Friday, October 31, 2008

Motorola expected to announce “Google Phone” plans this week

Private Property
The new head of Motorola’s mobile phone division, Sanjay Jha has decided that the company should focus the bulk of its efforts on developing phones based on the Google backed Android system. Spurces close to the issue told The Wall Street Journal that the plans will be formally announced on Thursday and could result in thousands of job cuts.

Motorola declined to comment on the news report.

The move could result in scrapping existing handsets under development which would rely on Linux or Nokia backed Symbian, and there are concerns that this could position the company with few new handsets in the critical Christmas holiday shopping season. Mr. Jha told Motorola employees late last month that the firm would base its future handsets on Windows Mobile, its own in house OS and a third unnamed platform.

There have been analyst comments in the past though that the company’s diversified OS portfolio had spread its development teams too thinly and helped the general decline of handset sales at the company.

The company was recently reported to have 50 staff working on Android phones already and is ramping up its team to 350 people.

A recent report from Gartner, Symbian commanded 57 per cent of the global sales to end users in the second quarter of 2008 compared with 66 per cent in the same period last year. Symbian’s performance was affected by a 26 per cent drop in unit sales in Japan and Symbian’s licensee Mitsubishi exiting the market. Overall, Symbian’s share declined as a result of a more competitive and fragmented mobile operating system market.

Sales of Microsoft Windows Mobile devices increased 20.6 per cent year over year, with Microsoft’s share remaining flat at 12 per cent in the second quarter of 2008. Microsoft’s strongest region in unit terms was North America, followed by Western Europe. Both regions combined accounted for 74 per cent of global Windows Mobile sales.

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Mobile device demand increases as PCs are dumped- IBM

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IBM has released new survey results which reveal that over 50 percent of consumers would substitute their Internet usage on a PC for a mobile device.

Expanding on the May “Go Mobile, Grow” study produced by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, the survey identifies new findings that validate previous conclusions on how consumers will be open to full adoption of the mobile device as the hub for Internet activity.

IBM surveyed 600 consumers in the United States, China and the United Kingdom on their preferences regarding the mobile Internet. The survey found that communication, travel and navigation applications, as well as news and information services, are expected to increase in usage over the mobile Internet. With the world’s population of mobile-phone users expected to increase from the current 50 percent to 80 percent in 2013, which translates to a staggering 5.8 billion people, the availability of IP wireless broadband and more affordable devices will change the way companies around the world operate and relate to their customers, employees and partners.

“Worldwide adoption of the mobile phone as the preferred device for accessing the Internet is just around the corner,” said Dr. Sungyoul Lee, Global Consulting Leader, Electronics Industry, IBM. “With 70 percent of consumers worldwide who believe that the mobile Internet has the potential to add significant to moderate value to their day-to-day lives, the time is now for companies to develop intuitive applications and services that allow people of all ages to effortlessly access and use the Internet while on the go — anytime, and anywhere.”

By 2011, 39 percent of respondents said they expect to increase Internet use on their mobile device by at least 40 percent. The Chinese consumers polled lead the world as the fastest adopting society of the mobile web. This finding is in synch with IBM’s previous hypothesis that within emerging markets, the mobile platform will be the primary way of interacting with businesses and institutions. These countries have in many cases leapfrogged the PC era and are routinely using their mobile devices for a variety of consumer services.

71 percent of respondents acknowledged that they expect to increase their usage of communication services such as obtaining maps and directions, instant messaging, social networking, emailing and reading the news from their mobile device. Growth markets like China and India are leading this adoption at a rapid pace and are proving to be the most open towards mobile internet than the mature markets. The survey found that consumers still prefer to execute services such as banking, stock trading, shopping and general search on the PC rather than a mobile device.

The mobile Internet is the most popular among Generation X and Generation Y, as they tend to be more technology savvy and have a greater exposure and acceptance of emerging technologies. Over 50 percent of respondents who chose “Strong to Full substitution” of accessing the PC versus a mobile device were 15-30 years old and believe the industry is doing its best to advance the mobile Web, although most are still unsatisfied with the price and services offered by carriers and handset manufacturers.

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Business Connexion Joins Google Enterprise Professional Program

Business Connexion today announced that it has joined the Google Enterprise Professional program, which extends the power of Google across the enterprise and helps customers get more value out of their Google enterprise deployments.

“The Google Enterprise Professional program will help us provide Google search to the South African market, inclusive of both the public and private sectors. It is widely known that organisations generally face a common challenge around retrieving and accessing information stored in multiple formats and different locations. We can now offer our clients the Google Enterprise Search interface, which will allow information to be accessed with greater speed and efficacy, thereby enhancing productivity and decision-making,” said Jaco Moolman, Regional Executive at Business Connexion.

“Our 28 year track record in the South African IT industry with solutions that are designed to deliver business imperative solutions affords us the credibility to take this partnership to our existing client base that spans most of the Top 200 JSE listed companies, as well as the public sector as an extension of our extensive solutions portfolio,” says Moolman

“Google is excited to have Business Connexion as a partner in the Google Enterprise Professional program. We’re looking forward to Business Connexion extending the power of Google search by providing Enterprise Search to customers,” said Jesper Frederiksen, Head of Enterprise EMEA Sales. The Google Enterprise Professional program includes developers, consultants and independent software vendors that provide value-added services for Google enterprise products.

