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BT Africa:

Getting nations talking


The search for differentiation

nashua mobile: Cellular organisation

Connecting communities How the Praekelt Foundation is connecting the African continent’s population and driving positive social change

SPECIAL REPORT: african telecoms industry

Editor’s letter

Making connections


n this second issue of BE Telecoms we bring you personal accounts of success stories from network providers, equipment and accessories suppliers, service providers and others committed to the purpose of connecting people, wherever they are, by information communications technology. Chris Radley, managing director of Nashua Mobile in South Africa, explains its strategy to provide a full, in-house service solution to SMEs, and BT’s general manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Keith Matthews, talks about a communications network that will unite the continent. Fibre optics are transforming communication in Africa, as our special report on infrastructure reveals. Volker Hesse, managing director of Windhoek Cable Accessories—Namibia’s leading fibre optic supplier, talks about upgrading Namibia’s communications network. We also take an in-depth look at the growth of broadband services in Africa, made possible by this investment in infrastructure, and at some of the hurdles the industry—and governments—have to overcome to take it to the next stage.

M.Ashcroft Martin Ashcroft Editor-in-chief

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in touch EDITORIAL

Martin Ashcroft Editor In Chief Becky Done managing editor


Matt Johnson Art Director Louise Culling Production Designer


Richard Turner Director of sales Vince Kielty Director of Editorial Research Sharon Rooke Administration & Operations Matt Day Head of technology Andy Turner Chief Executive


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special report

contents 10 Foreword

Africa’s telecoms trajectory Our special report contains the highlights of Africa’s telecoms expansion.


12 The African Telecom industry

The rise and rise of mobiles

A collection of statistics showing the growth of mobile communications in Africa.

16 Comment: Mobile services

Google in Africa



Martin Ashcroft comments on some of Google’s latest innovations in mobile services in Africa.

18 Mobile broadband

Mobilising mobile broadband

Broadband growth is strongly linked to GDP growth, job creation, and ultimately, economic health.

28 Telecoms infrastructure

Connecting Africa

Submarine fibre-optic cables are helping Africa keep up with rapacious growth in consumer demand.

36 Praekelt Foundation

Connecting communities

Gustav Praekelt talks about some exciting examples of mobile technology driving social change.

BE telecoms | 5

business showcase


44 Telecom Namibia Game changer

Customers of Namibia’s largest ICT provider stand to reap the benefits of the recent commissioning of the West Africa Cable System.


60 BT sub-Saharan Africa


Getting nations talking

Development in Africa needs to be underpinned by a reliable communications network that will unite the continent.

70 Windhoek Cable Accessories Namibia in the glass age

Fibre optics are transforming communication in Africa, and this supplier is helping to upgrade the system in one of the sparsest countries imaginable.

6 | BE telecoms


78 Nashua Mobile

Cellular organisation SMEs need effective communications without heavy investment and long-term commitments—and this telecoms solutions provider has the answer.

88 Gijima


The search for differentiation One of South Africa’s largest IT support companies is looking at how it can remain at the top by developing different niche markets.

96 Altech UEC South Africa Technology that touches lives


This digital technology specialist’s new Mount Edgecombe site is Africa’s most advanced facility of its type.


BE telecoms | 7

business showcase


104 Airtel Kenya

Innovation in communication Focusing on the power of innovation to satisfy the needs of its growing base of loyal customers in one of East Africa’s fastest-moving markets.

110 Etisalat Nigeria Mobile growth

The transition of Africa’s mobile telecommunications is astounding—not least in Nigeria, one of the biggest of all African economies.

122 Uganda Telecom Ltd Going mobile


Uganda’s regional market leader is investing heavily in management, infrastructure and technology to increase its share of the telecoms market.

110 8 | BE telecoms


130 130 Neotel

A head in the clouds After building a nationwide fibre-optic communication backbone, Neotel is leading the migration to next generation communications in South Africa.

140 Vodafone Ghana


Superior services

This household brand is working to deliver the best network with the best products and services, with the best people.

148 VimpelCom Going global


One of the world’s largest groups of integrated telecommunication services providers is counting on innovation and operational expertise to unlock its global potential.

BE telecoms | 9

Africa’s teleco T

he rapid expansion of Africa’s telecoms network is shaping up to become one of the world’s economic success stories. As well as the seemingly unstoppable rise of mobile penetration, there has been massive investment into initiatives to upgrade old copper networks to fibre and develop the submarine network infrastructure that links the continent to the rest of the world. Major global ICT players are setting up shop on Africa’s shores, poised to take advantage of future growth. Some major milestones have already been reached. Angola and Namibia beat most of Europe in the race to 4G mobile, demonstrating Africa’s ability to leapfrog legacy technology and more than keep pace with its high-income cousins. And in February this year, at the ITU World Radio Communication Conference in Geneva, African air regulators agreed to increase the amount of spectrum available for mobile broadband in their respective IT regions. Studies show that broadband growth leads to GDP growth and job creation, and this was a significant and positive step towards fulfilling that potential. In this report, we’ve selected some of the highlights of Africa’s telecoms trajectory and compiled them along with the most up-to-date facts and figures to give you an in-depth picture of where the industry is today, and where it is headed in the future.

10 | special report


oms trajectory

special report | 11

the rise & rise


hile fixed telephone subscriptions in m a ny A f r ic a n countries remain exceptionally low, there has been huge growth in the numbers of people using mobile phones in the last few years, to the extent that mobile phones now represent more than 90 per cent of all telephone lines in Africa. Market penetration in Africa as a whole passed the 50 per cent mark in 2010. Although subscriber growth has slowed where markets are beginning to become saturated, several individual markets are still growing at 50 per cent or more per annum. In Botswana, South Africa and Namibia, mobile penetration has surpassed 100 per cent. Some sources forecast that the total number of mobile subscribers in Africa could reach 800 million by the end of 2015. Internet use has tremendous

12 | special report

potential for expansion, too, with Nigeria, the largest user by far in terms of raw numbers, still having a relatively low level of market penetration. Up to date figures for telecoms usage are hard to come by in some parts of Africa, but these at least give an indication of growth potential. The driv ing force of telecommunications net work expansion in Africa has been private sector investment. With very few minor exceptions, all sub-Saharan countries have allowed foreign investment into their telecommunications sector and most allow overseas companies to own more than 50 percent of a given company, with some allowing complete ownership of subsidiaries. Given the market figures quoted above, it’s not surprising that South Africa and Nigeria have seen the most private sector investment.

the african telecom industry

rise of mobiles Investment by the top five countries in ICT infrastructure projects, 1998–2008 $18

South Africa




Kenya Sudan



$2 0





Source: World Bank PPI database

Value in US$ billion

Did you know...

93 million

Number of mobile subscriptions in Nigeria

Source: GSMA Africa Mobile Observatory 2011 report


US billion

Contribution of mobile operators to Africa’s GDP

8.5 million

Number of mobile money transfers and m-banking users in Kenya

special report | 13

Top ten mobile operators in African countries in Q1 2011 MTN Vodafone MobiNil Vodacom Glo-Mobile MTN Safaricom Maroc Telecom Airtel Djezzy

Nigeria Egypt Egypt South Africa Nigeria South Africa Kenya Morocco Nigeria Algeria




30.8 30.4 26.5 20.3 19.2 17.2 16.7 16 15.5 20




Subscribers (million)

Fixed and mobile telephone subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in selected African countries, 2011 1.55





Botswana Ghana




142.82 84.78 64.84








South Africa Tanzania




126.83 55.53 60.59




14 | special report








the african telecom industry Top ten African Internet user communities – early-2010 Nigeria Egypt Morocco Algeria South Africa Sudan Kenya Tunisia Uganda Zimbabwe

4.7 4.4 4.2 4 3.5 3.2 1.4 0









Internet users (million)

Forecast of top ten African telecoms growth markets between 2008-2013 Nigeria South Africa Egypt DRC Ethiopia Kenya Algeria Tanzania Sudan Ghana

$1.7 $1.6 $1.4 $1.2 $1.2 0



$2.4 $2.4



$4.5 $3.9






Value in US$ billion Source: International Telecommunication Union (ITU) statistics TeleGeography: GlobalComms Insight

special report | 15

Google E in Africa by: Martin Ashcroft

16 | Special report

mail is such a part of everyday life that it’s almost become a human right. For many in Africa, however, internet access is still patchy, expensive, or slow, but Google is helping to address this problem by making Gmail available without an internet connection. Shortly before we went to press with this report, Google introduced Gmail SMS, a new service that allows users to send and receive emails via SMS text messages. The announcement was made by Geva Rechav, product manager, emerging markets, in a posting on the Google Africa Blog. “You can now send and receive emails as SMS messages using your mobile phone, regardless of whether or not your phone has an internet connection like Wifi or 3G,” he said. “Gmail SMS works on a ny

comment: Mobile services phone, even the most basic ones which only support voice and SMS.” The introduction of Gmail SMS is limited to Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya in the first instance, and it remains to be seen whether Google will expand it into other countries. When I asked about this, I was told by a representative that Google does not preannounce its launches! As with the regular SMS service, receiving Gmail messages in this way will be free, but replies from mobile phones will be subject to the standard network charge—paid to the individual user’s service provider, not to Google— so what’s in it for Google? “Our strategy in Africa is to create an accessible, relevant and sustainable internet environment,” said my representative. “A product like Gmail SMS both addresses the challenges of accessibility and provides a highly relevant service in environments where mobile penetration is very high and where phone/SMS is often the easiest and favoured way

“Gmail SMS works on any phone, even the most basic ones which only support voice and SMS” of communicating.” But it’s clear that Gmail SMS is simply one part of Google’s overall strategy in Africa, the success of which ultimately depends on more people using the internet. Gmail SMS cannot deliver internet access to those who don’t have it already, but it can increase the communication outlets (and therefore internet use) for those who do. Gmail SMS is an extension of services that Google has already introduced into Africa. Gmail Chat SMS, for instance, was initially rolled out in Kenya two years ago, and has since been launched in other African countries and emerging markets, before being launched in Nigeria and South Africa in March 2012. This service allows Gmail Chat users, wherever they

are in the world, to send free text messages directly from their computers to Airtel, GLO, MTN, Starcomms and Visafone subscribers, free of charge, so that they can also communicate with mobile phone users who do not have internet access. At the same time, Google Trader SMS, a service that enables mobile phone users to access the Google Trader marketplace via SMS, was also introduced in Nigeria in March. Airtel and MTN subscribers can now search for items to buy, register items for sale, view the items they listed for sale, and delete or change postings, all via SMS. Google Trader is live in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda as well as Nigeria, but as Google “does not preannounce its launches”, I can’t tell you where it might be available next.

Special report | 17

18 | Special report

Mobile broadband

Mobilising mobile broadband Broadband growth is strongly linked to GDP growth, job creation, and ultimately, economic health. And although Africa’s mobile industry has come a long way over the past few years, there is still much work to be done written by: Becky Done

Special report | 19


n Africa, where fixed-line ICT infrastructure has historically been lacking, it is widely recognised that mobile broadband will play a crucial role in the continent’s future economic growth and development. The GSM Association (GSMA) expects that there will be 240 million mobile broadband connections in sub-Saharan Africa alone by 2015, compared to just four million fixed broadband connections. “We believe that mobile broadband in particular is key for the Middle East and Africa, because of the lack of defined broadband infrastructure in those regions,” explains Peter Lyons, the GSMA’s director of Spectrum Policy for Africa and the Middle East. Spanning more than

220 countries, the GSMA represents the interests of nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators, as well as more than 200 companies in what it terms the broader mobile ecosystem. “We’ve seen a lot of studies and a lot of research that shows a correlation between broadband growth, GDP growth and job creation,” explains Lyons. “In Africa and the Middle East, but especially in Africa, the mobile industry plays an important role in creating jobs, becoming an engine for economic growth and ultimately helping to alleviate poverty.” It’s hard to ignore the benefits brought about thus far by the establishment of a mobile ecosystem in Africa. “About five million people

“The mobile industry plays an important role in creating jobs and becoming an engine for economic growth” 20 | Special report

Mobile broadband

Peter Lyons

in Africa are either directly or indirectly employed within the mobile industry,” states Lyons. “For example, in a country like Kenya, in addition to the obvious applications such as selling airtime, tens of thousands of new jobs have been created supporting mobile money agent networks. Overall, the mobile ecosystem in Africa is creating many more jobs than we could ever have imagined just five years ago.” In 2010, Africa’s mobile industry was worth about US$56 billion—equivalent to around 3.5 per cent of GDP. This is expected to increase over the coming years as mobile penetration rises: currently, it’s hovering around the 65 per cent mark, with 100 per cent penetration expected to occur within the next few years. This will add a staggering $35 billion of value to the industry— the equivalent to an additional two per cent increase in GDP. Clearly, this is one ecosystem well worth nurturing; but creating

100% African mobile penetration expected within the next few years the environment in which to do that is something of a challenge. Comprising 54 countries and one billion people, Africa occupies around 30 million square kilometres of land. There is a lot of ground to cover, in more than one sense of the word. The GSMA runs an ongoing global campaign to help secure the spectrum required to meet the fastgrowing demand for mobile broadband. Currently, just 80MHz of spectrum is available for delivering mobile broadband in a typical African market. By contrast, mobile operators in many middle and high-income markets have access up to 400MHz of spectrum for delivering mobile broadband. In November last year,

