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Mobile broadband: A catalyst for growth in Africa

By Mortimer Hope

Explosive growth in mobile connectivity has already transformed the lives of millions of people across Africa.

According to GSMA research, Sub-Saharan Africa has been the world’s fastest-growing mobile region over the last five years and is forecast to continue to lead global growth through 2020. By then, the number of unique mobile subscribers in the region is expected to pass the half billion mark as mobile services become increasingly affordable and accessible to millions of currently unconnected citizens.

As government and business leaders prepare to convene in Cape Town to “Reimagine Africa’s Future” at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2015, now is an opportune time to examine the impact of mobile as a critical enabler of socio-economic development and the conditions required for further growth in the region.

In 2013, the mobile industry contributed 5.4 per cent of overall GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa. By 2020, it is expected to contribute US $104 billion to the economy, representing an estimated 6.2 per cent of the region’s projected GDP. The mobile ecosystem is also a significant source of employment in the region, directly employing nearly 2.5 million people in 2013 and indirectly supporting a further 3.7 million jobs.

These statistics demonstrate the success story of mobile growth in Africa to date. However, governments and business stakeholders still have a great deal of work to do if Africa is to fully reap the benefits of mobile for citizens and businesses alike.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s least penetrated mobile region. By June 2015, just 40 per cent of the region’s population had a mobile subscription. Despite strong projected growth in mobile connections, this figure is forecast to rise to just 49 per cent by 2020. Beyond voice services, access to mobile broadband for all will be vital for socio-economic development.

Mortimer Hope, Director for Africa, GSMA
Mortimer Hope, Director for Africa, GSMA

Over the coming years, millions of citizens will access the Internet for the first time via low-cost smartphones and mobile broadband networks, providing an essential gateway to a wide range of services. Mobile brings access to healthcare where there are no doctors, access to education where there are no teachers, access to financial services where there are no banks. There is clearly huge potential but multi-stakeholder action is needed on several fronts if we are to make mobile broadband access ubiquitous.

Key to optimising Africa’s mobile opportunity is building a stable regulatory and business environment. This includes clear and transparent spectrum management processes to support the mobile industry’s investment in network infrastructure.

Today, mobile networks remain the most scalable source of connectivity worldwide and between 2015 and 2020, the industry is forecast to invest US $84 billion in capital expenditure in Sub-Saharan Africa. Spectrum harmonisation and the release of Digital Dividend spectrum to mobile are crucial in meeting African governments’ objectives of expanding mobile coverage.

Tackling high levels of taxation in certain markets will make services affordable to a greater cross-section of society. Collaboration with application developers and educational institutions to increase digital literacy and create local content will help bring more people online and give them access to the information they want.

Ultimately, mobile broadband empowers people and businesses. It has unmatched potential to accelerate socio-economic development and bridge the digital divide worldwide. Urgent action to remove barriers to mobile broadband deployment will encourage investment and drive the next wave of growth and innovation that will foster digital inclusion and support future economic growth for the African continent.

MTN Business beefs up management team

By Staff Writer

MTN Business has appointed four new senior managers as part of an ongoing overhaul of its top leadership aimed at making the firm  a key player in the enterprise market.

The firm said Mandisa Ntloko would take over as the head of enterprise marketing. She joins MTN from Accenture.

Ntloko has extensive experience in developing and implementing marketing and communications strategies at a number of multinationals. She worked for a number of entities in various roles, including at MTN South Africa, later at Dimension Data where she served in different roles including Director for Marketing and Communications for Africa and the Middle East.

Ntloko holds a BA degree in International Relations and Industrial Sociology and studied at the Warwick Business School in London where she obtained her Masters in Business Administration (MBA).

MTN Business also appointed Claude Chetty in the role of general manager for the SME segment. Chetty has extensive experience in the B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business) segment, and has proven experience in developing sales and marketing strategies including route-to-market, pricing and channel management. He is familiar with the ICT space having worked for Telkom SA in various roles, including serving as Divisional Executive: SMME Channel Management and Development.