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Online media seen as Kenya’s next advertising frontier

The Kenyan media landscape is no longer what it was in the 1990s; holding a television screen in your palm is now a reality; Internet continuously keeps online readers updated with breaking news, everywhere we turn, there is news. The digital era has led to renewed competition, as consumers look for comfort and speed.

Business Daily Africa reported that after many years of trailblazing modern media, television globally seems threatened; especially the free-to-air that heavily relies on advertising to survive.

Despite having not felt the heat of changing fortunes in the global TV industry, media houses in Kenya are pondering on what to do when the alternative media finally makes its impact in Africa.

Last month, more than 200 African broadcasters and filmmakers met in Nairobi to discuss their fate in the imminent digital shift.
One of the hottest issues was adspend in the digital era.

Even though David Campbell, the producer of television drama Makutano/Junction is convinced that advertising on TV makes more sense— in comparison to the other Kenyan media— global statistics on where advertisers are spending more of their money seem to indicate otherwise. Globally, the big money has shifted to online media.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pressure to be available 24×7 creates e-mail addiction

Private Property
Employees today are under enormous pressure to be “online” 24 hours a day, which is driving them to risky behaviors and underscoring the importance of e-mail reliability and availability for businesses, according to a new study conducted by Osterman Research and commissioned by Neverfail. The report finds that worry over being available during non-work hours has led employees to e-mail addiction, causing them to take unnecessary risks with their health, their relationships, and even the welfare of others.

“The study uncovered a constant pressure for employees to be available at all times through their mobile devices. This will only worsen with the economic downturn as employees take on more responsibility because of budget and headcount reductions,” said Michael Osterman, president of Osterman Research. “The resulting addiction to e-mail is driving people to unnecessary and sometimes dangerous risks.”

E-mail Addiction and Unnecessary Risks

Underscoring the reliance on 24×7 e-mail reliability and the intense addiction employees have developed, mobile device users admit to engaging in risky or inappropriate behavior to access and respond to e-mail during off hours. This behavior is greatly affecting employees’ work-life balance, potentially leading to problems with their health and general well-being. A staggering 94 percent of end user respondents use their phones to send e-mail or text messages during work nights or on the weekends, and nearly 80 percent never leave their phones at home when they go on vacation.

Employees are also taking risks with their relationships to remain connected, with 11 percent admitting to sending e-mail messages while engaged in “intimate behavior.” Nearly 80% of respondents also admitted to checking their emails while in the bathroom.

E-mail Reliability Affects Productivity

Osterman Research also surveyed IT directors, managers and CIOs across a broad range of industries to explore what’s at stake for companies with an increasing mobile workforce relying on mobile devices to conduct business. The prevalence of mobile device usage has created an unprecedented need for e-mail reliability because unexpected downtime has major business implications. Eighty percent of respondents believe their senior manager’s ability to make critical, time-sensitive decisions would be affected without access to mobile e-mail. Forty-eight percent indicate that backing up mobile data is important or very important, yet only 39 percent are confident that their mobile messaging platform is fully protected against downtime.

“The study shows that while IT is aware of the possible risks associated with mobile devices, not all companies are taking the proper precautions to protect their businesses and employees,” said Andrew Barnes, senior vice president of corporate development at Neverfail. “Email downtime puts further pressure on employees as they try to catch up with lost hours. It’s important that organizations make every effort to avoid email downtime for the sake of their business, and the health of their employees. Having a predictive, business continuity solution in place puts companies on the right path to avoiding downtime and maintaining business operations in the event it does happen.”

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Telenity ready to conquer African telecoms market

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Telenity (, a leading provider of next generation converged services platforms and applications for communications networks and CIS Group, a leading consulting and system integration provider, announced today that they have joined forces and signed a partnership agreement to mutually serve the Middle East & African market.

Acting as a single company, Telenity and CIS, vow to bring the operational excellence and innovative mobile value added services to the market. According to industry analysts, the region is forecasted to see the highest mobile growth worldwide. Africa will be the main driver of subscription growth of 70% reaching 318 million by year 2011.
The result of an ongoing cooperation, this partnership will provide African carriers with access to Telenity’s converged value added services (VAS) solutions with experienced localized system integration, project management, consulting and support services from CIS Group. Telenity and CIS already have mutual successful deployments with leading mobile operators in the region and many more are expected to materialize in the coming months.

“Joining Telenity’s global market experience and leading converged services solutions, and CIS Group’s over 25 years of advanced local experience in providing solutions integration to the telecommunications sector, this strategic partnership makes next generation VAS that much closer to mobile operators in Africa,” said Antoine Kareh, CEO at CIS Group.

