[Kictanet] Fw: Issue 293: EASSY Consortium reaches crunch point - Interview with Project Co-ordinator John Sihra
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Mon Feb 20 08:12:22 EAT 2006
Balancing Act's News Update 293 (19th February 2006)
Coming soon: Sudan special and T-CDMA implementation in Cameroon
IN THIS ISSUE:
- EASSY CONSORTIUM REACHES CRUNCH POINT FOR CHOICES ABOUT PRICING, ACCESS
AND GOVERNANCE – INTERVIEW WITH PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR, JOHN SIHRA
- SA COMMS MINISTER IN SEARCH OF “SECRET” SAT3 AGREEMENT
- MALAWI CONCLUDES SALE OF INCUMBENT TELECO, MALAWI TELECOMS
- RUSSIAN AFK SISTEMA PLANS TO PARTICIPATE IN GSM TENDER IN EGYPT
- LIBERIA: FORMER TELECOMS MINISTER ACCUSES EXECUTIVE MANSION OVER COMIUM,
- ETHIOPIA’S ETC EXTENDS OPTICAL FIBER TELEPHONE LINE TO SUDAN
- AREEBA SETS UP IN GUINEA WITH 18 YEAR LICENCE BUT ROW OVER TENDER RUMBLES
- VODACOM TO LAUNCH 3G HSDPA NETWORK IN DAR ES SALAAM
- ETHIOPIA’S ETC LAUNCHES VISP SERVICE TO ENCOURAGE ISP GROWTH
- ABUJA'S TRAIL-BLAZING WIRELESS INTERNET NETWORK BEING BUILT BY
- SOUTH AFRICAN SNO SPEAKS OUT ON ADSL REGULATION
- BACKLASH AGAINST INTELSAT PRIVATISATION ON “LIFELINE” OBLIGATIONS BY ITSO
- ZIMBABWE TO RESUSCITATE INFORMATION HUTS TO “CURB MISINFORMATION”
- UGANDA’S RULING PARTY ASKS US GOVERNMENT TO BLOCK ACCESS TO WEBSITE
BECAUSE OF UNFAVOURABLE ELECTION COVERAGE
- CISCO TO BEEF UP SOUTH AFRICAN PRESENCE
- EDUCATION GETS IT BOOST IN NAMIBIA
- IFC SUPPORTS SOCKETWORKS TO EXPAND ICT IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES
- ASTERISK VOIP GETS SOUTH AFRICAN ACCENT
On the Money
- BUSINESS CONNEXION HITS OUT AT INCORRECT PRESS ALLEGATIONS FOLLOWING HALF
YEAR RESULTS ANNOUNCEMENT
- SOUTH AFRICAN WIRELESS BROADBAND OPERATOR WBS SHARES SOLD TO LOCAL
Web and Mobile Data News
- WSIS SECRETARIAT FREEZES WEB-PAGES FOR GENEVA, TUNIS PHASES
- WEBSITE TO MARKET TEXTILES LAUNCHED IN UGANDA
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TOP STORY: EASSY CONSORTIUM REACHES CRUNCH POINT FOR CHOICES ABOUT PRICING,
ACCESS AND GOVERNANCE – INTERVIEW WITH PROJECT CO-ORDINATOR, JOHN SIHRA
The East African fibre project EASSy is reaching a crunch point for key
decisions about pricing, access, equity and governance. Ministers from
African Governments will meet in March to signal their approval of work done
so far on these issues. The project has been offered a package of World Bank
funding in exchange for adopting Open Access principles in contrast to the
closed access SAT3 fibre cable (see Telecom News below). However, EASSy
appears to have chosen to reject this financing but has accepted the need to
respond to the Open Access arguments in some form.
So what is open access? It is not some fixed dogma but starts from the basis
of asking the question: how can we get sufficient competition at all levels
so that we can ensure low prices whilst at the same time making sure that
there are sufficient investors willing to take the risk?
International fibre bandwidth is expensive to build and its life is
time-limited, usually to 25 years. Therefore it makes practical commercial
sense to organise it in such a way that the maximum use is made of whatever
capacity can be provided over as longer period as possible. In order to
achieve this, those building the fibre need to adopt two approaches
1. Taking into account the need to operate and maintain the cable, the
pricing of the international fibre capacity must be as low as possible in
the initial period, with the pay-back being spread over the full 25 year
life of the cable.
2. The investors in the cable need to take the view that the existence of
the lowest possible commercial international fibre prices will allow them to
make their money from their core businesses – fixed or mobile telephony and
national infrastructure – or from other businesses building services and
applications that make use of their networks. In other words, the cable
exists to help everyone make profits at a country level, not to be highly
profitable in itself.
Having adopted this approach, those involved need to ensure the following
Users (like private companies, Governments, or CSOs) can get more or less
equal access to the international fibre capacity in their respective
countries. Unlike with SAT3, the investors should not be in a position where
they are effectively holding a monopoly, or hoarding capacity, or assigning
themselves an exceptional price advantage.
Because the underlying assumption is that everyone is using the
international fibre to make money through their other activities, it is
essential that the basis of the pricing of the capacity is completely
transparent. Since no-one is in the business of gaining a commercial
advantage in selling the international bandwidth, there is no reason why the
financial basis for the capacity offered cannot be open to transparent
scrutiny: both investors and users should expect nothing less.
There should be no artificial barriers to investing in the international
fibre project and it should be possible for an investor to sell on its share
to another investor subject only to an agreed procedure. At present, EASSy
is demanding that potential investors have an international gateway licence.
As it must know, access to these have been severely limited in many
countries to protect the incumbent telco. In two years time, there will be
considerably more international licence holders but they will have missed
the opportunity to invest in the EASSy project because of this artificial
barrier. In South Africa, the Government is talking of issuing international
licences to ensure MTN and Vodacom can invest. Will other countries make the
same commitment to other potential investors?
EASSy is saying that there has to be a limit to the number of investors.
This is not something that would be understood by any sector seeking
investment in a company. But this attitude has left a number of potential
investors on the sidelines. Although it would probably deny it, EASSy
appears to have prioritised getting traditional telco investors, precisely
the kind of companies that are unwilling to cede their protected privileges
to newcomers. Only 5 of the 27 Consortium members announced at the end of
January 2006 were private companies. A number of organisations interested in
investing have failed to receive even the good grace of a reply. However
recently, it has become a little more responsive to requests, conscious
perhaps of the public spotlight on the issue.
In order for landlocked countries or countries without landing stations to
get access to the EASSy fibre, there has to be clear agreements in place
that allow companies in these countries to connect to the fibre on the same
basis as those with coastal landing stations. There cannot be “gatekeepers”
in the system who keep prices artificially high as there currently is with
SAT3. Furthermore, each country needs at least two competitive providers of
both inter-regional and international capacity or the alternative is the
rather unpalatable prospect of price control.
There are siren voices that are saying that the EASSy project needs to be
built as quickly as possible and that tackling these issues is too
time-consuming and complicated. Unfortunately Africa has only once chance to
get it right and if it gets it wrong it will live with the consequences for
the next 25 years.
Below we talk to John Sihra, Project Co-ordinator, EASSy about how it is
seeking to respond to these Open Access issues. Has it done so adequately?
You must be the judge…..
Q: How did the Consortium come into being?
The role came into being when the project was first mooted. The original
group involved were saying ‘Let’s see if the project is going to be a
viable.’ They carried out a preliminary study with a small team and the
outcome of the study was positive. At that point an MOU was signed by the
small number of existing interested parties and some more who wanted to
Q: How is the Consortium currently organised?
There is a Project Management Committee on which sit all of the CEOs of the
members of the project. There are three working sub groups:
Technical and Commercial: It looks at all the technical aspects of the
project including things like landing stations, the optimum route and the
best technologies to use.
Finance and Commercial: Its role is to look at how to fund the project and
Backhaul: It looks at the terrestrial connectivity and the planning of
Construction and maintenance: Once tenders have been agreed, we go into the
construction phase. Therefore this working group identifies suppliers and
Q: Has the final routing been fixed?
The basic configuration is fixed. We would have liked to have had Eritrea on
board but they could not get ready within the timetable. We’re putting a
branching unit on the route so that it can join in the future.