Special report | 21

the GSMA announced that greater allocation of spectrum for mobile broadband would prove to be vital for the economic and social development of sub-Saharan Africa in particular. “It’s clearly understood regionally that spectrum equals a better environment for job creation, economic growth and entrepreneurship,” says Lyons. “And we’re seeing progress on that.” Much of this progress was made in February this

year, at the ITU World R adiocommunication Conference in Geneva, where there was a push by African air regulators to increase the amount of spectrum available for mobile broadband in their respective IT regions. They effectively agreed to double it by adding 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands of digital dividend (lowfrequency spectrum being freed up by the switchover from analogue to

In 2010, Africa’s mobile industry was worth about US$56 billion

22 | Special report

digital terrestrial television). The digital dividend band offers widespread mobile broadband coverage in rural areas and improved indoor penetration in urban areas. For the GSMA, this represented a huge step forward, says Lyons. “We’re expecting that by June 2015, many of the analogue broadcasters will have b e e n mig rated to digital,

Mobile broadband

“By 2020 we should see mobile broadband connectivity much more widely spread, or at least similar to what we’d find in other more developed regions of the world” enabling the 700 MHz and 800 MHz bands to be free for mobile broadband service.” But Africa is a continent defined by its diversity, and it’s no surprise that progress in some countries has been faster than in

others. “Some sub-Saharan African countries like Nigeria and South Africa, and to some extent Kenya, have a number of analogue television broadcasters that need to be moved to digital,” explains Lyons. “In other perhaps less developed countries, there’s not much analogue television to speak of—so the process of making the band available for mobile is relatively more straightforward.” But conversely, the less developed countries also have fewer resources at regulatory level to facilitate the transition from analogue to digital. And in some Arab states in northern Africa, broadcasters share the analogue bands with either military or public safety organisations, increasing complexity yet further. “It’s a very diverse region from

north to south and east to west, thus the challenges vary from place to place.” Yet Lyons is hopeful that by 2020, mobile broadband connectivity will have vastly increased. “I think it’s going to vary from region to region but broadly, I think by 2020 we should see mobile broadband connectivity much more widely spread, or at least similar to what we’d find in other more developed regions of the world. However it’s going to require significant effort to realise that potential; governments have to meet the 2015 analogue television switch-off deadlines, and there also has to be a full production of chipsets and equipment using standard harmonised band plans, so that the same chipset can be produced globally.” Chipsets are the

Special report | 23

combined necessa r y components of a mobile device in a single chip; and if their standardisation can be achieved, and the same band plans used internationally, then the cost of devices will fall. This will ultimately be the determining factor in when and how early mobile broadband can become part of the ICT ecosystem in Africa, says Lyons. “Hopefully by 2020 we’ll see tablets and computers which are affordable and acceptable to the majority of the global population,” says Lyons. “Pricing is all about standardisation.” However, spectrum and standardisation of technology are just part of the overall picture: there are a range of other issues that Africa must tackle directly in order for mobile broadband to flourish.

“Taxation is a major issue,” states Lyons. “Many governments, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, are very cash-strapped, and they see the mobile industry as a very convenient source of free cash. They levy all kinds of taxes on SIM cards and devices, and mobilespecific value added taxes and service taxes. This really distorts the market and ultimately raises the cost of devices, and that is the wrong direction for these governments to take.” Closely linked to taxation, red tape is also proving to be a major barrier to growth. “In order for a mobile operator to deploy network infrastructure in Nigeria, for example, it will typically have to negotiate different rightsof-way agreements with virtually every municipality, county, and local and state

government, since they are all trying to extract as much revenue from the operators as possible. In some cases they will each put different conditions on how and where towers can be constructed. This creates a really unfavourable

“Many governments, especially in subSaharan Africa, are very cash-strapped, and they see the mobile industry as a very convenient source of free cash” 24 | Special report

Mobile broadband

Taxation and red tape are major issues

investment environment for operators because there’s no certainty: an operator might invest a billion dollars in building a network in Lagos, only to find that as soon as they go outside of Lagos, the conditions for building the tower are completely different, and that each mayor of every town is going to try to extract as many fees and payments from them as possible.” This is clearly a huge problem, and again, the answer lies in



Typical spectrum available for mobile broadband in Africa sta nda rdisation, says Lyons. “We need to see some standardisation of rights-of-way access within each country and regionally as well. Then, we’ll see more investment and infrastructure, and

ultimately, more broadband service deployed. We are very much pushing governments to harmonise the r ig ht s- of-way procedures at the federal, state and local levels.” Infrastructure destruction is another frustration—a problem not unique to Africa, certainly, but far more devastating in its impact than in more developed nations. “In some countries across the region, fibre lines are dug up— sometimes inadvertently by

Special report | 25

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Mobile broadband

“Africa’s lack of fixed-line infrastructure has enabled it to leap-frog to the very forefront of mobile technology” construction crews building roads, but sometimes by people thinking they’re copper lines. They try to melt the fibre for copper, only to find that it’s not copper, so they try again five kilometres down the road. Without infrastructure protection, there’s no network, and no service. “While operators are facing this persistent destruction of their infrastructure, regulators are increasingly applying pressure for them to improve their quality of service,” he continues. “But quality of service can’t be better if the infrastructure is being destroyed. So there has to be a very consistent, strong push by governments to protect this infrastructure. It’s this infrastructure that will support economic development and job

Mobile broadband will play a crucial role in Africa’s economic development

creation: if it is being destroyed by people looking to melt copper down, then that completely undermines the whole future of the ICT sector in the region.” In many ways, Africa’s historical lack of fixedline infrastructure has enabled it to leap-frog to the very forefront of mobile technology, ideally positioning it for enormous growth and change. But if

it is to harness the mighty power of its potential, it must work closely with mobile operators and organisations like the GSMA to create the right environment for this to happen.

For more information about The GSM Association visit:

Special report | 27


Africa Submarine fibre-optic cables are helping Africa keep up with rapacious growth in consumer demand and fulfil the ambitions of the Connect Africa Summit written by: Martin Ashcroft

28 | Special report

Telecoms infrastructure

Special report | 29

Credit: ITU / M. Zouhri Š


Dr Hamadoun TourĂŠ, ITU Secretary-General, at the Connect Africa Summit press briefing, Kigali, Rwanda

30 | Special report

f r i c a experienced an explosion in demand for mobile voice services in the first decade of the 21st century, but if broadband Internet access is to come of age in the second decade, it will require a considerable amount of investment in infrastructure. While mobile penetration in some African countries has reached over 100 percent of the population, this is to some degree an anomaly of counting. In South Africa, for instance, according to World Wide Worx, 63 million SIM cards are in use, giving 126 percent SIM penetration (the definition used for cel lu la r penet rat ion by the International Tele com mu n ic at ion s Union). However, the true user base is more like 40-million, with penetration for individual users at 80 percent, of which some 20 percent are accounted for by dual-SIM usage, switchboard systems,

Credit: ITU / M. Zouhri ©

Telecoms infrastructure

Audience listens to panel discussion at the Connect Africa Summit, Kigali, Rwanda

or GSM signals used to track fleets or livestock. Nevertheless it is true that recent infrastructure investment on 3G networks has far outstripped that in fixed networks, to the extent that mobile operators have become the main providers of Internet services in Africa. The Connect Africa Summit in Rwanda in October 2007 set out a number of ambitious

objectives to improve the continent ’s ICT infrastructure, one of which was to interconnect all African capitals and major cities with ICT broadband inf rastruct ure a nd strengthen connectivity to the rest of the world by 2012. There is some debate as to whether this achievement is fully attainable in the timescale, although it must be said that a great deal has been done.

Other objectives have target dates in 2015, but time marches on. One of these is to connect African villages to broadband ICT services by 2015 and implement sharedaccess initiatives such as community telecenters and village phones. Others relate to regulatory measures, skills straining and e-government services. At the time of the summit in 2007 there was only one

“At the time of the summit in 2007 there was only one intercontinental submarine cable in operation in Africa” Special report | 31


intercontinental submarine cable in operation in Africa – the SAT-3 cable along the west coast of the continent. There were no submarine cables at all on Africa’s east coast, leaving Africans reliant on expensive satellite capacity for international connectivit y. Several have become active in the intervening years, and more are in the pipeline, if you’ll excuse the pun. Much of Africa gained access to international fibre bandwidth for the first

Subsea fibre optic cable

32 | Special report

time via submarine cables launched in 2009 and 2010, leading to investment in terrestria l fibre backbone infrastructure to link population centres across borders in landlocked countries. Africa’s Internet and broadband sector will benefit the most from these developments. Prices have come down from levels based on satellite access, and broadband is rapidly replacing dial-up as the preferred access method,

a process almost complete in the continent’s more developed markets. Most African countries now have commercial DSL services, but their growth is limited by the poor geographical reach of the fixed-line networks. Improvements in Internet access have therefore been more noticeable in major cities, but the rapid spread of mobile data and thirdgeneration (3G) broadband services is now bringing Internet access to many

Telecoms infrastructure

“By 2010, sub-Saharan Africa had 12 operational cables, and another five were under construction� areas outside of the main cities for the first time. The submarine fibreoptic network infrastructure is an essential complement to terrestrial backbone networks, providing a high-bandwidth, low-cost alternative to satellites

for carrying traffic to and from the Africa region. The development of this infrastructure is therefore crucial for the provision of affordable broadband services. The South Atlantic 1 (SAT-1) cable (now decommissioned) was launched in 1967, connecting South Africa to Ascension Island, but it took until 1993 for SAT-2 to connect South Africa to Europe. In 2002, a new submarine cable system (the South Atlantic 3/West Africa Submarine Cable, more commonly known by its acronym SAT-3/WASC) entered service, connecting South Africa and countries along the west coast of Africa to Europe. Until as recently as 2009, the only other countries with access to submarine cables were Cape Verde,

Djibouti, and Mauritius. By 2010, however, sub-Saharan Africa had 12 operational cables, and another five were under construction. Investment in submarine cables has significant implications. Satellites cost between $250 million and $650 million, depending on their size and payload, and although the next generation of satellites will have greater data transmission capacity than the older ones, they are still measured in gigabits per second. The SEACOM submarine cable, for example, which entered service in July 2009, cost approximately $650 million but has a design capacity of 1.28 terabits per second (Tbps). The Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), which entered service in July 2010, cost $235 million and

Special report | 33

has a maximum design capacity of 1.4 Tbps. EASSy is a 10,000 kilometre cable system running from Mtunzini in South Africa to Port Sudan, with landing points in nine countries and connections to at least ten landlocked countries. It is the first to deliver direct connectivity between east Africa and Europe / North America and also interconnects with multiple international submarine cable networks for diverse, seamless onward connectivity to Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia. More recently, the 14,000 km West African Cable System (WACS) came into operation in May 2012, linking the Western Cape of South Africa to London in the UK, with 15 terminal stations along the western

coast of Africa, the Canary Islands, and Portugal. The $650 million cable system was constructed by AlcatelLucent. The landings in Namibia, the DRC, the Republic of Congo and Togo will provide the first direct connections for these countries to the global submarine cable network. The cable consists of four fibre pairs, one of which is a direct route from South Africa to Europe, a so-called express lane. The second and third fibre pairs are designed as a semi-express lane, one with two stops, from Europe to West Africa and West Africa to South Africa, and the other with three stops. The fourth fibre pair is an omnibus fibre that stops off at all landing ports en route. WACS is operated by a consortium of 14 companies

including Angola Cables, Broadband Infraco, Cable & Wireless, Congo Telecom, MTN, Neotel, Telecom Namibia, Internet Solutions (IS), Telkom SA, Togo Telecom and Vodacom. MTN is the largest single investor in WACS, with

“WACS will effectively raise South Africa’s current broadband capacity by more than 500 Gbps” 34 | Special report

Telecoms infrastructure

The Connect Africa Summit set targets for the development of ICT in Africa

commitments in excess of US$100 million, including $10 million towards the construction of cable landing facilities in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. WACS will effectively raise South Africa’s current broadband capacity by more than 500 Gbps, a welcome boost for a country in which consumer demand for data quadrupled during 2011, and smartphone usage increased by 128 percent to 3.6 million users.

$650 million

Cost of West African Cable System (WACS)

But capacity is not the only factor determining the impact of submarine cable infrastructure on the broadband market. The level of competition among cables

is also a key factor, along with the extent of the terrestrial backbone networks that carry traffic to and from the submarine cable landing stations. Without extensive terrestria l backbone networks, the impact of the submarine cables on the broadband market might be limited. Satellites can deliver their lower capacity directly to the customer, so they are likely to play a significant role in Africa’s broadband landscape for the foreseeable future.

