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focus on:

north africa reaching the

millenium development goals issue 19 ZAR 29.95 us$ 3.50 uk£ 2.25 Eu€ 2.95 Rest of Africa us$ 2.95

Thought Leadership with Marko Ahtisaari from Nokia

Q&A with Alan Knott Craig Jnr.

[ 04 ] guest ed

DR Hamadan Toure, SecretaryGeneral, International Telecommunication Union.

[ 06 ] news



Issue 19


Thought Leadership

46 Africa’s Evolving

Payments Landscape

Economic, social and geographic challenges continue to drive diversification and growth of mobile and electronic payments platforms and services accross Africa.

An exclusive interview with Marko Ahtisaari, Head of Design at Nokia.

The latest local and global telecoms news.


[ 18 ] gadgets

Want the next big thing in portable devices? Our gadget review is here to help you choose.

[ 24 ] stats

Africa Telecoms presents statistics and data relating to the African telecoms market.


[ 66 ] q&a

With Alan Knott Craig CEO for World of Avatar.

[ 68 ] calendar

Upcoming events, shows and conferences which you can’t afford to miss.

[ 70 ] jobs

A list of the latest telecoms positions from across Africa.

[ 72 ] lastword Bend it, Shake it



8th time’s the Charm Brett Haggard went to Anaheim, California for Microsoft’s BUILD Developer Conference to take a closer look at the future of Operating Systems.

Pie in the Sky or Possibility?

34 Millenium

Lesley stones attends the Broadband World Forum to hear from Alcatel-Lucent exclusively for Africa Telecoms

Development Goals Fail Africa

As global humanitarian efforts falter, this continent continues to suffer the most on almost every dimension of poverty.

for the mag [ Publisher ] mohammed Khan [ Managing Editor ] Bradley Shaw [ Sales Director ] Sarah theron [ Art Director ] Hayley davis [ Designer] Stefan terreblanche [ Sub-Editor ] niki Sampson [ Printing ] tandym Press

60 Data Caps:

Handle with Care! Let’s imagine a plan with constraints that apply to peak times only, but allows unlimited access the rest of the time. By Monica Paolini

[ Contributors ] Bradley Shaw, Brett Haggard, Lesley Stones, Dr Hamadoun Toure, Hloniphizwe Coleman, Monica Paolini, Alan Knott Craig Africa Telecoms and Africa Telecoms Online are published by: 3i Publishing Unit 6, Planet Art 1, 32 Jamieson Street, Cape Town 8001 T: +27 21 426 5590 | E: BPA Audited AverAge QuAlified CirCulAtion from nov 10 – JAn 11, 9989 Per edition.


Editorial guEst

Dr Hamadoun Touré, secretary-general, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)

In the developed nations of the world, we already rely significantly on broadband networks to provide the backbone of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) that power and shape our economies and societies. This is only the start: the depth and range of services and applications enabled by next-generation networks is set to impact dramatically on our daily lives, across all sectors – from health, education and transport to government services, environmental sustainability, energy and finance. Rolling out broadband networks throughout the developing world can bring these benefits within the reach of all. It is not just about broadband itself, as a network, but broadband as a tool – as an enabler of products, services and applications – that can have a tangible and truly positive effect on real-life issues affecting many across the world. It was with the resolution of major real-world challenges in mind that world leaders came together in September 2000 to commit to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty within a framework of specific targets and a final deadline of 2015. These targets, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), recognize that developed countries can contribute to a better world through trade, development assistance, debt relief and technology transfer. The cornerstone of transferring technology – and a key driver of socio-economic development – is the full-scale deployment of broadband networks through the coordinated effort and investment of the government and private sector. Broadband and its applications can enable developing nations to leapfrog into the digital future and the many benefits it promises. First among these is the economic growth that must be behind any long-term strategy for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. Investment in broadband has been directly linked in numerous studies to increased GDP: in China, for example, a 10% rise in broadband penetration has boosted GDP by 2.5%. Figures released by international consultancy McKinsey indicate an average jump of between 0.1% and 1.4% in national GDP following a 10% rise in broadband availability – with developing countries the biggest beneficiaries, predicted to enjoy an average 1.38% increase. Specifically in the area of job creation, many studies now support the positive impact on employment of broadband deployment. For example, research on behalf of the European Commission estimates that broadband could create more than two million jobs in Europe by 2015. Initial results of an analysis being conducted by the OECD suggest that the expansion of broadband will significantly boost labour productivity. And research in Latin America concluded that deployment of broadband could


lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs, with a study in Brazil affirming that broadband added up to 1.4% to the employment growth rate there. Economic growth is the springboard to social development and improving quality of life in line with the MDGs, in particular in the crucial areas of healthcare and education. Broadbandenabled telemedicine facilitates the delivery of medical advice, monitoring, diagnosis and remote training to the most far-flung and traditionally underserved regions of the globe. Training the next generation of internet-knowledgeable, empowered medical and education professionals is feasible through broadband-based distance-learning programmes, reaching numbers previously unimaginable. E-education, indeed, can reach from basic primary school through all levels up to teacher training and academic research. With universally accessible basic education comes the empowerment of girls and women, both balancing out gender inequality and enfranchising expectant and existing mothers with the knowledge and skills essential at ground level to help reduce infant mortality. Broadband has a major role to play, too, in increasing environmental sustainability, from monitoring the bigger climate change picture via satellite technology, to localized energy-saving applications such as direct sensors. Smart grids prevent leakage in the electricity system, helping prevent outages and integrating locally generated power to improve energy efficiency. More effective delivery of government services is another benefit of broadband, offering citizens and governments better, more direct and more responsive channels of communication and interaction through internet portals and next-generation applications. Broadband technology is therefore central to our drive towards meeting the MDGs – and central to ITU Telecom World 2011 in Geneva on 24-27 October, where the UN-led Broadband Commission for Development holds its next high-level meeting aimed at enabling coordinated international deployment; and where broadband and its applications top the agenda throughout the forum sessions and across the showfloor. Rolling out broadband networks as a basic national infrastructure not only provides universal, ubiquitous access to the knowledge and information essential to modern society; it also enables the parallel development of a plethora of social and economic advancements essential to reducing extreme poverty and building a global partnership for development. The Millennium Development Goals may be ambitious, the time frames may be tight – but applying the transformative power of broadband in a coordinated, trans-sectoral drive will help take us there. AT


Africa Telecoms brings you all the latest telecoms news from Africa and around the world.

GooGle Gmail ‘viable alternative to microsoft’ After being in the market for five years, Google’s enterprise Gmail is building momentum with commercial organisations with more than 5,000 seats, and it now presents a viable alternative to Microsoft Exchange Online and other cloud email services, according to Gartner, Inc. “The road to its enterprise enlightenment has been long and bumpy, but Gmail should now be considered a mainstream cloud email supplier,” said Matthew Cain, research vice president at Gartner. “While Gmail’s enterprise email market share currently hovers around 1%, it has close to half of the market for enterprise cloud email. While cloud email is still in its infancy, at 3% to 4% of the overall enterprise email market, we expect it to be a growth industry, reaching 20% of the market by year-end 2016, and 55% by year-end 2020.” Cain said that, other than Microsoft Exchange, Google Gmail is the only email system that has prospered in the enterprise space over the past several years. Other enterprise email providers – Novell GroupWise and IBM Lotus Notes/Domino – have lost market momentum, Cisco has closed its cloud email effort and VMware’s Zimbra is only now refocusing on the enterprise space. Google’s journey to enterprise enlightenment, however, is not complete. Google focuses on capabilities that will have the broadest market uptake. Large organisations with complex


email requirements, such as financial institutions, report that Google is resistant to feature requests that would be applicable to only a small segment of its customers. Banks, for example, may require surveillance capabilities that Google is unlikely to build into Gmail given the limited appeal. While Google is good at taking direction and input on frontend features, it is more resistant to the back-end feature requests that are important to larger enterprises. Large system integrators and organisations report that Google’s lack of transparency in areas such as continuity, security and compliance can thwart deeper relationships. “Email is not a commodity, and cloud email is still maturing,” Cain said. “We believe that, for most organisations, performing one more on-premises upgrade, which will take an organisation through 2014, is the most prudent approach. A less risky approach to cloud email is via a hybrid deployment, where some mailboxes live in the cloud and some are located on premises. This hybrid model plays to Microsoft’s strengths given its vast dominance of the on-premises email market.” “The intense competition between Microsoft and Google will make both vendors stronger and enable them to apply cloud expertise to other enterprise cloud endeavours,” Cain said. “The rivalry will make it difficult for other suppliers to compete directly in the cloud email and collaboration space.” AT




eaton towers secures $150 million equity fundinG

Eaton Towers has secured a major round of equity funding worth $150 million from Capital International Private Equity Funds (CIPEF), a private equity investor that focuses on emerging markets. The funding will be used to acquire, build and develop telecom towers across Africa for both existing and new projects. CIPEF is a highly experienced and long established emerging markets private equity investor. Since its inception in 1992, it has invested approximately $3 billion in equity in more than 75 emerging market companies and has significant experience in telecommunications and related infrastructure in emerging markets. CIPEF joins current shareholder African Development Partners I LLP (ADP I), a private equity fund advised by Development Partners International, LLP (DPI), which has been a supportive investor in Eaton Towers since the early stages of the company’s existence. Alan Harper, Chief Executive of Eaton Towers, said: “We are delighted to have secured substantial financial backing from CIPEF, a leading emerging markets private equity investor with a proven track record in the region and the industry. Their backing, combined with our management team’s expertise in Africa and telecoms management, will give further momentum to our efforts to become a major independent

provider of shared tower facilities across Africa. We expect to raise significant additional debt on the back of this new equity commitment. “Tower sharing benefits everyone involved. Operators can increase coverage and quality of service whilst cutting capital investment and operating costs. At the same time, subscribers benefit from the increased competition of operators sharing the same tower, which also improves coverage.” The new funding will enable Eaton Towers to buy additional tower portfolios from operators and build new towers on which it will sell co-location and sharedinfrastructure facilities to mobile operators. Tower sharing is a highly cost-effective way for African operators to reach subscribers, with building and operating

costs typically shared across multiple tenants. In October 2010, Eaton Towers signed a 10-year contract to take over the operations and co-location management of 750 telecom towers for Vodafone Ghana and the company is well advanced on plans to extend its operations across other parts of Africa. Eaton was founded by a team of highly experienced telecoms entrepreneurs with significant expertise in the African telecoms market. The team includes Chief Executive Alan Harper, formerly on the Executive Committee of Vodafone Group Plc; Executive Director Terry Rhodes, former director of Celtel (now Bharti Airtel Africa); and Sanjiv Ahuja, formerly Chief Executive of Orange. AT




Green Packet’s ANDSF client test SucceSSFul Green Packet, a leading developer of next generation

Samsung targets African TV market with region-specific models Samsung Electronics has performed extremely well in Africa with its regionspecific strategies. Since Samsung launched its SurgeSafe TV, specially developed to meet the continent’s unique market conditions, it has seen a significant sales increase month on month, thanks to the remarkable sales performance of SurgeSafe TV. One of the innate issues in this region is unstable power supply and demand. As consumer electronic products are very susceptible to sudden power surges and frequent failures, Samsung has developed its “Built for Africa” models, strengthening the surge-resistant features of its regional flagship models – 32-inch LCD and LED TVs. On 15 August Samsung kicked off its SurgeSafe TV campaign in the region with Didier Yves Drogba Tébily, an Ivorian football star who currently plays for Chelsea in the English Premier League. The TV commercials featuring Drogba started to air during prime time


TV and satellite broadcasting, which covers 49 sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria and Kenya. They have been well received by consumers. The ads effectively deliver the advantages of Samsung’s SurgeSafe TV where football-game lovers who own Samsung’s SurgeSafe TV enjoy matches seamlessly while others have their viewing experience disrupted by sudden power surges. In addition to the TV campaign, Samsung has placed advertising materials displaying Drogba’s image in major brand shops and large retailer shops, while offering various buying options for consumers, such as home theatre systems, DVD players and SurgeSafe TVs – all testament to their commitment to driving product into Africa that is relevant to the African market. Samsung anticipates that this SurgeSafe TV campaign and related marketing activities will enhance its mid and long-term market leadership in