“African mobile market represents strong demand for mobile communications services and a healthy growth rate,” said Dilip Singh, CEO at Telenity. “We are very excited to work with CIS Group in this in this region where the market is yet to boom. Our partnership is sure to benefit both the African mobile operators and subscribers where new innovative and revenue generating VAS will be offered in a matter of weeks with best practices and capabilities to reduce the total cost of ownership to the operators and enhance the communication life styles of end users.”

“CIS Group has an excellent track record in supporting network operators in over 20 countries in Africa,” said Onur Ozdemir, Sales Director for Middle East and Africa at Telenity. “The combination of Telenity’s innovative converged service delivery, messaging and voice enhanced VAS solutions to CIS Group’s localized integration and support services will reduce the time-to-market and ensure our customers remain competitive and lead the growth in the African telecommunications industry.”

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50% of new subscribers in Kenya choose Zain

Five out of every ten new mobile phone subscribers in Kenya during the months of August and September selected Zain as their preferred mobile service provider, a research study carried out by a local Research firm AC Nielsen Kenya has shown. According to the study conducted randomly, customers are selecting Zain owing to the mobile phone company’s superior network quality and affordable on-net and cross network calling rates.

“The strong showing by the Zain brand has been largely driven by the successful Vuka tariff campaign. Zain moved ahead of other operators in the country by resonating with consumers and understanding that the vast population is very conscious about ability to talk across networks at all times at affordable rates, with no complications and penalties,” the report notes.

Commenting on the research study, Managing Director Rene Meza welcomed the findings saying the new Vuka tariff had recorded tremendous success since it was launched in the market a month ago. “The tariff has grown in popularity because this is not a limited offer. Subscribers are interested in consistency,” said Mr. Meza.

He expressed confidence that the new products being introduced by Zain will turnaround the local mobile telephony landscape. “We still have some more propositions that we intend to roll out in addition to the much anticipated revolutionary mobile banking services,” he said.

The country wide research was done in September among respondents who were selected randomly. The researchers carried out face to face interviews with subscribers who had bought or acquired a new SIM card or mobile phone in the past three months.
The new Vuka tariff is available to both prepaid and postpaid subscribers. Prepaid subscribers can switch to the new Vuka Tariff, free of charge, by dialing *123*8# while postpaid subscribers can migrate by dialing*128*8#.

The new Vuka Tariff has also been successful due to the Choose Your Number service which enables existing and new prepaid customers to select and reserve numbers of their choice on any prefix soon after they activate their lines. Last week Zain launched a low cost Motorola handset in the market retailing at KES1,200 for customers connecting to the Vuka tariff.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

African broadband market positioned to quadruple by 2012

Private Property
Africa’s high-speed internet market is set to experience dramatic growth over the next few years, according to AfricaNext Investment Research, which expects the number of subscribers to more than quadruple from 3 million in 2007 to 13 million in 2012.

The report seeks to dispel long-standing pessimism about broadband in Africa, where PC penetration is low and the cost of service is high.

“From the deployment of new submarine cables to improvements in radio spectral efficiency, there is a confluence of catalysts that suggest that African broadband growth is on the verge of truly taking off,” according to AfricaNext Research Principal and report author, Guy Zibi. “We believe this is the most significant opportunity for investment returns in the African TMT sector since the mobile voice boom.”

The report goes on to predict that 3G mobile internet services will constitute the majority of African broadband growth in the coming years.

“Mobile broadband will account for more than half of the continent’s broadband subscriber base by 2012,” Zibi says.

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Neotel challenges Telkom

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Neotel has launched a home phone service for consumers with local peak rates to all landlines at almost half the price consumers are currently paying. The service uses Neotel’s state of the art CDMA network, with crystal-clear voice quality.

“We believe that we have hit the nail on the head with this product, particularly in light of the current economic conditions,” says Mukul Sharma, Executive Head of the Consumer Business Unit at Neotel. “Consumers are feeling the pinch of global and local economic pressures and are continuously looking to save costs, but still stay in touch.”

Neotel’s home phone is available in two packages. The first allows the consumer to purchase the phone upfront for R599 (incl. VAT @ 14%) with a monthly service fee of R99. “During the course of 24 months, a usage discount, of up to R25, will be given back to the consumer, every month, This effectively means that consumers could be reimbursed for the full purchase price of the phone” Sharma says. The second package does not require upfront payment for the phone and is charged at R199 per month. “On this package users receive 1000 free Neotel-to-Neotel minutes and 200 free sms within Neotel’s coverage area. The free minutes are applicable for local, regional and national calls. In essence, calls between Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban, will effectively be free.” In addition, all packages operate on true per second billing, for all calls, from the first second onwards. These packages are pending ICASA approval.

A key differentiator of Neotel’s home phone is the call rates. “At 34 cents per minute for local peak landline calls, and 17 cents per minute for local off peak landline calls communicating will become more affordable for the consumer,” he adds. There is no differentiation between Neotel-to-Neotel peak and off peak rates, which are charged at 17 cents per minute for local calls at all times.

“Neotel’s home phone is a home phone that offers impeccable voice quality, delivery within 48 hours of successful order completion and no installation required,” says Sharma. Consumers can order the product via the Neotel Contact Centre (0800 333 636), or from partner outlets. A further benefit of the home phone is that the service is delivered via a fixed-wireless product. “This eliminates the risk of losing your service due to copper theft,” he smiles.