We’ve also recently been joined by Mayotte and Comoros. It was their last
opportunity to get connected to the rest of the world in this way. Also
Mauritius Telecom has joined the project as a member for increased capacity
and diversity of supply. We were hoping that the Seychelles would come on
board. The work would have cost US$40-50 million but it’s not looking likely
that it’ll do so.
Q: What’s happening with the tendering for the construction contract?
We have invited four companies and had responses from all of them.
Q: Are they within your US$200 million project budget expectation?
They are slightly more but we will go into negotiations with one or two of
Q: How is the financing looking?
It’s looking good. We had a data-gathering meeting in Cape Town late last
year and the commitments exceeded our expectations. We believe that we will
be able to raise the necessary funding by ourselves.
Q: Are their members of the Consortium who will require World Bank funding
in order to come up with their financial contribution?
Some have been approached by the World Bank, including Zambia, Malawi and
Burundi as a result of lobbying by NEPAD. Most of the members are funding
the equity themselves.
Q: How does somebody get selected to become a member of the Consortium?
It’s open to any service provider with an international gateway licence. For
example Satcom in Tanzania and KDN in Kenya.
Q: But isn’t the requirement for an international gateway licence a barrier.
The Kenyan regulator may announce a series of international gateway licences
after the financing round closes in April. In two years time, there will be
a considerably larger number of international gateway licences. Aren’t these
companies going to be excluded?
It doesn’t exclude anybody. The MOU stage is open. Up until the time it
closes, anyone is free to join the project. Anybody who has a need to join
is welcome. But we cannot keep extending the MOU parties as it would be
extremely difficult to manage. We already have a total of 33 companies. We
only need one person to disagree and there’s nothing we can do about it.
Q: So how is the decision-making structured?
The Construction and Maintenance agreement allows for some decisions to be
taken by a smaller group. There are several levels of voting, including
Q: So there are several different tiers of voting?
I wouldn’t say tiers of voting. Larger investors have more say in the
running of the company. If you put in more, you get more say. Some decisions
can be made with 40% of the members and some with 60%. It would need 60% to
approve an upgrade.
Q: So going back to access to capacity, what happens to the potential
investor who is unfortunate enough not to have acquired an international
It will be able to acquire capacity at cost plus 25% for the next 5-6 years.
That’s currently part of the Construction and Maintenance agreement that is
at the drafting stage. Huge capacity has been set aside for this purpose and
therefore we can accommodate anybody.
Q: So what will for example one mbps per month cost?
I’d like to hold off on that.
Q: I’ve been told just over US$1000 per mbps per month?
I don’t know where you got that from.
Q: A member of the Consortium.
The price set will be for the life of the cable. The cost plus premium is
marginal. 25% on US$1000 (for whatever capacity) is not much. On average,
everyone will come out OK. You will be able to buy from the initial
investors at cost plus a margin.
We want (our members) to make money out of the services provided. It will
kickstart a lot of economies. At present there are projections for 30-40 mb
going by satellite. (Paying for that) is a terrific cost to the continent
(in foreign exchange). We want to double that capacity and keep the foreign
exchange in the continent.
We will set a time, probably 5-6 years, where anyone can buy capacity at
cost plus. But we need US$200 million (to finance the project) and we have
to get the initial parties to invest. They have to protect their risk. IRUs
will be available after 5-6 years. Will it be market-driven? We will have to
decide then but the first priority now is to get the project off the ground.
Q: So what governance structure will the Consortium have?
At the moment we are talking about a co-ownership structure. Consortium or
SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) are both nasty words. It doesn’t matter what
you call it as long as it is commercially oriented. We’re still financing
the Commercial and Maintenance agreement…But you’ll have a Board of
Directors and a management team.
Q: Who appoints the management team?
I understand that there will be a Ministers meeting in March to sign off on
the governance principles and an underlying structure that will reflect
We’ve recently had a meeting with NEPAD. It has developed five Open Access
Q: Can you take me through those and how you’re responding to them?
- It should be a Special Purpose Vehicle. Nobody should push anything down
anyone’s throat. It will be a commercially oriented structure based on
- Open Access. Anyone who has a licence can join until the offer closes and
then they are entitled to buy capacity at a reasonable cost.
- Backhaul capacity and landlocked countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi
and Tanzania have signed a separate MOU to implement a ring. Each will put
in two pairs on existing cable at cost as their equity contribution to the
ring. Therefore the cost for using the ring is minimal. The Burundi section
is missing but there is backing for an SPV to fill the gap.
- Regulators need to create conducive environments to create cross-haul
links between countries. For example, UTL will be able to route traffic
direct to the international cable in and out but it will need a separate
licence for cross-border traffic.
Q: I make that four principles.
Well there’s five principles in there. We’re trying to do the right thing
here. NEPAD has always been our friend. It’s always had observer status. We
need to take cognisance of the views of African governments. We’re listening
but we want to make sure the project’s commercial.
The World Bank has said we will fund it. If we can get the project fully
subscribed by its members, why should we use that money? Why are we being
pushed to take a loan?
Q: What about the backhaul routes?
As part of the Backhaul working group, there are three sub-groups: Northern,
Eastern and Central and Southern. It’s a novel idea. Each of these
sub-groups do not impinge on people’s resources. If you contribute 2 pairs,
that will be your equity in the project.
Q: Will you be able to buy capacity from an international member like BT if
you’re based in say Kenya?
No, you can’t do that for a period of time. We need to protect local
industry. What BT can do is provide the international leg, London – Mombasa
before handing over to a local entity. BT has no licence to operate in local
jurisdictions. After 5-6 years, it will open up, something like that.
Q: So in some countries you’ll only have the choice of one carrier?
If you acquire an international licence, there is nothing to stop you
acquiring capacity. You buy capacity from the central pool at a fixed price.
The pool is kept aside for occasional use (like broadcasting) or can be
Q: Who decides who the capacity is sold to?
Q: Will members of the Consortium have a veto on who the capacity is sold
There will be no veto by a single carrier.
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* SA COMMS MINISTER IN SEARCH OF “SECRET” SAT3 AGREEMENT
Government is growing increasingly frustrated with Telkom for not providing
it with a copy of an agreement that governs the international fibre system
links SA with the rest of the world.
"No-one has seen this secret document," says deputy communications minister
Roy Padayachie. "We [government] can't see the shareholder agreement, yet we
are a 38% shareholder in Telkom. It's crazy."
Government wants to regulate access to the cable system in an effort to
reduce telecom prices. Internet service providers say Telkom, which is the
only SA investor in the system, with a 13% share, is charging excessive
rates to lease capacity on it. They say this is keeping the cost of
bandwidth in SA artificially high and discouraging investment in business
process outsourcing ventures, such as outsourced call centres.
Padayachie says he is keen to empower the sector regulator, the Independent
Communications Authority of SA, to take the steps necessary to regulate the
"Telkom is part of an international group [of investors in the system] and
it appears that it's very complicated to try to unravel this thing,"
Padayachie says. "But I cannot for the life of me see why it's so
complicated. All we want to do is regulate access by SA companies to the
cable. There is nothing complicated about that. We need to find out what is
going on and take the necessary steps."
The 27,450 km cable system, known as Sat-3/Wasc/Safe, runs along Africa's
west coast, from Cape Town to Sesimbra, Portugal, and from Mtunzini in
KwaZulu Natal to Penang, Malaysia. It carries most of SA's international
Internet and telephone traffic.
Telkom, which invested US$85m in Sat-3/Wasc/Safe, has previously cautioned
against regulating access to the cable. It has warned that regulation could
deter investment in new cable systems around the continent. A company
spokesman said this week that it is not aware of any request by government
for access to the consortium agreement. "The document is not secret but as
with any commercially sensitive contract or agreement, it contains
Efforts by government to regulate the cable system might prove unnecessary.
A rival system, the East Africa Submarine System (Eassy), is scheduled to
come online in the fourth quarter of 2007. Eassy will connect to
Sat-3/Wasc/Safe at Mtunzini and run along Africa's east coast to the Red
Sea, where it will connect to a range of other international cables. Unlike
Sat-3, Eassy will be an "open access" cable. This means any company with a
licence to provide international telecom traffic will be able to get access
Telkom, Sentech and the second network operator, SNO Telecommunications, all
have international gateway licences. MTN and Vodacom do not have the
requisite licences but Padayachie says he won't discount the possibility of
government granting them licences. "I think we should be guided by the maxim
that the more competition we have the more opportunity there is to reduce
telecom costs," he says.