Special report | 35

credit: pop!tech

36 | Special report

Praekelt Foundation

Connecting communities One organisation is using the massive growth in Africa’s mobile technology sector to connect the continent’s population and drive positive social change written by: Becky Done Research by: Richard Halfhide

Special report | 37


education, government and agriculture,” explains founder Gustav Praekelt. “There just didn’t seem to be a framework at that point, or any skill in the market at that time, for providing large-scale mobile support to drive social change.” As mobile penetration in Africa rose sharply, the potential of many of Praekelt Digital’s technologies to connect communities with services and information which had previously been

inaccessible to them was becoming clear. “I don’t think anybody expected mobiles to be such a worldchanging technolog y: almost everybody on the entire planet now has a mobile phone. And because it’s become so popular, especially during the last five years, mobiles have suddenly become much cheaper.” This rise in popularity, coupled with falling costs to the user, has had a profound credit: pop!tech

ounded in 2007, the Praekelt Foundation was originally created as an offshoot of the South Africa-based corporate consultancy Praekelt Digital, which creates platforms and applications for mobile phones. “The non-profit Praekelt Foundation really happened because we saw this huge need to provide enterprise-scale models around areas such as health,

Gustav Praekelt describes the workings of Project Masiluleke’s SMS system, which uses widespread mobile device messaging to attract untested citizens to obtain information and HIV/AIDS testing kits

38 | Special report

Praekelt Foundation effect on the way entire continents communicate, he says. “On a basic level, the arrival of mobile has done something absolutely amazing, which is to connect people who were previously completely disconnected from the modern economy. Mobile payments are a great example of this: they have enabled people to carry out transactions virtually, through a mobile phone. But it has also connected people to their governments in order to access health services, agricultural information and educational services. In addition, I think people often forget the acceleration effect of mobile technology, in that peers can connect with peers: you can connect via a very accessible SMS to a vast array of people.” Recog nising the significance of this opportunity, the Foundation began to develop products

Young Africa Live promotion

that could run on mobile devices via one of its two platforms: Vumi, a population-scale platform for handling any type of text message, and Jmbo, used to deliver, create and publish mobile content. One of the Foundation’s first projects was to partner with the leading African mobile network operator MTN, to add a short message

about HIV to MTN’s ‘Please Call Me’ messages (which South African mobile users can send free to any mobile number in the country when they run out of airtime). The result was that 1.5 billion messages were sent out in six languages, and 1.5 million calls were made to the National HIV Hotline—a clear demonstration of the power of mobile in driving

“We are so proud of the incredible loyalty and enthusiasm of our audience” Special report | 39

social change. Leading on from this success was the founding of the population-scale network, Young Africa Live (YAL), which is used to drive behaviour change around sexual habits and HIV/Aids for young people in Africa between the ages of 16 and 24. Launched on World Aids Day in 2009, the idea

was to create a space where young South Africans could discuss issues such as love, sex, relationships, gender and culture, as well as HIV/ Aids. Since its launch, over 970,000 young people have visited YAL to seek information and support from peers and counsellors, with over one million comments posted on the site

Built on the principles of Ubuntu, Ummeli is a mobile network that helps communities create their own employment opportunities.

40 | Special report

and more than 36 million page views logged. “We are so proud of the incredible loyalty and enthusiasm of our audience,” says Gustav. “And what we’re especially proud of is how the community is now taking over the management of the site—our stories are actually coming from the community and the

Praekelt Foundation

“We’re currently working on a very large-scale mobile education project” growth to other countries [the network has expanded into Tanzania and Kenya] is also being spearheaded by community members. I’m really proud that we started something small like that and it grew to have a life of its own and exploded across the continent—I think YAL is probably one of our proudest achievements.” Another exciting example of mobile technology driving real and measurable social change is the initiative the Foundation created around five years ago, enabling South African health facilities to send SMS reminders to patients about their HIV/Aids treatment appointments. “We have measurable proof that we’ve saved thousands of lives with this simple intervention,” says Gustav. “It’s so simple: all we’re doing is reminding patients about

their appointments. Before we started, the percentage of people who did not keep their appointments was about 50 per cent, and that has dropped to less than four per cent now— so that’s a huge impact through the simplest intervention.” Another more recent project is Ummeli, which was launched a couple of months ago and is already used by over 70,000 people. “This came about when we asked our audience what their number one concern was—was it, for example, education, HIV/Aids, or employment?” explains Gustav. When the answer

70,000 Approximate users of Ummeli

came back ‘employment’, the result was Ummeli: a mobile jobs and community network, accessible through YAL, creating a gateway for people to enter the mainstream economy. Users can create profiles and connect with others, as well as find and share jobs. Of course, Gustav is aware that the exciting opportunities offered by mobile are all too often accompanied by challenges— and the way to tackle them isn’t always clear. “These population-scale platforms, which are fundamentally different from the way we have communicated to drive change in the past, have allowed us to build things like YAL, which is an incredibly powerful mechanism to drive behaviour change because we can measure the flow of information through this network.

Special report | 41

“But the worry we have is that this is completely new: we don’t have any previous models for building these population-scale systems. So if we have a discussion on a sensitive topic, what do we do when people say things within the network which are either damaging, or libellous, or could do harm? An example is the election violence in Kenya five years ago: SMS technology allowed that to spread really quickly. So although technology allows us to create these systems, we don’t yet have the models or the experience to control the spread of information. “It’s a good challenge,” he clarifies, “but we also need to be aware of the effects of connecting an entire population to each other. Another example was the riots last year in London: in

connecting people to each other, things can spread much faster. By their very nature the emerging effects of population-scale networks aren’t as controllable as say, a radio station. So that’s an unequivocal challenge and it’s certainly something that we need to think about.” Looking forward, the Foundation is set to continue its good work as it strives to keep pace with the pace of mobile penetration in Africa and the inevitable social change it will bring about. “We’re currently working on a very large-scale mobile education project,” Gustav reveals, although he can’t yet divulge too much detail. “The idea is to build a social learning platform that runs exclusively on mobile, accessible or free to anybody in the developing world. One of the partners is the

Department for Education in South Africa and there is a major investment bank involved as well. We’ll be formally announcing it within the next couple of months, and we’re very

“Five years from now, we know that every single human being on the planet will have a mobile device” 42 | Special report

Praekelt Foundation

The Foundation is currently working on a large-scale mobile education project

excited about it.” And what does he think the future holds? “We think the combination of mobile phones and our ability to measure the effect of the flow of information in these population-scale networks is going to create a fundamentally different type of mechanism or tool for us to drive behaviour change in the majority world. To drive social impact or social change, we

need to be aware of this new class of tool, this incredibly powerful tool that we have at our disposal. “Five years from now, we know that every single human being on the planet will have a mobile device,” he continues. “That will be the first time ever in the history of humankind that we will be able to deliver live information to every person on the planet. Our vision is to provide the tools and

the platforms that make it possible to deliver the right information at the right time to an individual that will improve or even save their lives. That’s what we hope and believe will come to pass in the next five years,” he concludes. For more information about The Praekelt Foundation visit:

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Game changer The recent commissioning of the West Africa Cable System has heralded a new era of communications in Namibia; and the country’s largest ICT provider has responded swiftly, with new innovations and better services for its customers

written by: Catherine Dunlop research by: Luke Smith

44 | BE Telecoms

Telecom Namibia

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Telecom Namibia employs over 1,100 people

Telecom Namibia


elecom Namibia, the largest ICT (information a nd communications technology) provider in this southern African country, has proved itself a proactive player since its foundation in 1992, establishing an integrated voice, data and text network. The Windhoek-headquartered parastatal now serves more than 145,360 customers in a country of some 2.1 million people, and has a well-educated workforce that is over 1,100 strong. In 2010 we reported on Telecom Namibia’s programme to improve connection with the rest of the world by installing fibre optic links into neighbouring countries. In February last year, Namibia’s link to the WACS undersea telecoms fibre optic cable laid along the West African coast finally landed. “The 14,900 kilometre West Africa Cable System (WACS) will provide direct connectivity between Namibia, West Africa, Portugal and the United Kingdom,” said Telecom Namibia’s managing director Frans Ndoroma at the connection ceremony. The WACS cable was formally launched on 11 May this year in Cape Town. The cable enters Namibia at Swakopmund beach some 370 kilometres west of Windhoek and was developed by Telecom Namibia and other telecommunications investors in partnership with AlcatelLucent Submarine Networks at a cost of $600 million. The cable will be extended to Botswana and the practical result will undoubtedly be to bring down prices for internet and broadband users. The importance of a world class

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A NETWORKED FUTURE The decisions we make today will shape the world we create for tomorrow. Ericsson is contributing to a sustainable future by creating innovative information and communications technology that is transforming the way we live in rural areas. Our solutions create a connected society with endless possibilities. Since the 1990s Ericsson has played a key role in supplying Telecom Namibia with state-of-the-art transmission technology. Together, our partnership will continue to bring better and richer communications to the people of Namibia.

Telecom Namibia

Employees at work

communications structure for business Germany and South Africa—and of course, development in Namibia needs no explaining. visitors these days expect broadband access International mining companies, for and mobile connectivity wherever they are. example, operate in a global environment Telecom Namibia’s most recent innovation and need to be in 24-hour communication is its new broadband service, SpeedLink, with operations around the world. Even more which aims to provide customers with faster pressing are the needs of Namibia’s growing and cheaper internet services. The country’s tourism industry. Tourism now accounts minister of Information and Communication for nearly 20 per cent of all Technology Joel Kaapanda employment and contributes officially launched this N$7.2 billion ($1.1 billion) to latest product at a breakfast GDP as around one million function held in Windhoek visitors are attracted to the on 31 May this year. country’s scenery and game The new product consists parks. To support this, the of SpeedLink Business and hotels and travel agencies SpeedLink Home, which Population of Namibia need to be able to connect enable both business and residential customers to booking sites in the UK,



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Telecom Namibia

AVM Founded in 1986 in Berlin, AVM is one of the top two manufacturers of broadband devices in Europe. With a market share of over 50 per cent, it is the leading manufacturer in Germany, Europe’s largest market. The Berlin-based communications specialist has received numerous awards for its innovative FRITZ! product range. FRITZ!Box enables fast, user friendly internet access, easy networking, convenient telephony and versatile multimedia applications. AVM has been working together with Telecom Namibia successfully since 2009. Telecom Namibia is providing data and voice services over internet (ADSL, WiMax and VSAT connections) using the FRITZ! Family products as customer premise equipment. It achieved a major milestone by shifting fixedline telephony services like ISDN and POTS to an IP-based infrastructure. Because of its vision and foresight in offering customers the FRITZ!Boxes like the FRITZ!Box 7270 or 7390, Telecom Namibia will enjoy the flexibility to switch to IPv6 at a later stage without changing the CPEs in its network. Through the FRITZ!Box Telecom Namibia can

offer its customers free additional services such as multiple answering machines, =fax reception services, web radio, local media streaming services and VPN: in short, a perfect communication centre for residential household and Soho/ SME customers. The new firmware FRITZ!OS 5.21 gives the FRITZ!Box a whole range of new features for WLAN, telephony and NAS. The interaction between smartphones and tablets has also been expanded, along with improved access when you are on the go. A particular highlight is the new MyFRITZ! service from AVM, which enables straightforward, secure access to your FRITZ!Box when you are out and about—so that you can access your photos, music and documents no matter where you are. AVM congratulates Telecom Namibia on its 20th anniversary and is looking forward to continuing this fruitful partnership. E.

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Heard Tell us about your company and we’ll tell everyone else

Telecom Namibia to enjoy faster internet speeds at cheaper monthly In South Africa, Neotel provides a suite of converged rates. The SpeedLink communications and managed services. Our network Home range comprises the extends to Africa by a way of cross-border fibre, submarine entry-level 384k package, cables and VSAT. priced at N$349 per For carriers, Neotel offers IP transit at Tier 1 hubs across month, and the premium Africa; access to the world’s largest wholesale voice network; and connectivity via a submarine cable network SpeedLink Home package, that circles the globe. For enterprises, Neotel offers a range priced at N$949 per month of telecommunications services from global VPN to public for a 36-month contract, and private telepresence. featuring download speeds Our ability to deliver world-class services in Africa is of up to 2,048k. strengthened by our relationships with our majority The other packages are shareholder Tata Communications’ global capability, as well the 512k and 1,024k priced as our regional presence through Telecom Namibia and local shareholding via Nexus Connection. at N$549 and N$649 per month respectively, for a 36-month contract. Packages feature unlimited monthly data usage, free modem, web space, voice/fax numbers, fax2email address, on-net voice calls, and up to two static IP addresses. SpeedLink Business provides download speeds of 512k to 10,240k and 256k to 2,048k for upload, supplying business users with consistently high speed connections and value for money. With unlimited usage, businesses can download whatever they need to at all times, without the need to restrict users. Up to


145,360 Current number of Telecom Namibia customers The company is the largest ICT provider in Namibia

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33 Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo, Street, Suiderhof, P.O. Box 81 130, Olympia, Windhoek Namibia Tel: + 264 61 30 0236 Fax: + 264 61 24 6326 Cell: + 264 81 124 3928 Email: |

Windhoek Cable Accessories cc is a Namibian company that specializes in Fibre Optic splicing, terminations and testing therof. We provide the following services: • Fusions Splicing • Mechanical Splicing• Hot Melt Terminations • Pigtail Terminations • ODTR Testing • Optical Dispersion Testing

Windhoek Cable Accessories cc specializes in all these kind of technologies and is the proud owner of three of the latest Fusion Splicers, namely SUMITOMO T39, a 3M Hotmelt station, and EXFO FTB-200 OTDR and many more.

Windhoek Cable Accessories cc is the proud supplier of Fibre Optic products and contracted work to Telecom Namibia. Congratulations to Telecom Namibia with their 20th Anniversary.