Africa as the “high-quality premium TV” brand and encourage the existing CRT TV owners to replace their CRT TVs with flat-panel TVs such as LCD and LED TVs, thus contributing to the expansion of the overall African TV market going forward. “With market-specific models like SurgeSafe TV and various marketing activities, Samsung solidifies its highquality premium brand image in Africa,” said Kwang-kee Park, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics Africa. “This will in turn increase the size of the African TV market by attracting the existing CRT TV users into the flat-panel TV market such as LCD and LED TVs.” Meanwhile, Samsung led the African flat-panel TV market in the first half of 2011 with 33% and 37% market share – in terms of unit sales and value respectively – and expect that SurgeSafe TVs will create a strong platform for the consistency and growth of this success locally. AT

mobile broadband and networking solutions, announced today its successful Inter-Operability Testing (IOT) with 3GPP-compliant ANDSF Policy Servers, such as Bridgewater. The success represents a strategic combination of client and server technologies that enable end-to-end network deployment of dynamic data offload by operators globally, which delivers seamless connectivity experience to the end-user. The ANDSF connectivity client solution makes it possible for operators to maintain and extend networklevel data traffic policies and controls on its subscribers, even when they switch to WiFi networks. The ANDSF client provides real-time or predicted measure of the network’s congestion levels and intelligently selects a better network for its subscribers. As a result, subscribers will always experience better service through automated connectivity to the most optimised networks of the operator. Kelvin Lee, senior general manager of Green Packet, says: “Most operators in the market already have policy controllers within their networks. Now, with Green Packet’s ANDSF client, operators can ride on the wide availability of WiFi hotspots as their next step, in deploying dynamic data offload for better service delivery.” Lee added: “Operators don’t even need to invest additional Capex to upgrade their Operation and Support System (OSS) and Radio Access Network (RAN) just to manage the data offload. In addition, with bandwidth optimization operators can stand to benefit by creating different service packages for targeted users.” Green Packet’s ANDSF client, together with its partner’s policy controller, is currently being tested by some of its existing software customers. The company is also in discussion with other major global operators in North America and APAC regions for the integrated offering. The ANDSF client is part of Green Packet’s Intouch Connection Management Platform (ICMP) software to deliver the best in Mobility Management. Other available solutions such as iWLAN Client, which allows operators to manage data offload in a secured manner, and Mobile IP Client that ensures session persistence – without interrupting a running application when switching seamlessly between networks. AT

anGus dent


Synchronica’s goal of building on its de facto leadership position in emerging markets to become a global leader in the mobile messaging sector remains unchanged. With immediate effect, David Mason will become executive chairman. Angus Dent, previously chief financial officer, will take the role of chief executive officer and Arthur Phillips, Synchronica’s company secretary, will become the company’s interim chief financial officer. Carsten Brinkschulte has resigned his position as CEO and Nicole Meissner has left the company. The Board has expressed its thanks for their significant contribution. Dent commented: “Carsten and Nicole were the founders of Synchronica and have been instrumental in building the company into one of the world’s leading mobile messaging businesses. After a number of strategic acquisitions, Synchronica is now entering a new phase in which we must focus on integrating the people and products we have acquired and build on the successes that we have achieved in order to provide greater shareholder value.” Dent has been a member of the Synchronica Board for over five years and Mason has been non-executive chairman of Synchronica for four years. The Synchronica Board therefore believes both have the skills and experience necessary to see the business through its next phase of development. AT




econet wireless introduces ecocash to Zimbabwe

YouTube finds a home in Kenya YouTube Kenya will offer some of the most informative and entertaining video content from around the world through a local interface that promotes the content most relevant to Kenyans. As proven by Julius Yego, javelin gold medallist at the 10th All Africa Games in Mozambique who perfected his technique by watching YouTube, there is something on YouTube for everyone. From amateur to professional content, the unexpected to the emotionally affecting, the educational to the entertaining, Kenyans now have greater flexibility to tell their stories, and find videos most useful to them. “We are thrilled to be launching YouTube in Kenya today”, said Olga Arara-Kimani, Google Kenya’s country manager. “We have remarkable reserves of information right here in Kenya: from music, educational clips, news, and self-help tips. With a new localized version of YouTube, Kenyans will be able to connect and use this information more easily.” YouTube Kenya makes it easier for local users to find and view the videos most relevant to them, by tuning search and discovery algorithms such as featured videos and homepage, as well as category spotlights. Content uploaded by users in Kenya will show up as “browse pages” on the YouTube Kenya


site, creating a new virtual space for the national community and giving Kenyan users the opportunity to increase their exposure. “YouTube opens up endless possibilities and gives people the power to broadcast themselves,” said Amani, a Kenyan musician. “It can help link your cause to potential partners and sponsors, but most importantly it connects you with local and international fans around the globe. It is also a great way to see what other artistes are doing.” “The Internet is opening up new channels to market the wonders of Kenya to potential tourists all over the world,” explained the Honourable Najib Balala, EGH, Minister for Tourism. “Ours is a beautiful country; even with the highest number of tourists’ arrivals ever recorded last year, a 15% growth compared to 2009, the sector has the potential to grow even stronger. Online video platforms like YouTube can help us achieve this potential.” One of YouTube’s key priorities, in addition to making the platform a comprehensive destination, is ensuring that videos load and play quickly – even in places where bandwidth is at a premium. Improving Internet access remains a key priority for internet players across Africa. AT

Econet Wireless, which is currently Zimbabwe’s largest telecoms company, has launched the country’s first truly mobile money transfer service. The new service, branded EcoCash, will allow users to send and receive money, buy airtime, and make other payments using their mobile phones. Unlike other mobile banking offerings that have emerged on the market, customers using EcoCash are not required to have a bank account, do not need to switch their SIM cards for new ones, and can move money across different mobile networks. Econet Wireless CEO Douglas Mboweni said the arrival of EcoCash means that the millions of Zimbabweans without access to traditional banking services will now have the ability to send and receive money, without first having to travel to the nearest bank. “You will not find a bank at every corner of the country, but, thanks to the extensive coverage we have built over recent years, mobile phone access has spread to virtually every corner of the country,” Mboweni said. “Sending and receiving cash will no longer take days; it can now be achieved virtually instantly.” Buying airtime for loved ones will also now be more convenient and faster with EcoCash. Econet has engaged over 500 EcoCash agents countrywide, providing employment to small businesses in some of the country’s most remote areas. Post offices have also been registered as agents and discussions are ongoing with the major retail chains. Mobile money transfer services have significantly stimulated economic activity in other African markets, especially in East Africa. In 2010 alone, some 14 million Kenyans transferred US$7 billion across

their country via mobile money transfer. According to estimates by global telecoms researchers Pyramid Research, the value of money transfers over mobile networks in Africa will reach US$200 billion by 2015, almost 8% of Africa’s nominal GDP. Econet said that with its ability to allow more Zimbabweans to move more money across the country faster and purchase goods using their mobiles, EcoCash will contribute significantly to economic growth. To use EcoCash, customers will register with an accredited EcoCash agent. The customer will then access the EcoCash menu via a simple code on their mobile phone. They will then “Cash in”, which is to load money onto their virtual wallet. With that “e-money”, the customer can now send money, or buy airtime. Soon, paying bills and groceries will be possible via the service. To receive money, a user will “Cash out”, which is to receive money from a registered EcoCash agent. AT




REdLInE COMMunICATIOnS, PLESSEy In AFRICAn COLLAbORATIOn Leading global provider of specialized broadband wireless solutions, Redline Communications, has announced that it has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Plessey (Pty) Limited, Africa’s leading provider of telecoms infrastructure solutions. With more than 8,000 installations throughout Africa, Plessey offers a broad range of turnkey telecommunication solutions to leading telecommunications and data companies and public network operators. The strategic partnership agreement is an important milestone for both companies. Plessey will get access to Redline’s award-winning leading suite of

Bob Collymore, CEO of Safaricom, has released a letter stating that the mobile call charges across the network will increase. Reading between the lines, it can be readily concluded that this is as a direct result of the price wars taking place in East Africa. Furthermore, even with Safaricom’s dominant market position, the prices don’t seem to be sustainable. Will other operators be following suit or will Safaricom start to lose some of its dominant positioning? It is too early to tell on that score but here is the full letter to put these questions into context: “As you are no doubt aware, our country Kenya is facing one of its most difficult and challenging economic situations in recent years. The overall rate of inflation now stands at 17.32% for September, the highest it has been since 2008 and the attendant devaluation of the Kenyan Shilling can only be said to be reminiscent of the economic downturn witnessed in the nineties and the period following the last general elections. It can however be said that the macro-economic situation in Kenya has been driven in large part by the global economic downturn that continues to affect major global economies, with recent examples being the current economic crisis that the European Union is now confronting. Closer to home, the last few months have seen a rapid decline in the value of the Kenya Shilling versus internationally traded currencies, in particular the US dollar, against which our currency has devalued by over 25% as compared to the same time last year. This in turn has contributed to significant volatility in the price of petroleum products, with the benchmark cost of diesel fuel, which powers the Kenyan economy, rising by over 27% in the last nine months alone.


Due to the nature of our business, which is heavily reliant on both the regular importation of US dollar-denominated capital equipment and a very high dependency on energy sources such as the national electricity grid and diesel fuel to power our extensive telecommunications network, we have seen our operational costs escalate month on month to what we now feel to be unsustainable levels in the context of our operating environment. It is for these reasons that I would like to formally announce our decision to adjust our retail voice tariffs with effect from Saturday 1st October 2011. In coming to our decision on the level of the tariff adjustment, we have taken into account the sentiments of our customers: that they too are facing tough economic times and that they too need some respite in the face of the rising cost of living. To this end, we intend to implement a marginal price increase of KES 1/= per minute on all our headline voice tariffs. This means that with effect from midnight tonight, it will cost our PrePay customers KES 4/= per minute for Safaricom to Safaricom calls between the peak hours of 8:00 am and

broadband wireless radios and software that will meet the growing need for wireless by telecom service providers in the African marketplace. In turn, the partnership allows Redline to quickly expand its market presence and revenue opportunities in the African continent – a key component of Redline’s growth strategy. “Africa’s unprecedented growth requires a scalable, reliable communications infrastructure,” said Wayne Wiblin, wireless product specialist at Plessey. “Partnering with Redline enables us to deliver comprehensive solutions that include the most advanced and versatile

broadband wireless systems available on the market. We look forward to collaborating with Redline as we extend our presence throughout the region.” “Plessey is recognized as a leading global integrator of quality highperformance communications solutions, and we’re proud that they will feature our best-in-class broadband wireless radio systems,” said Amir Rosenzweig, senior vice president of business development, Redline Communications. “Our strategic partnership with Plessey offers Redline tremendous opportunities for growth as we work together to meet the communications needs of the African marketplace.” AT

Safaricom reacts to price war pinch 10:00 pm and KES 2/= per minute during the off peak hours of 10:00 pm to 8:00 am, while calls to all other networks will cost KES 5/= per minute. For our PostPay customers, Safaricom to Safaricom calls between 8:00 am and 10:00pm will cost KES 4/= per minute, while calls made between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am will cost KES 2/= per minute, with calls to all other networks charged at a flat fee of KES 4/= per minute. Other tariffs that are impacted by this price adjustment include our international calling rates, the details of which we have made available on our website and which will be published in the local dailies tomorrow. I would like at this point to make it clear that there will be no adjustment on either our SMS or data tariffs and that our mode of charging for voice services remains per second billing to ensure that our customers only pay for what they use. This is the first time in Safaricom’s 11 year history that we have had to effect a price increase on our retail voice tariffs. This is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions that my management team and I have had to make, not least because we understand fully well that it is not good news for our customers.

I assure you that in coming to this decision, we have done our best to acknowledge and indeed show solidarity with the tough times that all Kenyans are facing, while at the same time balancing the need to ensure that our investors, the majority of whom are Kenyan, know that we are committed to delivering value to them in a sustainable manner. In tandem, we have tried as much as possible to moderate the effect on our customers, who are already heavily constrained by the unprecedented rise in the cost of living. Almost all the goods that constitute the CPI (Consumer Price Index), especially essentials like unga, sugar, electricity and petroleum products, have recorded a price increase, with our industry being the only exception. We wish to assure our customers that we shall continue to invest heavily in the expansion of our network, the deployment of innovative services and while doing so improve upon our operational efficiencies through, amongst other measures, an increased use of green energy solutions to lower our dependency on diesel-generated power.






CEC and Liquid TELECom

launch operator in Zambia

The creation of CEC Liquid Telecommunications Limited by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc (CEC) and Liquid Telecommunications Holding Limited (Liquid Telecom) will increase broadband capacity into and within Zambia, increase competition and ultimately reduce end-user prices. CEC Liquid Telecom will build and operate a countrywide fibre network, over which it will provide wholesale capacity and terrestrial internet bandwidth to public and private operators licensed by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA). CEC Liquid Telecom will also provide alternative international terrestrial gateways. CEC Liquid Telecom will not participate in the retail market segment, although end-users could ultimately benefit from cheaper and faster internet and other data services as significantly more capacity will be available in Zambia. The existing telecom assets of CEC and Liquid Telecom in Zambia will be transferred to CEC Liquid Telecom, in which both companies will have 50% participating interest. CEC will transfer to CEC Liquid Telecom all existing telecoms customer contracts, its Public Network License and current fibre assets, including the last-mile fibre installed in the Copperbelt region and Lusaka, as well as those currently being built in Solwezi, Kabwe and Livingstone.


Liquid Telecom will provide working capital, network build-out, and associated equipment. Liquid Telecom is also building a carrier grade fibre optic transmission network for CEC Liquid Telecom which runs along the Chirundu-LusakaNdola route, via Chisamba, Kabwe and Kapiri Mposhi, from Lusaka to Livingstone, through Mazabuka and Choma, and from Chililabombwe to Lubumbashi. This will be integrated into the existing CEC fibre assets in Zambia, with access to Liquid Telecom’s regional fibre network and submarine cables for onward connections to Europe, the Far East and the rest of the world. CEC’s existing infrastruc-ture will be further developed by CEC Liquid Telecom to provide local access super-fast fibre optic broadband services and leased line capabilities. An operator neutral Data Centre will also be constructed and CEC Liquid Telecom will introduce a number of advanced technologies and services including the implementation of Multiple Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) technology. Michael Tarney, CEC’s managing director for Corporate Development, said: “This transaction brings together two of the leading infrastructure service providers in Zambia. CEC Liquid Telecom will provide the best possible telecommunications platform and resources for licensed operators to provide new, innovative and high-quality services to end-users, as well as exciting new opportunities for growth and development. “This new business will bring together two industry leaders and give customers the ability to access the best of both organizations’ local expertise and unrivalled global connectivity. At the same time, it will allow customers access to the latest in high speed fibre-optic connectivity whilst receiving a superior level of customer service,” said Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom’s CEO. The deal has been approved by the boards of both companies subject to regulatory approval from ZICTA, the Zambian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and other relevant stakeholders. AT





Airtel has entered into an agreement with Nokia Siemens Networks to expand its 2G (GSM/EDGE) networks and deploy 3G networks in seven African countries. Under the agreement, Nokia Siemens Networks will manage end-to-end network operations, including planning, designing and implementing the 2G and 3G networks for Airtel. The vendor will provide its energy-efficient Flexi Multiradio Base Stations to expand network coverage to underserved areas, including smaller towns and villages in Madagascar, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Congo Brazzaville. Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) and joint managing director of Bharti Airtel, said: “This agreement

manifests our commitment to provide world-class, innovative and affordable mobile services to customers in Africa. We believe Nokia Siemens Networks’ global expertise in managed services and compact energy-efficient network equipment are a perfect fit to our long-term goal to be the leading telecommunications provider on the African continent. This partnership will further enable us to rapidly expand our network coverage and provide high-speed wireless internet connectivity to our customers.” Rajeev Suri, chief executive officer of Nokia Siemens Networks, said: “Subscribers everywhere are increasingly demanding better network quality and superior services. We look forward to working closely with Airtel

to expand its network rapidly, and deliver the right innovative products and services to help meet these demands.” Nokia Siemens Networks will use its FlexiHybrid microwave radio to address growing data traffic and provide the platform for a cost-effective transition to 3G, and potentially 4G networks in the future. The company will also provide its NetAct network management system for effective network monitoring and management. In addition, Nokia Siemens Networks’ end-to-end managed services will enable Airtel to focus on delivering better customer experience and offer more innovative products and services to customers across markets. AT




vodacom to support home-Grown apps The Vodacom Apps Store has reached 100,000 downloads in its first month, and the company is now launching a programme to support local talent in applications development. This Vodacom Developer Programme aims to create an environment of collaboration and innovation amongst the local developer community. Prins Mhlanga, managing executive of Digital Media at Vodacom, commented: “We see the Apps Store as the embryo of an ecosystem. We’re looking forward to building a network of successful local developers, so they can help develop apps that help South Africans. “With our apps initiative, we hope to complement and enhance this already vibrant community.” The programme promises to be a valuable knowledgesharing and learning exercise for the industry as a whole. Those attending will be provided with the opportunity to: engage


with the most renowned industry specialists in the mobile apps marketplace; discuss tools to monetize apps; identify training opportunities in the mobile apps environment; and gain insight into Vodacom’s innovation incentives and available technical and commercial support. The Vodacom Apps Store was launched on 1 September 2011, and features a catalogue of over 140,000 applications powered by Appia, one of the world’s largest open application marketplaces. All Vodacom customers who wish to access Vodacom apps can do so by visiting on their mobile phones or from the apps feature on Vodafone live! “The opportunities for further development in the Vodacom Apps Store are significant considering it also supports all major platforms including Android, BlackBerry, Java, Symbian and Windows Mobile,” Mhlanga concluded.. AT




Africa Telecoms is always in the know when it comes to the hottest gadgets and devices.


