Telecoms in Africa – July 2012

July 27th, 2012, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Compiled by Matthew White, Iona Press Services

Study highlights development potential of mobile comms

A new World Bank study says that about three-quarters of planet’s population now have access to a mobile phone, and the mobile communications story is moving to a new level, which is not so much about the phone but how it is used. The number of mobile subscriptions in use worldwide has grown from fewer than 1-billion in 2000 to more than 6-billion, of which nearly 5-billion are in developing countries. The report, Information & Communications for Development 2012: Maximising Mobile, says more than 30-billion mobile applications “software that extends the capabilities of phones, for instance to become mobile wallets, navigational aids or price comparison tools” were downloaded in 2011. This trend is benefiting developing countries where people are increasingly using mobile phones to create new livelihoods and enhance their lifestyles, while governments are using them to improve service delivery and citizen feedback.

Madagascar launches online research network

Madagascar has launched an online research network, the Research and Education Network for Academic Learning Activities (iRENALA), which aims to boost science, technology and education in the country, as well as internationalise its science. The network will promote discussions between worldwide researchers, students and policy makers, and facilitate access to digitised documents available in virtual libraries, according to Horace Gatien, president of Toamasina University. It will also encourage remote learning in the higher education sector. The network is part of wider movement of digitising African universities.

Airtel offers faster internet in Malawi, Madagascar and Rwanda

Airtel has launched 3,75 G mobile internet in Malawi, Madagascar and Rwanda. According to a company statement the upgrade to 3,75G will enable Airtel to provide the fastest data speeds available in these countries. Maximum internet speeds will increase to 21 Mbps from the current maximum of 7,2 Mbps, allowing users to make video calls, and complete faster downloading of data.

East Africa seeks joint approach to combat cyber crimes

East African countries are fast-tracking the implementation of joint initiatives to combat rising challenge of cross-border cyber crimes that are seen as a threat to peace and stability in the region. Government officials say the east region is vulnerable to online criminal activities including financial fraud, drug and human trafficking and terrorism. “There is need to develop a common platform to address cyber security,” Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Information Ministry, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, told a recent East African Internet Governance Forum in Nairobi. “As a region, we must begin to co-operate to deal with cyber threats at national and regional levels.” Chris Mulola, president of Internet Society of Rwanda, cited a study by international auditing firm Deloitte & Touche which revealed that 60% of east African banks are susceptible to cyber crimes at regional level.

Kenya’s mobile money monopoly unfair World Bank

Safaricom’s mobile money service. M-Pesa, controls 68% of the Kenyan market, which, according to the World Bank, accounts for nearly half of the global mobile money subscribers. needs further regulation for fair competition. In its report Information & Communications for Development 2012: Maximising Mobile, the bank questions the hesitation by mobile operators to formally integrate their systems, and said this could be creating uncompetitive tendencies. “Additional regulatory attention is also needed for issues of competition and interoperability, like other network industries, economies of scale and high barriers to entry could create uncompetitive market outcomes in the mobile money industry.”

Wifi hotspot convenience for Windhoek’s mobile web users

AfricaOnline, formerly MWeb Namibia, is rolling out WiFi hotspots in Windhoek, with more centres to follow. General manager Marc Gregan says the massive increase in users of mobile devices and laptops led to the decision to expand the product. “AfricaOnline WiFi hotspots are used in lodges and hotels across Namibia. We received requests to introduce the product to various centres in Namibia and we begun the roll-out to the general public, using the same voucher system that is used in tourism.”

Nigerian senator threatens GSM firms with the boot

The chairman of Nigeria¹s Senate Committee on Communications, Senator Gil Emeka Nnaji, has warned GSM companies to improve on their services to Nigerians or face the risk of being pushed out of the country. Nnaji said the Senate was ready to invoke the necessary legislation to make the GSM operators in Nigeria sensitive to the sufferings of the masses on the poor quality of telecoms service, rural telephony and fixed lines, adding that if they fail to improve their services, they should be prepared to leave the country. Speaking at the committee’s public hearing on the deteriorating service of GSM providers, he described as unacceptable claims by the Nigerian Communications Commission that of all the telecoms service providers only MTN is making a profit.

Tanzania’s ICT backbone reaches all border posts

Tanzania’s  National  Information Communication  and  Technology Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) has reached all border areas, setting stage for all neighbouring countries to be able to use it. “For the optic fibre to reach all these areas, means that any other country interested in extending it across the border, can give us business,” said NICTBB technical co-ordinator, Anita Chingumbe. The backbone, which is the terrestrial continuation of the fibre optic submarine cables that landed in Dar es Salaam, recently, has already led to a 99% drop in Internet capacity charges.

Zimbabwe’s second city gets three new base stations

Internet service provider PowerTel has increased its presence in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city, with the commissioning of three base stations, each with a coverage radius of 20 km. Meanwhile, fixed-line service provider TelOne says plans are at an advanced stage to roll out fibre-optic links from Bulawayo to Beitbridge and Bulawayo to Victoria Falls. The company has already rolled out optic-fibre from Mutare to Harare and Harare to Bulawayo. TelOne is the only major Zimbabwean company which has equity in the East African Cable System (EASSy).


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