12 months, ceases operations without obtaining the commission’s approval, fails to submit the required information, and fails to renew one’s license upon the expiry of licence term.

    The exit of the five players leaves Uganda with 42 licenced telecommunication operators, according to the UCC data. The largest players in the market remain; MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda, Warid, Uganda Telecom Limited and Orange Uganda.

    Price competition in the telecommunications sector over the last three years has forced many firms to stay their operations in order to avoid running unsustainable or loss making businesses.

    Today, of the five large domestic operators, only MTN Uganda has paid the mandatory 1 per cent of its profits to UCC while the rest have either not broken even or continue to post losses because their expenses exceed their incomes.

    Mr Fred Otunnu, the UCC spokesman, told Daily Monitor that revocation of a licence is the final action, which the regulator takes to punish a firm that doesn’t comply with the requirements of an issued licence.

  • South Africa’s Vodacom is in talks to buy a stake in mobile operator Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM), the Daily Times newspaper said citing unidentified sources.
    Vodacom, which is majority owned by Britian’s Vodafone, had previously shown interest in TNM, the paper quoted the sources as saying. TMN has since streamlined some of its businesses to bring them closer in line with how Vodacom operates, the sources said.

    The TNM officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Vodacom’s CEO for international operations, Johan Dennelind, said in a statement the company would look at expansion opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, but declined to comment on specific countries or companies.

    Vodacom is the dominant mobile carrier in South Africa, but is dwarfed on the continent by rival MTN Group. In addition to its home market, it has operations in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho.

  • Mobile phone service provider Essar Telkom has agreed to pay Kenya Data Networks (KDN) Sh25 million upfront and Sh6.2 million in equal monthly instalments to settle a dispute involving Sh133 million.

    The parties recorded the consent in the Nairobi High Court where Essar owners of the Yu mobile brand, also agreed to pay KDN Sh6.2 million a month until an arbitrator concludes the dispute. However, failure by Essar to settle Sh24,948,900 within 14 days, the agreement would automatically lapse.

    According to the consent, the lump sum includes arrears for services KDN rendered to the mobile firm in the past four consecutive months from May to August this year. The parties agreed that KDN would not interfere with its services to Essar until the arbitrator makes its final findings.

    "KDN will not interfere with the 186 sites of inter-connections to other mobile telecommunications industry and will also not switch off the connectivity," read the consent, which was adopted as a court order.

    Mr Justice Muga Apondi said Essar was at liberty to reduce its sites depending on the services rendered by the private data supplier provided "they have notified KDN on the changes".

    KDN moved to court on May 25 seeking orders to compel Essar Telkom to clear a long-standing debt of Sh133 million or risk being switched off its connectivity.

  • The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has set down a provisional date for hearings on local-loop unbundling, the regulatory intervention that will force Telkom to open its “last mile” of copper cables to competitors in some or other form.

    The hearings, the most anticipated that Icasa has held since its investigations into call termination rates — the fees operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks — will provisionally take place from 10 to 14 October, according to Pieter Grootes, the GM of the authority’s markets and competition division.

    Grootes revealed the hearing date while speaking at the VoiceSA telecommunications conference in Midrand.

    Icasa has proposed four separate models for unbundling the fixed-line local loop, which is seen as an important way of promoting competition in broadband and potentially driving down prices.

    The first option mooted by Icasa is “bitstream” or wholesale access. This option doesn’t entail unbundling of the physical copper cable infrastructure, but rather Telkom providing other operators with access on a wholesale basis. Rivals won’t have access to Telkom’s network infrastructure, so it’s an option that the fixed-line incumbent may prefer.

    In its discussion document, Icasa says the advantage of bitstream access is that it won’t “hinder any progressive modernisation of the local access network by replacing copper cables with fibre cables”.

    The second option Icasa has proposed is line sharing, or shared access to the local loop. In this model, Telkom and companies seeking access to its local loop can share the same line where both provide different services such as voice and data on the same loop.

    “In this situation, consumers can acquire data services from facilities seekers [other operators] while retaining the voice services of the facilities provider [Telkom]. Some facilities seekers may choose to offer data services only, so with line sharing customers can retain their facilities provider for voice calls while getting higher bandwidth services from another operator without the need to install a second line,” Icasa says.

    Technically, the authority explains, a splitter is installed in the “main distribution frame” that separates the frequencies for voice telephony and those for higher bandwidth services. “Line sharing allows the facilities seeker to provide the service of their choice by covering either low-frequency bands or high-frequency bands,” it says. “When one frequency band is occupied by one operator, the other frequency band can be occupied by another operator.”

    Icasa says this option would broaden choices available to consumers as they could choose Telkom as their voice provider while at the same time choosing a new entrant, or any other operator, as the provider of broadband Internet services over the same loop.

    The third option that Icasa has tabled is full local-loop unbundling, or full access. This assigns the entire copper local loop to rival operators. In this model, other operators may place all required equipment inside or outside Telkom’s premises. Rival operators take over the full operation of the local loop allocated to them.

    The final option is sub-loop unbundling, where Telkom’s rivals get access to its “primary connection point” at street level. This form of unbundling is more suited to new forms of digital subscriber line technology, such as very high-speed DSL.

    In this model, Telkom’s rivals would provide their own networks all the way to the primary connection point. They locate their equipment adjacent to the connection point rather than in Telkom’s telephone exchanges. In all other respects, sub-loop unbundling is analogous to full local-loop unbundling.

    Icasa has said it should complete regulations for unbundling by no later than November, after it has consulted with industry stakeholders. Communications minister Roy Padayachie has said previously that he wants unbundling to be completed by that date.

internet

  • The Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL) has announced new tariff structures for the National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) and allowed its customers to sublet the service.

    In an advert posted in the print media, the company said the new plan named Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRU) prices, will allow customers connected to the backbone to lease out capacity for up to 10, 15 or 20 years.

    "While the IRU price will be paid once, operations and maintenance charges will be paid annually over the IRU period," the advert read in part.

    In a telephone interview yesterday, the TTCL Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Saidi Saidi, said the new arrangement will enable current and new users to sub-lease internet broadband to other users.

    "In simple words, it means we are the landlord who owns a big house. But our tenant is free to sub-let the space he or she rents to other tenants over a period of time," Mr Saidi explained.
    However, he said operation and maintenance charges would be calculated as five per cent of the IRU purchase price and paid annually.

    Since the first submarine fibre optic cable landed in the country, tariffs for internet broadband have decreased by 50 per cent, according to the Acting CEO.
    "Many people don't seem to appreciate this fact but they will in the end," he said during the interview.

    Customers wishing to subscribe to a 10-year plan will pay US $540,000 as the lowest package, while those subscribing to 20 years will have to dig deeper into their pockets to the tune of US $12.44 million for the uppermost package.

    Already some 14 regions have been linked, under phase one of the NICTBB. They include Dar es Salaam, Coast, Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, and Dodoma in addition to Singida, Manyara and Arusha. Also on the list are Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Mara.

    Currently, the backbone also offers services at established points of presence (PoPs) which include cross-border points at Rusumo (Rwanda), Kabanga (Burundi) and Kasumulo (Malawi).
    It also offers services at Tunduma (Zambia), Namanga (Kenya) and will soon connect Uganda through the border point of Mutukula.

    Implementation of phase two of NICTBB that commenced on October 1, last year, is expected to be completed in March, next year.

  • ZTE Corporation, a publicly listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions signed an agreement on 20 September 2011 with Burundi Backbone Systems Company (Burundi BBS) to build Burundi’s first national backbone network.

    The ZTE network will cover 17 provinces and cities in Burundi, dramatically reducing broadband costs and laying the foundation for further improvements. It will also link Burundi with eastern and central African countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, and Congo, connecting it to The Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy).

    Burundi BBS is a joint venture between five local telecommunication operators and is partially funded by the World Bank.

    “This year, ZTE established a strategic objective to change bearer network patterns,” said ZTE Bearer Network Product Line General Manager Fan Xiaobing.

    “The development of the backbone network in cooperation with Burundi BBS will help achieve that objective, while also improving the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.”

    As part of the project, ZTE will provide ZXR10 M6000 super-high-performance multi-service routers and multi-service access products such as the S385 and S325 to Burundi BBS. The ZXR10 M6000 slot supports 40G switching capability and provides upgrade capability to 100G.

    The S385 supports multi-service access and provides an upgrade from 2.5G to 10G, greatly reducing initial network construction costs. ZTE has shipped several thousand T8000/M6000 units based on the T8000 platform across China, Asia-Pacific, Southeast Asia and MEA in the first half of 2011. The units are in use by operators in China, such as China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom; and by other operators across those regions.

  • Telecommunication firms have now taken up more than 60 per cent of the capacity that we initially had. Demand has grown and we expect further growth as more and people start using internet, which would deplete the capacity that we have," said Mark Simpson, the firm’s Seacom chief executive.

    "We are planning to increase capacity on the cable and this should be done in another 12 to 15 months."

    Simpson spoke on the sidelines of an ongoing Capacity Africa conference in Nairobi.

    He said Seacom is still thrashing out fine details of the upgrade including the money to be invested and mode of financing, which would determine the actual capacity to add on the cable.

    He added that Seacom would in future start selling premium services to its clients to tap into the growing provision of content in Africa. Premium services that the firm plans to start selling will include multiprotocol label switching— a data carrying mechanism that allows a simple relay of information over a network.

    The move diversify service offering from the basic capacity provision to selling of premium services at the wholesale level is in part to fend off competition in the undersea cable segment.

  • Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba has again raised the possibility of a merger between state-owned enterprises Sentech and Broadband Infraco, but says nothing is imminent. “It would be the culmination of a process,” Gigaba says.

    There has been talk for at least a year that the two companies could be merged. Sentech, in addition to providing broadcast signal distribution services, is keen to roll out a broadband network in rural areas; Infraco is keen to do the same, though providing more of the backhaul-type services that would support the wireless access network Sentech is proposing.

    Gigaba says government has begun “emphasising cooperation” between the two companies and says a merger can’t be ruled out down the line.

    “We have begun discussions at ministerial, director-general and board levels to try to find the synergies to improve cooperation between the two organisations through entering into a venture agreement,” he says. “At one stage or another, depending on the programme we establish and follow, we might arrive at a point where we say both organisations need to merge to form one organisation.”

    Sentech reports to the department of communications, while Infraco is answerable to public enterprises, which could complicate attempts at cooperation. Gigaba explains the reason they report to different ministries is that they are “not the same types of organisations” because Sentech “gets its budget from government and Broadband Infraco raises its own resources to support its programmes”.

    He adds that the presidential review committee is trying to resolve a number of issues related to state-owned enterprises, including reporting lines and the need for rationalisation. Gigaba hopes the committee will close “that lacuna” by rationalising reporting lines.

computing

  • The African Development Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a USD 22.5m African Development Fund loan to the Republic of Mali to finance a major digital complex in the capital, Bamako. “This project is important for my country and the first of its kind in West Africa.  With the Bamako Digital Complex, before December 2011, Mali will be connected through fiber optic to six out of its seven neighbors. It is an innovative project in its design, positioning and vision. It has the ability to lay the necessary foundation today so that tomorrow our citizens have the competencies in an area as strategic as Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It will support and reinforce current national policies on job creation. It’s a project of tomorrow, it’s a project of the future”, said H.E. Mr. Modibo Ibrahim Toure, Minister of Posts and New Technologies of Mali at the signing ceremony held at the AfDB in Tunis.

    The main objectives of this project are to (i) increase the use of ICT and upgrade the skills of the population of Mali and other West African countries; and (ii) strengthen Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to support research and innovation in ICT.

    The AfDB is the largest financier of this USD 37 million project with contributions from the Government of Mali (USD 3 million) and the French development agency (USD 11.5 million).

    “Mali is pioneering a new approach breaking the walls between education systems and businesses. We hope to be doing more of such operations that combine PPPs, linking universities and training facilities to business incubators and using new technologies to improve learning outcomes” said AfDB’s Human Development Director, Agnès Soucat.

    The Bamako Digital Complex is composed of three main Information and Communication Technology development poles:

    A Techno Center to build human capital, increase competitiveness and create jobs especially for youth. It will seek to train 30 ICT engineers, 120 technicians, 600 civil servants and 150 job seekers per year, and increase women’s participation development.
    A Techno Park housing a data center, business incubators and technology firms; and
    A Techno Village - a convention center to showcase latest innovations in various developments sectors, hosting events gathering experts, researchers, and academics from Africa and globally.

  • Three solar panels, a battery, ten folding chairs, five tables, fifteen Intel-powered Classmate PCs and two teachers in a small van: This is the basic “equipment” of the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC).

    It has been a route through rural Uganda for two years now with the purpose of teaching pupils and teachers IT and computer skills.

    The initiator is Eric Morrow, founder of Maendeleo Foundation situated in Kampala and Seattle, who wants to bring Maendeleo (the Kiswahili term for progress) to Ugandan students in close cooperation with local experts.

    The robust Classmate PCs, powered and designed by Intel, which are run using a 200 Ah Solar Battery, proved to be perfect devices for the local circumstances, which were sometimes rather harsh.

    What could be a beneficial educational project for Uganda? How should such a project be designed really to foster children’s development? Personal affiliations with a Ugandan NGO and a strong desire to help were components that aided in blazing the trail for Eric Morrow’s Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC) Project. Consultations with other NGOs led Morrow, founder of Maendeleo Foundation, to consider how he might bring computers to Ugandan schools – most of which are boarding schools with few technology-savvy teachers and practically no money to spend on technology of any kind. Working with Ugandan development economist Asia Kamukama and experienced relief worker Richard Happy, Morrow sketched out a plan of action. Giving children – and their teachers – a first taste of what it means to work with a computer, was the goal set.

    However, the team soon realised that there were many obstacles to overcome. One of the first challenges identified was the near total lack of infrastructure: only five percent of Ugandans have access to electricity and just three percent can afford it. This meant that the solution to be put in place had to be self-powered and self-contained – a need that was met by mounting three 75-watt solar panels on top of an old four-wheel drive. The vehicle was also used to transport a custom-made tent and related equipment – the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom.

    As Internet access is unreliable in Uganda, Maendeleo Foundation could not depend on teaching skills with a live Web connection. Instead, the Foundation introduced purpose-built, proprietary training software that provides graduated skills training using cached Web content. This approach enabled continuity in lessons even though the MSCC might only visit a given school once a week.
    The local schools very much welcomed the idea of a mobile ICT training camp; however, the initial phase was tough. The low cost, low specification desktops proved to be unfit for the extremes of temperature, dust and durability they faced every day. Morrow had heard about the development of Intel-powered Classmate PCs and believed they might offer a better solution than the PCs used at first. After failing to find a local distributor, he bought several of the units from an online store in the US and had them delivered to Uganda. He found that they indeed offered a steady, reliable design that ran faster than the previous units – and delivered a standard Microsoft Windows XP desktop experience.
    The Intel-powered Classmate PCs were also more energy efficient: in one test, the units were run from the solar charged battery with the solar panels covered to prevent recharging. All ten Classmate PCs used in the project ran for over six hours without a problem – and this life could be extended further by using each unit’s individual battery. This meant that the project workers could teach an entire class of students at once, allowing them to reach significantly more students at no additional cost. So far, the staff taught more than 1,300 students, offering each one five hands-on sessions. Over 100 teachers were trained to carry out ICT classes, giving them skills to reinforce and extend their students’ computer knowledge throughout the rest of their education. In addition, Maendeleo Foundation visited several orphanages and community centres.

    Maendeleo started in early 2008 with five computers, then in August of 2008 switched to the Intel-powered Classmate PCs. There are currently five people running the operation in Uganda. In the longer term, Morrow hopes that steady and repeated exposure to computer technologies will encourage students to consider careers that might have previously seemed out of reach – including web design and roles in a potential services-outsourcing industry that could eventually expand across Eastern Africa.

    A new MSCC is already touring through Uganda. Using funds from the grant Maendeleo recently received from Intel’s Inspire-Empower challenge, the Foundation was able to put together a second MSCC that will serve rural areas in the same way as the original MSCC. With the grant, they have also been able to upgrade the original MSCC that they had (to run with fifteen computers). They are now also in the process of buying land and building an Advanced Training Centre, where they intend to give further individual training during school breaks to students who show potential and interest in working in the ICT industry.

  • Despite increasing deployment of broadband infrastructure and growth of mobile technology, Africa is the lowest-scoring region in the ICT Development Index (IDI) released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) last week.

    The 2011 edition of Measuring the Information Society scores the level of advancement of ICT in 152 countries worldwide, comparing progress made between 2008 and 2010. 

    The IDI, which ranked countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, puts the Republic of Korea as the world's most advanced ICT economy followed by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland. Most countries that rank high on the index are from Europe and Asia Pacific; the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Uruguay rank first within their regions.

    However, Africa remains the region with the lowest IDI values. Of the forty African countries listed, only six of them made the first 100 on the 2010 IDI. They are Mauritius (69), Seychelles (71), Tunisia (84), Morocco (90), Egypt (91) and South Africa (97).

    This year's report includes a special focus on broadband, looking at speed, quality of service and international bandwidth available in different countries worldwide and how this is affecting broadband take-up in the developed and developing worlds.

    Among the developing regions, Africa had the highest mobile growth rate. Mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of 10 years ago to over one fourth of the population today, the report noted.

    "While the IDI leaders are all from the developed world, it is extremely encouraging to see that the most dynamic performers are developing countries," ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré said in a release. "The 'mobile miracle' is putting ICT services within reach of even the most disadvantaged people and communities. Our challenge now is to replicate that success in broadband."

    However, the ITU report stated that Africa's fixed broadband service remains prohibitively expensive and in 2010 still represented almost three times the monthly average per capita income.

    Even though new submarine cables are providing African countries with access to more and cheaper international Internet bandwidth, the report stated, it still lags far behind other regions in terms of the bandwidth available to Internet users. For Africans to benefit from the continent's increased connectivity, operators must acquire greater amounts of international Internet bandwidth, expand and improve core networks, and make network access infrastructure available, as well as affordable, according to the report. 

    The report also analyzed the digital divide among Internet users, examining how factors like age, gender, educational level, and location affect people's ability to get online. The ITU indicated that targeting students may be the most effective way to increase the approximately 21 percent of the population that use the Internet in developing countries, through connecting educational institutions and improving enrollment rates.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • A few weeks ago Memeburn revealed that instant messaging platform MXit was rumoured to be in sale talks with startup investment firm World of Avatar. We can now confirm that those rumours are true.

    The acquisition will see current MXit head, Herman Heunis step down, with Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, the World of Avatar boss, taking over as CEO. The deal, which was finalised earlier yesterday, involves World of Avatar buying out both Heunis and Naspers, an US$18-billion emerging market media giant.

    Naspers, which also has stakes in Chinese IM TenCent and an indirect stake in Facebook, acquired a 30% interest in MXit in 2007. The new deal will see World of Avatar become 90 percent owners of the company while 10 percent will remain in a staff trust.

    The Stellenbosch-based World of Avatar, which appears to be targeting internet startups, is a relatively new investment firm. It was founded by Knott-Craig, the former head of iBurst and the son of former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig Snr.

    Knott-Craig was unable to give the exact figures of the deal, but confirms the funding was raised from private investors. Memeburn sources put the deal at around R500-million.

    The World of Avatar has been quietly investing in a range of local startups, including free SMS service FSMS, online organiser Toodu and politics-focused online publishing venture Daily Maverick.

    MXit was launched in 2005 by Heunis and has seen impressive growth both locally and globally since its inception. The service now claims to have around 40-million registered users “posting 700-million messages a day” — and is even used by the US-embassy to communicate with African audiences.

    “Creating and building MXit has been an enormously interesting journey for me, and I have had a lot of fun, but it is time to inject new and young energy into the company, and I believe that Alan and his team will do a superb job,” says Heunis.

    In an exclusive interview with Memeburn, Knott-Craig Jnr revealed that he has been in talks with MXit for the better part of this year: “About seven months ago I got wind that MXit might be selling, so I called up Herman Heunis, we had a coffee and I said to him, ‘if you guys ever wanted to sell let me know’ and that’s how it began.”

    The deal, which Knott-Craig says should have gone through in the space of a month, was halted by the global financial crisis, prompting renegotiation.

    Knott-Craig claims that he has some changes in mind for the IM platform but that they are “nothing drastic”. Knott-Craig says the core MXit community will remain the same but wants to focus on “what MXIT is good at and that is communication”.

    He hinted that MXit would focus on what it does best and that some of its functions, such as advertising, would be handled rather by another arm of his company.

    Knott-Craig explains that he would like to tell the story of MXit which he says is “a success story of likes of Facebook in its own context”.

    “Twitter does 8-billion messages a month, MXit does 22-billion a month. Your average Facebook user spends 15 hours a month on Facebook, your average MXit user spends 45 hours month on MXit, people don’t know this. It is a massively engaged, massively active audience.

    “We have to keep that community trusted, it can never be the case of Facebook where your information is available to advertisers, this is why I am heading there personally to run the show. Herman has done a good job of keeping the community guarded, the data is not sold and that is key and we need to keep that,” says Knott-Craig.

    MXit is available in 128 countries. It is represented in international markets that include Malaysia, Kenya, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United States, Nigeria, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where users have access to MXit’s chat function.

    This deal is possibly the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, Knott-Craig says.

  • The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has opened five satellite offices across the country to ensure that e-zwich services are running effectively throughout the country.

    The offices located in Accra, Takoradi, Kumasi, Sunyani, and Tamale, will carry out regular monitoring and support e-zwich services in the various outlets.

    This was contained in a statement issued by the Management of GhIPSS copied to Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday.

    The statement said the Accra office would have additional responsibility over the Central, Eastern and Southern parts of the Volta Region while that of Kumasi would be responsible for the entire Ashanti Region and the Takoradi office to have responsibility over the entire Western Region.

    It said the Sunyani office would however have responsibility over the Brong Ahafo and Upper West Regions while the satellite office in Tamale would be responsible for the Northern, Upper East and the Northern Sector of the Volta region.

    Mr Archie Hesse, General Manager in-charge of Project and Business Development at GhIPSS said “With this arrangement, we cover the entire country,” adding the satellite offices had been tasked to regularly visit all the financial institutions, as well as merchants under their areas of operation.

    He said the offices would ensure that the financial institutions and shops that operated e-zwich Point of Sales devices were providing the services at all times and would be readily available anytime there was any issue to be addressed.

    Mr Hesse said the satellite offices would also support the financial institutions to register customers who wanted the biometric card as well as scout for new shops to offer the e-zwich range of services.

    He said currently various e-zwich initiatives were being implemented including the Senior High School project, the various farmers’ e-zwich programmes as well as microfinance e-zwich initiatives at the urban and peri-urban areas in the various regions, adding the satellite teams would also be monitoring and supporting these initiatives.

    Mr Hesse said other activities that would be undertaken by the satellite offices include regular education for the various stakeholders, adding “These are administrative strategies that are adopted as we enter into various phases of the e-zwich project to further improve on the provision of the e-zwich range of services”.

    He noted that as more people particularly outside Accra patronised the biometric smart card, it had become necessary to deploy staff in the regions to provide regular support to financial institutions, agri-businesses, schools and shops offering the service.

    Mr Hesse encouraged the various institutions to work hand-in-hand with the satellite stations to ensure that their e-zwich customers were served well at all times.

  • Africa has been seen in recent years as an excellent opportunity to invest in telecommunications infrastructure, with many countries receiving trillions of dollars in funding in order to upgrade GSM networks, installing 3G and even to lay down just the basic fiber optic cables.

    South Africa has received the most backing when it comes to telecom infrastructure investments

    According to a report released by Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, it’s to no surprise that South Africa has received more than $18-trillion in investments from 1998 to 2008. Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, is a close second, receiving over $12-trillion for the same period. What rather shocking, is the fact that Kenya only managed to attract just under $3-trillion in investments, and sits third on the list.

    “Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been a remarkable success in Africa. Across the continent, the availability and quality of service have gone up and the cost has gone down. In just 10 years—dating from the end of the 1990s—mobile network coverage rose from 16 percent to 90 percent of the urban population,” the report stated. The report also noted that most of the investments come from Chinese companies, although a number of European companies are also involved.

    The top ten list of how investments in Africa’s telecommunications have been distributed from 1998 till 2008:

    1. South Africa ($18.1-trillion)
    2. Nigeria ($12.7-trillion)
    3. Kenya ($2.9-trillion)
    4. Sudan ($1.8-trillion)
    5. Uganda ($1.6-trillion)
    6. Senegal ($1.5-trillion)
    7. Tanzania ($1.4-trillion)
    8. Democratic Republic of the Congo ($1.2-trillion)
    9. Ghana ($1.1-trillion)
    10. Angola ($1-trillion)

  • Six suspects, not 10 as earlier reported by Sapa, were arrested on Thursday morning at MTN’s head office near Roodepoort. The operator explains the six — two of whom were MTN contractors — are suspected to have sold new Sim cards fraudulently loaded with airtime.

    The Sim cards were then sold to members of the public at “exorbitantly discounted amounts, thereby defrauding MTN”.

    “Our fraud and forensic department detected this scam and immediately followed up on leads and clues,” says Lily Zondo, GM for business risk management at MTN SA. “After irrefutable evidence was collected, MTN handed over the matter to the authorities, who made the arrests this morning.”

    MTN says consumers must be wary of “falling prey to offers that are ridiculously discounted. If it is too good to be true, it probably is”.

    “Customers should note that the law deems customers who purchase illegally sourced goods to be in commission of a crime,” says MTN SA customer service executive Eddie Moyce.

    MTN is still collating all the evidence to ascertain the revenue impact. The company says the R200m figure mentioned in the earlier Sapa story is “grossly misleading and inaccurate”.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - 8.ta, South Africa’s fourth mobile operator has entered into a partnership with Nedbank that allows for 8.ta’s prepaid airtime to be purchased from the bank’s online banking channel.

    - With the launch of Samsung’s dedicated app store, many users in South Africa have benefited from the wide range of apps available. To further the experience, Samsung has launched a handful of new local apps, which users will find informative and exciting. They include MXit, DStv Mobile Decoder and PriceCheck.co.za

Digital Content

  • For instance, the Broadband Commission meeting that took place on 8-9 September, 2011, focused on the role of youth in defining new ICT services and driving take-up.

    Rwanda has an exceptionally young population, with 42% of people under the age of 15.

    The conference attracted Broadband commissioners and representatives of several countries in Africa, the private sector and civil society. They examined how to get the continent wired to high-speed networks and also involve the role of the youth in getting Africa online.

    The discussion featured a competition Peoples choice Award showcasing 10 new applications created by Rwandan youth developers. They included; Gihamya, Turere Neza, Osca, Get it!, Cumbika, Umuhuza Hi-Tech Brokers, FINDiet, M-AHWIII, Igisekuru, Gahunda.

    M-AHWIII limited, was crowned the winner after getting 30 percent of votes from the public was followed by Gahunda which attained 21percent votes. Both applications will feature at the forthcoming ITU Telecom World 2011 Digital Innovators competition in October.

    Lillian Uwintwali, student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology is the Director of M-AHWIII limited was overjoyed after announcing them as the winner of the category.

    "The win is worth it because many will benefit from the application. M-AHWIII is an SMS-based application that will allow patients to request for medical appointments at any hospital of their choice subscribed on our system relieving them the trouble of having to go directly to the hospital in person," Uwintwali discloses.

    She adds that with her four colleagues they would develop their idea further.

    "We will have to first set its visibility in two hospitals as we aim at making the M-AHWII application effective and user friendly," she emphasizes.

    M-AHWII, the M stands for Mobile while the AHWII literally represent is an expression of relaxing.

    "I have already talked to the Ministry of Health and they liked the idea, hopefully the patients will be booking appointments for medical attention using SMS. One will only have to send a message indicating their illness and the hospital they would like to go to," Uwintwali explains.

    She said: "This is going to be a useful tool in making Rwanda a healthy country a reality. We all know for a fact that without good health there is no development.

    I request everyone to make M-AHWII application a reality so as to maintain the good health of Rwandans while achieving the broadband of digital development."

    The applications they create are income generating thus boost the standards of living with its related advantages.

    Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU), during the recent conference held in Kigali in relations to Broadband, he said that broadband is the single most powerful tool available to accelerate progress towards achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and a drive to social and economic development.

    "In the 21st century, with broadband, no young African should ever again need to be sent abroad in order to enjoy the benefits of an excellent education," says Touré.

    He said: "If you are connected, it no longer matters if you are geographically or socially isolated; you are still connected to the information society. But if you are not connected, you are literally cut off from a whole portion of the world's riches."

    In a phone interview with Serge Guillaume Nzabonimana, anAdvisor in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, he said that the Ministry funds youth projects in relations to Information and Communication and Technology.

    "We analyze the request for the project before for we fund it. There are a few factors that are considered for instance sustainability, the impact it will have on the people and the number of members involved in the project," Nzabonimana explains.

    ICT being one of the pillars of development, the youth need to be supported in the field thus a bright future.

    For instance the Ministry funded Kimisagara youth employment and productive center to by enhancing the IT skills for youth.

    The center identified 300 youth to be trained in IT this year and groups of 30 each concluded successfully the training of 4 weeks each.

    The IT training aims at promoting ICT and creating confidence among youth in computer skills as well as to use ICT as a tool for youth-to-youth communication, sensitize them in lessons related to health/nutrition, reading, writing, and other benefits.

  • In 2008, then US presidential candidate Barack Obama broke new ground by using social media in ways never seen before. Yet it was Goodluck Jonathan, the recently elected president of Nigeria, who took the extraordinary step of announcing his bid for the highest office on Facebook. On Wednesday, 15 September 2010, he informed his 217,000-plus fans on the world's most popular networking platform of his intent. Twenty four hours later, 4,000 more fans joined his page. By the day of the election, on 16 April 2011, he had over half a million followers.

    Mr. Jonathan's online campaign was only one illustration of the social media fever that gripped Africa's most populous country (with around 150 million people) during its most recent presidential, parliamentary and local elections. A report by two researchers who helped track online traffic during the month-long polls argues that the country's use of social media reached unprecedented levels.* "Nigeria set a new record for recent African elections in the number of reports tracked using social media," it says. In addition to the approximately 3 million registered Nigerians on Facebook and 60,000 on Twitter, almost every institution involved in Nigeria's elections conducted an aggressive social networking outreach, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, candidates, media houses, civil society groups and even the police.

    The report notes that between 10 March and 16 April 2011, the electoral commission posted almost 4,000 tweets, many in response to voter queries. Using Twitter, commission officials at polling stations around the country also were able to communicate among themselves, and even confirmed the death of one of their members who had been attacked. "Twitter ultimately proved to be the most efficient way to interact with INEC," the document authors report. The commission's use of social media led to its website receiving a record 25 million hits in three days during the presidential election. "By using social media to inspire voters, the electoral commission has redefined elections in Nigeria," analyzed Punch, the country's most circulated newspaper.

    The boom in use of social media during elections also helped the media expand their readerships. Shortly before the polls, the Daily Trust newspaper had 32,000 fans on Facebook. A few weeks later, the number had more than doubled to 65,000, placing its online reach beyond its print distribution of 50,000. To build up its fan base, the newspaper also used social media in its reporting. Journalists solicited and used questions from Facebook fans for interviews with the chairman of INEC. Since the elections, the Daily Trust has further increased its Facebook presence, with 95,000 fans by July 2011.

    The online networking platforms reflected popular interest. Unsurprisingly, social media use reached its peak during the presidential election on 16 April. On that day, a total of 33,460 text messages and 130,426 posts on Twitter and Facebook were sent by some 65,000 voters.

    The content was mixed, the authors point out. "Social media, especially Twitter, was used to report occurrences [of fraud] — truthful as well as fabricated." Yet, they add, it played a mostly constructive role during the post-election violence by exposing unfounded rumours.

    "Social media tools," the report concludes, "revolutionized the efficiency of election observing by increasing coverage and reporting, while minimizing costs.... They changed how information was disseminated in Nigeria. Citizens accessed information directly and more accurately, resulting in unsurpassed participation in politics during the 2011 elections." 

    That upbeat assessment, however, needs to be put in context: An estimated 70,000 people posted contents online during Nigeria's polls, but they were just a tiny fraction of the registered 73 million voters. Still, a new trend appears to have begun.

More

  • - Herman Heunis will leave the head of instant messaging platform MXit following the takeover of the company  by Alan Knott-Craig Jnr from the World of Avatar.

  • Information Technology Manager – Abuja, Nigeria
    The IT Manager will provide leadership support and maintenance to Family Health International (FHI) Nigeria computer and network infrastructure to ensure stable operations. S/He will be responsible for all IT related equipment and software that is part of the FHI-Nigeria inventory. S/He will take appropriate steps in solving problems, or where necessary, in identifying suitable vendors capable of solving them. The IT Manager will support the design and implementation of new IT solutions to improve business efficiency and productivity.

    Bachelor's degree with 7 to 9 years experience, in IT,  or a  Master's degree with 5 to 7 years experience in IT, OR PhD with 3 to 5 years experience in IT.
    For further information or to apply click here

    Technical Account Manager – Accra, Ghana
    Google's Partner Solutions Organization (PSO) is a technology group dedicated to developing and managing the company's largest and most strategic partnerships. Our multi-faceted professionals work together with teams throughout Google to address our partners' most pressing technology challenges – ones that have no simple answers. We create solutions for and build enduring long-term relationships with organizations that represent outstanding revenue opportunities and/or are strategically important for us to take new, world-shaping technologies to market.

    The role: Technical Account Manager
    As a Technical Account Manager, you are the engagement manager taking responsibility for the success of our largest partnerships. You lead deployments, optimize implementations and integrations to increase revenue, drive new business opportunities, and manage the overall technical aspects to build strong, successful, long- term partnerships. If you are a creative thinker who thrives in a fast-paced, market-driven environment, we want to talk to you. You should be a self-motivated individual looking to solidify Google's strategic partnerships across a variety of product lines made especially for Africa. These include search, mobile, video, Google Apps, e-commerce, and many other new initiatives.
    Responsibilities:

    Troubleshoot and train in relation to the Google Apps deployment project management with partner universities.
    Perform implementation reviews, evangelize new product features, and ensure the prompt and proper resolution of technical challenges.
    Improve product feature offerings by providing partner feedback to internal cross-functional teams including Product Management and Engineering.
    Guarantee the technical aspects of a partner’s integration (both new and ongoing) by providing necessary documentation, training and technical guidance.
    Develop proof-of-concept products and software tools to assist in closing deals.

    Requirements:
    BA/BS preferred in a technical field with a strong academic record. (MS/MBA is a plus).
    Extensive hands-on experience in Internet or telecom products and technologies in Africa or similar market.
    Experience in deadline-driven, large-scale technical project management or software development in the Internet/Telecommunications space.
    Excellent project management skills and attention to detail as well as experience working with external clients in a sales environment.
    Proficient in one or more programming languages, including Java, C/C++, JavaScript, Python, or PHP.
    Proficient in French, English and at least one other African language.
    Willing to travel extensively within Africa.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Essar Telecoms and Tata Communications - Kenya
    Tata Communications and Essar Telecom Kenya (yuMobile), a unit of Essar Group, have  announced the signing of a mutually beneficial strategic sourcing agreement. Under the deal, yuMobile would, exclusively, route all its international voice traffic through Tata Communications' network. yuMobile continues to be one of the company’s key suppliers of telecommunication services throughout Kenya.

Issue 573: Congo: “Fibre to the people” – how to make the best use of the new international capacity

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Top story

  • On September 12th, the ACE submarine fibre cable landed close to Banjul, the capital of the Gambia. Excitement and interest were high as you can see from the photos taken at the beach where the cable was pulled out of the sea (for the photos see Balancing Act’s website). The commercial launch of international fibre capacity will only start in July 2012 but the Gambia is already finalising the legal framework that will govern access to this new international capacity. Further down the west coast of Africa, Congo (Brazza) is still undecided as to how to deal with the international fibre capacity that will soon be on its doorstep.  Isabelle Gross looks at the some of the pitfalls that Congo has to avoid in order to make the best use of the forthcoming capacity.

    Congo is among the 12 countries on the west coast of Africa that for the first time will have a landing station providing access to international fibre capacity. It is not a small thing for the country to get connected to the WACS submarine cable but in order to harvest its benefits, such as cheaper and faster Internet access, the Congolese government has still to sort out issues regarding the management and access to the international fibre capacity.

    A look back over the history of the SAT3 submarine cable demonstrates that when the national incumbent manages the international capacity, the outcome is often less than optimal. With the exception of Sonatel in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, and more recently Benin Telecom, most of the national incumbents never seemed to understand how to maximize (in terms of revenue) the use of the international capacity available on SAT3. Among those who have failed to make full use of the opportunities are Camtel in Cameroon, Gabon Telecom, and Nitel in Nigeria. For many years, their management of the international capacity on SAT3 has led to very high prices (well above US$5,000 per MB) and a sub-standard service. Nitel in Nigeria managed its capacity so badly that Suburban Telecoms, an infrastructure provider in Nigeria, built a cross border fibre link to Benin, and thus opened up a second Nigerian access point to SAT3 capacity via Benin Telecom.

    The lessons from these failures are two-fold:
    - the national incumbent is not necessarily the best entity to manage the upcoming international capacity efficiently
    - monopoly management of the international fibre capacity helps to maintain artificially inflated high prices on international bandwidth

    So what should Congo do? If it gives the management of the international capacity to Congo Telecom, Congolese Internet users can say bye bye to the idea of cheaper and faster Internet at any time in the near future. Congo Telecom has neither the technical expertise nor the commercial skills (the level of the debts of the company is a good indicator of its incompetence) to manage the new international fibre capacity properly. If the Congolese Government wants to achieve its goal of seizing all the opportunities that international fibre capacity brings, it will need the political will to make some tough decisions. At present, the goal of bringing the Internet to the people seems far away. A basic 64KB connection still costs on average US$100 per month. By comparison, the average salary of a civil servant is between US$160 and US$200 per month.

    So how can Congo and other African countries avoid a situation in which consumers pay artificially inflated prices for the new international fibre capacity? In countries like Nigeria, which will soon have access to 5 international submarine cables (SAT3, Glo 1, Main One, WACS and ACE), competition between the various providers has already pushed down prices and this trend is likely to continue. Today international bandwidth comes for as little as US$300 per MB per month. In contrast, in Congo and in many of the 12 countries on the West coast of Africa that will get access to international fibre capacity for the first time, access will remain limited to one submarine cable, and relying on competition among providers to drive prices down won’t work. It is therefore up to the Congolese Government to take the decisions (e.g. putting in place an open access legal framework) that will best serve to the goal of putting the new international fibre capacity to work to support the development of the ICT sector in the country. The best way of achieving this would seem to be to introduce an open access model that will guarantee equal, transparent and non-discriminatory access to international capacity for all the players in the local market.

    With 5 submarine cables that will soon all be live, international capacity along the west coast of Africa will be plentiful. It is therefore unlikely that more cables will be built in the coming years. For Congo and some of the other 12 countries, it is important not to miss the boat when it comes to making the most efficient use of the new international fibre capacity.

telecoms

  • Six companies have lost their telecommunication business licenses in Uganda after failing to launch their services within the required time. The affected firms include; Talk Telecom, Mo Telecom, Mara Telecoms, a subsidiary of the Mara Group, Excellentcom Uganda Limited, Janu Communications Limited and Ace Networks Limited.

    “The commission hereby informs the general public that the licenses for the following operators have been revoked and they are therefore no longer recognised by the commission as licensed providers of communication services within Uganda,” Engineer Godfrey Mutabazi the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), said in a public notice last week.

    The firms had acquired Public Service Provider (PSP) licences from UCC to offer voice and data communication services in the country. A PSP licence in Uganda costs $10,000 (about Shs28 million).

    Under the provisions of the Uganda Communications Act, licences given to operator may be suspended if the licensee fails to commence services within 12 months, ceases operations without obtaining the commission’s approval, fails to submit the required information, and fails to renew one’s license upon the expiry of licence term.

    The exit of the five players leaves Uganda with 42 licenced telecommunication operators, according to the UCC data. The largest players in the market remain; MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda, Warid, Uganda Telecom Limited and Orange Uganda.

    Price competition in the telecommunications sector over the last three years has forced many firms to stay their operations in order to avoid running unsustainable or loss making businesses.

    Today, of the five large domestic operators, only MTN Uganda has paid the mandatory 1 per cent of its profits to UCC while the rest have either not broken even or continue to post losses because their expenses exceed their incomes.

    Mr Fred Otunnu, the UCC spokesman, told Daily Monitor that revocation of a licence is the final action, which the regulator takes to punish a firm that doesn’t comply with the requirements of an issued licence.

  • South Africa’s Vodacom is in talks to buy a stake in mobile operator Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM), the Daily Times newspaper said citing unidentified sources.
    Vodacom, which is majority owned by Britian’s Vodafone, had previously shown interest in TNM, the paper quoted the sources as saying. TMN has since streamlined some of its businesses to bring them closer in line with how Vodacom operates, the sources said.

    The TNM officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Vodacom’s CEO for international operations, Johan Dennelind, said in a statement the company would look at expansion opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, but declined to comment on specific countries or companies.

    Vodacom is the dominant mobile carrier in South Africa, but is dwarfed on the continent by rival MTN Group. In addition to its home market, it has operations in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho.

  • Mobile phone service provider Essar Telkom has agreed to pay Kenya Data Networks (KDN) Sh25 million upfront and Sh6.2 million in equal monthly instalments to settle a dispute involving Sh133 million.

    The parties recorded the consent in the Nairobi High Court where Essar owners of the Yu mobile brand, also agreed to pay KDN Sh6.2 million a month until an arbitrator concludes the dispute. However, failure by Essar to settle Sh24,948,900 within 14 days, the agreement would automatically lapse.

    According to the consent, the lump sum includes arrears for services KDN rendered to the mobile firm in the past four consecutive months from May to August this year. The parties agreed that KDN would not interfere with its services to Essar until the arbitrator makes its final findings.

