Telecoms in Africa – April 2013

April 8th, 2013, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Compiled by Matthew White, Iona Press Services

Solar-powered internet school penetrates rural areas

State-of-the-art Internet schools are finding their way into the remotest regions of Africa that lack electricity, buildings and other infrastructure. Samsung has converted a 12-metre shipping container into a solar-powered Internet classroom that can accommodate 21 students at a sitting. The classroom has solar panels on the roof that can produce up to 9 hours of electricity a day to run 24 laptops, a 1,27 m interactive electronic board and wi-fi cameras. The solar panels are made of rubber so the classroom can be transported to remote areas with minimal risk of breakage. The laptops are fitted with asset-management software to ensure that they are locked to the specific unit. If a laptop were to be stolen it would not work. Students can however be allowed to take the laptops home temporarily. The solar classrooms have already been deployed in Angola, Botswana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Africa.

Egypt to reconsider ban on private satellite channels

The Egyptian Cabinet is to reconsider a previous decision that halted approvals for the establishment of private satellite channels. This follows a request by Investment Minister Osama Saleh, who stressed the need to allow investments into satellite channels, which he says comprise one of the most important and promising investment fields in the country.

Tanzania halts next phase in digital migration

The government of Tanzania has halted the second phase of migration from analogue to digital television broadcasting to assess impact of the first phase to the public. The first phase included the regions of Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Dodoma, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, Arusha and Mbeya. However, commenting on the move, Minister for Communication, Science and Technology Prof. Makame Mbarawa said the move to digital broadcasting is inevitable. The halt in migration is intended to allow the Government to conduct an assessment before rolling out the second phase, which will include 14 more regions. “It has been agreed that evaluation of challenges met in the first phase should be carried out so that the second phase will be rolled out smoothly,” Mbarawa said.

Ethiopian government uses tax funds to spy on political rivals

The Ethiopian government is using controversial spy software called FinSpy, paid for by taxpayers, to monitor the political activities of opposition groups, according to a report by the Citizen Lab based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Ethiopia is using the surveillance technology to interfere with the political activities of Ginbot 7, an exiled opposition movement, designated as a terrorist entity by the Ethiopian government in 2011. The software is designed to secretly infiltrate targeted computers or mobile phones to monitor communications and siphon data, such as passwords and audio from Skype calls, which it then transmits back to a server. Canadian researchers found a version of FinSpy in Ethiopia that tricked users into downloading FinSpy embedded photos and an image file of Ginbot 7.

Kenya to get secure online transaction system

The Kenyan government has contracted with Samsung to set up an online identity and verification system to create a secure online transaction environment. According to ICT Board Project Manager Evans Kahuthu, the digital certificates will be issued by accredited certification authorities via the Communication Commission of Kenya. Before certificates can be given out, however, users will have to meet face to face with the accredited authorities to verify their identities and information. The certificates will function as online identity cards and will be used in all online business transactions.

Rwanda gets US$8-million loan for telecoms in private sector

Rwanda has secured a line of credit worth US$8-million from the African Development Bank to support local businesses in telecoms and other areas. This loan will enable the Development Bank of Rwanda to reinforce its private sector and SME operations in Rwanda, according to the bank’s chief executive, Jack Kayonga. “Our partnership with the African Development Bank goes beyond just financing, but sharing a vision to bolster the economy of Rwanda by providing ample support to the private sector,” he said.

Namibia to get own PoPs for WACS connection

Telecom Namibia has announced that the installation of its own international points of presence (PoPs) in London and Frankfurt, connected to the West African Cable System undersea cable, is making good progress. TN MD Frans Ndoroma said the PoPs will facilitate the efficient and effective use of WACS. The project follows the signing of an agreement between Telecom Namibia and a Jasco Group company, NewTelco SA, which is a joint venture with co-location specialists NewTelco. It puts at Telecom’s disposal an improved global reach through reliable, high-quality communication infrastructure and backbone.

Nigerian experiences stampede from CDMA to GSM

A crisis affecting the mobile CDMA business in Nigeria is escalating, with more than 1,4-million active subscribers on the networks having dumped their lines in favour of GSM in the past twelve months, according the latest statistics from the Nigerian Communications Commission. CMDA operators include Visafone, Multi-Links and Starcomms. ZOOMmobile packed up in the first quarter 2012. Telkom South Africa pulled out of the Nigerian mobile CDMA market two years ago, selling its 100% stake in Multi-Links Telkom which which it bought in 2009 for $400-million to Helios Towers Nigeria for $10-milion. According to the latest figures from NCC, mobile CDMA operators’ subscriber base plummeted from 4 031 820 in February 2012 to 2 890 955 in January 2013.

Zimbabwe internet firm to roll out 4G LTE technology

Harare-based Internet access provider Aquiva Wireless has announced plans to roll out a new standard for wireless data communications technology that it says will push forward the growth of the country’s telecoms industry. Chief executive Brian Maphosa said the next enabling technology will be long term evolution (LTE), which is available across 4G radio wavelengths, but offers much greater speed and capacity. He said that over the next three years Aquiva Wireless will invest up to US$80-million in establishing nationwide presence.


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