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* Presenting a paper titled "Liberalisation of the Communication Sector: The Gains So Far" on behalf of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) Executive Vice Chairman, Engr. Ernest Ndukwe, Engr Olwale Ige stated that the effect of deregulation in the telecommunication sector led to multi operator environment, the gradual demise of monopolies, competition, increased investment in the sector, greater consumer awareness, increased quality of services offered, more choice to the public, multiplying effect in job creation within and outside the sector and most importantly, universal assess and deeper penetration of services to the erstwhile remote geographical areas among other benefits.

The NCC Chief explained that, investment in the telecom sector since its liberalisation has increased tremendously from $50 million in 1999 to $2.1 billion in 2002, just as he estimated that by the end of 2003 it would have grown to $3.8 billion.

* Tiscali World Online MD Graeme Victor has resigned to "pursue personal interests". The company, a South African Internet and cellular services provider, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Paris- and Milan-listed Tiscali International. A company spokesman says Victor has not yet been replaced, but in the interim an executive committee will oversee the business. "In the past, each general manager of a business unit would run his own division," she says. "That will continue, but they will be overseen by an exco made up of four people, each from a different area of the business." She says this arrangement is a short-term one and Victor will "in all likelihood" be replaced later.

The company says Victor achieved all his objectives at the group and felt he needed to take a break and "look at his options". Victor, who headed the company for two years, says: "Over the past two years Tiscali has managed to build a solid business and today it is one of the top three ISPs in SA". Rumour has it that he wants to launch his own business.

"I am happy in knowing that I have achieved the objectives I set out at the beginning of my journey, and am proud that I could form part of Tiscali’s success."

Tiscali International founder and CEO Renato Soru says he is upset to see Victor leave, as he has been an asset to the South African operation. "We are, however, looking at ways in which to move forward, and will continue to provide holistic communication solutions to the country."

The company has been owned by Tiscali since January last year when the European group bought Vodacom’s 40% stake. While no amount was disclosed, it is believed that Tiscali paid about R30 million.

* President Ismaïl Omar Guellah of Djibouti is supporting a national strategy to move the country, strategically located on the Horn of Africa at the mouth of the Red Sea, into the digital age by 2010 to promote development and reduce poverty. Speaking at the recent launch of the strategy in the capital (also named Djibouti), President Guellah said he wants to enable as many citizens as possible to take advantage of ICT to empower the workforce, an essential step to promote the country’s development. He also appealed to donor countries and agencies to support the strategy, which includes a proposed budget of US$13.7 million over seven years.

* South Africa will find it difficult to compete in the international IT arena without a radical change to the way in which the formal training of application developers is approached, according to Jimi Lutz, development director at 3fifteen, the Microsoft business solutions operation in the Dimension Data group which has instituted a novel approach to the recruitment of inexperienced developers.

"We seldom appoint experienced personnel: we prefer youngsters with talent that can be honed. However, junior developers are expected to start making a real contribution to our projects within six months and thanks to our stringent technical assessment of their capabilities prior to their first interview, they usually make the grade," he says. Those who receive an offer of employment at 3fifteen can expect to be assigned to a senior developer for constant mentoring. In addition, the mentoring approach extends to the environment in which developers work.