This home phone provides consumers, who require a home phone, a competitive alternative. “While the product focuses on providing consumers with high quality voice, they also have the option of utilising data, sms and email, which is provided as part of the service,” Sharma concludes.

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Google’s Presence in Nigeria - What It Could Mean for Economy, Entrepreneurs and Enterprises

It is no longer news that Google has been making its way across Africa, starting with South Africa and Kenya and now spreading to all sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria.

Google has since opened offices and hired people in both South Africa and Kenya and has recently announced openings for Office Lead roles in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. This indicates Google’s strong investment interests in Africa, the fastest growing mobile market in the world with mobile penetration ranging from 30% to 100% from country to country (with Nigeria as the largest telecoms market in Africa).

What It Could Mean for The Economy

Google’s presence will have a positive impact on Nigeria’s economy via the introduction of new products, services and innovations for both companies and consumers. These products and services will drive the Nigerian market towards competition and thereby make for price reductions on specific technology-related solutions. Possible products will include Google Enterprise Search, Google Apps Security, Compliance and a variety of free software services.

Thus, Nigeria’s economy will improve tremendously as it will encourage technology investments and partnerships between local and foreign companies (especially those that have been skeptical about
investing in the Nigerian market).

Save Your Business
What It Could Mean for The Entrepreneurs

If you take a look at Google’s investment in Kenya’s Mobile Planet you will realise that the Internet search giant is giving African web entrepreneurs a hint that they should step up with the development of mobile/tech applications and startups. Mobile Planet specializes in the development of wireless voice & data applications for mobile devices in Kenya, with a special focus on SMS-based products and
services. Nigerian web entrepreneurs will be more focused on web apps, services and technologies that could get the attention of Google and other potential investors. These could be in the areas of mobile technology, video sharing, online advertising, instant messaging, social networking and more.

What It Could Mean for The Enterprises

With Google’s arrival in Nigeria, IT, software and tech enterprises will be butting heads to partner with Google in order to drive sales and market growth within the industry and further open up opportunities
for expansion.

An example of this kind of enterprise partnership is Faritec, a South African IT services company which was was one of Google’s first partners in South Africa. Faritec anticipates the growth from the
Google partnership to be exponential, with conservative sales estimates of R20 million within the first year of trading.

On the Google front, we can expect to see more investments in the Nigerian IT and software industry, which will drive the local IT market and local software developers to becoming more resourceful in
their field and thus build a stronger IT industry for Nigeria.

About Loy Okezie

With a background in Business Management & Strategy, Loy Okezie runs
his own technology and media publishing site (, where he reviews and analyses tech startups and web applications from Nigeria.

Previously, Loy worked as a career consultant with Careers Nigeria, the leading jobs and recruitment portal in Nigeria.
As a speech delivery expert, he has trained hundreds of people in public speaking while working with the Guild of Orators - a professional organisation that encourages professional speaking in Nigeria.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Netone subscribers cry foul

Private Property

CELLULAR phone network provider, NetOne and its agents – Zellco Cellular and Firstel, last week shocked its customers when it announced the suspension of cheque payment to settle phone bills, insisting on cash only, it has been learnt.

Some of the three companies subscribers expressed dismay and anger following the decision to scrap off the use of cheques when making payments for the contract lines.

The companies sent the announcement via its sms facility informing clients that it would now require payments to be made strictly in cash and it threatened to terminate the lines of those who would fail to comply with the directive by the 23rd of October 2008.

Some angry clients called the Sunday News offices to complain about this arrangement arguing that the companies were being “unreasonable and insensitive” to its clients.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is allowing individuals to withdraw only $50 000 per day to cater for daily chores, while some phone bills were running into millions of dollars.

A Mr Sibanda from Magwegwe North alleged that the network’s motives were suspect and the reasons they had forwarded were “flimsy.”
A notice posted at Firstel advised subscribers to pay in cash as cheques would not be accepted.

According to the notice, the decision was made in order to avoid the inconvenience of receiving invalid RD (refer to the drawer) cheques, high bank charges as well as to supposedly cope with high administrative costs.

Another customer who requested to remain anonymous claimed that he had confronted the Firstel manager to get a proper explanation why they had scrapped off cheque payments but was referred to the Head office in Harare.

After requesting that the network write him a note explaining their position so as to enable him to apply for funds from the RBZ as the daily limit of $50 000 would not suffice, he was again referred to the Head office in Harare.

“It is very frustrating because these people know how much the daily cash limit is. Where do they think we will get the money from?” he quipped.
Most clients refuted the claims of cheques bouncing as they said that was very unlikely since people had now taken to “burning” money and made most payments using cheques. Other networks are still accepting cheques and it appears NetOne is the only network facing challenges in this regard.

Efforts to get comments from the relevant network authorities were in vain as they could not be reached on their mobiles.
Zellco Cellular has also barred all clients that once had cheques referred to drawer not to pay using cheques.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Nigel Chanakira booted out of the Econet Board

HARARE - THE battle between tycoon Nigel Chanakira of Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited (KMAL) and his business partner Strive Masiyiwa of Econet Wireless International (EWI) seems to be heating up as Chanakira is no longer on the board.