Motorola Atrix with LapDock Rating: HHHH

Samsung Galaxy S2 Rating: HHHH


Price: R 5 800 Need to know:

Need to know:

• Android OS, v2.2 (Froyo) • 4in qHD display • 5MP camera with dual LED flash supporting 720p HD video recording

This device is surely in the category of what has been mooted as the Android Superphone group – and with the attached spec list it is no wonder. The superlight and superslim design makes it a very compelling device and it is certainly worth the considerable asking price. This is the second Galaxy S to come to market after the first Galaxy S launched with arguably the best screen around for multimedia. True to form, the S2 has undoubtedly the best multimedia screen available at the moment. The 4.3in Super AMOLED screen offers unbelievable clarity and at 4.3in one of the biggest screens in the smartphone range of devices. Note that this device also has a dedicated Mali400MP GPU (graphics processing unit), giving it astonishing rendering ability. Gingerbread runs superbly well with the dual-core processor,

The next evolution in consumer electronics is showcased with this product bundle, as this is a truly converged mobile computing experience. The Atrix itself is a very impressive device. However, Motorola missed an opportunity to launch this device running on the upgraded Android OS 2.3 or Gingerbread, with the Atrix running on 2.2 or Froyo. The user experience is great and the UI that Motorola has deployed using Motoblur is great. Motoblur is an all in one social media and contact management technology, pulling all your social media streams, pictures and contacts together seamlessly. The 4in qHD screen is high quality; but compared with other products on the market using Super AMOLED and Super AMOLED Plus screens, the colours are fairly muted. That being said, this certainly does not detract from the device itself. Moving on to plugging the Atrix into the LapDock, using the Webtop application, ushers in a unique user experience unmatched as yet by any other manufacturer. This effectively

Price: From R 6 700

• Android OS, v2.3 (Gingerbread) • 4.3in Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touch screen, 16M colours • 8MP camera with LED flash supporting 1080p HD video recording with all applications and services opening and running faster than you can imagine. Samsung has tried some admirable things with this device, like the Music Hub (unfortunately not available in South Africa at the time of this review), Readers Hub, Social Hub and Game Hub. The Readers Hub combines Kobo eReader, PressDisplay and Zinio to give you an all in one reading app. This is a useful service for those using eReaders on the go. Social Hub combines all your social media and emails in a single location. The Social Hub could certainly be improved, with the official apps from the likes of Twitter and Facebook definitely better on the S2. Game Hub is a great offering and with a number of titles offering free demos, this is certainly worth checking out. For those of you who enjoy whiling away time playing games, this device will give you something to offer up that time for.

turns the Atrix and LapDock into a netbook, with full access to your phone’s content but in the netbook form. With two additional USB ports on the LapDock itself, data transfer to or from the device is as simple as plugging in a USB storage device. Curiously, the Webtop application also gives you complete access to Mozilla’s Firefox browser (the full version, not a scaled down one), as opposed to Chrome – which intuitively would have made sense, being a Google product like the OS. But anyway the UI of the Webtop is great and gives you access to all your documents, apps, and so on: basically all the content of the phone on the larger screen. And with a full keyboard, which makes replying to mails and taking notes far easier. The full screen also makes full HD media viewing a far cry from watching on a 4in screen. Without a doubt, this device combination is the next evolution in converged computing. Other manufacturers, take note. We are waiting for you to take up the challenge!

H Uncool HH Poor HHH Average HHHH Excellent 18 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 19








Huawei E398 LTE modem Rating: HHHHH Price: TBA

BlackBerry Bold 9900 Rating: HHHH Price: R 7 700 Need to know:

• BlackBerry OS7 • 2.8in capacitive touch screen display – VGA (640x480), 287 dpi resolution • 5.0 MP camera, supports 720p HD video recording

Brushed metal wrap-around packaging lends this device an aura of quality, while the new Bold’s impressively slim design is way ahead of its suddenly chunky predecessor. The 2.8in touch screen combined with a full QWERTY keyboard gives out the complete smartphone vibe. The keyboard on this new edition of the Bold is light to the touch and very responsive. However, its touch screen has some catching up to do in relation to other full touch screen devices on the market. OS7 is a faster and seemingly much smoother operating system than its predecessor. Wikitude is the first of what will surely be a slew of Augmented Reality apps due to become available. What this app does is show additional information through your camera. For example, if you are in your Wikitude app and select Twitter it will show you where people are tweeting from, using

the geotagging data from these tweets. This integration has also been done for Flickr photos, YouTube videos, Foursquare spots, and lots more. Multimedia is becoming more and more important. This device can handle 720p high-definition files played back natively in full screen mode; the phone transcoded them down to an appropriate resolution without a glitch. On the multimedia front, the camera does support 720p video capturing; however the camera is still a 5MP version – which could have been upgraded considering RIM has not upgraded the camera quality in some time. Overall a vast improvement from previous generations of Bold handsets and hopefully the start of a technology resurgence from RIM, the manufacturers of BlackBerry handsets.


Asus EeePad Transformer

Rating: HHHH Price: EeePad from R 5 000 EeeStation from R 1 500 Need to know:

• Android 3.2 • 10.1 inch IPS screen • Eee Station dock with keyboard/trackpad

Android Honeycomb tablets are a dime a dozen today. And with users somewhat spoilt for choice, the tablet vendors that manage to differentiate their offerings will be the ones to dominate. As manufacturers are realizing however, there’s

Need to know:

• Part of MTN’s LTE trial • Innovative swivel design • Peak throughput of 100Mbps

The appetite for faster and faster Internet connectivity is insatiable and for this reason, MTN South Africa’s LTE trial couldn’t come at a better time. Designed to give a handful of lucky testers a taste for what this new technology will bring to the masses in the next two years, MTN’s LTE trial consists of roughly 100 sites spread out across the Johannesburg area. The network is designed to provide users up to 70Mbps access to the Internet and while initial tests haven’t weighed in at quite this impressive a performance level, peak sustained throughputs of 30Mbps were recorded in a number of our tests. The modem MTN has selected for the trial is Huawei’s E398 which was announced at Mobile World Conference in Barcelona in 2010. Resembling most other 3G/HSPA dongles, the E398’s looks are slightly differentiated by the presence of a hinged USB jack that allows the modem to be positioned vertically

while plugged into a notebook or desktop. The fact that it supports GPRS, WCDMA and LTE is also a massive bonus, since this will allow executives to cut down on the amount of technology they need to carry with them in order to stay in radio contact. Equally useful, the dongle comes preloaded with connectivity software for Mac and Windows computers, making installation an absolute breeze. While LTE might be some way off, we’re encouraged by operators investigating the new technology and wait with eager anticipation for the switch to even faster Internet connectivity to come.

differentiation and differentiation. Bundling games, content and commonly used applications (such as twitter and Facebook), along with a customised user interfaces isn’t all that attractive a differentiator. Innovating when it comes to hardware design is an entirely different story though. For Samsung that meant making its GalaxyTab 10.1 thinner, lighter and faster than anything in its class. For Asus, it’s meant adding one of the most valuable peripherals into the mix, namely a keyboard dock. I know you’re thinking: “What good is a keyboard on a tablet? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?” And the answer is yes… and no. Tablets are great as content consumption devices. But the moment you try to create content on a tablet, you swiftly get irritated with the lack of a hardware keyboard and missing

interfaces, like more than one USB port. Enter the EeePad’s innovative EeeStation. For about R1500 more than the R5000 you’re likely to pay for an entry level 16GB EeePad, you get the ability to convert your media consumption device into a pretty capable Android 3.2-based netbook. The dock lets you type documents at speed with its near fullsize keyboard, get around the user interface in a snap using the multi-touch trackpad and boost battery life by another 6 hours to a total of 16 hours. It also allows for two standard USB devices (external hard disks, Flash sticks and even a mouse) and a SD Card to be connected to the tablet. By adding a keyboard, trackpad and some extra ports, Asus has placed its device in a league of its own. For us, this makes the EeePad the Android tablet to go for right now.

H Uncool HH Poor HHH Average HHHH Excellent 20 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 19




>> Nokia N9 Rating: HHHH Price: From R 6 500 Need to know:

• Revolutionary Swipe Interface • AMOLED Screen • 8 Megapixel Camera

Rating: HHHH Price: TBA Need to know:

• 2 x the processing power of the iPhone 4 • 7 x the graphics performance of the iPhone 4 • 8MP Camera


iPhone 4S

Apple’s ability to go from zero to hero in the smartphone market over the past few years has been nothing short of mind remarkable. The iPhone – Apple’s ‘silver bullet’ – has been through four revisions so far and while the newest revamp of the handset was expected with more fanfare and acclaim, the iPhone 4S looks like an impressive little beast, albeit nothing more than a speed bump. Cosmetically it’s exactly the same as the iPhone 4. Under the hood however, there’s a new dual-core A5 processor doubling the handset’s number crunching ability and improving graphics-prowess seven-fold. Apple has then added an 8 Megapixel camera to the mix for 1080p video recording and seriously refined its lens assembly so that still photos taken with the 4S look that much more impressive. Rounding the new features out, the 4S features new voice-activated personal assistant, which allows users to do simple things like request a weather report, respond to instant message or e-mail and even setup new calendar entries, using natural voice commands. This last bit is a bit gimmicky, but at the same time, could well be the next big thing.


Gadgets It’s no secret that Nokia’s dominance has been somewhat unseated in the market by smartphone vendors that are a little quicker on the innovation front. While this is something that the company will no doubt hope to solve in the coming months when it debuts its first Windows Phones, the handset of the moment is undoubtedly the N9. Hardware wise, the N9 is right up there. It has a powerful processor, an 8 Megapixel camera, between 16GB and 64GB of flash storage and even a NFC chip. The N9 runs the Linux-based operating system called Meego that resulted from a partnership with Intel. But, Nokia – months before the release of N9 – had already confirmed its intention to cease development on Meego. That means, despite it being an impressive piece of kit the N9 is the first and last Meego device we’ll see form Nokia. Instead of making the N9 nothing more than a gesture of goodwill to the Meego development community however, Nokia has instead designed something we all wish it would dedicate renewed focus to. And this has more to do with the revolutionary Swipe

interface on top of Meego that makes the phone a pleasure to use. The Swipe interface consists of three home screens – one with a conventional arrangement of application icons, one that shows all open applications arranged in a series of thumbnails and one that shows current events, such as missed calls, new e-mails/SMS and of course, a social media feed. The home screens are arranged in a carousel-like fashion, so users simply swipe from left to right, or right to left to switch from an application, to a view of all open applications, a screen from which new applications can be launched and one that shows up all of their feeds. It’s a very new take on things and one that we think has serious legs. Swipe’s success will have more to do with where and when Nokia decides to deploy it next and hardly anything to do with how well the N9 fares. One thing’s for sure however. Nokia looks like it’s back from wherever it’s been for a year or two and over the coming months, Apple, Google, RIM and the others will face some stiff competition.

Ariel 7 Tank headphones Rating: HHHH Price: R 900 Need to know:

• Driver diameter: 57mm • Input plug diameter: 3.5mm and 3.5mm iPhone® included • Swivel ear cup with spring return for single-sided monitoring; rubberized, soft touch finish

From Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony to Nine Inch Nails’ Closer to Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Child – and then moving on to the latest release from the Red Bull Studios in Cape Town presented by Audiophile 021 – these headphones perform. The rich subterranean bass tones reverberate deep within the body, while the pure crisp high notes have the clarity and freshness of an Alpine stream. When the sound quality is tested across a number of devices and platforms, there is not one where it doesn’t perform well. With the 3.5mm jack, these headphones will work on most smartphones and tablets today. They are perfect for video and music usage. The huge soft-foam earpieces make them superbly comfortable and great for long distance usage while travelling. Although they are bulky to carry around, keeping them on or using them as accessories works well, with a versatile choice of colours. H Uncool HH Poor HHH Average HHHH Excellent






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This month Africa Telecoms focuses on Millenium Development Goals and North Africa

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Should you have comments on this page the Africa Telecoms team would appreciate an e-mail to





thought leadership

thought leadership

Priming for a By Brett Haggard

The N9 is one of most impressive pieces of design Nokia has showcased in the past five years. But considering that its MeeGo operating system is already end of life, why did Nokia even bother to launch a dead-in-the-water phone? Nokia’s head of design Marko Ahtisaari can tell us exactly why he regards this model as a precursor of great things to come. And that’s pretty exciting … 26 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 19


thought leadership

Once the ten-ton gorilla in the room, Nokia’s leadership has been slipping away from it ever since vendors like Apple and Google poked their heads in and began bringing serious innovation to the look and feel of smartphones. Ironically, the ground Nokia has lost doesn’t add up.