    "KDN will not interfere with the 186 sites of inter-connections to other mobile telecommunications industry and will also not switch off the connectivity," read the consent, which was adopted as a court order.

    Mr Justice Muga Apondi said Essar was at liberty to reduce its sites depending on the services rendered by the private data supplier provided "they have notified KDN on the changes".

    KDN moved to court on May 25 seeking orders to compel Essar Telkom to clear a long-standing debt of Sh133 million or risk being switched off its connectivity.

  • The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has set down a provisional date for hearings on local-loop unbundling, the regulatory intervention that will force Telkom to open its “last mile” of copper cables to competitors in some or other form.

    The hearings, the most anticipated that Icasa has held since its investigations into call termination rates — the fees operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks — will provisionally take place from 10 to 14 October, according to Pieter Grootes, the GM of the authority’s markets and competition division.

    Grootes revealed the hearing date while speaking at the VoiceSA telecommunications conference in Midrand.

    Icasa has proposed four separate models for unbundling the fixed-line local loop, which is seen as an important way of promoting competition in broadband and potentially driving down prices.

    The first option mooted by Icasa is “bitstream” or wholesale access. This option doesn’t entail unbundling of the physical copper cable infrastructure, but rather Telkom providing other operators with access on a wholesale basis. Rivals won’t have access to Telkom’s network infrastructure, so it’s an option that the fixed-line incumbent may prefer.

    In its discussion document, Icasa says the advantage of bitstream access is that it won’t “hinder any progressive modernisation of the local access network by replacing copper cables with fibre cables”.

    The second option Icasa has proposed is line sharing, or shared access to the local loop. In this model, Telkom and companies seeking access to its local loop can share the same line where both provide different services such as voice and data on the same loop.

    “In this situation, consumers can acquire data services from facilities seekers [other operators] while retaining the voice services of the facilities provider [Telkom]. Some facilities seekers may choose to offer data services only, so with line sharing customers can retain their facilities provider for voice calls while getting higher bandwidth services from another operator without the need to install a second line,” Icasa says.

    Technically, the authority explains, a splitter is installed in the “main distribution frame” that separates the frequencies for voice telephony and those for higher bandwidth services. “Line sharing allows the facilities seeker to provide the service of their choice by covering either low-frequency bands or high-frequency bands,” it says. “When one frequency band is occupied by one operator, the other frequency band can be occupied by another operator.”

    Icasa says this option would broaden choices available to consumers as they could choose Telkom as their voice provider while at the same time choosing a new entrant, or any other operator, as the provider of broadband Internet services over the same loop.

    The third option that Icasa has tabled is full local-loop unbundling, or full access. This assigns the entire copper local loop to rival operators. In this model, other operators may place all required equipment inside or outside Telkom’s premises. Rival operators take over the full operation of the local loop allocated to them.

    The final option is sub-loop unbundling, where Telkom’s rivals get access to its “primary connection point” at street level. This form of unbundling is more suited to new forms of digital subscriber line technology, such as very high-speed DSL.

    In this model, Telkom’s rivals would provide their own networks all the way to the primary connection point. They locate their equipment adjacent to the connection point rather than in Telkom’s telephone exchanges. In all other respects, sub-loop unbundling is analogous to full local-loop unbundling.

    Icasa has said it should complete regulations for unbundling by no later than November, after it has consulted with industry stakeholders. Communications minister Roy Padayachie has said previously that he wants unbundling to be completed by that date.

internet

  • The Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL) has announced new tariff structures for the National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) and allowed its customers to sublet the service.

    In an advert posted in the print media, the company said the new plan named Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRU) prices, will allow customers connected to the backbone to lease out capacity for up to 10, 15 or 20 years.

    "While the IRU price will be paid once, operations and maintenance charges will be paid annually over the IRU period," the advert read in part.

    In a telephone interview yesterday, the TTCL Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Saidi Saidi, said the new arrangement will enable current and new users to sub-lease internet broadband to other users.

    "In simple words, it means we are the landlord who owns a big house. But our tenant is free to sub-let the space he or she rents to other tenants over a period of time," Mr Saidi explained.
    However, he said operation and maintenance charges would be calculated as five per cent of the IRU purchase price and paid annually.

    Since the first submarine fibre optic cable landed in the country, tariffs for internet broadband have decreased by 50 per cent, according to the Acting CEO.
    "Many people don't seem to appreciate this fact but they will in the end," he said during the interview.

    Customers wishing to subscribe to a 10-year plan will pay US $540,000 as the lowest package, while those subscribing to 20 years will have to dig deeper into their pockets to the tune of US $12.44 million for the uppermost package.

    Already some 14 regions have been linked, under phase one of the NICTBB. They include Dar es Salaam, Coast, Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, and Dodoma in addition to Singida, Manyara and Arusha. Also on the list are Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Mara.

    Currently, the backbone also offers services at established points of presence (PoPs) which include cross-border points at Rusumo (Rwanda), Kabanga (Burundi) and Kasumulo (Malawi).
    It also offers services at Tunduma (Zambia), Namanga (Kenya) and will soon connect Uganda through the border point of Mutukula.

    Implementation of phase two of NICTBB that commenced on October 1, last year, is expected to be completed in March, next year.

  • ZTE Corporation, a publicly listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions signed an agreement on 20 September 2011 with Burundi Backbone Systems Company (Burundi BBS) to build Burundi’s first national backbone network.

    The ZTE network will cover 17 provinces and cities in Burundi, dramatically reducing broadband costs and laying the foundation for further improvements. It will also link Burundi with eastern and central African countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, and Congo, connecting it to The Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy).

    Burundi BBS is a joint venture between five local telecommunication operators and is partially funded by the World Bank.

    “This year, ZTE established a strategic objective to change bearer network patterns,” said ZTE Bearer Network Product Line General Manager Fan Xiaobing.

    “The development of the backbone network in cooperation with Burundi BBS will help achieve that objective, while also improving the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.”

    As part of the project, ZTE will provide ZXR10 M6000 super-high-performance multi-service routers and multi-service access products such as the S385 and S325 to Burundi BBS. The ZXR10 M6000 slot supports 40G switching capability and provides upgrade capability to 100G.

    The S385 supports multi-service access and provides an upgrade from 2.5G to 10G, greatly reducing initial network construction costs. ZTE has shipped several thousand T8000/M6000 units based on the T8000 platform across China, Asia-Pacific, Southeast Asia and MEA in the first half of 2011. The units are in use by operators in China, such as China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom; and by other operators across those regions.

  • Telecommunication firms have now taken up more than 60 per cent of the capacity that we initially had. Demand has grown and we expect further growth as more and people start using internet, which would deplete the capacity that we have," said Mark Simpson, the firm’s Seacom chief executive.

    "We are planning to increase capacity on the cable and this should be done in another 12 to 15 months."

    Simpson spoke on the sidelines of an ongoing Capacity Africa conference in Nairobi.

    He said Seacom is still thrashing out fine details of the upgrade including the money to be invested and mode of financing, which would determine the actual capacity to add on the cable.

    He added that Seacom would in future start selling premium services to its clients to tap into the growing provision of content in Africa. Premium services that the firm plans to start selling will include multiprotocol label switching— a data carrying mechanism that allows a simple relay of information over a network.

    The move diversify service offering from the basic capacity provision to selling of premium services at the wholesale level is in part to fend off competition in the undersea cable segment.

  • Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba has again raised the possibility of a merger between state-owned enterprises Sentech and Broadband Infraco, but says nothing is imminent. “It would be the culmination of a process,” Gigaba says.

    There has been talk for at least a year that the two companies could be merged. Sentech, in addition to providing broadcast signal distribution services, is keen to roll out a broadband network in rural areas; Infraco is keen to do the same, though providing more of the backhaul-type services that would support the wireless access network Sentech is proposing.

    Gigaba says government has begun “emphasising cooperation” between the two companies and says a merger can’t be ruled out down the line.

    “We have begun discussions at ministerial, director-general and board levels to try to find the synergies to improve cooperation between the two organisations through entering into a venture agreement,” he says. “At one stage or another, depending on the programme we establish and follow, we might arrive at a point where we say both organisations need to merge to form one organisation.”

    Sentech reports to the department of communications, while Infraco is answerable to public enterprises, which could complicate attempts at cooperation. Gigaba explains the reason they report to different ministries is that they are “not the same types of organisations” because Sentech “gets its budget from government and Broadband Infraco raises its own resources to support its programmes”.

    He adds that the presidential review committee is trying to resolve a number of issues related to state-owned enterprises, including reporting lines and the need for rationalisation. Gigaba hopes the committee will close “that lacuna” by rationalising reporting lines.

computing

  • The African Development Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a USD 22.5m African Development Fund loan to the Republic of Mali to finance a major digital complex in the capital, Bamako. “This project is important for my country and the first of its kind in West Africa.  With the Bamako Digital Complex, before December 2011, Mali will be connected through fiber optic to six out of its seven neighbors. It is an innovative project in its design, positioning and vision. It has the ability to lay the necessary foundation today so that tomorrow our citizens have the competencies in an area as strategic as Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It will support and reinforce current national policies on job creation. It’s a project of tomorrow, it’s a project of the future”, said H.E. Mr. Modibo Ibrahim Toure, Minister of Posts and New Technologies of Mali at the signing ceremony held at the AfDB in Tunis.

    The main objectives of this project are to (i) increase the use of ICT and upgrade the skills of the population of Mali and other West African countries; and (ii) strengthen Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to support research and innovation in ICT.

    The AfDB is the largest financier of this USD 37 million project with contributions from the Government of Mali (USD 3 million) and the French development agency (USD 11.5 million).

    “Mali is pioneering a new approach breaking the walls between education systems and businesses. We hope to be doing more of such operations that combine PPPs, linking universities and training facilities to business incubators and using new technologies to improve learning outcomes” said AfDB’s Human Development Director, Agnès Soucat.

    The Bamako Digital Complex is composed of three main Information and Communication Technology development poles:

    A Techno Center to build human capital, increase competitiveness and create jobs especially for youth. It will seek to train 30 ICT engineers, 120 technicians, 600 civil servants and 150 job seekers per year, and increase women’s participation development.
    A Techno Park housing a data center, business incubators and technology firms; and
    A Techno Village - a convention center to showcase latest innovations in various developments sectors, hosting events gathering experts, researchers, and academics from Africa and globally.

  • Three solar panels, a battery, ten folding chairs, five tables, fifteen Intel-powered Classmate PCs and two teachers in a small van: This is the basic “equipment” of the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC).

    It has been a route through rural Uganda for two years now with the purpose of teaching pupils and teachers IT and computer skills.

    The initiator is Eric Morrow, founder of Maendeleo Foundation situated in Kampala and Seattle, who wants to bring Maendeleo (the Kiswahili term for progress) to Ugandan students in close cooperation with local experts.

    The robust Classmate PCs, powered and designed by Intel, which are run using a 200 Ah Solar Battery, proved to be perfect devices for the local circumstances, which were sometimes rather harsh.

    What could be a beneficial educational project for Uganda? How should such a project be designed really to foster children’s development? Personal affiliations with a Ugandan NGO and a strong desire to help were components that aided in blazing the trail for Eric Morrow’s Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC) Project. Consultations with other NGOs led Morrow, founder of Maendeleo Foundation, to consider how he might bring computers to Ugandan schools – most of which are boarding schools with few technology-savvy teachers and practically no money to spend on technology of any kind. Working with Ugandan development economist Asia Kamukama and experienced relief worker Richard Happy, Morrow sketched out a plan of action. Giving children – and their teachers – a first taste of what it means to work with a computer, was the goal set.

    However, the team soon realised that there were many obstacles to overcome. One of the first challenges identified was the near total lack of infrastructure: only five percent of Ugandans have access to electricity and just three percent can afford it. This meant that the solution to be put in place had to be self-powered and self-contained – a need that was met by mounting three 75-watt solar panels on top of an old four-wheel drive. The vehicle was also used to transport a custom-made tent and related equipment – the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom.

    As Internet access is unreliable in Uganda, Maendeleo Foundation could not depend on teaching skills with a live Web connection. Instead, the Foundation introduced purpose-built, proprietary training software that provides graduated skills training using cached Web content. This approach enabled continuity in lessons even though the MSCC might only visit a given school once a week.
    The local schools very much welcomed the idea of a mobile ICT training camp; however, the initial phase was tough. The low cost, low specification desktops proved to be unfit for the extremes of temperature, dust and durability they faced every day. Morrow had heard about the development of Intel-powered Classmate PCs and believed they might offer a better solution than the PCs used at first. After failing to find a local distributor, he bought several of the units from an online store in the US and had them delivered to Uganda. He found that they indeed offered a steady, reliable design that ran faster than the previous units – and delivered a standard Microsoft Windows XP desktop experience.
    The Intel-powered Classmate PCs were also more energy efficient: in one test, the units were run from the solar charged battery with the solar panels covered to prevent recharging. All ten Classmate PCs used in the project ran for over six hours without a problem – and this life could be extended further by using each unit’s individual battery. This meant that the project workers could teach an entire class of students at once, allowing them to reach significantly more students at no additional cost. So far, the staff taught more than 1,300 students, offering each one five hands-on sessions. Over 100 teachers were trained to carry out ICT classes, giving them skills to reinforce and extend their students’ computer knowledge throughout the rest of their education. In addition, Maendeleo Foundation visited several orphanages and community centres.

    Maendeleo started in early 2008 with five computers, then in August of 2008 switched to the Intel-powered Classmate PCs. There are currently five people running the operation in Uganda. In the longer term, Morrow hopes that steady and repeated exposure to computer technologies will encourage students to consider careers that might have previously seemed out of reach – including web design and roles in a potential services-outsourcing industry that could eventually expand across Eastern Africa.

    A new MSCC is already touring through Uganda. Using funds from the grant Maendeleo recently received from Intel’s Inspire-Empower challenge, the Foundation was able to put together a second MSCC that will serve rural areas in the same way as the original MSCC. With the grant, they have also been able to upgrade the original MSCC that they had (to run with fifteen computers). They are now also in the process of buying land and building an Advanced Training Centre, where they intend to give further individual training during school breaks to students who show potential and interest in working in the ICT industry.

  • Despite increasing deployment of broadband infrastructure and growth of mobile technology, Africa is the lowest-scoring region in the ICT Development Index (IDI) released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) last week.

    The 2011 edition of Measuring the Information Society scores the level of advancement of ICT in 152 countries worldwide, comparing progress made between 2008 and 2010. 

    The IDI, which ranked countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, puts the Republic of Korea as the world's most advanced ICT economy followed by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland. Most countries that rank high on the index are from Europe and Asia Pacific; the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Uruguay rank first within their regions.

    However, Africa remains the region with the lowest IDI values. Of the forty African countries listed, only six of them made the first 100 on the 2010 IDI. They are Mauritius (69), Seychelles (71), Tunisia (84), Morocco (90), Egypt (91) and South Africa (97).

    This year's report includes a special focus on broadband, looking at speed, quality of service and international bandwidth available in different countries worldwide and how this is affecting broadband take-up in the developed and developing worlds.

    Among the developing regions, Africa had the highest mobile growth rate. Mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of 10 years ago to over one fourth of the population today, the report noted.

    "While the IDI leaders are all from the developed world, it is extremely encouraging to see that the most dynamic performers are developing countries," ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré said in a release. "The 'mobile miracle' is putting ICT services within reach of even the most disadvantaged people and communities. Our challenge now is to replicate that success in broadband."

    However, the ITU report stated that Africa's fixed broadband service remains prohibitively expensive and in 2010 still represented almost three times the monthly average per capita income.

    Even though new submarine cables are providing African countries with access to more and cheaper international Internet bandwidth, the report stated, it still lags far behind other regions in terms of the bandwidth available to Internet users. For Africans to benefit from the continent's increased connectivity, operators must acquire greater amounts of international Internet bandwidth, expand and improve core networks, and make network access infrastructure available, as well as affordable, according to the report. 

    The report also analyzed the digital divide among Internet users, examining how factors like age, gender, educational level, and location affect people's ability to get online. The ITU indicated that targeting students may be the most effective way to increase the approximately 21 percent of the population that use the Internet in developing countries, through connecting educational institutions and improving enrollment rates.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • A few weeks ago Memeburn revealed that instant messaging platform MXit was rumoured to be in sale talks with startup investment firm World of Avatar. We can now confirm that those rumours are true.

    The acquisition will see current MXit head, Herman Heunis step down, with Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, the World of Avatar boss, taking over as CEO. The deal, which was finalised earlier yesterday, involves World of Avatar buying out both Heunis and Naspers, an US$18-billion emerging market media giant.

    Naspers, which also has stakes in Chinese IM TenCent and an indirect stake in Facebook, acquired a 30% interest in MXit in 2007. The new deal will see World of Avatar become 90 percent owners of the company while 10 percent will remain in a staff trust.

    The Stellenbosch-based World of Avatar, which appears to be targeting internet startups, is a relatively new investment firm. It was founded by Knott-Craig, the former head of iBurst and the son of former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig Snr.

    Knott-Craig was unable to give the exact figures of the deal, but confirms the funding was raised from private investors. Memeburn sources put the deal at around R500-million.

    The World of Avatar has been quietly investing in a range of local startups, including free SMS service FSMS, online organiser Toodu and politics-focused online publishing venture Daily Maverick.

    MXit was launched in 2005 by Heunis and has seen impressive growth both locally and globally since its inception. The service now claims to have around 40-million registered users “posting 700-million messages a day” — and is even used by the US-embassy to communicate with African audiences.

    “Creating and building MXit has been an enormously interesting journey for me, and I have had a lot of fun, but it is time to inject new and young energy into the company, and I believe that Alan and his team will do a superb job,” says Heunis.

    In an exclusive interview with Memeburn, Knott-Craig Jnr revealed that he has been in talks with MXit for the better part of this year: “About seven months ago I got wind that MXit might be selling, so I called up Herman Heunis, we had a coffee and I said to him, ‘if you guys ever wanted to sell let me know’ and that’s how it began.”

    The deal, which Knott-Craig says should have gone through in the space of a month, was halted by the global financial crisis, prompting renegotiation.

    Knott-Craig claims that he has some changes in mind for the IM platform but that they are “nothing drastic”. Knott-Craig says the core MXit community will remain the same but wants to focus on “what MXIT is good at and that is communication”.

    He hinted that MXit would focus on what it does best and that some of its functions, such as advertising, would be handled rather by another arm of his company.

    Knott-Craig explains that he would like to tell the story of MXit which he says is “a success story of likes of Facebook in its own context”.

    “Twitter does 8-billion messages a month, MXit does 22-billion a month. Your average Facebook user spends 15 hours a month on Facebook, your average MXit user spends 45 hours month on MXit, people don’t know this. It is a massively engaged, massively active audience.

    “We have to keep that community trusted, it can never be the case of Facebook where your information is available to advertisers, this is why I am heading there personally to run the show. Herman has done a good job of keeping the community guarded, the data is not sold and that is key and we need to keep that,” says Knott-Craig.

    MXit is available in 128 countries. It is represented in international markets that include Malaysia, Kenya, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United States, Nigeria, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where users have access to MXit’s chat function.

    This deal is possibly the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, Knott-Craig says.

  • The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has opened five satellite offices across the country to ensure that e-zwich services are running effectively throughout the country.

    The offices located in Accra, Takoradi, Kumasi, Sunyani, and Tamale, will carry out regular monitoring and support e-zwich services in the various outlets.

    This was contained in a statement issued by the Management of GhIPSS copied to Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday.

    The statement said the Accra office would have additional responsibility over the Central, Eastern and Southern parts of the Volta Region while that of Kumasi would be responsible for the entire Ashanti Region and the Takoradi office to have responsibility over the entire Western Region.

    It said the Sunyani office would however have responsibility over the Brong Ahafo and Upper West Regions while the satellite office in Tamale would be responsible for the Northern, Upper East and the Northern Sector of the Volta region.

    Mr Archie Hesse, General Manager in-charge of Project and Business Development at GhIPSS said “With this arrangement, we cover the entire country,” adding the satellite offices had been tasked to regularly visit all the financial institutions, as well as merchants under their areas of operation.

    He said the offices would ensure that the financial institutions and shops that operated e-zwich Point of Sales devices were providing the services at all times and would be readily available anytime there was any issue to be addressed.

    Mr Hesse said the satellite offices would also support the financial institutions to register customers who wanted the biometric card as well as scout for new shops to offer the e-zwich range of services.

    He said currently various e-zwich initiatives were being implemented including the Senior High School project, the various farmers’ e-zwich programmes as well as microfinance e-zwich initiatives at the urban and peri-urban areas in the various regions, adding the satellite teams would also be monitoring and supporting these initiatives.

    Mr Hesse said other activities that would be undertaken by the satellite offices include regular education for the various stakeholders, adding “These are administrative strategies that are adopted as we enter into various phases of the e-zwich project to further improve on the provision of the e-zwich range of services”.

    He noted that as more people particularly outside Accra patronised the biometric smart card, it had become necessary to deploy staff in the regions to provide regular support to financial institutions, agri-businesses, schools and shops offering the service.

    Mr Hesse encouraged the various institutions to work hand-in-hand with the satellite stations to ensure that their e-zwich customers were served well at all times.

  • Africa has been seen in recent years as an excellent opportunity to invest in telecommunications infrastructure, with many countries receiving trillions of dollars in funding in order to upgrade GSM networks, installing 3G and even to lay down just the basic fiber optic cables.

    South Africa has received the most backing when it comes to telecom infrastructure investments

    According to a report released by Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, it’s to no surprise that South Africa has received more than $18-trillion in investments from 1998 to 2008. Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, is a close second, receiving over $12-trillion for the same period. What rather shocking, is the fact that Kenya only managed to attract just under $3-trillion in investments, and sits third on the list.

    “Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been a remarkable success in Africa. Across the continent, the availability and quality of service have gone up and the cost has gone down. In just 10 years—dating from the end of the 1990s—mobile network coverage rose from 16 percent to 90 percent of the urban population,” the report stated. The report also noted that most of the investments come from Chinese companies, although a number of European companies are also involved.

    The top ten list of how investments in Africa’s telecommunications have been distributed from 1998 till 2008:

    1. South Africa ($18.1-trillion)
    2. Nigeria ($12.7-trillion)
    3. Kenya ($2.9-trillion)
    4. Sudan ($1.8-trillion)
    5. Uganda ($1.6-trillion)
    6. Senegal ($1.5-trillion)
    7. Tanzania ($1.4-trillion)
    8. Democratic Republic of the Congo ($1.2-trillion)
    9. Ghana ($1.1-trillion)
    10. Angola ($1-trillion)

  • Six suspects, not 10 as earlier reported by Sapa, were arrested on Thursday morning at MTN’s head office near Roodepoort. The operator explains the six — two of whom were MTN contractors — are suspected to have sold new Sim cards fraudulently loaded with airtime.

    The Sim cards were then sold to members of the public at “exorbitantly discounted amounts, thereby defrauding MTN”.

    “Our fraud and forensic department detected this scam and immediately followed up on leads and clues,” says Lily Zondo, GM for business risk management at MTN SA. “After irrefutable evidence was collected, MTN handed over the matter to the authorities, who made the arrests this morning.”

    MTN says consumers must be wary of “falling prey to offers that are ridiculously discounted. If it is too good to be true, it probably is”.

    “Customers should note that the law deems customers who purchase illegally sourced goods to be in commission of a crime,” says MTN SA customer service executive Eddie Moyce.

    MTN is still collating all the evidence to ascertain the revenue impact. The company says the R200m figure mentioned in the earlier Sapa story is “grossly misleading and inaccurate”.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - 8.ta, South Africa’s fourth mobile operator has entered into a partnership with Nedbank that allows for 8.ta’s prepaid airtime to be purchased from the bank’s online banking channel.

    - With the launch of Samsung’s dedicated app store, many users in South Africa have benefited from the wide range of apps available. To further the experience, Samsung has launched a handful of new local apps, which users will find informative and exciting. They include MXit, DStv Mobile Decoder and PriceCheck.co.za

Digital Content

  • For instance, the Broadband Commission meeting that took place on 8-9 September, 2011, focused on the role of youth in defining new ICT services and driving take-up.

    Rwanda has an exceptionally young population, with 42% of people under the age of 15.

    The conference attracted Broadband commissioners and representatives of several countries in Africa, the private sector and civil society. They examined how to get the continent wired to high-speed networks and also involve the role of the youth in getting Africa online.

    The discussion featured a competition Peoples choice Award showcasing 10 new applications created by Rwandan youth developers. They included; Gihamya, Turere Neza, Osca, Get it!, Cumbika, Umuhuza Hi-Tech Brokers, FINDiet, M-AHWIII, Igisekuru, Gahunda.

    M-AHWIII limited, was crowned the winner after getting 30 percent of votes from the public was followed by Gahunda which attained 21percent votes. Both applications will feature at the forthcoming ITU Telecom World 2011 Digital Innovators competition in October.

    Lillian Uwintwali, student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology is the Director of M-AHWIII limited was overjoyed after announcing them as the winner of the category.

    "The win is worth it because many will benefit from the application. M-AHWIII is an SMS-based application that will allow patients to request for medical appointments at any hospital of their choice subscribed on our system relieving them the trouble of having to go directly to the hospital in person," Uwintwali discloses.

    She adds that with her four colleagues they would develop their idea further.

    "We will have to first set its visibility in two hospitals as we aim at making the M-AHWII application effective and user friendly," she emphasizes.

    M-AHWII, the M stands for Mobile while the AHWII literally represent is an expression of relaxing.

    "I have already talked to the Ministry of Health and they liked the idea, hopefully the patients will be booking appointments for medical attention using SMS. One will only have to send a message indicating their illness and the hospital they would like to go to," Uwintwali explains.

    She said: "This is going to be a useful tool in making Rwanda a healthy country a reality. We all know for a fact that without good health there is no development.

    I request everyone to make M-AHWII application a reality so as to maintain the good health of Rwandans while achieving the broadband of digital development."

    The applications they create are income generating thus boost the standards of living with its related advantages.

    Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU), during the recent conference held in Kigali in relations to Broadband, he said that broadband is the single most powerful tool available to accelerate progress towards achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and a drive to social and economic development.

    "In the 21st century, with broadband, no young African should ever again need to be sent abroad in order to enjoy the benefits of an excellent education," says Touré.

    He said: "If you are connected, it no longer matters if you are geographically or socially isolated; you are still connected to the information society. But if you are not connected, you are literally cut off from a whole portion of the world's riches."

    In a phone interview with Serge Guillaume Nzabonimana, anAdvisor in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, he said that the Ministry funds youth projects in relations to Information and Communication and Technology.

    "We analyze the request for the project before for we fund it. There are a few factors that are considered for instance sustainability, the impact it will have on the people and the number of members involved in the project," Nzabonimana explains.

    ICT being one of the pillars of development, the youth need to be supported in the field thus a bright future.

    For instance the Ministry funded Kimisagara youth employment and productive center to by enhancing the IT skills for youth.

    The center identified 300 youth to be trained in IT this year and groups of 30 each concluded successfully the training of 4 weeks each.

    The IT training aims at promoting ICT and creating confidence among youth in computer skills as well as to use ICT as a tool for youth-to-youth communication, sensitize them in lessons related to health/nutrition, reading, writing, and other benefits.

  • In 2008, then US presidential candidate Barack Obama broke new ground by using social media in ways never seen before. Yet it was Goodluck Jonathan, the recently elected president of Nigeria, who took the extraordinary step of announcing his bid for the highest office on Facebook. On Wednesday, 15 September 2010, he informed his 217,000-plus fans on the world's most popular networking platform of his intent. Twenty four hours later, 4,000 more fans joined his page. By the day of the election, on 16 April 2011, he had over half a million followers.

    Mr. Jonathan's online campaign was only one illustration of the social media fever that gripped Africa's most populous country (with around 150 million people) during its most recent presidential, parliamentary and local elections. A report by two researchers who helped track online traffic during the month-long polls argues that the country's use of social media reached unprecedented levels.* "Nigeria set a new record for recent African elections in the number of reports tracked using social media," it says. In addition to the approximately 3 million registered Nigerians on Facebook and 60,000 on Twitter, almost every institution involved in Nigeria's elections conducted an aggressive social networking outreach, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, candidates, media houses, civil society groups and even the police.

    The report notes that between 10 March and 16 April 2011, the electoral commission posted almost 4,000 tweets, many in response to voter queries. Using Twitter, commission officials at polling stations around the country also were able to communicate among themselves, and even confirmed the death of one of their members who had been attacked. "Twitter ultimately proved to be the most efficient way to interact with INEC," the document authors report. The commission's use of social media led to its website receiving a record 25 million hits in three days during the presidential election. "By using social media to inspire voters, the electoral commission has redefined elections in Nigeria," analyzed Punch, the country's most circulated newspaper.

    The boom in use of social media during elections also helped the media expand their readerships. Shortly before the polls, the Daily Trust newspaper had 32,000 fans on Facebook. A few weeks later, the number had more than doubled to 65,000, placing its online reach beyond its print distribution of 50,000. To build up its fan base, the newspaper also used social media in its reporting. Journalists solicited and used questions from Facebook fans for interviews with the chairman of INEC. Since the elections, the Daily Trust has further increased its Facebook presence, with 95,000 fans by July 2011.

    The online networking platforms reflected popular interest. Unsurprisingly, social media use reached its peak during the presidential election on 16 April. On that day, a total of 33,460 text messages and 130,426 posts on Twitter and Facebook were sent by some 65,000 voters.

    The content was mixed, the authors point out. "Social media, especially Twitter, was used to report occurrences [of fraud] — truthful as well as fabricated." Yet, they add, it played a mostly constructive role during the post-election violence by exposing unfounded rumours.

    "Social media tools," the report concludes, "revolutionized the efficiency of election observing by increasing coverage and reporting, while minimizing costs.... They changed how information was disseminated in Nigeria. Citizens accessed information directly and more accurately, resulting in unsurpassed participation in politics during the 2011 elections." 

    That upbeat assessment, however, needs to be put in context: An estimated 70,000 people posted contents online during Nigeria's polls, but they were just a tiny fraction of the registered 73 million voters. Still, a new trend appears to have begun.

More

  • - Herman Heunis will leave the head of instant messaging platform MXit following the takeover of the company  by Alan Knott-Craig Jnr from the World of Avatar.

  • Information Technology Manager – Abuja, Nigeria
    The IT Manager will provide leadership support and maintenance to Family Health International (FHI) Nigeria computer and network infrastructure to ensure stable operations. S/He will be responsible for all IT related equipment and software that is part of the FHI-Nigeria inventory. S/He will take appropriate steps in solving problems, or where necessary, in identifying suitable vendors capable of solving them. The IT Manager will support the design and implementation of new IT solutions to improve business efficiency and productivity.

    Bachelor's degree with 7 to 9 years experience, in IT,  or a  Master's degree with 5 to 7 years experience in IT, OR PhD with 3 to 5 years experience in IT.
    For further information or to apply click here

    Technical Account Manager – Accra, Ghana
    Google's Partner Solutions Organization (PSO) is a technology group dedicated to developing and managing the company's largest and most strategic partnerships. Our multi-faceted professionals work together with teams throughout Google to address our partners' most pressing technology challenges – ones that have no simple answers. We create solutions for and build enduring long-term relationships with organizations that represent outstanding revenue opportunities and/or are strategically important for us to take new, world-shaping technologies to market.

    The role: Technical Account Manager
    As a Technical Account Manager, you are the engagement manager taking responsibility for the success of our largest partnerships. You lead deployments, optimize implementations and integrations to increase revenue, drive new business opportunities, and manage the overall technical aspects to build strong, successful, long- term partnerships. If you are a creative thinker who thrives in a fast-paced, market-driven environment, we want to talk to you. You should be a self-motivated individual looking to solidify Google's strategic partnerships across a variety of product lines made especially for Africa. These include search, mobile, video, Google Apps, e-commerce, and many other new initiatives.
    Responsibilities:

    Troubleshoot and train in relation to the Google Apps deployment project management with partner universities.
    Perform implementation reviews, evangelize new product features, and ensure the prompt and proper resolution of technical challenges.
    Improve product feature offerings by providing partner feedback to internal cross-functional teams including Product Management and Engineering.
    Guarantee the technical aspects of a partner’s integration (both new and ongoing) by providing necessary documentation, training and technical guidance.
    Develop proof-of-concept products and software tools to assist in closing deals.

    Requirements:
    BA/BS preferred in a technical field with a strong academic record. (MS/MBA is a plus).
    Extensive hands-on experience in Internet or telecom products and technologies in Africa or similar market.
    Experience in deadline-driven, large-scale technical project management or software development in the Internet/Telecommunications space.
    Excellent project management skills and attention to detail as well as experience working with external clients in a sales environment.
    Proficient in one or more programming languages, including Java, C/C++, JavaScript, Python, or PHP.
    Proficient in French, English and at least one other African language.
    Willing to travel extensively within Africa.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Essar Telecoms and Tata Communications - Kenya
    Tata Communications and Essar Telecom Kenya (yuMobile), a unit of Essar Group, have  announced the signing of a mutually beneficial strategic sourcing agreement. Under the deal, yuMobile would, exclusively, route all its international voice traffic through Tata Communications' network. yuMobile continues to be one of the company’s key suppliers of telecommunication services throughout Kenya.

Issue 573: Congo: “Fibre to the people” – how to make the best use of the new international capacity

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Top story

  • On September 12th, the ACE submarine fibre cable landed close to Banjul, the capital of the Gambia. Excitement and interest were high as you can see from the photos taken at the beach where the cable was pulled out of the sea (for the photos see Balancing Act’s website). The commercial launch of international fibre capacity will only start in July 2012 but the Gambia is already finalising the legal framework that will govern access to this new international capacity. Further down the west coast of Africa, Congo (Brazza) is still undecided as to how to deal with the international fibre capacity that will soon be on its doorstep.  Isabelle Gross looks at the some of the pitfalls that Congo has to avoid in order to make the best use of the forthcoming capacity.

    Congo is among the 12 countries on the west coast of Africa that for the first time will have a landing station providing access to international fibre capacity. It is not a small thing for the country to get connected to the WACS submarine cable but in order to harvest its benefits, such as cheaper and faster Internet access, the Congolese government has still to sort out issues regarding the management and access to the international fibre capacity.

    A look back over the history of the SAT3 submarine cable demonstrates that when the national incumbent manages the international capacity, the outcome is often less than optimal. With the exception of Sonatel in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, and more recently Benin Telecom, most of the national incumbents never seemed to understand how to maximize (in terms of revenue) the use of the international capacity available on SAT3. Among those who have failed to make full use of the opportunities are Camtel in Cameroon, Gabon Telecom, and Nitel in Nigeria. For many years, their management of the international capacity on SAT3 has led to very high prices (well above US$5,000 per MB) and a sub-standard service. Nitel in Nigeria managed its capacity so badly that Suburban Telecoms, an infrastructure provider in Nigeria, built a cross border fibre link to Benin, and thus opened up a second Nigerian access point to SAT3 capacity via Benin Telecom.

    The lessons from these failures are two-fold:
    - the national incumbent is not necessarily the best entity to manage the upcoming international capacity efficiently
    - monopoly management of the international fibre capacity helps to maintain artificially inflated high prices on international bandwidth

    So what should Congo do? If it gives the management of the international capacity to Congo Telecom, Congolese Internet users can say bye bye to the idea of cheaper and faster Internet at any time in the near future. Congo Telecom has neither the technical expertise nor the commercial skills (the level of the debts of the company is a good indicator of its incompetence) to manage the new international fibre capacity properly. If the Congolese Government wants to achieve its goal of seizing all the opportunities that international fibre capacity brings, it will need the political will to make some tough decisions. At present, the goal of bringing the Internet to the people seems far away. A basic 64KB connection still costs on average US$100 per month. By comparison, the average salary of a civil servant is between US$160 and US$200 per month.

    So how can Congo and other African countries avoid a situation in which consumers pay artificially inflated prices for the new international fibre capacity? In countries like Nigeria, which will soon have access to 5 international submarine cables (SAT3, Glo 1, Main One, WACS and ACE), competition between the various providers has already pushed down prices and this trend is likely to continue. Today international bandwidth comes for as little as US$300 per MB per month. In contrast, in Congo and in many of the 12 countries on the West coast of Africa that will get access to international fibre capacity for the first time, access will remain limited to one submarine cable, and relying on competition among providers to drive prices down won’t work. It is therefore up to the Congolese Government to take the decisions (e.g. putting in place an open access legal framework) that will best serve to the goal of putting the new international fibre capacity to work to support the development of the ICT sector in the country. The best way of achieving this would seem to be to introduce an open access model that will guarantee equal, transparent and non-discriminatory access to international capacity for all the players in the local market.

    With 5 submarine cables that will soon all be live, international capacity along the west coast of Africa will be plentiful. It is therefore unlikely that more cables will be built in the coming years. For Congo and some of the other 12 countries, it is important not to miss the boat when it comes to making the most efficient use of the new international fibre capacity.

telecoms

  • Six companies have lost their telecommunication business licenses in Uganda after failing to launch their services within the required time. The affected firms include; Talk Telecom, Mo Telecom, Mara Telecoms, a subsidiary of the Mara Group, Excellentcom Uganda Limited, Janu Communications Limited and Ace Networks Limited.

    “The commission hereby informs the general public that the licenses for the following operators have been revoked and they are therefore no longer recognised by the commission as licensed providers of communication services within Uganda,” Engineer Godfrey Mutabazi the executive director of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), said in a public notice last week.

    The firms had acquired Public Service Provider (PSP) licences from UCC to offer voice and data communication services in the country. A PSP licence in Uganda costs $10,000 (about Shs28 million).

    Under the provisions of the Uganda Communications Act, licences given to operator may be suspended if the licensee fails to commence services within 12 months, ceases operations without obtaining the commission’s approval, fails to submit the required information, and fails to renew one’s license upon the expiry of licence term.

    The exit of the five players leaves Uganda with 42 licenced telecommunication operators, according to the UCC data. The largest players in the market remain; MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda, Warid, Uganda Telecom Limited and Orange Uganda.

    Price competition in the telecommunications sector over the last three years has forced many firms to stay their operations in order to avoid running unsustainable or loss making businesses.

    Today, of the five large domestic operators, only MTN Uganda has paid the mandatory 1 per cent of its profits to UCC while the rest have either not broken even or continue to post losses because their expenses exceed their incomes.

    Mr Fred Otunnu, the UCC spokesman, told Daily Monitor that revocation of a licence is the final action, which the regulator takes to punish a firm that doesn’t comply with the requirements of an issued licence.

  • South Africa’s Vodacom is in talks to buy a stake in mobile operator Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM), the Daily Times newspaper said citing unidentified sources.
    Vodacom, which is majority owned by Britian’s Vodafone, had previously shown interest in TNM, the paper quoted the sources as saying. TMN has since streamlined some of its businesses to bring them closer in line with how Vodacom operates, the sources said.

    The TNM officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Vodacom’s CEO for international operations, Johan Dennelind, said in a statement the company would look at expansion opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, but declined to comment on specific countries or companies.

    Vodacom is the dominant mobile carrier in South Africa, but is dwarfed on the continent by rival MTN Group. In addition to its home market, it has operations in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho.

  • Mobile phone service provider Essar Telkom has agreed to pay Kenya Data Networks (KDN) Sh25 million upfront and Sh6.2 million in equal monthly instalments to settle a dispute involving Sh133 million.

    The parties recorded the consent in the Nairobi High Court where Essar owners of the Yu mobile brand, also agreed to pay KDN Sh6.2 million a month until an arbitrator concludes the dispute. However, failure by Essar to settle Sh24,948,900 within 14 days, the agreement would automatically lapse.

    According to the consent, the lump sum includes arrears for services KDN rendered to the mobile firm in the past four consecutive months from May to August this year. The parties agreed that KDN would not interfere with its services to Essar until the arbitrator makes its final findings.

    "KDN will not interfere with the 186 sites of inter-connections to other mobile telecommunications industry and will also not switch off the connectivity," read the consent, which was adopted as a court order.

    Mr Justice Muga Apondi said Essar was at liberty to reduce its sites depending on the services rendered by the private data supplier provided "they have notified KDN on the changes".

    KDN moved to court on May 25 seeking orders to compel Essar Telkom to clear a long-standing debt of Sh133 million or risk being switched off its connectivity.

  • The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has set down a provisional date for hearings on local-loop unbundling, the regulatory intervention that will force Telkom to open its “last mile” of copper cables to competitors in some or other form.

    The hearings, the most anticipated that Icasa has held since its investigations into call termination rates — the fees operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks — will provisionally take place from 10 to 14 October, according to Pieter Grootes, the GM of the authority’s markets and competition division.

    Grootes revealed the hearing date while speaking at the VoiceSA telecommunications conference in Midrand.

    Icasa has proposed four separate models for unbundling the fixed-line local loop, which is seen as an important way of promoting competition in broadband and potentially driving down prices.

    The first option mooted by Icasa is “bitstream” or wholesale access. This option doesn’t entail unbundling of the physical copper cable infrastructure, but rather Telkom providing other operators with access on a wholesale basis. Rivals won’t have access to Telkom’s network infrastructure, so it’s an option that the fixed-line incumbent may prefer.

    In its discussion document, Icasa says the advantage of bitstream access is that it won’t “hinder any progressive modernisation of the local access network by replacing copper cables with fibre cables”.

    The second option Icasa has proposed is line sharing, or shared access to the local loop. In this model, Telkom and companies seeking access to its local loop can share the same line where both provide different services such as voice and data on the same loop.

    “In this situation, consumers can acquire data services from facilities seekers [other operators] while retaining the voice services of the facilities provider [Telkom]. Some facilities seekers may choose to offer data services only, so with line sharing customers can retain their facilities provider for voice calls while getting higher bandwidth services from another operator without the need to install a second line,” Icasa says.