Chanakira's name was missing from the recent line up when Econet Holdings Zimbabwe Limited (Econet) EWI's sister firm, released its results.
Econet said only company directors were on its board now.

In Zimbabwe Econet is led by Douglas Mboweni but it was founded by Masiyiwa before he left to settle in South Africa.

Chanakira has confirmed to Radio VOP that things were not well between him and his buddy.

He said he could not be continuosly told what to do at his own firm Kingdom which he also founded in 1996.

But Econet has thrown its weight behind Chanakira in his fight with Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited (KMAL) Chairman, John Moxon as they blocked the expected Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) scheduled for month end.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Econet externalising lines?

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It has been a norm since the beginning of the GSM industry in Zimbabwe that purchasing lines has been the most difficult thing. This is because of the shortage of foreign currency in the country that is torn by the highest level of inflation in the world.
GSM operators, Econet (the biggest by subscriber base and market share), Net*one and Telecel have therefore come up with other means to generate the much needed foreign currency for their operations. Most of the means that have been applied by these companies are not known to the public and they remain unknown.

However, it has been observed of late that Econet Wireless, a purely African company that is run under the control of the visionary business tycoon Strive Masiyiwa, has started selling lines in countries like the United Kingdom and neighboring South Africa.
Who ever thought Econet GSM lines that are meant to be used only in areas with Econet network coverage, unless activated for Roaming, could be exported? Yes, they are indeed being exported from Zimbabwe to other countries. How are they being used in those countries? Well, it is not about being used in those countries, these lines are expected to be channeled back to their roots, Zimbabwe, as soon as they are purchased in those countries. So why are they not just being sold in Zimbabwe if they are meant for Zimbabweans? This is where the catchy is!

Below are the three scenarios that are taking place:

1. Lines are produced in Zimbabwe where the market rate is ZWD225
2. They are not sold in Zimbabwe, but exported (or simply put, brought to South Africa), where they are sold by “dealers” for anything between R500 and R650 depending on quantity.
3. As soon as they are bought, they are taken back to Zimbabwe where they are flooded on the parallel market and sold for anything between R1,000 and R1,400 per line.

In South Africa, GSM lines for Vodacom, MTN and Cell-C cost less than R2. So what is the difference in manufacturing costs between Econet lines and other players in the same industry?

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Dr. Gideon Gono, who is notoriously known for clamping down on foreign currency externalisers is very silent about this development. Is it because Econet is remitting back the money to Zimbabwe or the Central Intelligence Officers, well known as the CIOs, have been caught off-guard on this issue. Or the RBZ, as it has been previously involved in scandalous cases of protecting other “special citizens” is again protecting Econet in this case?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mobile phones could cause skin-rash

The British Association of Dermatologists has warned that some mobile phones - if used for long periods - could cause skin rashes on the ears of face cheeks. The unidentified rash or itchy skin, nicknamed “mobile phone dermatitis,” can occur if people develop an allergic reaction to the nickel in mobile phone cases, the dermatologists trade body warned doctors in an advisory notice.

“In mobile phone dermatitis, the rash would typically occur on the cheek or ear, depending on where the metal part of the phone comes into contact with the skin. In theory it could even occur on the fingers if you spend a lot of time texting on metal menu buttons,” said Dr. Graham Lowe, from the British Association of Dermatologists.

“It is worth doctors bearing this condition in mind if they see a patient with a rash on the cheek or ear that cannot otherwise be explained,” he added in a statement.

The notice advised that the problem may occur more often in women who have been sensitized to metal after an allergic reaction to nickel-coated jewelry

Earlier this year, Lionel Bercovitch of USA based, Brown University tested 22 mobile phones from eight different manufacturers and found nickel in 10 of the cases.

“Nearly half of the phones we spot-tested contained some free nickel,” Bercovitch said in the report. “The menu buttons, decorative logos on the headsets and the metallic frames around the liquid crystal display (LCD) screens were the most common sites.”

According to the results of Bercovitch’s tests, the Motorola L2, Motorola Rzr, Motorola SLVR and Motorola Q all had nickel in brand-logo, while the following had nickel elsewhere on the casing: BlackBerry 8700c (speakerphone); Samsung e150 (metal around the screen and menu button); Samsung d807 (menu button); SonyEricsson W600i (menu button); SonyEricsson W810i (menu button); and the Sony Ericsson T610 (only if the paint is chipped).

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Lack of HR development hamper telecom industry in Africa

African nations are pushing for human resource development in the telecom sector to enhance growth, according to speakers at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) workshop in Zambia this week.

The African telecom sector is lacking rapid growth due to the lack of human resource development resulting from insufficient training and capacity building in ICT, said Richard Mwanza, acting CEO of the Communications Authority of Zambia.
There is need to promote an environment that supports organizational changes and improves workers performance, as human resources are critical to the telecom sector’s development, he added.