The organisation has also secured the services of David Mphelo who will assume the role of General Manager for Public Sector. Mphelo has a BSc Honours degree from the University of the Witwatersrand and has proven experience in the ICT sector where he served in various roles. Before joining MTN Business, Mphelo was Executive Director for Public Sector at Cisco Systems SA. He also worked for a number of multinational companies in the ICT space, including Microsoft, Unisys and Hewlett-Packard Services Executive, here he served as a Services Executive, Business Development Executive and Sales and marketing Manager respectively.

Mphelo has extensive experience in developing and implementing competitive marketing and sales strategies to drive business growth.

Furthermore, MTN Business has appointed Delwin Bratby as the new general manager for Client Services. An MBA graduate from Wits Business School, Bratby has extensive management and leadership exposure and has proven experience in the ICT sector having worked for Telkom in various capacities. Bratby also holds an MSc Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Pretoria.

“We are pleased with the appointments we have made as they bring a wealth of experience and expertise that bodes well for the growth and future of MTN Business. We have a solid strategy in place of being the Information Communications and Technology partner of choice for geographic and market expansion and we believe that these appointments will propel us closer to achieving our strategic objectives,” Alpheus Mangale, chief enterprise officer: MTN South Africa.

Email TechFinancials.co.za at: editor@techfinancials.co.za


OpenWeb offers up to 60% saving on uncapped ADSL

By Staff Writer

OpenWeb has launched an incredible Uncapped ADSL sale, offering up to 60% discount. The company claims to provide some of the lowest prices ever seen in South Africa.

OpenWeb CEO Keoma Wright says OpenWeb home uncapped is an affordable and redefined ADSL package perfect for home use.

“Prices range from R139 for 2Mbps to R349 for 10Mbps.”

The special is subject to activating a debit order or auto deduction from a credit card.

It allows for one ADSL line to be connected at a time, but unlimited devices may be connected from the same line. OpenWeb requires one calendar months cancellation notice period.

A potential customer must have a Telkom ADSL line already installed to use this service. The accounts allow 1 ADSL line to be connected at a time and unlimited devices may be connected from the same line.

Huawei, Vodacom take aim at smart water-heater monitoring solution

Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, has teamed up with Vodacom Business to develop a technology solution for efficient energy and water use.

The solution enables users to intelligently monitor and manage their geysers or boilers in real time.

Presently, water heaters are managed manually. This often means that faults are not always detected timeously. This method of physically monitoring geysers or boilers in an era of machine-tomachine (M2M) solutions is obviously

M2M – also referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT) – involves connecting an assortment of devices including refrigerators, toothbrushes, geysers, couches, smart electricity meters and coffee makers to the internet.

At the Huawei Network Congress 2015 held in Beijing in May, Huawei revealed that it had been working with
Vodacom to develop a smart water heater monitoring solution.

“IoT is the future of our increasingly digitised world and networks are key to driving value creation for enterprises,” said Li Xianyin, Huawei general manager, switch & enterprise communications product line.

Xianyin added: “With Huawei’s IoT technologies and offerings, we hope to support the digital transformation of traditional industries and the development of the IoT ecosystem.”

Huawei predicts that by 2025, a total of 100bn internet connected devices will be generated globally and 2m new
sensors will be deployed every hour.

Vodacom, which is majority owned by British mobile giant Vodafone, is already playing a vital role in the IoT space through XLink Communications, a provider of wireless data M2M services.

Vodacom is already a big player in the M2M market, but it also wants to provide more M2M SIM cards. In the
year to end March, Vodacom reported a 18.5% rise to 1.8m active M2M connections.

Tony Smallwood, Vodacom’s executive head: M2M Services, confirmed that Vodacom Business had worked with Huawei to develop a smart water heater monitoring solution.

He said that the product will benefit users of the M2M solution by making it possible to “take proactive steps to prevent the failure of the water heater and the associated peripheral damage”.

He added: “As a by-product of the solution, the M2M device provides the user of the water heater the ability to optimise the energy consumption of the water heater and therefore reduce the cost of the energy used to heat the unit.”

But questions remain around residential consumers. Will they be interested in buying the M2M waterheating solution?