Telecom Namibia 10Mb speeds better equip Detecon businesses to efficiently Detecon is one of the world’s leading consulting perform data-intensive companies for ICT management and strategy consulting. tasks such as sending and Our services focus on solutions which are derived from the receiving large documents, use of information and communications technology (ICT). graphics or media files, They encompass strategy and organization consulting, video conferencing or planning and implementation of complex, technological ICT architectures and applications. Detecon’s expertise using web-based software. bundles knowledge from management and ICT consulting Faster speeds can also projects in more than 160 countries. Detecon is a member bring to life more flexible of Deutsche Telekom. working with quicker VPN access to internal systems. By using the inclusive IP addresses, businesses can reduce their communications costs with IP and video calling. SpeedLink is a direct benefit of the WACS cable, and Telecom Namibia has upgraded all its existing broadband customers on its ADSL and WiMAX platforms from their current packages to the next higher package. For example, a customer on a 1Mb package will have been upgraded to the next 2Mb package for free. All these customers were upgraded to Concluding a sponsorship deal a higher speed at the same monthly charge, while Windhoek Cable Accessories cc others were upgraded Windhoek Cable Accessories cc’s head office is situated to a higher speed with a in Windhoek with representatives in Swakopmund, reduction in their monthly Oshakati, Tsumeb and Walvis Bay. Although starting out charge. A ll existing in the IT and telecommunications fields, Windhoek Cable Accessories cc has also moved into the electrical industry customers were upgraded and can distribute tools and labelling products, as well based on an agreed matrix. as OPGW fibre optic cable, accessories and installations. Home customers, for Furthermore, Windhoek Cable Accessories cc is the only example, benefit from Namibian company that can offer you the services in 33 per cent link speed testing fibre optic lines for optical dispersion. improvement on the level package and up to

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50 per cent on the higher packages. This means that packages are upgraded from 256k to 384k (representing 33 per cent), and packages are upgraded from 512k to 1,024k (representing a 100 per cent link improvement). The savings derived from increased speed packages without any costs to customers range from 33 per cent to 50 per cent, and new customers will benefit from 36 per cent up to 41 per cent when they sign up for SpeedLink packages. “SpeedLink offers superb packages and value for all users whatever their needs and requirements are—from the relatively light users to heavy users that need high speeds,” said Ndoroma. “The new SpeedLink packages are definitively a game changer for internet service provisioning in Namibia.” He concluded: “The SpeedLink product offers you an interesting and attractive alternative in terms of packages, choice, quality and prices in the realm of fast internet services.” Telecom Namibia is a company that has embraced the principle that innovation beats playing catch-up: it is taking an independent stance tailor-made to the needs of the Namibian population and business community. “In terms of strategy, broadband services play a highly significant

role in delivering to the customer a ‘one stop’ solution to a variety of needs spanning voice, data, video and mobility—all delivered on a single platform,” commented senior manager of Corporate Communications & Public Relations Oiva Angula. “This offers customers unprecedented conveniences and flexibility, while such a single network will effect significant cost savings for them.”

“Our main objective and mission as a national telecommunications operator is to serve as a catalyst for realising Vision 2030” 56 | BE Telecoms

Telecom Namibia

Telecom Namibia puts innovation at the top of its agenda

Accordingly, R&D investment will continue to be a top priority. February 2011 saw the launch of a Telecom Namibia-funded Centre of Excellence at the University of Namibia. “Our vision as Telecom Namibia is to make Namibia a part of the vibrant and innovative knowledge society. Developing a strong culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is essential to the growth and success of the ICT in our country in order to achieve our national goals of economic growth and development,” said Ndoroma at the launch. “The objective of this centre at UNAM is to create an opportunity for graduates to conduct research in a world class environment so that the much needed

skills can be developed to grow the ICT knowledge base in Namibia.” Ndoroma went on to say that the centre has the potential to contribute to the overall implementation of Namibia’s Vision 2030, the national development blueprint launched by Namibia’s founding president Sam Nujoma in 2004. “Our main objective and mission as a national telecommunications operator is to serve as a catalyst for realising Vision 2030 by creating the necessary infrastructural conditions. We see that as part of our responsibility as one of the leading ICT players in the country.” In addition to supplying and installing all the equipment and software at the centre, Telecom Namibia has also

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Telecom Namibia offices

Telecom Namibia provided four research scholarships to promising Namibian students aiming to do postgraduate studies while setting out on a career in the industry. Whether or not Namibia is classed as a developed nation by that date—and given its natural resources, political stability and its geographical advantage as a staging post between Europe, the burgeoning oil ports of West Africa, South Africa and Asia, this is by no means impossible— Vision 2030 has given the country a goal to pursue with vigour. Telecom Namibia’s vision is to be the leading and preferred ICT player in the country. The company’s strategic roadmap provides direction in the development and innovation of solutions while creating sustainable value for all its stakeholders. Angula said Telecom Namibia is redefining itself in order to adapt to the rapid changes taking place in the telecoms industry, for the good of its customers and the country as a whole. “I think the future is exciting for a couple of reasons. First, it is encouraging to me to see that Telecom Namibia has, and continues to, invest so much into the country’s telecommunications infrastructure. And secondly, I believe that the new data products will help to encourage productivity at all levels of business, both small and corporate,” he concluded. For more information about Telecom Namibia visit:

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Getting nations talking BT is making a mark in Africa with a large expansion in its headcount, its footprint and its support for a communications network that will unite the continent written by: John O’Hanlon research by: James Boyle

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BT Sub-Saharan Africa

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BT’s MeetMe service is a new offering to African clients

BT Sub-Saharan Africa


magine you are a mining company solutions available globally. China has employing a few hundred people at possibly seen the potential for partnership a remote station close to Pofadder or in Africa better than Europe or America Springbok, two of the remotest towns but in the field of communications in the Northern Cape, two hours’ drive it is a British-based company that is from the nearest large town of Upington. It leading today. BT established its Subis no simple matter to keep connected to the Saharan Africa headquarters in South office in Johannesburg, let alone your global Africa in 1992. As a world leader in the HQ in Toronto. You probably wouldn’t put it design and operation of mission-critical this way but you need someone to manage networked IT services that support the an SLA (service level agreement) that will core processes of the world’s leading bring together elements of GPS, phone lines companies, telecommunications providers and fibre to keep you in touch—and provide and governments, it has been able to bring the maintenance for those networks and all network and telecoms services to global the specialised switching companies operating in equipment. Your business Africa, such as Sasol, the world’s biggest maker of depends on having a partner with enough clout to keep motor fuel from coal, and the lines open, and not many Anglo American, which providers can deliver on that controls the world’s biggest Year BT established its sort of SLA. platinum producer. Sub-Saharan Africa HQ The single big remaining Take an example. bra ke on A f rica’s Business leaders down to the development is its need humblest office workers all for better infrastructure. Typically the read about how advances in technology can situation is not too bad in the coastal ports save them cost and make their work easier. through which it has traded with the rest of But they are rarely IT specialists, says BT’s the world for centuries but communication general manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, between African states still lags. Roads Keith Matthews. Video conferencing can and railway networks are receiving a vast save any company significant amounts of amount of overseas investment as well money especially if it has multiple sites, as support from governments waking up and BT’s MeetMe service, a new offering to the fact that having got rid of colonial to BT’s African clients, can be bundled with control they have an opportunity to cash in, other services from BT, like Telepresence, not only on their natural resources but their in a way that makes no technical demands vast human potential. on the user. “This is video conferencing And Africa deserves the best. It is in for dummies! You open up the link, search a position to choose the most effective the person you want to speak to, click on


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inspired Your weekly digest of business news and views


E: |

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their name to set up a session, type them a message to say, ‘Let’s have a quick video call’, then if they have a camera on their PC they switch that on, connect and off you go.” In South Africa, conducting a twohour meeting for up to 40 people spread between Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town takes two hours, whereas travelling between these centres would take at least a day out of the schedule of the people, not to mention the cost of air fares or the stress on individuals. And all BT’s voice solutions are ‘carrier grade’, he adds. Simply, that means they are not subject to internet connectivity interruptions but connect through BT’s MPLS (multiprotocol label switching)

BT Sub-Saharan Africa

Video conferencing can save any company significant amounts of money

system using standard networks. So the MeetMe service incorporates Microsoft’s Lync Communicator as well as BT-developed systems so that participants can show presentations or pass the chairmanship to someone else and behave just as they would in a physical meeting. “There are lots of bits of technology out there and what

I think we do very well at BT is to pull it all into a unified communications approach,” says Matthews. BT started life as a network company, and the network is the core, because however smart the systems you put out over it, keeping the connection open is the primary concern. “We start from the physical network of global and regional

“There are lots of bits of technology out there and what I think we do very well at BT is to pull it all into a unified communications approach” BE Telecoms | 65

solutions, so we can provide customers with the core network they need to run their business. Maybe other people can say that as well but because BT has been active so long we have evolved from being just a pure network player into being able to layer a complete package of additional services onto it. There is a lot of cost efficiency in this model where we take the network that we own, add the services we have built and offer that as a one-stopshop to our clients.” With more than 100,000 people around the world, BT has the opportunity to refine these services within its own organisation, he points out. With the network in place, it becomes possible to add the voice environment, video services, and then give access to people accessing the network using the iPad, Android devices and smart phones that are booming in Africa. However for business clients there has to be a measure of control: “We help customers manage who is on their network, what access rights they have and what applications they can use and what they can see inside the internal networks of the company.” BT’s Prosperity growth plan has seen the company feed resources into the areas where its clients are expanding.

Phases 1 and 2 saw it moving into Asia and Latin America, and phase 3, announced in February 2012, will see the number of BT employees in Sub-Saharan Africa grow from 130 to 200. That counts as organic growth, though with a good dose of fertiliser: even more exciting is the decision to buy into South Africa’s FibreCo network, the country’s first

“Regional operators along the coastline are beginning to talk to their inland counterparts—countries that used to be entirely dependent on satellites” 66 | BE Telecoms

BT Sub-Saharan Africa

BT has bought into South Africa’s largest open access, long distance, managed fibre network

open access fibre network, and this move represents a by taking up what is an high level of commitment to the regional market. ‘anchor tenant’ status. FibreCo is building With his eye constantly what w ill be South on developments to the Number of BT employees Africa’s largest open north, Matthews sees—at worldwide access, long distance, last—growing cooperation managed fibre network between the countries of that will span in excess central Africa, especially the of 12,000 kilometres, starting with landlocked countries with no direct access to Phase 1 linking Johannesburg and the WACS, Seacom, SAFE and EASSy system Cape Town with international undersea that now loops round the continent. “Regional cable landing stations in Melkbosstrand operators along the coastline are beginning and Yzerfontein. It coincides with the to talk to their inland counterparts— government’s goal of universal broadband countries that used to be entirely dependent access by 2020. Traditionally BT has not on satellites. For example there is a lot of invested heavily into domestic networks, collaboration between regional operators


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BT employee at work

BT Sub-Saharan Africa to see how they can work together to build terrestrial networks and gain access to the subsea cables that are available.” One of the features of this market is mutually beneficial collaboration between companies that might be seen as fierce rivals. As an example, in 2011 BT announced an NNI (network to network interconnect) with Internet Solutions, one of the partners in FibreCo, to add more African countries to its delivery footprint. Business advantage always has to be balanced against social growth, Matthews believes. His division employs just one expatriate, and is very active in supporting social programmes; and in Sekunjalo Investments, BT has a local partner generally considered to be among the most successful and progressive of all black-owned groups. BT encourages its employees to volunteer and allows them time to do this. As part of its portfolio it supports Nkosi’s Haven near Johannesburg, a charity for children who are underprivileged or living with Aids, by building a nursery school. It has also provided an IT centre for Infinite Family, a charity that runs a mentorship programme for such children to interact over video conferencing with mentors in any part of the world—an initiative of which Matthews is particularly proud, since it uses technology to promote transnationalism in a way that chimes with BT’s values as a business. For more information about BT Sub-Saharan Africa visit:

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Namibia in the glass age 70 | BE Telecoms

Windhoek Cable Accessories

Fibre optics are transforming communication in Africa, and this key supplier is helping to upgrade the system in one of the sparsest countries imaginable written by: Alan Swaby research by: Stephen Vivian BE Telecoms | 71

Feeding cable alongside Chobe River

Windhoek Cable Accessories


olker Hesse, managing director of Windhoek Cable A c c e s s o r i e s — N a m i b i a ’s leading fibre optic supplier— has one irresistible entry on his CV. When you hear that he used to work on installing spy-proof communications systems for Nelson Mandela, you just have to learn more. However, don’t expect to get much information about bugging equipment: even if that aspect of the work ever came under his remit, the Official Secrets Act would make sure his lips are sealed. He has now settled for a more conventional life, helping to upgrade Namibia’s communications network by installing new fibre optic networks or replacing copper with glass. “Namibia is a vast country,” he says, “with one of the lowest population densities in the world. There are still corners of the country without a reliable telephone service, not to mention the capacity to transmit data. Running copper to the more remote parts of the country would be prohibitively expensive, so fibre is a natural alternative.” Through his time with the embassies, Hesse learnt which of the many products on the market worked best and then used his contacts to set up a distribution business in Namibia for communication consumables— cable, connectors, accessories and the like. That was in 2005 but it didn’t take long before the business was encouraged to get into installations to provide the proverbial one-stop-shop. In the last two or three years, the emphasis has swung very much towards fibre optics, where Windhoek Cable