Many developing countries are shifting their resources into telecommunications to increase efficiency and develop their economies. However, infrastructure alone is not an efficient means for economic growth, Mwanza said. Countries must, therefore, focus on human and capital resources in order to obtain greater benefits from investment in the telecommunications sector.

Human resource expert Mike Nxele agreed that human capacity building is necessary for the sector’s growth, and he expressed appreciation that the issue is now receiving attention in most developing nations.

The ITU workshop hosted representatives from countries across eastern and southern Africa, including Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia and Tanzania.

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Telecoms billionaire honours Botswana ex-president with $5 million

Festus Mogae, the former president of Botswana has been honoured with a $5 million prize for good governance in Africa by Sudanese-born telecoms billionare Mo Ibrahim.
Mogae, who led Botswana from 1998 to 2008, got the recognition today as the winner of the 2008 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.

It is the largest annually awarded prize in the world. Mogae will receive $5 million over 10 years and $200,000 annually for life thereafter.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation will consider granting $200,000 more annually for 10 years to causes Mogae supports.

The foundation was created by Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese-born billionaire who founded the African telecommunications company Celtel International.

Mogae has been praised for his leadership on health and economic issues.

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Essar buys 49% of Econet, will fund Kenyan launch and international expansion

Econet Wireless International (aka Econet Wireless Group), the telecoms group founded by Zimbabwean entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa, has sold 49% of its shares to Essar Communication Holdings, a subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Essar Group, reports Business Daily Africa.

The price for the stake was not disclosed, but according to law firm Anjarwalla & Khanna Advocates, who advised on the deal, Essar will provide close to USD500 million to fund Econet’s long-awaited rollout of mobile services in Kenya as well as other international projects. Econet owns 70% in the third mobile licensee in Kenya but, despite receiving its operating concession in 2003, has not been able to roll out a commercial network due to protracted court battles, and even since the Kenyan regulator cleared it in September 2007, the group and its local partners have lacked the funds to launch services.

In India, Essar is a partner in joint venture cellco Vodafone Essar with the UK’s Vodafone Group, which also has a 40% stake in Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom. However, a source at Anjarwalla & Khanna Advocates added that in Kenya, Essar was acting completely independently of Vodafone, and that there are no issues of cross-ownership or conflicts of interest. The source also stressed that the investment in Econet Wireless International was not limited to the Kenyan market but encompassed other countries in Africa and worldwide that Econet was interested in. Econet is headquartered in South Africa and has telecoms interests in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana, Lesotho, Burundi, Malawi, Nigeria, New Zealand and the UK.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

One of the reasons that call centres have shifted their operations overseas is because of the difficulty of retaining staff, especially part time staff. Travelling across a city to a call centre for 3 or 4 hours work at peak call times is simply often not viable for employees. Now Inclarity, a leader in the hosted VoIP market, claims to have ...

One of the reasons that call centres have shifted their operations overseas is because of the difficulty of retaining staff, especially part time staff.

Travelling across a city to a call centre for 3 or 4 hours work at peak call times is simply often not viable for employees.

Now Inclarity, a leader in the hosted VoIP market, claims to have the solution to call centre staff problems by enabling them to work from home.

Surveys reveal that nearly half of all companies now allow for staff working from home, and that trend is definitely set to rise over the next few years.

A big advantage for companies is not having to support a large building and other financially draining problems associated with running a big office full of people.

The big advantage for staff is that they can often spend the time they would have used in unpaid travelling, in paid work.

There are also advantages for many other groups such as the disabled who may only be able to work from home, and there are situations that could be avoided that cause staff shortages for companies and loss of income for employees.

For example a working mum finds her child is sick, nothing serious but the child can’t go to school, which means she has to take three days off work to look after the child.

By working from home she can settle the child to sleep on the sofa and get back to work.

The problem for call centres is that they have no way of monitoring their employees’ work if they allow them to work from home.

But Inclarity claims that their new Virtual Call Centre is the answer to those problems.

The Virtual Call Centre acts as if the employee were in the office. A supervisor can watch all the call statistics in real time to be sure that the employee is working.

They can listen in on calls for quality assurance, and can speak directly to the employee to offer advice and assistance. Basically it’s just as if the staff are in the office.

This seems like a win-win situation for both company and employee, offering both what they need in terms of flexibility.

From :


Monday, October 20, 2008

Ever thought of paying your ISP with sugar?

By Samuel Mungadze

Ever thought of paying for your internet services with sugar? It’s possible but only in Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s 702 talk Radio reported that a leading internet service provider in the troubled African country, Zimbabwe Online, announced today that it will be accepting groceries as payment for services.

The country’s unstable currency has led many businesses to decline the local currency and opt instead for forex or other commodities of value.

This article is from Should you require further clarification, please visit the respective website.

Fire disrupts telecoms in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry has be severely disturbed after a fire gutted a telephone exchange in the capital.

The damage has also affected internet service.