(SOURCE: Financial Mail)
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* MALAWI CONCLUDES SALE OF INCUMBENT TELECO, MALAWI TELECOMS
The Malawi government last Thursday announced that it had finally passed
ownership of the country`s sole fixed telephone operator to an investment
consortium, Telecom Holdings Limited (THL), after a protracted delay of the
The Privatisation Commission (PC) disclosed in a statement that the
controversial sale of state-owned Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL)
had now been finalised following a recent court ruling allowing government
to proceed with the sale.
Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on 13 February annulled an injunction on the
sale a lower court imposed a week earlier based on an application by MTL`s
former board chair Ken Msonda, who acting as a concerned citizen, asked the
court to stop government from proceeding with the sale of the telephone
Msonda, among other concerns, claimed that MTL`s sale lacked transparency
and that the price at which government was selling the company was far below
the firm`s actual value.
Malawi government has sold MTL for about 27.4 million US dollars to THL,
which comprises Malawi`s conglomerate, Press Corporation as a major
shareholder and Germany`s Detecon International as a technical partner and
"THL have now effectively become the new majority shareholder in MTL, owning
80 percent of the total shares. The remaining 20 percent will still remain
with the government of Malawi and will be disposed of at a later date in a
manner that will enhance Malawian participation in the company," stated the
The commission said the phone company was sold at an appropriate price that
was within MTL`s valuation range in accordance with an independent valuation
opinion conducted by Robert Fleming (Pty) Limited that valued MTL to be
between 31 million US dollars to 49 million US dollars.
MTL`s privatisation process, which began 1998, has been a controversial
issue especially in the past year when there was increasing public outcry
that the company was being sold at a very low price considering claims that
about 200 million US dollars had been pumped into the company between 1999
Following mounting public protests against the sale, President Bingu wa
Mutharika suspended the sale of the fixed telephone operator in August last
year but lifted the suspension in December, 2005.
Government decision to sell MTL has been heavily criticised by Malawi`s
rights groups who have accused President Mutharika on assenting to a
privatisation drive that was only benefiting foreigners and not poor
A total of 65 state-owned entities in Malawi have been privatised since 1996
when the country embarked on the World Bank championed privatisation
(SOURCE: Angola Press Agency)
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* RUSSIAN AFK SISTEMA PLANS TO PARTICIPATE IN GSM TENDER IN EGYPT
Major Russian holding AFK Sistema plans to participate in a tender for a GSM
license in Egypt, Sistema's President Vladimir Yevtushenkov said, Kommersant
business daily reported Thursday.
Yevtushenkov said that operations in the country have a good outlook as
Egyptians’ prosperity is expected to grow and the average age in the country
is 27 years. "Any serious player on the international telecommunication
market has to consider operating in Egypt," Yevtushenkov said.
Currently, there are two GSM mobile operators in Egypt - Vodafone Egypt and
The tender is expected to take place this month, the daily said, adding that
it is not clear yet how Sistema will participate in it, whether it be
through its telecommunication assets managing company Sistema Telecom, or
through its subsidiary Mobile TeleSystems (MTS).
Kuwait's MTC, UAE's Etisalat, Telecom Egypt and an alliance between Egypt's
Raya Holding and the Republic of South Africa’s MTN Group are also expected
to participate in the tender, the daily said.
Mobile penetration in Egypt, which has a population of about 80 million
people, stands at 15%.
Last year, Sistema wanted to buy 49% of Indian telecommunication company
Aircel Telecom Ventures and MTS participated in a tender for Turkey's mobile
operator Telsim, but neither of the Russian companies managed to expand
The subscriber base of Russia’s largest mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems
(MTS) stood at 61.687 million people as of January 31, Advanced
Communications & Media (AC&M) said Thursday. MTS operates in Russia,
Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
* LIBERIA: FORMER TELECOMS MINISTER ACCUSES EXECUTIVE MANSION OVER COMIUM,
Former Deputy Post & Telecommunication Minister for Administration, Towah A.
Towah has pointed accusing fingers to former Transitional Chairman Gyude
Bryant for the registration of COMIUM and CELLCOM, two GSM phone companies
operating in the country.
Speaking during the turning over program at the Ministry over the weekend,
the former deputy minister said that the entire registration process for
Cellcom and Comium was done on the instructions of former NTGL Chairman
Bryant through a special Presidential Committee at the Executive Mansion.
Towah told employees of the ministry in the presence of Minister Jackson E.
Doe, his successor, that Chairman Bryant and his Executive Mansion based
committee that was charged with the mandate to register the two GSM
companies excluded authorities of the Postal Ministry for reasons best known
to them. According to him, what the past administration of Post and
Telecommunication headed by former Minister Eugene Nagbe did was to only
bill the two companies financially for onward payment at the Ministry of
Finance. He disclosed that financial arrangements for the registration of
the two companies were not known by the former administration of the
The clarification by the former deputy Post and Telecommunication Minister
came at the time the past administration had collected huge sums of money
from the GSM companies before the tenure of the NTGL ended.
(SOURCE: The Analyst)
* ETHIOPIA’S ETC EXTENDS OPTICAL FIBER TELEPHONE LINE TO SUDAN
The extension of optical fiber telephone line, connecting Ethiopia and Sudan
via the northern border town of Metema, has been launched, said the
state-owned Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) on Tuesday.
Kassahun Ayalew, ETC senior manager, said that the extension of the optical
fiber telephone started on Tuesday following the completion of the 200 km
He said some 120 km of the 220 km Gonder-Metema-Gelabat optical fiber
telephone line has been finalized so far. The construction of 7 building
blocks for power houses and control stations through the telephone line has
also been completed, he said, adding that installation of the necessary
equipment would be carried out within a week.
The government of Sudan would cover the cost of the extension of the 80 km
optical fiber telephone line via the Metema-Gelabat route, the senior
manager said. The extension of the optical fiber line would enable Ethiopia
access up-to-date telephone, data, and audio-video communications and curb
congestions in web sites and internet lines, according to Kassahun. The
corporation has allotted over 6 million birr (693,642 U.S. dollars) for the
extension of the optical fiber line, he said.
* AREEBA SETS UP IN GUINEA WITH 18 YEAR LICENCE BUT ROW OVER TENDER RUMBLES
Areeba-Guinea, a subsidiary of Investcom is setting up following a long
political imbroglio that has seen the Minister of Post and
Telecommunications in open conflict with the Prime Minister over the
tendering for the fourth mobile licence in Guinea. Senegalese incumbent,
Sonatel, was at one point thought to be the winning bidder.
The Sonatel’s 21 millions Euros offer was however declined in favour of
Investcom’s one. The company has offered 30 millions euros for the licence,
of which 15 millions will be paid up front to the State of Guinea. The
licence has been granted for 18 years along with a package of generous tax
* VODACOM TO LAUNCH 3G HSDPA NETWORK IN DAR ES SALAAM
Africa's second-biggest cell phone operator Vodacom will launch a 3G network
in Tanzania this year, making it the second country on mainland Africa with
the wireless technology.
South African-based Vodacom said it would spend an extra U$1.3-million this
year to extend its network in Tanzania and to start building a 3G mobile
phone network in the capital Dar es Salaam, which will allow users to surf
the Web on their phones. Vodacom and rival MTN launched 3G networks in South
Africa last year but Tanzania will get a 3G HSDPA (High Speed Downlink
Packet Access) network, which is faster than the first generation of 3G
technology. Vodacom will also build an earth station to cut the cost of
international calls, it said in the statement.
- Officials in Cairo said that firms wanting to apply for Egypt's third
mobile licence will be able to submit offers from April 17, which must be
accompanied by a guarantee of US$4.4m, reported Reuters. MTC from Kuwait has
said it will bid and Telecom Egypt may bid while Saudi Telecom has declared
- Rural Telephone Project of the MTN Nigeria Foundation, has won the 2006
GSM Association award in the category of Best Mobile Community Service. The
MTN Rural telephone project is a micro finance scheme whereby rural women in
Nigeria, referred to as "Phone Ladies" are loaned money through microfinance
institutions to operate call centres in their communities.