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Accessories (WCA) has quickly established itself as the country’s leading and most reliable supplier. “Probably the biggest advantage we have over the competition,” says Hesse, “is our expertise in testing cables before and after installations. Our principal customer is the country’s official telecoms provider: Telecom Namibia relies on us to provide them with accurate data on each length of cable in order to calibrate their amplifiers correctly.” In fact, WCA is the only Namibian company that can ensure that fibre optic cables are carrying the maximum bit rate possible by undertaking testing for optical dispersion, using either polarization mode dispersion or chromatic dispersion techniques. The longest run of cable which WCA has been involved with measures a staggering 960 kilometres although interestingly, the client in this case was not Telecom Namibia but Nampower, the country’s electricity generator and transmission authority. “Throughout Southern Africa,” says Hesse, “power transmission lines make full use of OPGW [optical ground wire] and we are involved with much of this work on behalf of Nampower.” It works like this: as well as the powercarrying cables strung between transmission

towers, there has to be an earth cable also. OPGW kills two birds with one stone by running as many as 48 fibre optic cables inside a hollow metal earth sheath. Despite the technology behind fibre optics, the cable runs themselves are often very low-tech. Certainly one of the techniques is to dig trenches and lay the fibre in buried conduit but fibre optic cable is just as likely to be strung between telegraph poles exactly the way phone lines worked a century ago. There is a lot of remoteness

“Running copper to remote parts of the country would be prohibitively expensive, so fibre is a natural alternative” 74 | BE Telecoms

Windhoek Cable Accessories

Fibre being installed over Chobe River

in Namibia, providing the perfect cover for weekly attacks by thieves mistaking glass for copper. Once they’ve cut through the line and realised their mistake, the fibre isn’t stolen and simply needs to be reconnected. Hesse is surprisingly philosophical about these acts of vandalism, even though sending out one of his technicians to make repairs must be more of a nuisance than a revenue source. “Namibia is a very poor country,” he says, “with unemployment far too high. Sometimes there is no other option than to steal if you are to feed your family.” At the head office in Windhoek, WCA practices affirmative action and gives first preference to previously disadvantaged individuals when it comes to appointment of new staff or promotions within the

organisation. At the moment, two-thirds of the workforce fall into this PDI category. Out on site, WCA also tries to create some work for local inhabitants when laying fibre optic cable. “If there are poles to be erected or trenches to be dug,” he says, “we can commission this work locally.” But the technical work must be done by practiced hands. “Careful attention to detail is essential to make the best connection possible,” he says. “We make sure our technicians are right up to date and fully competent. This can mean refresher courses as frequently as every six months depending on the flow of new connectors or equipment coming onto the market.” However, Hesse has no plans to make massive increases in size—at least in terms of

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“We make sure our technicians are right up to date and fully competent. This can mean refresher courses as frequently as every six months�

Laying cable in Caprivi Province, Namibia

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Windhoek Cable Accessories

Windhoek Cable Accessories camp site

personnel. The business model he prefers is for WCA to outsource as much of the work as possible. Namibia is such a small market that demand is extremely erratic and fluctuates widely from feast to famine, making it difficult at times to keep a workforce of just 13 fully occupied. The ideal is for WCA to oversee contracted installation, supervising work and running tests to verifying the integrity of connections as they are made. And there can be a lot of connections. Fibre optic cable comes in runs of four or six kilometres—the selection depending on the weight of that length of cable and whether it is being buried or suspended. Even so, there can be hundreds of joints in the bigger projects—each as critical as the next. In new buildings it is now common practice to run fibre optic cables instead of copper, not only from a cost point of view but

also where there is a risk of data corruption. “Running copper communications alongside electrical supply lines,” says Hesse, “can create magnetic fields which can disrupt data. Hospitals in particular are susceptible. There’s also considerable cost savings to be made considering the long distances found in some of the bigger hospitals which might be spread over large areas and multiple buildings.” The work for Hesse and his team might not be as glamorous as thwarting political espionage; but it’s every bit as important to the progression and development of the country. For more information about Windhoek Cable Accessories email:

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Nashua Mobile

Cellular organisation South Africa’s growing SMEs need effective communications but want to avoid heavy investment and long-term commitments—and Nashua Mobile believes it has the answer written by: Ruari McCallion research by: Paul Bradley

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Employee at Nashua Mobile offices

Nashua Mobile


o-one needs to be reminded of the serious effects of the global banking crisis. South Africa’s Nashua Mobile, for example, saw its bad debt ratio just about double during 2009 to 2010. After such shocks, it is not surprising to find that smaller businesses (SMEs: small-to-medium enterprises) are wary of committing to big investments in communications—but they need to have effective IT if they are going to grow and prosper; it is a chicken-andegg situation. Fortunately, Nashua Mobile maintains that it has the answer. “We are seeking to provide a full, in-house service solution to SMEs,” says Chris Radley, managing director of Nashua Mobile. “We have the solutions to enable a small office, of five to 50 people, say, to run a fully mobile office solution. We can provide the network, the handsets, cloud computing, and website hosting. Plus, we can supply printers, faxes and so on—full, end-to-end office communications functions.” Nashua is known across the world for its copiers and fax machines; its mobile communications operations are unique to South Africa. But that doesn’t mean it is lacking in experience—far from it. The company was established in 1994 as NedTel Cellular, before becoming Nashua and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the JSElisted Reunert Limited Group, which also owns Nashua, Reutech and CBI-electric. Headquartered in Midrand, Gauteng, it employs around 750 people and now stands as an independent telecommunications solutions provider offering a range of

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Nashua Mobile broadband, internet service Allied Mobile Communications provision and mobile data Allied Mobile Communications (AMC) and Nashua through to messaging and Mobile first joined forces in 2003 and the synergies and cellular voice solutions. relationship between the companies has grown from It is one of South Africa’s strength to strength over the years. AMC now supplies a largest independent cellular large part of Nashua’s product range, which is distributed solutions providers and one throughout South Africa. “We work closely with Nashua to make sure that we provide of the few to offer all four the unique service that they require from a supply chain mobile networks (Vodacom, partner and we always have the latest cell phones and MTN, Cell C and 8ta). cellular technology in their stores, on time,” said Jason The company operates Harmsen (GM for South Africa Region). AMC and Nashua through four divisions: are working on some exciting new ventures for the future, Business; Retail and so watch this space. Fra nch ise; St rateg ic Partners and LCR; and Specialised Services. It has over 880,000 contract subscribers that include 170,000 data card customers and 15,000 email customers. Nashua Mobile offers subscribers a broad range of voice and data services through a single point of contact. “Our value proposition is the singlesource provision of service for all networks,” says Radley. “Individual subscribers can have one service for themselves, another for their family, another for work or other connections; we will provide all of them

“We are seeking to provide a full, in-house service solution to SMEs”

Chris Radley, managing director of Nashua Mobile

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in one, with a single bill. Instead of having various invoices coming in at different times of the month, why not have the convenience of dealing with Nashua Mobile as a single provider?” Nashua Mobile’s role as a cross-platform supplier is an indication both of its flexibility as a solutions provider and a reflection of the reality of the communications infrastructure in South Africa. Western Europe and North America both have long-established landbased telecoms networks, which have evolved from purely voice connection to be the backbone, skeleton and many of the functioning organs of IT, from EDI to superfast broadband. Africa would have a long and expensive task of catch-up to undertake if it decided to mimic the north—but that isn’t Africa’s way. It is better to innovate and use the cheaper and easier-to-spread mobile networks. The growing demand helps to create a virtuous circle; the network providers can see that their investment will generate growth and fairly rapid return on investment (ROI). The signs are already a lot stronger than straws in the wind. “We have definitely seen an increase in the number of smartphones, even in our lower packages,” says Radley. “The typical highend user may well have a PC on their desk,

a laptop and will have a decent smartphone. The prepaid market will probably have a lower-end handset and mostly use it for calls. The higher end, corporate user may have four or five devices, covering all ends.” The users who may in the past have been viewed as being at the lower end of the corporate market, the SMEs, are in the area that has the potential for most growth. By offering prepaid, as well as contract

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Nashua Mobile

Customers can choose from a range of handsets

offerings, Nashua Mobile anything similar. Limitations is seeking to stimulate of the network may restrict the growth still further. It what it can do but there are isn’t just about providing further possibilities that we standard solutions, either: it’s will be able to exploit and to Number of Nashua expand, as things progress.” about innovation. Mobile contract subscribers “Together with Nokia, It is a manifestation of our partners, we were the the company’s proposition, to extend low-cost access first company worldwide to launch a product called Xtreme Data,” Radley to a full range of IT services. says. It is a similar idea to the BlackBerry Nashua Mobile is also concerned with Internet Service (BIS), which allows internet accessibility and efficiency in customer browsing, emailing and instant messaging services. Interaction at its stores is almost at a fixed cost, but, uniquely, it is Nashua completely electronic: customers sign on a Mobile as a service provider and Nokia as the tablet and the contract is emailed to them. hardware specialist that developed it, rather “We are working our way back up than the networks. “We launched Xtreme the whole process. The next step is full, Data before the networks were able to offer online engagement,” says Radley. “Nashua


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Nashua Mobile Advising a customer

750 Current employee headcount at Nashua Mobile Mobile has a sizable base, across all market segments: our offer can be adapted to suit manufacturing, services, banking and so on. The different segments and what they need are critical in determining the applications we offer.” It has already proved its concept in practice at its own stores and franchises—it has over 200 outlets altogether. Quality reviews of stores have completely eliminated manual paperwork, for example. “We have a GPS facility that we use when we visit. We take photos and upload them, directly to our central system. This has other applications too, for example, readings at remote water reservoirs. Using this technology can enable businesses and government agencies to improve their efficiency ten-fold.” The combination of innovation and dedication, along with progressive employment and training—it has been recognised both under BEE and women’s emancipation— are helping Nashua Mobile to take the country forward. For more information about Nashua Mobile visit:

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The search for differentiation One of South Africa’s largest IT support companies is looking at how it can remain at the top by developing different niche markets written by: Alan Swaby research by: Jeff Abbott

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Meeting in progress at Gijima offices



ven for the most sophisticated of IT companies, who are busy developing products so advanced that customers aren’t yet aware that they exist, there still has to be an eye on where the bread and butter comes from. In the case of Gijima, one of South Africa’s leading IT providers, this amounts to managing and supporting in excess of one million devices of one kind or another, all around southern Africa. This is the kind of work that dedicated IT departments do; in fact, the origins of Gijima go back to such a department in one of South Africa’s major mining companies. In the mid 1990s, though, the management thinking of the time was to divest all non-core activities and to outsource as much as possible. As such, the department was hived off and re-launched, first as AST until this business eventually merged with Gijima a decade later, into what we have today. “Just over half of our R3 billion turnover,” says Shane Cooper, strategy execution officer for Gijima, “comes from Managed Services, which ostensibly talks to the support of the infrastructure layer. As you can imagine, with almost 90 per cent of the country’s top 100 listed companies on our client list, this is a wide remit that varies enormously from banking and public services, through to mining and hospitality—all of them requiring different kinds of support.” To keep the wheels turning, in addition to its Johannesburg headquarters, Gijima has 70 ‘points of presence’, as they are

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Gijima field service engineers

referred to, which can vary from a regional office to an embedded desk within an organisation’s own premises. But as important as this source of revenue is, Gijima is well aware that it is essentially a commodity activity and therefore one that is vulnerable to attack. At the top end of the market, large companies like to deal with other large companies and the 2,700 employees at Gijima certainly make it a large concern in South African terms. But it’s all relative and Gijima therefore works

hard to guard against perceptions that it is not a global player. At the lower end of the offerings spectrum, though, the barriers to entry are small. Here, price rules the roost and new market entrants are obliged to win their first contracts by undercutting the opposition. As such, the emphasis at Gijima is on developing the professional services side of the business, which takes it into areas that are much more difficult for competitors to replicate.

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ccupational health and safety lab

Taking part in corporate social responsibility initiatives

“This side of the attention on the four key industries it has identified business,” explains Cooper, as most important: “is largely project-driven. We do represent software financial services, industrial suppliers; in fact we are one (including mining and Proportion of top 100 SA of SAP’s largest partners in manufacturing), public listed companies who are services (which currently Africa. But as well as off-theGijima clients accounts for one-third of shelf software from the likes of Microsoft and Oracle, revenue) and commercial (a we are among the largest somewhat broad category bespoke developers and systems integrators that includes hospitality, health, retail and in the country, performing a good deal of education). The ideal is to develop elegant our work with the government. Currently, industry-specific solutions—solutions that for example, we are helping to digitise all address client pain points in a unique way. the country’s title deeds.” It’s not always easy to measure ranking As far as Gijima is concerned, the trick is but with a reasonable degree of certainty, to keep as far away from generic products Gijima is first or second in most segments and solutions as possible so it focuses its and is definitely the number one SAP


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partner for SAP support services. In the mining industry, it has products that put it at the highest levels of the global market. All of this, though, is historical and Gijima is more interested in what comes next, as it is here where the greatest opportunities lie to leapfrog over the competition. “Cloud computing has been around for several years,” says Cooper, “yet it still has to capture wide enterprise appeal—although we consider that it is only a matter of time.