Legends of the faLL

After all, we’re talking about a company that still has the dominant market share if you look at the total number of the cellular handsets in circulation today. We’re also talking about a company that has one of the most compelling music offerings in the market, a truly great (and free) map service and a host of other worthwhile value adds that few other vendors can compete with. The only place one can really poke a hole in Nokia’s value proposition is its industrial design and user interface. And the former criticism is contentious at best. I mean, Nokia has made some of the most polished, stable and reliable hardware in existence. Unfortunately, however, when compared with some of the radical innovation prevalent in today’s touch-based smartphones, Nokia’s hardware designs have started to look pedestrian. And when it comes to user interfaces, it’s once again a somewhat contentious point to ponder. For example, what’s more important: familiarity or intuitiveness?


Nokia has made some of the most polished, stable and reliable hardware in existence.

Nokia’s Symbian OS has for some time been a champion in the familiarity stakes – and one of the primary reasons users stayed with it so long. But it was also complex to use, unintuitive in its layout and, from what developers have said in the past couple of years, a challenge to build applications for. And the Linux operating system Nokia had been working on for so long, MeeGo (nee Maemo), was somewhat of a nonstarter – having pitched up on only one of Nokia’s handsets thus far and failed to wow. In contrast to Nokia’s offerings, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android were simple to navigate, easy to use and brought with them a certain novelty. It really looked like end of days for Nokia, if something wasn’t done to curb the downward spiral. And that’s when new CEO Stephen Elop announced the end of life of Symbian and MeeGo, but a new alliance with Microsoft that would see it becoming the champion brand for the Windows Phone operating system.

a question of timing

Now please, don’t get me wrong. This is a great idea. Windows Phone is solid and Microsoft has all of the development resources to

make it fly – plus an ever more compelling content strategy waiting in the wings. All that’s been lacking is an anchor brand, like Nokia, capable of creating a healthy supply of phones that will ultimately get developers building great applications for the new ecosystem. So it’s all settled then? Not quite. All of this comes at a time when Nokia has released what in my opinion is its most exciting product in five years – the N9. And it’s based on MeeGo – an operating system that was nearly extinct before the first N9 shipped. It’s so sad that Nokia creates such a great device – a device that shows how important it is as a company – only to kill it before it reaches its full potential. But if Nokia’s head of design Marko Ahtisaari is to be believed, the N9 is an important product and one Nokia absolutely had to release. And that even though MeeGo is going to the great software repository in the sky, what the N9 represents and the awesome work Nokia did in developing Swipe will persist.

showing off its design ‘Kung fu’

The N9 really does show Nokia has what it takes to get its crown back. And that’s some serious design prowess. “I say it often, but it really is a very simple statement that we started with: we wanted to design a better way to use a phone,” Ahtisaari explains.


thought leadership

“At Nokia design, we certainly don’t feel like all of the innovation has already been done in the smartphone market. In fact, we feel there is a lot of innovation still to happen,” he says. “When I was in South Africa, I compared where the smartphone user interface is now to where the automotive industry was in the 1890s, when cars still used tillers to steer with. “It took a while for the steering wheel to become the primary use in the car,” he says. “There are a number of different paradigms when it comes to smartphones: grids of apps, multiple screens of widgets.

At Nokia design, we certainly don’t feel like all of the innovation has already been done in the smartphone market. In fact, we feel there is a lot of innovation still to happen,” he says. “When we first conceptualized the N9, we aimed for beautiful simplicity, reduction – taking away everything unnecessary – and ease of use. We created an all–screen phone, reinventing the home key with one universal gesture: namely, a swipe from the edge of the screen always takes you home,” he explains. “When it comes to hardware, we pushed a lot of boundaries when it came to the N9. “A curved glass display, which flows seamlessly into the single-piece polycarbonate chassis. With no joins, we have to squeeze all the internal mechanics under the screen. I have likened it to pushing a boat into a bottle. “This design does provide a massive amount of challenges, but also a huge number of benefits, like solid build quality, outstanding radio performance, as well as simple, beautiful design,” he says. Ahtisaari says the only way Nokia


was able to pull this off, was to address the design of the device software and hardware in lockstep. “That is why both hardware and software design are taken care of in my team. “I think one of the things – by far the most visual – that describes this is the link between the curved display and the swipe gesture. The deep black display, which makes the apps and windows look as if they are floating on top of the display, flows seamlessly into the side of the device. “It almost forms a meniscus, a little like a beautiful infinity pool. This detail was necessary to give the user a visual cue for what needed to be done when closing an application and moving back to the home screens. “A perfect integration of hardware and software,” he adds.

swiping bacK the smartphone crown

So we know that the operating system underpinning the N9 (MeeGo) is already end of life. On the other hand, Symbian is also moribund, leaving Nokia with S40 and Windows Phone to look forward to when it comes to a home being found for Swipe in the future. Windows Phone is an unlikely place for Swipe to find a home, as Microsoft has a good paradigm going for it right now, and S40 is in my opinion aimed at too low-cost a sector for the hardware to support Swipe. So where exactly is Swipe destined to land up from an operating system perspective? But of course Ahtisaari isn’t prepared to share Nokia’s plans in detail just yet. Having said that, he does add that Swipe, as you see it on the N9, is only the beginning. “Rest assured that we continue innovating in the design of all of our user interfaces, from the most accessible to the most premium. “Of course, we don’t want to open the Christmas presents before Christmas, so we will showcase these innovations


thought leadership

Nokia will always stand for a company that crafts beautifully designed, easy to use products with the best communication, cameras and maps/location features. only when we are ready to take them to the world. “As a general point, I think the nuts and bolts of operating systems will be much less important in our industry going forward. What is going to continue to grow in importance is the core experience – like Swipe – and the tools – like Qt or HTLM5 – that developers, both outside of device manufacturers and within, can use to showcase the beautiful experiences we can bring,” he says. One place Swipe could go in the near future is the Linux-based operating system Nokia hasn’t confirmed or denied it’s working on, called Meltemi. But this will surely be a topic for discussion at Nokia World in London in October.

LooKing ahead

“At Nokia, we speak a lot about getting people’s heads up again and we will see


more and more designs that allow people to do this. “It is a simple part of being human, being more present for each other and their environment, not having to look down at their screens. This automatically makes people feel more engaged, more welcome and will certainly allow people to capture and experience more of those amazing everyday moments that many of us are missing out on by having our heads permanently buried in a smartphone, tablet or PC screen,” Ahtisaari says. “I also think we’re likely to see more interactions ‘off-the-glass’, involving gestures that make use of advanced device sensors, as well as audio – both in input and feedback,” he adds. Instead of looking at developing its own value proposition – like BlackBerry with BIS, Apple with its content play and Google with its openness – Ahtisaari says.

Nokia will always stand for a company that crafts beautifully designed, easy to use products with the best communication, cameras and maps/location features. “And we design these to be accessible to people all around the world, at all price points, not just a limited few. In the studio, we are as inspired to design an extraordinary €10 phone as we are a €1 000 one,” he says. So are we at the brink of the turning point for Nokia? Well, ever since the Windows Phone announcement, there’s been a renewed interest and positivity from the market when it comes to Nokia. From my point of view, the company’s on the right track with the N9. And if it can replicate that same level of innovation and polish with its upcoming phone models, it’s poised for a great comeback. at

BY LesLeY stones

Millennium Development Goals

l i a f AfricA

As global humanitarian efforts falter, this continent continues to suffer the most on almost every dimension of poverty. One thing guaranteed to raise cynical eyebrows and sighs of despair from the ICT industry is any involvement by the government. It’s not that the industry craves to be left alone, although it would often fare better that way. It’s also because government promises are rarely followed up by any concrete action, after ambitious aims get mired in talking shops, consultations, committee reviews, workshops, white and green papers and proposed legislation. Until a change of government or a change of heart interrupts everything without much having been achieved. Which is why researching the progress made so far towards achieving goals set out in the UN Millennium Declaration is a pretty discouraging task. The Declaration was made during the Millennium Summit in September 2000, when the largest gathering of world leaders in history committed their nations to a global partnership designed to reduce extreme poverty. Which meant government intervention 190 times over. They grandly devised a series of Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by the deadline of 2015. They even gave them a three-letter acronym, MDGs, to cement their importance. The MDGs are certainly laudable, with overall aims to eradicate extreme poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion from an equitable society. Other goals are to promote gender equality, education and environmental sustainability, and to fulfil the basic right of each person to health, education, shelter and security. What does this have to do with Africa Telecoms? Well, within Goal Number 8, which is to achieve a Global Partnership for Development, subsection 18 stipulates that the benefits of new information and communications technologies should be made available to all. Specific indicators are the number of telephone lines, cellular subscriptions, personal computers and internet access in use by every 100 people to be achieved in cooperation with the private sector. It hardly needs saying that those ambitions have not been reached.

CataLogue of disappointment

Initially some progress was seen in several areas of the MDGs, although much of it was already occurring long before the governments set formal targets. Between 1990 and 2002 average overall incomes increased by 21%, the number of people in extreme poverty declined by 130 million, and child mortality fell from an average of 103 deaths for every 1,000 births to 88. Average life expectancy rose from 63 to nearly 65 years. An additional 8% of people in the developing world received



access to water, and another 15% gained access to improved sanitation services. Most of that occurred before the governments committed to a concerted effort. Since then, progress has been far from uniform around the world, and perhaps little more has been achieved in the recent years of global financial instability. Organisations involved in the Millennium Development Goals admit there are huge disparities between and within countries, and that poverty remains most pronounced in rural areas, although urban poverty is extensive and, inevitably, still growing. “Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicentre of crisis,” notes the 2005 United Nations Yearbook, “with continuing food insecurity, a rise of extreme poverty, stunningly high child and maternal mortality, large numbers of people living in slums, and a widespread shortfall for most of the MDGs. “North Africa has made slow or no progress on some of the Goals and has failed to combat Aids and malaria, reduce child mortality, eradicate extreme hunger and poverty or achieve universal primary education.” This chronicles a sad catalogue of failure. It is no better in sub-Saharan Africa where, between 1990 and 2001, the number of people living on less than $1 a day actually rose from 227 million to 313 million, while the poverty rate rose from 45% to 46%. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of undernourishment in the world, with one-third of the population below the acceptable minimum level. Many countries in the region are crippled by disease, exposed to drought-prone climates, located in areas not suitable for irrigation, face extreme isolation in mountains and landlocked regions, and suffer from poor infrastructure. Since very little had changed since the Goals were first declared, leaders from all 191 UN member states who met for the 2005 World Summit pledged to step up their efforts. Leaders at the G8 Summit simultaneously agreed to double their aid to Africa to $50 billion a year (roughly $70 per African) and to cancel debts for the poorest countries. “Sub-Saharan Africa is at the greatest risk of not achieving the Goals and is struggling to progress on almost every dimension of poverty, including hunger, lack of education, and prevalent disease,” the 2005 Summit declared.

time is running out

By 2010 it was getting repetitive. With a decade gone and only five years left until the 2015 target date, world leaders convened again in 2010 and pledged to accelerate their progress. For the first time in human history, the number of hungry people worldwide had exceeded one billion, the delegates heard. The current sobering global economic outlook was no excuse


Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicentre of crisis, with continuing food insecurity, a rise of extreme poverty, stunningly high child and maternal mortality, large numbers of people living in slums, and a widespread shortfall for most of the MDG’s.

not to deliver, said UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. “We cannot afford to leave the poor even further behind,” he said. According to The Millennium Development Goals Report of 2011, the agreed targets are nowhere near to being achieved. The report confirms that Africa has made the least progress in many categories. In sub-Saharan Africa 51% of people still lived on less than $1.25 a day in 2005, and 3% in North Africa. That won’t have improved much, if at all, since in 2010 unemployment stood at 64% in sub-Saharan Africa and 46% in North Africa. Tragically, a world map shows that Africa has by far the highest undernourishment, affecting 35% or more of its population. “Based on current trends, sub-Saharan Africa will be unable to meet the hunger-reduction target by 2015,” the report says.

some aChievements

On the positive side, sub-Saharan Africa has the best record for improvement in primary school enrolment: at 76% in 2009, up from 58% in 1999. In North Africa it stands at 94%, up from an already high 86% a decade earlier. Even so, of the 67 million children still not in school, almost half —32 million—live in sub-Saharan Africa, despite the region’s strong efforts to increase enrolment. Worldwide, the literacy rate of youths aged 15 to 24 rose from 83% to 89% between 1990 and 2009. North Africa chalked up great progress, with an increase of 19 percentage points. Sub-Saharan Africa showed a rise of seven percentage points, but remains the region with the lowest youth literacy rate at 72%. Of 127 million young people who lack basic reading and writing skills, 47 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet the report praised Burundi, Rwanda, São Tome and Principe, Togo and Tanzania for having made the greatest strides in education by achieving or nearing the goal of universal primary education. Considerable progress has also been made in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique and Niger, where primary school enrolment increased by more than 25 percentage points from 1999 to 2009. On the health front, the largest drops in malaria deaths were in Africa, where 11 countries reduced malaria infections by more than 50%.

Where does iCt stand?