    Technically, the authority explains, a splitter is installed in the “main distribution frame” that separates the frequencies for voice telephony and those for higher bandwidth services. “Line sharing allows the facilities seeker to provide the service of their choice by covering either low-frequency bands or high-frequency bands,” it says. “When one frequency band is occupied by one operator, the other frequency band can be occupied by another operator.”

    Icasa says this option would broaden choices available to consumers as they could choose Telkom as their voice provider while at the same time choosing a new entrant, or any other operator, as the provider of broadband Internet services over the same loop.

    The third option that Icasa has tabled is full local-loop unbundling, or full access. This assigns the entire copper local loop to rival operators. In this model, other operators may place all required equipment inside or outside Telkom’s premises. Rival operators take over the full operation of the local loop allocated to them.

    The final option is sub-loop unbundling, where Telkom’s rivals get access to its “primary connection point” at street level. This form of unbundling is more suited to new forms of digital subscriber line technology, such as very high-speed DSL.

    In this model, Telkom’s rivals would provide their own networks all the way to the primary connection point. They locate their equipment adjacent to the connection point rather than in Telkom’s telephone exchanges. In all other respects, sub-loop unbundling is analogous to full local-loop unbundling.

    Icasa has said it should complete regulations for unbundling by no later than November, after it has consulted with industry stakeholders. Communications minister Roy Padayachie has said previously that he wants unbundling to be completed by that date.

internet

  • The Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL) has announced new tariff structures for the National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) and allowed its customers to sublet the service.

    In an advert posted in the print media, the company said the new plan named Indefeasible Rights of Use (IRU) prices, will allow customers connected to the backbone to lease out capacity for up to 10, 15 or 20 years.

    "While the IRU price will be paid once, operations and maintenance charges will be paid annually over the IRU period," the advert read in part.

    In a telephone interview yesterday, the TTCL Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Saidi Saidi, said the new arrangement will enable current and new users to sub-lease internet broadband to other users.

    "In simple words, it means we are the landlord who owns a big house. But our tenant is free to sub-let the space he or she rents to other tenants over a period of time," Mr Saidi explained.
    However, he said operation and maintenance charges would be calculated as five per cent of the IRU purchase price and paid annually.

    Since the first submarine fibre optic cable landed in the country, tariffs for internet broadband have decreased by 50 per cent, according to the Acting CEO.
    "Many people don't seem to appreciate this fact but they will in the end," he said during the interview.

    Customers wishing to subscribe to a 10-year plan will pay US $540,000 as the lowest package, while those subscribing to 20 years will have to dig deeper into their pockets to the tune of US $12.44 million for the uppermost package.

    Already some 14 regions have been linked, under phase one of the NICTBB. They include Dar es Salaam, Coast, Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, and Dodoma in addition to Singida, Manyara and Arusha. Also on the list are Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Mara.

    Currently, the backbone also offers services at established points of presence (PoPs) which include cross-border points at Rusumo (Rwanda), Kabanga (Burundi) and Kasumulo (Malawi).
    It also offers services at Tunduma (Zambia), Namanga (Kenya) and will soon connect Uganda through the border point of Mutukula.

    Implementation of phase two of NICTBB that commenced on October 1, last year, is expected to be completed in March, next year.

  • ZTE Corporation, a publicly listed global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions signed an agreement on 20 September 2011 with Burundi Backbone Systems Company (Burundi BBS) to build Burundi’s first national backbone network.

    The ZTE network will cover 17 provinces and cities in Burundi, dramatically reducing broadband costs and laying the foundation for further improvements. It will also link Burundi with eastern and central African countries such as Tanzania, Rwanda, and Congo, connecting it to The Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy).

    Burundi BBS is a joint venture between five local telecommunication operators and is partially funded by the World Bank.

    “This year, ZTE established a strategic objective to change bearer network patterns,” said ZTE Bearer Network Product Line General Manager Fan Xiaobing.

    “The development of the backbone network in cooperation with Burundi BBS will help achieve that objective, while also improving the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure.”

    As part of the project, ZTE will provide ZXR10 M6000 super-high-performance multi-service routers and multi-service access products such as the S385 and S325 to Burundi BBS. The ZXR10 M6000 slot supports 40G switching capability and provides upgrade capability to 100G.

    The S385 supports multi-service access and provides an upgrade from 2.5G to 10G, greatly reducing initial network construction costs. ZTE has shipped several thousand T8000/M6000 units based on the T8000 platform across China, Asia-Pacific, Southeast Asia and MEA in the first half of 2011. The units are in use by operators in China, such as China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom; and by other operators across those regions.

  • Telecommunication firms have now taken up more than 60 per cent of the capacity that we initially had. Demand has grown and we expect further growth as more and people start using internet, which would deplete the capacity that we have," said Mark Simpson, the firm’s Seacom chief executive.

    "We are planning to increase capacity on the cable and this should be done in another 12 to 15 months."

    Simpson spoke on the sidelines of an ongoing Capacity Africa conference in Nairobi.

    He said Seacom is still thrashing out fine details of the upgrade including the money to be invested and mode of financing, which would determine the actual capacity to add on the cable.

    He added that Seacom would in future start selling premium services to its clients to tap into the growing provision of content in Africa. Premium services that the firm plans to start selling will include multiprotocol label switching— a data carrying mechanism that allows a simple relay of information over a network.

    The move diversify service offering from the basic capacity provision to selling of premium services at the wholesale level is in part to fend off competition in the undersea cable segment.

  • Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba has again raised the possibility of a merger between state-owned enterprises Sentech and Broadband Infraco, but says nothing is imminent. “It would be the culmination of a process,” Gigaba says.

    There has been talk for at least a year that the two companies could be merged. Sentech, in addition to providing broadcast signal distribution services, is keen to roll out a broadband network in rural areas; Infraco is keen to do the same, though providing more of the backhaul-type services that would support the wireless access network Sentech is proposing.

    Gigaba says government has begun “emphasising cooperation” between the two companies and says a merger can’t be ruled out down the line.

    “We have begun discussions at ministerial, director-general and board levels to try to find the synergies to improve cooperation between the two organisations through entering into a venture agreement,” he says. “At one stage or another, depending on the programme we establish and follow, we might arrive at a point where we say both organisations need to merge to form one organisation.”

    Sentech reports to the department of communications, while Infraco is answerable to public enterprises, which could complicate attempts at cooperation. Gigaba explains the reason they report to different ministries is that they are “not the same types of organisations” because Sentech “gets its budget from government and Broadband Infraco raises its own resources to support its programmes”.

    He adds that the presidential review committee is trying to resolve a number of issues related to state-owned enterprises, including reporting lines and the need for rationalisation. Gigaba hopes the committee will close “that lacuna” by rationalising reporting lines.

computing

  • The African Development Bank Board of Executive Directors has approved a USD 22.5m African Development Fund loan to the Republic of Mali to finance a major digital complex in the capital, Bamako. “This project is important for my country and the first of its kind in West Africa.  With the Bamako Digital Complex, before December 2011, Mali will be connected through fiber optic to six out of its seven neighbors. It is an innovative project in its design, positioning and vision. It has the ability to lay the necessary foundation today so that tomorrow our citizens have the competencies in an area as strategic as Information and Communication Technology (ICT). It will support and reinforce current national policies on job creation. It’s a project of tomorrow, it’s a project of the future”, said H.E. Mr. Modibo Ibrahim Toure, Minister of Posts and New Technologies of Mali at the signing ceremony held at the AfDB in Tunis.

    The main objectives of this project are to (i) increase the use of ICT and upgrade the skills of the population of Mali and other West African countries; and (ii) strengthen Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) to support research and innovation in ICT.

    The AfDB is the largest financier of this USD 37 million project with contributions from the Government of Mali (USD 3 million) and the French development agency (USD 11.5 million).

    “Mali is pioneering a new approach breaking the walls between education systems and businesses. We hope to be doing more of such operations that combine PPPs, linking universities and training facilities to business incubators and using new technologies to improve learning outcomes” said AfDB’s Human Development Director, Agnès Soucat.

    The Bamako Digital Complex is composed of three main Information and Communication Technology development poles:

    A Techno Center to build human capital, increase competitiveness and create jobs especially for youth. It will seek to train 30 ICT engineers, 120 technicians, 600 civil servants and 150 job seekers per year, and increase women’s participation development.
    A Techno Park housing a data center, business incubators and technology firms; and
    A Techno Village - a convention center to showcase latest innovations in various developments sectors, hosting events gathering experts, researchers, and academics from Africa and globally.

  • Three solar panels, a battery, ten folding chairs, five tables, fifteen Intel-powered Classmate PCs and two teachers in a small van: This is the basic “equipment” of the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC).

    It has been a route through rural Uganda for two years now with the purpose of teaching pupils and teachers IT and computer skills.

    The initiator is Eric Morrow, founder of Maendeleo Foundation situated in Kampala and Seattle, who wants to bring Maendeleo (the Kiswahili term for progress) to Ugandan students in close cooperation with local experts.

    The robust Classmate PCs, powered and designed by Intel, which are run using a 200 Ah Solar Battery, proved to be perfect devices for the local circumstances, which were sometimes rather harsh.

    What could be a beneficial educational project for Uganda? How should such a project be designed really to foster children’s development? Personal affiliations with a Ugandan NGO and a strong desire to help were components that aided in blazing the trail for Eric Morrow’s Mobile Solar Computer Classroom (MSCC) Project. Consultations with other NGOs led Morrow, founder of Maendeleo Foundation, to consider how he might bring computers to Ugandan schools – most of which are boarding schools with few technology-savvy teachers and practically no money to spend on technology of any kind. Working with Ugandan development economist Asia Kamukama and experienced relief worker Richard Happy, Morrow sketched out a plan of action. Giving children – and their teachers – a first taste of what it means to work with a computer, was the goal set.

    However, the team soon realised that there were many obstacles to overcome. One of the first challenges identified was the near total lack of infrastructure: only five percent of Ugandans have access to electricity and just three percent can afford it. This meant that the solution to be put in place had to be self-powered and self-contained – a need that was met by mounting three 75-watt solar panels on top of an old four-wheel drive. The vehicle was also used to transport a custom-made tent and related equipment – the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom.

    As Internet access is unreliable in Uganda, Maendeleo Foundation could not depend on teaching skills with a live Web connection. Instead, the Foundation introduced purpose-built, proprietary training software that provides graduated skills training using cached Web content. This approach enabled continuity in lessons even though the MSCC might only visit a given school once a week.
    The local schools very much welcomed the idea of a mobile ICT training camp; however, the initial phase was tough. The low cost, low specification desktops proved to be unfit for the extremes of temperature, dust and durability they faced every day. Morrow had heard about the development of Intel-powered Classmate PCs and believed they might offer a better solution than the PCs used at first. After failing to find a local distributor, he bought several of the units from an online store in the US and had them delivered to Uganda. He found that they indeed offered a steady, reliable design that ran faster than the previous units – and delivered a standard Microsoft Windows XP desktop experience.
    The Intel-powered Classmate PCs were also more energy efficient: in one test, the units were run from the solar charged battery with the solar panels covered to prevent recharging. All ten Classmate PCs used in the project ran for over six hours without a problem – and this life could be extended further by using each unit’s individual battery. This meant that the project workers could teach an entire class of students at once, allowing them to reach significantly more students at no additional cost. So far, the staff taught more than 1,300 students, offering each one five hands-on sessions. Over 100 teachers were trained to carry out ICT classes, giving them skills to reinforce and extend their students’ computer knowledge throughout the rest of their education. In addition, Maendeleo Foundation visited several orphanages and community centres.

    Maendeleo started in early 2008 with five computers, then in August of 2008 switched to the Intel-powered Classmate PCs. There are currently five people running the operation in Uganda. In the longer term, Morrow hopes that steady and repeated exposure to computer technologies will encourage students to consider careers that might have previously seemed out of reach – including web design and roles in a potential services-outsourcing industry that could eventually expand across Eastern Africa.

    A new MSCC is already touring through Uganda. Using funds from the grant Maendeleo recently received from Intel’s Inspire-Empower challenge, the Foundation was able to put together a second MSCC that will serve rural areas in the same way as the original MSCC. With the grant, they have also been able to upgrade the original MSCC that they had (to run with fifteen computers). They are now also in the process of buying land and building an Advanced Training Centre, where they intend to give further individual training during school breaks to students who show potential and interest in working in the ICT industry.

  • Despite increasing deployment of broadband infrastructure and growth of mobile technology, Africa is the lowest-scoring region in the ICT Development Index (IDI) released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) last week.

    The 2011 edition of Measuring the Information Society scores the level of advancement of ICT in 152 countries worldwide, comparing progress made between 2008 and 2010. 

    The IDI, which ranked countries according to their level of ICT access, use and skills, puts the Republic of Korea as the world's most advanced ICT economy followed by Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and Finland. Most countries that rank high on the index are from Europe and Asia Pacific; the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Uruguay rank first within their regions.

    However, Africa remains the region with the lowest IDI values. Of the forty African countries listed, only six of them made the first 100 on the 2010 IDI. They are Mauritius (69), Seychelles (71), Tunisia (84), Morocco (90), Egypt (91) and South Africa (97).

    This year's report includes a special focus on broadband, looking at speed, quality of service and international bandwidth available in different countries worldwide and how this is affecting broadband take-up in the developed and developing worlds.

    Among the developing regions, Africa had the highest mobile growth rate. Mobile penetration has risen from just one in 50 people at the beginning of 10 years ago to over one fourth of the population today, the report noted.

    "While the IDI leaders are all from the developed world, it is extremely encouraging to see that the most dynamic performers are developing countries," ITU Secretary-General, Dr Hamadoun Touré said in a release. "The 'mobile miracle' is putting ICT services within reach of even the most disadvantaged people and communities. Our challenge now is to replicate that success in broadband."

    However, the ITU report stated that Africa's fixed broadband service remains prohibitively expensive and in 2010 still represented almost three times the monthly average per capita income.

    Even though new submarine cables are providing African countries with access to more and cheaper international Internet bandwidth, the report stated, it still lags far behind other regions in terms of the bandwidth available to Internet users. For Africans to benefit from the continent's increased connectivity, operators must acquire greater amounts of international Internet bandwidth, expand and improve core networks, and make network access infrastructure available, as well as affordable, according to the report. 

    The report also analyzed the digital divide among Internet users, examining how factors like age, gender, educational level, and location affect people's ability to get online. The ITU indicated that targeting students may be the most effective way to increase the approximately 21 percent of the population that use the Internet in developing countries, through connecting educational institutions and improving enrollment rates.

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • A few weeks ago Memeburn revealed that instant messaging platform MXit was rumoured to be in sale talks with startup investment firm World of Avatar. We can now confirm that those rumours are true.

    The acquisition will see current MXit head, Herman Heunis step down, with Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, the World of Avatar boss, taking over as CEO. The deal, which was finalised earlier yesterday, involves World of Avatar buying out both Heunis and Naspers, an US$18-billion emerging market media giant.

    Naspers, which also has stakes in Chinese IM TenCent and an indirect stake in Facebook, acquired a 30% interest in MXit in 2007. The new deal will see World of Avatar become 90 percent owners of the company while 10 percent will remain in a staff trust.

    The Stellenbosch-based World of Avatar, which appears to be targeting internet startups, is a relatively new investment firm. It was founded by Knott-Craig, the former head of iBurst and the son of former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig Snr.

    Knott-Craig was unable to give the exact figures of the deal, but confirms the funding was raised from private investors. Memeburn sources put the deal at around R500-million.

    The World of Avatar has been quietly investing in a range of local startups, including free SMS service FSMS, online organiser Toodu and politics-focused online publishing venture Daily Maverick.

    MXit was launched in 2005 by Heunis and has seen impressive growth both locally and globally since its inception. The service now claims to have around 40-million registered users “posting 700-million messages a day” — and is even used by the US-embassy to communicate with African audiences.

    “Creating and building MXit has been an enormously interesting journey for me, and I have had a lot of fun, but it is time to inject new and young energy into the company, and I believe that Alan and his team will do a superb job,” says Heunis.

    In an exclusive interview with Memeburn, Knott-Craig Jnr revealed that he has been in talks with MXit for the better part of this year: “About seven months ago I got wind that MXit might be selling, so I called up Herman Heunis, we had a coffee and I said to him, ‘if you guys ever wanted to sell let me know’ and that’s how it began.”

    The deal, which Knott-Craig says should have gone through in the space of a month, was halted by the global financial crisis, prompting renegotiation.

    Knott-Craig claims that he has some changes in mind for the IM platform but that they are “nothing drastic”. Knott-Craig says the core MXit community will remain the same but wants to focus on “what MXIT is good at and that is communication”.

    He hinted that MXit would focus on what it does best and that some of its functions, such as advertising, would be handled rather by another arm of his company.

    Knott-Craig explains that he would like to tell the story of MXit which he says is “a success story of likes of Facebook in its own context”.

    “Twitter does 8-billion messages a month, MXit does 22-billion a month. Your average Facebook user spends 15 hours a month on Facebook, your average MXit user spends 45 hours month on MXit, people don’t know this. It is a massively engaged, massively active audience.

    “We have to keep that community trusted, it can never be the case of Facebook where your information is available to advertisers, this is why I am heading there personally to run the show. Herman has done a good job of keeping the community guarded, the data is not sold and that is key and we need to keep that,” says Knott-Craig.

    MXit is available in 128 countries. It is represented in international markets that include Malaysia, Kenya, India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, United States, Nigeria, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain, where users have access to MXit’s chat function.

    This deal is possibly the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa, Knott-Craig says.

  • The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has opened five satellite offices across the country to ensure that e-zwich services are running effectively throughout the country.

    The offices located in Accra, Takoradi, Kumasi, Sunyani, and Tamale, will carry out regular monitoring and support e-zwich services in the various outlets.

    This was contained in a statement issued by the Management of GhIPSS copied to Ghana News Agency in Accra on Wednesday.

    The statement said the Accra office would have additional responsibility over the Central, Eastern and Southern parts of the Volta Region while that of Kumasi would be responsible for the entire Ashanti Region and the Takoradi office to have responsibility over the entire Western Region.

    It said the Sunyani office would however have responsibility over the Brong Ahafo and Upper West Regions while the satellite office in Tamale would be responsible for the Northern, Upper East and the Northern Sector of the Volta region.

    Mr Archie Hesse, General Manager in-charge of Project and Business Development at GhIPSS said “With this arrangement, we cover the entire country,” adding the satellite offices had been tasked to regularly visit all the financial institutions, as well as merchants under their areas of operation.

    He said the offices would ensure that the financial institutions and shops that operated e-zwich Point of Sales devices were providing the services at all times and would be readily available anytime there was any issue to be addressed.

    Mr Hesse said the satellite offices would also support the financial institutions to register customers who wanted the biometric card as well as scout for new shops to offer the e-zwich range of services.

    He said currently various e-zwich initiatives were being implemented including the Senior High School project, the various farmers’ e-zwich programmes as well as microfinance e-zwich initiatives at the urban and peri-urban areas in the various regions, adding the satellite teams would also be monitoring and supporting these initiatives.

    Mr Hesse said other activities that would be undertaken by the satellite offices include regular education for the various stakeholders, adding “These are administrative strategies that are adopted as we enter into various phases of the e-zwich project to further improve on the provision of the e-zwich range of services”.

    He noted that as more people particularly outside Accra patronised the biometric smart card, it had become necessary to deploy staff in the regions to provide regular support to financial institutions, agri-businesses, schools and shops offering the service.

    Mr Hesse encouraged the various institutions to work hand-in-hand with the satellite stations to ensure that their e-zwich customers were served well at all times.

  • Africa has been seen in recent years as an excellent opportunity to invest in telecommunications infrastructure, with many countries receiving trillions of dollars in funding in order to upgrade GSM networks, installing 3G and even to lay down just the basic fiber optic cables.

    South Africa has received the most backing when it comes to telecom infrastructure investments

    According to a report released by Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, it’s to no surprise that South Africa has received more than $18-trillion in investments from 1998 to 2008. Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria, is a close second, receiving over $12-trillion for the same period. What rather shocking, is the fact that Kenya only managed to attract just under $3-trillion in investments, and sits third on the list.

    “Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been a remarkable success in Africa. Across the continent, the availability and quality of service have gone up and the cost has gone down. In just 10 years—dating from the end of the 1990s—mobile network coverage rose from 16 percent to 90 percent of the urban population,” the report stated. The report also noted that most of the investments come from Chinese companies, although a number of European companies are also involved.

    The top ten list of how investments in Africa’s telecommunications have been distributed from 1998 till 2008:

    1. South Africa ($18.1-trillion)
    2. Nigeria ($12.7-trillion)
    3. Kenya ($2.9-trillion)
    4. Sudan ($1.8-trillion)
    5. Uganda ($1.6-trillion)
    6. Senegal ($1.5-trillion)
    7. Tanzania ($1.4-trillion)
    8. Democratic Republic of the Congo ($1.2-trillion)
    9. Ghana ($1.1-trillion)
    10. Angola ($1-trillion)

  • Six suspects, not 10 as earlier reported by Sapa, were arrested on Thursday morning at MTN’s head office near Roodepoort. The operator explains the six — two of whom were MTN contractors — are suspected to have sold new Sim cards fraudulently loaded with airtime.

    The Sim cards were then sold to members of the public at “exorbitantly discounted amounts, thereby defrauding MTN”.

    “Our fraud and forensic department detected this scam and immediately followed up on leads and clues,” says Lily Zondo, GM for business risk management at MTN SA. “After irrefutable evidence was collected, MTN handed over the matter to the authorities, who made the arrests this morning.”

    MTN says consumers must be wary of “falling prey to offers that are ridiculously discounted. If it is too good to be true, it probably is”.

    “Customers should note that the law deems customers who purchase illegally sourced goods to be in commission of a crime,” says MTN SA customer service executive Eddie Moyce.

    MTN is still collating all the evidence to ascertain the revenue impact. The company says the R200m figure mentioned in the earlier Sapa story is “grossly misleading and inaccurate”.

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - 8.ta, South Africa’s fourth mobile operator has entered into a partnership with Nedbank that allows for 8.ta’s prepaid airtime to be purchased from the bank’s online banking channel.

    - With the launch of Samsung’s dedicated app store, many users in South Africa have benefited from the wide range of apps available. To further the experience, Samsung has launched a handful of new local apps, which users will find informative and exciting. They include MXit, DStv Mobile Decoder and PriceCheck.co.za

Digital Content

  • For instance, the Broadband Commission meeting that took place on 8-9 September, 2011, focused on the role of youth in defining new ICT services and driving take-up.

    Rwanda has an exceptionally young population, with 42% of people under the age of 15.

    The conference attracted Broadband commissioners and representatives of several countries in Africa, the private sector and civil society. They examined how to get the continent wired to high-speed networks and also involve the role of the youth in getting Africa online.

    The discussion featured a competition Peoples choice Award showcasing 10 new applications created by Rwandan youth developers. They included; Gihamya, Turere Neza, Osca, Get it!, Cumbika, Umuhuza Hi-Tech Brokers, FINDiet, M-AHWIII, Igisekuru, Gahunda.

    M-AHWIII limited, was crowned the winner after getting 30 percent of votes from the public was followed by Gahunda which attained 21percent votes. Both applications will feature at the forthcoming ITU Telecom World 2011 Digital Innovators competition in October.

    Lillian Uwintwali, student at Kigali Institute of Science and Technology is the Director of M-AHWIII limited was overjoyed after announcing them as the winner of the category.

    "The win is worth it because many will benefit from the application. M-AHWIII is an SMS-based application that will allow patients to request for medical appointments at any hospital of their choice subscribed on our system relieving them the trouble of having to go directly to the hospital in person," Uwintwali discloses.

    She adds that with her four colleagues they would develop their idea further.

    "We will have to first set its visibility in two hospitals as we aim at making the M-AHWII application effective and user friendly," she emphasizes.

    M-AHWII, the M stands for Mobile while the AHWII literally represent is an expression of relaxing.

    "I have already talked to the Ministry of Health and they liked the idea, hopefully the patients will be booking appointments for medical attention using SMS. One will only have to send a message indicating their illness and the hospital they would like to go to," Uwintwali explains.

    She said: "This is going to be a useful tool in making Rwanda a healthy country a reality. We all know for a fact that without good health there is no development.

    I request everyone to make M-AHWII application a reality so as to maintain the good health of Rwandans while achieving the broadband of digital development."

    The applications they create are income generating thus boost the standards of living with its related advantages.

    Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the United Nations' International Telecommunications Union (ITU), during the recent conference held in Kigali in relations to Broadband, he said that broadband is the single most powerful tool available to accelerate progress towards achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and a drive to social and economic development.

    "In the 21st century, with broadband, no young African should ever again need to be sent abroad in order to enjoy the benefits of an excellent education," says Touré.

    He said: "If you are connected, it no longer matters if you are geographically or socially isolated; you are still connected to the information society. But if you are not connected, you are literally cut off from a whole portion of the world's riches."

    In a phone interview with Serge Guillaume Nzabonimana, anAdvisor in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, he said that the Ministry funds youth projects in relations to Information and Communication and Technology.

    "We analyze the request for the project before for we fund it. There are a few factors that are considered for instance sustainability, the impact it will have on the people and the number of members involved in the project," Nzabonimana explains.

    ICT being one of the pillars of development, the youth need to be supported in the field thus a bright future.

    For instance the Ministry funded Kimisagara youth employment and productive center to by enhancing the IT skills for youth.

    The center identified 300 youth to be trained in IT this year and groups of 30 each concluded successfully the training of 4 weeks each.

    The IT training aims at promoting ICT and creating confidence among youth in computer skills as well as to use ICT as a tool for youth-to-youth communication, sensitize them in lessons related to health/nutrition, reading, writing, and other benefits.

  • In 2008, then US presidential candidate Barack Obama broke new ground by using social media in ways never seen before. Yet it was Goodluck Jonathan, the recently elected president of Nigeria, who took the extraordinary step of announcing his bid for the highest office on Facebook. On Wednesday, 15 September 2010, he informed his 217,000-plus fans on the world's most popular networking platform of his intent. Twenty four hours later, 4,000 more fans joined his page. By the day of the election, on 16 April 2011, he had over half a million followers.

    Mr. Jonathan's online campaign was only one illustration of the social media fever that gripped Africa's most populous country (with around 150 million people) during its most recent presidential, parliamentary and local elections. A report by two researchers who helped track online traffic during the month-long polls argues that the country's use of social media reached unprecedented levels.* "Nigeria set a new record for recent African elections in the number of reports tracked using social media," it says. In addition to the approximately 3 million registered Nigerians on Facebook and 60,000 on Twitter, almost every institution involved in Nigeria's elections conducted an aggressive social networking outreach, including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, candidates, media houses, civil society groups and even the police.

    The report notes that between 10 March and 16 April 2011, the electoral commission posted almost 4,000 tweets, many in response to voter queries. Using Twitter, commission officials at polling stations around the country also were able to communicate among themselves, and even confirmed the death of one of their members who had been attacked. "Twitter ultimately proved to be the most efficient way to interact with INEC," the document authors report. The commission's use of social media led to its website receiving a record 25 million hits in three days during the presidential election. "By using social media to inspire voters, the electoral commission has redefined elections in Nigeria," analyzed Punch, the country's most circulated newspaper.

    The boom in use of social media during elections also helped the media expand their readerships. Shortly before the polls, the Daily Trust newspaper had 32,000 fans on Facebook. A few weeks later, the number had more than doubled to 65,000, placing its online reach beyond its print distribution of 50,000. To build up its fan base, the newspaper also used social media in its reporting. Journalists solicited and used questions from Facebook fans for interviews with the chairman of INEC. Since the elections, the Daily Trust has further increased its Facebook presence, with 95,000 fans by July 2011.

    The online networking platforms reflected popular interest. Unsurprisingly, social media use reached its peak during the presidential election on 16 April. On that day, a total of 33,460 text messages and 130,426 posts on Twitter and Facebook were sent by some 65,000 voters.

    The content was mixed, the authors point out. "Social media, especially Twitter, was used to report occurrences [of fraud] — truthful as well as fabricated." Yet, they add, it played a mostly constructive role during the post-election violence by exposing unfounded rumours.

    "Social media tools," the report concludes, "revolutionized the efficiency of election observing by increasing coverage and reporting, while minimizing costs.... They changed how information was disseminated in Nigeria. Citizens accessed information directly and more accurately, resulting in unsurpassed participation in politics during the 2011 elections." 

    That upbeat assessment, however, needs to be put in context: An estimated 70,000 people posted contents online during Nigeria's polls, but they were just a tiny fraction of the registered 73 million voters. Still, a new trend appears to have begun.

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  • - Herman Heunis will leave the head of instant messaging platform MXit following the takeover of the company  by Alan Knott-Craig Jnr from the World of Avatar.

  • Information Technology Manager – Abuja, Nigeria
    The IT Manager will provide leadership support and maintenance to Family Health International (FHI) Nigeria computer and network infrastructure to ensure stable operations. S/He will be responsible for all IT related equipment and software that is part of the FHI-Nigeria inventory. S/He will take appropriate steps in solving problems, or where necessary, in identifying suitable vendors capable of solving them. The IT Manager will support the design and implementation of new IT solutions to improve business efficiency and productivity.

    Bachelor's degree with 7 to 9 years experience, in IT,  or a  Master's degree with 5 to 7 years experience in IT, OR PhD with 3 to 5 years experience in IT.
    For further information or to apply click here

    Technical Account Manager – Accra, Ghana
    Google's Partner Solutions Organization (PSO) is a technology group dedicated to developing and managing the company's largest and most strategic partnerships. Our multi-faceted professionals work together with teams throughout Google to address our partners' most pressing technology challenges – ones that have no simple answers. We create solutions for and build enduring long-term relationships with organizations that represent outstanding revenue opportunities and/or are strategically important for us to take new, world-shaping technologies to market.

    The role: Technical Account Manager
    As a Technical Account Manager, you are the engagement manager taking responsibility for the success of our largest partnerships. You lead deployments, optimize implementations and integrations to increase revenue, drive new business opportunities, and manage the overall technical aspects to build strong, successful, long- term partnerships. If you are a creative thinker who thrives in a fast-paced, market-driven environment, we want to talk to you. You should be a self-motivated individual looking to solidify Google's strategic partnerships across a variety of product lines made especially for Africa. These include search, mobile, video, Google Apps, e-commerce, and many other new initiatives.
    Responsibilities:

    Troubleshoot and train in relation to the Google Apps deployment project management with partner universities.
    Perform implementation reviews, evangelize new product features, and ensure the prompt and proper resolution of technical challenges.
    Improve product feature offerings by providing partner feedback to internal cross-functional teams including Product Management and Engineering.
    Guarantee the technical aspects of a partner’s integration (both new and ongoing) by providing necessary documentation, training and technical guidance.
    Develop proof-of-concept products and software tools to assist in closing deals.

    Requirements:
    BA/BS preferred in a technical field with a strong academic record. (MS/MBA is a plus).
    Extensive hands-on experience in Internet or telecom products and technologies in Africa or similar market.
    Experience in deadline-driven, large-scale technical project management or software development in the Internet/Telecommunications space.
    Excellent project management skills and attention to detail as well as experience working with external clients in a sales environment.
    Proficient in one or more programming languages, including Java, C/C++, JavaScript, Python, or PHP.
    Proficient in French, English and at least one other African language.
    Willing to travel extensively within Africa.
    For further information or to apply click here

  • Essar Telecoms and Tata Communications - Kenya
    Tata Communications and Essar Telecom Kenya (yuMobile), a unit of Essar Group, have  announced the signing of a mutually beneficial strategic sourcing agreement. Under the deal, yuMobile would, exclusively, route all its international voice traffic through Tata Communications' network. yuMobile continues to be one of the company’s key suppliers of telecommunication services throughout Kenya.

Edition Française, 22 septembre 2011, No 167

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Editorial

  • Un certain nombre de pays le long de la côte ouest de l’Afrique auront bientôt accès pour la première à de la capacité internationale via la fibre optique. C’est le cas du Congo qui sera sous peu connecté au câble sous-marin de fibre optique WACS. Pour ce pays comme pour les autres pays africains accédant pour la première fois à de la capacité internationale fibre, les opportunités et les challenges sont nombreux. Avec l’arrivée d’importantes capacités internationales, les internautes congolais sont en droit d’espérer une baisse significative des prix des connexions Internet. Selon Isabelle Gross, cet objectif n’a de chance d’être réalisé que si les questions  liées à la gestion et à l’accès à la capacité internationale sont résolues auparavant.

    La Mauritanie, la Gambie, la Guinée Bissau, la Guinée-Conakry, le Sierra Leone, le Libéria, le Togo, Sao Tomé et Principe, la Guinée Equatoriale, les deux Congos et la Namibie. Au total 12 pays africains le long de la côte ouest auront bientôt et pour la première fois accès à de la capacité international via la fibre. Le câble sous-marin ACE vient juste d’arriver en Gambie ou comme la photo ci-dessous le montre l’enthousiasme et l’excitation ont été à la mesure de l’événement.  L’arrivée de capacité internationale via la fibre n’est pas une petite chose pour ces 12 pays car elle leur permettra de s’arrimer aux réseaux fibre qui interconnectent la plupart des pays du monde et de poser la première pierre d’achoppement vers la construction d’une économie numérique.

    Alors que les opportunités sont bien là et palpables, l’histoire du câble SAT3 a montré dans de nombreux cas que la gestion de la capacité internationale par l’opérateur historique a été un échec. A l’exception de la Sonatel au Sénégal, de Côte d’Ivoire Télécom en Côte d’Ivoire et plus récemment de Bénin Télécom au Bénin qui a compris qu’écouler une partie du trafic voix et data en provenance du Nigéria lui permettait d’augmenter les revenus qu’il tire de la vente de capacité internationale sur SAT3,  nombreux ont été les opérateurs historiques qui n’ont pas su tiré partie de cette opportunité. Parmi eux, on peut citer la Camtel au Cameroun, Gabon Télécom au Gabon ou encore Nitel au Nigéria. Leur gestion de la capacité internationale sur SAT3 s’est traduite durant de nombreuses années par des prix par MB exorbitants (au-dessus de 5,000 dollars US par mois) et une qualité de service douteuse. L’échec le plus flagrant a été avec Nitel au Nigéria. L’opérateur historique disposant d’un monopole d’accès à la capacité internationale sur SAT3 a non seulement pratiqué des prix très  élevés mais aussi son service en terme de qualité n’a pas été à la hauteur des standards internationaux. C’est seulement par la suite grâce à la société Suburban Telecoms qui a tiré un câble de fibre optique entre le Nigéria et le Bénin (avec connexion sur SAT3 à Cotonou) que les opérateurs télécoms du Nigéria ont pu acheté de la capacité internationale sur SAT3 à des prix plus raisonnables et avec une meilleure qualité de service à la clé.

    Quelles sont les leçons à tirer de ces échecs de gestion de la capacité internationale fibre? Elles sont de deux ordres:
    - l’opérateur historique n’est pas nécessairement l’entité la plus à même pour gérer efficacement la nouvelle capacité internationale qui va arriver
    - la gestion sous forme de monopole de la capacité internationale encourage à maintenir des prix artificiellement élevés de la capacité internationale

    Pour en revenir au Congo, donner par exemple la gestion de la capacité internationale qui viendra avec le câble WACS à Congo Télécom, l’opérateur historique, c’est la mort annoncée de toute chance de voir un jour des services Internet à des prix abordables. Congo Télécom n’a ni les capacités techniques  ni le savoir faire commercial (la dette actuelle de la société est une bonne mesure de son incompétence) nécessaires à une gestion efficace de la capacité internationale. Si l’objectif du gouvernement congolais est de saisir les opportunités offertes par l’arrivée de la capacité internationale en particulier en termes de réductions potentielles des prix des services Internet, il lui faudra la volonté politique de prendre les décisions appropriées. Aujourd’hui  les prix au détail des services Internet au Congo tournent toujours aux alentours de 50,000 francs CFA par mois (100 dollars US). C’est loin d’être à la portée de tout le monde si l’on se réfère par exemple au salaire moyen des fonctionnaires qui est de l’ordre de 80,000 à 100,000 francs CFA par mois (entre 160 et 200 dollars US par mois)

    La situation est même pire au Congo RDC ou la Société Commerciale des Postes et des Télécommunications, la SCPT (ex-OCPT) est en charge de la construction de la station d’amérissage. Pas plus tard que le 6 septembre dernier, le journal local le Potentiel rapportait que  Mr Jean-pierre Muhongo, l’Administrateur délégué général de la SCPT a été démis de ses fonctions et arrêté pour détournement d’une partie des fonds (environ 3 millions de dollars US) alloués à la construction de la station d’amérissage.

    Sur le second point relatif à la gestion sous forme de monopole de la capacité internationale, les exemples de prix exorbitants de commercialisation de la capacité internationale sur SAT3 abondent. Aujourd’hui, quelles sont les options qui s’offrent aux gouvernements africains pour éviter des prix artificiellement élevés de la capacité internationale ? Dans des pays tel que le Nigéria qui aura bientôt accès à de la capacité internationale provenant de 5 câbles sous-marins différents (SAT3, Glo One, Main One, WACS et ACE) le jeu de la concurrence entre les différents fournisseurs a fait baissé les prix et les fera encore baissé dans l’avenir. A l’heure actuelle, le mégabit de capacité internationale se vend aux alentours de 300 dollars. Dans la plupart des 12 pays le long de la cote ouest de l’Afrique qui vont accéder pour la première fois à de la capacité internationale par fibre, l’accès sera limité à un câble sous-marin et par conséquent le principe de jeu de la concurrence ne s’appliquera pas. Le Congo est dans cette situation avec un seul accès à de la capacité internationale (WACS).  En revanche, nul n’interdit à ce pays et ses gouvernants de mettre en place un modèle d’accès ouvert (open access) garantissant un accès égal et non-discrimatoire à la capacité internationale tant sur le plan commercial que technique. Encore une fois, il s’agit de mettre en adéquation un objectif, favoriser l’accès à l’Internet des congolais avec des décisions politiques (mettre en place le cadre réglementaire de l’open access) supportant cet objectif.

    Avec 5 câbles sous-marins qui seront tous prochainement en activité, la capacité internationale disponible le long de la cote ouest de l’Afrique se comptera en térabits (avec une offre supérieure à la demande actuelle).Il est donc peu probable qu’il ait d’autres projets de câble sous-marins dans les années à venir. Par conséquent il est important que ces 12 pays dont le Congo « ne ratent pas le train » en terme d’utilisation plus la efficace que possible de la capacité internationale qui va bientôt s’offrir à eux.

  • L’opération de retrait du dossier préliminaire de candidature pour l’octroi d’une licence de téléphonie mobile troisième génération 3G a été lancée par l’Autorité de régulation de la poste et des télécommunications et ce, dans le cadre de l’introduction du haut débit mobile en Algérie.

    Importante s’il en est, cette procédure devra aboutir, notamment à la mise en œuvre commerciale de ces licences au courant du premier trimestre 2012, tandis que leur octroi provisoire aura lieu le 23 octobre prochain. La date du retrait du dossier préliminaire est fixée entre le 19 et le 22 du mois courant, alors que le retrait du dossier d’appel à la concurrence aura lieu du 26 au 30 du même mois. La collecte des dossiers de candidature et les propositions des opérateurs mobiles, durant le mois prochain, avec pour date butoir le 7 octobre, tandis que l’octroi provisoire de ces licences est prévu le 23 octobre. Les trois opérateurs de téléphonie mobile seront notés en fonction des dossiers qu’ils auront présentés. Celui qui n’obtiendra pas les 1 000 points nécessaires sera exclu de la course. Certaines sources affirment que le prix d’une licence est fixé entre 10 et 15 millions de dollars.

    Moussa Benhamadi, ministre de la Poste et des Technologies de l’information et de la communication a affirmé, récemment, que l’opérateur qui n’obtiendra pas le nombre de points nécessaires n’aura pas la licence. M. Benhamadi a souligné que le premier cahier des charges «fixe les conditions d’obtention de cette licence, notamment la technologie, l’encadrement nécessaire et les capacités d’investissement pour déployer et exploiter un réseau de téléphonie de troisième génération». Et d’ajouter : «Nous aspirons à réaliser un niveau de gestion électronique des transactions commerciales, en s’appuyant sur les technologies de la téléphonie mobile dans les opérations bancaires et les prestations». Selon le ministre, notre pays a opté pour la 3G au lieu de la 4G pour des raisons économiques. «C’est un problème de coût d’accès, nous ne voulions pas alourdir les charges des trois opérateurs, dont deux d’entre eux disposent déjà d’équipements 3G et pour qu’ils ne les répercutent pas sur l’utilisateur», a-t-il expliqué. La concrétisation de ce projet permettra à notre pays de franchir un nouveau pas dans le cadre de l’ouverture sur les technologies développées dans les domaines de l’information et de la communication, mais aussi de procéder à leur l’élargissement de leur utilisation dans les domaines des prestations et des transactions économiques et commerciales. C’est dire que le passage à la technologie de troisième génération est aussi un moyen de renforcement du marché des communications. Parce qu’elle permet un meilleur débit et la transmission de données, tels Internet, la télévision, la visiophonie ou le téléchargement de musique. Soulignons que la 3G a été adoptée par la majorité des pays occidentaux, asiatiques et du Moyen-Orient.

    La téléphonie mobile dans notre pays, introduite il y a une vingtaine d’années, a connu une véritable explosion en termes de marché. Fini le temps qui, pour se procurer une puce ou un téléphone portable, relevait presque de l’impossible. Il fut un temps où le prix d’une puce dépassait les 20 000 DA. La généralisation de la téléphonie mobile s’est répercutée positivement sur les prix et le nombre d’utilisateurs.

    En Algérie, il existe trois opérateurs (Mobilis, Djezzy, Nedjma). De fait, la licence 3G sera ouverte à ces trois opérateurs, selon le ministre algérien de la Poste et des Technologies de l’information et de la communication, Moussa Benhamadi. Les données rendues publiques récemment par l’ARPT, convient-il de rappeler, révèlent que la téléphonie mobile dans notre pays comptait quelque 32.780.165 abonnés à la fin de l’année 2010, soit une hausse de 50.341 abonnés par rapport à 2009.

