Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The technology works in any part of the world that has SMS reception, which means that unlike mobile operator-led payment services, it does not require new SIM cards to be issued or integration with local network infrastructure.
The application enables handsets to act as an electronic point of sale terminal, enabling street vendors to use their phones to offer people services such as international remittances, micro-loans and insurance.
"A 'Street Vendor' with even old handsets can now offer international transaction and retail services to local consumers, without the need for vast technological infrastructure," says Whitaker.
For transactions, the handset communicates with a central server for authentication and approval over encrypted SMS in areas where other data connections are unavailable. The system complies with all international anti-fraud and money laundering guidelines, says Masabi.
In February the GSMA, which represents the interests of the worldwide mobile communications industry, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a programme that aims to expand the availability of financial services to millions of people in the developing world through mobile phones.
The price paid and location of the purchasing firms was not disclosed in Thursday's government statement which was approved at a cabinet meeting late on Wednesday.
France Telecom says that it would consider bidding for some of the assets owned by Kuwait based Zain should the company look at breaking up its African division. Zain is currently understood to be looking for a single trade buyer for its ex-Celtel networks across Africa.
"As far as I know, no sales process for single assets of Zain's African operations is ongoing, but if this was the case, we would look at it," Chief Financial Officer Gervais Pellissier said in a conference call discussing the company's financial results.
France's Vivendi was in talks with Zain, but suspended the discussions last week.
In related news, citing unnamed sources, Al-Qabas newspaper said that the state owned Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) has asked Zain to keep it more closely informed of talks the company is having regarding its proposed African sale.
The KIA, which owns 24.6% of Zain has also previously suggested that it might sell its stake in the company if a suitable offer was made.
Mobile Money could reach a one-third penetration rate within 5-years, says a new report from Ovum. The report finds the market is still in its infancy, yet it has the potential to become a mass-market service. However, much will hinge on how well the industry addresses various market barriers, and its ability to nurture user demand with clear, simple and attractive propositions.
The mobile money market has accelerated in the last two years in emerging markets, mostly in more mature markets.
"The success of Vodafone's Kenya subsidiary Safaricom with its mobile money service M-Pesa has underlined the potential for mobile money services," says Angel Dobardziev, Emerging Markets practice leader and co-author of the report. Yet, despite more than 100 launches of mobile money services by both service providers and banks globally the market remains in a fragile state with few well-established services.
Whilst there is a range of alternative scenarios, Ovum predicts that the most likely scenario will be a market where service penetration reaches between 30% and 40% of the emerging market's mobile users in 2014. Where the industry resolves the market barriers more quickly than envisaged, an optimistic scenario is possible where strong user demand propels mobile money services to penetrate between 60% and 70% of the mobile users in the emerging market by 2014.
One of the key factors influencing market uptake of mobile money services is the relatively low penetration of access to financial services compared to higher (and fast-growing) penetration of mobile services.
Service providers along with banks will need to target unbanked and connected customers as they are the key demand driver for the market today, says the report. "Recruitment, training, incentivising and support of networks of mobile money agents will be key to service providers' mobile money strategies, particularly when it comes to targeting unbanked customers", says Dobardziev. "Without access to an extensive distribution network for the users to deposit and withdraw cash as they make use of the service, users will be prevented from making the most of the service."
In order to ensure early user disappointments do not extinguish the market, services providers must get the basics of the service right. "This means not losing sight of the fact that telecoms and banking have very different volume, size, margin and error tolerances on their core transactions. As the two worlds draw closer with mobile banking, this will mean a different mindset and approach to service provision, reliability and security," Dobardziev concludes.
Large parts of West Africa are struggling to get back online following damage to an undersea cable.
The fault has caused severe problems in Benin, Togo, Niger and Nigeria.
The blackout is thought to have been caused by damage to the SAT-3 cable which runs from Portugal and Spain to South Africa, via West Africa.
Around 70% of Nigeria's bandwidth was cut, causing severe problems for its banking sector, government and mobile phone networks.
"SAT-3 is currently the only fibre optic cable serving West Africa," explained Ladi Okuneye, chief marketing officer of Suburban Telecoms, which provides the majority of Nigeria's bandwidth.
"So all West African countries have to use it."
Companies were being forced to use alternatives - such as using satellite links - to maintain connections to the rest of the world, he said.