Smallwood said that the target market for this particular offering was insurance companies and energy
management solution providers.

The development will enable insurers and energy management solution providers to have a data services platform for managing multiple SIM cards from a single interface and gather real-time intelligence about smart water heaters – such as water temperature and any leakages.


SAP launches mostly-free online coding course for Africa learners

By Gugu Lourie

Through the simplification of what has historically been perceived as a highly technical arena, SAP is making coding more appealing and accessible to a wider audience.

SAP has, developed a coding course which is available at no cost on openSAP, where registrations are now open for all learners in Africa with courses scheduled to begin on 2 June 2015.

“You’ll be truly amazed at how fast your learners get up to speed with coding skills. And if you’ve never written a line of code in your life, don’t worry. This course will get you started step-by-step,” said the software giant.

Are you a teacher of young learners? Are you involved in young peoples’ extra-curricular activities?

Then this course could be for you. Whatever subjects you normally teach, you and your learners are surrounded by modern digital technology.

“This course will help you to encourage today’s young digital consumers to become tomorrow’s digital creators,” said SAP.

It is based around the popular Scratch system that is capturing the imagination of children around the globe.

The openSAP platform offers a highly engaging and effective learning experience through gamification, whilst allowing real time interaction between SAP experts and learners.

The “Africa Code Week: Teaching Programming to Young Learners” has been developed in partnership with Simplon.co, the Cape Town Science Centre and the Galway Education Centre, with the purpose of empowering youth, teachers and parents with the language of programming using a freely available “Scratch” 1 system to help bridge the digital skills gap across many areas in Africa.

“Coding is relevant to all industries and to remain relevant in the 21st century it is imperative that skills are constantly updated. SAP believes that only through sharing of skills and knowledge, are we able to empower people to take control of their futures,” said Mehmood Khan, COO of Sap Africa. “openSAP provides this platform for sharing and we encourage teachers, parents and students across the continent to register for the “Africa Code Week: Teaching Programming to Young Learners” course on the openSAP platform as a means of accessing a valuable resource to further develop the youth of Africa.”

Course Characteristics

Course Content


  1. Unit 1: Introducing Scratch and the Art of Coding
  2. Unit 2: Creating an Interactive Digital Environment
  3. Unit 3: Coding Geometric Shapes and Freehand
  4. Unit 4: Planning and Designing Games

BEE scheme, MTN Zakhele, receives a fat dividend

By Ujuh

MTN Zakhele received R836 million in dividend income from MTN Group for the 2014 financial year but the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) scheme will not be paying dividend to its investors.

This is carried in the 2014 MTN Zakhele financial results which were published yesterday. The dividend income was much improved when compared to the R658 million received in 2013.

MTN Zakhele directors said the dividend income was first used to pay for operational costs as well as taxes. Thereafter, the dividend income was used to pay down MTN Zakhele’s debt.

MTN Zakhele chairperson Thulani Gcabashe said “The sustained solid operational performance of MTN Group ensured that in 2014 MTN Zakhele has been able to further reduce its levels of debt and strengthen its financial position.”

Gcabashe added that it remains the intention of MTN Zakhele not to declare dividends in respect of MTN Zakhele shares until all of its funding liabilities have been settled, in accordance with the funding agreements.

“Over the years, the Company has benefited from this stance, steadily reducing the cost of debt. The board remains confident that this is the right approach. Alongside MTN Zakhele’s robust funding structure, this approach will continue to benefit shareholders in years to come.”

He also noted that “2014 also marked the first full year of trading in MTN Zakhele shares via the MTN Zakhele share trading platform. Robust trade and a sharp increase in the share price highlight the value that investors continue to see in the scheme, said Gcabeshe.

At the end of December 2014, the MTN Zakhele share traded at R108.50 per share. The share is currently trading in the region of R122.00, more than six times the R20 investors paid for each share in 2010.

Gcabashe is set to step down as Chairman of MTN Zakhele. This is after his appointment as Chairman of the Standard Bank Group effective from 28 May 2015.

MTM Zakhele also announced that it was still pursuing on the listing of its shares on the JSE to fulfil demands from the Financial Services Board.