African Press Agency reported today that he fire extensively damaged the exchange in central Harare, switching off some telephone users with numbers from the station.
The damage has also crippled Internet traffic for subscribers using the state-owned service provider, ComOne.
The affected subscribers have not had Internet access since last week when the damage occurred.
Officials at ComOne’s parent company, TelOne, suspected that the fire was caused by defective temperature regulation at the exchange.

This article is from Should you require further clarification, please visit the respective website.

VoIP now legal in Zimbabwe?

Private Property
By Robert Ndlovu
HAS the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) finally seen the light?

If developments at Econet Wireless are anything to go by, VoIP is now legal in Zimbabwe. Or is it?

VoIP – Voice Over Internet Protocol -- is the sending of voice calls over Internet Protocol as opposed to GSM or traditional switched network like PSTN that are relatively expensive.

Zimbabwe allows only local VoIP traffic. Which means a person in Bulawayo can call someone in Harare over the internet. But up to now it was illegal for anyone in Zimbabwe to make or receive international calls over the internet.

The Chronicle newspaper reported recently that Econet was granted a “go ahead” by POTRAZ to operate an international calling card platform in Zimbabwe. This so called ICC runs on VoIP using session initiation platform (SIP) as the signaling protocol.
“… the mobile telecommunications provider was last week granted authority to sell the cards in foreign currency under its new International Calling Card (ICC) platform.

POTRAZ finally gave the nod more than a year after Econet submitted an application to implement the system.”
[ – September 19, 2008]

“The ICC system is one of our innovative products, developed in partnership with a United Kingdom-based provider where subscribers can purchase recharge cards in foreign currency and use the system to make international calls,” Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni told the paper.

For what we know, Econet is a GSM wireless, 3G operator and an internet service provider via Ecoweb in Zimbabwe based on the licenses it was granted by POTRAZ.
The three IAPs — Telecontract, TelOne and Ecoweb — hold the IAP Class B licence, which is an internet licence that allows them to only transmit data using the internet and not voice. Has Econet now been granted IAP license class A which allows for VoIP ?

The recent announcement by Econet on their new calling card platform implies that VoIP has been legalised in Zimbabwe. That would be great news indeed.
But is that the case? Is that official? Or it’s only for Econet?
VoIP Lawsuit - Econet vs Easi-E-Connect – July 2007

Sometime last year Econet took Easi-E-Connect directors Herbert Rinashe and Irfaan Valera based in Harare to court saying that they had defrauded Econet up to US$77,000. Econet claimed that this company was defrauding them by terminating VoIP traffic using the internet and Econet SIM cards.

Apparently this company beat Econet in implementing International Calling Card platform and the poor fellows were arrested for being innovative. Easi-E connect did not defraud Econet but were innovative enough to reduce the cost of calling from outside Zimbabwe using intuitive and smart VoIP /GSM technologies.
[Source – July 7, 2007]

Let me explain what this company was accused and charged of.
Easi-E-Connect used the internet to receive telephone calls from around the world onto a GSM modem located in Harare. This GSM modem contained multiple SIM cards from Econet.

This is how it works. An overseas caller dials a certain access number in the UK, for instance, that will prompt the user to enter a PIN. After a correct PIN has been entered, the system will then prompt the caller to enter a destination number e.g. 0912 444 666, then the call will be routed over IP (internet) directly to a GSM modem connected to the internet in Harare.

Bear in mind this GSM modem in Harare has several SIM cards, legally sourced by the company from Econet. Then after receiving that call over IP the SIM then calls the desired number and the call is connected and people start talking.
This means the call from the SIM card in the GSM modem to any number in Zimbabwe is literally a local call. The time used by these SIM cards was prepaid or post paid for.

“This caused prejudice of US$77 000 to Econet in unlawful converted international incoming calls terminated minutes for the month of June 2007 alone... and nothing yet has been recovered," a Harare Magistrates’ Court heard.

Leg 1: Caller in UK calling a local access number, entering PIN, and then entering destination number (the caller has paid local telephone service that he/she pays for monthly).
Leg 2: Call travels over the internet from UK and hits GSM modem in Zimbabwe (The calling service provider is connected to the Internet via an ISP and pays for the bandwidth it uses).
Leg 3: SIM card in GSM modem then calls the destination number. (The GSM modem owner in Harare pays for his internet service with his/her ISP and also pays for his/her airtime to the SIM card provider).
Intdev Online SMS services
Which of the call legs illustrated above is illegal?
Let’s say Zimbabwe imports diesel from Saudi Arabia via the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe. In order to reduce the cost of diesel to the end user, NOCZIM will add ethanol to the fuel. This is called blending. Jatropha or ethanol is used for this. This helps cut the cost of the fuel by 20 % and is indeed a great innovative use of technology to reduce fuel costs and also use bio-friendly green fuels.
Now, how would you react if BP or Shell in Saudi Arabia takes you to court for diluting their fuel with jatropha or ethanol to produce blend?

I don’t see anything illegal when a company such as Easi-Connect routes voice calls over an IP network in order to cut down origination and termination costs.
Hopefully Econet now understands this. By embracing a technology that they took someone to court for, Econet and POTRAZ have sent a good signal to all VoIP practitioners to leverage on the VoIP platform.