And what of the ICT goals? Well, progress on Goal 8, subsection 18 – the one promising everyone access to the benefits of technology – have not exactly been noteworthy. About 90% of the world’s inhabitants are now covered by a mobile cellular signal. But many Africans can’t afford to actually use it. By the end of 2010, global cellular penetration had reached 76%, and almost one in three people are online. But the statistics are skewed because developed countries boast an average penetration rate of 116%. In the developing world mobile penetration is 68%, but wallows at only 30% in the least developed nations. Still, that’s a huge improvement on the 1% achieved by fixed line penetration. The number of internet users continues to rise, says the 2011 progress report. But again, penetration levels in developing countries remain at a low 21%, and in the least developed nations it’s a shockingly low 3%. Globally, two out of three people are not using the internet, and millions of them live in Africa. Ironically, some of the most promising applications and services to promote economic and social development are those that are delivered over high-speed broadband networks – which are still lacking in countries that need those applications the most. Fixed broadband penetration in the developed world averages 24.6%, compared with a mere 4.4% in the developing world, where it also remains prohibitively expensive.

indireCt heaLth Benefits

Although technology is not reaching everyone, it can still help those it has yet to reach. In August this year, the World Health Organisation launched a web-based tool that gives governments and health care providers clear guidance on how to ramp up their activities to combat malnutrition. The WHO e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA) is designed to help overcome a major challenge in fighting malnutrition: the vast and often conflicting amount of evidence and advice that exists on effective nutritional interventions. The eLENA project prioritises and presents the latest advice on tackling under-nutrition, including vitamin and mineral deficiencies. “To create eLENA, we sifted through thousands of pages of scientific evidence and advice to prioritise, justify and better present the kinds of nutrition actions needed to prevent people succumbing to malnutrition,” said Dr Francesco Branca, WHO’s director of Nutrition for Health and Development. Technology is also helping governments work towards achieving all their other MDGs. Researchers from the University


of Florida have analysed 21 million cellphone calls to track the movements of people in Zanzibar to monitor the spread of malaria. Zanzibar commissioned the study to support a campaign for the total elimination of the disease. The phone calls revealed that most Zanzibar residents who leave the islands make short trips to relatively low-risk Dar es Salaam. But a few hundred residents travel to high-risk areas farther inland, and this tiny minority poses the greatest threat to infection rates. An infected person can spread malaria if they are bitten by a mosquito, which then goes on to bite and infect other people. “That group is the real risk if Zanzibar wants to eliminate malaria,” said Andy Tatem, assistant professor of geography at the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “That is the population group that is likely to be continually reintroducing infection.” The cellphone records contain no identifying information, but reveal the locations of 770,369 customers by showing where each call originates. But this may be another case of using technology for technology’s sake, rather than because it’s useful. The tests didn’t provide any solutions, and left the government pondering the options of giving residents preventative antimalaria treatments before they travel, screening all residents as they return, or targeting the highest-risk travellers. Cellphones are also being used for malaria-prevention work in Nigeria by the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, using a management survey tool (MST). Volunteer interviewers use the MST cellphone software to gather, store, and upload public health information, which can then be quickly analysed. The latest MST surveys are being used to evaluate the impact of a campaign to distribute more than half a million insecticidetreated nets, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Volunteers surveyed 300 households and collated the information to help decision makers act on the results quickly.

viLLage BY viLLage

Another attempt to tackle the Millennium Development Goals saw the creation of Millennium Villages: to end extreme poverty by working with the poorest of the poor, village by village, throughout Africa. The idea was to provide affordable science-based solutions to help people lift themselves out of extreme poverty. The project recognises that information can play an important role in community development. Mothers want to know about the diseases spreading amongst their children, and farmers want to know where to sell their crops. Community leaders want to know what issues are causing the worst social problems. A community-based information system (CBIS) being tested in the villages uses technology to collect community data and distribute it automatically at a low cost, to help people find answers to their questions.

The system can be used to distribute health information; for example, to encourage behavioural changes within the community. If a system is properly set up, it can automatically generate helpful information with clear and simple messages. The use of mobile phones and other technologies to improve health care is a rapidly growing field of study as cellphones are used for data collection, community polling and information transfer in the villages. The Millennium Villages Project also describes and locates each village on a map in a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Millennium Promise, and the United Nations Development Programme. Specific ICT goals for the villages include cellphone access within two kilometres of 80% of households; 80% of households to have access to local community radio where economically viable; data connectivity for institutions in the village; and a community emergency response system. Other goals are to create a network of community-owned rural internet kiosks and to use mobile phones and other technologies to improve health care services. One project in Rwanda is based on the TRACnet Mobile Health Information System developed by a company called Voxiva. The web-based application is accessed by computers or cellphones and lets clinics send information about HIV/Aids patients by sms to a central database using a standard phone with the downloadable application. With TRACnet, health care workers can track and follow up on patients in remote areas with no electricity and little infrastructure. Clinics can also receive the results of lab tests on their phones, send health alerts and drug inventory counts, and download treatment guidelines and training materials.

disaster aWareness

Satellite and mapping technology is also raising awareness of Africa’s other problems, if not actually resolving them. In July this year satellite images showed that drought in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti had left the soil too dry to grow crops, driving tens of thousands of people from their homes in a crisis visible from space. Satellite images confirmed that Somalia’s soil remained dry during the main rainy season, devastating the agricultural industry. Similar images showed that soil moisture was lower than average in areas of Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti, which will have dire consequences as crops fail, livestock dies and people starve in what aid agencies describe as the worst drought in decades. Since the researchers can clearly observe this disaster without actually doing anything to alleviate it, once again technology is confirming that Africa is nowhere near meeting its Millennium Development Goals. at


Microsoft’s developer preview of Windows 8 takes user interfaces in a bold new direction. But is it enough for the Redmond-based software giant to get its mojo back? Brett Haggard went to Anaheim, California for Microsoft’s BUILD developer conference to take a closer look at the future of operating systems.


time’s the charm 40 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 19

When Microsoft’s market-leading Windows operating systems comes up in a discussion about technology today, it’s generally associated with some form of criticism or commentary on how it could be better. But, that’s the curse that comes with the territory of being a market leader. You get to own the entire market share, make a metric ton of money and know you have a customer base that puts everyone else’s to shame. But you have to pass up on the glory of being super innovative and interesting. It’s a funny thing, though. When you’re the super innovative and interesting company, all you want to be is a market leader. And when you’re a market leader, you try everything you can to get your cool back. And occasionally when you get the balance right, as Apple has, you get to be cool, interesting and innovative, while making more money than anyone else. That’s the holy grail of today’s technology companies. But give Microsoft more time. The strategy it’s been pursuing for the past couple of years is a blend of the two ideals that might just work. And if things align just right, it’s setting the stage for a comeback of note.


Start with a phone

The release of Windows Phone – a completely re-thought and re-spun take on organising the information and applications smartphone users enjoy – was the first hint that Microsoft was on the road to recovery.

The release of Windows Phone – a completely re-thought and re-spun take on organising the information and applications smartphone users enjoy – was the first hint that Microsoft was on the road to recovery. Fresh, responsive, visually appealing and with the wholehearted support of the biggest name in the mobile phone world, namely Nokia, Windows Phone will be the platform to watch for the next 12 to 18 months. But as we’ve seen from the whole convergence trend, people like cohesion in their lives – and they don’t only need their information to flow seamlessly across the variety of devices and usage modes they employ on a daily basis. They want things to look, feel and behave the same. It’s the reason Apple is slowly blending its desktop and notebookfocused Mac OS X operating system with its iOS smartphone and tablet operating system. And it’s the same reason that Windows 8 – shortly after the release of the Windows 7 operating system that’s been received so well over the past few years – is incorporating touch, tiles and easy-to-use information sharing. Look how far along the road the two companies are in this process; and note how Microsoft, surprisingly, seems to be ahead of Apple. The colour schemes, look and feel, flow of logic and way applications expose data to users in Windows 8 are almost identical to Windows Phone. This not only builds familiarity, it also sets the perfect platform for what really counts: the services that underpin the devices and UI. The so-called ‘cloud’ services environment is after all where all the money will be spent … and made.

More than Skin deep

Windows 8 isn’t just smartphone-like when it comes to look and feel, though. For starters it boots in an almost


unbelievably short period of time and wakes from sleep in a couple of seconds – just like a smartphone. On boot, users are presented with a lock screen that, much as they would expect on a phone or tablet, displays some of their most relevant information: what’s coming up next in their diary, the number of unread e-mails in their inbox, the number of unread instant messages and their computer’s remaining battery life. Delve a little deeper into the ‘start’ screen – the place where users will launch and interact with the new Windows Phone-like applications that Microsoft has dubbed ‘Metro-style’ applications – and the ‘phoneims’ persist. Icons are a thing of the past when it comes to Metro style. Tiles are the next big thing, since Microsoft says they’re far more expressive than icons ever were. This in layman’s terms means that simply by glancing at the start screen, users will be able to preview content that’s housed within applications pinned there. The amount of information displayed (like previews of the three most recent e-mails in the user’s inbox, or a summary of the weather) is controlled through the ability to resize, drag and group application tiles on different parts of the start screen. The start screen stretches out towards the right of the user interface in an almost movie-reel way. To get to more content, users either gesture to pan across the start screen, or pinch to zoom out (something Microsoft calls ‘semantic zoom’) to get a ‘stepped back’ view of the whole start screen ‘reel’. Because Windows 8 is touch-enabled, launching applications is as simple as touching their application tile. The Metro-style look and feel carries through to the applications, which again strongly resemble the slick, content-rich applications on Windows Phone. The

big difference is of course that there’s a ton more screen real estate to go around in Windows 8. As is the case with smartphone applications, this new style of interface lends itself well to content-rich applications. When active, applications can either be set to fill the entire screen or be ‘snapped’ to a variety of form factors, so more than one application can be viewed or used at a time.

Share alike

The one area in which Windows 8 departs from Windows Phone is in its data handling capabilities, which are nothing short of revolutionary. Through a new universal runtime and some cleaver architectural changes, Microsoft has managed to make content sharable across a wide variety of applications, without them even being aware of each other’s existence. Microsoft enables this through a mechanism called ‘contracts’. Contracts have been described as the clipboard of the future: just as the clipboard helped applications move data around the operating system in previous versions of Windows, so contracts allow for content to move around Windows 8, but with added context. This means a substantial shortening of application development lifecycles. For example, developers can make use of the ‘sharing’ contract to pull information from another application that similarly supports the sharing contract to make its information available. The three contracts Microsoft showed off are sharing, sending and searching. The idea is simple. If a developer wants his application to share its information with other Metro-style applications, he includes a couple of lines of code that define which information is shareable. Similarly, if a developer wants her application to make use of information being shared by another application,

she includes a couple of lines of code stating what kind of information her application is willing to accept. The same goes for sending information (a slightly different contract to sharing) and searching for information. With a couple of lines of generic code, developers are able to choose whether users can send information from their applications (like attaching content to an e-mail, tweet or blog post) or whether the information within their application can be searched. The great big uncomfortable question developers are going to ask is, what about applications that have been designed for the more traditional Windows interface and are not yet updated to Metro style? For compatibility’s sake, Microsoft has kept the desktop interface around. The difference is it’s exposed as an application on its own as opposed to a different graphical environment. Because it looks so vastly different from the start screen and Metro-style applications, however, the unfortunate reality is that it feels as if there are two distinct operating system environments running inside Windows 8. While Microsoft isn’t admitting it, there’s the definite possibility that keeping the desktop around in this way will mean developers don’t get as on board with Metro-style apps as they should, choosing instead to continue developing ‘ugly’ applications for the desktop. Let’s hope Microsoft has the gumption to lean on its developers and make Metro-style apps the priority.

The one area in which Windows 8 departs from Windows Phone is in its data handling capabilities, which are nothing short of revolutionary.

Cloudy with a ChanCe of SynC

‘Cloud’ is one of the most overused (and misused) terms in the technology environment, often simply included in the sales pitch or value proposition of a product to make it sound more applicable to the market’s needs. But looking at some of the things Microsoft is enabling using cloud


technology built into Windows 8, it seems to be the exception to this statement. Most users today have three devices: a primary computing device such as a notebook, a smartphone and a tablet. And some have more than this. Of course the challenge is keeping data, credentials and preferences in sync across all of those devices. With Windows 8 and a Live ID, however, Microsoft reckons this will be a breeze. And SkyDrive, Microsoft’s consumerfocused cloud storage solution, is at the core of this. The SkyDrive integration built into Windows 8 allows for all forms of information to seamlessly propagate across all of a user’s devices, provided each of those devices has the same Live ID. That means, if a user’s profile picture changes on one machine, it automatically changes on all of the others. The same holds true for the personalised aspects of the operating system, such as the user’s choice of desktop wallpapers, images shown on the lock screen and, obviously, security credentials.

What is really powerful, however, is the SkyDrive-powered photo reel Microsoft will enable with Windows 8. Really simple but hugely effective, this feature allows a user to take a photo on their tablet, smartphone or any other Live-enabled device, and for that photo to automatically be synchronised with a cloud-based photo reel that’s present on all devices. While data can easily be synchronised with SkyDrive, there’s often data lying around on a home PC that might not be important enough for storage and backup on SkyDrive. Again, this is where the Live ID comes to the rescue. By simply having the same Live ID present on two machines, users will be able to access all data on a remote PC’s hard disk – all via the cloud.

windowS Store

The last topic Microsoft has brought to light by lifting the wraps on Windows 8 is an online store developers can use to sell their wares. This Windows store is modelled heavily on the store it currently houses and sells Windows Phone


applications through – only on a much bigger scale. While a developer will conceivably be able to publish an application and have it available in the store within a day of completing final development on it (something Microsoft sees as a big differentiator), the Windows store will also offer try-before-you-buy periods and gives developers access to deep analytics on their application’s storefront.

and now?

All in all, Windows 8 is a compelling product. It looks great, enables new functionality and fits perfectly into the other products within Microsoft’s stable that users are having a great experience with – namely Xbox, Xbox LIVE, the Zune Marketplace, Windows Live and of course Windows Phone. The reality is that Microsoft is sitting on a wealth of powerful properties in the market. It needs a PC operating system to bring it all together. Technically, Windows 7 could be that today. But Windows 8 looks so much more appealing ... at


As a leading supplier of infrastructure solutions and value-added services to telecommunication operators, Teligent Telecom supports its customers worldwide with network services, call completion solutions, enterprise services, mass calling systems and real-time charging enablers. All are based on the patented Teligent P90/E, a true single platform architecture for service development. Leading operators worldwide have deployed Teligent Telecom’s solutions in various configurations, including BT, Maroc Telecom, SingTel, SMART/ PLDT, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Telmob, Mauritel, Verizon, Vodafone and Telekom Malaysia. Teligent Telecom has local offices in Sweden (HQ), UK, Germany, France, USA, Morocco, Singapore, Philippines and Malaysia.

Windows 8, looks great, enables new functionality and fits perfectly into the other products within Microsoft’s stable that users are having a great experience with – namely Xbox, Xbox LIVE, the Zune Marketplace, Windows Live and of course Windows Phone.

44 AFRICA TELECOMS Issue 19 • Phone +46 (0)8 520 66000


evolving payments


Economic, social and geographic challenges continue to drive diversification and growth of mobile and electronic payments platforms and services across Africa. As merchants, banks and legislators seek to provide ‘access to all’ irrespective of location or status, it can be argued that true enablement will be driven by increased investment in card and mobile-based retail and financial services and the arrival of NFC. With the total value of mobile money transfers in Africa expected to exceed $200 billion by 2015, it is no surprise that wireless is the crucial infrastructure for payments. In many developing regions, including Africa, the availability of formal financial services is limited to certain geographic and income ranges, often leaving the majority of the population to depend on unreliable and costly informal channels. Wireless effectively provides the connectivity to enable and support electronic payments – from peer to peer, consumer to merchant, merchant to acquirer. Companies like VeriFone are already working with local resellers across the continent to ensure that access to the robust, reliable and secure acceptance infrastructure is in place to create new POS and payments platforms that can exploit mobile payments, including NFC.


