Telecoms in Africa – April 2012

April 26th, 2012, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Compiled by Matthew White, Iona Press Services

Lack of infrastructure, skills causes Africa to lag in ICT readiness

The level of ICT readiness in sub-Saharan Africa is still very low, with most countries lagging in connectivity because of insufficient development of ICT infrastructure, according to the 2012 Global Information Technology Report. Low skills levels that hinder efficient use of available technology add to the challenges. Moreover, most of the continent still suffers from poor framework conditions for business. Importantly, the report estimates that even a 10% increase in broadband penetration can deliver a median 0,75% boost in GDP. It singles out the government of Mauritius for developing ICT as a strong pillar of the island nation’s economy, noting it has been rewarded with double-digit growth in that sector. The digital divide there has been bridged effectively in terms of the key performance indicators set under the Millennium Development Goals. Mauritius, in 53rd place out of 142, ranks highest in Africa in the report’s Networked Readiness Index rankings. South Africa is second in Africa in 72nd place, having dropped 11 places in one year and ranking lowest of the five BRICS countries. Egypt is next in Africa at 79, followed by Cape Verde (81), Rwanda (82) and Botswana (89). Eight of the ten lowest-ranked nations (from 133 to 140) are in Africa, including Angola (140), which is above only Yemen and Haiti.

Angola’s Movicel launches fourth-generation network

Angolan mobile phone company Movicel has launched a fourth generation LTE/4G network that enables rapid access to the internet (120 Mbps), according to the Angolan news agency ANGOP, which repoits that the project cost about US$100-million.

UBA grants Benin US$50-million for telecoms, power projects

The United Bank for Africa, Benin Ltd, a subsidiary of United Bank for Africa Plc, has facilitated a US$50-million syndicated loan for economic development in the Benin Republic. UBA Benin acted as lead arranger to the $18-million mid-term loan for the National Electricity Co, and was a co-arranger of a $32-million mid-term loan to MTN Benin. The loan granted to MTN is to facilitate the acquisition of a 3G telecoms licence from the government.

Kenya Telkom’s LION2 submarine cable goes live

Kenya’s fourth submarine fibre-optic connection to the world has gone live with the conection of the Lower Indian Ocean Network cable (LION2) operated by Telkom Kenya. Telkom Kenya CEO Mickhael Ghossein said LION2, whose laying cost more than US$75-million, will significantly boost Kenya’s bandwidth capacity. The cable is a 2700 km extension of the initial Lower Indian Ocean Network that connects Madagascar with the rest of the world, providing alternative onward connectivity from Kenya to Asia and Europe.

Liberia prepares for faster, more affordable internet

The installation of fibre-optic cables to bring high-speed, affordable internet access to Liberia is in the testing phase. According to Daniel Brewer, project manager with the Cable Consortium of Liberia, a tentative date of 5 November 2012 has been set for commissioning the system, following completion of all work on a total of 20 stations along the Atlantic Coast. The landing of the Africa Coast to Europe submarine cable in the capital, Monrovia, in November 2011 has already had an impact on ordinary Liberians, it is reported, and is expected to further accelerate economic growth and development.

Government cronies lobby for NITEL assets

As Nigerians await the guided liquidation of state-owned Nigerian Telecommmunications Ltd (NITEL), top government officials are lobbying for their cronies to buy its assets, according to the Daily Trust. Sources close to the National Council on Privatisation and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) told the newspaper that the officials are hampering the work of those evaluating NITEL assets as they lobby for their cronies. One of the sources said: “The whole issue has been politicised as top government figures are sending people to come to us. We cannot tgrn them down because they are the very powerful people in government.” Tajudeen Kareem, spokesman of Microfone Telecoms, one of the companies which submitted its interest to the BPE to buy NITEL, told the Daily Trust that it had withdrawn fron the process when it became clear there was no level playing field. Kareem said the whole issue is more political than economic because it seems that those in government are given undue advantage over outsiders.

Local government in Rwanda set to step up ICT use

Local government in Rwanda intends to put greater effort into service delivery to local communities as new technologies spread across the country, according to Cyrille Turatsinze, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Local Government. The initiative comes as the country enters the third phase of the five-year National Information and Communication programme (NIC3). New technology is already being used in some services such as land registration, e-health and business such mobile
money transfers.

China’s Huawei seeking to build landline system in South Sudan

Chinese telecoms company Huawei Technologies has expressed interest in setting up of fixed-line telephone phone system in South Sudan, according to the company’s international media affairs manager, Dev Zhang, following a meeting with a delegation from the African country in Shanghai.

Tanzania signs US$6,7-million internet capacity deal with Rwanda

The Tanzania Telecommunications Co Ltd (TTCL) has signed a US$6,7-million contract with the Rwanda Development Board to supply the Rwandan government with 1,244 Gbps of internet bandwidth over the next ten years. Rwanda has used a World Bank grant to buy capacity from TTCL. It will be provided to government institutions through the existing optic-fibre network, while businesses and individuals will be able access it through internet service providers.

Uganda’s “not closing down” UTL

Uganda Telecom (UTL) has denied reports that it is to be liquidated. MD Donald Nyakairu acknowledged that the company owes significant amounts of money to MTN and Airtel, but said these debts would be settled soon. With the end of the crisis in Libya, and the reorganisation of his company’s majority shareholder, UCOM, a subsidiary of Libya’s LAP GreenN, Uganda Telecom had solid backing, he said.


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