This is good news for Zimbabwe as it encourages technology companies based in and outside Zimbabwe to aggressively deploy VoIP based services which include but are not limited to calling card services, call centers, virtual telephone numbers, internet fax and call conferencing.

We live in an extremely dynamic and competitive global village where regulations and fear of competition have been noted as clear obstacles to ICT development and progress in Africa.

POTRAZ must come clear about VoIP because if they don’t, people will still use it. If POTRAZ tries to force ISP to block VoIP traffic on their networks, people can always install VSAT dishes. Restrictions are no longer an alternative.

Blind restrictions on part of POTRAZ are seriously stifling progress and employment creation opportunities in this fast moving telecoms lane. In Africa, countries like South Africa and Kenya are now new targets for US-based companies to provide customer services over the phone by using VoIP.

Availability of a call centers is going to play a pivotal role for the tourism industry come the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. To be able to handle millions of calls before and during the soccer show case, VoIP enables operators to access cheap and reliable calling plans to contact their potential customers in Europe, Americas and the like.

Zimbabwe is an ideal destination for customer support service centers over the phone as the country has a high literacy rate and people in Zimbabwe have a very high command of the English language. Call center software is available in free open source versions and can be downloaded for free from thousands of websites like

Advances in ICT in Zimbabwe cannot remain a domain of a special few because of protective and restrictive conditions imposed by a body which has little understanding that restricting VoIP will not work. VoIP runs on open protocols like (IP/UDP/SIP/RTP) and trying to restrict their use will be tantamount to trying to ban technological progress and development in Zimbabwe.

This discussion would be incomplete if no mention is made to the prohibitive licenses that POTRAZ is demanding for data licenses and ISP licenses.
POTRAZ is demanding millions of USD $ for one to secure a data licence. Surely this is a clear message to prospective telecommunications providers to look elsewhere. And indeed people are looking elsewhere by erecting satellites for use for both voice and data. The size of some VSAT is about the same size as the TV satellites that have been deployed all over Zimbabwe to access outside TV broadcasts like SABC and BBC.

If POTRAZ continues to make entry into data and voice business prohibitive, the mushrooming of data and voice satellites, which cost about US$2000, will continue unabated. All one needs is a satellite dish installed on site pointing the right direction into the sky and then activating the data and voice with the service provider.

Flow of information is fundamental to any country but in Africa, it appears authorities put all measures they can muster to stifle technological innovation.
Zimbabwe is set to witness some very interesting scenarios when returning residents from the Diaspora, used to high speed access abroad, will be faced with communication challenges on their return. It must be remembered that some of these returning residents have been away from Zimbabwe for more than 10 years and in that period, they have moved in sync with global telecommunications trends.

Population 12 .2 million (est.)
Fixed telephone lines 343,200
Fixed line density 2.81 %
Mobile lines 1,001,000
Mobile line density 8.2 %
Internet users 1,200,750
Internet penetration 9.84 %

It is clear from the statistics above that fixed line development has not progressed as fast as mobile wireless and internet growth. So there is NO rocket science needed to figure out that any work to increase tele-density in Zimbabwe will revolve around wireless and internet based technologies.

Progress is already being made in that direction with Econet being granted a 3G license. TelOne has also made moves to increase phone line delivery by use of CDMA wireless solutions as the last mile to connect end users to the TelOne telephone network. For now, this service is restricted to Harare and Chitungwiza only.

Is VoIP now legal in Zimbabwe? By giving a go ahead to the SIP-based International Calling Center to Econet; POTRAZ has sent strong messages to businesses – that yes its OK to implement VoIP in Zimbabwe.

POTRAZ needs to explain the criteria used to allow Econet to use VoIP because I don’t see any reason why ZOL, Mweb, Telconet, Africaonline and other ISPs cannot do VoIP. I used to think that Telco was the one awarded the IAD license A?
The deregulation of VoIP is long overdue and inevitable. The sooner this is done, the better. Otherwise the high costs of making calls will force business and organisations alike to adopt other alternatives that authorities might deem illegal. Of course this is already happening. Don’t ask me who and where!
We talk about indigenising our economy .We cannot promote this process of indigenisation on one hand and prosecute those who come up with creative solutions on the other.

People do not stop planning because the country is facing unprecedented economic challenges highlighted by six figure inflation and near zero productivity levels. The onus is upon us come up with solutions that relate to our unique position. Only we can help ourselves.

This article was written by Robert Ndlovu and adapted from Robert Ndlovu is a Zimbabwean IT & Telecoms Consultant based in New York, United States. Contact him:


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Telecoms in Zimbabwe

We will be doing a series of posts on the current situation in the Zimbabwean Telecoms space. A lot of events are unfolding and it takes a risky and politically "connected" one to take advantage of whats happening.

Telecoms 24/7 Unleashed

Hi, we are from Telecoms24 - the source for your upto date telecoms news. We will be sharing telecoms news with you on a daily basis. We will focus on latest developments in WiFi, WiMax, 3G,4G,messaging platforms,etc.

We will try to give you an insight into telecoms in emerging African countries - starting with countries in SADC.