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The mapping pioneers of Africa

Field data experts are the modern day pioneers of Africa, and the means they use to provide real world verification of maps and collect road names and points of interest holds key messages for understanding your working environment, writes ETIENNE JONKER, Field Data Capture Manager for TeleAtlas Africa

When you switch on your navigation device to help get yourself from point A to point B and you reach your destination with ease, take a minute to think about how the mapping information was gathered before being displayed on your device.

With the road network changing by up to 40% annually of its coverage in terms of both new names and changed roads, one of the key challenges facing map builders is keeping data accurate and up to date. The first step in building and maintaining an accurate map involves collecting geographic information. Field teams play an essential role in providing real world verification of maps being built and in collecting attribute information such as road names, land use and points of interest.



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Posted in the category: Insight, Strategy, Technology

Time to free up SA’s telecoms market

South Africa will need to become Internet savvy in order to compete globally, argues ADRIAAN GIE, CEO of Plusto.com, a business-to-business e-trading platform launched to the SA, Indian and Chinese markets last month.

It is time for Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri to change her stance on South Africa’s telecoms legislation.

While South Africa may be a leader in internet connectivity across Africa, the country lags behind countries such as Morocco, Egypt and Nigeria in terms of market competitiveness.

A severely controlled and conservative telecoms legislation that repels competition leads to other service providers being shut out of the market while Telkom holds South Africans at ransom by charging exorbitant connectivity fees.

For too long the Minister has stifled economic growth in South Africa by refusing private companies entry to the market. If government’s focus is on increasing trade and commerce between South Africa and the rest of the world, then this is not the way to go about it. In addition, the price of broadband in South Africa is exorbitant compared with international standards:



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Posted in the category: Economy, Technology, Trends

Ericsson on evolution

Telecommunications giant Ericsson will offer live demonstrations of its offerings for the next generation in wireless broadband technology, Long Term Evolution (LTE) , at AfricaCom 2008 in Cape Town next week.

A wide selection of Ericsson’s solutions will be on show at AfricaCom 2008 in Cape Town on 18 and 19 November 2008., including its ‘Full Service Broadband’, Managed Services and Multimedia Solutions, together with live demonstrations of its HSPA, Long Term Evolution (LTE) and Convergent Charging options.

“The LTE demonstration is likely to generate quite a large amount of interest this year, in particular,” observes Aingharan Kanagaratnam, senior manager: Radio Access Sales Support, market unit sub-Saharan Africa, “since it will show what people will be using this technology for and the exciting possibilities that exist when bandwidth is no longer a limitation.”



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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

Telkom confirms sale of Vodacom

Telkom today confirmed the key terms of the sale of a 15% stake in Vodacom, South Africa’s leading mobile phone operator, to UK-based Vodafone Group and the intended listing of Vodacom on the JSE.

Telkom formally confirmed today that a 15% stake in Vodacom will be sold to Vodafone for R22.5bn in cash, less Vodacom’s attributable net debt of R1.55bn. Telkom will distribute 50% of the after tax proceeds from the sale transaction to Telkom shareholders by way of a special dividend. The dividend will be paid upon closing of the transaction, which is expected to take place in the first half of 2009.

The transaction is subject to approval by 75% of Telkom shareholders, the competition authorities and the Independent Communication Authority of SA (ICASA). Irrevocable undertakings in support of the transaction have already been received from Telkom’s largest shareholders, the South African Government and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).



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Posted in the category: Economy, News, Technology

New era in global ICT standards

The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly closed in Johannesburg last week with decisions on a wide range of issues that will change the future direction of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry .
The role of information and communication technology (ICT) in climate change stands out among a range of key issues that the global telecommunications industry body has agreed to tackle in the coming years.

Members of the International Telecommunications Union, spanning the global ICT industry and administrations from across the world, asked for increased emphasis on key areas such as ICTs and climate change, the deployment of IPv6, accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities, conformance and interoperability testing, and encouraging academic participation in the ITU’s work.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) said in his closing speech: “We have received a strong message from our members that ITU is, and will remain the world’s pre-eminent global telecommunication and ICT standards body. And we also hear very clearly that ITU should continue on its mission to connect the world, and that bridging the standardization gap – by increasing developing country participation in our work – is an essential prerequisite to achieve this goal.”