Telkom South Africa, one of the shareholders of SAT-3, has not said what caused the problems but said it was aware of "a cable fault on the Benin branch that is being investigated".
The 15,000km (9,300mile) SAT-3 cable lands in eight West African countries as it winds its way between Europe and South Africa.
"The rest of the system is unaffected by this fault," a Telkom South Africa representative said.
Nigeria has been badly hit because around 70% of its bandwidth is routed through neighbouring Benin.
The network, run by Suburban Telecom, was set up to bypass Nigeria's principal telecoms operator Nitel which runs the SAT-3 branch cable which lands in Nigeria.
The SAT-3 consortium is in the process of sending a ship from Cape Town in South Africa to the area to investigate the fault.
Mr. Okuneye said that by the time the relevant paperwork was done, it was likely to be "two weeks" before the ship arrived off the coast.
Meanwhile, Benin has been able to reroute its net traffic through neighbouring countries to get back online.
Mr. Okuneye said his company was hoping to do the same but said the process would be slower because its bandwidth requirements were so much larger than those of the small republic.
Togo and Niger, which are not part of the SAT-3 consortium, remain offline.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
A new deal will see telecommunications company
The deal was brokered by the Sportfive agency.
Orange will title sponsor CAF's flagship competition the Africa Cup of Nations, will receive television and mobile rights in France for CAF competitions, and will broadcast CAF events on mobile in 55 African countries.
The new partnership begins with the 2009 CAF Champions League, which begins this month. Orange has taken over from rival company MTN, which had a four-year deal that ended last year.
The competitions covered by the agreement are: the Africa Cup of Nations (held every two years), the African Nations Championship (held every two years), the African Youth Championship (held every two years), the CAF Champions League (annual), the Confederation Cup (annual), and the CAF Super Cup (every year).
Visafone, Nigeria's fourth largest mobile operator is repositioning its management and operations to meet the challenges of a vibrant and constantly evolving telecom industry. In this light, the company has appointed a new CEO and CFO. They are Mr. Ramachandran Balachandran and Mr. Ross Clewley. The new CEO replaces Mr. Ninan Thomas, the pioneer CEO who is leaving the services of Visafone after successfully completing his 2-year contract. Thomas, a thoroughbred professional returns to his
The new CEO brings to Visafone a wealth of experience of over 27 years in top-notch telecom firms like Reliance, which is one of the most successful mobile phone companies in India and the World, and Suntel in Sri Lanka.
Balachandran comes to Visafone after his stint as President of Reliance Retail, India's largest green-field retail venture, and one of the biggest start ups in the world. With 27 years post-MBA experience, Balachandran's impressive career has seen him hold sway at different times as CEO/President/COO/CMO/Director. He has held extensive roles in operations, project management, marketing and sales, products and service development, customer service delivery and overall strategy planning.
He is expected to lead Visafone into a new era of growth and profitability. His excellent management pedigree bears eloquent testimony to the feats he is expected to perform at Visafone.
The new Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Ross Clewley is no stranger to Nigeria, having acted in the same capacity at Econet, where he held sway from 2002 to 2004. A chartered accountant, Clewley holds an MBA from Herriot Watt University of Edinburgh, Scotland and has had extensive management experience at Chief Finance Officer/Finance Director and Board levels with international experiences in 14 countries, spanning the Europe, Asia, Middle East, Australia and Africa.
Ross Clewley has multidisciplinary experience in telecoms (Mobile/GSM), media/advertising, financial information services, IT consulting/engineering, amongst others.
The two key appointments are expected to help Visafone actualise its dreams of becoming one of the top 3-telecom companies in Nigeria, and spreading the joy of communications across Nigeria.
The company, which commenced commercial operations on February 22, 2009, has notched up an impressive number of industry firsts and awards, including Telecom Company of the Year at the 2009 edition of the Thisday awards.
As the company gears up to step into its second year of operations, it is promising its current and potential subscribers a new era of excellent quality service, superb clarity and wide coverage across the 36 states of the federation.
Visafone which recently launched a partnership deal with globally renowned phone makers, Nokia is set to continue its aggressive expansion drive across Nigeria while introducing a new range of value added services and innovative products to delight its numerous customers, and provide them a passport to reach the world.
DISCUSSIONS between the Dhabi Group, the owners of WARID Telecom Uganda, and the Essar Group on a possible takeover of Dhabi's African interest are expected to last up to 14 weeks.