    Horizon
  • Dans l’édition 166 des « Dernières Nouvelles » nous nous étions arrêtés à la date du 7 septembre lorsque Seneweb rapportait que l’intersyndicale de la Sonatel s’est réunie  pour discuter d’un plan d’action pour faire reculer l’Etat. Selon Ndèye Founé Niang, secrétaire générale du Sntp, l’intersyndicale a décidé de lancer « les mercredis de la honte », qui se feront toutes les semaines.

    Depuis cette date, les tenants et les opposants à l’instauration d’une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants continuent à se mobiliser. Ci-dessous une revue des actions les plus marquantes:

    - Prise de position de l’Entente Nationale de l’Association des Consommateurs (ENAC)
    « Admettre une taxe sur les appels entrants serait synonyme d’accepter une augmentation sur les appels sortants ».Du moins, c’est l’avis de l’entente nationale de l’association des consommateurs. En effet, par la voix de Aliou Sarr, président de la dite association, cette hausse pourrait déteindre sur les appels sortants en influençant les pays voisins. « Cette mesure entrainerait une application de mesures similaires dans les autres pays. Ce qui induira forcément l’augmentation des tarifs des appels téléphoniques sortant du Sénégal à destination de l’extérieur » selon les spécialistes. (7 septembre 2011 rapporté Rewmi)

    - Entretien de  Moustapha Guirassy, Ministre de la Communication (extrait)
    Les opérateurs ont refusé de se faire contrôler leurs appels entrants. Qu’est-ce que l’Etat compte faire face à cette situation ?
    L’Etat représente l’intérêt général. Par ailleurs, la procédure habituelle et normale des échanges avec l’Etat, dans quelque pays que ce soit, se fait par courriers écrits et officiels. Les déclarations verbales des uns et des autres, nous les entendons comme vous, mais ne leur accordons pas la dignité d’actes de défiance contre l’Etat. Il ne s’agit pas de cela. De plus, nous parlons d’un opérateur, pas plus. Au besoin, naturellement, l’Etat appliquera la loi et utilisera ses moyens coercitifs d’exécution forcée. Une fois encore, les agents de contrôle de l’Artp sont des agents assermentés, qui peuvent requérir l’assistance de la force publique, notamment en cas de flagrant délit. Par ailleurs, tout ceci a un soubassement juridique très fort. En effet, c’est l’article 6 de la loi N°2002-23 du 4 septembre 2002, portant cadre de régulation pour les entreprises concessionnaires de services publics, qui dispose, sans équivoque, que « le secret professionnel n’est pas opposable aux institutions de régulation. Toutefois, celles-ci sont tenues de préserver la confidentialité des informations collectées ayant un caractère privé ».
    (8 septembre 2011 rapporté par l’Observateur)

    - Entretien de Brelotte Ba, Directeur des opérations internationales de la Sonatel (extrait)
    A vous entendre parler, avec la surtaxe, la hausse des coûts des communications est inévitable pour les consommateurs
    Oui. Parce que d’autres opérateurs diront : « nous on ne veut pas faire porter la surtaxe à nos propres clients. Désormais on va appliquer la réciprocité ». Certains opérateurs ont dit à la Sonatel : « nous on va vous appliquer la réciprocité ». Sonatel ne pouvant pas supporter ces prix-là, parce qu’il faut garder à l’esprit que, depuis 10 ans, nous avons régulièrement baissé les tarifs sur l’international. Aujourd’hui, on appelle sur l’international avec 140 francs ttc la minute. Or, l’ampleur de l’augmentation ne pouvant être supportée par l’opérateur sera répercutée sur le client final. In fine les 60 milliards, ce sont les émigrés qui vont les payer à 98% et les consommateurs locaux vont payer le reste.
    (9 septembre 2011 rapporté par le Populaire)

    - Gabriel Fal, directeur général de Cgf – Bourse sur la taxe sur les appels entrants (extrait)
    Le gouvernement du Sénégal a décidé, par décret, d’instaurer un système de contrôle et de taxation des appels entrants. Qu’en pensez-vous ?
    Hors affaire des appels entrants, les analystes financiers internationaux valorisent actuellement l’action Sonatel à 170 mille francs Cfa. Or, le cours du jour est aux alentours de 125 mille francs Cfa. Cela veut-il dire que cette affaire pénalise le titre de plus de 26 % de sa valeur théorique ? Très certainement. Dans ce genre de situation, l’application d’un principe peut être plus préjudiciable que le principe lui-même. Je m’explique : cette facturation supplémentaire des appels entrants est tout simplement une taxe indirecte. (13 septembre 2011 rapporté par Wal Fadjri)

    - Lettre ouverte de l’Association des agents retraités de Sonatel (ANARS) à Monsieur Le Président de la République (extrait)
    Monsieur le Président de la République, Nous reconnaissons à l’Etat, le droit et même le devoir de faire prendre les dispositions appropriées pour combattre la fraude dont les opérateurs sont les premières victimes et de procéder à tout contrôle qui lui semble pertinent. C’est d’ailleurs une des missions régaliennes de l’ARTP. Ilest également compréhensible que l’Etat essaie raisonnablement de tirer plus d’avantages, des ressources générées par le secteur des Télécoms. Nous retraités de Sonatel, forts de nombreuses années d’expertise dans le secteur des Télécoms, soucieux du développement de notre pays et jaloux de l’héritage que nous avons laissé à la postérité, estimons que c’est une erreur stratégique que de choisir le court terme, au détriment de l’avenir. Car en instaurant une surtaxe sur les appels entrants, l’Etat pourrait collecter plus de revenus à court terme au détriment de la compétitivité et donc de l’avenir du secteur. (15 septembre, lettre ouverte de l’ANARS)

    - Précision de la Sonatel à Jeune Afrique
    La Direction Générale de Sonatel dément formellement les allégations publiées par Jeune Afrique N°2642 dans sa rubrique « Confidentiel » sous le titre : « Le chiffre qui calme, 60 milliards de FCFA ».  Aucun montant n’a jamais été proposé par son Directeur Général au Président de la République Sénégalaise pour soi-disant faire renoncer à la mesure de contrôle et de surtaxe du trafic international entrant ni à un quelconque appel d’offres. Sonatel rappelle qu’elle est l’entreprise la plus taxée au Sénégal tant en valeur absolue qu’en valeur relative et ce, bien au-delà des standards. Le Groupe Sonatel a fait de l’Ethique et de la Transparence ses valeurs cardinales. Au Sénégal, Sonatel est certainement l’entreprise la plus contrôlée, et n’a jamais été prise en défaut ni sur ses comptes ni sur son activité. Sonatel, unique entreprise sénégalaise cotée en Bourse et valeur phare de la BRMV, ne s’oppose nullement au contrôle des communications entrantes pourvu que ce contrôle n’entraîne pas une hausse des tarifs de terminaison et des prix, préjudiciable aux consommateurs mais aussi au Secteur.
    (19 septembre 2011 – Communiqué de la Sonatel)

    - Appels entrants : le M23 particpera à la marche de l’intersyndicale de la SONATEL
    Le Mouvement du 23 juin a présenté à Dakar, lors d'une réunion d'information et de partage, sa nouvelle feuille de route comportant une participation à la marche de l'intersyndicale des travailleurs de la Sonatel contre l'instauration d'une surtaxe sur les appels entrants. "Nous allons leur apporter notre soutien dans le combat contre la taxation des appels venant de l'extérieur", a dit Cheikh Tidiane Dièye, membre du comité de coordination du M23. (20 septembre 2011 rapporté par APS)

  • Emanant d'une technologie récente, les comptes épargnes, via téléphone mobile, ne généraient d'intérêts dans aucun pays du monde. Depuis hier, Orange money a initié la rémunération de ces dépôts, à Madagascar.

    La bancarisation est encore faible à Madagascar, par rapport à celle des autres pays. Néanmoins, la filière de la banque par téléphonie mobile connaît un essor considérable, ces derniers temps. L'utilisation de cette technologie s'impose de plus en plus dans le pays.

    Pas plus tard qu'hier, les dépôts placés par les utilisateurs d'Orange money sont rémunérés. Dans le secteur, il s'agit d'une grande première mondiale, car ce système de compte n'existe encore nulle part ailleurs. D'après les promoteurs du service, cette rémunération des dépôts n'est qu'un début, car de nouveaux services « Orange money » seront offerts dans les prochains jours.

    Banques. L'utilisation de la banque mobile mène les usagers à l'accès aux services des banques. En effet, Orange Madagascar a collaboré avec des banquiers, dans le cadre de cette offre de compte épargne rémunéré.

    Les banques BMOI et Microcred Banque Madagascar sont les partenaires d'Orange money, a-t-on appris, lors d'une conférence de presse, qui s'est tenue hier à Andraharo. Malgré cela, les transferts effectués via Orange money sont gratuits, jusqu'à un montant de 500 000 Ariary, selon Gelebart Erwan, responsable de cette offre d'Orange Madagascar.

    Mobilisation. Transactions rapides, simples et sécurisées, tels sont les avantages de la banque mobile, cités par les opérateurs en téléphonie mobile. Il faut croire que cette nouvelle technologie contribue à la mobilisation de l'économie.

    Plus de 500 000 Malgaches utilisent actuellement Orange money, qui n'a qu'un an d'existence. « Par rapport aux autres, nos services sont rapides car nous avons 1 000 représentants à Madagascar où les clients peuvent faire des dépôts et des retraits. 400 d'entre ces représentants sont à Antananarivo.

    En outre, nous avons 1 500 commerçants qui acceptent les paiements par Orange money à Madagascar, dont 80% se trouvent à Antananarivo. De l'épicier de quartier au supermarché, cela est toujours gratuit », a affirmé le manager d'Orange money.

    Taux inégal. Par rapport à ceux des banques primaires, les caractéristiques de la rémunération des épargnes d'Orange money connaissent quelques différences. En effet, l'utilisateur peut à tout moment verser et retirer de l'argent sur son compte.

    Les taux d'intérêts, par contre, varient de 4% à 6%. D'après les explications des promoteurs d'Orange money, les dépôts de 1 à 100 000 Ariary sont rémunérés à 4% par an et les intérêts sont versés mensuellementc de 100 001 à 5 millions d'Ariary, ce taux monte à 5% et pour les dépôts supérieurs à 5 millions d'Ariary, le taux d'intérêt est de 6% par an.

  • La Fondation des Nations Unies a lancé jeudi sa première application disponible sur les téléphones portables intelligents afin de mettre à disposition du public des informations sur l'ONU en temps réel.

    « La technologie des téléphones portables réunit plus de personnes aujourd'hui que jamais auparavant. Des millions de personnes dans le monde ont un téléphone portable dans les villes comme dans les zones isolées. L'information maintenant va plus vite que jamais auparavant, offrant une chance positive de collaboration qui était inattendue il n'y a pas si longtemps », a déclaré le Secrétaire général adjoint des Nations Unies à l'information et à la communication, Kiyo Akasaka, à l'occasion d'un point de presse au siège de l'ONU à New York.

    « C'est une opportunité pour les peuples partout dans le monde de s'informer et de se joindre aux Nations Unies pour aider à résoudre parmi les problèmes du monde les plus pressants », a-t-il ajouté.

     « Cette application, conjuguée à nos efforts pour fournir une information onusienne au travers de différents moyens et formats, va aider les peuples partout à être informés, être engagés et être prêts à faire plus localement et globalement », a souligné M. Akasaka. « Si nous tirons profit des médias sociaux et de la technologie y compris des applications de téléphones portables comme celle-ci, nous pouvons contribuer à aider à faire progresser la paix et construire un monde meilleur et plus sûr », a-t-il conclu.

    Nations Unies
  • Les sites facedakar.com et leral.net ont décidé nouer un accord de partenariat qui va se traduire par la création d’un holding internet fort de près de 200 000 visiteurs par jour. En effet, suite aux attaques dont les deux sites sont victimes depuis une semaine, le rendant inaccessible à certaines heures, les deux promoteurs des sites, à savoir El Malick Seck (Pour Facedakar) et Dame Dieng (Pour Leral.net) ont décidé de lancer le premier groupe Internet.

    "Cette union est d’autant plus nécessaire que les deux sites sont victimes d’attaques pirates de la part de plusieurs personnes tapies dans l’ombre", indique les deux promoteurs. "Nous allons conjuguer les efforts techniques, matériels et humains pour lutter contre ces attaques", indique la même source.

    Le groupe Internet ainsi créé va se traduire par une disponibilité des différents flux rss et autres titres de chacun des sites concernés. Ce qui se traduira par un accroissement de trafic et une hausse du nombre de pages vues pour facedakar.com et leral.net qui sont avec seneweb, les leaders de l’information en ligne.

    Les deux sites auront une rédaction et des équipes mixtes.

    L’ambition de cette union est de demeurer leader dans l’information en ligne au Sénégal et de rester le point grand point de convergence de trafic internet du Sénégal.

    A partir du mois de septembre, nos deux équipes vont lancer un nouveau site d’informations et de divertissement qui viendra étoffer l’offre éditoriale du groupe de presse ainsi créé et qui va comprendre les entités que sont facedakar.com, leral.net, dakarfoot.com et politicosn.com.

    Leral
  • La marche des jeunes dans la capitale n'a pas réuni les 15 000 personnes attendues par les organisateurs. Toutefois les participants étaient enthousiastes pour réclamer un changement de société. Présence remarquée de nombreux quinquagénaires qui ont connu d'autres manifestations dans le passé.

    Quelque 3000 Mauriciens, jeunes et moins jeunes ont répondu à l'appel du groupe Wanted : 15 000 Youngsters to Save OUR Future ». Ce collectif de Facebookers avait lancé un appel sur le réseau social via Internet pour que 15 000 jeunes se réunissent à Port-Louis afin de dire non à l'état actuel des choses sur le plan sociopolitique dans le pays.

    En cette fin de matinée du samedi 10 septembre, de nombreux jeunes et d'autres Mauriciens, parmi de quinquagénaires avaient déjà pris place devant le Centre social Marie Reine de la Paix. Dans la foule, on pouvait voir des visages connus : l'ancien ministre Jean François Chaumière, le sociologue Malenn Oodiah, l'ancien conseiller municipal Nol Pointu, et le politique Jean Michel de Senneville entre autres.

    Un mélange de nostalgie et de fraîcheur. On voyait des adultes qui ont connu d'autres manifestations discuter avec des jeunes. Plus loin, Ashok Subron de Resistans ek Alternativ réunissait ses amis. Il portent tous un T-shirt arborant le logo du collectif « Wanted : 15 000 Youngsters to Save OUR Future « . Le slogan « Aret zwe ek nou lavenir » y est inscrit.

    A 11h45, le nombre de personnes présentes était loin des objectifs fixés par les organisateurs. L'un d'eux, Joël Toussaint a pris la parole pour demander qu'on attende ceux qui sont en route. Utilisant un porte-voix, il a demandé à ceux présents de patienter. « Nous allons démarrer la marche à midi pour nous rendre à la Cathédrale Saint Louis », dit-il.

    Entre temps, dans la foule des volontaires distribuent un tract qui se veut être le manifeste du collectif. Rédigé en kreol et en anglais, il est intitulé « SEKI NOU LE. » Les 20 revendications qui y sont présentées vont de la demande pour une économie solidaire à la lutte contre la corruption en passant par l'affirmation de la diversité culturelle.

    Intervenant quelques minutes après midi, sur les ondes de Radio One, Jameel Peerally un animateur du collectif, n'a pas caché sa déception devant l'assistance loin de ses objectifs: « Le nombre n'est pas ce qui compte, l'essentiel ce que ces Mauriciens qui sont présents sont là avec leur cÅ"ur ». Il a poursuivi pour dire sa satisfaction d'avoir pu provoquer un réveil chez des Mauriciens « pour dire non à la politique malsaine » Il a critiqué les politiciens plus particulièrement ceux du gouvernement. « Ces gens sont restés au pouvoir trop longtemps», a-t-il dit.

    L’Express
  • Depuis un certain temps, la police criminelle mène une lutte acharnée contre les « brouteurs », ces petits riches d'Abidjan, des individus de mauvais acabit qui ont fait de l'arnaque via Internet leur activité principale Conséquence , les cybercafés se vident de leur monde.

    M. Kablan. N, gérant d'un cybercafé à Koumassi (commune d'Abidjan), nous explique que cela est lié à la traque contre les cybercriminels ces derniers temps. « Nous recevons de façon récurrente, l'information que des agents de la police criminelle sillonnent les cybercafés pour y arrêter d'éventuels « brouteurs » (appellation des jeunes sans scrupules qui soutirent frauduleusement de l'argent aux honnêtes citoyens par le biais d'internet en leur racontant des histoires à dormir debout).

    Cette activité frauduleuse a prospéré jusqu'à l'avènement du nouveau gouvernement qui a décidé de sévir afin d'amener les jeunes à s'occuper sainement. Objectif, restaurer la confiance dans les différentes activités en ligne au moment où les nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication gagnent de plus en plus du terrain en Côte d'Ivoire.

    La brigade anti-criminalité chargée de mener la lutte est composée d'éléments des Forces républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire (Frci) et de policiers. Elle parcourt régulièrement les cybercafés afin d'y traquer ces individus sans foi ni loi qui ont fait de faire de l'escroquerie sur internet leur métier.

    Dimanche dernier, nous avons été témoin d'une débandade de jeunes "brouteurs" qui avaient pris leur quartier dans un cybercafé à Koumassi. Renseignements pris, il s'agissait d'une fausse alerte. Une palabre entre enfants que les brouteurs ont assimilé à l'arrivée des flics. Alertés par certains de leurs "collègues " ils ont pris leurs jambes à leur cou.

    Traqués, certains de ces brouteurs ont trouvé des stratégies pour contourner la police criminelle. ils se achetés des ordinateurs (portables de préférence) et mènent leur sale besogne à domicile. Ceux qui n'ont encore pu s'offrir un ordinateur et continuent de fréquenter les cybers ont trouvé une autre formule. En effet, tandis que « leurs collègues » sont « au travail », leurs complices assurent la garde afin de les alerter en cas de danger.

  • L'Organisation marocaine des droits humains poursuit son combat pour l'organisation d'élections transparentes. Elle vient d'initier au niveau national, une nouvelle approche de l'observation des élections.

    Il s'agit d'une plateforme électronique accessible à tous les citoyens et observateurs en vue de signaler et visualiser des incidents, des dysfonctionnements ou violations liés à l'opération électorale par différents moyens technologiques, à savoir le SMS, l'e-mail, le Twitter et autres.

    Cette plateforme sera gérée par une équipe d'experts, des membres des associations et du réseau des jeunes de l'OMDH, coordonnée par le Bureau national.

    Pour les responsables de l'OMDH, cette initiative s'inscrit dans le cadre général des prochaines élections législatives qui seront organisées dans un contexte marqué par la nouvelle Constitution, adoptée en juillet 2011. La loi fondamentale explicite les dispositions claires relatives à la responsabilité des autorités publiques, quant à la transparence et à la régularité de l'opération électorale ainsi qu'à la promotion de la participation des électeurs.

    Une action qui intervient après le combat mené par l'OMDH pour l'élargissement du champ d'intervention de la loi 30-11 relative aux conditions et modalités d'observation neutre et indépendante des élections, la garantie de la neutralité et l'objectivité des observateurs et leur indépendance.

    Un combat qui ne semble pas de tout repos du fait que la loi, à elle seule, n'est pas suffisante pour lutter contre les fraudes et garantir la transparence des élections. Force est de constater que les TIC ne peuvent tenir leurs promesses que dans un contexte économique, politique et administratif favorable.

    Il s'agit alors de tirer des leçons d'une telle expérience en étant conscient que les TIC sont certes des outils efficaces pour la démocratie mais qu'elles ne peuvent en aucun cas lever les contraintes culturelles.

    Libération
  • Existant depuis près de 12 ans dans les pays développés et émergeant, la technologie « Réalité augmentée » est enfin arrivée à Madagascar. Elle est initiée par la NBM et l'agence de communication Tam Tam.

    Les promoteurs du produit SKOL ont décidé d'utiliser le système « Réalité augmentée »,pour la promotion marketing et la sensibilisation à la consommation. D'après Johary Rakotomalala, responsable commercial et marketing au sein de la Nouvelle Brasserie de Madagascar (NBM), cette nouvelle stratégie s'inscrit déjà dans le cadre d'une grande campagne qui est prévue débuter vers la fin de ce mois de septembre et terminer en décembre. En effet, cette campagne concerne la flèche qui est le logo de SKOL à l'extérieur et à Madagascar.

    Moitié réelle. D'après les explications d'un spécialiste de l'agence Tam Tam, la réalité augmentée est une technologie qui combine la vidéo numérique et le multimédia. « En général, elle se caractérise par un environnement réel, incrusté d'éléments virtuels tels que les objets 3D, les sons, les textes, les images ou les éléments animés », a-t-il noté. Pour le produit SKOL, une image de son logo, imprimée sur n'importe quel support, permet aux utilisateurs d'avoir accès à la réalité augmentée. En effet, lorsque l'image de ce logo est captée par une caméra, la vidéo affiche le produit SKOL en 3 dimensions. L'utilisateur peut donc faire tourner le support du logo dans tous les sens, pour voir toutes les facettes du produit. Notons que cette technologie est utilisée pour informer et divertir l'utilisateur. C'est aussi un moyen de facilitation qui permet de réduire les frais de déplacement et les pertes de temps.

    Début. L'utilisation de la réalité augmentée est une grande première pour Madagascar et l'ensemble des îles de l'Océan Indien. Désormais, cette technologie peut être trouvée sur le site-Web de SKOL et sur la page Facebook de cette marque. A l'extérieur, elle est déjà utilisée au niveau éducatif, scientifique, commercial, ludique et bien d'autres encore. Elle permet même à un utilisateur de choisir ses lunettes, en essayant tous les modèles, virtuellement.

  • Maroc Telecom occupe la 88è place du classement de Forbes Magazine 2011 des entreprises les plus innovantes dans le monde, juste après le géant américain Microsoft (86è) et devant Air Liquide, Toshiba ou encore ABB.

    Maroc Telecom est le seul opérateur de télécommunications à figurer dans ce classement.

    Forbes effectue son classement selon un indice appelé "Innovation Premium" reposant à la fois sur la tenue de la valeur sur le marché et sur une analyse qualitative des innovations annoncées par les entreprises testées.

    Cet indice permet de mesurer à quel niveau les investisseurs ont fait monter le prix des actions d'une entreprise, fondant leurs attentes sur le potentiel de ses résultats positifs et d'innovation (nouveaux produits, services et marchés).

    Sont ainsi pris en compte tant l'évolution des indices boursiers que la sortie de nouveaux produits ou services. Les membres de la liste doivent avoir 10 milliards de dollars de capitalisation boursière, dépenser au moins 1 pc de leur actif en matière de R & D et avoir publié sept ans de données publiques.

    La méthodologie de ce classement qui a été réalisée par Jeff Dyer, professeur de Stratégie à la Marriott School (BYU) et Hal Gregersen, professeur de Leadership à l'INSEAD, avec Michael McConnell, directeur de Recherche à HOLT (Crédit Suisse), a été inspirée du livre The Innovator's DNA (l'ADN de l'innovateur), écrit par le professeur Christensen Clayton en partenariat avec la Harvard Business School.

    L'idée du classement Innovation Premium, repris par le magazine Forbes, a été développée sur la base de l'analyse des données de Holt, une division du Crédit Suisse. Depuis plus de 25 ans, cette structure propose aux investisseurs des analyses objectives sur plus de 20.000 entreprises à travers le monde, en tenant compte de la structure de leur capital et des principaux moteurs de croissance de leur valeur.

    MAP
  • Le Prix de l'Entrepreneur social en Afrique, qui a été lancé par Orange en juin 2011, est intégré aux prestigieux AfricaCom Awards. La remise des prix aura lieu au Cap, en Afrique du Sud, le 9 novembre. Avec ce prix, l'opérateur s'engage à soutenir activement des entrepreneurs jeunes et dynamiques et les start-up dans les pays d'Afrique où il est présent. Le prix a pour but d'offrir un soutien aux entrepreneurs qui ont des idées innovantes pour le développement social en utilisant les systèmes d'information et les technologies des télécommunications, mais qui n'ont pas nécessairement les ressources techniques ou financières pour mettre leurs idées en action.

    Après de nombreuses demandes de la part de candidats intéressés et afin de permettre aux entrepreneurs de finaliser leurs dossiers, la date limite pour la soumission des projets a été prolongée de deux semaines. Les candidats sont invités à transmettre leurs dossiers sur www.starafrica.com avant le 30 septembre pour être éligible à ce prix.

    Le Prix de l'Entrepreneur social en Afrique récompensera trois entrepreneurs ou start-up qui proposent des solutions s'appuyant de façon innovante sur les TIC pour répondre aux besoins sociaux des populations du continent africain. L'éventail de projets peut recouvrir des services bancaires ou des applications dans des domaines essentiels comme la santé, l'éducation ou l'agriculture.

    L'opérateur s'engage à soutenir financièrement et à mettre son expertise au service des lauréats du concours. En plus d'une dotation allant de 10 000 à 25 000 euros, les trois gagnants du prix bénéficieront d'un accompagnement de six mois.

    Tout entrepreneur ou toute entité légale existant depuis juin 2008, sans restriction de nationalité, peut participer gratuitement à ce prix. Les projets présentés doivent prévoir un déploiement de leur service dans au moins un des 17 pays d'Afrique où il est implanté.

    Le prix s'intègre aussi bien dans la stratégie d'innovation du groupe que dans sa politique de responsabilité sociale d'entreprise. En encourageant l'entrepreneuriat social, il souhaite souligner le rôle des TIC dans le développement économique et social des pays émergents.

    La Presse
  • La télévision tunisienne a procédé, pour la première fois et depuis le mois d'août dernier, à une opération de numérisation de son archive audiovisuel enregistré sur d'anciennes cassettes vidéos du genre Quadruplex 2 pouces.

    Cette opération a permis à la télévision tunisienne de sauver,à ce jour, des enregistrements sur cassettes ayant une valeur historique et civilisationnelle, dont 80 titres impliquant les séries Oumi Traki, Haj klouf, les contes de Abdelaziz El Aroui et plusieurs autres enregistrements tels que Kassaagi, Kammoucha et "qandil edhikrayet".

    Une source autorisée au sein de l'Etablissement de la télévision a indiqué que l'opération de sauvetage du patrimoine audiovisuel contenu dans 18 mille cassettes et leur transfert sur des supports numériques se poursuit à un rythme soutenu, compte tenu de la richesse des archives audiovisuelles de la télévision nationale et de son importance en tant qu'outil pour la préservation de la mémoire culturelle et civilisationnelle.

    La Presse
  • Med-IT 2011
    15, 16 & 17 novembre 2011, Casablanca, Maroc

    Organisé depuis 2009, MED-IT est un Salon Professionnel sur les Technologies de l'information réservé aux décideurs IT. L'événement qui se tient à l'Office des Changes, accueille chaque année plus de 4000 visiteurs professionnels et 170 exposants parmi lesquels les leaders mondiaux du secteur.
    Pour plus d’infos visitez le site: 

  • - Rene Meza (ancien DG d’Airtel Kenya) vient de prendre la direction des opérations de Vodacom en Tanzanie.

  • * Responsable Informatique – Burkina Faso
    Qualifications requises et expériences professionnelles
    •avoir un diplôme BAC+5: administrateur réseau, systèmes informatiques, ou toutes autres disciplines apparentées ou équivalent;
    •avoir une expérience professionnelle pratique prouvée cumulée de 10 ans dans une fonction
    d’Informaticien, administrateur réseau, ou toute fonction similaire dans une société ou institution publique ou privée;
    •avoir une expérience solide de dix (10) années en informatique ;
    •avoir au moins trois (03) ans d’expérience en administration réseau ;
    •avoir une excellente maitrise du système d’exploitation Windows et des applications MS Office ;
    •avoir une parfaite maîtrise des systèmes d’exploitation des réseaux (Windows NT, Windows 2000 Serveur, Windows 2003 Serveur, Unix, etc.) ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance sur la sécurité dans TCP/IP: HTTPS, SSL, SSH, SOCKS, IPSec ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance dans l’interconnexion de réseaux ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance sur la lutte contre les menaces informatiques (spam, virus, vers, spywares, etc.) ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance des routeurs CISCO
    •avoir une bonne connaissance sur la détection d'intrusion et les logiciels de détection et/ou prévention d'intrusion ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance en bases de données (MySql, SQL Server) ;
    •avoir une Bonne expérience dans la création et de gestion des portails internet ;
    • avoir une Bonne connaissance du fonctionnement des messageries électroniques en général et
    d’Outlook en particulier ;
    • avoir une expérience dans la gestion de serveurs, de réseaux intranet et de communication ;
    • avoir de bonnes aptitudes de formateur et maîtriser les outils et méthodes d’animation de travaux de groupe ;
    • avoir une intégrité professionnelle, flexible, apte à travailler en équipe et sous pression ;
    • Faire preuve de rigueur et justifier de bonnes qualités morales.
    • Maîtrise de la langue française, bonne communication verbale et écrite ;
    • Maîtrise de l’anglais souhaité ;
    • Expérience pratique prouvée d’au moins cinq ans, dans une fonction similaire à celle définie dans les présents termes de référence serait un atout déterminant pour l’attribution définitive du poste ;
    • avoir au maximum 50 ans au 31 décembre 2012 ;
    • Etre disponible immédiatement.
    Pour plus d’informations ou pour poser votre candidature cliquez ici


    * Trophées MED-IT 2011 : du 15 au 17 novembre 2011

    Concours des meilleures Applications Mobiles Marocaines » en parallèle de la 3ème édition du Salon MED-IT qui se tiendra les 15, 16 et 17 novembre 2011 à l’Office des Changes de Casablanca.
    Au niveau mondial, le marché des applications mobiles est en pleine explosion et c’est un marché qui devrait encore tripler en 2012. Alors qu’un peu plus de 7 milliards d’applications ont été téléchargées en 2009, il devrait y avoir 50 milliards de téléchargements en 2012. En effet, avec 180 millions de smartphones vendus dans le monde, la demande ne fait qu’accroître. Côté marocain, la production d’applications mobiles n’en est encore qu’à ses débuts, mais afin d’encourager ce secteur très prometteur, le Salon Med-IT a décidé d’en faire le thème majeur des Trophées de cette année, avec l’organisation d’un concours des meilleures applications mobiles marocaines.
    Sponsorisé par Samsung (Sponsor Gold), Air Télécom (Sponsor Silver)et en partenariat avec le Réseau Mobile Monday, ce concours a pour objectif de promouvoir le développement d’Applications mobiles au Maroc à travers une compétition qui permettra d’identifier les meilleures applications. Ce concours sera un accélérateur pour susciter de nouvelles vocations, découvrir et valoriser de jeunes talents.
    Le thème du concours : simplifiez le quotidien grâce au mobile.
    Le mobile est aujourd’hui omniprésent dans la vie quotidienne mais pourrait rendre encore de bien nombreux services à ses millions d’utilisateurs. Ce sont donc ces applications mobiles simples, utiles et pratiques qui sont particulièrement attendues.
    Priorité aux applications androïd et Bada
    Les applications devront être développées sur au moins une plateforme (Androïd et Bada) et devront être accessibles via des app-stores. Elles devront présenter une réelle innovation tant sur le plan produit que sur le packaging, l’utilisation ou la technique. Les applications développées spécialement pour le concours seront particulièrement encouragées par le jury.
    Les 3 meilleures applications seront présentées lors d’une Cérémonie officielle qui se tiendra à l’Office des Changes le mercredi 17 novembre 2011 à 16h00. Les 3 lauréats recevront un Trophée et des cadeaux offerts par SAMSUNG, sponsor gold de l’événement. SAMSUNG remettra également un cadeau exceptionnel à la meilleure application développée sous plateforme BADA.
    La participation au concours est gratuite et ouverte à tout développeur indépendant, étudiant, ou jeune entreprise installée sur le territoire marocain.
    Inscription en ligne du 15 mai au 18 octobre 2011 :
    www.med-it.com (Rubrique Trophées)
    Contact :
    Jamila Mannani – jmannani@xcom.ma
    0522 87 51 21

Edition Française, 22 septembre 2011, No 167

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Editorial

  • Un certain nombre de pays le long de la côte ouest de l’Afrique auront bientôt accès pour la première à de la capacité internationale via la fibre optique. C’est le cas du Congo qui sera sous peu connecté au câble sous-marin de fibre optique WACS. Pour ce pays comme pour les autres pays africains accédant pour la première fois à de la capacité internationale fibre, les opportunités et les challenges sont nombreux. Avec l’arrivée d’importantes capacités internationales, les internautes congolais sont en droit d’espérer une baisse significative des prix des connexions Internet. Selon Isabelle Gross, cet objectif n’a de chance d’être réalisé que si les questions  liées à la gestion et à l’accès à la capacité internationale sont résolues auparavant.

    La Mauritanie, la Gambie, la Guinée Bissau, la Guinée-Conakry, le Sierra Leone, le Libéria, le Togo, Sao Tomé et Principe, la Guinée Equatoriale, les deux Congos et la Namibie. Au total 12 pays africains le long de la côte ouest auront bientôt et pour la première fois accès à de la capacité international via la fibre. Le câble sous-marin ACE vient juste d’arriver en Gambie ou comme la photo ci-dessous le montre l’enthousiasme et l’excitation ont été à la mesure de l’événement.  L’arrivée de capacité internationale via la fibre n’est pas une petite chose pour ces 12 pays car elle leur permettra de s’arrimer aux réseaux fibre qui interconnectent la plupart des pays du monde et de poser la première pierre d’achoppement vers la construction d’une économie numérique.

    Alors que les opportunités sont bien là et palpables, l’histoire du câble SAT3 a montré dans de nombreux cas que la gestion de la capacité internationale par l’opérateur historique a été un échec. A l’exception de la Sonatel au Sénégal, de Côte d’Ivoire Télécom en Côte d’Ivoire et plus récemment de Bénin Télécom au Bénin qui a compris qu’écouler une partie du trafic voix et data en provenance du Nigéria lui permettait d’augmenter les revenus qu’il tire de la vente de capacité internationale sur SAT3,  nombreux ont été les opérateurs historiques qui n’ont pas su tiré partie de cette opportunité. Parmi eux, on peut citer la Camtel au Cameroun, Gabon Télécom au Gabon ou encore Nitel au Nigéria. Leur gestion de la capacité internationale sur SAT3 s’est traduite durant de nombreuses années par des prix par MB exorbitants (au-dessus de 5,000 dollars US par mois) et une qualité de service douteuse. L’échec le plus flagrant a été avec Nitel au Nigéria. L’opérateur historique disposant d’un monopole d’accès à la capacité internationale sur SAT3 a non seulement pratiqué des prix très  élevés mais aussi son service en terme de qualité n’a pas été à la hauteur des standards internationaux. C’est seulement par la suite grâce à la société Suburban Telecoms qui a tiré un câble de fibre optique entre le Nigéria et le Bénin (avec connexion sur SAT3 à Cotonou) que les opérateurs télécoms du Nigéria ont pu acheté de la capacité internationale sur SAT3 à des prix plus raisonnables et avec une meilleure qualité de service à la clé.

    Quelles sont les leçons à tirer de ces échecs de gestion de la capacité internationale fibre? Elles sont de deux ordres:
    - l’opérateur historique n’est pas nécessairement l’entité la plus à même pour gérer efficacement la nouvelle capacité internationale qui va arriver
    - la gestion sous forme de monopole de la capacité internationale encourage à maintenir des prix artificiellement élevés de la capacité internationale

    Pour en revenir au Congo, donner par exemple la gestion de la capacité internationale qui viendra avec le câble WACS à Congo Télécom, l’opérateur historique, c’est la mort annoncée de toute chance de voir un jour des services Internet à des prix abordables. Congo Télécom n’a ni les capacités techniques  ni le savoir faire commercial (la dette actuelle de la société est une bonne mesure de son incompétence) nécessaires à une gestion efficace de la capacité internationale. Si l’objectif du gouvernement congolais est de saisir les opportunités offertes par l’arrivée de la capacité internationale en particulier en termes de réductions potentielles des prix des services Internet, il lui faudra la volonté politique de prendre les décisions appropriées. Aujourd’hui  les prix au détail des services Internet au Congo tournent toujours aux alentours de 50,000 francs CFA par mois (100 dollars US). C’est loin d’être à la portée de tout le monde si l’on se réfère par exemple au salaire moyen des fonctionnaires qui est de l’ordre de 80,000 à 100,000 francs CFA par mois (entre 160 et 200 dollars US par mois)

    La situation est même pire au Congo RDC ou la Société Commerciale des Postes et des Télécommunications, la SCPT (ex-OCPT) est en charge de la construction de la station d’amérissage. Pas plus tard que le 6 septembre dernier, le journal local le Potentiel rapportait que  Mr Jean-pierre Muhongo, l’Administrateur délégué général de la SCPT a été démis de ses fonctions et arrêté pour détournement d’une partie des fonds (environ 3 millions de dollars US) alloués à la construction de la station d’amérissage.

    Sur le second point relatif à la gestion sous forme de monopole de la capacité internationale, les exemples de prix exorbitants de commercialisation de la capacité internationale sur SAT3 abondent. Aujourd’hui, quelles sont les options qui s’offrent aux gouvernements africains pour éviter des prix artificiellement élevés de la capacité internationale ? Dans des pays tel que le Nigéria qui aura bientôt accès à de la capacité internationale provenant de 5 câbles sous-marins différents (SAT3, Glo One, Main One, WACS et ACE) le jeu de la concurrence entre les différents fournisseurs a fait baissé les prix et les fera encore baissé dans l’avenir. A l’heure actuelle, le mégabit de capacité internationale se vend aux alentours de 300 dollars. Dans la plupart des 12 pays le long de la cote ouest de l’Afrique qui vont accéder pour la première fois à de la capacité internationale par fibre, l’accès sera limité à un câble sous-marin et par conséquent le principe de jeu de la concurrence ne s’appliquera pas. Le Congo est dans cette situation avec un seul accès à de la capacité internationale (WACS).  En revanche, nul n’interdit à ce pays et ses gouvernants de mettre en place un modèle d’accès ouvert (open access) garantissant un accès égal et non-discrimatoire à la capacité internationale tant sur le plan commercial que technique. Encore une fois, il s’agit de mettre en adéquation un objectif, favoriser l’accès à l’Internet des congolais avec des décisions politiques (mettre en place le cadre réglementaire de l’open access) supportant cet objectif.

    Avec 5 câbles sous-marins qui seront tous prochainement en activité, la capacité internationale disponible le long de la cote ouest de l’Afrique se comptera en térabits (avec une offre supérieure à la demande actuelle).Il est donc peu probable qu’il ait d’autres projets de câble sous-marins dans les années à venir. Par conséquent il est important que ces 12 pays dont le Congo « ne ratent pas le train » en terme d’utilisation plus la efficace que possible de la capacité internationale qui va bientôt s’offrir à eux.

  • L’opération de retrait du dossier préliminaire de candidature pour l’octroi d’une licence de téléphonie mobile troisième génération 3G a été lancée par l’Autorité de régulation de la poste et des télécommunications et ce, dans le cadre de l’introduction du haut débit mobile en Algérie.

    Importante s’il en est, cette procédure devra aboutir, notamment à la mise en œuvre commerciale de ces licences au courant du premier trimestre 2012, tandis que leur octroi provisoire aura lieu le 23 octobre prochain. La date du retrait du dossier préliminaire est fixée entre le 19 et le 22 du mois courant, alors que le retrait du dossier d’appel à la concurrence aura lieu du 26 au 30 du même mois. La collecte des dossiers de candidature et les propositions des opérateurs mobiles, durant le mois prochain, avec pour date butoir le 7 octobre, tandis que l’octroi provisoire de ces licences est prévu le 23 octobre. Les trois opérateurs de téléphonie mobile seront notés en fonction des dossiers qu’ils auront présentés. Celui qui n’obtiendra pas les 1 000 points nécessaires sera exclu de la course. Certaines sources affirment que le prix d’une licence est fixé entre 10 et 15 millions de dollars.

    Moussa Benhamadi, ministre de la Poste et des Technologies de l’information et de la communication a affirmé, récemment, que l’opérateur qui n’obtiendra pas le nombre de points nécessaires n’aura pas la licence. M. Benhamadi a souligné que le premier cahier des charges «fixe les conditions d’obtention de cette licence, notamment la technologie, l’encadrement nécessaire et les capacités d’investissement pour déployer et exploiter un réseau de téléphonie de troisième génération». Et d’ajouter : «Nous aspirons à réaliser un niveau de gestion électronique des transactions commerciales, en s’appuyant sur les technologies de la téléphonie mobile dans les opérations bancaires et les prestations». Selon le ministre, notre pays a opté pour la 3G au lieu de la 4G pour des raisons économiques. «C’est un problème de coût d’accès, nous ne voulions pas alourdir les charges des trois opérateurs, dont deux d’entre eux disposent déjà d’équipements 3G et pour qu’ils ne les répercutent pas sur l’utilisateur», a-t-il expliqué. La concrétisation de ce projet permettra à notre pays de franchir un nouveau pas dans le cadre de l’ouverture sur les technologies développées dans les domaines de l’information et de la communication, mais aussi de procéder à leur l’élargissement de leur utilisation dans les domaines des prestations et des transactions économiques et commerciales. C’est dire que le passage à la technologie de troisième génération est aussi un moyen de renforcement du marché des communications. Parce qu’elle permet un meilleur débit et la transmission de données, tels Internet, la télévision, la visiophonie ou le téléchargement de musique. Soulignons que la 3G a été adoptée par la majorité des pays occidentaux, asiatiques et du Moyen-Orient.