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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

AfricaCom Awards finalists named

The organisers of AfricaCom Awards 2008 have announced the finalists for the inaugural African telecommunications awards taking place on 18 November 2008 at the International Convention Centre, Cape Town.

South Africa’s new second Network operator, Neotel, has been nominated as a finalist in the New Entrant of the Year category for the AfricaCom Awards 2008. It joins several dozen other African telecommunications operators and suppliers who are vying for recognition.

The awards recognise the achievements and success within the African communications market during the last twelve months.

According to the organisers, the quality and quantity of entries was exceptional and sets the standard for the African telecommunications industry going into 2009.

The finalists are:



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Posted in the category: Economy, News, Technology

MWEB sale a signal of change

The announcement last week that Naspers has put MWEB up for auction created a stir of surprise, but not shock. Arthur Goldstuck looks at the implications

 

Is the decision by Naspers to sell MWEB a vote of no confidence in the Internet? Hardly. If anything, it declares the opposite: a recognition that the Internet has become so pervasive, its best businesses will be built on what people do on the network, rather than on how people connect to it.

While it may not be a good thing for MWEB, it is probably a necessary thing as MWEB evolves from an ISP into a telecommunications company. MWEB is entering a new era in South African telecommunications and has little choice but to become an infrastructure owner – once the regulatory environment allows it. Naspers is traditionally in the content space, and has avoided owning the plumbing that makes it all work. It will be a painful divorce, but good for the kids.




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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

East African operators must get basics right

Competition in one of Africa’s most dynamic markets will allow operators to enjoy East Africa’s growth opportunities if they get the basics right, said participants at East Africa Com in Tanzania.

The mood was upbeat in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last week, where over 450 telecommunications executives gathered for East Africa Com, their annual event in the region. The conference and exhibition brought together the leaders of the region’s stakeholders to discuss the commercial and technology strategies to maximise growth and improve services for users. From the debates that took place over the two days, it was clear that East Africa is one of the continent’s most dynamic markets.

East Africa ComThe message from some of the region’s major operators and investors at a plenary that opened the conference was that growth opportunities can be great in East Africa, for those who know how to grab them.

Most markets in the region experience high GDP growth, and favourable market and regulatory conditions. Host country Tanzania was presented as one of the most attractive of them, with 7% GDP growth, stable political conditions, dynamic operators and a low penetration levelwhich leaves room for growth.



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Posted in the category: News, Strategy, Technology

GM asks public to writeits history in a wiki

While many companies publish histories to commemorate special milestones, General Motors is putting a 21st Century, open-source twist on the way its history is told in cyberspace.

General Motors is inviting people worldwide to contribute to the Generations of GM Wiki on GMnext.com and share their personal, first-person experiences from the company’s first 100 years – everything from a story about a summer job in an assembly plant to pictures of a first car to favorite experiences with GM products.

A 1972 GM production team“The production group team I had been working in at the Chevrolet Nodular Iron Foundry decided to surprise the Plant Manager, Grant VanBuskirk, and go for the all time production record …”

An archive photo and excerpt from the Generations of GM wiki.

A wiki (Hawaiian for “fast”) comprises software that allows a web site or web-based article to be created, edited, updated and organised in a collaborative style. It is, for example, the engine behind the popular Wikipedia.

GM thinks its best authors are those who experienced the company firsthand – its employees, retirees, dealers, customers and the generations of people who have shaped GM.



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Posted in the category: Strategy, Technology

Mobile banking – and its threats – on the rise

Simeon ConeyThe unprecedented growth in mobile banking in Africa comes as welcome news to investors, telecoms providers, financial institutions and consumers. However, warns SIMEON CONEY, VP of Strategic Development, at AdaptiveMobile, the potential for fraud and abuse requires user education and operator engagement.

South Africa stands to emerge as the leader in mobile banking on the continent of Africa.

A recent United Nations Trade and Development Conference singled out how mobile technology can help trade and commerce, specifically benefiting the growth and sustainability of small vendors in South Africa.

Mobile is a natural medium for banking services such as money transfers, and the ubiquity of the mobile phone makes it easier to reach consumers, overcoming the challenges of limited ATM and bank property infrastructure in particular regions.

With this opportunity comes the challenge to protect users and the system from fraud and abuse.


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Posted in the category: Economy, Technology, Trends

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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