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* Transtel’s young CEO Karl Socikwa, 35, newly appointed chairman of the interim board of the South African SNO admitted that chairing is lot is like riding a tiger. It’s "very difficult", he says, "one hell of a job." Would he have liked Transtel and Eskom to have been allowed to proceed on their own? "One does fantasise about ideally this is how things could and should have happened," he says, picking his words carefully. "But this is where we are now and it’s a question of making the best of what we have." Socikwa is "pleased" and "surprised" by Telkom’s statement that it expects to lose 10% of its business to the SNO within three years. This would be worth about R4-billion and is a significant chunk. "We anticipate that the SNO should be able to meet and even exceed those projections," he says. And don’t expect a price war, he says. This would be a "futile exercise".

Socikwa was born in Umtata 35 years ago to a Methodist minister father and nursing sister mother. He matriculated at Umtata High School, then spent six years at Rhodes University doing a BCom and LLB.He wanted to be a chartered accountant but after a holiday job at one Of the main accounting firms decided to switch to law. Socikwa served his articles at Deneys Reitz in Durban and later worked as an attorney for the company in Johannesburg.He found law too restrictive and wanted to put his commerce degree to practical use, so he joined Transtel in 1995 as manager of legal and regulatory services.Since then he’s become "passionate" about the telecommunications industry, he says. The potential it offers to "light up" the continent of Africa - where Transtel provides "connectivity" for 12 countries - is what drives him.

* Avaya Inc, a global provider of communications networks and services for businesses, has appointed Nidal Abou Ltaif, Managing Director, Middle East and North Africa sub-region.