15 Jun 2012

Friday News Round Up...

Emerging markets are increasingly seen as hubs of innovation and creative start-ups in their own right – not just attractive investment prospects. So in this age of activity, advancement and never ending news, we thought we’d put together a list of some of the Hot stories we come across: this week, a focus on Africa as the Com World Series team is back from West & Central Africa Com in Senegal.

Hot Stories in Emerging Markets

Tim cohen: plenty of fat to cut out of the cellphone business

Access is a fundamental need

Sub-Saharan Africa economic growth remains robust – World Bank http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/sub-saharan-africa-economic-growth-remains-robust-world-bank-2012-06-13

Several African countries ahead of Europe in the race to LTE

Price war hurts smaller operators in Tanzania; mergers & acquisitions likely

3G licences and more international fibre bandwidth set to boost Gabon’s broadband market in 2012

Picture of the week

Map of tech hubs and incubators in Africa
Video of the week
West & Central Africa Com features in Africa24’s news bulletin – Interviews and feedback on the market on the video link below from 4:30 minutes in

Blog Spot
West & Central Africa Com 2012 - See your next year!

The Com World Series team concentrates on emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia 24/7 – 365 days of the year. You can follow the news with us by joining our online communities.

West & Central Africa Com 2012 - See your next year!

Took place on 13-14 June 2012
King Fahd Palace
Dakar, Senegal
Website: www.comworldseries.com/wcafrica

After two days of intensive learning, debate and networking, yesterday saw the close of the 9th annual West & Central Africa Com in Dakar, Senegal. After enjoying drinks and music, sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent, at the Sea View Networking Reception on the Day 1, attendees gathered yesterday, for an engaging second day, to address the issue of relevant service innovation.

Delegates benefitted from a strong speaker line up taken from the region’s digital ecosystem, with a focus on innovation in the value added services space. VIP speakers included Orange Technocentre’s Arnauld Blondet, Director of AMEA, Constant Nemale, President & Founder of leading digital news broadcaster, Africa24, Lola Masha, Google’s New Business Dev elopement lead in West Africa, John Ndego, CEO of Airtel Burkina Faso, to name a few.

There was further consensus, as during day 1, that the customer should be at the centre of all innovation, and that hearing their needs, understanding the market and responding in an innovative way should be key areas of focus for service providers.  The panel discussing how to generate new revenues elaborated on this, further pressing the point that all players (service providers, OTT players, content providers, app developers, etc.) need to play their part, but there also must be fair revenue generation for all.  Also, the operators requested further local action in the challenge of developing local content, saying that successful partners are needed to ensure better content for the region.  It remains to be seen who will take the leading role, or emerge on top, in this scuffle in the shifting ecosystem, but what is clear is that forums like West & Central Africa Com are key meeting places for this expanded ecosystem, and an important platform for the discussion and debate of issues like this one.

The afternoon of Day 2 further segmented approaches to delighting the customer, with a focus on services for enterprise clients, including the potential of cloud, as well as reaching rural segments with the right services, and reliable access.

Finally, delegates attended the ICT Entrepreneurs’ Hub – a brand new session dedicated to the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit in West & Central Africa.  Chaired by the CTIC of Dakar, discussions centred on how to promote existing ICT innovation taking place in the region, as well as what young, emerging entrepreneurs need from the rest of the ICT industry in order to successfully overcome hurdles facing their progress and profitable start-up ideas.

Don't forget to share your thoughts on this year's West & Central Africa Com 
Tweet about your experience using #WCACOM @allaboutcom on twitter!

Take a look at the photos from the packed busy conference

Click here: http://yfrog.com/ny6mleej

Click here to see what our attendees are saying on twitter: https://twitter.com/search/%23wcacom

What are delegates saying about West & Central Africa Com?

- "I love the event, the quality of the speakers, the quality of the panels and the good networking environment. For me it was a good experience and I want to be here again next year!"

Verone Mankou, Chairman and CEO, VMK, Congo 

"The opportunity provided by this conference was invaluable. Meeting the decision makers in the telecoms industry in Africa"

Ajibola Aiyedogbon, Software Developer, MobileXcetera, Nigeria

 "I am truly satisfied on the quality and organisation of the event. Great opportunity for solutions and problems in the telecoms Industry."

Sako Yaya, Head of IP/Wimax, Orange Bissau, Guinee
Thank you to all the Sponsors of West & Central Africa Com:

- Alcatel-Lucent
- ACE Consortium
- Telecom Italia Sparkle
- Sonatel
- Comviva
- Corning
- Tellabs

See You Next Year!

