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*Ceragon inks multi-million dollar turnkey contract with mCel

Israel-based wireless backhaul solutions provider Ceragon Networks has announced that it has signed a contract with Mozambican mobile operator mCel to provide the operator with a turnkey solution offering complete radio planning for the backbone network and an on-site survey to detail all link specifications. Ceragon has said that its solutions will form a microwave backbone link that joins the central area of Mozambique to the southern part of the country, from the city of Beira to the capital city of Maputo. The Ceragon network - which will span 1,000km - will provide secure and reliable wireless transport, ensuring service to the operator's four million mobile subscribers. The order includes Ceragon FibeAir 3200T systems, which are highly reliable point-to-point trunk solutions used for high-capacity data transmission over long distances. The systems enable service providers to progressively increase network capacity.

mCel CEO Arlindo Mondlane commented: ‘Delivering reliable mobile service to our customers is extremely important to mCel. We selected Ceragon’s products because they are technologically superior, use spectrum efficiently, and are highly reliable. Through careful network planning, we will be able to provide high-quality mobile service to our customers as cost-efficiently and as quickly as possible’. Ira Palti, Ceragon CEO added: ‘Ceragon’s microwave systems are practical and economical alternatives to fibre-optic lines, and offer highly reliable point-to-point backbone transmission systems. Our solutions are ideal for fast-growing mobile networks such as mCel’s - scaling to meet future needs, and offering high reliability to customers in developing countries’.

* Credit Union Picks Techno Brain IT Solution

Ethiopian Airlines Employees Thrift and Credit and Cooperative Society Ltd signed an agreement with Techno Brain for the installation of a credit union system, on October 25, 2010.

The 90,000 dollar agreement was signed following a two-year search by the 46-year old credit cooperative, which floated a bid for the installation of the system in 2008. A total of 10 international and local companies proposed bids which were opened in July 2009.

Only four bidders passed the technical evaluation. Following the financial evaluation, only Omni Tech, a local company, and Techno Brain remained. The latter's bid was finally accepted after a team visited the company office in India.

"We wanted to make sure that companies were really developing the software themselves and not just merchandising it," Gemechu Dedisie, manager of the credit association, told Fortune. "Although we had very much wanted a local company to implement the system, none made it through the evaluation process."

Techno Brain is headquartered in Tanzania with offices in 11 African countries. Its initial offer of 116,000 dollars was negotiated down to 90,000 dollars. Techno Brain took part in the bid through its local representative, which has since been expanded and was registered as Techno Brain IT Solutions in May 2010. This deal is the company's first project in Ethiopia.

Techno Brian will install a credit union system comprising packages for accounting, loan processing, savings, deposits, shares processing, and human resources management, Mekonnen Tesfaye, general manager of Techno Brain IT Solutions, told Fortune.

"It is basically a centralised, online, real-time, electronic (CORE) banking solution whereby members can access their information and be serviced through the Web and SMS," he said. "It will be fully integrated with the airline's enterprise resource plan (ERP)."

Last year, Ethiopian Airlines signed an agreement with Systems, Applications, and Products (SAP), a German IT company, to install an 8.5 million-dollar ERP solution.

The new system will enable the credit union members to access their account information and process various services online, according to Gemechu.

Other financial institutions are also installing IT systems with almost all commercial banks having announced their selection of vendors to install CORE banking solution systems, which must be operational by June 2011, as mandated by National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE).

While many of the banks are going with expensive tier one solutions, Techno Brain is targeting small and micro finance institutes as well as start-up banks as they are more likely to look for cheaper and smaller solutions, according to Mekonnen. Winning this prestigious account is a good entry into the market for the company, he added.

"We hope to have the credit union system installed by the time the airline's ERP solution becomes operational, which should be in two months," Gemechu told Fortune.

However, the installation of the credit union system is planned to be completed in four months, the agreement stipulates.

"Even if we do not have it finished by the launch of the airline's ERP, the old system will not be abandoned right away, which will give us time to complete it," Gemechu said.