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TELECOMS, RATES, OFFERS AND COVERAGE
- Me banza-Kongo, the capital of the West province of Congo DRC has had
since Monday a new mobile service with "Movicel". With an initial capacity
of two thousand subscribers and a coverage of around 20 kilometres, this
system has cost $2 millions. After Soyo, the town of Me banza-Kongo is the
second urban area of the province of Zaire to benefit from the services of
this operator. Movicel’s digital network covers now sixteen of the eighteen
provinces of Angola. The company plans to add high speed internet service
alongside its telephony offer.
- Kenyan cellco Safaricom has announced plans to increase its customer base
to 5.5 million by the end of 2007, up from 3.5 million today. The mobile
operator, which is 40% owned by Vodafone, had initially targeted three
million subscribers by 2020, a figure it has already surpassed. It said the
bulk of subscribers will come from expansion into rural areas of the
country. It also plans to roll out a 3G network by 2008, although it says it
will enter the advanced services arena with caution as the cost of services
will be too high for most Kenyans.
- Sierra Leone’s third mobile operator Lintel, which operates under the
banner Africell SL, has revealed plans to extend its coverage to the whole
of the country by the end of this year. The operator launched services over
its GSM-900 network in February 2005, and by September claimed 35,000
subscribers. At the end of 2005 its network had coverage of Moyamba, Bo,
Kenema and Shegbwema in the western part of the country. Kono, Magbuaraka
and Makeni are set to be added within the next two weeks.
- Kuwait-based Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), which acquired a 61%
stake in Sudanese cellco Mobitel last week, has revealed plans to invest
USD500 million into expanding its network capacity over the next twelve
months. MTC said it wants to leverage Mobitel’s cross border opportunities
with neighbouring countries such as Uganda. It plans to add a million
subscribers to Mobitel’s current 1.5 million customer base by the end of
- Mobile operator MTN Uganda has reached 1 million customers. This means one
in every 27 Ugandans now has an MTN line, Eric van Veen, the chief
commercial officer, said.
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* ETHIOPIA’S ETC LAUNCHES VISP SERVICE TO ENCOURAGE ISP GROWTH
The Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) has announced that
it has completed all the necessary preparations to provide a virtual
Internet service provider (VISP) in order to satisfy the growing demand of
According to the corporate communications manager, Ato Abduahim Ahmed,
the high capacity achieved through the broad band internet network and the
increasing number of users is what led to the commencement of the service
after the signing of agreement between the corporation and the regulator,
the Ethiopian Telecommunication Agency.
Anyone interested in becoming a VISP does not have to make any investment to
make direct contact with the ETC. All they have to do is use ETC’s telecom
infrastructure and provide the internet service to large number of end-users
with speed and efficiency. The income split is that the VISP will get 14-22%
of the income (depending on the level of customers) from subscription sales
and a commission for acquiring new customers.
(SOURCE: The Reporter)
* ABUJA'S TRAIL-BLAZING WIRELESS INTERNET NETWORK BEING BUILT BY
Late last year, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration
(FCTA), Mallam Nasir El-Rufai launched the first city-wide Wireless Internet
Network in Nigeria. The private-public sector joint project is estimated to
cost about N837.5 million, 80 per cent (670 million) to be contributed by
the private partner, Suburban Broadband Limited and the remaining 20 per
cent (167.5 million) to be provided by FCT's Abuja Investment and Property
Development Corporation (AIPDC). The Abuja initiative to establish the first
seamless Wireless Internet Network in the country is a giant stride in the
right direction. It would provide an effective communication infrastructure
for the federal capital territory.
(SOURCE: Daily Champion)
* SOUTH AFRICAN SNO SPEAKS OUT ON ADSL REGULATION
The Second National Operator (SNO) has voiced its views on the ADSL Draft
Regulations in a seven page submission to ICASA.
While the SNO supports ICASA’s regulations for the provisioning of ADSL, it
asks for caution when it comes to controlling the structure of a specific
retail product, in this case ADSL.
“The SNO strongly supports ICASA’s intention to apply targeted regulations
to the provision of broadband services such as ADSL, for the benefit of the
consumer and in the interests of fair competition.”
“However, applying controls to the structure of a specific retail product is
not the most effective way of achieving this in the long-term,” the SNO
stated in their submission.
The SNO asked the Regulator to focus its attention on the ADSL wholesale
segment, where Telkom currently has a monopoly, to ensure fair competition.
It argued that the real costs involved in ADSL provisioning are not clear
since fair competition is not present in this sector.
“In the absence of true wholesale broadband in South Africa, we have yet to
see the real underlying costs directly influencing pricing in the retail
market,” they said.
The SNO pointed out that there are various wholesale broadband models apart
from full Local Loop Unbundling to achieve a more competitive ADSL
These include Bitstream Access to the ADSL circuit via a Virtual Circuit,
Access to the DSLAM, where a portion of the DSLAM may be leased, Shared
Access to the local loop and Facilities Leasing.
The SNO further supports the disclosure of contention ratios and static IP
addresses (no periodic resets of the ADSL service) ‘in the interests of good
practice in the market’.
The SNO has requested an opportunity to make an oral submission at the ADSL
hearings, which will most likely take place in the first half of 2006.
* BACKLASH AGAINST INTELSAT PRIVATISATION ON “LIFELINE” OBLIGATIONS BY ITSO
The restructuring and privatisation of Intelsat has raised concerns among
International Telecommunication Satellite Organisation member States (Itso).
ITSO African members have accused it of abdicating its responsibilities to
its lifeline customers at a recent meeting of ITSO in Washington DC.
Participants were told that the company had failed to honour its public
service obligation, which included maintaining global connectivity, serving
lifeline connectivity customers and providing non-discriminatory access to
the company system among other duties.
Itso director-general Ahmed Toumi told the meeting that the organisation,
which supervises Intelsat had lost its legal power to oversee the running of
Intelsat after it was privatised. Information and Communications permanent
secretary Bitange Ndemo said increased competition had made it necessary for
Itso to transfer its space system to Intelsat for it to operate in a
commercially viable manner.
Ndemo who headed the Kenyan delegation to the US meeting said the company
needed to honour the agreements, especially those affecting the lifeline
members among which Kenya is categorised. This is because most States in
that category were depending on Kenya for their respective telecommunication
services, Ndemo said.
"I feel aggrieved when I see Kenya and other lifeline members paying 40 per
cent more for usage. This percentage should be reviewed in line with the
initial agreement for provision of international telecommunication
services," the PS said. During the meeting, Kenya was chosen to sit in the
Itso advisory committee. The team was mandated to seek solutions to the
problems affecting the organisation. Ndemo was accompanied to the meeting by
Telkom Kenya Managing Director Sammy Kirui.
A Lifeline Connectivity Obligation was provided to countries dependant on
the system when Intelsat was privatised. However the complaint smacks of
political grandstanding as Telkom Kenya actually has several suppliers of
satellite connectivity. Also by 2008, it should be able to buy relatively
cheap international fibre from EASSy (see Top Story above).
(SOURCE: The Nation)
* ZIMBABWE TO RESUSCITATE INFORMATION HUTS TO “CURB MISINFORMATION”
Zimbabwe's Ministry of Information and Publicity plans to resuscitate
“information huts” to enhance information dissemination in the country's
Speaking at a Public Service Commission (PSC) and Media Relations workshop
on Tuesday, Presidential Press Secretary Regis Chikoore said the ministry
planned to establish communication hubs consisting of newspapers and
Internet facilities for villagers in remote areas to
improve the country's communication networks
"Information huts will be set up away from growth points which are already
covered by the mainstream media," Chikoore said. To curb the problem of
misinformation by the media, he urged
organizations to formulate public relations outfits that serve as entry
points for the public.
On the same occasion, Public Service Commission acting secretary Keith
Nlakayana called on the media to report factually and objectively.
He said the media had lately been concentrating on negative social ills,
giving them undue priority at the expense of developmental
issues."Information is power, without information there is no power and
there is nothing as dangerous as reporting from half-truths," he said.