West & Central Africa Com 2013
18-19 June 2013
Radisson Blu Hotel
Dakar, Senegal
Website: www.comworldseries.com/wcafrica

14 Jun 2012

General Manager of Zain speaks out about VAS in Africa

Informa Telecoms & Media has interviewed Hakeem Dario N'Moi,
CEO of Zain Sudan on his thoughts about VAS & it's future in Africa.

1)     Tell us a bit about yourself and your organization.

CEO of Zain South Sudan, the leading mobile operator in the country and emerging market in the world. Zain SS is independent and separate operation of the Kuwait Zain Group of telecom operators in the middle east and north Africa. The company started off as a branch of Zain Sudan before independence of South Sudan on 9th July 2011. And I have been overseeing the unique challenge of implementing GSM network separation between North and South of Sudan; after the country divided into two and led Zain South Sudan efforts to be the first among other operators (MTN, Vivacell, Sudani, Gemtel) to launch the South Sudan new country’s code of +211 on 30th September 2011.  My career spans more than fifteen years of professional experience with blue chip and multinational UK firms; in financial services, capital markets, insurance, telecommunications and media domains. I have interest in convergence of media and telecom in the development of information and knowledge economy in Africa.

2)     What does VAS mean to you?

To my mind, VAS is any service or product that leverages a telecom operator’s GSM network for the benefit of subscribers and giving them more than just voice and SMS or access to Internet on their handset and mobile devices. To borrow a leaf from the PC world, we have seen how proliferation and adoption of PCs made it possible to innovate new products and services in various industry sectors to satisfy customer needs and demands. Mobile computing extends that model to a mobile handset to deliver products and services to users and subscribers ‘everywhere there is a mobile network’. Mobile money is typical of value added services that leverage existing GSM network and there are infinite applications that can be developed and deployed on mobile devices as happened on the ubiquitous computing on Pcs.

3)     How would you describe the growth of Value Added Services in Africa over the past year?

There is a growing penetration of mobile phones in Africa as demonstrated by the success of M-Pesa in Kenya, with over 16 million registered users of M-Pesa, and growing number of agents which creates more employment in the continent.  I have recently come across many start up companies by young entrepreneurs in the East Africa region, particularly in Kenya and Uganda, that have awakened up to real market opportunities for value added services in the region, and many of these new products and services targeted mobile devices and their users across different segments in the financial services, utilities, games, entertainment and agricultural sectors. There are no less than 30 VAS applications today in Kenya and Uganda that offer innovative products and services ranging from mobile payment services, to location based services such as Mafuto app in Uganda used by drivers to compare fuel prices across 400 service stations. The trend has been set, last and this year has seen an increase in the number of new start ups as well new VAS applications adoption in the VAS market such as; mfarm, mTracker, EasyOrder, mVerified, Tough Jungle, and many countless others to mention. Mobile penetration growth in Africa will continue to spur development of VAS, perhaps more than it is in the developed world.

4)     What do you think has been a major change in the nature of value added services in the past year?

I think that the major change has been that VAS has started to assume a global dimension and market beyond the local and emerging markets for VAS in Africa,  and this is driven by the adoption of smart phones which open up opportunities for developers to target a global rather than just a local market for their products and services.  Furthermore, diversification of VAS is increasing, and there is more portability of PC apps to smart devices in almost all categories:

5)     How important do you think cost-efficiency is for the delivery of VAS and why?

Cost-efficiency is critical and very important indeed for delivery of VAS,  and if the cost of innovation is high (new product development, marketing, and servicing etc are high), then customers and subscribers’ adoption of VAS would be inhibited by high prices from vendors who want to recover their costs from sales. Furthermore, 3G and LTE networks are not wide spread in the continent which limits available cost-effective bandwidths for rich VAS applications on smartphones and low end handsets for the mass market in Africa (base of the pyramid).

6)     Who do you think are the major players in the African market (or your region) affecting the VAS industry?

Firstly, large mobile operators, like Airtel, MTN, and Safaricom in Kenya, and Zain in South Sudan are the key players for providing the enabling environment and distribution medium for the delivery of VAS to customers. Secondly, handset suppliers and distributors (Nokia, Samsung, Huawei, ZTE, Apple, etc) and their partners such as Google Android,,  play a key role together with operators in promoting mobile and handset penetration in Africa and its regions so that access to VAS applications is made possible. Thirdly, VAS developers and their innovations to meet African market needs. All these contributors play a critical role in the development of VAS industry in Africa to a larger or lesser degree on the continent.