New approaches to paymeNts

VeriFone sales and marketing director Tony Saunders outlines the importance of wireless in terms of connecting POS and facilitating payments in remote areas: “With more than 500 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa, the potential for new mobile based payment technologies such as NFC is immense. New players, greater connectivity and enabling technology are creating innovative ways for consumers to buy, for merchants to sell and for financial institutions to reach their customers via electronic transactions – bringing noncash payments to rural populations and financial services to the unbanked.” He adds: “The success of M-Pesa in Kenya has demonstrated that mobile financial services can benefit consumers and mobile operators, and can provide benefits to the greater payments ecosystem. Moreover, because there are important social and economic benefits to mobile financial services, governments and international institutions are encouraging their development.” But Saunders also points out: “At the same time there are important issues and challenges they need to address. It is vital when moving into rural areas and establishing mobile payments that operators offer local presence and support and are prepared to work in partnership with those in the payments chain. And it’s not just about enabling rural services – there is much work to be done in mature retail markets. According to Saunders: “While Africa’s large retailers want to expand into new territories and increase sales channels they need to keep operational overheads low and minimise risk. They also want to create easier access and more convenient ways to buy. We are already helping African retailers explore new intuitive POS devices designed to enhance the customer experience; exploit contactless for greater connectivity throughout; and drive

Africa’s trailblazing progress in microfinance, peer-to-peer payments and mobile services will be able to evolve into a wider payments infrastructure that will help unshackle many Africans from cash only payments.


mobile check-outs and wireless connectivity to take sales to new locations – even unattended and kiosk based solutions to reduce resourcing and sell 24/7. All of these have the potential to transform the African retail landscape.”

will NFc succeed iN aFrica?

There is much global debate about what NFC means to mobile payments. Many predict it will finally lead to the realisation of the m-wallet. However, to fulfil this potential requires new NFC enabled payment devices, or existing POS systems to be upgraded. VeriFone believes retail not consumer acceptance will be the real challenge for NFC in Africa. Saunders explains: “It isn‘t just an issue of adding an NFC reader: it requires deep software richness at the point-of-sale to interact with the smartphone and manage a services-based model encompassing new applications and deployments without disrupting operation of existing card systems.” With VeriFone devices on the majority of merchant countertops and in checkout lanes of multilane retailers, the company is at the epicentre of the NFC ecosystem and is investing heavily to provide the infrastructure required to make NFC in Africa a reality at the point-of-sale. Making it work is a complex task, according to Saunders. “Enabling NFC payments and non-payment applications requires acceptance devices for a wide variety of environments and a secure software that provides integration of payment with value-added online services. More than this though, it also requires a vision of how to ensure that merchants – from the largest to the smallest – can easily migrate to this new era with the confidence that their investments today will be viable as new capabilities and payment services come on-stream.”

steps to NFc eNablemeNt

From its years of experience working with retailers to

implement payment technologies and adapt to changing security requirements, VeriFone has set out the following guidelines for making mobile based payments a reality: 1.





Mobile commerce must add value to the consumer. Tapping a phone is a gimmick, no different from tapping a card or fob. In addition to providing the ability to pay for goods and services by phone, service providers and retailers need to provide real additional value — such as coupons, loyalty rewards and discounts — for consumers to leave their wallets at home. Mobile commerce must be streamlined with existing POS services and managed well for the retailer. Retailers won’t tolerate the need for multiple methods of acceptance to accommodate what will become a wide array of mobile commerce schemes. All ideas, regardless of where or who generates them, must converge at a unified point-of-sale. Mobile commerce must go from zero to 90 mph in five seconds. Consumers will not embrace mobile commerce without the confidence that it is being widely accepted. If it only works at a few select retailers, it dies a quick death. Ten percent acceptance is not sustainable. Mobile commerce must be integrated with other forms of payment. Mobile commerce won’t lead to the quick death of plastic cards and must work with existing payment systems that are certified by all major processors and installed in the vast majority of large and small retailers. Mobile commerce must be ironclad secure. Security, both real and perceived, is imperative to the adoption and sustainability of mobile commerce. Even minor setbacks in security could compromise consumer adoption and stop the movement in its tracks.

maiNtaiNiNg security & compliaNce

While regulations vary from country to country and impact which services can be offered, by whom and in which way, operators, financial institutions and payments providers must work in harmony to ensure consistently secure and reliable platforms for African customers. Combating fraud remains a high priority. While EMV (Chip & PIN) and PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance are being used in many areas of the world to reduce fraud and ensure data security, in Africa there is still work to be done. One way to address this is to utilise advanced end-to-end encryption and tokenisation to safeguard the payments chain. Biometrics can be used to offer additional identity based security.

impact outside retail

Fast, efficient and convenient transportation systems are a key infrastructure goal across Africa. Self-service, kiosk and unattended payment solutions are ready to be used on toll-roads, rail networks, underground, parking and petrol installations in major cities. Saunders confirms: “VeriFone’s advanced GPRS technology payments systems are especially suited to Africa’s developing payments market, where a constant online communication channel between the merchant and financial institution is the key to fast and secure transactions.” As 2011 progresses, Saunders has a clear vision of how the African market is evolving: “Africa’s trailblazing progress in micro-finance, peer-to-peer payments and mobile services will be able to evolve into a wider payments infrastructure that will help unshackle many Africans from cash only payments. The ‘choice’ to access electronic payments, from any location at any time, will drive new opportunities for growth, trade and personal security. Partnership, innovation and local knowledge will remain crucial to making this vision a reality.” at or


Mobilising In a surprisingly effective and sustainable humanitarian revolution, wireless phone technology is transforming our continent. By Hloniphizwe Coleman

In the western world, when people speak of mobile phones, it is common for them to refer to the social revolution, a change in the way that people share and communicate. In Africa, however, it is more accurate to think in terms of a truly radical mobile revolution. Nowhere else on earth are these unique technological innovations impacting more vigorously on quality of life and practicality. Mobile phone services, unlike basic sanitation or electrification infrastructure, do not require political or governmental drive for implementation. Telecom entrepreneurs and communities alike across Africa have been able to establish and then extensively utilise mobile phone technologies in a rapidly expanding symbiosis. This has created a technology and information rich ecosystem that is cheap, self-reliant and efficient. Most importantly, the mobile phone in Africa has become a platform for innovation


in a plethora of sectors, including health and civic management, trade and empowerment initiatives. Telecommunications and more specifically mobile phones have changed how we as a race do business, communicate, express ourselves and prioritise our lives. They have helped us become more efficient and enabled us to communicate on a global scale. Nowhere are these benefits more noticeable than in Africa. Historically, African countries have always been on the back foot in three fields: basic infrastructure, entertainment industries and applications of current technologies. With the advent of mobile phones, African citizens have not only been able to remain globally competitive, but can even begin to take the lead in revolutionary technology developments.

Internet writer Robin Browne notes: “Places like Africa might jump right over the industrial age and go directly from agricultural to information economies.” Developing countries now represent the majority of mobile phone users: 2.4 billion out of five billion users worldwide. In February 2009, Africa surpassed the number of mobile phone users in the US and Canada combined, having 340 million users with a growth rate of 70 million per year. The billionth Nokia handset to be sold was a Nokia 1110 purchased in Nigeria; and this specific phone was designed to be dustproof for use in developing countries. Africa additionally has the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world: Kenya. While only 20% of the country has electricity, mobile phone saturation is at 50% and growing. Part of the reason for this is the lack of broadband infrastructure, and so mobile phones have become the primary tool through which many people in Africa access the internet. This type of innovation is most evident in Kenya where local entrepreneurs have found hundreds of practical uses for mobile phones. These men and women exploit every feature of today’s technology rich mobile devices; this is in

great contrast to western users where mobile phone banking – among other mobile phone orientated services – is either limited or non-existent. For example, many African fishermen and women use their phones to access real time market information to determine where to sell their catch. Mobile phones have also lessened the stress of job-hunting, with labourers leaving their telephone numbers with prospective employers. Previously, workers lost many days’ worth of wages physically waiting at a single company, often only to be turned down. With many Africans now doing their banking, shopping, and business on their phones, mobile phones are widely utilised. Thousands of three to four minute mobile videos are consumed daily, with mobile phones becoming the primary platform for both news and entertainment. This has led to the creation of mobile video networks such as Vodacom-owned Zoopy, a South African competitor in a booming industry that would not exist without mobile phones. Graduates are now able to check their marks using a mobile phone and their ID number. When a person applies for an ID or passport, they receive updates as to the progress of their

Hloniphizwe Coleman is a 17-year-old Constantia Waldorf student in Cape Town, interested in politics, technology, social networking and aviation. Having cut his writing teeth on game reviews, he follows technology developments with avid interest. Hloni is a member of the Cape Gliding Club and aspires to compete in the national championships.

application and a prompt when the document is ready for collection. The mobile phone has become a platform on which African men and women can find or create simple solutions to their personal day-to-day problems. Mobile phones have also enabled governments to both collect data and roll out services to their populations. This is mostly seen in the health sector, with initiatives ranging from HIV/Aids awareness to remote diagnosis utilising mobile phones’ ability to send information in real time. Africa holds 24% of the world’s ill and diseased people and yet it is home to less that 2% of the world’s health practitioners. While initially used for health awareness programmes, mobile phone technology has also improved efficiencies in healthcare. Mobile phone use has already proven itself by improving decision making by health professionals and patients: facilitating the diagnosis and tracking of disease; providing timelier, more actionable public health information; and crucially, offering expanded access to ongoing medical education and training for health workers. More initiatives are exploring the use of mobile phone

technologies to reduce health disparities, promote access and cost-saving, and provide overall support to existing workflows in the health sector, and between doctor and patient. Another very popular mobile orientated initiative in areas lacking electricity is the mobile payphone. These payphones are owned by community members who buy airtime from various national networks and then charge customers for calls. In 2009 it was reported that 97% of Tanzanians had access to this type of community payphone, despite the lack of electricity in much of the country. As these phones use wireless connections – which means that they are far easier to set up compared with their fixed line counterparts – they also do not require fixed electrical lines. These innovations and utilisations have shown the importance of efficient and inexpensive infrastructure models. They have set new precedents and changed mindsets when it comes to establishing infrastructure and services in today’s developing countries. The mobile phone has become a self-implanted and selfmanaged tool that is playing an indispensable role in Africa’s poverty alleviation. AT





Pie in the sky


Broadband World Forum / Alcatel-Lucent Report

possibility? The challenge is to develop new deployment technologies that will make broadband more affordable on a global scale

BY LesLeY stones

The massive gap that already exists between the quality of telecommunications in Africa and the quality of telecoms in developed nations is in danger of growing even wider, judging by discussions at this year’s Broadband World Forum (BBWF). Although there is a universal demand for faster speeds, lower prices and anytimeanywhere access, many ICT vendors are now focusing on technologies that are irrelevant to Africa due to its dearth of fixed line infrastructure. One major theme at BBWF in Paris in September was the ability to deliver faster broadband more cheaply by sending it down the copper wires that most developed countries have as part of their existing telecoms networks.




Vectoring tech

Alcatel-Lucent is pioneering a way of capitalising on copper by using a technology called vectoring. “We need more broadband in our daily lives and we need much higher speeds,” said John O’Connell, head of wireline fixed access for Alcatel-Lucent. “To deliver TV or the internet “The services our customers want to and gaming you need high offer their customers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, like video speeds and that’s when you on demand. In areas where there is need to invest in copper or copper the opportunity to leverage it is fibre. For Africa it will be enormous.” The company’s vectoring technology fibre to the home for fixed eliminates ‘noise’ on the copper broadband services, but the infrastructure to let data be transmitted at speeds of 100Mb and more. A third operators will use wireless for of DSL lines around the world are as long as they can.” connected by Alcatel-Lucent, O’Connell use just won’t be able to cope as more users said, and three quarters of those could be come on board and demand broadband reached by vectoring technologies within five years. services for data transfers, video clips and gaming. The target market is incumbent operators, because for vectoring “The good news for developing economies is that the labour to work well it needs to be applied by the company that owns all costs are not so high,” he said. “The cost of installing fibre to the the copper bundles, rather than by operators who simply lease home isn’t the cost of the cables: it’s digging up the streets that’s some lines through local loop unbundling agreements. expensive. If you are starting from scratch you would typically Belgian operator Belgacom has been testing vectoring in build fibre. For greenfield sites, fibre is going to be the approach its domestic market with great success. It’s running fibre to its for getting broadband to the home, in addition to wireless.” telecoms street cabinets, then running DSL over the last mile of Gulyani said many African countries had progressed quickly copper because that is far cheaper and easier than laying fibre to using wireless technologies, because they are much cheaper to the home. It also provides more efficient dedicated bandwidth to install than fibre. “The last mile to the user is wireless so you individual customers than they would get if they shared a wireless don’t have to dig trenches; and it’s a lot faster and a lot lower cost. connection. But there’s only so much capacity and it’s shared by all the users “The advantage is that copper runs to every home and isn’t on that cell site. As the traffic grows you can add another cell, a shared facility, so having other users in the area also drawing but if you want to deliver megabits per second capacity per user, down bandwidth doesn’t affect the performance like it would if wireless can’t sustain that. If a few people turn on high definition they were sharing a wireless access service,” O’Connell said. TVs nobody else will have any access. You get spectrum exhaust.” “Deploying fibre is very expensive and you have to dig up streets To progress beyond basic services the operators need a to get it to the home. Customers are not keen to dig up their fixed infrastructure, he said, but if their main offering is voice gardens so customer acceptance isn’t there.” telephony, some text and a little social networking, that can be Cleaning up the copper wires to carry higher bandwidth could sustained by a wireless network. “To deliver TV or the internet reach people in a quarter of the time and was three times more and gaming you need high speeds and that’s when you need to economical than fibre to the home, he said. invest in copper or fibre. For Africa it will be fibre to the home for fixed broadband services, but the operators will use wireless for as long as they can.” soLutions for AfricA Wireless networks can reach a lot of people quickly at a So what about Africa, where most countries have incredibly little or no fixed line infrastructure? Africa needs solutions that relatively low cost, while fixed lines generally target higher deliver broadband to the cellphones that are far more common income, high density areas. “But over time you need to build a complementary fixed structure as well,” said Gulyani. “As you communication tools than unaffordable computers? Countries that lack a copper infrastructure will have to go need more bandwidth per person and everybody wants to watch with fibre, says Manish Gulyani, director of IP business services YouTube on their phone the capacity runs out.” One solution is to install smaller cells that serve just 10 to strategy for Alcatel-Lucent. “The wireless networks we currently




20 customers, not hundreds or thousands. “We have a small cell strategy with micro cells for the home and metro cells for shopping malls or stadiums where one macro base station isn’t enough,” he said. The cells are the same size as a Rubik’s Cube, and several can be combined and installed on a wall in a shopping centre to boost local connectivity. Gulyani said one reason why so many governments are developing national broadband initiatives is because the social economic growth of countries is tied to broadband access for all. Governments must create regulatory environments that stimulate competition and put pressure on the incumbent to offer better services.