* UGANDA’S RULING PARTY ASKS US GOVERNMENT TO BLOCK ACCESS TO WEBSITE
BECAUSE OF UNFAVOURABLE ELECTION COVERAGE
The NRM has written to a US-based Internet firm to block access to the
NRM spokesperson Ofwono Opondo last week said the website was publishing
malicious and false information against the party and its presidential
candidate. It has also asked local ISPs to block the site.
“Such a practice is against our electoral laws and we complained to
Brinkster communications Corporation that is involved,” Ofwono said.
Speaking on phone, he accused US-based FDC official Anne Mugisha of
masterminding the smear campaign on the site.
The New Vision received complaints that the site was inaccessible within
Uganda. When opening the site, a message pops up saying, “The page cannot be
The site hosted in the US features information on presidential candidates,
security agencies, operatives and their lifestyles. A liner on the site
reads, “Radio Katwe: outrageous, amusing, conspiracy theories, not to be
Ofwono said they had also complained to local regulator, the Uganda
communications commission (UCC) and local Internet service providers.
However, UCC corporate affairs manager Fred Otunnu said he was not aware of
Asked about access to the site abroad, Ofwono said, “if you are dealing with
multiple wounds and you are sure you can heal the ones on your legs and
walk, you can leave the ones on your buttocks for the meantime.”
The site lately reported that the Government had asked MTN and other
Internet service providers to block it.
“If what we publish are fabrications, why doesn’t someone want you to hear
them? All lies eventually collapse under their own weight, right?” the
website administrator asked recently.
(source: New Vision)
- Dr Benjamin Aggrey-Ntim, Ghana’s Deputy Minister of Communications, says
the Ministry is planning to develop the country’s national broadband
infrastructure to make ICT available to citizens in all parts of Ghana. The
Ministry aims to build a Technology Park that would open further avenues for
more outsourced businesses in Ghana. Dr Aggrey-Ntim’s announcement was timed
to coincide with the launch of ExZeed Company Limited, a subsidiary of Ghana
Telecom (GT), which has been set up to provide call centre services. The
minister urged GT and other ICT service providers to take advantage of
government moves to establish a broadband infrastructure and invest in its
development so as to expand their present capacities.
- All health units will be interconnected via computer by the end of this
month, giving the Department of Health the largest network in Seychelles.
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* CISCO TO BEEF UP SOUTH AFRICAN PRESENCE
Cisco is planning for a stronger and more visible presence in SA, says new
GM Clive Fynn. “People see Cisco as being about routing and hubs. But
that's not the real Cisco – we are an IP [Internet Protocol] business
centring on enabling technologies,” says Fynn, who was appointed with effect
from 1 February. He replaces Mokati Ramphele, who resigned in May last year.
“SA is the most interesting, complex market we have,” says Mark de Simone,
Cisco VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “And it is also one of our
key markets. If our CEO talks about SA, it's important. The country has huge
implications for the whole continent.”
He says this is why it took so long to appoint a successor to Ramphele. “We
had to be careful to get a leader to take us along several axes. Our
ambitions are to grow into several markets, so we wanted a leader who could
take us there.”
As Cisco works with companies with transformational needs, the group needed
someone to be able to translate technology and architectures into business
“Part of our focus is on how to use processes and technologies to bring
changes to businesses, including our business partners,” says Fynn, who has
served in managerial capacities at companies such as IBM Global Services,
Siemens Business Services and Waymark Infotech.
“We will also look at partnering with some of the new guys coming into the
market – the SNO [second national operator], Virgin, and others like that.”
De Simone says Cisco is also moving into smaller enterprises in addition to
the larger entities it serves. Research by the International Data
Corporation globally, and by BMI-TechKnowledge locally, shows the small to
medium enterprise market is growing strongly.
Other growth prospects for the group lie in telecoms, and also the consumer
space. De Simone says Cisco will be seen to be more active in home
entertainment using IP, particularly as broadband grows. It will also be
seen in the IP television space.
Fynn says Cisco is committed to the process of transformation, as
illustrated by the appointment of two consecutive black general managers,
its procurement policy, and training and development.
“Today there are plans in place and we are moving in the right direction.
Come a few months from now and see what it will look like.”
De Simone says Cisco also wants to take existing training initiatives to a
new level. “We believe the industry in SA needs a new generation not just
trained in technology, but also in business processes and how to apply that
technology in business.”
The group is also adding to its staff numbers, says De Simone. “By the end
of the fiscal year (August), 45% of our staff will be new, and that
investment is likely to continue at the same pace. We are committed to
winning larger percentages of ICT sales.”
* EDUCATION GETS IT BOOST IN NAMIBIA
"Computer skills have now invariably joined reading, writing and arithmetic
as one of the basic learning processes because having access to a computer
puts the world literally at one's fingertips," yesterday said Nangolo
Mbumba, the Minister of Education.
He was speaking at a handing-over ceremony of 700 computers from First
National Bank (FNB) via School Net Namibia in Katutura to his ministry. The
second-hand computers were collected from FNB offices throughout the
"Prosperity and knowledge go hand in hand. As a society, we are not educated
because we are prosperous. We are prosperous because we have extended the
frontiers of education. Today, more than ever, getting a good job and
achieving a higher standard of living, requires even greater skills and
broader knowledge," Mbumba said.
According to Mbumba, the creation of jobs is anchored in the infrastructure
of innovation, skills and knowledge acquirement.
"To get a job, to keep a job and to move on to a better job, there is only
one resource that will equip
Namibians to succeed, that is to develop the very best skills they can. In a
very real way, the opportunity to learn must be the central part of any
national job strategy. The demand for knowledge and skills spans all
occupations from factory to farm, from software to sales, from medicine to
mechanics. It is about the need to upgrade skills and develop new ones
consistently," the minister moralized.
He argued that skills underpin a strong economy and a secure society and
that unemployment among the youth remains a serious problem.
"The backbone of a country is the strength of its middle class. There is no
better way to reduce the gap between the rich and poor than to facilitate
the path to greater education. Therefore, every Namibian who wants to learn
should have the opportunity to do so. An important part of unemployment
among the youth lies in higher education. However, too many of our young
people still confront the dilemma - no experience, no job, no experience,"
said Mbumba, who alluded to the fact that Government has introduced many
projects to alleviate the plight of the country's youth.
"Clearly, the private sector is the engine of job creation.
Many employers are rising to the challenge of helping to hire and train more
youth. Much more remains to be done and many more employers must rise to
that challenge if it is to be overcome. School Net is bringing the Internet
into the classroom making it a vital learning tool in every Namibian
school," the minister said.
School Net's Computers for Schools Initiative annually donates thousands of
computers to schools across the country, helping children develop computer
literacy at an early age.
"The goal of this programme is to make sure no matter where Namibians live,
no matter how small a town, how small a school, every student has access to
the same storehouse of knowledge," the minister said proudly.
The CEO of FNB Namibia Holdings, Vekuii Rukoro, told the audience that the
FNB Foundation aggressively keeps his company's corporate responsibility
alive and kicking.
"The use of information technology in and for education is rapidly expanding
around the world and is now internationally regarded as a necessity and
With reference to the importance of mathematics and science in technological
development, the FNB Foundation deems it appropriate in donating these 700
PC's valued at N$256 300 to the Ministry of Education," Rukoro said.
He urged Namibians to stay focused on the national development agenda and
make good use of global opportunities.
According to the executive director of School Net Namibia, Joris Komen, some
100 students yearly pass through the technical course in computer
(SOURCE: New Era)
* IFC SUPPORTS SOCKETWORKS TO EXPAND ICT IN NIGERIAN UNIVERSITIES
Pursuant to its drive to link universities across the country to the
information and communication technology (ICT) world, SocketWorks Limited
has signed a $2.5 million (about NGN350 million) agreement with
International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank
The first such initiative in Nigeria's higher education sector, the facility
is to support SocketWorks' rollout of CollegePortal into select Nigerian
universities. CollegePortal is a package of information and communication
technologies that will provide students with the tools to become fully
IFC's loan will also enable SocketWorks to develop software and purchase
computers and other hardware for Nigeria's universities. University
students, faculty, and administrators will have access to a full suite of
online management systems and study tools, including offshore libraries and
other information sources.
