Telecoms in Africa

March 11th, 2013, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

by Matthew White, Iona Press Services

Telecoms boom leaves rural Africa behind

While mobile phone usage has exploded across Africa over the past decade, transforming daily life and commerce for millions, it’s a revolution that has left behind perhaps two-thirds of its people, according to Reuters. Poor or no reception outside the towns helps explain why the continent’s mobile penetration, in terms of the percentage of the population using the service, is far lower than previously thought, and the cost of providing that service to impoverished, sparsely populated areas remains prohibitive. With a population of just over a billion, Africa has more than 700-million SIM cards. However, with most users owning at least two cards, penetration is only about 33%, according to a study by research firm Wireless Intelligence.

Kenya launches National ICT Master Plan 2017

Kenya has launched the National ICT Master Plan, a policy document that will guide the country’s ICT direction in the next five years, during which it will seek to connect the entire population. Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication says the country aims to be a “knowledge economy” by then. The three pillars of the plan are to: Establish Kenya as a leading African ICT hub; Establish robust accessible and affordable ICT infrastructure; and Deliver open and efficient government delivering value through ICT. Coincidentally, the announcement follows the release by Kenya’s ICT Board of phase two of the Julisha survey report which indicates that the sector performed well, with good growth in value, usage and access across most sectors, and a shift to services as more infrastructure has been put in place.

Tanzania migrates to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting

Tanzania is the first country in East Africa to successfully switch off analogue and migrate to digital terrestrial television broadcasting – more than two years earlier than the International Telecommunication Union deadline of 17 June 2015. The country was recently visited by a delegation led by Zambia’s Information & Broadcasting Services Deputy Minister, Mwansa Kapeya, to learn how preparations for digital migration are done.

Etisalat offers low-cost access to social media

Millions of mobile users owning basic mobile phones across Africa and Asia are now able to join the online community using its new low-cost USSD messaging service, says Etisalat. The service provides access to email, social networking and messaging services, to basic mobile devices and feature phones at affordable prices. The new service results from an agreement between Etisalat Group and Mahindra Comviva, a global leader in providing mobile financial and value-added solutions. The partnership provides Etisalat’s 139-million subscribers in the Middle East, Africa and Asia with consumer email, instant messaging, social networking, phone book backup services as well as popular news/web feeds and other relevant applications over their mobile phone. They can do this either through downloading an application, or via USSD, SMS or MMS messages which eliminate the users’ dependence on smartphones by providing access to web services to every mobile handset.

Rwanda launches ICT system to promote government efficiency

The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth & ICT has launched a document-tracking and workflow-management system. Called e-Mboni and funded by the World Bank, it aims to improve overall efficiency, accountability and transparency in government through the use of electronic documents and a records lifecycle management system. RDB official Patrick Nyirishema calls the project “an enabler for administrative reform in government operations” and says it will boost Rwanda’s economic transformation.

Nigeria fines MTN, Glo, Airtel and Etisalat N22-million over promotions

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has slammed a fine of N22-million (about US$140 000) on the four major telecoms operators in the country for flouting the ban on lotteries and promotions. The big four mobile service providers were told last year to stop such activities as they add to the network problems. MTN Nigeria Communications Ltd has been fined N10-million, Etisalat N6-million, Airtel N4-million and Globacom N2-million. The firms are also liable to pay a further N1-million for each day that each contravention persists.

Alcatel dips deep to fund East African expansion

Global mobile phone manufacturer Alcatel One Touch has announced a US$35-million marketing strategy targeting Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya as a point of breakthrough; the investment will be a big boost to East Africa’s growing telecoms market. The company also announced that it will be unveiling its full range of devices – from low-cost mobile phones to premium Android smartphones, tablets and data devices – into the market.

Zimbabwe to issue converging licences

The government has announced pending legislation to allow the Postal & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe to issue converging licences to telecoms operators. Deputy director of communications James Madya said: “Licences are about to expire and because of technological changes that are happening in the industry we cannot continue to issue operators with the old licence which only allowed an operator to work within the stipulations of that licence.” He added that technology means that operators will be able to offer diverse products that are not covered in their current licences.

Telecom Namibia signs ground-breaking deal with New Telco SA

Telecom Namibia has signed an agreement with NewTelco South Africa, represented by Jasco Co-location Solutions, to deliver a faster and cheaper Internet service. The agreement will remove the reliance of a number of African telecoms operators on third parties to connect internationally, and will thus drive down the cost of communications. NewTelco SA will establish a total of four international points of presence (PoPs) connected into the WACS undersea cable. These PoPs, to be located in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Frankfurt and London, will be procured and built by NewTelco SA for the exclusive use of Telecom Namibia.

Mobile termination rate drops

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa told stakeholders that the glide path for termination rates will continue as provided for in the Call Termination Regulations; and that the mobile termination rate will drop to R0,40 on 1 March 2013 as planned.

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