7)     What do you think are the 3 key areas VAS providers need to focus on in order to succeed in the African market?

The three key areas for VAS providers to focus on for success are; firstly understand the needs of the African market, do not focus on technology alone, but on the real needs of the customer. Secondly, focus on new product development, marketing and distribution channels to satisfy real  and not imagined customer needs, in other words, VAS providers must focus on being customer-centric and focusing on what makes the customer spend on your product and not from a competitor. Thirdly success comes from a solid business model, focusing on well-defined revenue streams and managing, and optimizing the cost of doing business.

8)     Which key message do you want to highlight during your participation at VAS Africa in Johannesburg later this year?

The key message to highlight is that mobile has proven potential and success stories to transform Africa, the challenge now is needed infrastructure to move Africa to the next level.

Register to learn from Zain & 39 other C-level speakers @ VAS Africa - FREE passes available for operators!

John Earley, President of Ceragon Africa and Middle East shares his views on how “Microwave Expansion Improves Connectivity for Africa”

Ceragon is exhibiting at West and Central Africa Com, taking place today at King Fahd Palace in Dakar, Senegal. 

John Earley, the President of Ceragon Africa and Middle East is our guest blogger for the week. Today he shares his views on how “Microwave Expansion Improves Connectivity for Africa”

Africa is connected directly, telecommunications-wise, to Europe, South America, and the Middle East via the subsea cables that were laid in the last decade and that surround the continent. This, of course, enables African governments, multinational corporations and other organizations to open up African communications to the rest of the world. However, there is still the problem of connecting up cities, towns and villages, especially those that are not very close to the subsea cables, so that the bulk of the population of African countries can enjoy the benefits of the Internet and international data communications services.

Terrestrial fibre cable has traditionally been considered the long-term solution for Africa’s connectivity demands. At the start of 2010, there were more than 300Gbps of Internet capacity in place on the African continent. By the end of that year, Internet traffic had already grown an additional 70% to more than 500Gbps. Where available, fibre accommodates this growth so, governments and private operators have rolled out many kilometres of fibre cable both internally and across national borders to bring networks together and to establish and improve connectivity with the subsea cables.  But it seems that even after more than five years and hundreds of thousands of kilometres of deployed fibre, connectivity is still a problem. 

The African environment makes fibre deployment difficult for a number of reasons.
  •   Fibre is expensive to deploy and operate especially over long distances 
  • Breaks in the Fibre, malicious or accidental, are a daily occurrence 

 Fibre Deployment. Greenfield fibre deployment is a time-consuming and expensive activity. The costs for trenching and deploying fibre increase rapidly with distance. Right-of-way permits and the labour-intensiveness of trenching add significantly to the cost and the time required. Fibre requires significant supporting equipment. For example, network interface cards (NICs) for fibre cables can cost $1,000 each and a fibre network requires thousands of them.  For connecting highly populated areas, fibre deployment can be justified. However, as Africa comprises many large countries with population centres separated by vast distances, not to mention numerous remote areas, Fibre deployment becomes exceedingly expensive.

Fibre Breaks. After a fibre break, in the best cases, severely restricted back-up services to fibre routes are dimensioned to carry only essential voice and signaling traffic leaving the growing IP-based data services at risk along with the revenues they generate.  In the worst cases, fibre breaks destroy connectivity completely for unacceptably long periods of time.  With vast road construction, poor environmental management and erratic observance of planning procedures, no country in Africa is immune. In Nigeria alone, there are, on average, fourteen fibre breaks per 100km per year leading to a colossal 2,200 hours of network down-time! When a fibre break occurs, the expectations that customers have built up for accessibility and quality of service are destroyed.  

Africa is returning to microwave.
Although they neglected long-haul microwave in favour of fibre, African network operators are re-thinking their strategies. Where microwave was once considered a less desirable technology than fibre, operators are now seeing significant advantages.
Microwave is particularly suitable to the African environment due to technology advances, lower deployment costs, ease of maintenance, and practical backup strategies. For example, Celtel has installed a long-haul microwave link to improve communications between Uganda and Tanzania. A new microwave link now connects Tangiers, Morocco with Tarifa, Spain.  

Advances in Capacity. Today’s microwave technology provides impressive long-haul capacity. Where outdated routes were previously limited to two or three STM1s, they now carry capacities measured in gigabits. Innovative technologies, like advanced modulation and multi-channel bandwidth control empower network operators to provide true high capacity on long-haul routes. Today’s long-haul microwave provides abundant capacity far in excess of Africa’s current and predicted demand.

