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Chinese Search giant, Baidu enters African market

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The African continent is quickly shaping up into the battle ground for some of the world’s leading consumer internet companies.

Much has been documented about Google’s pioneering work in the African internet space with its focus on ecosystem and local content development.

In what appears to be more or less a “statement of intent,” Chinese search giant, Baidu signed a co-branding browser deal with France-Telecom Orange to launch a co-branded browser for low cost smartphone users across Africa and the Middle East.

This is news because this is the first time that Baidu is making a strategic partnership of this scale on the continent. With its significant number of African users, Orange, which according to the Financial Times, has an estimated 81 million customers across Africa and the Middle East seems a worthy and credible ally to partner with.

Nicholas Jotischky, Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media weighed in succinctly on the development when he said:

“Chinese manufacturers of low-cost smartphones are viewing the African device market as one of great potential. The tie-up between a Chinese device and Chinese internet browser is one that is perhaps helping to drive such a partnership [between Orange and Baidu]…”

Chinese Search giant, Baidu enters African market

Baidu has in the past struck partnership deals with web developer, smartphone manufacturer, Huawei, which is currently making waves on the continent with low cost smartphone brands like the Huawei Ideos X1. It is unclear though if it will extend these partnerships to the African market.

Informa has some interesting stats on the future growth in Africa’s mobile content market as its industry matures.

For instance, annual non-voice end-user service revenues for Africa is estimated to hit $26bn by 2016, up from $7bn annually in 2011.

The company asserts that enhanced data compression capabilities (up to 90% of compression), and one-click access to web-based apps and internet services through the Orange-Baidu browser will provide a more affordable and richer browsing experience for customers across Africa and the Middle East.

Orange had earlier offered free access to Wikipedia by waiving data charges for African and Middle Eastern users.

“We want to make the mobile internet as ubiquitous as possible as fast as possible,” said Xavier Perret, head of partnerships at Orange.

According to Perret, while mobile phones are hugely popular in Africa, most people use very basic mobiles or feature phones rather than the more sophisticated smartphones seen in the US and Europe.

If this partnership is indeed a statement of intent to take Africa seriously from a commercial standpoint by Baidu, it is indicative of what its long term strategy on the continent might be. A mobile first strategy focused on the continent’s low end smartphone users might be at play. However, given inMobi’s recent shutdown of  its local African offices, it is clear that a serious interest in the continent’s mobile advertising space would need a lot more than a statement of intent for a viable, long term business to be built.

Source: CP-Africa

Nigerian rural areas targeted for broadband service

DETERMINED to use ICT as a driver of its core developmental agenda for achieving the goal of making Nigeria one of the top 20 economies by 2021, the government has announced a strategic initiative that will steer broadband penetration into the rural communities in the next five years (2013-2018). This is contained in the National Broadband Plan by the Presidential Committee on Strategy and Roadmap for Broadband, which has already been presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The key objectives of the Plan are to promote pervasive broadband deployment; increase broadband adoption and usage; and ensure availability of broadband services at affordable prices. All these are aimed at maximising the political and socioeconomic benefits of broadband, according to the document.

Minister of Communications Technology Omobola Johnson said that the five-year plan would assist the private sector in widening broadband penetration. “But then the private sector must also deliver not just on basic reach and penetration, but also on quality of service. It is not only in doing this that all Nigerians will truly feel the positive impact of the benefits of broadband,” Johnson said.

Dr. Eugene Juwah, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), gave insights into how the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) will be used to drive this initiative while speaking at the Ministry of Communications’ ICT Stakeholders Forum with the theme: Connected for Growth – Moving from Planning to Execution in Lagos last month.

Nigerian rural areas targeted for broadband service

He said that the mandate of the USPF was to create a fund that would drive the spread of ICT infrastructure to remote and under served locations in the country. He said that the fund was principally to promote widespread availability and usage of network services, web hosting and application services throughout Nigeria, especially in areas that would have otherwise been unprofitable for operators in the industry to provide services.

To meet this mandate, Juwah stressed that the NCC had set aside a significant annual fiscal appropriation of the Fund to meet its stated objective. To buttress the work of the Fund in the area of its core mandate since inception in 2006, he said that the USPF had facilitated the deployment of over 100 Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs) and co-location towers to extend voice and Internet/Data coverage to remote, un-served and under served communities in different parts of Nigeria.

With this initiative, he said that voice, internet/data services had been extended to over 200 communities, which, without the USPF intervention, would have to wait for many years before such facilities and services reached the people. The NCC boss stated as well that the fund was also key in the establishment of some 200 Community Communications Centers to provide access to ICT facilities on shared basis to several locations in Nigeria.