MTN Zakhele will miss the June 30 JSE listing deadline

By Ujuh

MTN Zakhele announced that it has applied for a further extension for the exemption of its share trading platform as it works towards a JSE listing.

This suggests that MTN Zakhele will miss the June 30 default deadline to list on the JSE.

MTN Zakhele, like other companies operating own shares over-the-counter (OTC) trading platforms, have been ordered by the Financial Services Board (FSB) to meet new standards. MTN Zakhele opted to abandon its OTC and to list on the JSE.

All along MTN Zakhele trading platform has been operating on temporary exemptions from the FSB new rules. The last exemption was issued about three months ago and is set to expire on June 30. MTN Zakhele had promised to move its listing onto the JSE before this expiry date.

Reporting the 2014 financial results, MTN Zakhele chairperson Thulani Gcabashe, said directors were still pursuing the JSE listing.

He said “The JSE is in the process of making amendments to its BEE board in order to accommodate restricted schemes like MTN Zakhele. MTN Zakhele will begin the process of listing once these amendments have been made. Shareholders will be advised in due course of developments relating to the listing.”

The company said it has applied for a further extension to the licence exemption as it continues to work towards a listing in order to enable shareholders to continue to trade their shares in a secure environment.


MTN reaffirms its zero tolerance stance on violence and intimidation

MTN remains firm on its offer, pledges to fully restore operations and reaffirms its zero tolerance stance on violence and intimidation

By Staff writer


As the industrial action by service employees enters its tenth day, MTN has reaffirmed that it will not budge on the offer it has tabled to striking employees and has once again pledged to bring the disrupted operations into full operational mode and safeguard the lives of non-striking employees and protect its infrastructure and facilities.

The strike has had minimal impact on MTN’s core operations which are running optimally. Reports that the strike has culminated in the bulk suspension of customers is baseless, sensationalist and alarmist. The only areas affected are some of the distribution and service centres. The 808 call centre is back online, though it is not yet fully operational. MTN has undertaken to bring these operations into full operational mode by the end of the week.

MTN has noted with concern the disruptive conduct of employees who continue to burn tyres on MTN premises, intimidate non-striking employees and barricade the main exits, thus infringing upon the rights of other employees and the company’s right to conduct business.

“This unruly conduct is in violation of the picketing agreement that MTN signed with the Communications Workers Union (CWU). MTN will be taking stern measures to safeguard its employees and protect its right to conduct business and offer services to its customers in line with its license obligations,” says Themba Nyathi, Chief Human Resource Executive: MTN South Africa.

MTN has also noted reports that the security personnel at its head office has subjected protesting employees to derogatory and racial slurs. MTN rejects any form of discrimination as it is out of kilter with MTN values and the spirit of the Constitution.

MTN maintains that their offer is better than what the Communications Workers Union (CWU) demanded initially.

MTN is offering an 8% guaranteed bonus which will be payable in two instalments. The first payment was made on March 2015, and the second instalment will be payable in December 2015. MTN’s maintains that this offer exceeds the original staff demand for 8% of bonus payment.

In addition, MTN has welcomed the establishment of a task team to look into payment for Sundays and public holidays in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

As a law abiding and responsible corporate citizen, MTN respects the employees’ rights of assembly and association as enshrined in the constitution. MTN respects the employees’ rights to protest as long as this is done within the confines of the law.

MTN has deployed extra security personnel as a precautionary measure to safeguard non-striking employees and protect its infrastructure and facilities.

“MTN will take disciplinary steps and lay criminal charges against employees who are implicated in acts of criminality. Resorting to acts of violence and intimidation is not in the spirit of negotiations and violates the laws of the land,” says Themba Nyathi, Chief Human Resources Executive: MTN South Africa. “The current revised MTN bonus model for 2015 and beyond is comprehensive, visionary and exceeds all previous expectations and demands.”

Nyathi says that MTN has tabled an offer to striking employees which is better than what the Communications Workers Union (CWU) demanded initially. MTN is offering an 8% guaranteed bonus which will be payable in two instalments. The first payment has been paid in March 2015, and the second instalment will be payable in December 2015. MTN maintains that this offer exceeds the original staff demand for 8% of bonus payment.”