    La téléphonie mobile dans notre pays, introduite il y a une vingtaine d’années, a connu une véritable explosion en termes de marché. Fini le temps qui, pour se procurer une puce ou un téléphone portable, relevait presque de l’impossible. Il fut un temps où le prix d’une puce dépassait les 20 000 DA. La généralisation de la téléphonie mobile s’est répercutée positivement sur les prix et le nombre d’utilisateurs.

    En Algérie, il existe trois opérateurs (Mobilis, Djezzy, Nedjma). De fait, la licence 3G sera ouverte à ces trois opérateurs, selon le ministre algérien de la Poste et des Technologies de l’information et de la communication, Moussa Benhamadi. Les données rendues publiques récemment par l’ARPT, convient-il de rappeler, révèlent que la téléphonie mobile dans notre pays comptait quelque 32.780.165 abonnés à la fin de l’année 2010, soit une hausse de 50.341 abonnés par rapport à 2009.

    Horizon
  • Dans l’édition 166 des « Dernières Nouvelles » nous nous étions arrêtés à la date du 7 septembre lorsque Seneweb rapportait que l’intersyndicale de la Sonatel s’est réunie  pour discuter d’un plan d’action pour faire reculer l’Etat. Selon Ndèye Founé Niang, secrétaire générale du Sntp, l’intersyndicale a décidé de lancer « les mercredis de la honte », qui se feront toutes les semaines.

    Depuis cette date, les tenants et les opposants à l’instauration d’une taxe sur les appels internationaux entrants continuent à se mobiliser. Ci-dessous une revue des actions les plus marquantes:

    - Prise de position de l’Entente Nationale de l’Association des Consommateurs (ENAC)
    « Admettre une taxe sur les appels entrants serait synonyme d’accepter une augmentation sur les appels sortants ».Du moins, c’est l’avis de l’entente nationale de l’association des consommateurs. En effet, par la voix de Aliou Sarr, président de la dite association, cette hausse pourrait déteindre sur les appels sortants en influençant les pays voisins. « Cette mesure entrainerait une application de mesures similaires dans les autres pays. Ce qui induira forcément l’augmentation des tarifs des appels téléphoniques sortant du Sénégal à destination de l’extérieur » selon les spécialistes. (7 septembre 2011 rapporté Rewmi)

    - Entretien de  Moustapha Guirassy, Ministre de la Communication (extrait)
    Les opérateurs ont refusé de se faire contrôler leurs appels entrants. Qu’est-ce que l’Etat compte faire face à cette situation ?
    L’Etat représente l’intérêt général. Par ailleurs, la procédure habituelle et normale des échanges avec l’Etat, dans quelque pays que ce soit, se fait par courriers écrits et officiels. Les déclarations verbales des uns et des autres, nous les entendons comme vous, mais ne leur accordons pas la dignité d’actes de défiance contre l’Etat. Il ne s’agit pas de cela. De plus, nous parlons d’un opérateur, pas plus. Au besoin, naturellement, l’Etat appliquera la loi et utilisera ses moyens coercitifs d’exécution forcée. Une fois encore, les agents de contrôle de l’Artp sont des agents assermentés, qui peuvent requérir l’assistance de la force publique, notamment en cas de flagrant délit. Par ailleurs, tout ceci a un soubassement juridique très fort. En effet, c’est l’article 6 de la loi N°2002-23 du 4 septembre 2002, portant cadre de régulation pour les entreprises concessionnaires de services publics, qui dispose, sans équivoque, que « le secret professionnel n’est pas opposable aux institutions de régulation. Toutefois, celles-ci sont tenues de préserver la confidentialité des informations collectées ayant un caractère privé ».
    (8 septembre 2011 rapporté par l’Observateur)

    - Entretien de Brelotte Ba, Directeur des opérations internationales de la Sonatel (extrait)
    A vous entendre parler, avec la surtaxe, la hausse des coûts des communications est inévitable pour les consommateurs
    Oui. Parce que d’autres opérateurs diront : « nous on ne veut pas faire porter la surtaxe à nos propres clients. Désormais on va appliquer la réciprocité ». Certains opérateurs ont dit à la Sonatel : « nous on va vous appliquer la réciprocité ». Sonatel ne pouvant pas supporter ces prix-là, parce qu’il faut garder à l’esprit que, depuis 10 ans, nous avons régulièrement baissé les tarifs sur l’international. Aujourd’hui, on appelle sur l’international avec 140 francs ttc la minute. Or, l’ampleur de l’augmentation ne pouvant être supportée par l’opérateur sera répercutée sur le client final. In fine les 60 milliards, ce sont les émigrés qui vont les payer à 98% et les consommateurs locaux vont payer le reste.
    (9 septembre 2011 rapporté par le Populaire)

    - Gabriel Fal, directeur général de Cgf – Bourse sur la taxe sur les appels entrants (extrait)
    Le gouvernement du Sénégal a décidé, par décret, d’instaurer un système de contrôle et de taxation des appels entrants. Qu’en pensez-vous ?
    Hors affaire des appels entrants, les analystes financiers internationaux valorisent actuellement l’action Sonatel à 170 mille francs Cfa. Or, le cours du jour est aux alentours de 125 mille francs Cfa. Cela veut-il dire que cette affaire pénalise le titre de plus de 26 % de sa valeur théorique ? Très certainement. Dans ce genre de situation, l’application d’un principe peut être plus préjudiciable que le principe lui-même. Je m’explique : cette facturation supplémentaire des appels entrants est tout simplement une taxe indirecte. (13 septembre 2011 rapporté par Wal Fadjri)

    - Lettre ouverte de l’Association des agents retraités de Sonatel (ANARS) à Monsieur Le Président de la République (extrait)
    Monsieur le Président de la République, Nous reconnaissons à l’Etat, le droit et même le devoir de faire prendre les dispositions appropriées pour combattre la fraude dont les opérateurs sont les premières victimes et de procéder à tout contrôle qui lui semble pertinent. C’est d’ailleurs une des missions régaliennes de l’ARTP. Ilest également compréhensible que l’Etat essaie raisonnablement de tirer plus d’avantages, des ressources générées par le secteur des Télécoms. Nous retraités de Sonatel, forts de nombreuses années d’expertise dans le secteur des Télécoms, soucieux du développement de notre pays et jaloux de l’héritage que nous avons laissé à la postérité, estimons que c’est une erreur stratégique que de choisir le court terme, au détriment de l’avenir. Car en instaurant une surtaxe sur les appels entrants, l’Etat pourrait collecter plus de revenus à court terme au détriment de la compétitivité et donc de l’avenir du secteur. (15 septembre, lettre ouverte de l’ANARS)

    - Précision de la Sonatel à Jeune Afrique
    La Direction Générale de Sonatel dément formellement les allégations publiées par Jeune Afrique N°2642 dans sa rubrique « Confidentiel » sous le titre : « Le chiffre qui calme, 60 milliards de FCFA ».  Aucun montant n’a jamais été proposé par son Directeur Général au Président de la République Sénégalaise pour soi-disant faire renoncer à la mesure de contrôle et de surtaxe du trafic international entrant ni à un quelconque appel d’offres. Sonatel rappelle qu’elle est l’entreprise la plus taxée au Sénégal tant en valeur absolue qu’en valeur relative et ce, bien au-delà des standards. Le Groupe Sonatel a fait de l’Ethique et de la Transparence ses valeurs cardinales. Au Sénégal, Sonatel est certainement l’entreprise la plus contrôlée, et n’a jamais été prise en défaut ni sur ses comptes ni sur son activité. Sonatel, unique entreprise sénégalaise cotée en Bourse et valeur phare de la BRMV, ne s’oppose nullement au contrôle des communications entrantes pourvu que ce contrôle n’entraîne pas une hausse des tarifs de terminaison et des prix, préjudiciable aux consommateurs mais aussi au Secteur.
    (19 septembre 2011 – Communiqué de la Sonatel)

    - Appels entrants : le M23 particpera à la marche de l’intersyndicale de la SONATEL
    Le Mouvement du 23 juin a présenté à Dakar, lors d'une réunion d'information et de partage, sa nouvelle feuille de route comportant une participation à la marche de l'intersyndicale des travailleurs de la Sonatel contre l'instauration d'une surtaxe sur les appels entrants. "Nous allons leur apporter notre soutien dans le combat contre la taxation des appels venant de l'extérieur", a dit Cheikh Tidiane Dièye, membre du comité de coordination du M23. (20 septembre 2011 rapporté par APS)

  • Emanant d'une technologie récente, les comptes épargnes, via téléphone mobile, ne généraient d'intérêts dans aucun pays du monde. Depuis hier, Orange money a initié la rémunération de ces dépôts, à Madagascar.

    La bancarisation est encore faible à Madagascar, par rapport à celle des autres pays. Néanmoins, la filière de la banque par téléphonie mobile connaît un essor considérable, ces derniers temps. L'utilisation de cette technologie s'impose de plus en plus dans le pays.

    Pas plus tard qu'hier, les dépôts placés par les utilisateurs d'Orange money sont rémunérés. Dans le secteur, il s'agit d'une grande première mondiale, car ce système de compte n'existe encore nulle part ailleurs. D'après les promoteurs du service, cette rémunération des dépôts n'est qu'un début, car de nouveaux services « Orange money » seront offerts dans les prochains jours.

    Banques. L'utilisation de la banque mobile mène les usagers à l'accès aux services des banques. En effet, Orange Madagascar a collaboré avec des banquiers, dans le cadre de cette offre de compte épargne rémunéré.

    Les banques BMOI et Microcred Banque Madagascar sont les partenaires d'Orange money, a-t-on appris, lors d'une conférence de presse, qui s'est tenue hier à Andraharo. Malgré cela, les transferts effectués via Orange money sont gratuits, jusqu'à un montant de 500 000 Ariary, selon Gelebart Erwan, responsable de cette offre d'Orange Madagascar.

    Mobilisation. Transactions rapides, simples et sécurisées, tels sont les avantages de la banque mobile, cités par les opérateurs en téléphonie mobile. Il faut croire que cette nouvelle technologie contribue à la mobilisation de l'économie.

    Plus de 500 000 Malgaches utilisent actuellement Orange money, qui n'a qu'un an d'existence. « Par rapport aux autres, nos services sont rapides car nous avons 1 000 représentants à Madagascar où les clients peuvent faire des dépôts et des retraits. 400 d'entre ces représentants sont à Antananarivo.

    En outre, nous avons 1 500 commerçants qui acceptent les paiements par Orange money à Madagascar, dont 80% se trouvent à Antananarivo. De l'épicier de quartier au supermarché, cela est toujours gratuit », a affirmé le manager d'Orange money.

    Taux inégal. Par rapport à ceux des banques primaires, les caractéristiques de la rémunération des épargnes d'Orange money connaissent quelques différences. En effet, l'utilisateur peut à tout moment verser et retirer de l'argent sur son compte.

    Les taux d'intérêts, par contre, varient de 4% à 6%. D'après les explications des promoteurs d'Orange money, les dépôts de 1 à 100 000 Ariary sont rémunérés à 4% par an et les intérêts sont versés mensuellementc de 100 001 à 5 millions d'Ariary, ce taux monte à 5% et pour les dépôts supérieurs à 5 millions d'Ariary, le taux d'intérêt est de 6% par an.

  • La Fondation des Nations Unies a lancé jeudi sa première application disponible sur les téléphones portables intelligents afin de mettre à disposition du public des informations sur l'ONU en temps réel.

    « La technologie des téléphones portables réunit plus de personnes aujourd'hui que jamais auparavant. Des millions de personnes dans le monde ont un téléphone portable dans les villes comme dans les zones isolées. L'information maintenant va plus vite que jamais auparavant, offrant une chance positive de collaboration qui était inattendue il n'y a pas si longtemps », a déclaré le Secrétaire général adjoint des Nations Unies à l'information et à la communication, Kiyo Akasaka, à l'occasion d'un point de presse au siège de l'ONU à New York.

    « C'est une opportunité pour les peuples partout dans le monde de s'informer et de se joindre aux Nations Unies pour aider à résoudre parmi les problèmes du monde les plus pressants », a-t-il ajouté.

     « Cette application, conjuguée à nos efforts pour fournir une information onusienne au travers de différents moyens et formats, va aider les peuples partout à être informés, être engagés et être prêts à faire plus localement et globalement », a souligné M. Akasaka. « Si nous tirons profit des médias sociaux et de la technologie y compris des applications de téléphones portables comme celle-ci, nous pouvons contribuer à aider à faire progresser la paix et construire un monde meilleur et plus sûr », a-t-il conclu.

    Nations Unies
  • Les sites facedakar.com et leral.net ont décidé nouer un accord de partenariat qui va se traduire par la création d’un holding internet fort de près de 200 000 visiteurs par jour. En effet, suite aux attaques dont les deux sites sont victimes depuis une semaine, le rendant inaccessible à certaines heures, les deux promoteurs des sites, à savoir El Malick Seck (Pour Facedakar) et Dame Dieng (Pour Leral.net) ont décidé de lancer le premier groupe Internet.

    "Cette union est d’autant plus nécessaire que les deux sites sont victimes d’attaques pirates de la part de plusieurs personnes tapies dans l’ombre", indique les deux promoteurs. "Nous allons conjuguer les efforts techniques, matériels et humains pour lutter contre ces attaques", indique la même source.

    Le groupe Internet ainsi créé va se traduire par une disponibilité des différents flux rss et autres titres de chacun des sites concernés. Ce qui se traduira par un accroissement de trafic et une hausse du nombre de pages vues pour facedakar.com et leral.net qui sont avec seneweb, les leaders de l’information en ligne.

    Les deux sites auront une rédaction et des équipes mixtes.

    L’ambition de cette union est de demeurer leader dans l’information en ligne au Sénégal et de rester le point grand point de convergence de trafic internet du Sénégal.

    A partir du mois de septembre, nos deux équipes vont lancer un nouveau site d’informations et de divertissement qui viendra étoffer l’offre éditoriale du groupe de presse ainsi créé et qui va comprendre les entités que sont facedakar.com, leral.net, dakarfoot.com et politicosn.com.

    Leral
  • La marche des jeunes dans la capitale n'a pas réuni les 15 000 personnes attendues par les organisateurs. Toutefois les participants étaient enthousiastes pour réclamer un changement de société. Présence remarquée de nombreux quinquagénaires qui ont connu d'autres manifestations dans le passé.

    Quelque 3000 Mauriciens, jeunes et moins jeunes ont répondu à l'appel du groupe Wanted : 15 000 Youngsters to Save OUR Future ». Ce collectif de Facebookers avait lancé un appel sur le réseau social via Internet pour que 15 000 jeunes se réunissent à Port-Louis afin de dire non à l'état actuel des choses sur le plan sociopolitique dans le pays.

    En cette fin de matinée du samedi 10 septembre, de nombreux jeunes et d'autres Mauriciens, parmi de quinquagénaires avaient déjà pris place devant le Centre social Marie Reine de la Paix. Dans la foule, on pouvait voir des visages connus : l'ancien ministre Jean François Chaumière, le sociologue Malenn Oodiah, l'ancien conseiller municipal Nol Pointu, et le politique Jean Michel de Senneville entre autres.

    Un mélange de nostalgie et de fraîcheur. On voyait des adultes qui ont connu d'autres manifestations discuter avec des jeunes. Plus loin, Ashok Subron de Resistans ek Alternativ réunissait ses amis. Il portent tous un T-shirt arborant le logo du collectif « Wanted : 15 000 Youngsters to Save OUR Future « . Le slogan « Aret zwe ek nou lavenir » y est inscrit.

    A 11h45, le nombre de personnes présentes était loin des objectifs fixés par les organisateurs. L'un d'eux, Joël Toussaint a pris la parole pour demander qu'on attende ceux qui sont en route. Utilisant un porte-voix, il a demandé à ceux présents de patienter. « Nous allons démarrer la marche à midi pour nous rendre à la Cathédrale Saint Louis », dit-il.

    Entre temps, dans la foule des volontaires distribuent un tract qui se veut être le manifeste du collectif. Rédigé en kreol et en anglais, il est intitulé « SEKI NOU LE. » Les 20 revendications qui y sont présentées vont de la demande pour une économie solidaire à la lutte contre la corruption en passant par l'affirmation de la diversité culturelle.

    Intervenant quelques minutes après midi, sur les ondes de Radio One, Jameel Peerally un animateur du collectif, n'a pas caché sa déception devant l'assistance loin de ses objectifs: « Le nombre n'est pas ce qui compte, l'essentiel ce que ces Mauriciens qui sont présents sont là avec leur cÅ"ur ». Il a poursuivi pour dire sa satisfaction d'avoir pu provoquer un réveil chez des Mauriciens « pour dire non à la politique malsaine » Il a critiqué les politiciens plus particulièrement ceux du gouvernement. « Ces gens sont restés au pouvoir trop longtemps», a-t-il dit.

    L’Express
  • Depuis un certain temps, la police criminelle mène une lutte acharnée contre les « brouteurs », ces petits riches d'Abidjan, des individus de mauvais acabit qui ont fait de l'arnaque via Internet leur activité principale Conséquence , les cybercafés se vident de leur monde.

    M. Kablan. N, gérant d'un cybercafé à Koumassi (commune d'Abidjan), nous explique que cela est lié à la traque contre les cybercriminels ces derniers temps. « Nous recevons de façon récurrente, l'information que des agents de la police criminelle sillonnent les cybercafés pour y arrêter d'éventuels « brouteurs » (appellation des jeunes sans scrupules qui soutirent frauduleusement de l'argent aux honnêtes citoyens par le biais d'internet en leur racontant des histoires à dormir debout).

    Cette activité frauduleuse a prospéré jusqu'à l'avènement du nouveau gouvernement qui a décidé de sévir afin d'amener les jeunes à s'occuper sainement. Objectif, restaurer la confiance dans les différentes activités en ligne au moment où les nouvelles technologies de l'information et de la communication gagnent de plus en plus du terrain en Côte d'Ivoire.

    La brigade anti-criminalité chargée de mener la lutte est composée d'éléments des Forces républicaines de Côte d'Ivoire (Frci) et de policiers. Elle parcourt régulièrement les cybercafés afin d'y traquer ces individus sans foi ni loi qui ont fait de faire de l'escroquerie sur internet leur métier.

    Dimanche dernier, nous avons été témoin d'une débandade de jeunes "brouteurs" qui avaient pris leur quartier dans un cybercafé à Koumassi. Renseignements pris, il s'agissait d'une fausse alerte. Une palabre entre enfants que les brouteurs ont assimilé à l'arrivée des flics. Alertés par certains de leurs "collègues " ils ont pris leurs jambes à leur cou.

    Traqués, certains de ces brouteurs ont trouvé des stratégies pour contourner la police criminelle. ils se achetés des ordinateurs (portables de préférence) et mènent leur sale besogne à domicile. Ceux qui n'ont encore pu s'offrir un ordinateur et continuent de fréquenter les cybers ont trouvé une autre formule. En effet, tandis que « leurs collègues » sont « au travail », leurs complices assurent la garde afin de les alerter en cas de danger.

  • L'Organisation marocaine des droits humains poursuit son combat pour l'organisation d'élections transparentes. Elle vient d'initier au niveau national, une nouvelle approche de l'observation des élections.

    Il s'agit d'une plateforme électronique accessible à tous les citoyens et observateurs en vue de signaler et visualiser des incidents, des dysfonctionnements ou violations liés à l'opération électorale par différents moyens technologiques, à savoir le SMS, l'e-mail, le Twitter et autres.

    Cette plateforme sera gérée par une équipe d'experts, des membres des associations et du réseau des jeunes de l'OMDH, coordonnée par le Bureau national.

    Pour les responsables de l'OMDH, cette initiative s'inscrit dans le cadre général des prochaines élections législatives qui seront organisées dans un contexte marqué par la nouvelle Constitution, adoptée en juillet 2011. La loi fondamentale explicite les dispositions claires relatives à la responsabilité des autorités publiques, quant à la transparence et à la régularité de l'opération électorale ainsi qu'à la promotion de la participation des électeurs.

    Une action qui intervient après le combat mené par l'OMDH pour l'élargissement du champ d'intervention de la loi 30-11 relative aux conditions et modalités d'observation neutre et indépendante des élections, la garantie de la neutralité et l'objectivité des observateurs et leur indépendance.

    Un combat qui ne semble pas de tout repos du fait que la loi, à elle seule, n'est pas suffisante pour lutter contre les fraudes et garantir la transparence des élections. Force est de constater que les TIC ne peuvent tenir leurs promesses que dans un contexte économique, politique et administratif favorable.

    Il s'agit alors de tirer des leçons d'une telle expérience en étant conscient que les TIC sont certes des outils efficaces pour la démocratie mais qu'elles ne peuvent en aucun cas lever les contraintes culturelles.

    Libération
  • Existant depuis près de 12 ans dans les pays développés et émergeant, la technologie « Réalité augmentée » est enfin arrivée à Madagascar. Elle est initiée par la NBM et l'agence de communication Tam Tam.

    Les promoteurs du produit SKOL ont décidé d'utiliser le système « Réalité augmentée »,pour la promotion marketing et la sensibilisation à la consommation. D'après Johary Rakotomalala, responsable commercial et marketing au sein de la Nouvelle Brasserie de Madagascar (NBM), cette nouvelle stratégie s'inscrit déjà dans le cadre d'une grande campagne qui est prévue débuter vers la fin de ce mois de septembre et terminer en décembre. En effet, cette campagne concerne la flèche qui est le logo de SKOL à l'extérieur et à Madagascar.

    Moitié réelle. D'après les explications d'un spécialiste de l'agence Tam Tam, la réalité augmentée est une technologie qui combine la vidéo numérique et le multimédia. « En général, elle se caractérise par un environnement réel, incrusté d'éléments virtuels tels que les objets 3D, les sons, les textes, les images ou les éléments animés », a-t-il noté. Pour le produit SKOL, une image de son logo, imprimée sur n'importe quel support, permet aux utilisateurs d'avoir accès à la réalité augmentée. En effet, lorsque l'image de ce logo est captée par une caméra, la vidéo affiche le produit SKOL en 3 dimensions. L'utilisateur peut donc faire tourner le support du logo dans tous les sens, pour voir toutes les facettes du produit. Notons que cette technologie est utilisée pour informer et divertir l'utilisateur. C'est aussi un moyen de facilitation qui permet de réduire les frais de déplacement et les pertes de temps.

    Début. L'utilisation de la réalité augmentée est une grande première pour Madagascar et l'ensemble des îles de l'Océan Indien. Désormais, cette technologie peut être trouvée sur le site-Web de SKOL et sur la page Facebook de cette marque. A l'extérieur, elle est déjà utilisée au niveau éducatif, scientifique, commercial, ludique et bien d'autres encore. Elle permet même à un utilisateur de choisir ses lunettes, en essayant tous les modèles, virtuellement.

  • Maroc Telecom occupe la 88è place du classement de Forbes Magazine 2011 des entreprises les plus innovantes dans le monde, juste après le géant américain Microsoft (86è) et devant Air Liquide, Toshiba ou encore ABB.

    Maroc Telecom est le seul opérateur de télécommunications à figurer dans ce classement.

    Forbes effectue son classement selon un indice appelé "Innovation Premium" reposant à la fois sur la tenue de la valeur sur le marché et sur une analyse qualitative des innovations annoncées par les entreprises testées.

    Cet indice permet de mesurer à quel niveau les investisseurs ont fait monter le prix des actions d'une entreprise, fondant leurs attentes sur le potentiel de ses résultats positifs et d'innovation (nouveaux produits, services et marchés).

    Sont ainsi pris en compte tant l'évolution des indices boursiers que la sortie de nouveaux produits ou services. Les membres de la liste doivent avoir 10 milliards de dollars de capitalisation boursière, dépenser au moins 1 pc de leur actif en matière de R & D et avoir publié sept ans de données publiques.

    La méthodologie de ce classement qui a été réalisée par Jeff Dyer, professeur de Stratégie à la Marriott School (BYU) et Hal Gregersen, professeur de Leadership à l'INSEAD, avec Michael McConnell, directeur de Recherche à HOLT (Crédit Suisse), a été inspirée du livre The Innovator's DNA (l'ADN de l'innovateur), écrit par le professeur Christensen Clayton en partenariat avec la Harvard Business School.

    L'idée du classement Innovation Premium, repris par le magazine Forbes, a été développée sur la base de l'analyse des données de Holt, une division du Crédit Suisse. Depuis plus de 25 ans, cette structure propose aux investisseurs des analyses objectives sur plus de 20.000 entreprises à travers le monde, en tenant compte de la structure de leur capital et des principaux moteurs de croissance de leur valeur.

    MAP
  • Le Prix de l'Entrepreneur social en Afrique, qui a été lancé par Orange en juin 2011, est intégré aux prestigieux AfricaCom Awards. La remise des prix aura lieu au Cap, en Afrique du Sud, le 9 novembre. Avec ce prix, l'opérateur s'engage à soutenir activement des entrepreneurs jeunes et dynamiques et les start-up dans les pays d'Afrique où il est présent. Le prix a pour but d'offrir un soutien aux entrepreneurs qui ont des idées innovantes pour le développement social en utilisant les systèmes d'information et les technologies des télécommunications, mais qui n'ont pas nécessairement les ressources techniques ou financières pour mettre leurs idées en action.

    Après de nombreuses demandes de la part de candidats intéressés et afin de permettre aux entrepreneurs de finaliser leurs dossiers, la date limite pour la soumission des projets a été prolongée de deux semaines. Les candidats sont invités à transmettre leurs dossiers sur www.starafrica.com avant le 30 septembre pour être éligible à ce prix.

    Le Prix de l'Entrepreneur social en Afrique récompensera trois entrepreneurs ou start-up qui proposent des solutions s'appuyant de façon innovante sur les TIC pour répondre aux besoins sociaux des populations du continent africain. L'éventail de projets peut recouvrir des services bancaires ou des applications dans des domaines essentiels comme la santé, l'éducation ou l'agriculture.

    L'opérateur s'engage à soutenir financièrement et à mettre son expertise au service des lauréats du concours. En plus d'une dotation allant de 10 000 à 25 000 euros, les trois gagnants du prix bénéficieront d'un accompagnement de six mois.

    Tout entrepreneur ou toute entité légale existant depuis juin 2008, sans restriction de nationalité, peut participer gratuitement à ce prix. Les projets présentés doivent prévoir un déploiement de leur service dans au moins un des 17 pays d'Afrique où il est implanté.

    Le prix s'intègre aussi bien dans la stratégie d'innovation du groupe que dans sa politique de responsabilité sociale d'entreprise. En encourageant l'entrepreneuriat social, il souhaite souligner le rôle des TIC dans le développement économique et social des pays émergents.

    La Presse
  • La télévision tunisienne a procédé, pour la première fois et depuis le mois d'août dernier, à une opération de numérisation de son archive audiovisuel enregistré sur d'anciennes cassettes vidéos du genre Quadruplex 2 pouces.

    Cette opération a permis à la télévision tunisienne de sauver,à ce jour, des enregistrements sur cassettes ayant une valeur historique et civilisationnelle, dont 80 titres impliquant les séries Oumi Traki, Haj klouf, les contes de Abdelaziz El Aroui et plusieurs autres enregistrements tels que Kassaagi, Kammoucha et "qandil edhikrayet".

    Une source autorisée au sein de l'Etablissement de la télévision a indiqué que l'opération de sauvetage du patrimoine audiovisuel contenu dans 18 mille cassettes et leur transfert sur des supports numériques se poursuit à un rythme soutenu, compte tenu de la richesse des archives audiovisuelles de la télévision nationale et de son importance en tant qu'outil pour la préservation de la mémoire culturelle et civilisationnelle.

    La Presse
  • Med-IT 2011
    15, 16 & 17 novembre 2011, Casablanca, Maroc

    Organisé depuis 2009, MED-IT est un Salon Professionnel sur les Technologies de l'information réservé aux décideurs IT. L'événement qui se tient à l'Office des Changes, accueille chaque année plus de 4000 visiteurs professionnels et 170 exposants parmi lesquels les leaders mondiaux du secteur.
    Pour plus d’infos visitez le site: 

  • - Rene Meza (ancien DG d’Airtel Kenya) vient de prendre la direction des opérations de Vodacom en Tanzanie.

  • * Responsable Informatique – Burkina Faso
    Qualifications requises et expériences professionnelles
    •avoir un diplôme BAC+5: administrateur réseau, systèmes informatiques, ou toutes autres disciplines apparentées ou équivalent;
    •avoir une expérience professionnelle pratique prouvée cumulée de 10 ans dans une fonction
    d’Informaticien, administrateur réseau, ou toute fonction similaire dans une société ou institution publique ou privée;
    •avoir une expérience solide de dix (10) années en informatique ;
    •avoir au moins trois (03) ans d’expérience en administration réseau ;
    •avoir une excellente maitrise du système d’exploitation Windows et des applications MS Office ;
    •avoir une parfaite maîtrise des systèmes d’exploitation des réseaux (Windows NT, Windows 2000 Serveur, Windows 2003 Serveur, Unix, etc.) ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance sur la sécurité dans TCP/IP: HTTPS, SSL, SSH, SOCKS, IPSec ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance dans l’interconnexion de réseaux ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance sur la lutte contre les menaces informatiques (spam, virus, vers, spywares, etc.) ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance des routeurs CISCO
    •avoir une bonne connaissance sur la détection d'intrusion et les logiciels de détection et/ou prévention d'intrusion ;
    •avoir une bonne connaissance en bases de données (MySql, SQL Server) ;
    •avoir une Bonne expérience dans la création et de gestion des portails internet ;
    • avoir une Bonne connaissance du fonctionnement des messageries électroniques en général et
    d’Outlook en particulier ;
    • avoir une expérience dans la gestion de serveurs, de réseaux intranet et de communication ;
    • avoir de bonnes aptitudes de formateur et maîtriser les outils et méthodes d’animation de travaux de groupe ;
    • avoir une intégrité professionnelle, flexible, apte à travailler en équipe et sous pression ;
    • Faire preuve de rigueur et justifier de bonnes qualités morales.
    • Maîtrise de la langue française, bonne communication verbale et écrite ;
    • Maîtrise de l’anglais souhaité ;
    • Expérience pratique prouvée d’au moins cinq ans, dans une fonction similaire à celle définie dans les présents termes de référence serait un atout déterminant pour l’attribution définitive du poste ;
    • avoir au maximum 50 ans au 31 décembre 2012 ;
    • Etre disponible immédiatement.
    Pour plus d’informations ou pour poser votre candidature cliquez ici


    * Trophées MED-IT 2011 : du 15 au 17 novembre 2011

    Concours des meilleures Applications Mobiles Marocaines » en parallèle de la 3ème édition du Salon MED-IT qui se tiendra les 15, 16 et 17 novembre 2011 à l’Office des Changes de Casablanca.
    Au niveau mondial, le marché des applications mobiles est en pleine explosion et c’est un marché qui devrait encore tripler en 2012. Alors qu’un peu plus de 7 milliards d’applications ont été téléchargées en 2009, il devrait y avoir 50 milliards de téléchargements en 2012. En effet, avec 180 millions de smartphones vendus dans le monde, la demande ne fait qu’accroître. Côté marocain, la production d’applications mobiles n’en est encore qu’à ses débuts, mais afin d’encourager ce secteur très prometteur, le Salon Med-IT a décidé d’en faire le thème majeur des Trophées de cette année, avec l’organisation d’un concours des meilleures applications mobiles marocaines.
    Sponsorisé par Samsung (Sponsor Gold), Air Télécom (Sponsor Silver)et en partenariat avec le Réseau Mobile Monday, ce concours a pour objectif de promouvoir le développement d’Applications mobiles au Maroc à travers une compétition qui permettra d’identifier les meilleures applications. Ce concours sera un accélérateur pour susciter de nouvelles vocations, découvrir et valoriser de jeunes talents.
    Le thème du concours : simplifiez le quotidien grâce au mobile.
    Le mobile est aujourd’hui omniprésent dans la vie quotidienne mais pourrait rendre encore de bien nombreux services à ses millions d’utilisateurs. Ce sont donc ces applications mobiles simples, utiles et pratiques qui sont particulièrement attendues.
    Priorité aux applications androïd et Bada
    Les applications devront être développées sur au moins une plateforme (Androïd et Bada) et devront être accessibles via des app-stores. Elles devront présenter une réelle innovation tant sur le plan produit que sur le packaging, l’utilisation ou la technique. Les applications développées spécialement pour le concours seront particulièrement encouragées par le jury.
    Les 3 meilleures applications seront présentées lors d’une Cérémonie officielle qui se tiendra à l’Office des Changes le mercredi 17 novembre 2011 à 16h00. Les 3 lauréats recevront un Trophée et des cadeaux offerts par SAMSUNG, sponsor gold de l’événement. SAMSUNG remettra également un cadeau exceptionnel à la meilleure application développée sous plateforme BADA.
    La participation au concours est gratuite et ouverte à tout développeur indépendant, étudiant, ou jeune entreprise installée sur le territoire marocain.
    Inscription en ligne du 15 mai au 18 octobre 2011 :
    www.med-it.com (Rubrique Trophées)
    Contact :
    Jamila Mannani – jmannani@xcom.ma
    0522 87 51 21

Issue no 572 16th September 2011

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Top story

  • Africa’s long road to high-speed broadband is being made in leaps and bounds. Every week brings news of another piece of the jigsaw fitting into place. This week it’s the completion of the national fibre backbone in one of Africa’s larger markets. However, there’s still remains a yawning gap between the promise of ubiquitous, cheap bandwidth and the current realities of the continent. Russell Southwood runs his fingers over the blockages that still remain.

    It’s hard not to be excited by the news that Angola (and its usually rather ponderous incumbent Angola Telecom) have completed 10,000 kms of national fibre backbone that connects every province in the country. It is a huge place and suffers from an enormous range of practical difficulties. Nevertheless, it has completed the telecommunications equivalent of building a motorway network across the country.

    In this same week, one of my analysts bought to my attention an infographic from Google on download speeds in Africa. This claims to show the fastest download speeds in Africa, ranging from 10.1 Mbps in Ghana to 1.38 Mbps in Nigeria. It puts the world average download speed at 8.48 Mbps. The graphic is shown below:

    The idea that Ghana has the best download speeds in Africa will cause a long, dry chuckle amongst my Ghanaian colleagues followed by them beating their head against the wall slowly in frustration. If the average household download speed achieved is 10.1 Mbps, I will (as a non-hat wearer) duly eat my hat: naturally, lightly sautéed with olive oil, garlic and red onions.

    At this point, I can hear the siren voices saying: why does it matter? Things are getting better. It matters because if Africa is to do all the things that the Internet and data access promise, these have to happen at a speed that allow more or less instantaneous access rather than needing to make a cup of coffee while you wait for something to download. Demand for content and services is being throttled by the inability of operators to deliver reasonably priced, fast (10 Mbps, I wish) and reliable bandwidth. There is significant evidence that Africans (particularly young ones) want Facebook, You Tube and other more local Internet services as much as any other group of citizens in the world. The key to them being able to get them is delivery on that promise of fast, affordable bandwidth.

    The blockages are many and for those who follow these things, have a familiar ring to them:

    International bandwidth access: By the end of 2012, nearly every coastal African country will have a landing station. The only exception is likely to be Eritrea but its rulers take perhaps too greater pride in being exceptional so there’s not much can be done there. There’s some doubts about the southern reach of the ACE cable and others may join that list.

    In some coastal countries, like Ghana and Nigeria, there will be 5 landing stations and international bandwidth will sell in the lower hundreds of dollars per mbps. In many other countries, the World Bank has encouraged nationally-led operator consortia to run the single landing station and this should ensure open access and reasonable prices. But there are a number of countries (notably Cameroon and Gabon) where old-fashioned incumbents will sell a little of their huge fibre inventory at artificially high prices. In other places like DRC where the Government insisted that the (almost non-existent) incumbent be the licence-holder, the jury is out.

    Pity the landlocked: There are 12 landlocked countries in Africa and as a number of studies have shown, they suffer multiple disadvantages because they lack access to the sea. One of the most notable is that the transit price for getting their data to all these new international landing stations often costs the same or more than it costs for their data to complete the journey from the landing station to London or New York.

    One of the continent’s major, powerful mobile players was telling us recently that it was impossible to get to get reasonably priced transit bandwidth out of one of its West African landlocked country markets. This same operator is the cause of this problem in other territories rather than the victim of it.Right hand, meet the left hand.

    Considerable effort has gone into creating equitable open access to international landing stations but rather less into tackling the problem for some of Africa’s more disadvantaged economies. WIOCC’s East African Backbone reserves capacity at reasonable prices for landlocked members of its consortium. But there is nothing similar elsewhere in Africa and the cross-border expansion of Africa’s carriers’ carriers (like Phase3 Telecom, Suburban and KDN) has hit a plateau from a combination of capital and licensing issues. Indeed, KDN is currently being sued by one of its suppliers in the Kenyan courts. A World Bank scheme to use fibre deployed by the members of the West African Power Pool has disappeared without trace.

    National backbones – the problems come home to roost: If there is a problem with transit pricing, the same issue is reflected at a national level. Bandwidth from Lagos to London is now down into the low hundreds per Mbps and will undoubtedly go lower as more cables arrive. However, the considerably shorter journey from Lagos to Abuja costs US$1,000- 1,200 per Mbps. Nigeria is one of the most competitive countries and has historically, led on the regulatory front, so why is this occurring?

    There are many competitors but only two of them (MTN and Nitel) have genuinely national networks. The long-standing problems with the incumbent Nitel and its multiple failed privatisations mean that MTN comes close to being a de facto monopoly operator at this level.

    Other countries have chosen to make building a fibre backbone of this sort a national priority but these initiatives are not without issues. Uganda’s Chinese-built and financed backbone is widely acknowledged to have been over-costly and there are doubts about its operational effectiveness. In Tanzania, the Government has made much play of separating out TTCL’s national fibre backbone (again Chinese-built but operating more effectively) within the company. But it has insisted that it can only sell a relatively high minimum amount of bandwidth to a limited group of operators and its pricing structure still produces artificially high prices. Contrast this with Ghana’s National Communications Backbone company that offers a flat rate per Mbps across the whole country.

    There’s also a problem of investment displacement. Again take the example of Tanzania. The private sector would have built 70-80% of the network that the Government took a loan from China to build. So why didn’t it allow the private sector to build it (focusing on regulating price and access) and agree that its (lesser) financial contribution would build those parts the market wouldn’t?

    Mobile networks not fit for data purpose: The Irish are said to say:”If you want to go there, I wouldn’t start from here.” In a little over ten years, Africa’s mobile operators have put up voice networks that cover anywhere between 30-80% of the continent’s population with voice coverage. In the last several years, they have been steadily upgrading these networks to handle data with the seemingly endless acronyms that promise high-speed data and only occasionally deliver it.

    However, what started as a narrow pipe voice network with no IP elements is now creaking at the seams as it seeks to go off and become an all-singing, all dancing data network. It’s like the streets of Nairobi or Lagos or any other African city: the build up of traffic at different points during the day turns the road into a car park where nothing moves.

    One major mobile operator told us that in one of its larger country markets, rural data demand using GPRS and EDGE was doubling in volume every six months. Already at this 2-2.5G level, data traffic exceeded voice traffic by 60/40 and on 3G, the proportions are 90/10. The same pattern is apparent across all operators. The future is an IP-enabled data network that will carry the content and services that will replace some of the voice revenues as ARPUs go down. For better or for worse, mobile operators are central to the process of delivering affordable data to the widest number of people. However, they are currently struggling to transform what their networks can do in data terms with varying degrees of success.

    LTE for all – meet the future?:The mobile operators’ strongest card for continuing to be taken seriously in terms of data delivery is LTE. The Kenyan Government decided that the quickest way to achieve this (and it has a good track record on speed of movement, see TEAMS) was to put out a tender for an open access, national network. In the absence of this, it may turn out that LTE and high-speed data delivery on it, will be the thing that further entrenches the market position of the new mobile incumbents.

    In order to build an open access LTE network, you need access to the mobile operators tower network and so the arm-wrestling begins. New incumbent Safaricom and old incumbent Telkom Kenya have the power to negotiate a two week extension on the deadline. Since the winning bidder has to include an operator with an extensive tower network (Safaricom?), it will be necessary to negotiate with them placing the towers into the hands of a trusted third party operator, like Eaton, Helios, American Towers or another. The failure to get this kind of open access structure right will put most other operators at a disadvantage against those who can make the investment.

    The alternative is deep-pocket investment in fibre (to the home, office and cabinet) of the kind being carried out by insurgent challengers like 21st Century, Jamii Telecom and Wananchi. But the skew to mobile use makes this a useful supplement rather than the central play. In this context, not enough African Governments have allowed their utilities to sell “dark fibre” as has happened in Uganda.

    The strange case of technology as the game-changer: Another approach to breaking the back of this affordable access everywhere problem has been the argument that certain technologies would be “game-changers”. Over the last five years Wi-MAX has had much airplay for this tune. It made early promises of both mobile data and voice but the latter was never delivered. Unfortunately, its base station technology even when it was working at its best was too expensive and had no customer device ecology at the right price. On that score, Wi-Fi wipes the floor with Wi-MAX in terms of delivering bandwidth cheaply and reliably and has existing, cheap customer devices, not ones that will be ready “real-soon-now”.

    The holy-grail in technology terms is a low-cost, IP-enabled base station that operates on small amounts of satellite bandwidth to reach edge markets that need below an E1 of bandwidth. Thus far everyone has delivered things that produce incremental cost changes but not the step down in costs that is needed. It’s a complicated bundle to get right involving renewable power, footprint and satellite optimization. But this is the frontier that will begin to see changes in the core network over the next ten years if it can be delivered. Why have an extremely cheap, IP-enabled base station at the edge of the network and not start replacing existing, end-of-life equipment with it in the core network?

