Telecoms in Africa – June 2013

June 11th, 2013, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Compiled by Matthew White, Iona Press Services

Econet’s Liquid Telecom buys Rwandatel

Econet Wireless Global’s Liquid Telecom has acquired the assets of Rwandan fixed telecoms network operator Rwandatel. Econet Wireless said the deal includes Rwandatel’s customer base, copper, fibre and wireless networks, but excludes most of the land (which remains Rwandatel property). No figure for the transaction has been released. Liquid Telecom claims to be the leading wholesale carrier in Africa, and says it has built Africa’s largest fibre network which runs for more than 13 000 km across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Congo DR, Lesotho and South Africa. “Liquid Telecom is expanding rapidly and this is an important and strategic investment,” said group chief executive Nic Rudnick.

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Namibia gets low-cost satellite Internet access

AfricaOnline is offering high-speed Internet anywhere in Namibia via satellite that requires only an antenna and a power source to provide connectivity even in the most remote regions. At a basic rate of N$499 (about US$49,70) a month, AfricaOnline provides a basic subscription that includes 3 GB of data, The out-of-bundle rate is set at N$129 (US$12,85) for every additional gigabyte. The company says this is cheaper than any Internet connection that depends on a landline or a mobile base station. AfricaOnline’s download speed runs at 512 kbps which translates to about 60 kB per second per individual user. A company spokesman said the equipment cost is priced in the same bracket as most household appliances.

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Consortium set up to roll out LTE 4G across Kenya

A public-private consortium has been formed to implement the initial phase of a project to roll out 4G LTE (a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals) across Kenya. The consortium comprises Airtel, Alcatel-Lucent, Essar Telecom, Epesi Communications, Kenya Data Network, MTN, Safaricom, Telkom Kenya and the Kenya Government. It is estimated that the first phase of the project will cost US$97-million. According to MTN Business Kenya managing director Tom Omariba, among the benefits of LTE 4G is that network maintenance costs will be reduced as one base transmission station can cover a larger area so coverage is greater for the same amount of initial capital expenditure.

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Vodacom launches M-Pesa in Mozambique

Mobile phone operator Vodacom has launched its M-Pesa cash transfer service in Mozambique. Speaking at the launch ceremony, Bank of Mozambique governor Ernesto Gove said the existence of a strong and stable financial system that is comprehensive and inclusive is an objective that must be realised for the benefit of people living in remote districts. M-Pesa was launched by Vodacom in Kenya in 2007 and is now available in eight countries including Congo DR, South Africa and Tanzania. Worldwide it has 17-million users.

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Smartphone revolution sparked by falling costs

Smartphone penetration in Africa is estimated between 17% and 19%, and is as high as 41% in Nigeria, according to Samsung Electronics West Africa executive Emmanuel Revmatas. She attributes this to the advent of privately owned submarine cables that have reduced the cost of Internet access. Further, a budget smartphone produced for the African market is available on the streets of Kenya for as little as US$50; more than 300,000 have been already been sold in the country. Mark Kaigwa, a keynote speaker at the recent eLearning Africa 2014 conference in Uganda, says that about 35% of Africans are now considered middle class, and that, as such, “Africa economically, growth-wise and GDP-wise is looking like a great contender and great emerging market, and mobile is at the heart of that.” Some experts are forecasting that nearly 70% of mobile phones will have Internet access by the end of next year.

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Licence snag holds up Gambian voice services via ACE

The ACE (African Coast to Europe) submarine cable has been laid, processing equipment has been installed and is now operational in Gambia for data, but not for voice, according to the project co-ordinator of the West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program, William Omoshola Joiner. He said GSM operators are working to get the licences from the Government. Only after such licences are granted, will operators be willing to install the necessary equipment to provide voice services.

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Sony unveils expansion plans for Africa

Leading consumer electronics company Sony has unveiled a blueprint for a multi-faceted expansion plan across Africa. The company says it will transform African consumers’ experience by launching new technology products, introducing experimental Sony brand shops and establishing service centres in almost every country on the continent. Sony Middle East & Africa MD Hiroyasu Sugiyama said Africa is one of the most important markets for Sony. “By 2015 we hope to achieve a US$1,4-billion share in the consumer electronics space, including the fast-growing mobile phone business,” he said. From the award-winning Sony Xperia Z smart- phone, the Xperia tablet and Bravia 4K TV sets to the world’s most powerful audio systems, Sony will look to reduce the waiting time and increase availability of its products.”

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Nigeria “needs one million cyber security experts”

As crime on the World Wide Web continues to grow every day, about one million cyber crimes experts will be required in Nigeria by 2015 to tackle the menace, according to New Horizons Ltd. ceo Tim Akano. The more the country deepens usage of technology in a cashless economy, the more vulnerable the people and the nation, he said. This is why India is targeting 5-million cyber security experts in the next three years. “As we speak, North Korea can already boast of 15 000 cyber security experts well trained to defend the cyber space of their country, while China has over 25-million cyber commandos,” said Akano. “If India is targeting 5-million cyber security experts, I am convinced that Nigeria needs nothing less than 1-million in the next two years to cope with the challenges of both cyber terrorism and its twin brother, physical terrorism.” It is estimated that US$1-trillion was lost to cyber-related frauds globally last year, he said, though losses totalling only $390-billion were reported.

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Tanzania borrows US$403-million for next phase of ICT backbone

The third phase of the Tanzania’s National ICT Broadband Backbone (NICTBB) construction will start soon and will connect all the districts in the country, the Deputy Minister for Communications, Science & Technology, January Makamba, has announced. He told the National Assembly that the project will cost US$403-million, with the money being borrowed from the government of China.

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