In addition, MTN has welcomed the establishment of a task team to look into payment for Sundays and public holidays in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

Nyathi says that MTN has proposed for an independent arbitrator to adjudicate on this matter in a fair and impartial manner.

“MTN undertakes to abide by the findings of such an arbitrator as final and binding,” concludes Nyathi.

The dating jungle: how men and women see each other when online dating

By Jennifer Shukusky

In the world of online dating, nothing is as it seems. But that doesn’t stop many of us from leaping to the wrong conclusions about people. A recent paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association and reported on in the press suggested that when evaluating photographs from online dating profiles, men and women judge enhanced and un-enhanced photos somewhat differently.

Enhanced photos, those in which a person has used makeup, hair styling, filters, or post-editing, were rated by both men and women as more being attractive. But while women also rated men in these photos as more trustworthy than in ordinary photos, the opposite was true of women: men rated women in enhanced photos as less trustworthy.

Attractive man: happy, successful. Trust by Shutterstock

One theory posits that “what is beautiful is good”, which means people tend to attribute other positive traits to attractive people. For example, we tend to think that attractive people are also happier and more successful in their careers. This appears to be the case with the attractiveness and trustworthiness ratings made by women, but not by men.

In general, when evaluating potential romantic partners, men and women similarly respond that they want a kind, trustworthy, loyal, and honest partner. Men and women, however, diverge when it comes to some other traits such as resource acquisition (the ability to obtain and provide resources, typically financial) and physical attractiveness.

According to evolutionary theory, men who have cheap, disposable gametes can maximise their reproductive success by pursuing multiple partners. Women, on the other hand, have to invest much more time in the gestation and rearing of offspring. As a consequence of our biology, the theory goes, women seek loyal partners who can provide resources for them and the potential child. Men, however, value physical attractiveness in a female because good looks (for example, facial symmetry or youthfulness) are the manifestation of healthy genes and serve as signs of fertility.

This added emphasis on the value of physical attractiveness in the eyes of men may explain why they would put less trust in the women in the enhanced photos. Because attractiveness is important, but is masked in enhanced photographs, men ultimately have less desire to date those women. Ratings of attractiveness predicted desire to date, but perceived trustworthiness was also a significant predictor of desire to date.

Evolutionary motivations are unconscious and operate without our explicit awareness. Despite social norms and the availability of contraceptives, evolutionary theorists believe that innate, instinctual drives to reproduce still govern our behaviour (though others believe this to be too simplistic).

The online dating game

Today, more couples are meeting online than ever before. Dating sites provide someone seeking a partner with a pool of available options. When completing a profile on an online dating site, people want to put their best face forward, but still accurately portray their true selves. It becomes a battle between one’s ideal self and one’s actual self. As a result, when clicking through online profiles, people also expect to be deceived to some degree.

                                                                                                                                            Attractive woman: untrustworthy?

                                                                                                                                                            Dating by Shutterstock

Considering research related to evaluating potential partners, it seems we don’t always know what we want either. People often enter a dating site with some thoughts about the kind of significant other they are seeking, but research shows that people are not actually very accurate when it comes to attraction. After recording the traits of their ideal partners, speed-daters agreed to go on dates with people who are very much unlike the ideal partner they described. After recording the traits of their ideal partners, speed-daters involved in this study then agreed to go on dates with people who were very much unlike the ideal partner they described.

In another study , researchers asked people to describe an ideal partner and then paired the people with either an ideal (matching the description provided) or non-ideal person (who did not match the description provided by the participant). After viewing a written profile of a non-ideal match, few of their paired partners agreed that they would be interested in dating that person. However, after meeting their match, those paired with non-ideal partners were as interested in dating their partner as those paired with ideal partners. Overall, people did not know they could be attracted to these originally non-ideal people.

Online dating is successful for many individuals seeking love. While research has shown that people deceive others in their profiles, perceived deception can be negatively received. People can deceive others by misrepresenting their physical appearance or their personal narrative. There are those who struggle with the image of themselves they wish to portray, while others are trying to sort through the lies.

