IN BRIEF:

Telecoms

- Alcatel-Lucent has agreed a contract worth US$100 million with Uganda's Hits Telecom, a new regional operator, to deploy a new mobile network based on GSM technology.

- Nitel’s owners’ Transcorp have signed a deal with Cisco and Dimension Data to rehabilitate its SAT3 connection. According to Group Managing Director Tom Iseghohi the deal would ensure the restoration of NITEL and Mtel to optimal levels of service. Funding has been provided for the deal by Cisco Systems and Iseghohi believes it will help Nitel generate N35 billion in five years.

- As part of reporting its interim results, it was revealed that MTN SA derives 9% of its local revenues from data against competitor Vodacom’s 13%. SA MD Tim Lowry described this as “disappointing.”

- Cellular News this week reported rapid expansion of the mobile market in New Zealand. Why is this of interest to Africa? It noted that:” Whether or not this expansion will be assisted by long-promised third operator Econet Wireless is unclear, with the latter showing no sign of launching a network any time soon despite various rumblings of activity”. Kenyan readers might be asking themselves a similar sort of question.

Algeria is "ready to enter the third generation of cellphones," Post and ICT Minister Boudjemaa Haichour announced Thursday in the province of Khenchla (531km east of Algiers). The project is subject of an expertise held by a French firm specializing in communications that will lead to a technical study due to be presented by next November, the Minister indicated.

- The Cote d'Ivoire National Telecommunications Fund (NFT) has so far raised more than USD16 million to finance telecoms operations in the country’s rural areas, reports AllAfrica.com. The president of the board of management of NFT Ahoutou Koffi announced that the fund is now ‘operational’ through an initiative of the Economy & Finance and ICT ministries begun in April 2006, and is ready to contribute to the development of the telecoms sector. ICT Minister Ahmed Bakayoko stressed that the fund must also equip schools and hospitals with ICT infrastructure alongside the rollout of rural networks.