The agreement was signed in Lagos by Mr. Lars Thunell, IFC's executive vice
president, during his first official visit to Nigeria, and by Dr. Aloy
Chife, president and CEO of SocketWorks.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Chife announced his company's dream of
taking Nigeria to the level India has attained in IT and outsourcing.
He put the rapidly expanding global technology market for IT services at
about US$800 billion (up from US$349bn in 1999), and the market for business
process outsourcing (BPO) done offshore at $11.3 billion in 2003. He said
the figures which have been rising steadily, are global economic facts that
are creating opportunities for the strategically savvy, well prepared and
aggressive entrepreneurs and firms such as Indian IT and outsourcing
companies like Tata, Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technology Group. These
enterprises are forecast to capture 7 percent of global IT services market
share by 2006, he noted.
"At SocketWorks, we believe that taking advantage of these opportunities
requires the systematic creation of a globally competitive solution
offering," Chife said. "The Indian achievements captured above represent
feats that Nigerian companies are yet to emulate; yet we are capable of
replicating the success if the right strategy is put in place and executed.
We are therefore systematically positioning ourselves as a global player by
pursuing a strategy based on learning the lessons of the best players and
subsequently innovating beyond such lessons."
Another reason for being optimistic, he said, is "We also believe the future
of Nigeria will be driven by technology and we envision our planned Lekki
Phase 1 campus employing over 1,000 young Nigerians engaged in software
development and back-office and transactions-processing activities in the
He said the education project which the International Finance Corporation
(IFC) is supporting will help to lay a strong educational foundation and
arrest the declining standards of Nigerian educational system since
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) clearly represents the best
opportunity to help these institutions to pull together their current
assets, to minimize internal handicaps, to layer on new sources of
intelligence, optimize their resources, maximize their potential and
increase the value of education they provide.
Chife disclosed that by October, working with the Minister of Education in
an initiative called, "Digital Bridge for Nigerian Schools" SocketWorks
intends to introduce all Federal Government-owned schools to a thriving
digital culture by deploying a bundled ICT solution that includes software,
access devices, power systems, connectivity, multimedia resources and
He thanked the IFC for believing in SocketWorks right from the start, even
when most Nigerians would not. He urged the IFC to do more as it is only
through supporting enterprises like this that the World Bank's goal of
promoting prosperity in Africa could be achieved.
On his part an obviously delighted Thunell noted, "I am very pleased that
the first investment agreement I am signing after joining IFC last month is
to support a project in Africa's education sector. It will help implement a
plan begun in 2003 when IFC began working with SocketWorks to identify
Nigeria's information and communication technology needs in higher education
and develop a sustainable plan to service those needs. This is an excellent
example of how hard working and determined entrepreneurs-in partnership with
IFC-can expand opportunities for Africans."
The implementation of CollegePortal has been shown to reduce the
administrative burden faced by staff and students significantly. As part of
its investment, IFC has an option to take an equity stake in SocketWorks.
IFC has been providing technical assistance to SocketWorks since 2003.
(SOURCE: This Day)
* ASTERISK VOIP GETS SOUTH AFRICAN ACCENT
True Voice Communications and Connection Telecom have jointly released a
South African package of over 340 free prompts for the open source Asterisk
platform. The free prompts, recorded in a neutral South African English
female voice, can be used to replace the usual Canadian accented prompts.
"Customers can now replace the standard North American-English pack with one
more suited to their customers," says Connection Telecom CEO Rob Lith.
"Research and our own experience have taught us that consumers want to deal
with the familiar. This is also is a step toward legitimising South Africa
as a business destination that should be taken seriously," says Lith.
"Although the previous voice of Asterisk, Allison Smith, will continue to
have very dear place in all Asterisk techie hearts, we believe its time to
adopt a more local flavour," says Lith.
The package also offers pre-recorded IVR prompts, which can be customised
using the same voice talent as in the packages.
"The decision to offer these local accented prompts is in response to the
growing user base of Asterisk PBXs. Companies are increasingly turning to
open source solutions and the fact that South Africa now has the both the
skills and the resources to support these installations is encouraging for
further growth," says Lith.
To supplement these free prompts, True Voice Communications also provides
customised voice packs for Asterisk and VoIP/PABX voice prompt systems.
The voice prompt package will be available from True Voice Communications
- OKN, a African-based Open Knowledge Network catalysing the creation and
exchange of local content is now active in six African countries: Kenya,
Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In Kenya, Zimbabwe, Senegal
and Mali the project is expanding beyond the initial organisations to form
national networks working with many other partners. The new software, Open
Enrich, has been released and it will also be used by UNESCO’s Community
Multimedia Centre network, increasing the pool of shared content. A study
tour to India focusing on content creation and revenue generation will
happen in late
EMPERION is seeking technical and commercial partners
EMPERION is seeking technical and commercial partners all over Africa
and The Middle East, with immediate interest in the following countries:
Mozambique, Burundi, Mauritius, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Uganda,
Comoros, Madagascar, Djibouti.
Partners with experience in VSAT or general IT are of special interest.
2000 Copenhagen OE
E-mail: info at emperion.net
Tel.: +45 39 29 35 30
ON THE MONEY
* BUSINESS CONNEXION HITS OUT AT INCORRECT PRESS ALLEGATIONS FOLLOWING HALF
YEAR RESULTS ANNOUNCEMENT
Following half year results announcement at the beginning of this week
Business Connexion has released an additional note to correct some press
reports that inaccurately portray their intentions regarding their
involvement in business in the “rest of Africa”:
“Business Connexion has restated its intentions as follows:
- Our Africa Regional Office in South Africa produced disappointing results
for the six months under review, and we announced our intention of reduce
costs in our Midrand Africa operations.
- We do not intend to downsize, sell or otherwise dispose of our operations
in our subsidiaries in Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique or Namibia.
- We intend to increase the focus on our subsidiaries, and increase the
level of support in these countries to ensure their success and continued
- We will also focus on a few countries in Africa where we have a record of
success and good business prospects.
- We will reduce our efforts in other African countries where we have not
had much success or where our multinational clients are not involved”.
“In the long term, Business Connexion remains committed to increase our
business involvement in Africa as a central strategic direction and the
current rightsizing of your Midrand Africa operations should be seen as good
business practice to ensure our continued ability to engage in Africa”.
This new statement came after Business Connexion announced an increased
revenue of 25% to R1,7bn for the first half to November from R1,3bn in the
previous first half. Cash generated during the period amounted to R56m. As a
result, the group's balance sheet retained cash reserves of R657m.
Operating profit grew 12% to R72,6m and earnings a share for the period fell
60%, to 21,5c from 54c.
This was due to the inclusion in the November 2004 results of the R73,8m
gain realised from the sale of Mosaic Software Holdings, which represented
30,2c a share. Headline earnings a share fell to 21,6c a share from 23,8c a
share, due to the payment of R10,2m in secondary tax on dividends following
the declaration of a maiden dividend during the period. On a comparable
basis, headline earnings a share growth was 14%.
* SOUTH AFRICAN WIRELESS BROADBAND OPERATOR WBS SHARES SOLD TO LOCAL
Forty percent of the shares in iBurst's parent company, Wireless Business
Solutions (WBS), have changed hands, to a local company headed by Alan
The 40% shares, belonging to US-based gaming company, Gtech, are being sold
to private investment holding company Blue Label Investment, for an
As a result of the transaction, Alan Knott-Craig Jr, son of Vodacom CEO Alan
Knott-Craig Sr and executive director of Richmark, has been appointed as WBS
The Richmark Group has several ICT-related subsidiaries and Blue Label holds
shares in the group.
Thami Mtshali will retain his position as CEO. Jacki Mpondo-Hendriks, media
spokesperson for WBS, has confirmed the company has undergone the
shareholder change. WBS, a black empowered company, is best known for its
iBurst offering. Among other contracts, iBurst provides SA's national
lottery system with a mobile data communication network, a focus similar to
that of outgoing shareholder GTech.
However, the incoming shareholder has varied interests in the cellular and
telecoms industry, which could signify an increasing focus for WBS on the
provision of broadband to the wider market.
