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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

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

Africa on the move

The Africa 2008 telecommunications conference, to be held in Cairo from 12 to 15 May 2008, will welcome leading names in the ICT industry, and more than 5000 visitors. It comes at a time when increased liberalisation of markets is leading to a boom in telecommunications on the continent.

Organized by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU Telecom Africa 2008 is intended to promote the ICT industry both regionally and internationally. Five to six thousand visitors are expected to attend the event and explore the region’s ICT and telecommunication market.

The event promises a concentration of government, regulatory and private sector players, together with leading thinkers to negotiate and debate the industry’s most innovative technologies and its most significant issues.

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré“The investment climate in Africa is particularly inviting right now,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General. “Liberalised markets forge forward and demand continues at a remarkable speed.”

Referring to the successful Connect Africa Summit, Dr Touré added, “We’re certain to see further momentum on the investment commitments generated in the last six months.”

AFRICA 2008 boasts an extensive international Exhibition – a key component of ITU Telecom since its inception in 1971. Leading players from the region as well from major international companies come together with a huge display of ICT products and services at the Cairo International Conference and Exhibition Centre.

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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

Great growth for Africa, but …

Africa’s communications market offers exceptional opportunities for growth thanks to increased demand for communications and broadband services, but operators must improve coverage and quality of service, and regulators must provide effective regulation to facilitate this growth.

AfricaCom logoThese were the key messages from AfricaCom 2007, the continent’s leading communications event for mobile, fixed, wireless and satellite telecommunications professionals, which took place in Cape Town last week. More than 3000 attendees, 70 expert speakers and 150 exhibitors participated.

At the high-level strategic conference, some of the region’s thought-leaders discussed what they thought were the optimum strategies for growth in their sector.

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Posted in the category: Economy, News, Technology, Trends

Outsourcing for Africa

Ghanaian businesswoman Estelle Akofio-Sowah once considered a career in politics before deciding that she could do more for her country’s economy by becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Estelle Akofio-Sowah

The Internet-provider business that she launched in Accra in 2001 has gone on to become one of Africa’s most important “incubators” of new web-based companies in both Ghana and beyond, helping create badly needed jobs and promoting development.

Often requiring relatively low capital investment, such new service industries employing Internet technologies offer high potential for economic development and social advancement and can significantly contribute to the growth of Africa’s economies.But governments frequently overlook the needs of trade in services when setting economic priorities and even companies can fail to spot available export opportunities. Keep reading →


Posted in the category: News, Trends

ITU Telecom Africa – Reaching the unreached

Haru Mutasa, Highway Africa News Agency, reporting from Cairo

Ten years ago a Japanese man, on his first visit to Egypt, asked himself why there were boomerangs in Pharaoh Tutankhamen‘s collection at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The question puzzled him so much that when he returned to Japan he perused encyclopaedias for the answer to his question but found none.

A couple of years later, that same man, using a popular search engine on his computer, looked up the answer to his question and was left more than pleasantly surprised. “The boomerang is not unique to Australia,” he said, “It was used in several parts of Africa and even India back then.”

That man was Yoshio Utsumi, the current International Telecommunications Union (ITU) secretary general. Addressing a large delegation at the official opening of the sixth ITU Telecom Africa conference in Cairo last month, Utsumi hammered home the message that “Internet Communication Technology (ICTs) has the potential to forever change the whole world if we take the right course of action”.

This was the rationale behind the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in December last year – a rationale that will be carried forward to the second phase in Tunisia next year and was implemented at the conference in Cairo.

The Cairo conference showcased technology that could be used to improve access to African people, while the forums and debates allowed delegates to discuss possible projects to achieve this goal.

Egypt’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology, Dr Ahmed Nazif, echoed Utsumi and called on delegates at the conference to strive for an e-enabled and e-knowledgeable African society.

“Problems in Africa are severe and difficult to overcome but success stories are evident,” he said, “We must support Africa’s development through active participation. All African countries are qualified to reach this goal. But to reach it we need to work together to turn the digital gap into a digital opportunity.”

The two delegates, along with Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Atef Ebeid, officially celebrated the launch of the ITU Telecom Africa by signing a beautifully created papyrus parchment – an ancient Egyptian paper still used in some sectors of society today.

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Posted in the category: Insight

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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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