WARID Telecom Uganda has denied reports that a deal, allowing Essar to take over control of WARID and Dhabi's other African interests had been reached.
Last week, the Dhabi Group announced that it had agreed to enter into exclusive discussions in relation to an investment by Essar Group into the telecommunications portfolio of the Dhabi Group's African assets.
Haider Hussain, WARID head of marketing and customer care, said over the weekend that it was still early to predict the outcome of the discussions.
"They are still talking to us. They want to give us money but they may chose or not to invest in the group," said Hussain.
According to a statement issued early last week, the transaction would involve an equity infusion into these businesses as growth capital as the basis of a partnership to create a significant presence in Africa.
Essar holds a 33% interest in Vodafone Essar, which is a joint venture with the Vodafone Group.
The Group is one of India's largest cellular service providers, with over 75 million subscribers.
Essar Telecom Kenya has also recently launched Kenya's fourth mobile cellular network under the brand "Yu."
Standard Chartered Bank is acting as exclusive financial advisor to the Dhabi Group. The Dhabi Group has several business interests, which focus on emerging market opportunities in financial services, telecommunications and real estate. The group also has banking interests in Asia.
Other business interests include hotels, oil-related services, and
The Group aims to strengthen its reach and diversify its portfolio through a series of strategic partnerships that will help optimise its potential in the emerging markets.
Essar has significant interests in telecommunications services, spanning mobile telephony, telecom tower infrastructure, telecom retail and IT/telecom-enabled services.
India's state-owned BSNL is in talks to take a stake in Essar Group's Kenyan subsidiary as part of previously reported plans to expand into the African market. Citing unnamed officials as BSNL, the Economic Times said that the two companies are in talks over a 10-15% stake in Essar Telecom
The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority set December 31 as the deadline for registering the cards.
Chief commercial officer Chiruyi Walingo said in a statement in
The registration is being done free of charge.
''Our customers also have an option for enrolment to the Zain Zap service and enjoy the added benefits of our Zap service which include money transfer, paying bills such as water and electricity recharge to mention a few'' he said.
He assured customers that the national Sim card registration would not affect Zain's borderless 'One Network Service'.
Service management specialist Quintica has successfully assisted Zain
The result is the better use of technology assets and driving improved organisational performance. Zain
According to Ingo Tuschardt, Quintica CEO, the two individual service desks within Zain
"What appears to be a simple outage to a customer can be caused by any of these underlying services and it is often very difficult to quickly pinpoint the cause." It was this sort of issue that Quintica sought to solve for Zain. "Before, when an incident was logged, two 'tickets' would be separately assigned to both engineering and IT for individual analysis and resolution," Tuschardt explains.
Like many mobile operators of today, Zain faced the challenge of finding a helpdesk solution which would align and consolidate both its IT and operations services into sets of bundled business services, to be managed via a single service desk environment. "Our approach was the delivery of a centralised model for the holistic management of all assigned and allocated requests, whether these came from internal staff with IT issues, from external customers with requests relating to their Zain telecommunications service, or issues relating to both. Simultaneously, we sought to implement a platform on which to standardise and optimise the customer experience," he said.
For ICT, Quintica instituted processes based on ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) Service Management methodologies and best practice principles. With operational processes based on eTOM (enhanced Telecom Operations Map) Tuschardt explains that the consulting team worked towards aligning both disciplines by designing a comprehensive service catalogue
"IT and eTOM processes were overlaid with ITIL service management methodologies; ITIL is ideally suited for this application as it focuses on efficient communication rather than the detail of the technical process. The result is that that requests are effectively communicated, monitored and resolved," he notes. A key benefit of the integration of the two service desks is a major cost saving in terms of staff as well as licensing.
Furthermore, through a holistic overview of the end-to-end service delivery environment, management gains a clear view of metrics, including:
* Staff resource usage and performance
* Service deficiencies
* Service performance results and target achievement
* Training needs
"Any requirements are quickly highlighted, equipping the Zain Group to comprehensively benchmark its operations and carry out comparative analysis, easily identifying abnormalities from which to learn, or act upon," Tuschardt adds. Mr Mulonga, Operations Director for Zain, notes that successful service management is driven by efficient communication.
"Through the creation of a single system, Zain executives and managers can quickly view certain technical information and reports through a variety of communication modes," he says. For example, real-time snapshot status reports are delivered by SMS and e-mail. "These reports are extremely useful as they present a complete overview of the state of the operation at any particular time.