According to the NCC boss, the intervention of the USPF in providing an ICT facility has ensured that the policy of governance by inclusiveness was being practiced in Nigeria. He said that the people who would be excluded from governance are now having access to their representatives via the ICT connectivity via connected communities. He said that the ICT facility had improved the level of awareness generation in the affected communities thereby making them a part of the information society.

He also revealed that in order to provide ICT and broadband access to other communities in the country, the USPF was working in concert with some network operators in order to extend about 1, 500 kilometers of fibre to different locations across the country. And as a part of its strategic retooling, the board of the USPF recently approved a new five-year strategic plan for the Fund. Infrastructure build-out and broadband penetration are at the heart of the new plan. The whole plan has been hinged on the delineation of the entire under served/un-served communities/locations in Nigeria into clusters. Participating firms will then be allowed to bid for the provision of broadband and other integrated ICT services.

According to the layout of the implementation strategy, during the bid for the clusters firms that propose green power will be favored in the award of subsidies. Explaining the rationale for this, the NCC said that companies with the green power proposal would be working within the realm of the global concern for the environment. Besides, the NCC stressed that the use of the conventional power system would make the deployment in the rural areas very uneconomical. It is the assumption that using the traditional power system could make operational cost to outstrip the revenues that might be generated from the assigned areas.

The catch is that the low operational cost of the green power such as solar or wind power is more economical and lucrative in the less commercially oriented areas of the country, like the rural communities.

Rwanda concludes analogue TV switch-off

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The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) switched off over 51,000 analogue TV sets on 31 July 2014, as it concluded the migration process from analogue TV transmission to digital broadcasting, AllAfrica reports.

Patrick Nyirishema, director of RURA, revealed that the last phase of the migration process involved households in the west and south-west regions of the country; the four-phase analogue switch-off started in January 2014 in Kigali, with the north-west and east regions migrating to digital broadcasting on 31 March and 31 May, respectively.

According to Nyirishema, before the digital migration exercise started, 50 percent of TV sets in Rwanda relied on analogue transmission, while digital coverage is currently at around 95 percent.

In November 2013 Jean Baptise Mutabazi, head of communication and media regulation at RURA, revealed that the migration to digital broadcasting in the country, initially set for end-2013, would be delayed following slow take-up of set-top boxes (STBs). The executive stated that the previous deadline for the analogue switch-off ‘may now be unrealistic’, adding that the agency would only monitor the implementation process and leave the importation and distribution of the digital image converters to the private sector and Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA).

Rwanda

Cedric Pierre-Louis, the Managing Director of Rwanda’s Tele10 TV, said at the time: ‘The problem is that people are not aware of the migration process and are reluctant to purchase STBs.’

Previously, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) set 2015 as the global deadline for switching from analogue to digital broadcasting, but Rwanda is only the second sub-Saharan African country, after Tanzania, to complete the switchover to date. In countries around the world the switchover has freed up frequencies (known as the ‘digital dividend’) for 4G mobile broadband usage.
Source: TeleGeography

Nira Sets Eligibility Criteria Awards

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The Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NIRA) has outlined the eligibility criteria for its 2017 awards. NiRA President, Sunday Folayan who addressed the press at the NiRA Headquarters in Lagos said the body seeks to recognize and acknowledge those who are contributing to the growth of the .ng domain name registration and the promotion of the DNS Industry.

“The awards aim to showcase Nigerian businesses, individuals, charity, public and private sector organizations which help to make the Internet a more secure, open, accessible and rewarding experience for all.

“NiRA acknowledges the great work being done out there and desire people to know, talk about it, engage with it and put it into the spotlight,” he said.

Speaking on the eligibility criteria for the second in the series following the maiden event in 2016, he said that the nominee must have a clear online presence; “Company, organization or individual must have registered and is active online with .ng domain name(s). The Domain name must have been registered for over 6 months and the website associated with the domain name must be active on the Internet”.

Justifying the essence of the awards, the NiRA President described the .ng string as a critical National resource and Nigeria’s unique identity on the World Wide Web. Folayan said that using the .ng awards, NiRA celebrates the achievements and innovation of Nigerian Internet initiatives.

Chairman of the award committee, Shina Badaru said that the 2017 .ng awards criteria must be met by all nominees. “The nomination for the .ng Awards by the general public will commence by Tuesday, 31st January, 2017. Members of the public who wish to participate in nominating any organization or individual are to note the nomination criteria.
“The Jury will review all entries/nominations for eligibility and qualification to produce the final short-list of nominees. The list of nominees will be released for general public voting via the website.