Being able to work on the move has become crucial to the way business is done today. There is still a lot of apprehension about data security, but when given the opportunity to explain properly, the benefits are being recognised and clients are responding.” In fact, this ability to talk with the CEO of prospective client companies, rather than at the purchasing level of an organisation, is high on the list of objectives for Gijima over the forthcoming years. “In

“In every conceivable way, we are trying to differentiate ourselves from other suppliers”

Gijima Integrated Services Centre

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Gijima exhibition

every conceivable way,” says Cooper, “we are trying to differentiate ourselves from other suppliers.” Gijima must have done well in this respect with Apple, as it has recently been awarded systems integration partnership status— the first in Africa and one of the very few anywhere in the world. “More and more work is being done on tablets and notebooks that Apple pioneered,” says Cooper. “We are geared up to provide mobile management or bespoke packages; anything clients need to remove pain points.” Prior to the financial crash five years ago, Gijima had been pursuing an ‘all things to all men’ approach. Now though,

in an attempt to put clear space between itself and the rest of the pack, it is focusing tightly on its four key industry sectors and in particular, on developing the new services it offers. This doesn’t mean that Gijima is any less ambitious than it has been in the past: if given the chance to see its Vision 2025 video, viewers will see that Gijima has a very clear picture of how the future might look and the many different roles it could be playing. For more information about Gijima visit:

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As 2012 begins, Jannie Viljoen, manufacturing director of the new Mount Edgecombe site of Altech UEC South Africa, is presiding over the African continent’s most advanced facility of its type.

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Altech UEC South Africa

written by: Jayne Alverca research by: Robert Hodgson

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Advanced testing to ensure quality is maintained

Altech UEC South Africa


he digital migration across the provision of fully-integrated solutions, Africa is finally gaining in particularly customised set-top boxes, momentum. After years of innovative software solutions and services, deliberating, the South African and systems integration capabilities, as well government has decided on a as global logistical support services, supplied way forward and analogue technology will via Altech Global Decoder Logistics (GDL). soon be consigned to the history books. The subsidiary was formed to facilitate a South Africa is opting for a revised and complete service offering, including afterupdated version of the European Digital sales support and decoder repair capability. Video Broadcast-Terrestrial (DVB-T) 2012 is literally the start of a new standard. Now the race is on to implement era for manufacturing director Jannie DVB-T2, not only in South Africa but also Viljoen, as the company gears up in across the SADC region and in many other preparation for double-digit sales growth African countries. in Africa over the next five years. Six The potential total television household months ago, manufacturing operations switched to a new 13,500 market in sub-Saharan square metre, worldAfrica is approximately 60 class facility at Mount million sets, and all must Edgecombe, dedicated to upgrade by June 2015. In South Africa, there is the manufacture of digital an even more ambitious set-top boxes. It is Africa’s timeline, with December first high-tech facility of Potential total television 2013 set as the cut-off its kind and will extend household market in point. This translates into the company’s reach sub-Saharan Africa a pressing requirement for throughout Africa and the Middle East with the set-top boxes; and no-one on the continent can compare to Altech UEC capacity to manufacture more than three when it comes to expertise in their design million television set-top boxes each year. and manufacture. “Our manufacturing operations are now The company is a leading developer and consolidated in a single entity, giving us the manufacturer of digital technology for platform and the capability to significantly the African broadcast industry, operating ramp-up production, with numerous under the umbrella of the listed Altech operational benefits,” states Viljoen. group of companies, which provides global He explains that manufacturing used services to the converged multimedia and to take place across a number of different electronics market. Altech UEC focuses sites, a situation that had arisen by accident on the international converged broadcast as a legacy of previous organic growth. and broadband industry, specialising in “Each time demand increased we would


million sets

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Truth Electronic Manufacturing offers effective solutions based on the modern equipment that helps manufacturers to achieve success. We encourage our customers to look at our innovative technology and proven products and solutions that enable them to maximize their long-term benefits by focusing on total cost of ownership. Truth Electronic Manufacturing prides itself on associations with leading global manufacturers in their respective fields. We commit ourselves to working closely with our valued customers and suppliers to provide leading-edge products, systems and solutions. We offer a wealth of experience from our past 16 years in the electronic industry specializing in the latest manufacturing techniques and expertise in process engineering.

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Altech UEC South Africa simply find a new corner. Truth Electronic Manufacturing Over time, we became more Truth Electronic Manufacturing is a BEE company founded and more inefficient, so the in 2009 that provides a range of services in the field of decision was made to make electronic production. We offer flexible manufacturing a substantial investment solutions for electronic production with any level of in a single, ergonomically complexity, and aim to help domestic manufacturers designed facility equipped succeed in the competitive electronic production market. This is achieved through the implementation of new w ith state-of-the-a rt technologies and optimal selection of equipment, as well robotics and automation.” as planning and implementing service and technological The investment was support that allows increased quality and reduced cost envisaged as part of price of manufactured products. a relentless drive to Our strength is in the relationships we have with our suppliers eliminate non-value added and customers and in the effort we make to understand their activities. Already though, technical and economic requirements. We offer individual solutions taking into account the type of manufactured it has introduced a wholly products, production volume and available funds. new revenue stream. “The new facility led to a decision that we would not only manufacture products designed by ourselves but also by some of the fiercest competition in the for third parties on a contract basis; and world, so how does Altech UEC compete on we started on our first partnership with a price? “That is a hurdle we addressed several multinational electronics and information years ago, when we initiated a process to technology company in October 2011 to automate various aspects of our operations produce flat panel LCD TVs on their and train our staff, as well as implement behalf,” he comments. strict quality controls.” Viljoen joined the The electronics market is characterised company four years ago, along with most

The DSD4121 is a full-feature, high-definition, DVB-S2 satellite decoder delivering market leading performance with the additional benefits of enhanced security

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of the current senior management team, who possess a shared heritage of years of experience working with top automotive and electronics OEMs. This insight led to the development of a carefully crafted plan to systematically drive out every scrap of non-value added activity. “Three years after we began implementation of the plan, the cost of our products is now in line with similar offerings produced in China on a landed basis,” he continues. “This is largely due

to the massive investment we have made in mechanisation, which has enabled us to streamline our operations to ensure efficiency and quality is maintained throughout our manufacturing process.” Securing a competitive advantage through technology does not come cheap. There is an annual sum of R20 million to R30 million allocated simply to ensure that the company can keep pace with technological advances in the industry and is not left with either a price or quality disadvantage

“The cost of our products is now in line with similar offerings produced in China on a landed basis”

State-of-the-art plastic moulding machines

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Altech UEC South Africa

Automation machines installed

through the method of manufacture. “Surface mount technology is the most capital-intensive area for a company such as ours, but we have also spent a great deal on the final assembly process. Another area we have heavily automated is testing, where we have improved the man-machine interface to make the process more cost effective,” he adds. Altech UEC also exhibits an unusually high degree of vertical integration which offers the advantage of superior quality control and a capacity to support total end-to-end solutions. “It is something that sets us apart—we are able to offer plastic moulding, printing and electronic assembly as well as final integration, all from a single source. Each of these areas have been highly

automated to a world-class standard.” However, despite his pride in the company´s achievements to date, he is keen to sound a cautionary note. “I see us positioned on just the first step of a continuous journey. Demand in our export markets is very strong, but here in South Africa we suffer from an inflationary economy and a very volatile exchange rate. We can never afford to sit back and relax but have to respond with a constant stream of new ideas and new ways to add value and cut costs,” he concludes. For more information about Altech UEC South Africa visit:

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Innovation in

communication Airtel Kenya is focusing on the power of innovation to satisfy the needs of its growing base of loyal customers in one of East Africa’s fastest-moving markets written by: Catherine Dunlop research by: Richard Halfhide

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Airtel Kenya

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Mobile phones are no longer an aspirational product but a necessity

Airtel Kenya


irtel’s African operations through the right innovative products and are owned by Bharti Airtel service.” This helped in rapidly driving Limited, a leading integrated the increase in the mobile penetration t e l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s levels in the country. company with operations The incremental penetration offered in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. Airtel a strong platform from which to Headquartered in New Delhi, India, the launch new products. “We launched Airtel company ranks amongst the top five Money in August 2011 followed by the launch mobile service providers globally in terms of the fastest mobile internet on Airtel 3.75G of subscribers. in Kenya in February 2012.” Bhargava believes that Bharti Airtel has In India, the company’s product offerings include 2G, 3G and 4G services; fixed line, much to bring to the industry in Kenya in high speed broadband terms of identifying with through DSL, IPTV and consumer needs. “The DTH; and enterprise services mobile market here is about including national and 12 years old,” he explains, “and consumers had been international long-distance paying exorbitantly high services to carriers. In the prices for calls and data— rest of the geographies, it so obviously, penetration offers 2G and 3G mobile Bharti Airtel customers was going to be low. We services. Bharti Airtel had as at 31 May 2012 appreciate at Airtel that over 255 million customers across its operations at the mobile phones are no longer end of May 2012, a figure that is continuing an aspirational product but a necessity. So to grow rapidly month-on-month. we have to make ourselves available to as The company’s current operations in much of the population as possible—that is Africa include: Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo what we are striving to do. Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, “We cover over 90 per cent of the Ghana, Gabon, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, population currently, and we bring out Niger, Nigeria, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, services that entice and delight each and every customer,” he continues. “So we’ve Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. “Our operating model is extremely got products for the masses as well as niche efficient, which gives us flexibility on what products; and we try and market them we can deliver to the consumer,” states within every consumer segment.” managing director for Kenya, Shivan Airtel’s main target market is the Bhargava. “When we came in, one of the younger generation. “Our focus is on the first things we did was to ensure that youth of Kenya, for sure—we have products the consumer got value for their money and services young people will buy into.



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In Africa for example, the second biggest number of Twitter users is in Kenya. So our brand is aimed at young people— and keeping the brand locally relevant is absolutely the key to our being able to move with the times.” It is this targeted marketing that has helped Airtel’s success, he explains. “Every country in Africa is of course extremely

different: it is a large continent, and within that there are many time zones and many different cultures. Even within East Africa, the motivation levels and the behavioural patterns of consumers are extremely varied from one country to the next.” So although the strength of the Airtel brand applies worldwide, consumer needs and new products are dealt with at a local

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Airtel Kenya

Airtel’s main target market is the younger generation

level in order to fulfil the unique motivations of consumers wherever they are. Airtel has remained committed to deepening its network coverage and introducing communication opportunities that bridge the digital divide. Airtel embraces the Kenyan spirit of success, with its youthful Kenyan consumers and future leaders, giving them a platform from which to work and play and to achieve their dreams in the best way they know how. As for the future, the company intends to develop more new and exciting products that meet the needs and demands of its growing and loyal customer base. “This year we will be focusing on related products, delivering upon what our research teams

tell us is required by the consumer—we will bring products to the consumer that move beyond the voice side of things,” says Bhargava. “So we will be focusing more on innovation—the consumers over here are extremely savvy and they are looking for products that reflect their status.” Bhargava is not fazed by the challenges of the market. “Yes, we are a very small player currently in Kenya, but our designs are larger: we are not going to slow down until we achieve our goals.” For more information about Airtel Kenya visit:

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Mobile growth

For industry observers and analysts, the transition of Africa’s mobile telecommunications is astounding— not least in Nigeria, one of the biggest of all African economies written by: Alan Swaby research by: Vince Kielty

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Etisalat NIGERIA

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Nigerians have embraced mobile telephony

Etisalat NIGERIA


o be frank, the fixed line telephone system in Nigeria does not have a good reputation. Call a Nigerian land line number, particularly from outside the country, and you may get through first time. The quality may be acceptable. You may finish your conversation. On the other hand ... For domestic users, such limitations are annoying; for business users they are a decided hindrance to progress. In fact, in a population of 155 million, the Nigerian Communications Commission’s own subscriber data shows that there were as few as 2.7 million fixed wired/wireless telephone lines in the country in 2010 and by October 2011, this had declined rapidly to 2.2 million. To make matters worse, the number of active fixed telephone lines, which had been 1.1 million in November 2010 had dwindled to 801,000 in October 2011. No wonder, then, that Nigerians have embraced mobile telephony. In 2008 there were six other private communications companies working there in addition to the state owned provider. The number of subscribers was estimated at 62.9 million in total or, at the time, a 43 percent penetration rate. In June 2011 the penetration rate was estimated at 54 percent and the number of service providers had jumped to nine. There have been some changes in names in the interim and a certain amount of jockeying for position, but two facts stand out boldly – MTN remains the dominant operator as it has been since the mobile market began in 2001, but the fastest improving supplier

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over the past three years has undoubtedly been Etisalat Nigeria. Etisalat has been the telecommunications service provider in the United Arab Emirates since 1976 but these days serves 18 other countries throughout the Middle East, Asia and Africa. With such a long history, it has grown up through the introduction of mobile communication in its various forms and not only does it have a wealth of experience in running state-of-the-art telecom networks but it has also taken a leadership role in introducing technical innovations and with that, has earned a reputation for delivering a quality service among regional and international operators. Etisalat took a stake in the Nigerian

market in 2007, when in partnership with Mubadala Development Company, it bought into the weakest of the mobile telecoms suppliers - Emerging Markets Telecommunication Services. The first official call on its network was made in March 2008 in the presence of officials from the Nigerian Communications Commission and the federal government. At the time, it had a paltry 400,000 subscribers but under the guidance of managing director Steve Evans, the latest industry wide count has seen the 400,000 skyrocket to 7.8 million. Evans has a twenty year track record in the global mobile telecommunications industry and came to Etisalat from BT in the UK where he had been CEO of BT Mobile

ASTERA ENGINEERING ASTERA Engineering offers complete turnkey solutions to the infrastructure needs of telecom network operators with a service proposition that takes in site construction, the supply of all necessary equipment and the delivery of a subsequent maintenance programme if needed. Since the company’s formation, the corporate story has been one of continuous growth, both in staff and revenues, giving the business the confidence to expand into new areas. Astera have designed and built the biggest data centres in Nigeria, a project which involved two data centres that were provided for Airtel. ASTERA’s Rollout department built 300 BTS sites in 2011, topping the record by delivering 50 sites at once in the month of December 2011.