Despite the opportunities that are likely to be presented as a result of the
WBS/Blue Label partnership, initial market interest is likely to focus on
collaboration that could result from the familial ties between Knott-Craig
Jr and his father.
Nevertheless, Blue Label Investment COO Gary Kaplan says the father-son
combination does not share business interests – a statement reiterated by
Mpondo-Hendriks, as well as the Independent Communications Authority of SA
(ICASA), which has approved the deal in principle.
Mpondo-Hendriks has said that a full statement will be made to the market
and media only once the ICASA approval has been formalised. This is expected
to take place late next week. In this briefing the company will share its
new structure, direction and initiatives.
- Telecom Egypt has mandated Baker & McKenzie Egypt to conduct the due
diligence of Nile Online. Telecom Egypt plans to acquire an additional stake
in Nile Online estimated at 38.5% to bring its total stake in the company to
65.8%. Nile Online is indebted to Telecom Egypt with an amount of EGP100
million that would be accounted for as part of the deal, if it closes. In a
related news item, Telecom Egypt announced that TE Data (93.3% owned
subsidiary) signed an interconnection agreement with PCCW Global for sharing
of technical and commercial infrastructure to enhance its presence in Asia,
Middle Eastern, European and North American telecommunications markets.
- Zimbabwe ECONET Wireless Holdings board chairman Tawanda Nyambirai and
company chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni have been acquitted of
contravening the Exchange Control Act. Charges against Econet and its
directors arose between May 2002 and December 11 2003 when the company
bought US$1 386 793, euro 75 337 and 74 472 British pounds and R243 388 from
unauthorised dealers. The State alleges that Econet directors later met in
Johannesburg, South Africa, where they resolved to evade scrutiny from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
- Britain's BT is reportedly interested in a possible stake acquisition of
the Algerian state-owned phone company Algerie Telecom. According to
business sources in Algiers, a mission will take four senior executives of
BT to Algiers in February, including the company's chief executive officer.
The mission will be led by Lady Olga Maitland, a former member of the
British parliament for Sutton and Cheam (1992-1997) and who currently chairs
the Algerian-British Business Council.
- The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that the
country’s second national operator (SNO) Globacom could be disqualified from
bidding for a 51% stake in incumbent telco Nitel as it is already a national
operator in the country. Globacom expressed an interest in acquiring the
stake earlier this week but the regulator said that awarding it a stake in
Nitel would hinder competition. It wants instead to award the interest to a
newcomer. Telkom South Africa and 19 other investors have expressed an
interest in the 51% stake, which also includes 100% of Nitel’s mobile
- The process of privatisation of the National office of telecommunications
(ONATEL) has resumed in Burkina-Faso. Benoit Ouattara, the Minister in
charge Trade and Industry has explained that 51% of the capital of the
company will be sold directly to a strategic telecommunication operator or
to a consortium of financial investors. The State will keep 23% of the
shares and 6% of the capital will be allocated to ONATEL’s employees. The
remaining 20% shares will be sold to the public under the supervision of the
regional stock exchange (BRVM). By adopting this new step, the government
intends to put an end to the monopoly in the sector and open it to the
competition in order to ease the financial constraints.
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Letter from Ghana: Buying satellite connectivity – You get what you pay for
I am back from my little trip to Ghana and once again had interesting
experiences while looking for satellite connectivity for my organisation.
One vendor we were looking at was a local reseller for a well-known
satellite company. It was all looking fine until I actually did some speed
tests on one of their customers connections and then met with the
representative of the local reseller.
The client who allowed me to check their connection told me that they had a
512k Downlink and 256k Uplink. I ran a simple web based speed test that was
normally designed for DSL connections but can give you some rough numbers
for a VSAT link as it was just uploading and downloading files of a set size
to a known server. It was not very impressive. Over an hour period of time
with several tests the connection averaged 125k downlink and 20k uplink. The
tests were only a few minutes so QOS speed reductions should not have kicked
in to that extent.
Then a few days later I had a meeting with the representative of the local
reseller. He claims that he is a supplier to a local embassy in Accra and
has over 70 clients and expects to see another 40 in 2006. All very
impressive until we talked details. I told him about my test and he said
that it was due to congestion on a shared connection. So I asked him what
the contention ratio was and he said 10 :1, that all his offerings were
10:1. So then I asked him how we could protect ourselves from losing all of
our bandwidth to congestion if we became a client - he told me of his QOS
software that prevented congestion . So I came back to the upload speed of
20 k on what was supposed to be a 256k upload connection on a 10:1 ratio. I
asked how it could get that bad for over an hour, considering his QOS and
speed of connection and contention ratio of 10:1. This got a response of a
blank stare. He never said anything in response - but rather changed the
Then I asked about the US$4000 dollar a year VSAT permit fee. He responded
that his clients did not have to pay that, nor did they have to pay import
fees on the equipment, as his license with Ghana covered all of that.
He then quoted me a price higher than the one that was in the original
project description. I asked him about this and the core of his answer was
that new clients would be charged more than old clients - which struck me as
an interesting thing to say to a potential new client - who by the way was
now shopping for about 4 parties. This was because , once it was known that
I was consulting for our office other parities asked for help finding a
solution for them as well.
In my follow up correspondence with another company, it has said that there
are a number of operators who are paying bribes and not paying the required
fees and customs charges - but that they had to collect the US$4000 a year
and had to file for the permit before they could import the equipment into
Ghana. But at least a client with this company does not have to pay the
US$16,000 start up and one time fees. So I am still talking to this company
about pricing and have consigned other reseller to the scrap heap of shady
vendors that we can't work with.
On the quality of DSL in Accra , I stayed at a guest house in Accra and it
had a great DSL connection - 256k down 64k up . It has had it for a year and
it is down about one day a month. The key though seems to be the
neighborhood. It is located near a number of embassies and apparently GT
keeps the lines maintained in that area. I was contacted by someone in
another organization who lived 5 kilometers away and had a terrible DSL
connection. Same old sad tale - it was great to start with, then started to
get a bit worse. Now it is often off line and the field service has declined
on the same schedule. The organisation is now looking for another solution.
If you go though Ghana anytime soon make sure to have some flex in your
schedule - there were aviation fuel shortages while I was there and some
flights were either delayed or cancelled because of it.
WEB AND MOBILE DATA NEWS
* WSIS SECRETARIAT FREEZES WEB-PAGES FOR GENEVA, TUNIS PHASES
The Executive Secretariat of the World Summit on the Information Society
(WSIS) has announced the freezing of the web-pages of both the Geneva and
Tunis phases of the summit.
This is coming as it has taken a firm step in updating media professionals
on the post-WSIS related information by maintaining its 'WSIS E-Flash'
Champion Infotel, recalls that WSIS was held in two phases; in December 2003
in Geneva and Tunis in November 2005 spearheaded b y the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General, Mr. Yoshio Utsumi.
WSIS E-flash is a regular online 'information dish' for interested
professionals in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT),
especially the media who seek update from the secretariat
Information from the editorial team of WSIS e-Flash said that the decision
was to continue the tradition of E-Flash to keep interested subscribers
updated on events in the post-WSIS process.
This development came as the web-pages on Geneva and Tunis summit phases
would soon be frozen.
"We will also continue to update the official WSIS website. While the
content of the web-pages regarding the Geneva and Tunis Summit will be
'frozen'" the team stated.
The secretariat also said that other parts including basic information,
stocktaking and the new chapter on "WSIS Implementation and follow-up" would
be open and regularly updated.
As part of the activities in the post-summit period, the ITU
Secretary-General has decided to maintain the WSIS Executive Secretariat,
although on a smaller scale, to carry out the implementation tasks
stipulated in the Geneva Action Plan and Tunis Agenda of WSIS.
These activities include the coordination cum facilitation of
multi-stakeholder implementation and stocktaking, as well as other essential
Some of the post-WSIS meets include Internet Governance Forum (IGF)
consultations on 16 - 17 and WSIS Action Lines Moderators cum Facilitators
gathering on 24 this month of February respectively.