BroAdBAnd At AnY price?

However, the Australian government has taken its broadband policy too far, many people believe, including outspoken critic Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s shadow MP for communications and broadband. The Labour government has taken the unusual step of deciding to build its own National Broadband Network (NBN), and to decommission the existing Telstra network and bar other companies from offering broadband services. While most countries are encouraging private sector projects, the NBN is being built entirely by the government with an investment that dwarfs the plans of any other country. But that’s not something Turnbull is proud of. The budget is Aus$37 billion, although some analysts say it will climb much higher and probably hit Aus$60 to $80 billion. “Other countries are investing much less. Other countries are seeking to encourage competition – but in Australia it will be a fixed line monopoly,” Turnbull said. The justification put forward for banning competition is to

Broadband World Forum / Alcatel-Lucent Report ensure the NBN succeeds by playing in a protected environment, which is a throwback to the archaic thinking of several generations ago, Turnbull said. The unorthodox decision would give Australia the most expensive anti-competitive broadband network in the world. “It was born out of frustration that Telstra wasn’t delivering broadband to the home. It was probably conceived on the back of a napkin.” Citizens expect politicians who make such decisions to do their homework and deliver services in the most cost-effective way – and not to finance anything before conducting cost-benefit studies. Yet the government had not done any such studies and had not even analysed which technologies would be most cost effective. “This failure to do a cost-benefit analysis lies at the core of a political furore in Australia because nobody has been consulted. Are they so confident in their own innate genius as to believe this is correct and every other country is wrong? It’s embarrassing to visit other countries where the governments decry it because they are trying to encourage competition,” Turnbull told the BBWF. The most contentious part of the NBN was a plan to lay fibre to the home, which meant disrupting existing communities. Moreover, consumers around the world have shown reluctance to pay a premium for high-speed access, and will settle for a more modestly priced package if it gets the job done. Every government had to ensure people in rural areas received access to telecoms services, but the major objective for a broadband policy should be to ensure that access was affordable, Turnbull said. “The NBN in Australia offers little prospect of that. It will use its monopoly position to charge what it likes. It would be absurd if after a massive investment like this consumers end up paying more for broadband.”

It would be absurd if after a massive investment like this consumers end up paying more for broadband.


He suggested that governments should provide subsidies to encourage private players to reach areas where it is not economical to provide broadband, rather than tackle that mammoth project themselves. “Starry eyed politicians and staggeringly expensive technologies are a dangerous mix. Blind commitment to broadband is dangerous and expensive and results in very bad policy decisions,” he said.

from KAnsAs to the worLd

Google’s general manager of access, Kevin Lo, agreed that government interference in the telecoms sector was generally unwise and unwelcome. “If this concept is so important, why are we asking the government to do it?” Lo asked. Google itself is about to become a broadband access provider through a trial project to roll out fibre to the home in Kansas. Kansas was chosen after a national search saw thousands of communities clamouring to be the chosen site. Part of the reason Google picked Kansas was because it didn’t have any prohibitive bylaws and regulations that would have made the rollout unfeasible in other cites. “Regulations can sometimes get in the way of innovation and make broadband investments rather difficult,” Lo said. Examples are the access to rights of way and the ability to run fibre lines along street poles rather than dig up the roads. Lo said there were 560 million broadband subscribers globally, which was only 8% of the population. That low figure had spurred the US government to issue a National Broadband Plan to increase the amount of access in America and to eventually supply consumers with 100 times faster access than they have today. In China, 10% of the population now has broadband access, while Africa and the Middle East combined share a meagre 3% of broadband users. “The biggest challenge we face in the spread of broadband is affordability,” Lo said. “We need to develop new deployment technologies that cut costs and make it affordable for all, which is one of the reasons for our Kansas experiment. We fully intend to share this experience across the world to help inform and support deployments everywhere.”

LiquiditY through Ae

As the type of services that people require evolves, the networks need to evolve with them, said Bosco Novak, chief of customer operations for Nokia Siemens Networks. This year video will become the most common form of network traffic, he said, but people were not prepared to pay high prices for it. “The economic models of today won’t work in two years’ time. We are building the wrong networks,” Novak said. “They work for what they are supposed to do and deliver the services consumers want, but they are not optimised in a way that follows services and demands. We have to start rethinking and be much more dynamic. We haven’t yet built networks that match the flow

and energy of communications in our society.” Novak said peak and off-peak changes in traffic meant parts of the network go from being heavily underused to heavily overused. “In the future, connectivity must be designed to take those fluctuations into account and distribute the resources to meet the demand. We call them liquid networks because liquidity is what we need.” One solution being developed by Alcatel-Lucent should let operators save money and use their spectrum more efficiently. Instead of configuring base stations with an antenna, radio and digital processor in them, operators can backhaul the signals to be processed at a centrally located digital processor. This is useful in areas which experience congestion at certain times and lulls at other times, such as office blocks or along rush-hour traffic routes, where the digital processing units stand idle outside peak hours. By running digital processors at a central location, fewer are needed, but they are kept continually busy. Cassidy Shield, head of marketing for Alcatel-Lucent’s content, cloud and communications division, said this cloud computing method of virtualising the processing equipment ensured that capacity was always available where and when it was needed. His division is also helping the more cutting-edge operators to explore new business models. One initiative is Application Enablement (AE), or what Shield describes as the ‘democratisation of innovation’. Basically it calls for the operator to make assets such as its subscriber database and its connectivity services available to third party application developers. Instead of the operator having in-house researchers devising, testing and launching new applications, AE encourages entrepreneurs or other businesses to create new services to run on its networks. That is already happening with banking applications developed by third parties, and services that send special offers to consumers in a certain location. The systems can also let subscribers pay for goods they are offered by adding the fee to their phone bill, rather than needing a credit card, which will allow unbanked people to buy services too. So far this cooperation was only happening on a relatively small scale, Shield said. “Traditionally the operators offer applications they have dreamed up and researched and developed, and it can take 12 months to reach the market. AE means taking your assets and engaging with other people who build applications you are not going to build yourself, and the carrier gets paid for providing the information and access,” he said. “The operator has to embrace a new business model and needs to be comfortable building a new ecosystem of players. Our role is to be the technology intermediary to connect the banks or other application developers to the carriers. From a brand perspective it’s very valuable if you are reaching an audience that actually wants to hear from you, and that’s the whole promise of AE,” he said. “Operators need to think about how to open up their capabilities for the future to ensure that they survive.” At


Data caps:


with care! Let’s imagine a plan with constraints that apply to peak times only, but allows unlimited access the rest of the time. By Monica Paolini


I have argued for a long time that unlimited data plans are unsustainable – or basically that they are marketing fiction, because available wireless capacity is unfailingly limited, and subscribers cannot escape that fact no matter what operators tell them. And they have all experienced that reality when their connection becomes unbearably slow, or the device fails even to connect. Yet, after looking more closely at data usage, I have come to the conclusion that data caps are not an effective way to manage the traffic congestion that unlimited plans threaten to bring. In fact, they are likely to leave traffic congestion unaffected or perhaps make it worse, even as operators keep overall traffic levels under control. I am certainly not advocating to get rid of traffic caps. Operators need to have some way to protect their networks from abuse, and to ensure that all subscribers have fair access to network resources. Caps prevent the few data hogs among us from ruining the experience for everybody else. It is when traffic caps are used extensively to control traffic or are used as the main tool to differentiate data plans that concerns me, as they will have an impact on how subscribers use the service. How should we expect subscribers to change their behaviour in response to more restrictive traffic caps that operators like Verizon have started to actively enforce? My first guess is that subscribers will overreact. While only a small percentage of subscribers is affected by traffic caps, many more think they are. This is simply due to the fact that most subscribers do not know how much data they are using (and if

pressed they often overestimate use) and that to avoid additional charges or to be left without allowance they will reduce their data consumption. Of course, having subscribers constantly worried as to whether they can afford to watch a YouTube video or post a photo is not good for business. It reduces the value subscribers attach to the service. More importantly, however, I expect subscribers to react selectively to traffic limitations. To extract more value from their data plans, subscribers are likely to increase data usage during peak time, and, to compensate, they are willing to cut less important activities during off-peak times. Subscribers will still post photos to Facebook, look at a funny video as they wait for the bus, or use Skype for a video call. However, they may cut usage from home or office, unless they have Wi-Fi there (and in this case their traffic is already offnetwork); or keep down the number of installed applications and avoid frequent updates; or generally avoid all the data traffic that is deemed to be less important or that can be carried over a different device/data channel (eg, desktop in the office, or Wi-Fi tablet at home). Effectively, this translates into higher percentage of the monthly traffic concentrated during peak time and lower usage during off-peak time. The higher usage at peak hour is driven by the fact that most people find it more desirable to use their service at that time – this is why it is peak-hour in the first place! In absence of strict caps, we expect subscribers to generate more traffic, but also to do so more spontaneously, without having to worry whether they should go to their desktop or tablet to see a video, instead of using their smartphone. As a result, I would expect that overall traffic consumption goes up, but traffic at peak would remain largely unaffected as this is not the traffic that subscribers are trying to reduce. In fact, awareness of tight traffic constraints may even drive peak-hour usage up as subscribers try to maximize value of their plans. Let’s look at this from a network perspective. Operators only


It is not the overall monthly data traffic volume by a subscriber, but when and where it is generated that is crucial.

MB/month/subscriber (average)


1 000



30% 25%




15% 10%




Overall traffic increase over base case


1 200

0% Source: Senza Fili Consulting

Peak -5% Average +20%

Peak -10% Average +40%


care about peak traffic. They dimension (and pay for) their network deployments based on forecasted peak traffic. During off-peak times, the networks are inevitably underutilised – and during that time, network capacity is effectively free and abundant. Vodafone stated that their network utilisation is 35% in Europe. Most operators do not release this data, but in the US network utilisation is likely to be even lower than this. If traffic caps do not impact peak-hour traffic, they are not effective at reducing traffic congestion, which is a peakhour occurrence. To make things worse, they curtail off-peak traffic, when the marginal cost of carrying additional traffic is extremely low. It is a losing proposition for the operator and the subscriber alike. It is not the overall monthly data traffic volume by a subscriber, but when and where it is generated that is crucial. Operators would be better off with higher traffic volumes, as long as they are not during peak hours.


Peak -15% Average +60%

Peak -20% Average +80%


Let’s imagine that subscribers have a plan with caps that apply to peak times only and unlimited access at other times. During off-peak times, a green dot appears on the smartphone and subscribers know that this indicates that their data usage does not count against their data allowance. In this case, we would expect overall higher data consumption, but more diluted throughout the day. The figure below shows what may happen in this scenario, with different rates of peak/off-peak substitution, assuming that the increase in non-peak traffic will be four times as large as the decrease in peak traffic. Starting from a base case of a usage of 1 GB/month (current average usage is around 500 MB, and with the current traffic growth rates, average traffic per month will probably hit the 1 GB mark next year in the US), the overall traffic grows, up to 38%, while the peak traffic decreases. This is a much better prospect for both the operators, who see their network utilisation go up, and for the subscribers, who are freed from some of the traffic caps constraints. AT



n e. c

o. za/ su b s





a w.africatele




+27 21 42 65 5


iptions@ bscr 3ip su u






The first fully integrated monthly publication aimed at all stakeholders within the African ITC environment. The Africa Telecoms website provides further coverage and extended reach. The site is updated daily and features all the latest news on the African Telecoms landscape. Africa Telecoms has an audience reach across the entire African continent, the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

• • •

The magazine strives to bring its readership fair, balanced and stimulating news, in addition to articles by the top players in telecommunications in Africa. The magazine is published 11 times a year. Articles from the Continent’s Thought Leaders and Innovators Africa Telecoms is the first African publication to be audited by BPA Worldwide.

with Alan Knott Craig Jnr, Chief Executive Officer for World of Avatar

This issue of Africa Telecoms is focusing on North Africa and the Millennium Development Goals. Although these topics are not directly related to your field of expertise, your thoughts would be appreciated on events in Egypt and how social media is affecting Africa. Keep in mind that this is just my opinion, but I think there are three ingredients for political change. Information. Internet. Social networks. Information has always been there, but has been bottled up due to lack of distribution networks. The Internet has arrived via the mobile phone, solving the distribution problem. Social networks are the glue that lets people speak to one another, share information and organize community protests. Once social networks reach critical mass in a country it is impossible for governments to suppress information.

Goal 8 of the Millennium Development Goals is “A global partnership for development” and as a sub goal, 8f relates to the goal of increasing the number of connections per 100 members of the general population. Considering the Africa Telecoms market place, do you think that fixed line broadband and communications will ever reach the levels as seen in developed markets? And if so, what do you think this time frame will be?

No. Fixed line is not a plausible solution for Africa. In any case, why would you want it? Copper costs money to buy, install and maintain. So does fibre. The wireless revolution has leap-frogged fixed line technologies, allowing Africa to leapfrog the world.

Another hotly debated topic in South Africa at the moment is the Local Loop Unbundling (LLU). As the previous MD of iBurst (a wireless broadband provider) what impact do you think LLU will have on the SA market place? Then, importantly, some pundits are saying that it could have a negative effect on service delivery. Do you agree? LLU is the single most important regulatory step to be taken


to improve the quality of fixed line connectivity in SA. I don’t like the idea of regulators messing with the market, but there are some obvious areas for intervention – like managing spectrum, which is a scarce resource, and stopping monopolies from abusing their power. The DSL infrastructure (indeed most of the fixed infrastructure) of SA was installed using mostly taxpayer money back in the days when Telkom was still a parastatal. It makes complete sense that this backbone be opened up for access by all willing parties.