Further, priority and SLA-based escalations keep senior management informed of the major issues and thus removes all the 'noise', which is handled by line managers. The SMS feature is particularly useful to expedite escalations to engineers in the field, giving them information to understand the problem and address the matter appropriately without delay," Mulonga adds.
All calls are channeled through the service desk, which provides for structured, classified and managed closure. Call categorisation and online incident status tracking further improves the handling of support calls.
"Clear processes are essential to ensure that from the moment a call is logged, it is processed predictably - assigned to the correct person for resolution and resolved as soon as possible. This supports the delivery of customer service," notes Zain IT Director Mr Fedriani. Enhanced focus was put on the people component of the project, introducing the system to the support teams and the knowledge transfer necessary to ensure that it would be put to use. "We derive immense value from being able to co-ordinate and align our activities with our operational colleagues. This has drawn our two departments closer together, whereas previously there were two cultures," Fedriani adds.
Both Mulonga and Fedriani concur that the experience of the Quintica team has brought immense value to both their divisions. Despite initial apprehensions, they note that Quintica was able to simplify what is undeniably a complex business. That success is mirrored by Fedriani's comment: "The executive overview and architecture of our business has been attractively summarised and graphically displayed on a poster, which my management team keeps referencing when having discussions with their staff."
The plan of the Dangote Telecommunication Company to roll out its GSM network has run into hitches. The Dangote Telecommunication Company, a subsidiary of Dangote group said in
The company's chief operating officer Boye Olasanyan said since the company did bid and secured 3G license in 2006 ,efforts have been on to bring the network into full operation but the market is not yet mature, adding that the company would have to acquire another company with 2G capability and license in order to roll out and function effectively
"We have looked at various option to get 2G license and the only option for us is to acquire a company with 2G system but this option also has its challenges", he said
Olasanyan explained that the company is already working out relationship with another player in the telecommunication sector as this; he said would allow Dangote company to deal effectively with 3G system. "In the next few weeks, we will come out on how we intend to roll out and utilize 3G system effectively", he said
The newly built ultra-modern, multi-million dollar Call Centre established by Zain
Already, the Telco operator has recruited over 700 young graduates (out of a projected 2,000) to man the ultra modern, digitalized call centre in a bid to increase its service level and further boosts its average-speed-of-answer (ASA) to customers' requests.
The new facility, which is estimated at about $25 million, is expected to revolutionalise customer service delivery in Nigeria's telecommunications landscape as it will enable the company provide up-to-the-minute solutions to its customers.
Chief Operating Officer of Zain Nigeria, Khaled Khorshid explained that the speedy completion of the new call centre in Abuja is an attestation to Zain's commitment to improve the quality of customer experience across major touch points in the country, adding that the move further demonstrates the company's desire to meet the demands of all its customers.
According to Khorshid, the establishment of the new call centre is in line with Zain's core objective of creating a wonderful world for its customers. "The customer is king and in Zain, we strive to cater for customer' needs by providing superior customer care experience. This is our focus and the core of our business. We are not a technology company, we are here to serve our people", he said.
He further revealed that the Abuja call centre staff have been equipped with first-rate training to enable them provide top of the line solutions, which will meet the needs and desires of customers.
The COO also disclosed that Zain's passion for customer service since its inception in 2001 has enabled the company to dominate the customer care category in industry awards. Recently, Thisday readers, in a poll, rated the company the Most Consumer-centric Network, citing its free customer care line and excellent handling of customer complaints.
For more than a year now potential customers in
Although the cable is now "live," the public is still awaiting the broadband revolution to reach their computers. Now that the question of "if" has been answered, the question of "when" is still hanging in the air.
According to a regional spokesman for Seacom, Solomon Mahindi, as of the end of last week only three Internet service providers in
Managing Director of Internet Services Chris Senanu of Access
"If during the tests we have some major issues, then obviously we are not going to put it right to the public," Senanu said. "But if it goes well, if we have steady links for a week, then we will put it through."
Seacom's Mahindi said that for most service providers it would likely be another two to three months before access to the cable could be passed on to its clients.
When the cable does come online, some of the promised effects will be more immediate than others.