Pointing out the Tunis Agenda in paragraph 108-109, which stated that
multi-stakeholder implementation at the international level should be
organized taking into account the themes and action lines in the Geneva
Plan of Action, and be moderated or facilitated by UN agencies when
The experience of, and the activities undertaken by, UN agencies in the
WSIS process notably via the ITU, United Nations Education, Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP); should continue to be used to their fullest extent.
These three agencies are expected to play leading facilitating roles in the
implementation of the Geneva Plan of Action and organize a meeting of
Moderators/Facilitators of Action Lines as well as the IGF.
(SOURCE: Daily Champion)
* WEBSITE TO MARKET TEXTILES LAUNCHED IN UGANDA
In a bid to enhance Uganda's performance in the African Growth Opportunity
Act, a website has been launched to provide information about the country's
http://www.uga.edu/internationalpso/ugandatextiles/ has been launched by the
Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and contains details of the textile
The website is intended to provide information of industry players, cotton
production, jobs and other related information. She was seeing off six
companies on February 13 that are to represent Uganda at a textiles
exhibition in the US. Southern Range Nyanza, Apparel Tristar, Phenix
Logistics, Sigma Knitting Industries, Kwera Limited and Samaki are the
companies that will represent Uganda.
(SOURCE: The Monitor)
Sky 2 Net LTD providing A-Z solution for Internet & VOIP via satellite
(C-Band) that covers all Africa and Asia. The solutions including
end-to-end Equipment of V-sat, wireless, VOIP, Bandwidth Management and
Anti-Spam (outgoing). Sky 2 Net provide Internet and International call
termination and generation for prepaid cards and regular operators.
- Web Site: www.sky2net.net
- E-Mail: wilan at sky2net.net
- Tel: +972-54-233261
* TELKOM, MULTICHOICE TEST VIDEO-ON-DEMAND
A partnership between Telkom and MultiChoice to stream selected TV content
over the Web has been established, says Alphonzo Samuels, Telkom's broadband
executive officer. "We are investigating different compression techniques,"
he says, adding that a closed-group video-on-demand (VOD) trial is being
Samuels declines, at this stage, to reveal details on programming, the
duration of the trial, or any dates on when the service may be rolled out.
Telkom said recently it may consider buying a broadcast licence, in view of
plans to bring Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) to SA. But since MultiChoice is a
licensed content-providing partner for the VOD project, Telkom would not
require the broadcast licence.
Samuels says the VOD trials are distinct from Telkom's IPTV plans, and
believes the service would be "complementary" to IPTV in the future.
MultiChoice would not comment on the partnership, citing contractual
obligations. Alphonzo Samuels, Telkom's broadband executive officer,
declines to reveal dates on when the service may be rolled out.
VOD systems are either 'streaming', in which viewing can start as the video
streams over the Internet, or 'download', in which the programme is brought
in its entirety to a set-top box before viewing starts.
Users are able to pause, fast forward, rewind and jump between frames with
all ?download' VOD systems and some ?streaming' VOD systems.
"Video-on-demand in SA is just around the corner; it is evolving extremely
rapidly in the developed economies," says Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide
Worx, adding: "If we don't move in this direction we'll fall behind."
* Fujitsu has extended its investment in South Africa by appointing a new
head of Core Services. Stephen Floyd joins the South African operation to
lead the roll-out of the Fujitsu Core Services Model throughout the region.
* Kelvin Reynolds, former MD of Oracle SA and VP of Oracle Corporation, has
joined AltX-listed Simeka BSG as executive director of enterprise software
systems. He resigned as MD of Oracle SA late last year, and was replaced by
Oracle Ireland MD Nicky Sheridan.
- Corporate Network Management Forum: LANs, WANs, VPNs, Multimedia,
VoIP, Security: Developing Strategies in Network Management and the
23-24 February 2006, Nairobi, Kenya
For further information contact, Vincent Wambua, AITEC Kenya
- Conference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)
23rd to 25th February 2006, Nairobi Safari Park Hote, Kenya
For further information call Tel/Fax + 254 20 374 9771.
- Second Annual SANGONeT "ICTs for Civil Society" Conference and Exhibition
7-9, March 2006, Indaba Hotel, Fourways, Johannesburg, South Africa
For more information, visit www. sangonet.org.za/conference2006
- Digital Broadcasting Switchover Forum 2006
organised by the CTO 3rd- 5th April
To register and other general enquires contact Bhavna Kerai on
b.kerai at cto.int
or call +44 (0) 207 024 7616
- ICT AFRICA INVESTMENT SUMMIT 2006 - Strategies for sustainable
development of ICT infrastructure in Africa
4 – 6 May 200, Intercontinental Hotel, Kigali, Rwanda
For further information contact titi at cyberschuul.com
- AfNOG workshop on Network Technology
7 - 12 May 2006, Nairobi, Kenya.
Further information and application forms are
available at <http://www.afnog.org/afnog2006/workshop/>.
- VoIP World Africa 2006
8 – 11 May 2006, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
For more information, contact Christinah Mazibuko on +27 11 516 4940
Or by email at christinah.mazibuko at terrapinn.co.za
- eLA eLearning Africa 2006 - 1st International Conference on ICT for
Development, Education and Training
May 24 - 26, UNCC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
For further information please visit www.elearning-africa.com
- Telecoms and Investments 2006
4-6 July , 2006 at Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Abuja - Nigeria.
For further information please telephone:+234 9 671 8799, Fax:+234 9 413
9293, Cell:+234 803 563 9927
Email:info at telecomsandinvestments.com
- Storage Continuity InfoSecurity Africa 2006
10 - 14 July 2006 Sandton Convention Centre, Sandton, Johannesburg
For futher information please see http://www.terrapinn.com/2006/sciza/
JOBS AND OPPORTUNITIES
* HOSTING JINX 2006/20009
The call for proposals for the hosting of JINX for the2006-2009 has been
launched by ISPA. Proposals have to be submitted by 17:00 on Tuesday, 28
For further information on the specifications contact proposals at ispa.org.za
* REUTERS DIGITAL VISION FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME
The Digital Vision Program supports social entrepreneurs who seek to
leverage technology-based solutions in the interest of humanitarian,
educational, and sustainable development goals. The programme fosters
interdisciplinary projects and prototyping efforts that aim to
address real needs in underserved communities.
Deadline for application is April 3 2006
For information about applying, and to apply online http://rdvp.org/become
* NSS PRIME CONSULTANTS GSM/GPRS - ALGERIA
ALCATEL experience Network Design, Performances and Processes & Procedures
More than 10y experience ; Audit or Due diligence experience
Contract Length 3 months .
For further information please contact advertising at balancingact-africa.com
* BSS/GPRS EXPERT – SENEGAL
For a leading provider in West Africa, we are urgently looking for a
Needs experience in GSM/GPRS/EDGE technology - at least 5 years with
cellular operators and/or BSS/UTRAN vendors ; -3G, GSM, GPRS, EDGE network
Excellent project management, Good presentation, Communication
Contract Length 6 Months .
For further information please contact advertising at balancingact-africa.com
CONTRACTS: WHO'S SELLING WHAT TO WHO?
- NAMIBIAN MTC - MOTOROLA
Namibia’s Mobile Telecommunications (MTC) has signed a five-year exclusive
deal with Motorola for the supply of GSM/GPRS/EDGE and Canopy access network
equipment. Under the contract, Namibia's sole cellco plans to expand its
network to reach 95% of the country’s population, up from its current
coverage of 88%. In 2006, MTC aims to focus on road coverage and ensuring
that all main routes are covered, as well as improving service quality and
reducing congestion on the existing network, spanning 250 base stations. In
operation since 1995, MTC had around 430,000 active subscribers at the end
of 2005 and offers GSM/GPRS services including MMS, e-mail and internet
access. The new deal with Motorola builds on an existing long-term
relationship between the two companies.
- MAURITANIAN GOVERNMENT - SOTETEL
The Tunisian company SOTETEL has won a contract in Mauritania, for a value
of 420,000 euros,
The company has already carried the installation of telecoms equipment for
the private mobile operator MATTEL. This new contract the wiring and the
interconnection of public buildings such as ministries and other public
buildings. It should be noted that several Tunisian companies and other
software firms carried out several projects in the field of new
communication and information technologies in Mauritania.
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