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ASTERA’s fibre optics capabilities position it among the top competitors in the field, where it maintained a full network of 4,600 km of fibre optics across the Nigerian territories. The resources of ASTERA, both human and financial, have continuously grown in sync with the expansion of business, backed up by an ISO 9001:2008 certified management system and a complete computerisation of its standard operating procedures. ASTERA’s success in Nigeria can be replicated elsewhere on the continent. ASTERA Engineering is now operational in South Africa and Ghana.

Etisalat NIGERIA

Etisalat took a stake in the Nigerian market in 2007

and Director of Wireless Broadband. Prior kind of objective. The biggest disincentive to that, a long history of launching mobile to subscribership is poor coverage and networks gives him – and Etisalat – all the poor quality so Etisalat has been spending knowhow needed at the top. heavily to build up its GSM network. To The next industry-wide survey of market date, around US$1.8 billion has been share will be particularly interesting invested in infrastructure as well as the as Etisalat says in the interim period, widespread introduction of 3G technology its subscriber base has which is giving subscribers continued to rise rapidly reliable high speed and now stands at over 10 broadband; a capability million. The stated aim that businesses a re of the company is to be at embracing wholeheartedly least number two within as they strive to build up the country’s emerging five years with a subscriber base by then of between 25 economy. The 3G network, million and 30 million. naturally enough, is Investment in being rolled out first in It helps to have deep infrastructure to date the commercial centres pockets while chasing this



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Etisalat NIGERIA of Lagos, Port Harcourt Emerson Network Power and Abuja with other parts With Emerson, consider it solved. of the country following Hybrid Energy solutions from Emerson Network Power unite soon after. the industry’s best multiple energy source management All of which is excellent technology with active remote management technology. news for Nigeria n Through smart integration of renewable and traditional energy sources for indoor or outdoor environments, rapid contractors. Etisalat’s deployment and operational efficiency is achievable in ultimate aim is to provide off- and on-grid environments. coverage for somewhere DC power supply systems with eSure high efficiency between 80 and 90 per rectifiers combined with hybrid power sources such as cent of the population solar, wind, diesel and batteries, ensure that your network after which investments runs at the best operational cost and remains as reliable as in further infrastructure your customers demand. Globally, no location is too dense rapidly become cost or too remote. With Emerson, consider it solved. inefficient. In order to have a sufficient level of coverage in all 36 Nigerian states, Etisalat will need at least 2,000 cell sites. Many of the more technical purchases will have to be made outside the country with international suppliers but there is still plenty for local contractors to be happy about. At the same time, though, all operators are conscious that Nigeria doesn’t want to become a pin cushion of radio towers. Not only would it be unsightly but also extremely inefficient for every single operator to have its own exclusive steelwork.

“Etisalat Nigeria has been the fastest improving supplier over the past three years”

Multiple sets of radio equipment on a single tower

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Etisalat NIGERIA

155 million Population of Nigeria Therefore, discussions take place regularly between competing suppliers to collaborate and install multiple sets of radio equipment on a single tower in each part of the country. Nevertheless, there will still be plenty of work to be done and it’s been estimated that Etisalat’s expansion plans alone are generating around 5,000 badly needed jobs for local manufacturers who win work to supply and erect base stations. To finance this continued expansion, the company last year raised an additional $650 million from eight Nigerian banks, which is being spent on expanding the GSM and 3G network. Like many African countries that have leapfrogged over inadequate copper based telecommunication networks, the ongoing developments in Nigeria are taking residents and businesses away from what were some of the poorest facilities to some of the best anywhere in the world. Not only is it interesting to see how the technological story unfolds but also how the commercial battle is fought and won. Somehow, you can’t help feeling that Etisalat will be among the winners.

Telephony in Nigeria is now among the best in the world

For more information about Etisalat Nigeria visit:

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Going mobile written by: Gay Sutton research by: Robert Hodgson

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Uganda Telecom Ltd Regional market leader Uganda Telecom Ltd is investing heavily in management, infrastructure and technology

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Stanley Henning

Uganda Telecom Ltd


went y-f i rst c e n t u r y of the country. The aim is to create what telecommunications services are Henning calls ‘in-the-territories’ services expanding rapidly across Africa, provision for the customer. “Each region of and Uganda is no exception. Uganda is unique, both geographically and The country’s leading telecoms culturally, so we want to service our services provider, Uganda Telecom Ltd customers from within the region and not (UTL), was launched just 12 years ago as part from head office,” he explains. of the government-owned Post Office. Now, Each regional office—headed up by 69 per cent owned by the Libyan African an autonomous regional manager—now Portfolio Investment company and 31 per manages its own technical, commercial, cent by the government of Uganda, UTL financial, marketing and stock warehousing operates as a standalone company, currently services, leaving just the auditing and HR under the full caretaking of the Ugandan functions at the head office in Kampala. The staff all speak the regional language Government due to the situation in Libya. or dialect, understand the In a short space of time it has established the country’s regional customs and local most comprehensive copper council or municipality procedures, and crucially, and fibre-optic fixed line from a service delivery network; it has the largest market share in data and perspective, they know the Amount owned by the ISP services, and it is local geography. Libyan African Portfolio ranked fourth for mobile “The greatest benefit Investment company communications provision for us is from a business relationship perspective,” with 2.5G and limited 3.5G GSM technology as well as CDMA / Wi-Max Henning says. “We will operate much more mobile and ADSL technology. efficiently and cost effectively if we’re “Our strategy is to continue growing our closer to the customer and our staff have no position as a total solutions provider for data cultural bridge or language barrier to cross.” and voice communications across GSM, ISP During this first year, as the new service and fixed line,” says COO Stanley Henning. beds in, there have been both benefits and The current year has been one of significant challenges. Firstly, operational costs have investment in technology and infrastructure, fallen as services are delivered locally. (3.5G HSUPA Rollout & SeaCom) but perhaps Secondly, where stock is now delivered to the most far reaching initiative has been to the regional warehouses on a monthly basis, completely restructure and decentralise there have been significant cost reductions the operational functions of the business and efficiency gains. “The big learning to five autonomous regional offices in the curve, however, has been how to empower, north, west, east, central and south-west train and educate our regional engineering


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Uganda Telecom Ltd

Operational costs have fallen as services are delivered locally

staff, and bring them up to speed with the latest GSM technology,” he continues. After performing a full job skills evaluation and auditing the skills levels of the existing staff, a full programme of training was initiated through the training department at head office. “It’s been difficult, and it’s not complete yet. But I believe all our GSM engineering staff will be at the right level by the end of the year.” In parallel with re-organising the company, UTL has continued its strategy of investing in infrastructure and technology. High capacity fibre optic connection to Europe is achieved via an agreement to use the Seacom undersea cable, and this is accessed via the fibre networks of neighbouring countries Tanzania and Kenya. But the company is in discussion

with Seacom to provide connectivity to its neighbours to the west—Rwanda, DRC, Burundi and South Sudan. And in preparation for this, the nationwide fibreoptic cable network is being upgraded and improved, and particular attention is being paid to connectivity to the west. For UTL, GSM is the future of mobile technology, and the company is currently investing US$8 million in installing the latest 3.5G technology to 171 of its 500 base transceiver station (BTS) towers. Capable of transmitting data at 14.4Mbps, the upgrade provides a quantum improvement for customers accustomed to the 1.8Mbps speed of the current 2.5G system. “It’s like going from a Mini Minor to a Formula One racing vehicle, and will enable us to deliver much improved performance to our customers,”

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says Henning. “We should have the roll-out completed by the end of October this year.” In addition to this, plans are being put in place to invest between US$100 million and US$150 million in the construction of a further 100 BTSs over the next 12 months. This will improve coverage to the outlying regions—particularly to the west of the country which is becoming the oil capital of Uganda; and the north, which is UTL’s traditional stronghold. The company aims, however, to increase its nationwide coverage significantly by following the global trend of outsourcing non-core activities. Negotiations are underway to sell the current BTS tower network to a specialist tower operating

company and then lease the use of a much larger array of towers on a co-location basis. Capital generated by the sale can then be reinvested back into the business. “We believe this outsourcing strategy will bring us cost and revenue efficiencies and enable us to broaden our footprint much more quickly and cost-effectively than we could achieve by building towers ourselves.” Telecommunications technology is undoubtedly moving fast: almost in the time it takes to blink, new products appear on the market. To keep abreast of these developments, UTL works with a number of global technology partners who bring the latest and most appropriate products to the Ugandan market. UTL is currently

UTL aims to increase its nationwide coverage significantly

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Uganda Telecom Ltd

“We are embarking on piloting the use of solar-powered towers for our GSM network” introducing into the SME market, for example, small wireless routers from suppliers like Alcatel and Huawei which create building-wide wireless connectivity for up to 32 users and dispense with the need for fixed cable connectivity. But perhaps the most interesting new development is one that the customer is never likely to become aware of, but which has the potential to deliver significant operational efficiency and effectiveness. “We are embarking on

piloting the use of solar-powered towers for our GSM network,” reveals Henning. The company has already identified that the solar-powered mobile coverage does not extend for any great distance; but the scheme is likely to be of real value in rural areas where there is no available power supply. By installing solar power rather than diesel-powered generators, security and maintenance costs will be negligible while construction costs are likely to be at least 40 per cent lower. Through a programme of continuous investment in technology, infrastructure and upgrades, UTL is maintaining its position at the forefront of the Ugandan telecommunications market. And looking into the future, Henning sees the company’s powerful data and ISP offerings as the great differentiator. “And there are enormous opportunities for growth,” he says. “Take-up on mobile voice services is still only at 31 per cent and from the data perspective, internet take-up is only five per cent. So we are very well positioned for financial or technology partners to come on board and help us take advantage of these opportunities.” For more information about Uganda Telecom Ltd visit:

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Dr Angus Hay talks about the steps that are making cloud computing available in South Africa written by: gay sutton research by: Robert hodgson

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Neotel has carved a place as a major force in South African telecommunications

outh Africa is rapidly coming of age as a globally connected nation, its businesses increasingly gaining access to a new high speed fibre optic communications network that enables them to communicate and compete on the world stage. The company behind this swift advance in technology is Neotel, launched just five years ago with the financial and technical backing of the global communications company, Tata Communications, along with Nexus Communications and CommuniTel. In that short space of time, the company has carved a place for itself as a major force in South African telecommunications. “We are known for fibre optic converged communications services, but we are now much more than that,” explains general manager of Strategy Business Development, Dr Angus Hay. “Our business has two stacks of capabilities. One stack is the connectivity through fibre networks, and we have spent much of our first four years deploying this infrastructure. The other stack is taking the company into the next generation of communications. We are providing a range of managed services for business customers via our data centres and delivering access to the cloud. Very soon now, we will be offering full cloud computing.” During the first four years in business, Neotel laid the groundwork for this ambitious vision by investing some R4.5 billion in infrastructure alone, rolling out a new fibre optic communications backbone nationwide. This included higher density installation in the metropolitan areas

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With infrastructure in place, the focus is on rapidly developing the customer base

amounting to some 5,000 kilometres of of the equation. “At a very early stage we cable, and delivering fibre communication to took a strategic decision to get involved the kerbside for large corporate customers. in all the cable systems that land in South Much of the Neotel service is internet based, Africa. When we started, there were two and not only includes ISP services and subsea cables, both controlled by our competitor, Telkom,” Hay managed global and local VPN services for corporate says. “With the help of Tata customers, but the company Communications, who was a has also introduced the shareholder in those cables, first Metro Ethernet in we managed to crack the monopoly and gain access South Africa. The effectiveness of to both systems.” the Neotel network is the Since then, Neotel has foundation upon which taken part in each cable Investment in the business is built; project to touch South infrastructure however, that’s only part Africa, with the aim of



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ensuring completely reliable global access and broad bandwidth. Partnering with SEACOM in 2009, the company provided the landing station and connectivity to the South African network, and in 2010 it was part of the EASSy consortium that laid subsea cable up the east coast of Africa. However the company’s latest venture is perhaps the most ambitious: “We are part of the consortium laying in the WACS cable [West Africa Cable System] which is the largest ever cable to land on the African continent,” Hay says. “With a design capacity of over five Tbits per second, it will more than double South Africa’s cable capacity.” With the infrastructure in place, the focus over the last 18 months has been on rapidly developing the customer base. Although around 90 per cent of Neotel’s customers are in the business sector, the company is developing a significant presence in the consumer market, currently providing 3G—mobile broadband—in the major cities, offering coverage for some 20 per cent of the population. For enterprise customers the company is continuing to raise its game and will soon be delivering higher bandwidth services in the order of 100 Mbits per second

(Mbps)—a paradigm shift for a market where broadband was originally delivered over a copper wire network at speeds below four Mbps. Accessibility for large corporate customers is also being taken a step further with the fibre cable being extended from the kerbside into the buildings as part of the standard service.