And then there are those who view others’ profiles thinking they know what they want, but in reality are attracted to someone quite different. So instead of judging all those books by their covers, it would probably be best for online daters to schedule some dates to meet potential partners in person. It could turn out to be an unexpected surprise.

Vodacom to make Loftus Versfeld Africa’s first truly ‘smart’ stadium

By Staff Writer

Large crowds at sports matches can mean frustratingly slow uploads of status updates and selfies, and make it all-but-impossible to view the video instant replays that you get when watching the big game at home. Vodacom’s latest full-stadium Wi-Fi solution is an African first and heralds the introduction of the smart stadium where connectivity issues will be a thing of the past and fans get the best of both worlds.

 Rugby fans visiting Loftus Versfeld will be able to connect to Vodacom’s new high-density Wi-Fi network, with faster data connectivity than ever before. The solution is the first step in making Loftus Versfeld Africa’s first truly ‘smart’ stadium.

“As the home of the Vodacom Blue Bulls and one of the most visited stadiums in South Africa, Loftus Versfeld was the obvious stadium for us to launch this project.  Our engineers have been hard at work, installing more than 40 km of fibre and more than 400 Wi-Fi access points. We tested the service for the first time at the Bulls-Lions match on 2 May and were incredibly pleased with the result,” said Andries Delport, Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer.

The key to the success of Vodacom’s Wi-Fi at Loftus Versfeld is the commercial implementation of EAP-SIM technology. This is the first time this technology, which stands for Extensible Authentication Protocol, will be employed in South Africa. It enables a seamless switch between radio bearers (4G, 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi), meaning that a cellphone or tablet will connect to whichever bearer has the best connection, ensuring the fastest possible data access. EAP-SIM also means that during a Wi-Fi data session it will still be possible to receive voice calls.

“An EAP-SIM network offers real benefits to our customers. On top of better speeds there’s no need to buy additional Wi-Fi bundles to connect to the network. Instead, data will be drawn directly from a customer’s existing data allocation, making the connection and usage process simple. Non-Vodacom customers will also be able to buy Wi-Fi bundles to gain access,” said Delport.

The network, which was built by Cisco Systems, is made up of hundreds of Cisco Wi-Fi access points. By increasing the number of access points and using Wi-Fi spectrum, the data carrying capacity within the stadium has been dramatically increased. This ultimately means faster downloads and uploads, and less congestion. The solution is flexible and Vodacom has plans to increase the number of access points to 700 in the future.

Michael Kämper, Director Mobility at Cisco Services EMEAR, said: “Cisco Systems is proud to be associated with Vodacom in the first Cisco Connected Stadium Wi-Fi deployment in Africa. The combination of Vodacom’s market leadership in SA and Cisco’s global leadership for high-density Wi-Fi deployments is a winning combination.”Vodacombulls700x350

 As the home of one of the most passionate rugby franchises in South Africa, the Blue Bulls are always exploring innovative ways to bring the ultimate gaming experience to their fans. More than just a solution to congestion, Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company sees the solution as the first step to creating a next generation smart stadium that can enrich fan experience:

“At the moment, speeds in the majority of stadiums are not fast enough to stream video when a match is on and the network is congested. This can make watching content extremely frustrating. In some cases people would rather stay at home to watch the game on TV where they can easily view replays, see different camera angles or even catch games being played at other stadiums. Our new Wi-Fi network will change that. The ability to watch video content on their smartphones will give fans the opportunity to enjoy the vibe of being at a big game while at the same time enjoying the benefits that come from watching at home.

“One of the ways we plan to further add value to the stadium experience is via the Vodacom Rugby App. On top of being able to access exclusive content, location-based services will mean that in the future users will be able to access stadium specific promotions, have food and drinks delivered directly to their seats and even find out which bathrooms have less of a queue.”

Vodacom is currently in talks with other stadiums and public spaces, like shopping malls, to roll out the solution.

Email TechFinancials.co.za at editor@techfinancials.co.za