Nira Sets Eligibility Criteria Awards

“The Awards committee may reclassify or re-categorize entries and may remove entries that do not conform to the entry requirements. Entries that differ substantially from the award criteria will be disqualified without prior notice to the entrants.

“Nomination closes at midnight, on Tuesday 14th February, 2017. Voting starts on Monday 20th February, 2017 and closes by midnight on Monday, 3rd April, 2017. The url for nomination is http://www.nira.org.ng/voting.”

NiRA, as an Industry-led stakeholder organization, is the registry for Nigerian Internet Domain Names (.ng), and maintains the database of names registered in the .ng country code Top Level Domain (ccTLD) name space in the interest of Nigerians and the global Internet community.

Tech Plus 2016 Gets Underway In Lagos

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By Clifford Agugoesi

Eko Hotel & Suites Lagos, south west, Nigeria got agog with activities Thursday, July 21, as the 2nd Edition of Tech Plus, which prides itself as Africa’s Largest TECH Event, a gathering of all things TECH, kicked off in impressive start.

The event which is Themed ‘A connected World” and spanning from 21st to 23rd of July, 2016, witnessed speeches, lectures, events, games and other side attractions.
Tech Plus is a convergence of everything technology and provides a unique multilateral experience for tech enthusiasts and serves as a market place for the consumers as well as businesses.

In one of the Breakout Sessions: Smart Governments, Integrating Technology for Service Delivery, a Professor of Strategic Management at IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain, Joan Enric Ricart noted that the key element in the transformation of a city is not government but smart government. Stating that 50 per cent of the world currently lives in cities, he said that a valid question which smart city enthusiasts should ask themselves is: What are we doing to ensure our cities are on the path of opportunities and not on the path of challenges?

According to Prof. Ricart one way to look at smart cities is by using the periscope of City Competitiveness and he listed the critical ingredients to watch as including, but not limited to infrastructure both hard connectivity or core physical infrastructure and soft connectivity, institutions for local governance, leadership and vision, strategic planning, and collaboration from PPPs, stressing that the essence of smart cities, is convenient governance.

Although all cities crave being smart, Ricart stated not all of them meet the criteria. To achieve a smart city status, he advised that city planners should do the followings: plan strategically, think beyond technology, have a different mindset, factor in collaboration and put the citizens at the centre of their plans and innovate.

Adding his insight into the topic, Telecom & Electrical Engineer and ‎Former Smart City Director & Deputy CIO (Barcelona City Council ) Josep Ramon Ferrer remarked that smart city equated with innovation and information technology hosting checker, adding technology ultimately is for the people. According to him, three decades ago, the city of Barcelona had no chance of being ranked among smart cities, but all that has changed, thanks to technology.

Ferrer noted cities are in competition but said they have a good opportunity to collaborate under concept smart. According to him, an IT Strategic Plan of smart cities should incorporate mobility, good governance and technology, including cloud computing and big data, among others.

Tech Plus 2016 Gets Underway In Lagos

A representative of the Acting Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Femi Adeluyi spoke on ICT and Local Content Development for SMEs in a Connected World. Dr. Adeluyi described SMEs as the engine of any economy, critical to job creation, innovation and economic growth. He quoted a NOTAP statistics indicating that Nigeria spends US$1billion annually for software imports, many of which have local substitutes.

He disclosed that NITDA will soon come up with a National Software Policy, a component of which will be Software Testing Centres “to validate software centres before they are accredited,” all efforts being directed towards addressing the national software challenges.
Adeluyi also hinted that the agency is mulling an E-Nigeria Conferenced billed for the last quarter of 2016.

Among the challenges confronting SMEs, which he identified, included preference of Nigerians for foreign products, limited market access, limited networks, limited capacity, logistics and funding.

Tech Plus is being bankrolled by a consortium of companies including MTN Nigeria, Samsung, Lenovo, LASAA, Jumia, Terragon, and Digital Reality, among others.