“At a very early stage we took a strategic decision to get involved in all the cable systems that land in South Africa” 136 | BE Telecoms


The company is developing a significant presence in the consumer market

It is, however, with the centre just six months ago offering 1,000 square introduction of the second stack of services that metres expandable to 2,000 Neotel sees the biggest square metres. Uptake opportunities for growth. has been impressive. The Number of employees “Over the last two years Johannesburg centre has at Neotel already undergone one we’ve rapidly been growing our capabilities as an IT expansion to 2,000 square and data centre host,” Hay metres and a second is says. Two world class and very substantial currently being planned, while the Cape data centres have been built, offering Town facility is filling quickly. 99.98 per cent availability. The first was Nothing remains static in this fastopened in Johannesburg 18 months ago moving business, though, and Neotel’s with 1,000 square metres of capacity next strategic move is likely to put South expandable to 6,000 square metres. The African businesses on a par with the most second became operational in Cape Town sophisticated around the world. In a few


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Neotel has laid over 5,000 kilometres of cable

Neotel months, the company will be launching a full cloud computing platform which, through the Tata Communications global network, will be able to draw on data centres and services around the world, offering data storage and managed software services that simply do not reside in any one particular data centre but which are truly ‘in the cloud’. For the small and medium sized businesses—a sector of the market where Hay sees huge opportunities—the plan is to launch a new suite of software services over the cloud, beginning with the essentials such as mail systems, calendars and online sharing capabilities and hosted platforms provided by the company’s IT partners, and expanding into the more complex software in the future. It’s been a fast ride for Neotel, resulting in rapid growth. Today, the company employs some 1,100 people and operates with a high level of efficiency. “We see our network stack and the data centre capability as a very powerful combination,” says Hay. “We’re no longer just the plumber; we’re now able to add a wide range of services. The secret for us is to focus on specific markets and segments within those markets, and to concentrate on particular geographies. For customers within these areas we outperform the incumbent by a long way. That is where we have been gaining market share and we will continue to market aggressively into those target markets,” he concludes. For more information about Neotel visit:

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Vodafone Ghana

Superior services Vodafone has been working to deliver the best network with the best products and services, with the best people written by: Colin Edwards research by: Liz Jenkins

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In 2008, Vodafone bought Ghana’s state telecommunications company, Ghana Telecom

Vodafone Ghana


household name across than fixed telephone lines. Mobile network the world, Vodafone is an reception was very patchy in Ghana, so most international company people had more than one sim card for their with a commitment to high mobile phone. Vodafone’s investment in this standards. It is the world’s area will mean that nearly everyone will have leading mobile telecommunications access to a reliable service so they can rely on company with a significant presence in their Vodafone sim. The company signed a Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific $120 million contract with Chinese telecom solutions provider Huawei to put the mobile and the United States. In 2008, the company bought Ghana’s service element of the plan into practice by state telecommunications company, Ghana improving and expanding its mobile network. Telecom, including fixed, mobile, internet The second phase of Vodafone’s and international services. The brand itself programme of improvements was to update was launched in April 2009, when Ghana and expand its high speed broadband and Telecom and Onetouch, the fixed voice infrastructure, as the number of homes cell network brand, both and businesses with a became Vodafone. broadband connection or Entering the fixed voice telephone line telecommunications market in Ghana is not without its in Ghana was relatively low. The infrastructure in terms challenges. Ghana Telecom had been cash starved for of fixed lines was antiquated Contract with Chinese some years and had suffered and largely obsolete, so the telecom solutions underinvestment in its fixed strategy included the provider Huawei network and technology. upgrading and completion Vod a fone t herefore of a national fibre optic inherited a business that required a network covering the whole of Ghana. significant turnaround. Home internet access has not been To address these challenges, Vodafone widespread in Ghana, with 80 per cent of implemented a three-step strategy as part internet users accessing the web via internet of an ongoing investment programme cafés with low connection speeds. Vodafone combining voice (both mobile and fixed), has begun to remedy this and probably high speed broadband internet and a the most revolutionary development is the major focus on people. launch of ultra high speed Vodafone internet The first phase was to expand its mobile cafés in the capital, Accra. In these cafés, network coverage by 300 per cent and to customers can access the internet at speeds substantially improve network quality, of 100MB, compared to the 4MB most people because more Ghanaians have cell phones in the world are able to access in their home.



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Show the world what your company has to offer with our tailored packages


Vodafone Ghana

Employees are being trained in a wide range of skills

In January last year, Vodafone introduced customers we can say that we are poised to new highly competitive packages for its deliver not only best service but best prices. commercial broadband consumers, aimed We will continuously improve our offerings at providing better capacity for internet in this area of the market.” café operators wishing to provide their own The third branch of the strategy is consumer service. A dedicated team was set people. Vodafone is undertaking a massive up to serve these valuable customers. organisational change programme. Marc Norris, Vodafone’s head of fixed Thousands of staff left the business in the services, said at the time: past few years and leavers “Internet access services received training on dealing are key to the economy with change, entrepreneurial and society in Ghana. and business development The services provided by skills, CV writing, applying Vodafone directly and for jobs and interview indirectly via independent techniques. Those remaining Year Ghana Telecom and internet cafés are key to in the company and the large Onetouch both became Vodafone Vodafone’s internet strategy. numbers being recruited are Having listened to our being trained in a wide range


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The company is working to ensure that Vodafone in Ghana is still Ghanaian

of skills, from technology, marketing and IT to all other business areas. Vodafone is also rolling out its ‘Vodafone Way’ model in Ghana which is based on ‘speed, simplicity and trust’ in all aspects of the business, designed to generate customer admiration. Although Vodafone is an international brand, the company is working with the community to ensure that Vodafone in Ghana is still Ghanaian. Initially, staff had

to be imported to ensure a smooth handover after the purchase of Ghana Telecom from the Government, but the company is dedicated to localising employment and believes its commitment to using local labour and efficient people management will be the key to its success. The latest development is a managed services agreement with Huawei of China, sealed in January this year, under

“In the competitive market in Ghana, having a superior network is not enough; we must also strive to give our customers the best value” 146 | BE Telecoms

The b

Vodafone Ghana

best people deliver the best value

which Huawei will be responsible for the operations and maintenance of the Vodafone mobile, microwave, SDH, and fixed switching networks. Network planning and optimization, the Network Operations Center, and management of spare parts will also be performed by Huawei staff. The partnership provides Vodafone Ghana with a long-term sustainable operating model, reducing its operational expenses and enabling Vodafone to focus on providing more attractive new services to its customers. “The award of this managed services contract to Huawei is a significant milestone in meeting our objective of providing a superior network to our customers in Ghana,” said Tony Dolton, chief technology officer of

Vodafone is dedicated to localising employment

Vodafone Ghana. “In selecting Huawei we have combined their product innovation with an extensive training and development programme for employees, so that Vodafone delivers the best network with the best products and services, with the best people. In the competitive market in Ghana, having a superior network is not enough; we must also strive to give our customers the best value. We will expand our mobile network and improve the quality and speed of our fixed broadband network. This partnership is a step towards meeting that goal.” For more information about Vodafone Ghana visit:

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Going global VimpelCom has recently emerged as one of the world’s largest groups of integrated telecommunication services providers. We trace the recent trajectory of evolution which has secured this leading position written by: Julia smith research by: Richard Halfhide

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ussia may make most waves in the business press through its abundant reserves of natural resources, but it is also home to VimpelCom, which has recently emerged as one of the world’s largest groups of integrated telecommunications services operations. The company was founded in 1992, initially to operate a limited network hub in the Moscow area. However, in the hands of a visionary management team, it became the first Russian company to list on the New York Stock Exchange in 1996. Having consolidated its position in Russia in 2008 with the acquisition of a 49.9 per cent stake in Euroset, the largest mobile retailer in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the company soon went on to replicate its success further afield. In May 2009, commercial operations were launched outside of the CIS for the first time, initially targeting Cambodia and then Vietnam. 2010 was a transformational year for VimpelCom. It was a year which saw the creation of a new identity and put in place the framework that would elevate the company to the forefront of the industry. Early in the year, the company successfully brought together Kyivstar and OJSC VimpelCom to create a new business entity, VimpelCom Ltd. Overnight, the merger with Kyivstar created the largest operator group in Russia and the CIS countries. Negotiations also began in 2010 for a deal that would secure VimpelCom’s position as a truly global player. In April 2011, it finally closed a transaction with Wind Telecom

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VimpelCom’s reach is truly global

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MOTOROLA and the Stylized M Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Motorola Trademark Holdings, LLC. All other product or service names are the property of their respective owners. Š2011 Motorola Mobility, Inc.

Vimplecom to combine the two groups. Motorola Mobility As a result of that deal, Motorola Mobility, leaders in bringing personalised media VimpelCom now owns 51.7 and mobile experiences together to meet the exploding per cent of Orascom Telecom consumer demand for video and interactive services, is and 100 per cent of WIND working with VimpelCom to deliver rich home entertainment Italy, a leading international experiences to VimpelCom’s Beeline IPTV customers. telecommunications Motorola’s VIP22n23 series set-tops are central to enabling a raft of new services including personal video-recording compa ny of fering and multi-room functionality, which will allow VimpelCom mobile, fixed, internet to cost-effectively boost subscriber numbers, grow average a nd internat iona l revenues per user, and differentiate itself in the market. communication across The partnership reinforces the synergies between Motorola three continents. and VimpelCom and reflects Motorola’s strong commitment Th i s t r a n s a c t ion and focus in Russia. immediately transformed VimpelCom into one of the largest mobile telecommunications providers in the world and positioned the company to capitalize on strong growth in emerging markets, industry consolidation, and the rapid development of mobile data which has continued to show heady year-on-year growth despite the global downturn. At a stroke, it more than doubled VimpelCom’s footprint in emerging markets, providing a springboard to fastgrowing new markets in Africa and Asia. The acquisition of WIND Italy also facilitated

“2010 was a transformational year for VimpelCom”

Mobile data is a growth market

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Wireless, fixed and broadband services reach a total population of approximately 864 million people

a more diversified and better balanced company also counted on an additional 193 portfolio of operations and enhanced the million mobile subscribers. ability to capitalize on the rapid growth in Last year saw annual revenues almost data services. double in a single year to exceed the $20 Today VimpelCom’s reach is truly global, billion mark. President and chief operating with wireless, fixed and broadband services officer Khaled Bichara attributes the operations reaching a total population of company´s strength in the market to its approximately 864 million people in Russia, geographical diversity and capacity to adapt to an ever-changing the Ukraine, Kazakhstan, cultural landscape. The Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, A r m en i a , G e or g i a , operating model is carefully Kyrg yzstan, Vietnam, structured across to reflect Cambodia, Laos, Algeria, a mix of brands which Bangladesh, Pakistan, include Beeline, Kyivstar, Burundi, Zimbabwe, the djuice, WIND, Infostrada, Central African Republic, Mobilink, Leo, Banglalink, Italy and Canada. By Telecel and Djezzy. In 2010 annual revenue the summer of 2011, the some instances, centralised



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Weekly Because a month is a long time to wait... Your weekly digest of business news and views

Vimplecom service centres have been Nokia Siemens Networks developed, for example, Nokia Siemens Networks is a leader in radio access in Rome, Moscow, Cairo networks, with 44 commercial LTE deals, more than any and Amsterdam. However, other vendor. We are also a world-class managed services there are also many discrete provider, managing about 160 networks globally, and regionalised operations to offer leading end-to-end consulting services to enhance maintain the strength of network performance. local branding and identity. Beeline is one of the stars of the portfolio. Named by the European Brand Institute as the Most Valuable Russian Brand 2009, it has an estimated value in the region of €8 billion. The brand has always been positioned to appeal to a youthful audience in search of fun and simplicity. Six years ago, it was re-launched with its current characteristic black-and-yellow striped circle in a campaign to associate the brand with the principles of brightness, friendliness, effectiveness, simplicity and positive feelings in an awardwinning campaign. The brand now has 48 million subscribers in Russia alone and is carefully nurtured to retain its leading position. The new Beeline Instant Messaging service, supplied by NeuStar’s next-generation messaging solution, enhances VimpelCom’s position as a leading innovative provider of mobile communications that are available New technologies are under constant evaluation

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VimpelCom is determined to have a foothold in all technologies

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Vimplecom anytime, any where. By using the service, subscribers can experience the benefits of mobilised instant messaging (IM), enabling them to manage their communications through seeing personal availability information on their phone’s contact list and to choose how and when to make contact with friends and family. The aim is to free up communications, and Beeline’s mobile IM product enhances VimpelCom’s service offering, providing an exciting advanced messaging choice for subscribers to share experiences in real-time. Helping to build a single, interconnected global IM community is one objective, but the telecommunications industry is nothing if not dynamic and the potential of a host of other new and emerging technologies is under constant evaluation. The near-term focus is on realising synergies from the WIND and Kyivstar acquisitions, but looking to the future, Bichara sees VimpelCom’s track record in innovation, combined with its operational expertise, as the key which will unlock its global potential. His vision for the future is to enhance how people are able to communicate, irrespective of their chosen medium. Whether via 3G or 4G, wireless, cloud or traditional internet services, VimpelCom is determined to have a foothold in all of them. For more information about Vimplecom visit:

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Included Business Excellence Special Reports Business Excellence is putting together a number of special reports to showcase leading companies’ achievements and share the challenges and experiences they face to stay at the top. We will be delving deep into the following subjects to create an exclusive insight into what the future holds in:

Responsible Mining

Lean Manufacturing

LEED Construction

To get involved and showcase your own efforts or achievements contact us on the following:

0203 137 2294 or