Advances in Reliability. Where inclement weather and other types of interference used to be mitigating factors in microwave link availability, leading microwave equipment vendors are now able to keep their long-haul transmission links functional even in transient fading conditions. For example, Ceragon Networks’ systems sense the quality of the transmission link and can automatically decrease the modulation technique in case of degraded signal quality due to interference or other microwave propagation problems. So, if a microwave transmission is humming along at maximum capacity and it suddenly encounters fading, the Ceragon microwave system automatically steps down the modulation to lower levels until the transmission network maintains the requisite level of reliability. The traffic is distributed over all carriers using Multi-carrier Adaptive Bandwidth Control (ABC), so, when one carrier is affected by reduced modulation, the link distributes traffic to the remaining carriers making the link appear as a single dynamic, high-capacity pipe. As the transient problems disappear, the resilient microwave system automatically re-applies more efficient modulation techniques to regain full capacity. All of this occurs automatically with split-second timing and without human intervention.

Deployment Costs and Speed. Long-haul microwave links are significantly less expensive and speedier to deploy than fibre. Right-of-way issues and expensive trenching are avoided while complete microwave networks can be implemented economically in just weeks reducing the operator’s time-to-revenue and service provision. Unlike fibre, microwave deployment costs do not increase with distance. Long-distance hops of 20, 50 or even more than 100 kms are practical to implement.
Microwave is an excellent fit for large African countries with vast territories between population centres and is enjoying a resurgence in Africa.

You are invited to attend West and Central Africa Com, taking place today at King Fahd Palace in Dakar, Senegal. 

For more information, please visit our website www.comworldseries.com/wcafrica

13 Jun 2012

Key visionaries shared their experiences at West & Central Africa Com on Day 1

***Join us for day 2!***    Share your thoughts on #WCACom  
West & Central Africa Com  – Day 1
13-14 June 2012, King Fahd Palace - Soleil De Dakar Dakar, Senegal
Website: www.comworldseries.com/wcafrica

The 9th annual West & Central Africa Com opened in Dakar, Senegal today with over 500 delegates registered to attend the conference and exhibition.  This important event is a unique gathering of the entire digital ecosystem from across the region. It provides an important platform for the industry stakeholders to meet, learn and network together, with the aim of driving growth for service providers.
This year’s main focus is on new opportunities in the West & Central African digital market. The keynotes provided an excellent start to the discussion of this theme with key visionaries sharing their experiences and strategies for a digital West & Central Africa, including speakers like Tidjane Deme, Lead for Francophone Africa at Google, Chams Diagne, Chief Operating Officer, Africa, for the Viadeo social networking platform, Tiemoko Coulibaly, CEO for Francophone Markets at Airtel Africa, and MTN Group’s VP for WECA (& CEO at MTN Cote d’Ivoire), Wim Vanhelleputte, to mention a few.
The morning speakers’ insights were invaluable to the audience which incorporated telecom operators, solution vendors, OTT players, content providers, solution vendors, entrepreneurs, etc. In particular the theme of how the West & Central African digital market will progress and shape up was popular; there was consensus amongst the keynote speakers from Google, Viadeo, Airtel and MTN about the need for service providers to adapt to consumer needs, since consumers are increasingly demanding.

These demands range from the need for better connectivity, enterprise customers requesting tailored services, low ARPU-segments wanting more advanced services, mobile internet users insisting on free of charge access to social networking, local & international content, etc.  How these demands will be met by digital players is yet to be seen, but Google’s Tidjane Deme emphasised that “content needs to come from a local ecosystem, this ecosystem needs to be encouraged to grow and only then will there be real value added services for West & Central African consumers”. Airtel’s Tiemoko Coulibaly strongly agrees with other speakers that “enterprise & cloud computing, mobile internet & content, electronic payments & low-cost smartphones” are key areas of focus for service providers, and he places the consumer demand for better coverage as perhaps the most important point to focus on.
Many of the speakers took the opportunity to plead with regulators in Francophone Africa to assist with easing through necessary improvements, changes and spectrum allocations in order to benefit the consumer and enable service providers to continue growing in the region. 
The afternoon session elaborated on the interesting opening keynotes with a focus on connecting users to broadband, and on efficiency & cost management, presented on by speakers from ACE Consortium, the FTTH Council, Expresso Telecom, Tigo Senegal, Corning, Telecom Italia Sparkle, Tellabs the Congolese Ministry of Post, Telecommunications and ICT, Warid Congo, BICS, amongst others.
Delegates ended Day 1 by enjoying refreshments and entertainment pool side, with an ocean view, for continued, relaxed networking and discussion of the day’s messages.
Join us tomorrow for a view on VAS innovation for the region, cloud & enterprise services, rural telecoms, and to see the ICT Entrepreneurs Hub. Speakers will represent Orange, Africa24, People Input, MTN Cameroon, Comviva, Sonatel, Airtel Burkina Faso, among other companies.