    Ubiquitous Wi-Fi access – giving local access:One of the remaining blockages is that access at the local level is fairly restricted. If you’re not a corporate customer paying premium prices, it’s difficult to get cheap and reliable household bandwidth or to find its equivalent through public, Wi-Fi hot-spots.

    At an early stage, some of Africa’s mobile operators (notably MTN) started experimenting with separating out their data traffic from their voice traffic at base station level. This practice is now widely described with the rather ugly phrase “Wi-Fi offload”.

    As the number of smart and feature-rich handsets in Africa increases, customers will increasingly be encouraged by mobile operators – before the LTE nirvana arrives – to switch over to a Wi-Fi hot-spot or Wi-Fi mesh network. Google has been experimenting with this approach in Nairobi’s The Junction shopping mall and other operators are trialing a similar approaches.

    As ever, the issue in competition terms is whoever entrenches themselves at this level could turn out to be the price “gate-keeper.” For mobile operators, the recurring question remains: is this core to our business? Thus far they have defensively played every hand that looks threatening to them but the tide may turn.

    Fighting for the unconnected:There’s a lot of rhetoric around reaching the rural populations of Africa but not a great deal of action. When one large operator tells us that 10% of its base stations are commercially marginal, the scale of the challenge is apparent. Yet there is a clear interest in the Internet in rural areas shown by that stat quoted earlier of rural data use doubling and by national surveys carried out in places like Kenya.

    Many regulators in Africa have collected large amounts of money from operators but this has largely stayed in their bank accounts because they have taken forever to set up universal service agency (USA) functions or separate organisations.

    Where they have spent the money, it has tended to go back to the "usual suspects" (incumbent and mobile operators). In the main they have tended to extend their voice networks, leaving Internet/data the poor relation. (the exceptions include places like Uganda). The argument against these structures is that if you are relying on “the usual suspects” to do the work, it is an expensive financial structure that strips out a significant percentage for overhead costs before returning the money to the same operators. Therefore why not simply write USA clauses into their licences that translate into the kinds of sums being extracted?

    But the issue is perhaps one that requires closer attention of a different kind. Government policy-makers need to say to the operators, either you go to these areas or we will give licences and spectrum to others who will do so on a local basis. This leads to three broad potential options:

    1. The mobile operators (going the low cost base station route) do their own coverage in these areas and the cost is deducted in whole or in part from their US obligations.

    2. A independent, infrastructure sharing company offers operators the ability to connect to these areas at an agreed price per minute. This was what Ericsson was promoting 2-3 years ago in Tanzania with optimised base stations that had larger coverage areas but very little has been heard of it recently.

    3. You set up independent, small-scale operators and they get an interconnection agreement that might be asymmetrical to give them sufficient financial means to survive and again you could deduct an initial “market-generating” subsidy from the US funding obligation.

    It’s not the digital divide, it’s the electricity divide:It doesn’t matter whether it’s a mobile phone, a PC or a TV, they all require electricity. So the real divide will increasingly be between those who have access to reliable electricity to power these devices and those who don’t. There are two broad categories: firstly, those who already supposedly have access to electricity who would like reliable power that didn’t go down regularly and spike in ways that damaged their devices; and secondly, those with no electricity or struggling with occasional power, largely but not exclusively in rural areas

    For all the energy that goes into promoting universal access, not enough goes into addressing these power problems. At a recent broadcast conference, one broadcaster was speaking optimistically about the impact rural electrification would have on increasing TV audiences in Uganda. But for every Uganda, there are two or three African countries where addressing electricity supply seems to be in stasis.

    What is harder to understand is why the kind of power roll-outscheme that operators came together to achieve in Uganda cannot be generalized across other countries? Also why are the infrastructure sharing companies not addressing power issues? Why can’t there be small-scale, local power providers? You cannot separate out the achievement of a digital dividend from the provision of reliable power supply. The two silos of communications and power are related.

    The arrival of the international fibre cables has provided a warm glow of achievement to many of Africa’s politicians but unless they focus on the remaining problems outlined above, the promise will always fall short of the potential.


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

    Kamal Budhabbatti, Craft Silicon on its banking products and m-money payment product ELMA

    Santos Okottah, founder, eziki.tv on its livestreaming and downloads service

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

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

telecoms

  • Airtel's PayOnlineInKenya is touted to be the world's first virtual card that operates off a wallet and residing on a mobile phone. The new system is in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide and Standard Chartered Bank.

    Safaricom and I&M Bank also unveiled a service that allows M-pesa customers to transfer money from their accounts to a Visa pre-paid card - M-pesa prepay Safari Card - which can be used globally.

    Airtel Kenya on Wednesday unveiled a new online payment system that would see her mobile subscribers use handsets to purchase online.

    Dubbed PayOnlineInKenya, the new system is in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide and Standard Chartered Bank. This is touted as the world's first virtual cards that operates off a wallet and residing on a mobile phone.

    Safaricom and I&M Bank also unveiled a service that allows M-pesa customers to transfer money from their accounts to a Visa pre-paid card - M-pesa prepay Safari Card - which can be used globally.

    PayOnlineInKenya is a single use feature or a one time shopping card that provides the consumer with a convenient and secure online shopping experience. Users in Kenya can make purchases of up to Ksh 35,000.

    Each time an Airtel subscriber is shopping online he or she will be able to request a single use shopping card number. Airtel's PayOnlineInKenya service will generate a special 16 digit number that enables the completion of the transaction. On completion of the transaction, a confirmation message will be sent to the customer's mobile phone. The ultimate aim of this service is to allow Airtel subscribers to make payment across the MasterCard network.

    According to Airtel's estimate over 80 per cent of adult Africans do not have bank accounts.
    The mobile technology platform and Airtel's vast consumer penetration combined with the financial structure and regulatory framework provided by Standard Chartered Bank and the global acceptance of MasterCard will makes the new service attractive.

  • The Star Cell MTN Communication Company in collaboration with Ecobank- Liberia Friday, September 9, 2011 formally launched the Mobile Money Product in the country.
    The Mobile Money Product is the newest service the two entities have introduced on the Liberian market. The usage of this service will afford users of mobile phones in the country to access money sent to them by friends, family members among others via their personal phones.

    Speaking at the launch of the Mobile Money Product, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lone Star Cell MTN, Mazen Marou, said the Lone Star Cell MTN is always committed to providing exciting and innovative products to the Liberian people.
    He said mobile money product is a new service being provided in the country by the two entities, saying the product is being operated in all places the MTN brand is in existence. "Statistics shows that mobile money product creates more jobs, stimulates investment and increases revenue for government," the Lone Star Cell MTN boss pointed out.
    He indicated that the mobile money will afford Liberian in the rural parts to have access to cash money, transfer and receive money, cash checks, paid bills among others.

  • Vodacom is facing the wrath of its subscribers, following an announcement that the mobile operator would throttle the connection speeds of BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) users who exceed 100MB per month.Social networks erupted last week after the news broke; with many subscribers threatening Vodacom with the Consumer Protection Act and some saying they are considering changing operators.
    Vodacom responded to criticism by emphasising that the new system is a result of its own research, which has shown that 95% of BlackBerry data usage is attributable to less than 5% of users. As a result, BIS users who exceed the 100MB threshold per month will have their connection speed reduced from 3G to 2G. Vodacom says BlackBerry Enterprise users will not be affected, and emphasises that the new measure is aimed at improving the user experience for the majority of BIS users.
    Responding to a barrage of questions via Twitter, Vodacom told worried subscribers that some in those 5% were using over 150Gigs a month, making the experience terrible for the rest. The operator also said that since the data is compressed, it actually equates to two for four times more, and clarified that throttling will not affect e-mail, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook or Twitter, only browsing and streaming.
    Chief Technology Officer Andries Delport says: “We need to ensure that all BlackBerry users are able to enjoy the service that they pay for. When we realised that such a small minority was using the bulk of the capacity, we decided to implement measures that will ensure that BlackBerry users will enjoy a better browsing experience overall.”
    MTN also appears to be considering the same strategy. MTN SA CIO Kanagaratnam Lambotharan says: “MTN has seen a significant number of customers using the BIS platform for purposes it was not initially intended for. “MTN is currently exploring ways to minimise the negative impact this might have and will communicate to customers in due course.”

    Cell C says it has no such plans in the pipeline at this stage, and while 8ta could not respond by the time of publication, it has been reported that it also has no plans to throttle BIS.

    Virgin Mobile's chief marketing and strategy manager, Jonathan Newman, says in terms of the company's BlackBerry terms of use and conditions: “In the future, we may look at adding a fair use clause or other measures, should we deem it necessary. Research In Motion could not respond by the time of publication.

    On Twitter, Vodacom also responded to the concerns of contract subscribers, stating: “No effect on contracts, the 'fair usage' policy was always in the contract. As we said, 95% of users won't be affected at all.”

  • Mali’s government is inviting bids for a third telecommunications license and is expected to make a decision within two months, state-owned L’Essor newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

    Submissions will be allowed from Sept. 19 to Oct. 11, with the handing over of bid documents set for Nov. 14, according to the newspaper. The payment of license charges is expected to be completed by the end of November, L’Essor said.
    Orange and the former incumbent Sotelma-Malitel are the two incumbent operators in the African nation, the newspaper reported.

internet

  • Maintaining communication with friends and family is no doubt top priority for everyone, especially those living out of the country. It is therefore no surprise that many people opt for quicker and faster communication via phones and emails over the traditional way of posting letters through the Post Office. This may simply be interpreted as one way of how modern technology has affected postal business. However, postal operators believe they are benefiting more from the advance technologies.

    According to the Commercial Director of the National Post Office of Rwanda, Dieudonne Maniragaba, ICT has actually complemented the postal business. "Internet is not a competitor to us; it's just a solution that has instead helped us improve our service delivery to our clientele and has made our work much faster," Maniragaba said.

    According to him, some members of the public harbour a false impression of the Post Office believing that its business is solely confined to courier services. "The Post Office still has a good number of clientele and that's because we do a wide range of activities, not just sending and receiving letters. Our target is commercial and administrative letters of which we have so many clients that still require our services," Maniragaba explained. He enumerated other services such as delivery of parcels, packages, express mail, money transfer, courier services among others.

    He noted that their potential market includes government institutions, NGOs, embassies and the general public. Maniragaba said that the postal services now reach a wider population compared to the past years.He added that the National Post Office is still going strong and now boasts of over 152 employees whose salary is paid through the profits the parastatal makes and not the Government budget.
    Maniragaba stated that they have branches in all districts and intend to roll out e-Commerce services to improve trade facilitation and simplify trade procedures. Based on the Kigali master plan, the Post Office aims to start home delivery of letters and parcels in the near future.

    "We used to deliver couriers up to the district level but we have now gone as far as sectors and various institutions. We also use the tracking system which is IT-based, to ensure efficient delivery of packages up to sector level," he explained.

  • It is indisputably the era of the consumer. Yet in two centuries there have only been two major innovations in the way life insurance products are sold to consumers. The first was when brokers were introduced some 160 years ago and the second when call centres came along in the 1970s.

    The crux of the matter lies in the word 'sold'. The biggest game-changer would surely be the one that can remove the cross the life industry has born for so long: the assumption that its products are sold and not bought.

    The magic bullet is proving to be the Internet. Internet-savvy and -empowered consumers have overcome the 'grudge' in this traditionally grudge purchase in two ways. First, with the incentive of a price that is up to 50% cheaper and, secondly, by doing it themselves on the internet.

    I am referring to a fully automated online life insurance model, not insurers who rely on an Internet presence and/or call centres. It is the fully online selling, underwriting and administrative model that has the potential to change the life industry as drastically as ATMs changed banks.

    The major advantage fully online life insurers have is the massive cost-saving of doing away with intermediaries, top heavy head-offices, customer-facing staff, call centres and inefficient administration.

    To understand how this is possible, take a look at the online life insurer's target market. These customers have already purchased numerous products on the Internet, some of which demand fairly complex interaction, such as travel and online auctions. Buying life products is the next notch in the e-commerce growth curve.

    Surprisingly, it not only attracts a young, elite market. Many of these empowered consumers are so-called 'grey surfers' over the age of 55 and even a sprinkling of users over 70.

    But the biggest potential for online life insurance lies with new entrants into the economy. They have grown up with online banking and will go to the Internet first for all their needs: a job, a place to stay, a partner, a car and yes, life products. Which explains why 50% of the total marketing spend in the UK has gone online, with half of that spent on Google ads.

    The number of Internet users in South Africa is boosted by the rapid increase in people accessing the Internet from their cellphones across a large spread of income brackets. Internet World Stats estimates the number of Internet users in SA at a conservative total of at least 6.8 million.

    A fast growing number of SA users access the Internet mainly from a cellphone, boosting the online life market to a potential six million people across a larger spread of income brackets. Online players will soon be ready to launch mobile applications designed to simplify the underwriting process on a mobile screen.

    In the online business model, the service provider and the consumer become partners, a relationship that demands a level of trust. The insurer even entrusts the client to self-underwrite, something that was inconceivable until very recently, and is still frowned upon from the heights of some ivory towers. But why not? Empowered consumers understand that non-disclosure will jeopardise their cover.

    Self-administration is another feature of this partnership, another significant cost-saving. Need to change contact details, changes in cover, beneficiaries or banking details? Thanks, I'll do it myself.

    In this world, the new intermediary's name is 'word of mouth' and clients are rewarded in the form of credited premiums for signing on new clients. "Oh, but wait until the time comes to claim," cry the sceptics. However, leading international reinsurers have needed no encouragement to throw their weight behind the online players.

    Neither have leading underwriters such as Guardrisk, which is part of Alexander Forbes, one of South Africa's leading financial services groups They are clearly satisfied by the level of underwriting which is done upfront, as with traditional insurers.

    Consumers now have the power of choice as never before and increasingly that choice will be to put their money where they perceive real value. And if that means a new generation of customers who will go online and buy life insurance instead of it being sold to them, it will be good for the entire industry. There's no going back.

computing

  • Intel demonstrated a CPU at their IDF conference that can run on the energy generated by a small solar cellDuring the opening keynote at this year’s (2011) Intel Developer Forum (IDF) conference held in San Francisco, showcased a low power processor developed by Intel Labs.

    Calling onto stage Sriram Vangal, principal research scientist at Intel, they demonstrated a processor running on a small solar cell. Vangal explained that the processor was running at near the threshold voltage of its transistors, but was still able to run Windows and display an animation. The animation seemed to be an animated gif and showed a kitten wearing headphones.

    To prove that that processor was indeed running off of the solar cell, Vangal put his hand between it and the light source, causing the computer to lock up.
    While the benefits of technology like this for South Africans and other developing nations is obvious, Otellini said that they have no plans to turn solar powered computing into a product yet.

    The purpose of the research and the demonstration was to show off Intel’s work in reducing processor power requirements to increase battery life, tying in with their push into the so-called “Ultrabook” and smartphone markets.

  • The National Research Foundation has submitted on 15 September 2011 the documents supporting the African bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Telescope. The documents are South Africa's response to the Request for Information issued by the international SKA Siting Group in June 2011.

    This follows the initial submission of expressions of interest in 2003 and of reports in 2005, which led to South Africa and Australia being shortlisted as both being suitable for the SKA.

    The African SKA site bid is led by South Africa's Department of Science and Technology and includes Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Mauritius, Kenya and Ghana.

    The reports submitted cover a wide range of information - measurements of radio frequency interference and the physical conditions on the core site in the Northern Cape Karoo and the remote sites spread through South Africa and the other partner countries, measurements of the ionosphere and troposphere, analysis of the scientific performance of the array, designs for the roads, buildings and other infrastructure required, proposals for how 105MW of power can be supplied to the core site in the Karoo and how the remote sites can be powered, how the huge amounts of data can be transported from the telescope dishes in the Karoo and other sites to the central computer and then to the control centre in Cape Town and to science centres in other countries around the world, customs and excise duties, work permits and visas, laws affecting how the SKA will operate in South Africa and the other countries, working conditions for a highly skilled workforce of scientists and engineers, the financial and economic system, how security will be provided for the telescope and much else besides.

    The South African SKA team has worked closely with telecommunication service providers including Broadband InfraCo, Meraka, Nokia Siemens Networks, Seacom, FibreCo, Muvoni Weltex, EASSY, SIA Solutions and Cisco and with Eskom, the City of Cape Town and Aurecon to come up with robust and cost-effective data transport, power and infrastructure proposals for the telescope.

    The team has also had tremendous support from Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), Sentech, the Department of Communications, the Department of Public Enterprise, Vodacom, MTN and the National Association of Broadcasters in designing solutions to reduce radio interference on the site, while still providing services to people in the area.

    A great deal of support was also received from South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Reserve Bank, Southern Mapping Geospatial, the HSRC, the Centre for High Performance Computing, the Council for Geosciences, the South Africa Weather Service and many other government departments and service providers in preparing the bid reports. The bid documents represent eight years of work.
    The Minister for Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said "Africa will provide a home for the SKA to do revolutionary science. Our bid is a strong, cost-effective and robust proposal for building the Square Kilometre Array in Africa. Our site is orders of magnitude better than any existing observatory and is protected by the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act.

    Our team, with business and industry, has developed excellent solutions for how to provide power, data transport and infrastructure for the telescope very cost effectively. The great progress we have made in building the MeerKAT telescope has won us many friends and has changed the way the international community sees us".
    Pandor further added, "Many leading international researchers are now taking up full or part-time positions in our universities and the MeerKAT team. Our Human Capital Programme has won respect around the world.

    The excellence of our site has been recognised by the construction and operation of the world-leading PAPER and CBASS telescopes on our site, in which we are collaborating with the leading US institutions.

    We are fully committed to the SKA and so are our partners in Africa. Building world-leading science instruments and research in Africa will help us to create the skills, innovation and technology which will underpin our long-term vision for Africa as a leading economic power-house". Pandor also thanked SKA partner governments for their cooperation and assistance.

    The bid reports will be evaluated by expert panels and considered by an independent SKA Science Advisory Committee of leading international scientists and science administrators. They may ask for further information or clarification from South Africa and Australia (which has partnered with New Zealand).

    SKA South Africa project office representatives will meet this committee in the USA in December. If there are sufficient differences between the two bids, the Committee will aim to make a recommendation on a site by January 2012.

    Its recommendation will go to the not-for-profit SKA company which will be established in November, with about fifteen governments as its members. They will consider the recommendation and any other factors they wish to take into account and aim to make a decision by February or March 2012.

    Nigeria: Nation Loses N18.9Billion to Foreign Software Licensing - Notap
    The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion has said that Nigeria lost about $118m (N18.9bn) in the last five years as capital flight from locally developed software to the importation of foreign software.

    The Head of Media and Public Relations, NOTAP, Adokiye Dagogo-George said while marking the "African Day for Technology and Intellectual Property".
    He said in compliance with the resolution made by the African Union, September 13 of every year is set aside by all African countries to arouse the "latent inventive, creative and innovative spirit of Africans in order to facilitate the acceleration of technological development in the continent."

    He explained that though there are Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora who have demonstrated ICT capabilities especially in software development, lack of awareness of their breakthroughs has hampered their patronage as all software deployed by the various sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector were foreign ones.
    "It is against this background that NOTAP institutionalized the annual national workshop and exhibition on software licensing and development," he said.

    NOTAP was established as an agency of the Federal Ministry of Science Technology to facilitate the acquisition of technology in Nigeria.

    The agency has since been implanting the mandate through the evaluation, registration and monitoring of all technology transfer agreements signed by Nigerian entrepreneurs with their foreign technical partners.

    NOTAP was to ensure that the terms and conditions of the agreements are equitable, fair and commensurate and aligned with the capacity and capability of the Nigerian Innovation system.

    Dagogo-George disclosed that while carrying out its functions and activities, NOTAP makes concerted efforts to promote the development of locally motivated technologies through the linkage of industry with the National Innovation System in the area of scientific Research and Development, promotion of Intellectual Property Rights and commercialization of R&D results.

    He said: "NOTAP has, in recent times, established 30 Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTOs) in research institutes and institutions of higher learning across the country.

    "IPTTOs were established in the knowledge centres to encourage market oriented and demand driven research, promote intellectual property protection and strengthen the linkage between industry, universities and research institutes."

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Ethiopian incumbent telco Ethio Telecom (formerly Ethiopian Telecom Corporation) has revealed that it missed its revenue target of ETB9.8 billion (USD565 million) for the year ended 7 July 2011 by a shortfall of 11%, allAfrica.com reports. With France Telecom (FT) having taken over management of the state-owned telco in December 2010, the failure to hit the target could mean that the European telecoms giant may see its management fee reduced under the terms of its contract with the Ethiopian government. It is understood that under the terms of the two-year, USD42.3 million agreement between FT and the state, the payment scheme is contingent upon a six-monthly performance review, with bonuses or deductions based on a percentage accomplishment of goals set as part of the deal.

    In a press release detailing the achievements of the most recent financial year, Ethio Telecom reported that gross turnover had increased from ETB7.05 billion in EFY2002 (the period from 8 July 2009 to 7 July 2010) to ETB8.815 billion in the same period a year later, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in EFY2003 (year ended 7 July 2011) stood at ETB6.83 billion. The failure to reach its revenue target was reportedly blamed on damages to the company’s telecoms infrastructure, with allAfrica citing an unnamed telecom official close to the matter as saying: ‘The cost of repairing stolen fibre-optic cables and power shortages are some of the reasons why the company did not reach its target.’ Ethio Telecom reportedly confirmed a few weeks ago that it had lost around ETB91 million due to theft and intentional damage of its infrastructure.

    Ethio Telecom also revealed that the number of subscribers across all of its services had reached 11,509,366 at the end of June 2011, of which the lion’s share – 10,526,190 – were attributed to mobile services. The number of customers signed up to the telco’s fixed line voice and internet/data services stood at 854,412 and 128,764 respectively, although only 16,529 of the latter were connected to high speed internet services such as ADSL or 3G mobile broadband. Looking forward Ethio Telecom has set out an extremely ambitious target, announcing that it aims to add some ten million new mobile subscribers in the coming year.

  • Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) says that the company has received an expression of interest from and entered into discussions, with a potential -- unnamed -- strategic equity partner.

    In a brief notice to the Malawi stock exchange, the company said that shareholders are advised to accordingly exercise caution in dealing in their shares in the Company until a further announcement is made.
    The company has a diverse shareholder base, with just 21% listed on the stock market. The government owns 44.5%, and three other corporate shareholders have between 10.5-13% each.

    According to the Mobile World analysts, the company had 1.185 million customers at the end of June, representing a market share of 42%.

  • Datatec, ("Datatec" or the "Group", JSE and LSE: DTC), the international Information and Communications Technology (ICT) group, is currently finalizing its results for the six months ended 31 August 2011 ("the Period"), which will be published on 12 October 2011.

    As a JSE listed company, Datatec is required to publish trading statements if the financial results for a given period are more than 20% higher than the results of the previous corresponding period. As described in more detail below, underlying* earnings per share, earnings per share and headline earnings per share for the Period are expected to be more than 20% higher than the previous corresponding period of six months ended 31 August 2010 (the "Comparative Period").

     Group revenues for the Period are expected to be approximately $2.4 billion, compared to approximately $2.1 billion in the Comparative Period, with overall margin expansion.

     Underlying* earnings per share for the Period are expected to be between 21 and 22 US cents per share, compared to 15.8 US cents per share for the Comparative Period, an increase of between 33% and 39%.

     Earnings per share and headline earnings per share are expected to be between 19 and 20 US cents per share, compared to 8.8 US cents in the Comparative Period, an increase of between 116% and 127%.

    Interim cash distribution by way of a capital reduction The Board has resolved to amend the group's dividend / capital distribution payment policy from making a single annual payment to making both interim and final distributions with immediate effect. The dividend cover policy of at least three times relative to underlying* earnings per share will apply to both interim and final distributions.

    The first interim distribution will accordingly be declared for the period ended 31 August 2011 with the interim results announcement on 12 October 2011.

  • Safaricom share price has got a boost from the planned increase in calling tariffs, rising by 6.9 per cent in one week as investors anticipate growth in the mobile provider’s profits. The stock has rebounded from a one-year low of Sh2.90 per share last week to Thursday’s Sh3.10 driven by higher demand from investors since last Thursday’s announcement of a possible tariff review. The telco closed its shareholders’ register for a Sh0.20 dividend last Friday.

    “Despite going ex-dividend, there has been sustained demand on the counter. This could be attributed to the expected increase in tariffs to cover the operator’s rising operating expenses,” said analysts at Kestrel Capital in a market report. In yesterday’s trading, the counter moved 6.9 million shares down from 15.2 million traded on Wednesday.

     “Large investment firms are selling off in Europe, especially bank stocks, following debt crisis that has seen banks’ credit rating being reviewed and are heading to other markets; that is why you see the resurgence especially in Safaricom which is attractive to them,” said Mr George Bodo, an analyst with ApexAfrica Capital.

    Safaricom stock is considered attractive due to its high liquidity and the foreigners’ bullish sentiment towards telecoms in emerging markets.

    Last week Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the company could no longer absorb rising inflationary pressures and was considering tariff reviews. Information PS Bitange Ndemo also spoke of the expected review, saying that it would be understandable owing to increased network maintenance and fuel cost.

    Passing on costs to the consumer is attractive to investors as it cushions the company’s earnings considering that its growth slowed down with start of price wars last year. Safaricom registered a 12.6 per cent drop in net profit to Sh13.2 billion for the financial year 2010/11.

    Analysts expect price wars in the industry to stop and focus on add-ons such as data and money transfer services. Safaricom is the only one of the four mobile phone firms that reported operational profit last year while the others are pressed to show returns, hence may follow in upward adjustment of prices. Rival Bharti Airtel has replaced its Managing Director Rene Meza who was seen as the face behind the low tariff charges.
     “We would expect price adjustments in calling rates to be most likely upwards following markets such as Tanzania and India where rates have increased in the recent past,” said
    Mr John Kamunya, an analyst with Dyer & Blair Investment Bank.

    Since Safaricom is strong in voice, data and money transfer gives it a strong position to continue recording growth in net profits.Telkom Kenya recently launched a high-speed data network.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For more informtion visit here:

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

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

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9Ð11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

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

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

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

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011,

    Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2
    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Ghana’s telecoms watchdog the National Communication Authority (NCA) is looking to crack down on mobile network operators if they fail to tackle the chronic problem of poor quality services. NCA deputy director Mawuko Zomelo confirmed the NCA plan, adding that the sanctions could take the form of a fine. In a field visit to Ghana’s Northern Region, NCA officials held meetings in a number of towns and districts to obtain feedback on the public’s perception of the quality of telecoms services. The information gathered confirmed suspicions that many Ghanaians are dissatisfied with the incumbent cellcos’ performance to date. The NCA is now looking to develop an effective strategy to address the problem, Zomelo said.

    - Gambia’s Daily Observer reports that the Ministry of Information, Communication & Information Infrastructure has revealed to the National Assembly that state-backed Gamtel is currently working on plans to expand its fledgling 3G wireless data network in the Greater Banjul area and other major towns and cities including Soma, Farafenni, Bansang and Basse. The disclosure was made in response to ministers’ questions on when 3G infrastructure would be expanded to provide wireless internet access for outlying communities. However, it was added that the expansion of the network is not in Gamtel’s 2011 budget, and would instead be included in its 2012 budget.

Digital Content

  • Airtel Ghana last week announced a deal for managed Value Added Services (VAS) with mobile software company, Rancard Solutions. Under the terms of this agreement, Airtel Ghana will use Rancard’s service management tool, Value Added Services Provider Manager (VASP Manager), to deploy and manage multiple content provider accounts and services. This enables the mobile network to render a rich, diverse and concerted mobile content and service experience for their subscribers.

    Built by Rancard, VASP Manager runs in the rancardmobility.com cloud and enables Airtel Ghana to deploy, manage, deliver and monetize applications, content and services over various channels (mobile web, SMS, MMS, USSD, etc.), using Rancard’s content discovery technology Rendezvous, and to provide access to major brands including BBC, ESPN, MTVBase and Google.

    VASP Manager provides a seamless service management interface to Rancard’s mobile message switch, payments gateway and content hosting applications, which are all integrated with Airtel’s infrastructure for billing, messaging and subscriber management.

    The Rendezvous technology leverages network data to provide a personalized, relevant, content discovery experience for mobile subscribers using social recommendations, which are proven to yield four times the rate of promotions. This allows Airtel to connect their subscribers to relevant content, applications and services, a move the network believes will establish it as an innovation-adopting pioneer in the marketplace and multiply its rapidly growing subscriber base.

    Rancard’s Director for Product Management and Marketing, Ehizogie Binitie said in a statement, “Rancard’s focus is to provide mobile network operators with the tools that enable them to improve their ARPUs and keep
    subscribers engaged through innovation. We believe with Rendezvous we enable mobile subscribers to find the content/applications/services they really want with software-enabled recommendations from people they trust inside of the network.”

    Airtel’s Director of Marketing, Oare Ojekere, said of the partnership, “Airtel’s partnership with Rancard Solutions gives us the flexibility to address our customers’ needs in various ways, leading to greater customer satisfaction; providing another reason to join the network that is customer-centric.”

  • Deutsche Welle continues to expand its services in Tanzania by cooperating with Vodacom Tanzania Ltd. – the largest mobile provider in the country. Starting September 9, 2011, DW’s popular radionovela “Learning by Ear” will be available on-demand for mobile service subscribers.

    The programming is targeted to teenagers and young adults and provides information on important topics like HIV, human rights, democracy and the environment with an exciting mix of stories and features. Learning by Ear is produced in all of DW’s programming languages for Africa and is already broadcast in Tanzania as part of DW-RADIO/Kiswahili. 
    Deutsche Welle’s Kiswahili service is among the most popular radio programs in the country. Around 70 percent of Tanzanians are familiar with Deutsche Welle and every third is a frequent listener of the Kiswahili program. Besides broadcasting the Kiswahili Service offers sms-news messages via mobile phone every day, comprehensive website (www.dw-world.de/kiswahili), Twitter and Facebook.

    Customers who have signed up for the “Music Radio” service from Vodacom Tanzania Ltd. can access every episode of the Learning by Ear series for a special price based on minutes of usage. Customers dial 09011 22 201 from their mobile phone to subscribe to the Music Radio service and listen to the instruction on how to access the different Learning by Ear series.

    Learning by Ear was started as Deutsche Welle initiative for Africa in 2008 with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office. The series has been successful with younger listeners and is entirely produced in cooperation with partners throughout Africa and written by African authors. More than 270 African radio stations have broadcasted Learning by Ear since the series started in 2008. The series has received national and international awards, including “most creative radio format” from the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) in 2009.

    Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcaster. With DW-TV, DW-RADIO and DW-WORLD.DE, it produces news, background information and cultural highlights worldwide, while creating a platform for intercultural dialogue.
    Vodacom Tanzania Ltd is Tanzania’s leading cellular network offering state-of-the-art GSM communication services to more than 9 million customers across the country.

    Earlier this year Vodacom Tanzania launched the very first Mobile Radio and Mobile TV service. With an extensive network coverage Vodacom Tanzania continues researching for new services to the utmost benefit of the Tanzanian market and public at large.

  • Google has announced the winners of the Android Developer Challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa, a competition that was announced back in April, set up to encourage the development of exciting, high quality applications that can delight mobile users in Africa and around the world.

    Developers in Sub-Saharan Africa submitted hundreds of innovative and interesting applications across three broad categories: apps related to entertainment, media and games; apps related to social networking and communication; and apps related to productivity, tools, and local and geo services.

    In July, Google had announced the top 29 applications, provided them new phones, mentoring from Googlers and six weeks to improve their applications. From those 29, the three winners have been announced. 

    Each winner will be awarded $25,000 to help them build and grow their business, and will receive additional mentoring from Google employees to help them make their app even better. The judges also gave honorable mention to finalist apps Rainbow Racer and Wedding Plandroid; the developers of those apps will each receive $5,000.

    All three winning apps, both honorable mention apps, and many of our finalist apps are or will soon be available on Android Market.
    The Winners:
    Entertainment/Media/Games
     Afrinolly - Nigeria
    Team: FansConnectOnline Limited
    Afrinolly brings African movies to your pocket, allowing you to watch movie trailers, read entertainment news and gossip, track celebs, listen to music and share it all with your friends.
    ________________________________________
    Social/Communication
    Olalashe - Kenya
    Team: David Lemayian, Capefield Ltd.
    Olalashe (which means "brother" in Maasai) is a geo-alert application that can help you communicate when you’re in trouble, through a widget that can send your location and a pre-set message to your ‘In Case of Emergency’ contacts with the push of a button.
    ________________________________________
    Productivity
    Shoppers' Delight - Kenya
    Team: Elan Telemedia Ltd
    Shoppers' Delight is a shopping application that allows shoppers to compare product prices across different area supermarkets. The app also helps shoppers discover bargains and relevant sales, and access maps and health information.

More

  • Airtel has hired Willie Ellis who previously worked for Vodacom South Africa to become its Product and Innovation Director.

  • Reference Number: AJS0011342
    Job Category:  IT- Account Management
    Preferred Degree:  Bachelors Degree
    Job Type:  Permanent/Full Time
    Job Country:  Rwanda
    Job Location:  Kigali-Rwanda
    Experience (Years): 2-4
    Job Description
    MTN RWANDACELL is a GSM Telecommunications Company based in Rwanda with its Head office in the Capital city of Kigali. Formed in 1998, the Company has recorded exceptional growth and this trend is continuing into the future. MTN Rwanda Cell continually strives for excellence with high levels of Customer Care forming the foundation of the Company's Vision and Mission.

    MTN RWANDACELL would like to recruit competent staff for the following job.
    Business Risk Analyst

    Major responsibilities of the job:
    To assist management with the implementation of proper risk management processes in the Company.
    Provide assurance to management on adequacy and effectiveness of risk management and revenue assurance activities within MTN Rwandacell.

    Key performance areas of the job:
    Coordinate day to day risk management activities within MTN Rwandacell
    Maintenance of comprehensive and updated strategic and business risk registers.
    Provide quarterly risk management input to the quarterly operations review reports.
    Provide quarterly progress on revenue loss risk management activities
    Create a companywide proactive risk management culture.

    Minimum education necessary:
    Bachelors of Commerce Degree
    Possession of an auditing qualification (CIA, CISA...) and/or professional Accountancy qualification (CA, ACCA, CPA etc) would be advantageous.
    Minimum experience necessaryto perform this job:
    Minimum of 2 years of Auditing/Risk management/consulting experience in an internationally recognized professional accounting firm or an international organization.
    Proficient in use of the company standard software: Excel, Word, Power points; MS projects, Access, etc.
    A thorough understanding of telecommunication business processes, products, services and overall business.
    Proficiency in the use of auditing and risk management softwares.
    Auditing experience in telecommunications and information systems as comparative advantage

    Skills/Competencies/ Attributes Required:

    Demonstrate thorough knowledge and understanding of risk and control methodologies
    Completion of assignments in accordance with the department methodology and pre-set deadlines.
    Comprehensive, concise well researched reports.
    Increased awareness of control and risk within MTN Rwandacell.
    Good Interpersonal skills.
    Presentation and facilitation skills.
    Working under pressure to meet reporting deadlines.
    How to apply:

    Please forward letters of application together with detailed curriculum vitae, photocopies of academic and professional certificates and contact details of three referees, so as to reach the Human Resources & Administration Department as soon as possible.

    Note: If you are not contacted 10 days after the submission application, then you were not considered for this position.

    MTN Rwandacell is an equal opportunity employer.

    MTN RWANDACELL Ltd is a GSM Telecommunications Company formed in 1998, based in Rwanda with its Head office in the capital City of Kigali. The Company has recorded exceptional growth and this trend is continuing into the future.

    MTN Rwanda continually strives for excellence with high levels of Customer Care, forming the foundation of the Company's Vision and Mission. MTN RWANDACELL Ltd would like to recruit a competent person in the position below.

Issue no 572 16th September 2011

node ref id: 23004

Top story

  • Africa’s long road to high-speed broadband is being made in leaps and bounds. Every week brings news of another piece of the jigsaw fitting into place. This week it’s the completion of the national fibre backbone in one of Africa’s larger markets. However, there’s still remains a yawning gap between the promise of ubiquitous, cheap bandwidth and the current realities of the continent. Russell Southwood runs his fingers over the blockages that still remain.

    It’s hard not to be excited by the news that Angola (and its usually rather ponderous incumbent Angola Telecom) have completed 10,000 kms of national fibre backbone that connects every province in the country. It is a huge place and suffers from an enormous range of practical difficulties. Nevertheless, it has completed the telecommunications equivalent of building a motorway network across the country.

    In this same week, one of my analysts bought to my attention an infographic from Google on download speeds in Africa. This claims to show the fastest download speeds in Africa, ranging from 10.1 Mbps in Ghana to 1.38 Mbps in Nigeria. It puts the world average download speed at 8.48 Mbps. The graphic is shown below:

    The idea that Ghana has the best download speeds in Africa will cause a long, dry chuckle amongst my Ghanaian colleagues followed by them beating their head against the wall slowly in frustration. If the average household download speed achieved is 10.1 Mbps, I will (as a non-hat wearer) duly eat my hat: naturally, lightly sautéed with olive oil, garlic and red onions.

    At this point, I can hear the siren voices saying: why does it matter? Things are getting better. It matters because if Africa is to do all the things that the Internet and data access promise, these have to happen at a speed that allow more or less instantaneous access rather than needing to make a cup of coffee while you wait for something to download. Demand for content and services is being throttled by the inability of operators to deliver reasonably priced, fast (10 Mbps, I wish) and reliable bandwidth. There is significant evidence that Africans (particularly young ones) want Facebook, You Tube and other more local Internet services as much as any other group of citizens in the world. The key to them being able to get them is delivery on that promise of fast, affordable bandwidth.

    The blockages are many and for those who follow these things, have a familiar ring to them:

    International bandwidth access: By the end of 2012, nearly every coastal African country will have a landing station. The only exception is likely to be Eritrea but its rulers take perhaps too greater pride in being exceptional so there’s not much can be done there. There’s some doubts about the southern reach of the ACE cable and others may join that list.

    In some coastal countries, like Ghana and Nigeria, there will be 5 landing stations and international bandwidth will sell in the lower hundreds of dollars per mbps. In many other countries, the World Bank has encouraged nationally-led operator consortia to run the single landing station and this should ensure open access and reasonable prices. But there are a number of countries (notably Cameroon and Gabon) where old-fashioned incumbents will sell a little of their huge fibre inventory at artificially high prices. In other places like DRC where the Government insisted that the (almost non-existent) incumbent be the licence-holder, the jury is out.

    Pity the landlocked: There are 12 landlocked countries in Africa and as a number of studies have shown, they suffer multiple disadvantages because they lack access to the sea. One of the most notable is that the transit price for getting their data to all these new international landing stations often costs the same or more than it costs for their data to complete the journey from the landing station to London or New York.

    One of the continent’s major, powerful mobile players was telling us recently that it was impossible to get to get reasonably priced transit bandwidth out of one of its West African landlocked country markets. This same operator is the cause of this problem in other territories rather than the victim of it.Right hand, meet the left hand.

    Considerable effort has gone into creating equitable open access to international landing stations but rather less into tackling the problem for some of Africa’s more disadvantaged economies. WIOCC’s East African Backbone reserves capacity at reasonable prices for landlocked members of its consortium. But there is nothing similar elsewhere in Africa and the cross-border expansion of Africa’s carriers’ carriers (like Phase3 Telecom, Suburban and KDN) has hit a plateau from a combination of capital and licensing issues. Indeed, KDN is currently being sued by one of its suppliers in the Kenyan courts. A World Bank scheme to use fibre deployed by the members of the West African Power Pool has disappeared without trace.

    National backbones – the problems come home to roost: If there is a problem with transit pricing, the same issue is reflected at a national level. Bandwidth from Lagos to London is now down into the low hundreds per Mbps and will undoubtedly go lower as more cables arrive. However, the considerably shorter journey from Lagos to Abuja costs US$1,000- 1,200 per Mbps. Nigeria is one of the most competitive countries and has historically, led on the regulatory front, so why is this occurring?

    There are many competitors but only two of them (MTN and Nitel) have genuinely national networks. The long-standing problems with the incumbent Nitel and its multiple failed privatisations mean that MTN comes close to being a de facto monopoly operator at this level.

    Other countries have chosen to make building a fibre backbone of this sort a national priority but these initiatives are not without issues. Uganda’s Chinese-built and financed backbone is widely acknowledged to have been over-costly and there are doubts about its operational effectiveness. In Tanzania, the Government has made much play of separating out TTCL’s national fibre backbone (again Chinese-built but operating more effectively) within the company. But it has insisted that it can only sell a relatively high minimum amount of bandwidth to a limited group of operators and its pricing structure still produces artificially high prices. Contrast this with Ghana’s National Communications Backbone company that offers a flat rate per Mbps across the whole country.

    There’s also a problem of investment displacement. Again take the example of Tanzania. The private sector would have built 70-80% of the network that the Government took a loan from China to build. So why didn’t it allow the private sector to build it (focusing on regulating price and access) and agree that its (lesser) financial contribution would build those parts the market wouldn’t?

    Mobile networks not fit for data purpose: The Irish are said to say:”If you want to go there, I wouldn’t start from here.” In a little over ten years, Africa’s mobile operators have put up voice networks that cover anywhere between 30-80% of the continent’s population with voice coverage. In the last several years, they have been steadily upgrading these networks to handle data with the seemingly endless acronyms that promise high-speed data and only occasionally deliver it.

    However, what started as a narrow pipe voice network with no IP elements is now creaking at the seams as it seeks to go off and become an all-singing, all dancing data network. It’s like the streets of Nairobi or Lagos or any other African city: the build up of traffic at different points during the day turns the road into a car park where nothing moves.