Broadband: Africa’s Fastlink to MDGs

The ubiquitous broadband has suddenly become the springboard from which nations seek to do so much for themselves within the interconnected world. In this report Olubayo Abiodun, Clifford Agugoesi and Chimezie Ndubisi highlight the nexus between high-speed internet connectivity and the attainment of the MDGs by African nations

AFRICAN governments are still fixated on how to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) given the many challenges that they have to deal with. The mandate has not been made any easy given the rising costs of governance, spiralling challenges and competing needs in the midst of dwindling fortunes in the political and economic spheres. From combating diseases to reducing child mortality, implementing Universal Basic Primary Education, ensuring gender equality, intractable security issues and political upheavals, the MDGs are somewhat intertwined. This is where mobile broadband has been described as the single most important hope left for Africa to accelerate towards meeting the MDGs by the target date of 2015.

Pundits have stressed that if African countries can embrace the unique power of mobile broadband technology, the continent has a good chance of meeting the MDGs deadline. The key areas of focus for Africa with regards to the MDGs are education, health and environment. The concern in the area of education was exemplified last month when statistical detailed unveiled that 10.5 million children of school age in Nigeria go about roaming the streets instead of being in the classrooms.

It is in these three broad areas (education, health and environment) that industry experts think the mobile broadband has a significant role to play in pushing forward the profile of the African continent. The argument is that mobile broadband is an easily deployable solution for providing education in under-served areas. Statistics showed that about 90 per cent of children in the developing world are enrolled in primary school.

However, in some regions like sub-Saharan Africa, it is said that up to 30 per cent of children drop out before their final primary year. But from recent developments it has been observed that broadband can better engage children, equipping them with valuable ICT skills and opening a window on the world’s information resources, in a multitude of languages. Mobile broadband has also been helpful in the financial inclusion of the majority of Africans who reside in the hinterlands of the continent. For instance, about 70 per cent of Africans living in the rural areas make up the population of the continent.

Broadband: Africa’s Fastlink to MDGs

Today societies; inclusive of people, governments and institutions, are increasingly interacting with one another via the connected devices. So with a population of about one billion people on the African continent, the prevalence of mobile broadband will ensure higher uptake of devices that creates more affinity among the people on the continent and the rest of the world. This is already being made manifest in the frontiers of healthcare and agriculture as increased efficiencies and greater participation by disconnected people are opening new possibilities of better life for excluded Africans.

By the growth pattern, Africans will have decent share of the market in the estimated 50 billion connected devices that will be in the global markets by 2020. For instance, more Africans can participate in the mobile money and mobile banking services without necessarily visiting the banking hall.

This is the same way ICT has made profound impact on the health care systems in the rural areas in some Africa countries. Fundamental transformations are already taking place with simple SMS reminders for vaccinations or anti-retroviral treatments, to grassroots information gathering on demographics and diseases, to mobile information repositories for personal health records, mobile phones are becoming a key cornerstone of health programmes in a growing number of African countries.

Engaging the mobile broadband for healthcare delivery has become particularly imperative because of the high mortality rate among pregnant women. Records show that more than half a million women die as a result of complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Majority of such deaths were said to be preventable. To improve on this sad state of affairs, Africans are already benefiting from broadband capacities to improve healthcare delivery on the continent. Community field workers in the health sector are already getting exposed to some training that brings better healthcare delivery to people in the rural areas.

Broadband has also emerged to be a vital link in the agriculture sector. In Kenya, Malawi and Nigeria, mobile phones are being deployed to enhance farming and farmers’ value chain. Significantly, mobile tools are now helping local farmers and fishermen to access credits, fertilisers, seedlings, fingerlings, and weather forecasts directly to their mobile phones and providing information on sustainable farming techniques. The mobile phones have also helped in reducing the wastages and corruption since middlemen are gradually being removed in the agriculture value chain in the Nigerian agriculture ecosystem.

Arising from the flurry of positives coming from the broadband deployment across Africa, experts say that the ubiquitous mobile broadband is a big idea whose time has come. This is because it is also helping to achieve another of the MDGs – that of developing a global partnership for development.

Even at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN specialised agency for ICT, developing such a partnership is a basic essence of its work. This is because the professionals at the ITU understand the incredible potentials of broadband. This understanding gave birth to the Broadband Commission for Digital Development to help move broadband to the top of the political agenda.

This multi-stakeholder commission comprises over 50 top-level global leaders, and has defined a vision for accelerating the deployment of broadband networks worldwide. It has also established four critical targets that all countries are expected to push to attainment by 2015:

Target 1: Making broadband policy universal. By 2015, all countries should have a national broadband plan or strategy or include broadband in their universal access/service definitions.

Target 2: Making broadband affordable. By 2015, entry-level broadband services should cost less than 5 per cent of average monthly income.

Target 3: Connecting homes to broadband. By 2015, 40 per cent of households in developing countries should have Internet access.