Make sure to join us for Day 2

There is an outstanding speaker line-up for day 2 of the event as well -   
make sure to join us tomorrow!   
What are your thoughts on this year's West & Central Africa Com?   
Tweet about your experience using #WCACOM @allaboutcom on twitter!
Take a look at the photos from the packed busy conference
Click here: http://yfrog.com/ny6mleej
Sponsors of West & Central Africa Com
- Alcatel-Lucent
- ACE Consortium
- Telecom Italia Sparkle
- Sonatel
- Comviva
- Corning 
- Tellabs

Mobile Application Developers and their role in the Telecommunications Industry

Ajibola Aiyedogbon, our guest blogger for today, developed the My Cash Mobile Application”.  

He will be speaking tomorrow at 3pm on Day 2 of West and Central Africa Com, taking place at King Fahd Palace in Dakar, Senegal. He alongside 3 other panellists will discuss “How to encourage and support young ICT Entrepreneurs from the region”.

Today he shares his views on “the role of Mobile Application Developers in the Telecommunications Industry”.

There is a lot of discussion around mobile applications at the moment. Mobile applications penetrate where the PC couldn’t and still can’t go. They are way more personal and also easily accessible.

Applications make the mobile phone even more personalized, as they provide a range of value added services like productivity applications, integrated social networking and mobile gaming, etc, this is where developers come in. Developers create mobile applications; they provide the extra value on mobile phones apart from basic texting and calling. They could be working as a corporate entity or as indie developers. The apps market is largely populated by applications written by indie developers.

 The role developers play in the telecoms industry is quite simple, get consumers using more data, voice and SMS services. This directly translates to higher revenue for Mobile Network Operators, but developers have found it difficult to monetize these applications due to highly unfavourable revenue sharing based on short code billing; the nascent local apps market is being stifled.

Slow and unreliable data connectivity also present challenges to developers in monetizing their applications via other means such as advertising; without a critical mass of users, developers are not able to generate meaningful revenue.

Mobile Networks can release payment API’s for local mobile applications and guarantee developers at least 50% of the revenue generated. This would foster the local apps development market and in turn lead to many more applications built and used in the continent than currently exist. This could also have the effect of duplicating short code services as mobile applications generating value beyond 160 characters. It will lead to a higher number of consumers adopting high end devices because of the value delivered by local mobile applications.

The number of African mobile apps is steadily increasing despite the inability to easily monetize them. Mobile Networks can generate even higher revenue by fostering the ecosystem which will in turn drive users to use more data, voice and SMS services. 

To learn more, follow his blog: http://ajibz.tumblr.com

Ajibola Aiyedogbon
Mobile Developer
My Cash

For more information and to download the finalised agenda for West and Central Africa Com, please visit our website today: http://bit.ly/HyeNWI

12 Jun 2012

Hear Julie Rey, Research Director of Informa Telecoms and Media speak about West and Central Africa Com.

Africa's first dedicated news channel, Africa24, is TV partner at West & Central Africa Com taking place tomorrow and Thursday in Dakar, Senegal at King Fahd Palace.

Founder Constant Nemale will give a keynote presentation on delivering compelling TV services for Africa, and a team of journalists will be covering the event with regular updates and interviews of the main speakers.
For full details on all speakers and to view final agenda, click here 
Watch the pre-event video
Hear Julie Rey, Research Director of Informa Telecoms and Media speak about West & Central Africa Com. This interview was filmed by Africa24 and was broadcasted live in France, the whole of the African continent, US and Canada on 6th June 2012.
Click here to watch the video now on Youtube: 

Africa24 is participating at West & Central Africa Com because it is “clearly one of the biggest events in the region where high-level senior Managers/Directors will be attending”.

Secondly, West & Central Africa Com is one of the best places where professionals, particularly from technology and telecoms, can share their experiences.

For more information, please visit our website www.comworldseries.com/wcafrica