    One major mobile operator told us that in one of its larger country markets, rural data demand using GPRS and EDGE was doubling in volume every six months. Already at this 2-2.5G level, data traffic exceeded voice traffic by 60/40 and on 3G, the proportions are 90/10. The same pattern is apparent across all operators. The future is an IP-enabled data network that will carry the content and services that will replace some of the voice revenues as ARPUs go down. For better or for worse, mobile operators are central to the process of delivering affordable data to the widest number of people. However, they are currently struggling to transform what their networks can do in data terms with varying degrees of success.

    LTE for all – meet the future?:The mobile operators’ strongest card for continuing to be taken seriously in terms of data delivery is LTE. The Kenyan Government decided that the quickest way to achieve this (and it has a good track record on speed of movement, see TEAMS) was to put out a tender for an open access, national network. In the absence of this, it may turn out that LTE and high-speed data delivery on it, will be the thing that further entrenches the market position of the new mobile incumbents.

    In order to build an open access LTE network, you need access to the mobile operators tower network and so the arm-wrestling begins. New incumbent Safaricom and old incumbent Telkom Kenya have the power to negotiate a two week extension on the deadline. Since the winning bidder has to include an operator with an extensive tower network (Safaricom?), it will be necessary to negotiate with them placing the towers into the hands of a trusted third party operator, like Eaton, Helios, American Towers or another. The failure to get this kind of open access structure right will put most other operators at a disadvantage against those who can make the investment.

    The alternative is deep-pocket investment in fibre (to the home, office and cabinet) of the kind being carried out by insurgent challengers like 21st Century, Jamii Telecom and Wananchi. But the skew to mobile use makes this a useful supplement rather than the central play. In this context, not enough African Governments have allowed their utilities to sell “dark fibre” as has happened in Uganda.

    The strange case of technology as the game-changer: Another approach to breaking the back of this affordable access everywhere problem has been the argument that certain technologies would be “game-changers”. Over the last five years Wi-MAX has had much airplay for this tune. It made early promises of both mobile data and voice but the latter was never delivered. Unfortunately, its base station technology even when it was working at its best was too expensive and had no customer device ecology at the right price. On that score, Wi-Fi wipes the floor with Wi-MAX in terms of delivering bandwidth cheaply and reliably and has existing, cheap customer devices, not ones that will be ready “real-soon-now”.

    The holy-grail in technology terms is a low-cost, IP-enabled base station that operates on small amounts of satellite bandwidth to reach edge markets that need below an E1 of bandwidth. Thus far everyone has delivered things that produce incremental cost changes but not the step down in costs that is needed. It’s a complicated bundle to get right involving renewable power, footprint and satellite optimization. But this is the frontier that will begin to see changes in the core network over the next ten years if it can be delivered. Why have an extremely cheap, IP-enabled base station at the edge of the network and not start replacing existing, end-of-life equipment with it in the core network?

    Ubiquitous Wi-Fi access – giving local access:One of the remaining blockages is that access at the local level is fairly restricted. If you’re not a corporate customer paying premium prices, it’s difficult to get cheap and reliable household bandwidth or to find its equivalent through public, Wi-Fi hot-spots.

    At an early stage, some of Africa’s mobile operators (notably MTN) started experimenting with separating out their data traffic from their voice traffic at base station level. This practice is now widely described with the rather ugly phrase “Wi-Fi offload”.

    As the number of smart and feature-rich handsets in Africa increases, customers will increasingly be encouraged by mobile operators – before the LTE nirvana arrives – to switch over to a Wi-Fi hot-spot or Wi-Fi mesh network. Google has been experimenting with this approach in Nairobi’s The Junction shopping mall and other operators are trialing a similar approaches.

    As ever, the issue in competition terms is whoever entrenches themselves at this level could turn out to be the price “gate-keeper.” For mobile operators, the recurring question remains: is this core to our business? Thus far they have defensively played every hand that looks threatening to them but the tide may turn.

    Fighting for the unconnected:There’s a lot of rhetoric around reaching the rural populations of Africa but not a great deal of action. When one large operator tells us that 10% of its base stations are commercially marginal, the scale of the challenge is apparent. Yet there is a clear interest in the Internet in rural areas shown by that stat quoted earlier of rural data use doubling and by national surveys carried out in places like Kenya.

    Many regulators in Africa have collected large amounts of money from operators but this has largely stayed in their bank accounts because they have taken forever to set up universal service agency (USA) functions or separate organisations.

    Where they have spent the money, it has tended to go back to the "usual suspects" (incumbent and mobile operators). In the main they have tended to extend their voice networks, leaving Internet/data the poor relation. (the exceptions include places like Uganda). The argument against these structures is that if you are relying on “the usual suspects” to do the work, it is an expensive financial structure that strips out a significant percentage for overhead costs before returning the money to the same operators. Therefore why not simply write USA clauses into their licences that translate into the kinds of sums being extracted?

    But the issue is perhaps one that requires closer attention of a different kind. Government policy-makers need to say to the operators, either you go to these areas or we will give licences and spectrum to others who will do so on a local basis. This leads to three broad potential options:

    1. The mobile operators (going the low cost base station route) do their own coverage in these areas and the cost is deducted in whole or in part from their US obligations.

    2. A independent, infrastructure sharing company offers operators the ability to connect to these areas at an agreed price per minute. This was what Ericsson was promoting 2-3 years ago in Tanzania with optimised base stations that had larger coverage areas but very little has been heard of it recently.

    3. You set up independent, small-scale operators and they get an interconnection agreement that might be asymmetrical to give them sufficient financial means to survive and again you could deduct an initial “market-generating” subsidy from the US funding obligation.

    It’s not the digital divide, it’s the electricity divide:It doesn’t matter whether it’s a mobile phone, a PC or a TV, they all require electricity. So the real divide will increasingly be between those who have access to reliable electricity to power these devices and those who don’t. There are two broad categories: firstly, those who already supposedly have access to electricity who would like reliable power that didn’t go down regularly and spike in ways that damaged their devices; and secondly, those with no electricity or struggling with occasional power, largely but not exclusively in rural areas

    For all the energy that goes into promoting universal access, not enough goes into addressing these power problems. At a recent broadcast conference, one broadcaster was speaking optimistically about the impact rural electrification would have on increasing TV audiences in Uganda. But for every Uganda, there are two or three African countries where addressing electricity supply seems to be in stasis.

    What is harder to understand is why the kind of power roll-outscheme that operators came together to achieve in Uganda cannot be generalized across other countries? Also why are the infrastructure sharing companies not addressing power issues? Why can’t there be small-scale, local power providers? You cannot separate out the achievement of a digital dividend from the provision of reliable power supply. The two silos of communications and power are related.

    The arrival of the international fibre cables has provided a warm glow of achievement to many of Africa’s politicians but unless they focus on the remaining problems outlined above, the promise will always fall short of the potential.


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

    Kamal Budhabbatti, Craft Silicon on its banking products and m-money payment product ELMA

    Santos Okottah, founder, eziki.tv on its livestreaming and downloads service

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

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

telecoms

  • Airtel's PayOnlineInKenya is touted to be the world's first virtual card that operates off a wallet and residing on a mobile phone. The new system is in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide and Standard Chartered Bank.

    Safaricom and I&M Bank also unveiled a service that allows M-pesa customers to transfer money from their accounts to a Visa pre-paid card - M-pesa prepay Safari Card - which can be used globally.

    Airtel Kenya on Wednesday unveiled a new online payment system that would see her mobile subscribers use handsets to purchase online.

    Dubbed PayOnlineInKenya, the new system is in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide and Standard Chartered Bank. This is touted as the world's first virtual cards that operates off a wallet and residing on a mobile phone.

    Safaricom and I&M Bank also unveiled a service that allows M-pesa customers to transfer money from their accounts to a Visa pre-paid card - M-pesa prepay Safari Card - which can be used globally.

    PayOnlineInKenya is a single use feature or a one time shopping card that provides the consumer with a convenient and secure online shopping experience. Users in Kenya can make purchases of up to Ksh 35,000.

    Each time an Airtel subscriber is shopping online he or she will be able to request a single use shopping card number. Airtel's PayOnlineInKenya service will generate a special 16 digit number that enables the completion of the transaction. On completion of the transaction, a confirmation message will be sent to the customer's mobile phone. The ultimate aim of this service is to allow Airtel subscribers to make payment across the MasterCard network.

    According to Airtel's estimate over 80 per cent of adult Africans do not have bank accounts.
    The mobile technology platform and Airtel's vast consumer penetration combined with the financial structure and regulatory framework provided by Standard Chartered Bank and the global acceptance of MasterCard will makes the new service attractive.

  • The Star Cell MTN Communication Company in collaboration with Ecobank- Liberia Friday, September 9, 2011 formally launched the Mobile Money Product in the country.
    The Mobile Money Product is the newest service the two entities have introduced on the Liberian market. The usage of this service will afford users of mobile phones in the country to access money sent to them by friends, family members among others via their personal phones.

    Speaking at the launch of the Mobile Money Product, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lone Star Cell MTN, Mazen Marou, said the Lone Star Cell MTN is always committed to providing exciting and innovative products to the Liberian people.
    He said mobile money product is a new service being provided in the country by the two entities, saying the product is being operated in all places the MTN brand is in existence. "Statistics shows that mobile money product creates more jobs, stimulates investment and increases revenue for government," the Lone Star Cell MTN boss pointed out.
    He indicated that the mobile money will afford Liberian in the rural parts to have access to cash money, transfer and receive money, cash checks, paid bills among others.

  • Vodacom is facing the wrath of its subscribers, following an announcement that the mobile operator would throttle the connection speeds of BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) users who exceed 100MB per month.Social networks erupted last week after the news broke; with many subscribers threatening Vodacom with the Consumer Protection Act and some saying they are considering changing operators.
    Vodacom responded to criticism by emphasising that the new system is a result of its own research, which has shown that 95% of BlackBerry data usage is attributable to less than 5% of users. As a result, BIS users who exceed the 100MB threshold per month will have their connection speed reduced from 3G to 2G. Vodacom says BlackBerry Enterprise users will not be affected, and emphasises that the new measure is aimed at improving the user experience for the majority of BIS users.
    Responding to a barrage of questions via Twitter, Vodacom told worried subscribers that some in those 5% were using over 150Gigs a month, making the experience terrible for the rest. The operator also said that since the data is compressed, it actually equates to two for four times more, and clarified that throttling will not affect e-mail, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook or Twitter, only browsing and streaming.
    Chief Technology Officer Andries Delport says: “We need to ensure that all BlackBerry users are able to enjoy the service that they pay for. When we realised that such a small minority was using the bulk of the capacity, we decided to implement measures that will ensure that BlackBerry users will enjoy a better browsing experience overall.”
    MTN also appears to be considering the same strategy. MTN SA CIO Kanagaratnam Lambotharan says: “MTN has seen a significant number of customers using the BIS platform for purposes it was not initially intended for. “MTN is currently exploring ways to minimise the negative impact this might have and will communicate to customers in due course.”

    Cell C says it has no such plans in the pipeline at this stage, and while 8ta could not respond by the time of publication, it has been reported that it also has no plans to throttle BIS.

    Virgin Mobile's chief marketing and strategy manager, Jonathan Newman, says in terms of the company's BlackBerry terms of use and conditions: “In the future, we may look at adding a fair use clause or other measures, should we deem it necessary. Research In Motion could not respond by the time of publication.

    On Twitter, Vodacom also responded to the concerns of contract subscribers, stating: “No effect on contracts, the 'fair usage' policy was always in the contract. As we said, 95% of users won't be affected at all.”

  • Mali’s government is inviting bids for a third telecommunications license and is expected to make a decision within two months, state-owned L’Essor newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

    Submissions will be allowed from Sept. 19 to Oct. 11, with the handing over of bid documents set for Nov. 14, according to the newspaper. The payment of license charges is expected to be completed by the end of November, L’Essor said.
    Orange and the former incumbent Sotelma-Malitel are the two incumbent operators in the African nation, the newspaper reported.

internet

  • Maintaining communication with friends and family is no doubt top priority for everyone, especially those living out of the country. It is therefore no surprise that many people opt for quicker and faster communication via phones and emails over the traditional way of posting letters through the Post Office. This may simply be interpreted as one way of how modern technology has affected postal business. However, postal operators believe they are benefiting more from the advance technologies.

    According to the Commercial Director of the National Post Office of Rwanda, Dieudonne Maniragaba, ICT has actually complemented the postal business. "Internet is not a competitor to us; it's just a solution that has instead helped us improve our service delivery to our clientele and has made our work much faster," Maniragaba said.

    According to him, some members of the public harbour a false impression of the Post Office believing that its business is solely confined to courier services. "The Post Office still has a good number of clientele and that's because we do a wide range of activities, not just sending and receiving letters. Our target is commercial and administrative letters of which we have so many clients that still require our services," Maniragaba explained. He enumerated other services such as delivery of parcels, packages, express mail, money transfer, courier services among others.

    He noted that their potential market includes government institutions, NGOs, embassies and the general public. Maniragaba said that the postal services now reach a wider population compared to the past years.He added that the National Post Office is still going strong and now boasts of over 152 employees whose salary is paid through the profits the parastatal makes and not the Government budget.
    Maniragaba stated that they have branches in all districts and intend to roll out e-Commerce services to improve trade facilitation and simplify trade procedures. Based on the Kigali master plan, the Post Office aims to start home delivery of letters and parcels in the near future.

    "We used to deliver couriers up to the district level but we have now gone as far as sectors and various institutions. We also use the tracking system which is IT-based, to ensure efficient delivery of packages up to sector level," he explained.

  • It is indisputably the era of the consumer. Yet in two centuries there have only been two major innovations in the way life insurance products are sold to consumers. The first was when brokers were introduced some 160 years ago and the second when call centres came along in the 1970s.

    The crux of the matter lies in the word 'sold'. The biggest game-changer would surely be the one that can remove the cross the life industry has born for so long: the assumption that its products are sold and not bought.

    The magic bullet is proving to be the Internet. Internet-savvy and -empowered consumers have overcome the 'grudge' in this traditionally grudge purchase in two ways. First, with the incentive of a price that is up to 50% cheaper and, secondly, by doing it themselves on the internet.

    I am referring to a fully automated online life insurance model, not insurers who rely on an Internet presence and/or call centres. It is the fully online selling, underwriting and administrative model that has the potential to change the life industry as drastically as ATMs changed banks.

    The major advantage fully online life insurers have is the massive cost-saving of doing away with intermediaries, top heavy head-offices, customer-facing staff, call centres and inefficient administration.

    To understand how this is possible, take a look at the online life insurer's target market. These customers have already purchased numerous products on the Internet, some of which demand fairly complex interaction, such as travel and online auctions. Buying life products is the next notch in the e-commerce growth curve.

    Surprisingly, it not only attracts a young, elite market. Many of these empowered consumers are so-called 'grey surfers' over the age of 55 and even a sprinkling of users over 70.

    But the biggest potential for online life insurance lies with new entrants into the economy. They have grown up with online banking and will go to the Internet first for all their needs: a job, a place to stay, a partner, a car and yes, life products. Which explains why 50% of the total marketing spend in the UK has gone online, with half of that spent on Google ads.

    The number of Internet users in South Africa is boosted by the rapid increase in people accessing the Internet from their cellphones across a large spread of income brackets. Internet World Stats estimates the number of Internet users in SA at a conservative total of at least 6.8 million.

    A fast growing number of SA users access the Internet mainly from a cellphone, boosting the online life market to a potential six million people across a larger spread of income brackets. Online players will soon be ready to launch mobile applications designed to simplify the underwriting process on a mobile screen.

    In the online business model, the service provider and the consumer become partners, a relationship that demands a level of trust. The insurer even entrusts the client to self-underwrite, something that was inconceivable until very recently, and is still frowned upon from the heights of some ivory towers. But why not? Empowered consumers understand that non-disclosure will jeopardise their cover.

    Self-administration is another feature of this partnership, another significant cost-saving. Need to change contact details, changes in cover, beneficiaries or banking details? Thanks, I'll do it myself.

    In this world, the new intermediary's name is 'word of mouth' and clients are rewarded in the form of credited premiums for signing on new clients. "Oh, but wait until the time comes to claim," cry the sceptics. However, leading international reinsurers have needed no encouragement to throw their weight behind the online players.

    Neither have leading underwriters such as Guardrisk, which is part of Alexander Forbes, one of South Africa's leading financial services groups They are clearly satisfied by the level of underwriting which is done upfront, as with traditional insurers.

    Consumers now have the power of choice as never before and increasingly that choice will be to put their money where they perceive real value. And if that means a new generation of customers who will go online and buy life insurance instead of it being sold to them, it will be good for the entire industry. There's no going back.

computing

  • Intel demonstrated a CPU at their IDF conference that can run on the energy generated by a small solar cellDuring the opening keynote at this year’s (2011) Intel Developer Forum (IDF) conference held in San Francisco, showcased a low power processor developed by Intel Labs.

    Calling onto stage Sriram Vangal, principal research scientist at Intel, they demonstrated a processor running on a small solar cell. Vangal explained that the processor was running at near the threshold voltage of its transistors, but was still able to run Windows and display an animation. The animation seemed to be an animated gif and showed a kitten wearing headphones.

    To prove that that processor was indeed running off of the solar cell, Vangal put his hand between it and the light source, causing the computer to lock up.
    While the benefits of technology like this for South Africans and other developing nations is obvious, Otellini said that they have no plans to turn solar powered computing into a product yet.

    The purpose of the research and the demonstration was to show off Intel’s work in reducing processor power requirements to increase battery life, tying in with their push into the so-called “Ultrabook” and smartphone markets.

  • The National Research Foundation has submitted on 15 September 2011 the documents supporting the African bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Telescope. The documents are South Africa's response to the Request for Information issued by the international SKA Siting Group in June 2011.

    This follows the initial submission of expressions of interest in 2003 and of reports in 2005, which led to South Africa and Australia being shortlisted as both being suitable for the SKA.

    The African SKA site bid is led by South Africa's Department of Science and Technology and includes Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Mauritius, Kenya and Ghana.

    The reports submitted cover a wide range of information - measurements of radio frequency interference and the physical conditions on the core site in the Northern Cape Karoo and the remote sites spread through South Africa and the other partner countries, measurements of the ionosphere and troposphere, analysis of the scientific performance of the array, designs for the roads, buildings and other infrastructure required, proposals for how 105MW of power can be supplied to the core site in the Karoo and how the remote sites can be powered, how the huge amounts of data can be transported from the telescope dishes in the Karoo and other sites to the central computer and then to the control centre in Cape Town and to science centres in other countries around the world, customs and excise duties, work permits and visas, laws affecting how the SKA will operate in South Africa and the other countries, working conditions for a highly skilled workforce of scientists and engineers, the financial and economic system, how security will be provided for the telescope and much else besides.

    The South African SKA team has worked closely with telecommunication service providers including Broadband InfraCo, Meraka, Nokia Siemens Networks, Seacom, FibreCo, Muvoni Weltex, EASSY, SIA Solutions and Cisco and with Eskom, the City of Cape Town and Aurecon to come up with robust and cost-effective data transport, power and infrastructure proposals for the telescope.

    The team has also had tremendous support from Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), Sentech, the Department of Communications, the Department of Public Enterprise, Vodacom, MTN and the National Association of Broadcasters in designing solutions to reduce radio interference on the site, while still providing services to people in the area.

    A great deal of support was also received from South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Reserve Bank, Southern Mapping Geospatial, the HSRC, the Centre for High Performance Computing, the Council for Geosciences, the South Africa Weather Service and many other government departments and service providers in preparing the bid reports. The bid documents represent eight years of work.
    The Minister for Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said "Africa will provide a home for the SKA to do revolutionary science. Our bid is a strong, cost-effective and robust proposal for building the Square Kilometre Array in Africa. Our site is orders of magnitude better than any existing observatory and is protected by the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act.

    Our team, with business and industry, has developed excellent solutions for how to provide power, data transport and infrastructure for the telescope very cost effectively. The great progress we have made in building the MeerKAT telescope has won us many friends and has changed the way the international community sees us".
    Pandor further added, "Many leading international researchers are now taking up full or part-time positions in our universities and the MeerKAT team. Our Human Capital Programme has won respect around the world.

    The excellence of our site has been recognised by the construction and operation of the world-leading PAPER and CBASS telescopes on our site, in which we are collaborating with the leading US institutions.

    We are fully committed to the SKA and so are our partners in Africa. Building world-leading science instruments and research in Africa will help us to create the skills, innovation and technology which will underpin our long-term vision for Africa as a leading economic power-house". Pandor also thanked SKA partner governments for their cooperation and assistance.

    The bid reports will be evaluated by expert panels and considered by an independent SKA Science Advisory Committee of leading international scientists and science administrators. They may ask for further information or clarification from South Africa and Australia (which has partnered with New Zealand).

    SKA South Africa project office representatives will meet this committee in the USA in December. If there are sufficient differences between the two bids, the Committee will aim to make a recommendation on a site by January 2012.

    Its recommendation will go to the not-for-profit SKA company which will be established in November, with about fifteen governments as its members. They will consider the recommendation and any other factors they wish to take into account and aim to make a decision by February or March 2012.

    Nigeria: Nation Loses N18.9Billion to Foreign Software Licensing - Notap
    The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion has said that Nigeria lost about $118m (N18.9bn) in the last five years as capital flight from locally developed software to the importation of foreign software.

    The Head of Media and Public Relations, NOTAP, Adokiye Dagogo-George said while marking the "African Day for Technology and Intellectual Property".
    He said in compliance with the resolution made by the African Union, September 13 of every year is set aside by all African countries to arouse the "latent inventive, creative and innovative spirit of Africans in order to facilitate the acceleration of technological development in the continent."

    He explained that though there are Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora who have demonstrated ICT capabilities especially in software development, lack of awareness of their breakthroughs has hampered their patronage as all software deployed by the various sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector were foreign ones.
    "It is against this background that NOTAP institutionalized the annual national workshop and exhibition on software licensing and development," he said.

    NOTAP was established as an agency of the Federal Ministry of Science Technology to facilitate the acquisition of technology in Nigeria.

    The agency has since been implanting the mandate through the evaluation, registration and monitoring of all technology transfer agreements signed by Nigerian entrepreneurs with their foreign technical partners.

    NOTAP was to ensure that the terms and conditions of the agreements are equitable, fair and commensurate and aligned with the capacity and capability of the Nigerian Innovation system.

    Dagogo-George disclosed that while carrying out its functions and activities, NOTAP makes concerted efforts to promote the development of locally motivated technologies through the linkage of industry with the National Innovation System in the area of scientific Research and Development, promotion of Intellectual Property Rights and commercialization of R&D results.

    He said: "NOTAP has, in recent times, established 30 Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTOs) in research institutes and institutions of higher learning across the country.

    "IPTTOs were established in the knowledge centres to encourage market oriented and demand driven research, promote intellectual property protection and strengthen the linkage between industry, universities and research institutes."

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Ethiopian incumbent telco Ethio Telecom (formerly Ethiopian Telecom Corporation) has revealed that it missed its revenue target of ETB9.8 billion (USD565 million) for the year ended 7 July 2011 by a shortfall of 11%, allAfrica.com reports. With France Telecom (FT) having taken over management of the state-owned telco in December 2010, the failure to hit the target could mean that the European telecoms giant may see its management fee reduced under the terms of its contract with the Ethiopian government. It is understood that under the terms of the two-year, USD42.3 million agreement between FT and the state, the payment scheme is contingent upon a six-monthly performance review, with bonuses or deductions based on a percentage accomplishment of goals set as part of the deal.

    In a press release detailing the achievements of the most recent financial year, Ethio Telecom reported that gross turnover had increased from ETB7.05 billion in EFY2002 (the period from 8 July 2009 to 7 July 2010) to ETB8.815 billion in the same period a year later, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in EFY2003 (year ended 7 July 2011) stood at ETB6.83 billion. The failure to reach its revenue target was reportedly blamed on damages to the company’s telecoms infrastructure, with allAfrica citing an unnamed telecom official close to the matter as saying: ‘The cost of repairing stolen fibre-optic cables and power shortages are some of the reasons why the company did not reach its target.’ Ethio Telecom reportedly confirmed a few weeks ago that it had lost around ETB91 million due to theft and intentional damage of its infrastructure.

    Ethio Telecom also revealed that the number of subscribers across all of its services had reached 11,509,366 at the end of June 2011, of which the lion’s share – 10,526,190 – were attributed to mobile services. The number of customers signed up to the telco’s fixed line voice and internet/data services stood at 854,412 and 128,764 respectively, although only 16,529 of the latter were connected to high speed internet services such as ADSL or 3G mobile broadband. Looking forward Ethio Telecom has set out an extremely ambitious target, announcing that it aims to add some ten million new mobile subscribers in the coming year.

  • Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) says that the company has received an expression of interest from and entered into discussions, with a potential -- unnamed -- strategic equity partner.

    In a brief notice to the Malawi stock exchange, the company said that shareholders are advised to accordingly exercise caution in dealing in their shares in the Company until a further announcement is made.
    The company has a diverse shareholder base, with just 21% listed on the stock market. The government owns 44.5%, and three other corporate shareholders have between 10.5-13% each.

    According to the Mobile World analysts, the company had 1.185 million customers at the end of June, representing a market share of 42%.

  • Datatec, ("Datatec" or the "Group", JSE and LSE: DTC), the international Information and Communications Technology (ICT) group, is currently finalizing its results for the six months ended 31 August 2011 ("the Period"), which will be published on 12 October 2011.

    As a JSE listed company, Datatec is required to publish trading statements if the financial results for a given period are more than 20% higher than the results of the previous corresponding period. As described in more detail below, underlying* earnings per share, earnings per share and headline earnings per share for the Period are expected to be more than 20% higher than the previous corresponding period of six months ended 31 August 2010 (the "Comparative Period").

     Group revenues for the Period are expected to be approximately $2.4 billion, compared to approximately $2.1 billion in the Comparative Period, with overall margin expansion.

     Underlying* earnings per share for the Period are expected to be between 21 and 22 US cents per share, compared to 15.8 US cents per share for the Comparative Period, an increase of between 33% and 39%.

     Earnings per share and headline earnings per share are expected to be between 19 and 20 US cents per share, compared to 8.8 US cents in the Comparative Period, an increase of between 116% and 127%.

    Interim cash distribution by way of a capital reduction The Board has resolved to amend the group's dividend / capital distribution payment policy from making a single annual payment to making both interim and final distributions with immediate effect. The dividend cover policy of at least three times relative to underlying* earnings per share will apply to both interim and final distributions.

    The first interim distribution will accordingly be declared for the period ended 31 August 2011 with the interim results announcement on 12 October 2011.

  • Safaricom share price has got a boost from the planned increase in calling tariffs, rising by 6.9 per cent in one week as investors anticipate growth in the mobile provider’s profits. The stock has rebounded from a one-year low of Sh2.90 per share last week to Thursday’s Sh3.10 driven by higher demand from investors since last Thursday’s announcement of a possible tariff review. The telco closed its shareholders’ register for a Sh0.20 dividend last Friday.

    “Despite going ex-dividend, there has been sustained demand on the counter. This could be attributed to the expected increase in tariffs to cover the operator’s rising operating expenses,” said analysts at Kestrel Capital in a market report. In yesterday’s trading, the counter moved 6.9 million shares down from 15.2 million traded on Wednesday.

     “Large investment firms are selling off in Europe, especially bank stocks, following debt crisis that has seen banks’ credit rating being reviewed and are heading to other markets; that is why you see the resurgence especially in Safaricom which is attractive to them,” said Mr George Bodo, an analyst with ApexAfrica Capital.

    Safaricom stock is considered attractive due to its high liquidity and the foreigners’ bullish sentiment towards telecoms in emerging markets.

    Last week Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the company could no longer absorb rising inflationary pressures and was considering tariff reviews. Information PS Bitange Ndemo also spoke of the expected review, saying that it would be understandable owing to increased network maintenance and fuel cost.

    Passing on costs to the consumer is attractive to investors as it cushions the company’s earnings considering that its growth slowed down with start of price wars last year. Safaricom registered a 12.6 per cent drop in net profit to Sh13.2 billion for the financial year 2010/11.

    Analysts expect price wars in the industry to stop and focus on add-ons such as data and money transfer services. Safaricom is the only one of the four mobile phone firms that reported operational profit last year while the others are pressed to show returns, hence may follow in upward adjustment of prices. Rival Bharti Airtel has replaced its Managing Director Rene Meza who was seen as the face behind the low tariff charges.
     “We would expect price adjustments in calling rates to be most likely upwards following markets such as Tanzania and India where rates have increased in the recent past,” said
    Mr John Kamunya, an analyst with Dyer & Blair Investment Bank.

    Since Safaricom is strong in voice, data and money transfer gives it a strong position to continue recording growth in net profits.Telkom Kenya recently launched a high-speed data network.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For more informtion visit here:

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

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

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9Ð11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

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

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

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

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011,

    Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2
    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Ghana’s telecoms watchdog the National Communication Authority (NCA) is looking to crack down on mobile network operators if they fail to tackle the chronic problem of poor quality services. NCA deputy director Mawuko Zomelo confirmed the NCA plan, adding that the sanctions could take the form of a fine. In a field visit to Ghana’s Northern Region, NCA officials held meetings in a number of towns and districts to obtain feedback on the public’s perception of the quality of telecoms services. The information gathered confirmed suspicions that many Ghanaians are dissatisfied with the incumbent cellcos’ performance to date. The NCA is now looking to develop an effective strategy to address the problem, Zomelo said.

    - Gambia’s Daily Observer reports that the Ministry of Information, Communication & Information Infrastructure has revealed to the National Assembly that state-backed Gamtel is currently working on plans to expand its fledgling 3G wireless data network in the Greater Banjul area and other major towns and cities including Soma, Farafenni, Bansang and Basse. The disclosure was made in response to ministers’ questions on when 3G infrastructure would be expanded to provide wireless internet access for outlying communities. However, it was added that the expansion of the network is not in Gamtel’s 2011 budget, and would instead be included in its 2012 budget.

Digital Content

  • Airtel Ghana last week announced a deal for managed Value Added Services (VAS) with mobile software company, Rancard Solutions. Under the terms of this agreement, Airtel Ghana will use Rancard’s service management tool, Value Added Services Provider Manager (VASP Manager), to deploy and manage multiple content provider accounts and services. This enables the mobile network to render a rich, diverse and concerted mobile content and service experience for their subscribers.

    Built by Rancard, VASP Manager runs in the rancardmobility.com cloud and enables Airtel Ghana to deploy, manage, deliver and monetize applications, content and services over various channels (mobile web, SMS, MMS, USSD, etc.), using Rancard’s content discovery technology Rendezvous, and to provide access to major brands including BBC, ESPN, MTVBase and Google.

    VASP Manager provides a seamless service management interface to Rancard’s mobile message switch, payments gateway and content hosting applications, which are all integrated with Airtel’s infrastructure for billing, messaging and subscriber management.

    The Rendezvous technology leverages network data to provide a personalized, relevant, content discovery experience for mobile subscribers using social recommendations, which are proven to yield four times the rate of promotions. This allows Airtel to connect their subscribers to relevant content, applications and services, a move the network believes will establish it as an innovation-adopting pioneer in the marketplace and multiply its rapidly growing subscriber base.

    Rancard’s Director for Product Management and Marketing, Ehizogie Binitie said in a statement, “Rancard’s focus is to provide mobile network operators with the tools that enable them to improve their ARPUs and keep
    subscribers engaged through innovation. We believe with Rendezvous we enable mobile subscribers to find the content/applications/services they really want with software-enabled recommendations from people they trust inside of the network.”

    Airtel’s Director of Marketing, Oare Ojekere, said of the partnership, “Airtel’s partnership with Rancard Solutions gives us the flexibility to address our customers’ needs in various ways, leading to greater customer satisfaction; providing another reason to join the network that is customer-centric.”

  • Deutsche Welle continues to expand its services in Tanzania by cooperating with Vodacom Tanzania Ltd. – the largest mobile provider in the country. Starting September 9, 2011, DW’s popular radionovela “Learning by Ear” will be available on-demand for mobile service subscribers.

    The programming is targeted to teenagers and young adults and provides information on important topics like HIV, human rights, democracy and the environment with an exciting mix of stories and features. Learning by Ear is produced in all of DW’s programming languages for Africa and is already broadcast in Tanzania as part of DW-RADIO/Kiswahili. 
    Deutsche Welle’s Kiswahili service is among the most popular radio programs in the country. Around 70 percent of Tanzanians are familiar with Deutsche Welle and every third is a frequent listener of the Kiswahili program. Besides broadcasting the Kiswahili Service offers sms-news messages via mobile phone every day, comprehensive website (www.dw-world.de/kiswahili), Twitter and Facebook.

    Customers who have signed up for the “Music Radio” service from Vodacom Tanzania Ltd. can access every episode of the Learning by Ear series for a special price based on minutes of usage. Customers dial 09011 22 201 from their mobile phone to subscribe to the Music Radio service and listen to the instruction on how to access the different Learning by Ear series.

    Learning by Ear was started as Deutsche Welle initiative for Africa in 2008 with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office. The series has been successful with younger listeners and is entirely produced in cooperation with partners throughout Africa and written by African authors. More than 270 African radio stations have broadcasted Learning by Ear since the series started in 2008. The series has received national and international awards, including “most creative radio format” from the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) in 2009.

    Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcaster. With DW-TV, DW-RADIO and DW-WORLD.DE, it produces news, background information and cultural highlights worldwide, while creating a platform for intercultural dialogue.
    Vodacom Tanzania Ltd is Tanzania’s leading cellular network offering state-of-the-art GSM communication services to more than 9 million customers across the country.

    Earlier this year Vodacom Tanzania launched the very first Mobile Radio and Mobile TV service. With an extensive network coverage Vodacom Tanzania continues researching for new services to the utmost benefit of the Tanzanian market and public at large.

  • Google has announced the winners of the Android Developer Challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa, a competition that was announced back in April, set up to encourage the development of exciting, high quality applications that can delight mobile users in Africa and around the world.

    Developers in Sub-Saharan Africa submitted hundreds of innovative and interesting applications across three broad categories: apps related to entertainment, media and games; apps related to social networking and communication; and apps related to productivity, tools, and local and geo services.

    In July, Google had announced the top 29 applications, provided them new phones, mentoring from Googlers and six weeks to improve their applications. From those 29, the three winners have been announced. 

    Each winner will be awarded $25,000 to help them build and grow their business, and will receive additional mentoring from Google employees to help them make their app even better. The judges also gave honorable mention to finalist apps Rainbow Racer and Wedding Plandroid; the developers of those apps will each receive $5,000.

    All three winning apps, both honorable mention apps, and many of our finalist apps are or will soon be available on Android Market.
    The Winners:
    Entertainment/Media/Games
     Afrinolly - Nigeria
    Team: FansConnectOnline Limited
    Afrinolly brings African movies to your pocket, allowing you to watch movie trailers, read entertainment news and gossip, track celebs, listen to music and share it all with your friends.
    ________________________________________
    Social/Communication
    Olalashe - Kenya
    Team: David Lemayian, Capefield Ltd.
    Olalashe (which means "brother" in Maasai) is a geo-alert application that can help you communicate when you’re in trouble, through a widget that can send your location and a pre-set message to your ‘In Case of Emergency’ contacts with the push of a button.
    ________________________________________
    Productivity
    Shoppers' Delight - Kenya
    Team: Elan Telemedia Ltd
    Shoppers' Delight is a shopping application that allows shoppers to compare product prices across different area supermarkets. The app also helps shoppers discover bargains and relevant sales, and access maps and health information.

More

  • Airtel has hired Willie Ellis who previously worked for Vodacom South Africa to become its Product and Innovation Director.

  • Reference Number: AJS0011342
    Job Category:  IT- Account Management
    Preferred Degree:  Bachelors Degree
    Job Type:  Permanent/Full Time
    Job Country:  Rwanda
    Job Location:  Kigali-Rwanda
    Experience (Years): 2-4
    Job Description
    MTN RWANDACELL is a GSM Telecommunications Company based in Rwanda with its Head office in the Capital city of Kigali. Formed in 1998, the Company has recorded exceptional growth and this trend is continuing into the future. MTN Rwanda Cell continually strives for excellence with high levels of Customer Care forming the foundation of the Company's Vision and Mission.

    MTN RWANDACELL would like to recruit competent staff for the following job.
    Business Risk Analyst

    Major responsibilities of the job:
    To assist management with the implementation of proper risk management processes in the Company.
    Provide assurance to management on adequacy and effectiveness of risk management and revenue assurance activities within MTN Rwandacell.

    Key performance areas of the job:
    Coordinate day to day risk management activities within MTN Rwandacell
    Maintenance of comprehensive and updated strategic and business risk registers.
    Provide quarterly risk management input to the quarterly operations review reports.
    Provide quarterly progress on revenue loss risk management activities
    Create a companywide proactive risk management culture.

    Minimum education necessary:
    Bachelors of Commerce Degree
    Possession of an auditing qualification (CIA, CISA...) and/or professional Accountancy qualification (CA, ACCA, CPA etc) would be advantageous.
    Minimum experience necessaryto perform this job:
    Minimum of 2 years of Auditing/Risk management/consulting experience in an internationally recognized professional accounting firm or an international organization.
    Proficient in use of the company standard software: Excel, Word, Power points; MS projects, Access, etc.
    A thorough understanding of telecommunication business processes, products, services and overall business.
    Proficiency in the use of auditing and risk management softwares.
    Auditing experience in telecommunications and information systems as comparative advantage

    Skills/Competencies/ Attributes Required:

    Demonstrate thorough knowledge and understanding of risk and control methodologies
    Completion of assignments in accordance with the department methodology and pre-set deadlines.
    Comprehensive, concise well researched reports.
    Increased awareness of control and risk within MTN Rwandacell.
    Good Interpersonal skills.
    Presentation and facilitation skills.
    Working under pressure to meet reporting deadlines.
    How to apply:

    Please forward letters of application together with detailed curriculum vitae, photocopies of academic and professional certificates and contact details of three referees, so as to reach the Human Resources & Administration Department as soon as possible.

    Note: If you are not contacted 10 days after the submission application, then you were not considered for this position.

    MTN Rwandacell is an equal opportunity employer.

    MTN RWANDACELL Ltd is a GSM Telecommunications Company formed in 1998, based in Rwanda with its Head office in the capital City of Kigali. The Company has recorded exceptional growth and this trend is continuing into the future.

    MTN Rwanda continually strives for excellence with high levels of Customer Care, forming the foundation of the Company's Vision and Mission. MTN RWANDACELL Ltd would like to recruit a competent person in the position below.

Issue no 572 16th September 2011

node ref id: 23004

Top story

  • Africa’s long road to high-speed broadband is being made in leaps and bounds. Every week brings news of another piece of the jigsaw fitting into place. This week it’s the completion of the national fibre backbone in one of Africa’s larger markets. However, there’s still remains a yawning gap between the promise of ubiquitous, cheap bandwidth and the current realities of the continent. Russell Southwood runs his fingers over the blockages that still remain.

    It’s hard not to be excited by the news that Angola (and its usually rather ponderous incumbent Angola Telecom) have completed 10,000 kms of national fibre backbone that connects every province in the country. It is a huge place and suffers from an enormous range of practical difficulties. Nevertheless, it has completed the telecommunications equivalent of building a motorway network across the country.

    In this same week, one of my analysts bought to my attention an infographic from Google on download speeds in Africa. This claims to show the fastest download speeds in Africa, ranging from 10.1 Mbps in Ghana to 1.38 Mbps in Nigeria. It puts the world average download speed at 8.48 Mbps. The graphic is shown below:

    The idea that Ghana has the best download speeds in Africa will cause a long, dry chuckle amongst my Ghanaian colleagues followed by them beating their head against the wall slowly in frustration. If the average household download speed achieved is 10.1 Mbps, I will (as a non-hat wearer) duly eat my hat: naturally, lightly sautéed with olive oil, garlic and red onions.

    At this point, I can hear the siren voices saying: why does it matter? Things are getting better. It matters because if Africa is to do all the things that the Internet and data access promise, these have to happen at a speed that allow more or less instantaneous access rather than needing to make a cup of coffee while you wait for something to download. Demand for content and services is being throttled by the inability of operators to deliver reasonably priced, fast (10 Mbps, I wish) and reliable bandwidth. There is significant evidence that Africans (particularly young ones) want Facebook, You Tube and other more local Internet services as much as any other group of citizens in the world. The key to them being able to get them is delivery on that promise of fast, affordable bandwidth.

    The blockages are many and for those who follow these things, have a familiar ring to them:

    International bandwidth access: By the end of 2012, nearly every coastal African country will have a landing station. The only exception is likely to be Eritrea but its rulers take perhaps too greater pride in being exceptional so there’s not much can be done there. There’s some doubts about the southern reach of the ACE cable and others may join that list.

    In some coastal countries, like Ghana and Nigeria, there will be 5 landing stations and international bandwidth will sell in the lower hundreds of dollars per mbps. In many other countries, the World Bank has encouraged nationally-led operator consortia to run the single landing station and this should ensure open access and reasonable prices. But there are a number of countries (notably Cameroon and Gabon) where old-fashioned incumbents will sell a little of their huge fibre inventory at artificially high prices. In other places like DRC where the Government insisted that the (almost non-existent) incumbent be the licence-holder, the jury is out.

    Pity the landlocked: There are 12 landlocked countries in Africa and as a number of studies have shown, they suffer multiple disadvantages because they lack access to the sea. One of the most notable is that the transit price for getting their data to all these new international landing stations often costs the same or more than it costs for their data to complete the journey from the landing station to London or New York.

    One of the continent’s major, powerful mobile players was telling us recently that it was impossible to get to get reasonably priced transit bandwidth out of one of its West African landlocked country markets. This same operator is the cause of this problem in other territories rather than the victim of it.Right hand, meet the left hand.