Target 4: Getting people online. By 2015, internet user penetration should reach 60 per cent worldwide, 50 per cent in developing countries and 15 per cent in least-developed countries.

Though it is only three years to go to the target date, it has been observed that among all the targets of the MDGs the most advanced is the one involving ICTs. African stakeholders at the political level and investors are being urged to capitalise on that and use Africa’s near-ubiquitous mobile coverage to break old infrastructure bottlenecks and short-circuit the traditional development cycle.

It is the wake-up call that galvanised African stakeholders to make the promise of connecting 80 per cent Africans to the broadband by 2020. The pledge came at the recent inaugural ICT Indaba. At this event African ministers set a target to deliver broadband service to reach up to 80 per cent of African citizens by 2020.

South Africa’s Communications Minister, Dina Pule, told the gathering: “It is undeniable and it is very clear that delivering broadband to every citizen on the continent will accelerate the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals,”

At the event, which took place in June at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Pule said work was done to ensure the conference crafted a framework that will position Africa on a trajectory to sustainable development through technology.

This event, which also served as peer review mechanism, aided the ministers’ focus on the creation of a solid foundation for a truly connected future for Africa. “In this connected future, all of Africa’s major cities, towns and villages will be connected to affordable Internet, thereby facilitating the continent’s mass entry into the knowledge and information economy,” Pule said.

The Indaba agreed to support the ITU in its plans to support the updating of the International Telecommunications Regulations. According to the ministers, this will help developing countries to benefit from the frameworks for interconnections and roaming in the telecom market. “African experts should also increase participation in the ITU study groups which focuses on these issues to influence their outcomes,” the Indaba concluded.

Pule said that a team was being set up to monitor the progress in the implementation of the Indaba’s resolutions and give feedback at regular intervals. “We shall work with the existing continental and regional organisations to get the cooperation of the rest of the countries that were not present at this indaba,” she said.

The minister said as well that the work of the Indaba would also assist in identifying and closing the skills gap within African countries. The greatest achievement of this approach would be to help Africa create its own technologies, instead of the continent just being a consumer.

The ICT Indaba ended with emphasis on the common desire and commitment to eradicate the barriers of poverty through the promotion and use of enabling ICTs to build and foster a people-centred knowledge-based economy in Africa.

Women can lead 21st century ICT industry – Zinox boss

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WITH the right mix of innovation, business focus, accountability and ambition, women entrepreneurs can spearhead the on-going evolution of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in the 21st century and relegate their male counterparts to the back seat. This bold assertion came from Chairman of Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, who was the guest speaker at an interactive breakfast meeting tagged Women in ICT organised by Technology Distributions in Lagos last month.

Ekeh made specific reference to global ICT giants IBM, which now has Ginni Rometty, a female as its CEO. He also cited the increasingly pivotal role women in the corporate sector are playing in the global arena and urged the participants to become more ambitious in growing their businesses and targeting bigger ventures.

“Women are naturally more structured, trustworthy, less greedy and more prayerful than men. These innate qualities have strategically endowed women with the basic ingredients for leadership. As entrepreneurs, all you need to do is combine these innate qualities with absolute commitment, capacity for innovation, credibility and sound digital knowledge and very soon, the male folk will be struggling to keep pace with the women in the industry,” Ekeh said.

“ICT is a business of the future, one that you can bequeath to your children and unborn generations. It is an industry of constant innovation, requiring a sound business model and structure. Hence, I encourage you to enhance your knowledge in the digital business and build capacity which will in turn enable you accommodate the short term business shocks and eventually take charge of the digital economy.” Ekeh added.

Women can lead 21st century ICT industry – Zinox boss

Urging women to see themselves as equal partners with men, Ekeh urged participants to leverage on the emerging force of E-Commerce and M-Commerce, which has the potential of laying a foundation for women to control the wealth and leadership of nations in the third quarter of the century. While assuring the women ICT entrepreneurs of the utmost support from Technology Distributions in their respective roles as business partners, the Zinox boss cautioned against excessive borrowing and emotional decisions, which he says are two factors capable of negating business success.

The CEO of Technology Distributions Limited, Chioma Ekeh, urged the women entrepreneurs to break out of the outdated stereotypes that have long held them back and take their rightful place in the scheme of things, especially with regard to driving the revolution in the ICT industry.

Noting that women are credible, balanced, emotionally intelligent beings, proven masters of crisis and opportunity management as well as great managers of resources, she challenged the participants to borrow a leaf from Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, who has urged women to seek leadership roles and own their success.