According to Mahindi, the upfront investment needed for each service provider to hook up to the Seacom cable will mean that the estimated 80 to 90 percent reduction in internet costs the cable offers will not likely be passed on at once to costumers.
"Realistically, these ISPs have to somehow recoup their investment costs and any other infrastructure costs - because it is quite an investment to get in terms of the personnel, in terms of the infrastructure, in terms of the equipment," Mahindi said.
Senanu says that although he expects some of his customers to maintain their current bandwidth and switch to a lower-priced package, he predicts that most will instead choose to keep the same-priced package with the increased speed.
"Some customers are going to prefer to have a price discount, because the economic times here are a bit tough. But most people in
For many clients, the additional speed will not be readily available soon either. While the undersea cable does offer much greater capacity, local providers will have to build broadband capability within the local loops that bring the service to clients. If a service provider has not upgraded its local infrastructure, its clients will be severely limited in the capacity they can access.
Although depending on the service provider the additional cables will not necessarily increase internet speed greatly beyond what Seacom can provide, experts say the greater significance of the other cables lies in the extra connection stability they will give the region. Until the other cables are operational, any issue with the Seacom cable will cause problems across all of connected
For now, though, East Africans are still waiting to see what changes the new high speed cable will bring to their homes and businesses.
For those who have never known anything other than unreliable, very slow Internet connections at often unaffordable rates, the revolution most of the rest of the world has already undergone is still a bit of a mystery.
M-PESA, which was developed in association with Vodafone and commercially launched in Kenya in March 2007, won the Habitat Business Award at a ceremony held in New Delhi, India last week.
Safaricom was awarded for its M-PESA service which judges noted clearly demonstrated the role and impact of innovative IT solutions for sustainable urbanization.
The Habitat Business Award for sustainable urbanization, which is organized by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), aims to recognize and publicize outstanding achievements contributing to sustainable urbanization through responsible corporate practices.
This is the first time the awards are being held.
Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph said the M-PESA service had become a welcome necessity to millions of Kenyans who have no access to banking facilities in the country.
"We are delighted by this recognition. M-PESA continues to impact positively on the millions of Kenyans who traditionally have no access to banking services. We have and will continuously innovate to stretch the product's menu beyond cash transfer," he said.
An acclaimed global first, Safaricom launched M-PESA in March 2007 and the service continues to register steady growth with more than 10,000 new users being registered daily.
The service has more than 6.7 million registered users and has moved Sh152 billion since launch.
Speaking at the award ceremony, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka said given the recognized tremendous contribution of the private sector to urban shelter and basic infrastructures, cooperation with the private sector is increasingly seen as a necessity and not an option.
Judges said the M-PESA money transfer service showed the diverse ways a mobile phone could be engaged to serve, not only for voice and data purposes, but also as a money transfer tool.
The service allows Kenyans to transfer money fast, safely and affordably using the mobile phone. Through M-PESA, a customer can send money to another mobile phone user, withdraw cash, buy airtime for themselves or another prepaid subscriber, pay bills and make loan repayments.
The judges further noted that even in uncertain economic times, mobile telephony is seeing continued growth, with more than 4 billion mobile connections globally driven by innovation in new services, applications and richer mobile content.
M-PESA boasts a crowded trophy cabinet. Its past awards include Kenya Banking Awards for product innovation won last year. In the same year, it bagged the Global Mobile Awards and was feted during the World Business and Development Awards for contribution to the attainment of Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) through core business.
She was responding to last week's letter by Independent Democrats President Patricia de Lille who lodged a complaint over the high costs of mobile phone calls in South Africa.
Monday, July 27, 2009
"Safaricom is keen on helping the government implement the new directive but this must be done within the law and without infringing on our subscribers rights, including the right to privacy, as enshrined in its license obligations, an enabling law will certainly give us the much-needed legal muscle to extend this to our entire network..," Joseph said.
Weather conditions can change suddenly and strong winds can occur without much warning, boats are often overloaded, most of the people can't swim and buoyancy or life saving equipment is not easily available. As a result many lives are lost due to drowning in the lake (estimated 5,000 deaths per year). It is expected that this intervention will go a long way towards improving conditions on the lake.
Zain has developed Value Added Services that will enable fishermen on the lake to, through SMS and voice calls, find critical information such as fish and commodity prices and receive weather and safety alerts. The expanded network will also make it possible to collect data on daily catch from the more than 1,400 Beach Management Units in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.