Social media is playing an increasingly active role in our daily lives. Do you think social media is here to stay? And how do you see this evolving in the future?

Social media is the future. It provides the glue to connect people from all over the country, continent and world. In an SA context it will evolve into richer content (photos, videos). I think the three major trends for social media in the coming decade are mobile phones, m-commerce, and privacy. Everything will be over the mobile. Social networks will act as the logical platforms for m-commerce. And finally, most importantly, the user’s right to privacy will emerge as the single greatest factor when choosing a network.

World of Avatar recently announced a major acquisition, having purchased MXit, the South African-born social media network. What was the rationale behind this acquisition? MXit is the largest digital social network in Africa. It is focused on the middle to bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. It is a thriving community. We believe this platform presents an opportunity for connecting all Africans via a medium which is built for their needs, rather than the needs of people living in San Francisco.

How will MXit add value to the current stable of companies owned by World of Avatar?

Apart from the advantage of having such a large, trusted partner within the group, there is no advantage per se. The other companies will interact with MXit in an arm’s length manner, but will clearly benefit from the trusted relationships brought about by common shareholding.

There has been much speculation about the price of this acquisition and the unsubstantiated amount of R500 million has been quoted by Memeburn. Will World of Avatar disclose actual acquisition value at the time that the transaction is completed? The share sale agreement precludes us from disclosing the

With Naspers having exited MXit but retaining their holding in Tencent QQ, do you have any speculation as to why this decision was made? I have an idea, but would suggest you ask them rather.

MXit is reportedly the largest social media network in Africa. How does MXit’s numbers (specifically looking at number of messages, time spent on the portal and number of African subscribers) compare with global giants like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? MXit has 42 million registered customers globally, 25% of whom are active. The average active customer spends 45 hours per month on MXit. The last quoted stat I saw from Facebook stated that their average customer engages for 15 hours per month. MXit handles over 700 million messages per day. The last quoted stat I saw for Twitter stated 200 million messages per day. Based on any interpretation of the above, MXit has an enormously engaged customer base and handles a tremendous volume of messages (over three times more than Twitter). Of course the threat posed by international giants is real and dangerous and we will work to negate them.

MXit started primarily as an Instant Messaging (IM) service. Is this correct? And what is the full service offering today? To all intents and purposes, MXit is still an IM platform.

Currently with products like BBM from BlackBerry and other IM services like WhatsApp, Facebook Chat, Google Talk and

the rest, how does MXit plan to differentiate itself from these market players?

MXit has the advantage of already having the largest market share. Further, its competitive advantage in feature phones and an understanding of the African market gives it an edge on international competition. Of course, there are some weaknesses with the MXit smartphone apps, and we will work on these posthaste.

Is MXit supported by mobile operators in the markets it operates in or is there hesitancy from them due to the potential loss of sms revenue?

MXit is supported in general by mobile operators because it is seen as generating large data revenues, as well as being an ideal starter app for new users of the mobile web.

What are MXit’s main revenue drivers? Content and advertising.

MXit has reportedly been working on a Wallet system. How close is MXit to launching an m-banking styled product to enable commerce directly through MXit? It is already available, although the fully functional system will only be ready by Q2 2012.

You will be taking over as CEO of MXit from the founder and current CEO, Herman Heunis. Do you foresee any major changes being implemented in future with regards to MXit’s long term strategy?

Herman Heunis did an incredible job in building MXit into the great African success story it is today. I have no intention of changing a course that has proven so successful to date. However, I do have some new ideas around partnerships, as well as a personal desire to see MXit become the de facto IM app for smartphones. AT

MXit has 42 million registered customers globally, 25% of whom are active. MXit handles over 700 million messages per day.


purchase consideration. Suffice it to say that all figures quoted in the press are pure speculation.




Africa Telecoms events calendar October 2011 - May 2012


mAnAgement worLD AsIA 2012


7th AnnuAL DIgItAL broADcAstIng swItchover forum


mobILe worLD congress


october 05-06

Helen Moroney: +44 148 088 077


north AfrIcA com


Ict LeADers summIt

Tunis, TUnIsIA


Kate Mitchell: +1 617 259 2320

Ledia Ariza: +41 22 730 52 07


Helen Moroney: +44 148 088 0774


6th AnnuAL e-gov AfrIcA forum 2012

Helen Moroney: +44 148 088 0774

AfrIcA com

eAst AfrIcA com Louisa Rogers: +44 (0)20 7017 5157

AItec bAnkIng & mobILe money west AfrIcA 2012 west & centrAL AfrIcA com


vAs AfrIcA


teLecoms worLD AfrIcA


sAtcom AfrIcA

Tunis, TUnIsIA

future events submArIne networks worLD AfrIcA

north AfrIcA com


the tv show AfrIcA


mobILe AsIA congress

Helen Moroney: +44 148 088 0774

Rumana Bukht: +44 208 600 3800

april nairobi, KEnYA

AItec eAst AfrIcA Ict summIt 2011

hong Kong, ChInA

nairobi, KEnYA

AItec bAnkIng & mobILe money comesA 2012

nairobi, KEnYA


Cape Town, sOUTh AfrICA Caroline Wiezien: +44 (0) 207 017 5605




Itu teLecom worLD

nairobi, KEnYA




Rumana Bukht: +44 208 600 3800

4g worLD

geneva, swITZErLAnd


Marcella Caciolato: +34 91 700 49 57

Chicago, ILLInOIs


Caroline Wiezien: +44 (0)20 7017 5605

Luanda, AngOLA


Johannesburg, sOUTh AfrICA

AItec mozAmbIque Ict congress 2011


Katie Seifert: +1 973 944 510

Louisa Rogers: +44 (0)20 7017 5157

If you would like Africa Telecoms to add an event to the calendar, please contact Mr. Bradley Shaw at

Johannesburg, sOUTh AfrICA Tarryn Volkwyn: +27 (0)11 516 4000

Johannesburg, sOUTh AfrICA Tarryn Volkwyn: +27 (0)11 516 4000


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Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Telkom Telkom SA SA Telecommunication Limited in in Centurion Centurion in in South South Africa. Africa. Limited

Regional Manager Manager Regional

Marketing & & Branding Branding Manager Manager Marketing

Systems Engineer Engineer Systems

(WesternCape) Cape) (Western

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

MarketRelated RelatedSalary Salary Market

MarketRelated RelatedCTC CTC Market

MarketRelated RelatedBasic BasicSalary SalaryPlus PlusBenefits Benefits Market

Permanent management management level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Nashua Nashua Mobile Mobile in in Telecommunication Cape Town Town in in South South Africa. Africa. Cape

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Huawei Huawei Telecommunication Technologies in in Johannesburg Johannesburg in in South South Africa. Africa. Technologies

Permanent senior senior level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at isis aa leading leading Wireless Wireless Telecommunication Communications company company in in South South Africa. Africa. Communications

CJRef# Ref#1301555 1301555 CJ

CJ Ref# 1301393

EE Wayleave Wayleave Manager Manager Assistant Assistant EE

CJRef# Ref#1300048 1300048 CJ

HR Practicioner Practicioner HR

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

Web Administrator Administrator Web

CJRef# Ref#1300060 1300060 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1300042 1300042 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1301691 1301691 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1301991 1301991 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1302198 1302198 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1302108 1302108 CJ

Delivery Manager Manager Delivery

Marketing Trade Trade Operations Operations Specialist Specialist Marketing

IDC Solution Solution Manager Manager IDC

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(EasternCape) Cape) (Eastern

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

MarketRelated RelatedCTC CTC Market

MarketRelated RelatedSalary Salary Market

MarketRelated RelatedCTC CTC Market

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Huawei Huawei Telecommunication Technologies in in Johannesburg Johannesburg in in South South Africa. Africa. Technologies

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Telkom Telkom SA SA Telecommunication Limited in in East East London London in in South South Africa. Africa. Limited

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Huawei Huawei Telecommunication Technologies in in Johannesburg Johannesburg in in South South Africa. Africa. Technologies

CJRef# Ref#1300377 1300377 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1300083 1300083 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1300916 1300916 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1302153 1302153 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1302104 1302104 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1302142 1302142 CJ

EE Senior Senior Network Network Engineer Engineer EE

SQL Developer Developer SQL

Software Support Support & & Test Test Analyst Analyst Software

Projects Specialist Specialist Projects

General Finance Finance Manager Manager General

Telecommunication Solution Solution Consultant Consultant Telecommunication

(WesternCape) Cape) (Western

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

MarketRelated RelatedCTC CTCNeg Neg Market

MarketRelated RelatedSalary Salary Market

MarketRelated RelatedSalary Salary Market

MarketRelated RelatedSalary Salary Market

MarketRelated RelatedCTC CTCNeg Neg Market

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Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at MC2 MC2 in in Cape Cape Town Town Telecommunication in South South Africa. Africa. in

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Nashua Nashua Mobile Mobile Telecommunication in Midrand Midrand in in South South Africa. Africa. in

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Nashua Nashua Mobile Mobile Telecommunication in Midrand Midrand in in South South Africa. Africa. in

Contract senior senior level level position position in in the the Contract Telecommunication sector sector at at Telkom Telkom SA SA Limited Limited Telecommunication in Centurion Centurion in in South South Africa. Africa. in

Permanent management management level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Azola Azola Recruitment Recruitment Telecommunication Solutions in in Johannesburg Johannesburg North North in in South South Africa. Africa. Solutions

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Huawei Huawei Telecommunication Technologies in in Johannesburg Johannesburg in in South South Africa. Africa. Technologies

CJRef# Ref#1301777 1301777 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1229315 1229315 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1282814 1282814 CJ

PHP Developer Developer PHP

Hardware Tester Tester Hardware

Software Tester Tester Software

(WesternCape) Cape) (Western

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(WesternCape) Cape) (Western

R350,000Per PerAnnum AnnumCost CostTo ToCompany CompanyIncl InclBenefits Benefits R350,000

MarketRelated RelatedCTC CTC Market

Permanent senior senior level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector in in Cape Cape Town Town in in Telecommunication South Africa. Africa. South

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector in in Rosebank Rosebank in in Telecommunication South Africa. Africa. South

CJRef# Ref#1291492 1291492 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1300703 1300703 CJ

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CJRef# Ref#1302280 1302280 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1302174 1302174 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1301972 1301972 CJ

Business Analyst Analyst Business

Financial Manager Manager Financial

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

(Gauteng) (Gauteng)

MarketRelated RelatedCTC CTC Market

R850,000--R1,000,000 R1,000,000Per PerAnnum AnnumCost CostTo ToCompany CompanyIncl InclBenefits Benefits R850,000

MarketRelated RelatedCost CostTo ToCompany CompanyIncl InclBenefits BenefitsNeg Neg Market

R600,000--R700,000 R700,000Per PerAnnum AnnumCTC CTC R600,000

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector in in Rosebank Rosebank Telecommunication in South South Africa Africa .. in

Permanent executive executive level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector in in Johannesburg Johannesburg Telecommunication North in in South South Africa. Africa. North

Permanent skilled skilled level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector at at Executive Executive Telecommunication Decisions in in Midrand Midrand in in South South Africa. Africa. Decisions

Permanent management management level level position position in in the the Permanent Telecommunication sector sector in in Johannesburg Johannesburg North North Telecommunication in South South Africa. Africa. in

Chief Financial Financial Officer Officer Chief

CJRef# Ref#1300819 1300819 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1245160 1245160 CJ

CJRef# Ref#1233611 1233611 CJ

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CJRef# Ref#1242494 1242494 CJ

Last Word

Bradley Shaw writes exclusively for Africa Telecoms

Bend it, shake it American Breed’s most successful track, “Bend me, shake me, Anyway you want me”, went to number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1968. Cool in its heyday, it is makes the perfect theme song for a cool new shape-changing technology. Today many manufacturers are flaunting flexible screen technologies, with Samsung, Nokia and Sony promising these in devices as early as 2012. This application is going to be interesting, to say the least. We have probably all seen pictures of the wrist band mobile phone, and this technology is currently available to make gadgets like this commonplace. Sci-fi contraptions that thrilled audiences in the movies of yesteryear have blended into today’s reality. IBM chairman Thomas Watson said in 1943, in a notoriously uncool statement: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” Can’t you just see the imaginatively challenged Mr Watson sitting in a fashionable coffee shop in Africa now, watching people communicating on their mobile phones, laptops and tablets? Each one of these devices is way more powerful than the huge computers of his day. So, what would we demand from the promised foldable screen technologies? Strength is certainly cool and if this flexibility comes with increased screen durability this is where these devices might make their mark. There is nothing more irritating than dropping a tablet or a smartphone and having the screen crack right down the middle. Fragile is not cool. But what if your bendable screen flaps around in a capricious wind like a piece of cardboard? I can’t think of anything more flawed than a device that moves


unbidden, with a mind of its own. The other unknown is the cost of these screens. Will they make our tablets and smartphones even more expensive? Speaking of outlay, apparently there are people prepared to pay absurd amounts for devices like the one made by Stuart Hughes from Liverpool. He designed and built an iPhone 3GS worth $8 million – using over 150 diamonds set in rose gold, with a home button of platinum and a 7.4 carat pink diamond. For the same price there is also Hughes’ iPad. Also diamondencrusted and gold-trimmed, this tablet incorporates two weird artifacts: the bezel around the display is made from the “oldest type of rock in the world” plus some shavings off a so-called prehistoric T. rex thigh bone. Excessive is not cool. Deep down we know that extravagance, showing off and blatant distain for green is not so much cool as sad and corny. Dinosaur bones are intriguing but not ornamental, due perhaps to the indefinable yuck factor. When all is said and done, what do people really want? Given their knowledge and the huge amount of choice, “Bend me, shake me, Anyway you want me” no longer applies to your average discerning purchaser of media devices. Indulging in novelty and innovation for its own sake is not cool. As Steven Ambrose says elsewhere in this issue, what consumers really want is simplicity coupled with ease of use. And a touch of the cool factor … As for flexible screen technology, by all means let the manufacturers bend it and shake it. Then it’s up to the consumers to buy it or not. AT

Africa Telecoms - November 2011  

North Africa and the Millenium Development Goals