“It is no accident that women make up over half of the world’s population. Why then are there so few women occupying positions of authority? It is high time for us to unleash our potential and begin to take charge of things happening around us. There is a growing trend of more women in ICT which is quite encouraging and despite the challenges in the system, we must capitalize on this to lead the revolutions in the industry,” she said.

Technology Distributions, which organised the conference, is one of the largest ICT distribution companies in Africa with over 65 per cent spread of ICT products distribution in West Africa The company also boasts a strong gender-sensitive structure, with over 80 per cent of women occupying managerial positions in the organization.

ICANN President Announces Major Expansion in Africa

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The President of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) said he is moving ahead

immediately with plans to have six new ICANN representatives on the African continent.
“ICANN used to say if you want to participate in Internet governance come to ICANN,” said Fadi Chehadé. “We’ve changed that, now ICANN is coming to the stakeholders. We’re not waiting for you to come. We’re coming to you.” Chehadé made his comments during the Africa Multi-stakeholder Internet Governance meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The two-day meeting ended Friday after drawing Internet leaders from across the continent.

“We will have ICANN staff, at least one, in each of the 6 regions of Africa. North, South, East, West, Central and the Indian Ocean,” said Chehadé. “I want African on-ramps into the ICANN structures. I will give you the on-ramps, but you need to climb them.”

The ICANN leader also said he would like to see a dramatic increase in the number of accredited Domain Name Registrars on the African continent. Currently there are only five accredited Registrars in Africa among more than one thousand worldwide, but Chehadé said he wants to see that number increase five-fold in less than two years.

“This is about us moving the needle forward. Africa will not wait,” said Chehadé.The two-day event in Addis Ababa was attended by some two hundred people, including Ministers and other government representatives, leaders from the African business community, civil society and from ICANN structures in Africa; AFTLD and AFRALO.

The multi-stakeholder IG event was co-organized by the African Union, ISOC-Africa, AFRINIC and the African IGF. It was preceded by a two-day workshop about the development of the DNS Industry in Africa.

During the event the implementation of an African Strategy for better engagement in Africa was discussed in detail. This strategy was prepared by representatives from the African community last summer and announced during the ICANN meeting in Toronto in October. Fadi Chehadé reiterated ICANN’s commitment to help implement the three-year strategy in coordination with our global and regional partners in Africa.

Diversity in telecoms depends on leading from the top

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The women in telco panel at Capacity Europe came to the conclusion the action from the top on mentoring is now essential.

The women in telco panel which took place on Wednesday at Capacity Europe struck a very positive note. It seems that the telco industry is not doing so badly compared to other industries. Introducing the session Karin Kollenz-Quetard, EDHEC, said: “The companies which have more diversity, and more women employees, are less likely to go bankrupt. And remember we are talking about diversity here – it’s about making sure more women are employed at the top levels of the industry. So while some other industries are lagging behind, the telco community is starting to move ahead.”

The roundtable discussions and the comments which panellists made were very clear – the solution is complex but it starts from the top of an organisation with the company culture and this is what has to change.

Sean Rutter, KWR said: “The CEO of one of the major companies which we deal with became tired of excuses from his senior team and sent out a directive complete with targets: ‘Find, develop and mentor your senior women and bring me the results – not meeting these targets is not an option.’”

The mentoring solution, said Gagun Gahir, Telstra: “Does away with one of the old arguments about quotas for women – that the people who are promoted this way are merely there because they are women. If you rise to the top as a result of mentoring then you are accepted as someone who got the job based on your merits and not because of your gender.”

However, it’s not all good news, because it seems very few women in telecoms rise above vice president level so the message is clear – get started mentoring, give your team targets and change your culture by example from the top.

Helios eyes Millicom towers

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African towerco Helios Towers Africa (HTA) is thought to be holding discussions to acquire Millicom’s towers portfolio in Chad, TMT Finance understands. Millicom’s Chad operations, which is Chad’s largest mobile operator, has a portfolio totalling 800 towers, which could be valued at up to US$80m, sources said.

Millicom has an existing relationship with HTA, having divested towers in other countries to HTA and its various regional subsidiaries, in Ghana, Tanzania and DRC. HTA is thought to have first right of refusal for other Millicom tower assets, sources commented.

Millicom is likely to be self-advising on the transaction. It’s not clear if HTA has mandated a financial adviser, although the towerco hired Standard Chartered for its prospective acquisition of towers belonging to Bharti Airtel across Africa, TMT Finance previously reported.
Source: TMT Finance