    Considerable effort has gone into creating equitable open access to international landing stations but rather less into tackling the problem for some of Africa’s more disadvantaged economies. WIOCC’s East African Backbone reserves capacity at reasonable prices for landlocked members of its consortium. But there is nothing similar elsewhere in Africa and the cross-border expansion of Africa’s carriers’ carriers (like Phase3 Telecom, Suburban and KDN) has hit a plateau from a combination of capital and licensing issues. Indeed, KDN is currently being sued by one of its suppliers in the Kenyan courts. A World Bank scheme to use fibre deployed by the members of the West African Power Pool has disappeared without trace.

    National backbones – the problems come home to roost: If there is a problem with transit pricing, the same issue is reflected at a national level. Bandwidth from Lagos to London is now down into the low hundreds per Mbps and will undoubtedly go lower as more cables arrive. However, the considerably shorter journey from Lagos to Abuja costs US$1,000- 1,200 per Mbps. Nigeria is one of the most competitive countries and has historically, led on the regulatory front, so why is this occurring?

    There are many competitors but only two of them (MTN and Nitel) have genuinely national networks. The long-standing problems with the incumbent Nitel and its multiple failed privatisations mean that MTN comes close to being a de facto monopoly operator at this level.

    Other countries have chosen to make building a fibre backbone of this sort a national priority but these initiatives are not without issues. Uganda’s Chinese-built and financed backbone is widely acknowledged to have been over-costly and there are doubts about its operational effectiveness. In Tanzania, the Government has made much play of separating out TTCL’s national fibre backbone (again Chinese-built but operating more effectively) within the company. But it has insisted that it can only sell a relatively high minimum amount of bandwidth to a limited group of operators and its pricing structure still produces artificially high prices. Contrast this with Ghana’s National Communications Backbone company that offers a flat rate per Mbps across the whole country.

    There’s also a problem of investment displacement. Again take the example of Tanzania. The private sector would have built 70-80% of the network that the Government took a loan from China to build. So why didn’t it allow the private sector to build it (focusing on regulating price and access) and agree that its (lesser) financial contribution would build those parts the market wouldn’t?

    Mobile networks not fit for data purpose: The Irish are said to say:”If you want to go there, I wouldn’t start from here.” In a little over ten years, Africa’s mobile operators have put up voice networks that cover anywhere between 30-80% of the continent’s population with voice coverage. In the last several years, they have been steadily upgrading these networks to handle data with the seemingly endless acronyms that promise high-speed data and only occasionally deliver it.

    However, what started as a narrow pipe voice network with no IP elements is now creaking at the seams as it seeks to go off and become an all-singing, all dancing data network. It’s like the streets of Nairobi or Lagos or any other African city: the build up of traffic at different points during the day turns the road into a car park where nothing moves.

    One major mobile operator told us that in one of its larger country markets, rural data demand using GPRS and EDGE was doubling in volume every six months. Already at this 2-2.5G level, data traffic exceeded voice traffic by 60/40 and on 3G, the proportions are 90/10. The same pattern is apparent across all operators. The future is an IP-enabled data network that will carry the content and services that will replace some of the voice revenues as ARPUs go down. For better or for worse, mobile operators are central to the process of delivering affordable data to the widest number of people. However, they are currently struggling to transform what their networks can do in data terms with varying degrees of success.

    LTE for all – meet the future?:The mobile operators’ strongest card for continuing to be taken seriously in terms of data delivery is LTE. The Kenyan Government decided that the quickest way to achieve this (and it has a good track record on speed of movement, see TEAMS) was to put out a tender for an open access, national network. In the absence of this, it may turn out that LTE and high-speed data delivery on it, will be the thing that further entrenches the market position of the new mobile incumbents.

    In order to build an open access LTE network, you need access to the mobile operators tower network and so the arm-wrestling begins. New incumbent Safaricom and old incumbent Telkom Kenya have the power to negotiate a two week extension on the deadline. Since the winning bidder has to include an operator with an extensive tower network (Safaricom?), it will be necessary to negotiate with them placing the towers into the hands of a trusted third party operator, like Eaton, Helios, American Towers or another. The failure to get this kind of open access structure right will put most other operators at a disadvantage against those who can make the investment.

    The alternative is deep-pocket investment in fibre (to the home, office and cabinet) of the kind being carried out by insurgent challengers like 21st Century, Jamii Telecom and Wananchi. But the skew to mobile use makes this a useful supplement rather than the central play. In this context, not enough African Governments have allowed their utilities to sell “dark fibre” as has happened in Uganda.

    The strange case of technology as the game-changer: Another approach to breaking the back of this affordable access everywhere problem has been the argument that certain technologies would be “game-changers”. Over the last five years Wi-MAX has had much airplay for this tune. It made early promises of both mobile data and voice but the latter was never delivered. Unfortunately, its base station technology even when it was working at its best was too expensive and had no customer device ecology at the right price. On that score, Wi-Fi wipes the floor with Wi-MAX in terms of delivering bandwidth cheaply and reliably and has existing, cheap customer devices, not ones that will be ready “real-soon-now”.

    The holy-grail in technology terms is a low-cost, IP-enabled base station that operates on small amounts of satellite bandwidth to reach edge markets that need below an E1 of bandwidth. Thus far everyone has delivered things that produce incremental cost changes but not the step down in costs that is needed. It’s a complicated bundle to get right involving renewable power, footprint and satellite optimization. But this is the frontier that will begin to see changes in the core network over the next ten years if it can be delivered. Why have an extremely cheap, IP-enabled base station at the edge of the network and not start replacing existing, end-of-life equipment with it in the core network?

    Ubiquitous Wi-Fi access – giving local access:One of the remaining blockages is that access at the local level is fairly restricted. If you’re not a corporate customer paying premium prices, it’s difficult to get cheap and reliable household bandwidth or to find its equivalent through public, Wi-Fi hot-spots.

    At an early stage, some of Africa’s mobile operators (notably MTN) started experimenting with separating out their data traffic from their voice traffic at base station level. This practice is now widely described with the rather ugly phrase “Wi-Fi offload”.

    As the number of smart and feature-rich handsets in Africa increases, customers will increasingly be encouraged by mobile operators – before the LTE nirvana arrives – to switch over to a Wi-Fi hot-spot or Wi-Fi mesh network. Google has been experimenting with this approach in Nairobi’s The Junction shopping mall and other operators are trialing a similar approaches.

    As ever, the issue in competition terms is whoever entrenches themselves at this level could turn out to be the price “gate-keeper.” For mobile operators, the recurring question remains: is this core to our business? Thus far they have defensively played every hand that looks threatening to them but the tide may turn.

    Fighting for the unconnected:There’s a lot of rhetoric around reaching the rural populations of Africa but not a great deal of action. When one large operator tells us that 10% of its base stations are commercially marginal, the scale of the challenge is apparent. Yet there is a clear interest in the Internet in rural areas shown by that stat quoted earlier of rural data use doubling and by national surveys carried out in places like Kenya.

    Many regulators in Africa have collected large amounts of money from operators but this has largely stayed in their bank accounts because they have taken forever to set up universal service agency (USA) functions or separate organisations.

    Where they have spent the money, it has tended to go back to the "usual suspects" (incumbent and mobile operators). In the main they have tended to extend their voice networks, leaving Internet/data the poor relation. (the exceptions include places like Uganda). The argument against these structures is that if you are relying on “the usual suspects” to do the work, it is an expensive financial structure that strips out a significant percentage for overhead costs before returning the money to the same operators. Therefore why not simply write USA clauses into their licences that translate into the kinds of sums being extracted?

    But the issue is perhaps one that requires closer attention of a different kind. Government policy-makers need to say to the operators, either you go to these areas or we will give licences and spectrum to others who will do so on a local basis. This leads to three broad potential options:

    1. The mobile operators (going the low cost base station route) do their own coverage in these areas and the cost is deducted in whole or in part from their US obligations.

    2. A independent, infrastructure sharing company offers operators the ability to connect to these areas at an agreed price per minute. This was what Ericsson was promoting 2-3 years ago in Tanzania with optimised base stations that had larger coverage areas but very little has been heard of it recently.

    3. You set up independent, small-scale operators and they get an interconnection agreement that might be asymmetrical to give them sufficient financial means to survive and again you could deduct an initial “market-generating” subsidy from the US funding obligation.

    It’s not the digital divide, it’s the electricity divide:It doesn’t matter whether it’s a mobile phone, a PC or a TV, they all require electricity. So the real divide will increasingly be between those who have access to reliable electricity to power these devices and those who don’t. There are two broad categories: firstly, those who already supposedly have access to electricity who would like reliable power that didn’t go down regularly and spike in ways that damaged their devices; and secondly, those with no electricity or struggling with occasional power, largely but not exclusively in rural areas

    For all the energy that goes into promoting universal access, not enough goes into addressing these power problems. At a recent broadcast conference, one broadcaster was speaking optimistically about the impact rural electrification would have on increasing TV audiences in Uganda. But for every Uganda, there are two or three African countries where addressing electricity supply seems to be in stasis.

    What is harder to understand is why the kind of power roll-outscheme that operators came together to achieve in Uganda cannot be generalized across other countries? Also why are the infrastructure sharing companies not addressing power issues? Why can’t there be small-scale, local power providers? You cannot separate out the achievement of a digital dividend from the provision of reliable power supply. The two silos of communications and power are related.

    The arrival of the international fibre cables has provided a warm glow of achievement to many of Africa’s politicians but unless they focus on the remaining problems outlined above, the promise will always fall short of the potential.


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

    Kamal Budhabbatti, Craft Silicon on its banking products and m-money payment product ELMA

    Santos Okottah, founder, eziki.tv on its livestreaming and downloads service

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

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

telecoms

  • Airtel's PayOnlineInKenya is touted to be the world's first virtual card that operates off a wallet and residing on a mobile phone. The new system is in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide and Standard Chartered Bank.

    Safaricom and I&M Bank also unveiled a service that allows M-pesa customers to transfer money from their accounts to a Visa pre-paid card - M-pesa prepay Safari Card - which can be used globally.

    Airtel Kenya on Wednesday unveiled a new online payment system that would see her mobile subscribers use handsets to purchase online.

    Dubbed PayOnlineInKenya, the new system is in partnership with MasterCard Worldwide and Standard Chartered Bank. This is touted as the world's first virtual cards that operates off a wallet and residing on a mobile phone.

    Safaricom and I&M Bank also unveiled a service that allows M-pesa customers to transfer money from their accounts to a Visa pre-paid card - M-pesa prepay Safari Card - which can be used globally.

    PayOnlineInKenya is a single use feature or a one time shopping card that provides the consumer with a convenient and secure online shopping experience. Users in Kenya can make purchases of up to Ksh 35,000.

    Each time an Airtel subscriber is shopping online he or she will be able to request a single use shopping card number. Airtel's PayOnlineInKenya service will generate a special 16 digit number that enables the completion of the transaction. On completion of the transaction, a confirmation message will be sent to the customer's mobile phone. The ultimate aim of this service is to allow Airtel subscribers to make payment across the MasterCard network.

    According to Airtel's estimate over 80 per cent of adult Africans do not have bank accounts.
    The mobile technology platform and Airtel's vast consumer penetration combined with the financial structure and regulatory framework provided by Standard Chartered Bank and the global acceptance of MasterCard will makes the new service attractive.

  • The Star Cell MTN Communication Company in collaboration with Ecobank- Liberia Friday, September 9, 2011 formally launched the Mobile Money Product in the country.
    The Mobile Money Product is the newest service the two entities have introduced on the Liberian market. The usage of this service will afford users of mobile phones in the country to access money sent to them by friends, family members among others via their personal phones.

    Speaking at the launch of the Mobile Money Product, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lone Star Cell MTN, Mazen Marou, said the Lone Star Cell MTN is always committed to providing exciting and innovative products to the Liberian people.
    He said mobile money product is a new service being provided in the country by the two entities, saying the product is being operated in all places the MTN brand is in existence. "Statistics shows that mobile money product creates more jobs, stimulates investment and increases revenue for government," the Lone Star Cell MTN boss pointed out.
    He indicated that the mobile money will afford Liberian in the rural parts to have access to cash money, transfer and receive money, cash checks, paid bills among others.

  • Vodacom is facing the wrath of its subscribers, following an announcement that the mobile operator would throttle the connection speeds of BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) users who exceed 100MB per month.Social networks erupted last week after the news broke; with many subscribers threatening Vodacom with the Consumer Protection Act and some saying they are considering changing operators.
    Vodacom responded to criticism by emphasising that the new system is a result of its own research, which has shown that 95% of BlackBerry data usage is attributable to less than 5% of users. As a result, BIS users who exceed the 100MB threshold per month will have their connection speed reduced from 3G to 2G. Vodacom says BlackBerry Enterprise users will not be affected, and emphasises that the new measure is aimed at improving the user experience for the majority of BIS users.
    Responding to a barrage of questions via Twitter, Vodacom told worried subscribers that some in those 5% were using over 150Gigs a month, making the experience terrible for the rest. The operator also said that since the data is compressed, it actually equates to two for four times more, and clarified that throttling will not affect e-mail, BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook or Twitter, only browsing and streaming.
    Chief Technology Officer Andries Delport says: “We need to ensure that all BlackBerry users are able to enjoy the service that they pay for. When we realised that such a small minority was using the bulk of the capacity, we decided to implement measures that will ensure that BlackBerry users will enjoy a better browsing experience overall.”
    MTN also appears to be considering the same strategy. MTN SA CIO Kanagaratnam Lambotharan says: “MTN has seen a significant number of customers using the BIS platform for purposes it was not initially intended for. “MTN is currently exploring ways to minimise the negative impact this might have and will communicate to customers in due course.”

    Cell C says it has no such plans in the pipeline at this stage, and while 8ta could not respond by the time of publication, it has been reported that it also has no plans to throttle BIS.

    Virgin Mobile's chief marketing and strategy manager, Jonathan Newman, says in terms of the company's BlackBerry terms of use and conditions: “In the future, we may look at adding a fair use clause or other measures, should we deem it necessary. Research In Motion could not respond by the time of publication.

    On Twitter, Vodacom also responded to the concerns of contract subscribers, stating: “No effect on contracts, the 'fair usage' policy was always in the contract. As we said, 95% of users won't be affected at all.”

  • Mali’s government is inviting bids for a third telecommunications license and is expected to make a decision within two months, state-owned L’Essor newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.

    Submissions will be allowed from Sept. 19 to Oct. 11, with the handing over of bid documents set for Nov. 14, according to the newspaper. The payment of license charges is expected to be completed by the end of November, L’Essor said.
    Orange and the former incumbent Sotelma-Malitel are the two incumbent operators in the African nation, the newspaper reported.

internet

  • Maintaining communication with friends and family is no doubt top priority for everyone, especially those living out of the country. It is therefore no surprise that many people opt for quicker and faster communication via phones and emails over the traditional way of posting letters through the Post Office. This may simply be interpreted as one way of how modern technology has affected postal business. However, postal operators believe they are benefiting more from the advance technologies.

    According to the Commercial Director of the National Post Office of Rwanda, Dieudonne Maniragaba, ICT has actually complemented the postal business. "Internet is not a competitor to us; it's just a solution that has instead helped us improve our service delivery to our clientele and has made our work much faster," Maniragaba said.

    According to him, some members of the public harbour a false impression of the Post Office believing that its business is solely confined to courier services. "The Post Office still has a good number of clientele and that's because we do a wide range of activities, not just sending and receiving letters. Our target is commercial and administrative letters of which we have so many clients that still require our services," Maniragaba explained. He enumerated other services such as delivery of parcels, packages, express mail, money transfer, courier services among others.

    He noted that their potential market includes government institutions, NGOs, embassies and the general public. Maniragaba said that the postal services now reach a wider population compared to the past years.He added that the National Post Office is still going strong and now boasts of over 152 employees whose salary is paid through the profits the parastatal makes and not the Government budget.
    Maniragaba stated that they have branches in all districts and intend to roll out e-Commerce services to improve trade facilitation and simplify trade procedures. Based on the Kigali master plan, the Post Office aims to start home delivery of letters and parcels in the near future.

    "We used to deliver couriers up to the district level but we have now gone as far as sectors and various institutions. We also use the tracking system which is IT-based, to ensure efficient delivery of packages up to sector level," he explained.

  • It is indisputably the era of the consumer. Yet in two centuries there have only been two major innovations in the way life insurance products are sold to consumers. The first was when brokers were introduced some 160 years ago and the second when call centres came along in the 1970s.

    The crux of the matter lies in the word 'sold'. The biggest game-changer would surely be the one that can remove the cross the life industry has born for so long: the assumption that its products are sold and not bought.

    The magic bullet is proving to be the Internet. Internet-savvy and -empowered consumers have overcome the 'grudge' in this traditionally grudge purchase in two ways. First, with the incentive of a price that is up to 50% cheaper and, secondly, by doing it themselves on the internet.

    I am referring to a fully automated online life insurance model, not insurers who rely on an Internet presence and/or call centres. It is the fully online selling, underwriting and administrative model that has the potential to change the life industry as drastically as ATMs changed banks.

    The major advantage fully online life insurers have is the massive cost-saving of doing away with intermediaries, top heavy head-offices, customer-facing staff, call centres and inefficient administration.

    To understand how this is possible, take a look at the online life insurer's target market. These customers have already purchased numerous products on the Internet, some of which demand fairly complex interaction, such as travel and online auctions. Buying life products is the next notch in the e-commerce growth curve.

    Surprisingly, it not only attracts a young, elite market. Many of these empowered consumers are so-called 'grey surfers' over the age of 55 and even a sprinkling of users over 70.

    But the biggest potential for online life insurance lies with new entrants into the economy. They have grown up with online banking and will go to the Internet first for all their needs: a job, a place to stay, a partner, a car and yes, life products. Which explains why 50% of the total marketing spend in the UK has gone online, with half of that spent on Google ads.

    The number of Internet users in South Africa is boosted by the rapid increase in people accessing the Internet from their cellphones across a large spread of income brackets. Internet World Stats estimates the number of Internet users in SA at a conservative total of at least 6.8 million.

    A fast growing number of SA users access the Internet mainly from a cellphone, boosting the online life market to a potential six million people across a larger spread of income brackets. Online players will soon be ready to launch mobile applications designed to simplify the underwriting process on a mobile screen.

    In the online business model, the service provider and the consumer become partners, a relationship that demands a level of trust. The insurer even entrusts the client to self-underwrite, something that was inconceivable until very recently, and is still frowned upon from the heights of some ivory towers. But why not? Empowered consumers understand that non-disclosure will jeopardise their cover.

    Self-administration is another feature of this partnership, another significant cost-saving. Need to change contact details, changes in cover, beneficiaries or banking details? Thanks, I'll do it myself.

    In this world, the new intermediary's name is 'word of mouth' and clients are rewarded in the form of credited premiums for signing on new clients. "Oh, but wait until the time comes to claim," cry the sceptics. However, leading international reinsurers have needed no encouragement to throw their weight behind the online players.

    Neither have leading underwriters such as Guardrisk, which is part of Alexander Forbes, one of South Africa's leading financial services groups They are clearly satisfied by the level of underwriting which is done upfront, as with traditional insurers.

    Consumers now have the power of choice as never before and increasingly that choice will be to put their money where they perceive real value. And if that means a new generation of customers who will go online and buy life insurance instead of it being sold to them, it will be good for the entire industry. There's no going back.

computing

  • Intel demonstrated a CPU at their IDF conference that can run on the energy generated by a small solar cellDuring the opening keynote at this year’s (2011) Intel Developer Forum (IDF) conference held in San Francisco, showcased a low power processor developed by Intel Labs.

    Calling onto stage Sriram Vangal, principal research scientist at Intel, they demonstrated a processor running on a small solar cell. Vangal explained that the processor was running at near the threshold voltage of its transistors, but was still able to run Windows and display an animation. The animation seemed to be an animated gif and showed a kitten wearing headphones.

    To prove that that processor was indeed running off of the solar cell, Vangal put his hand between it and the light source, causing the computer to lock up.
    While the benefits of technology like this for South Africans and other developing nations is obvious, Otellini said that they have no plans to turn solar powered computing into a product yet.

    The purpose of the research and the demonstration was to show off Intel’s work in reducing processor power requirements to increase battery life, tying in with their push into the so-called “Ultrabook” and smartphone markets.

  • The National Research Foundation has submitted on 15 September 2011 the documents supporting the African bid to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Radio Telescope. The documents are South Africa's response to the Request for Information issued by the international SKA Siting Group in June 2011.

    This follows the initial submission of expressions of interest in 2003 and of reports in 2005, which led to South Africa and Australia being shortlisted as both being suitable for the SKA.

    The African SKA site bid is led by South Africa's Department of Science and Technology and includes Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Mauritius, Kenya and Ghana.

    The reports submitted cover a wide range of information - measurements of radio frequency interference and the physical conditions on the core site in the Northern Cape Karoo and the remote sites spread through South Africa and the other partner countries, measurements of the ionosphere and troposphere, analysis of the scientific performance of the array, designs for the roads, buildings and other infrastructure required, proposals for how 105MW of power can be supplied to the core site in the Karoo and how the remote sites can be powered, how the huge amounts of data can be transported from the telescope dishes in the Karoo and other sites to the central computer and then to the control centre in Cape Town and to science centres in other countries around the world, customs and excise duties, work permits and visas, laws affecting how the SKA will operate in South Africa and the other countries, working conditions for a highly skilled workforce of scientists and engineers, the financial and economic system, how security will be provided for the telescope and much else besides.

    The South African SKA team has worked closely with telecommunication service providers including Broadband InfraCo, Meraka, Nokia Siemens Networks, Seacom, FibreCo, Muvoni Weltex, EASSY, SIA Solutions and Cisco and with Eskom, the City of Cape Town and Aurecon to come up with robust and cost-effective data transport, power and infrastructure proposals for the telescope.

    The team has also had tremendous support from Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), Sentech, the Department of Communications, the Department of Public Enterprise, Vodacom, MTN and the National Association of Broadcasters in designing solutions to reduce radio interference on the site, while still providing services to people in the area.

    A great deal of support was also received from South African Revenue Service (SARS), the Reserve Bank, Southern Mapping Geospatial, the HSRC, the Centre for High Performance Computing, the Council for Geosciences, the South Africa Weather Service and many other government departments and service providers in preparing the bid reports. The bid documents represent eight years of work.
    The Minister for Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, said "Africa will provide a home for the SKA to do revolutionary science. Our bid is a strong, cost-effective and robust proposal for building the Square Kilometre Array in Africa. Our site is orders of magnitude better than any existing observatory and is protected by the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act.

    Our team, with business and industry, has developed excellent solutions for how to provide power, data transport and infrastructure for the telescope very cost effectively. The great progress we have made in building the MeerKAT telescope has won us many friends and has changed the way the international community sees us".
    Pandor further added, "Many leading international researchers are now taking up full or part-time positions in our universities and the MeerKAT team. Our Human Capital Programme has won respect around the world.

    The excellence of our site has been recognised by the construction and operation of the world-leading PAPER and CBASS telescopes on our site, in which we are collaborating with the leading US institutions.

    We are fully committed to the SKA and so are our partners in Africa. Building world-leading science instruments and research in Africa will help us to create the skills, innovation and technology which will underpin our long-term vision for Africa as a leading economic power-house". Pandor also thanked SKA partner governments for their cooperation and assistance.

    The bid reports will be evaluated by expert panels and considered by an independent SKA Science Advisory Committee of leading international scientists and science administrators. They may ask for further information or clarification from South Africa and Australia (which has partnered with New Zealand).

    SKA South Africa project office representatives will meet this committee in the USA in December. If there are sufficient differences between the two bids, the Committee will aim to make a recommendation on a site by January 2012.

    Its recommendation will go to the not-for-profit SKA company which will be established in November, with about fifteen governments as its members. They will consider the recommendation and any other factors they wish to take into account and aim to make a decision by February or March 2012.

    Nigeria: Nation Loses N18.9Billion to Foreign Software Licensing - Notap
    The National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion has said that Nigeria lost about $118m (N18.9bn) in the last five years as capital flight from locally developed software to the importation of foreign software.

    The Head of Media and Public Relations, NOTAP, Adokiye Dagogo-George said while marking the "African Day for Technology and Intellectual Property".
    He said in compliance with the resolution made by the African Union, September 13 of every year is set aside by all African countries to arouse the "latent inventive, creative and innovative spirit of Africans in order to facilitate the acceleration of technological development in the continent."

    He explained that though there are Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora who have demonstrated ICT capabilities especially in software development, lack of awareness of their breakthroughs has hampered their patronage as all software deployed by the various sectors of the economy, particularly the financial sector were foreign ones.
    "It is against this background that NOTAP institutionalized the annual national workshop and exhibition on software licensing and development," he said.

    NOTAP was established as an agency of the Federal Ministry of Science Technology to facilitate the acquisition of technology in Nigeria.

    The agency has since been implanting the mandate through the evaluation, registration and monitoring of all technology transfer agreements signed by Nigerian entrepreneurs with their foreign technical partners.

    NOTAP was to ensure that the terms and conditions of the agreements are equitable, fair and commensurate and aligned with the capacity and capability of the Nigerian Innovation system.

    Dagogo-George disclosed that while carrying out its functions and activities, NOTAP makes concerted efforts to promote the development of locally motivated technologies through the linkage of industry with the National Innovation System in the area of scientific Research and Development, promotion of Intellectual Property Rights and commercialization of R&D results.

    He said: "NOTAP has, in recent times, established 30 Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Offices (IPTTOs) in research institutes and institutions of higher learning across the country.

    "IPTTOs were established in the knowledge centres to encourage market oriented and demand driven research, promote intellectual property protection and strengthen the linkage between industry, universities and research institutes."

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Ethiopian incumbent telco Ethio Telecom (formerly Ethiopian Telecom Corporation) has revealed that it missed its revenue target of ETB9.8 billion (USD565 million) for the year ended 7 July 2011 by a shortfall of 11%, allAfrica.com reports. With France Telecom (FT) having taken over management of the state-owned telco in December 2010, the failure to hit the target could mean that the European telecoms giant may see its management fee reduced under the terms of its contract with the Ethiopian government. It is understood that under the terms of the two-year, USD42.3 million agreement between FT and the state, the payment scheme is contingent upon a six-monthly performance review, with bonuses or deductions based on a percentage accomplishment of goals set as part of the deal.

    In a press release detailing the achievements of the most recent financial year, Ethio Telecom reported that gross turnover had increased from ETB7.05 billion in EFY2002 (the period from 8 July 2009 to 7 July 2010) to ETB8.815 billion in the same period a year later, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in EFY2003 (year ended 7 July 2011) stood at ETB6.83 billion. The failure to reach its revenue target was reportedly blamed on damages to the company’s telecoms infrastructure, with allAfrica citing an unnamed telecom official close to the matter as saying: ‘The cost of repairing stolen fibre-optic cables and power shortages are some of the reasons why the company did not reach its target.’ Ethio Telecom reportedly confirmed a few weeks ago that it had lost around ETB91 million due to theft and intentional damage of its infrastructure.

    Ethio Telecom also revealed that the number of subscribers across all of its services had reached 11,509,366 at the end of June 2011, of which the lion’s share – 10,526,190 – were attributed to mobile services. The number of customers signed up to the telco’s fixed line voice and internet/data services stood at 854,412 and 128,764 respectively, although only 16,529 of the latter were connected to high speed internet services such as ADSL or 3G mobile broadband. Looking forward Ethio Telecom has set out an extremely ambitious target, announcing that it aims to add some ten million new mobile subscribers in the coming year.

  • Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) says that the company has received an expression of interest from and entered into discussions, with a potential -- unnamed -- strategic equity partner.

    In a brief notice to the Malawi stock exchange, the company said that shareholders are advised to accordingly exercise caution in dealing in their shares in the Company until a further announcement is made.
    The company has a diverse shareholder base, with just 21% listed on the stock market. The government owns 44.5%, and three other corporate shareholders have between 10.5-13% each.

    According to the Mobile World analysts, the company had 1.185 million customers at the end of June, representing a market share of 42%.

  • Datatec, ("Datatec" or the "Group", JSE and LSE: DTC), the international Information and Communications Technology (ICT) group, is currently finalizing its results for the six months ended 31 August 2011 ("the Period"), which will be published on 12 October 2011.

    As a JSE listed company, Datatec is required to publish trading statements if the financial results for a given period are more than 20% higher than the results of the previous corresponding period. As described in more detail below, underlying* earnings per share, earnings per share and headline earnings per share for the Period are expected to be more than 20% higher than the previous corresponding period of six months ended 31 August 2010 (the "Comparative Period").

     Group revenues for the Period are expected to be approximately $2.4 billion, compared to approximately $2.1 billion in the Comparative Period, with overall margin expansion.

     Underlying* earnings per share for the Period are expected to be between 21 and 22 US cents per share, compared to 15.8 US cents per share for the Comparative Period, an increase of between 33% and 39%.

     Earnings per share and headline earnings per share are expected to be between 19 and 20 US cents per share, compared to 8.8 US cents in the Comparative Period, an increase of between 116% and 127%.

    Interim cash distribution by way of a capital reduction The Board has resolved to amend the group's dividend / capital distribution payment policy from making a single annual payment to making both interim and final distributions with immediate effect. The dividend cover policy of at least three times relative to underlying* earnings per share will apply to both interim and final distributions.

    The first interim distribution will accordingly be declared for the period ended 31 August 2011 with the interim results announcement on 12 October 2011.

  • Safaricom share price has got a boost from the planned increase in calling tariffs, rising by 6.9 per cent in one week as investors anticipate growth in the mobile provider’s profits. The stock has rebounded from a one-year low of Sh2.90 per share last week to Thursday’s Sh3.10 driven by higher demand from investors since last Thursday’s announcement of a possible tariff review. The telco closed its shareholders’ register for a Sh0.20 dividend last Friday.

    “Despite going ex-dividend, there has been sustained demand on the counter. This could be attributed to the expected increase in tariffs to cover the operator’s rising operating expenses,” said analysts at Kestrel Capital in a market report. In yesterday’s trading, the counter moved 6.9 million shares down from 15.2 million traded on Wednesday.

     “Large investment firms are selling off in Europe, especially bank stocks, following debt crisis that has seen banks’ credit rating being reviewed and are heading to other markets; that is why you see the resurgence especially in Safaricom which is attractive to them,” said Mr George Bodo, an analyst with ApexAfrica Capital.

    Safaricom stock is considered attractive due to its high liquidity and the foreigners’ bullish sentiment towards telecoms in emerging markets.

    Last week Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said the company could no longer absorb rising inflationary pressures and was considering tariff reviews. Information PS Bitange Ndemo also spoke of the expected review, saying that it would be understandable owing to increased network maintenance and fuel cost.

    Passing on costs to the consumer is attractive to investors as it cushions the company’s earnings considering that its growth slowed down with start of price wars last year. Safaricom registered a 12.6 per cent drop in net profit to Sh13.2 billion for the financial year 2010/11.

    Analysts expect price wars in the industry to stop and focus on add-ons such as data and money transfer services. Safaricom is the only one of the four mobile phone firms that reported operational profit last year while the others are pressed to show returns, hence may follow in upward adjustment of prices. Rival Bharti Airtel has replaced its Managing Director Rene Meza who was seen as the face behind the low tariff charges.
     “We would expect price adjustments in calling rates to be most likely upwards following markets such as Tanzania and India where rates have increased in the recent past,” said
    Mr John Kamunya, an analyst with Dyer & Blair Investment Bank.

    Since Safaricom is strong in voice, data and money transfer gives it a strong position to continue recording growth in net profits.Telkom Kenya recently launched a high-speed data network.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For more informtion visit here:

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

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

    World Telecom Summit 2011
    9Ð11 November, 2011, Singapore Marriott Hotel

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

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

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

    ICT Infrastructure Summit: Banking Solutions in Growth Economies
    29-30 November, 2011,

    Kingsway Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2
    Though technology innovation for banks in growth economies is ripe for growth, development is being stalled by some major infrastructural barriers including poor connectivity, a lack of political support, incorrect regulation and a lack of capital. The ICT Innovation for Banks in Growth Economies conference will arm you with the tools to upgrade your telecommunication infrastructure and scale up your branchless banking operations in order to reach millions of unbanked households. For further information please click here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telecoms, Rates, Offers and Coverage

  • - Ghana’s telecoms watchdog the National Communication Authority (NCA) is looking to crack down on mobile network operators if they fail to tackle the chronic problem of poor quality services. NCA deputy director Mawuko Zomelo confirmed the NCA plan, adding that the sanctions could take the form of a fine. In a field visit to Ghana’s Northern Region, NCA officials held meetings in a number of towns and districts to obtain feedback on the public’s perception of the quality of telecoms services. The information gathered confirmed suspicions that many Ghanaians are dissatisfied with the incumbent cellcos’ performance to date. The NCA is now looking to develop an effective strategy to address the problem, Zomelo said.

    - Gambia’s Daily Observer reports that the Ministry of Information, Communication & Information Infrastructure has revealed to the National Assembly that state-backed Gamtel is currently working on plans to expand its fledgling 3G wireless data network in the Greater Banjul area and other major towns and cities including Soma, Farafenni, Bansang and Basse. The disclosure was made in response to ministers’ questions on when 3G infrastructure would be expanded to provide wireless internet access for outlying communities. However, it was added that the expansion of the network is not in Gamtel’s 2011 budget, and would instead be included in its 2012 budget.

Digital Content

  • Airtel Ghana last week announced a deal for managed Value Added Services (VAS) with mobile software company, Rancard Solutions. Under the terms of this agreement, Airtel Ghana will use Rancard’s service management tool, Value Added Services Provider Manager (VASP Manager), to deploy and manage multiple content provider accounts and services. This enables the mobile network to render a rich, diverse and concerted mobile content and service experience for their subscribers.

    Built by Rancard, VASP Manager runs in the rancardmobility.com cloud and enables Airtel Ghana to deploy, manage, deliver and monetize applications, content and services over various channels (mobile web, SMS, MMS, USSD, etc.), using Rancard’s content discovery technology Rendezvous, and to provide access to major brands including BBC, ESPN, MTVBase and Google.

    VASP Manager provides a seamless service management interface to Rancard’s mobile message switch, payments gateway and content hosting applications, which are all integrated with Airtel’s infrastructure for billing, messaging and subscriber management.

    The Rendezvous technology leverages network data to provide a personalized, relevant, content discovery experience for mobile subscribers using social recommendations, which are proven to yield four times the rate of promotions. This allows Airtel to connect their subscribers to relevant content, applications and services, a move the network believes will establish it as an innovation-adopting pioneer in the marketplace and multiply its rapidly growing subscriber base.

    Rancard’s Director for Product Management and Marketing, Ehizogie Binitie said in a statement, “Rancard’s focus is to provide mobile network operators with the tools that enable them to improve their ARPUs and keep
    subscribers engaged through innovation. We believe with Rendezvous we enable mobile subscribers to find the content/applications/services they really want with software-enabled recommendations from people they trust inside of the network.”

    Airtel’s Director of Marketing, Oare Ojekere, said of the partnership, “Airtel’s partnership with Rancard Solutions gives us the flexibility to address our customers’ needs in various ways, leading to greater customer satisfaction; providing another reason to join the network that is customer-centric.”

  • Deutsche Welle continues to expand its services in Tanzania by cooperating with Vodacom Tanzania Ltd. – the largest mobile provider in the country. Starting September 9, 2011, DW’s popular radionovela “Learning by Ear” will be available on-demand for mobile service subscribers.

    The programming is targeted to teenagers and young adults and provides information on important topics like HIV, human rights, democracy and the environment with an exciting mix of stories and features. Learning by Ear is produced in all of DW’s programming languages for Africa and is already broadcast in Tanzania as part of DW-RADIO/Kiswahili. 
    Deutsche Welle’s Kiswahili service is among the most popular radio programs in the country. Around 70 percent of Tanzanians are familiar with Deutsche Welle and every third is a frequent listener of the Kiswahili program. Besides broadcasting the Kiswahili Service offers sms-news messages via mobile phone every day, comprehensive website (www.dw-world.de/kiswahili), Twitter and Facebook.

    Customers who have signed up for the “Music Radio” service from Vodacom Tanzania Ltd. can access every episode of the Learning by Ear series for a special price based on minutes of usage. Customers dial 09011 22 201 from their mobile phone to subscribe to the Music Radio service and listen to the instruction on how to access the different Learning by Ear series.

    Learning by Ear was started as Deutsche Welle initiative for Africa in 2008 with the support of the German Federal Foreign Office. The series has been successful with younger listeners and is entirely produced in cooperation with partners throughout Africa and written by African authors. More than 270 African radio stations have broadcasted Learning by Ear since the series started in 2008. The series has received national and international awards, including “most creative radio format” from the Association for International Broadcasting (AIB) in 2009.

    Deutsche Welle is Germany’s international broadcaster. With DW-TV, DW-RADIO and DW-WORLD.DE, it produces news, background information and cultural highlights worldwide, while creating a platform for intercultural dialogue.
    Vodacom Tanzania Ltd is Tanzania’s leading cellular network offering state-of-the-art GSM communication services to more than 9 million customers across the country.

    Earlier this year Vodacom Tanzania launched the very first Mobile Radio and Mobile TV service. With an extensive network coverage Vodacom Tanzania continues researching for new services to the utmost benefit of the Tanzanian market and public at large.

  • Google has announced the winners of the Android Developer Challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa, a competition that was announced back in April, set up to encourage the development of exciting, high quality applications that can delight mobile users in Africa and around the world.

    Developers in Sub-Saharan Africa submitted hundreds of innovative and interesting applications across three broad categories: apps related to entertainment, media and games; apps related to social networking and communication; and apps related to productivity, tools, and local and geo services.

    In July, Google had announced the top 29 applications, provided them new phones, mentoring from Googlers and six weeks to improve their applications. From those 29, the three winners have been announced. 

    Each winner will be awarded $25,000 to help them build and grow their business, and will receive additional mentoring from Google employees to help them make their app even better. The judges also gave honorable mention to finalist apps Rainbow Racer and Wedding Plandroid; the developers of those apps will each receive $5,000.

    All three winning apps, both honorable mention apps, and many of our finalist apps are or will soon be available on Android Market.
    The Winners:
    Entertainment/Media/Games
     Afrinolly - Nigeria
    Team: FansConnectOnline Limited
    Afrinolly brings African movies to your pocket, allowing you to watch movie trailers, read entertainment news and gossip, track celebs, listen to music and share it all with your friends.
    ________________________________________
    Social/Communication
    Olalashe - Kenya
    Team: David Lemayian, Capefield Ltd.
    Olalashe (which means "brother" in Maasai) is a geo-alert application that can help you communicate when you’re in trouble, through a widget that can send your location and a pre-set message to your ‘In Case of Emergency’ contacts with the push of a button.
    ________________________________________
    Productivity
    Shoppers' Delight - Kenya
    Team: Elan Telemedia Ltd
    Shoppers' Delight is a shopping application that allows shoppers to compare product prices across different area supermarkets. The app also helps shoppers discover bargains and relevant sales, and access maps and health information.

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  • Reference Number: AJS0011342
    Job Category:  IT- Account Management
    Preferred Degree:  Bachelors Degree
    Job Type:  Permanent/Full Time
    Job Country:  Rwanda
    Job Location:  Kigali-Rwanda
    Experience (Years): 2-4
    Job Description
    MTN RWANDACELL is a GSM Telecommunications Company based in Rwanda with its Head office in the Capital city of Kigali. Formed in 1998, the Company has recorded exceptional growth and this trend is continuing into the future. MTN Rwanda Cell continually strives for excellence with high levels of Customer Care forming the foundation of the Company's Vision and Mission.

    MTN RWANDACELL would like to recruit competent staff for the following job.
    Business Risk Analyst

    Major responsibilities of the job:
    To assist management with the implementation of proper risk management processes in the Company.
    Provide assurance to management on adequacy and effectiveness of risk management and revenue assurance activities within MTN Rwandacell.

    Key performance areas of the job:
    Coordinate day to day risk management activities within MTN Rwandacell
    Maintenance of comprehensive and updated strategic and business risk registers.
    Provide quarterly risk management input to the quarterly operations review reports.
    Provide quarterly progress on revenue loss risk management activities
    Create a companywide proactive risk management culture.

    Minimum education necessary:
    Bachelors of Commerce Degree
    Possession of an auditing qualification (CIA, CISA...) and/or professional Accountancy qualification (CA, ACCA, CPA etc) would be advantageous.
    Minimum experience necessaryto perform this job:
    Minimum of 2 years of Auditing/Risk management/consulting experience in an internationally recognized professional accounting firm or an international organization.
    Proficient in use of the company standard software: Excel, Word, Power points; MS projects, Access, etc.
    A thorough understanding of telecommunication business processes, products, services and overall business.
    Proficiency in the use of auditing and risk management softwares.
    Auditing experience in telecommunications and information systems as comparative advantage

    Skills/Competencies/ Attributes Required:

    Demonstrate thorough knowledge and understanding of risk and control methodologies
    Completion of assignments in accordance with the department methodology and pre-set deadlines.
    Comprehensive, concise well researched reports.
    Increased awareness of control and risk within MTN Rwandacell.
    Good Interpersonal skills.
    Presentation and facilitation skills.
    Working under pressure to meet reporting deadlines.
    How to apply:

    Please forward letters of application together with detailed curriculum vitae, photocopies of academic and professional certificates and contact details of three referees, so as to reach the Human Resources & Administration Department as soon as possible.

    Note: If you are not contacted 10 days after the submission application, then you were not considered for this position.

    MTN Rwandacell is an equal opportunity employer.

    MTN RWANDACELL Ltd is a GSM Telecommunications Company formed in 1998, based in Rwanda with its Head office in the capital City of Kigali. The Company has recorded exceptional growth and this trend is continuing into the future.

    MTN Rwanda continually strives for excellence with high levels of Customer Care, forming the foundation of the Company's Vision and Mission. MTN RWANDACELL Ltd would like to recruit a competent person in the position below.

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