Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) Group will be hosting the South African Telecommunication Association (SATA) 10th SADC Telecom Operators’ Bilateral Meeting (STOBM) at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) from 23rd- 26th February.

The Meeting brings together SATA members and their stakeholders in one place to discuss and agree on bilateral issues on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
This meeting creates an opportunity for operators to negotiate interconnect rates, network fraud and linkages and also agree on technical issues, including infrastructure connectivity as well as quality of service issues.
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Quality of Service is a very important aspect in telecommunication business, especially as operators migrate from TDM based technology to packet based IP technology like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Most of the operators are already using Voice over IP for terminating regional and international voice traffic and there is need to make sure that the quality of service is acceptable by customers.

Sixty delegates from SADC and beyond have confirmed their attendance at this important event in the SATA calendar that will be officially opened by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Festina Bakwena.

“BTC Group is very proud to be hosting the 10th SADC STOBM meeting. The gathering provides a platform for experts in the ICT sector and practitioners in the field, to discuss and learn about pertinent issues. Our participation is a step towards providing leading technology to the public,” says BTC Group Acting CEO Keabetswe Segole.

Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Angola, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Mauritius and Tanzania are represented in SATA.

Software maker Microsoft Corporation has introduced into the market a discounted promotional software - Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student for Africa - targeting its expansive customer portfolio.

The release follows feedback from customers and partners to design a product suitable for the African consumer.

Retailing at Sh3,999, the software can be installed on three computers , this compared to the standard Microsoft Office license that lets you install the software on one computer plus a portable device for use by a single person. Read More Commenting on the introduction of the new product into the market, Microsoft East and Southern Africa General Manager Louis Otieno said Microsoft was committed to ensuring everyone had access to genuine software and the skills needed to achieve their potential at an affordable price.

He emphasised that genuine software includes many features and enhancements that help to improve security and helps protect your computer from viruses and other malicious software as well as an improved automatic document recovery tool in cases of system failure.

“This means that documents are safe from hackers who may want to collect private data. With the advent of online banking and other forms of payment through e-commerce, it pays to operate on a secure platform with built-in malware, firewall and online updates direct to your PC especially when banking from home or ordering goods and services online like courses and holidays,” Mr Otieno said.

The introduction of the lowly priced software could also be one way of discouraging rising cases of software piracy that has cost the corporation huge losses. Statistics from the International Data Corporation (IDC) indicate that Piracy of software on personal computers (PC) in Africa stands at 80 percent with industry losses, due to software piracy, in Africa estimated at over $95 million (Sh7.3 billion).

Robert Allela from Comztech, a Microsoft distribution partner said that with the recent Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) explosion in the country and landing of the fibre optic cable, Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007 product launch was overdue.

“Microsoft had come to the distributors’ aid in driving up the sale of genuine software in the country.Now everyone who desires the benefits of genuine software can afford to with the new Microsoft Office Home & Student for Africa,” said Allela.

An IDC study indicates that Kenya’s IT sector will generate more than 4,000 new jobs by 2011 and account for the creation of more than 100 new IT companies. According to the study, over the next four years, Kenya’s IT industry will drive Sh2.7 billion in new tax revenues and contribute new revenues of Sh7.7 billion to GDP.
From Capital FM Kenya

China plays an active role in the information and communication Technologies (ICT) sector, where its experience should be shared, the secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union (UIT), Hamadoun Toure, told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.

The UIT chief made these remarks on the sidelines of the 14th summit of the African Union (AU), which is being held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with a theme of "ICT in Africa : Challenges and Opportunities for Development."

"China has been a very important partner in ICT sector and there are good lessons that we can learn from the Chinese experience," Toure noted.

He affirmed that there are "three big companies including Huawei, ZTE and ChinaMobile which have shown good examples not only to the African continent, but to the entire world in the ICT matters."
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He went ahead to express his satisfaction with the fact that China is willing to cooperate with developing countries in the domain.

Regarding the ICT development in Africa, the UIT head said it was satisfactory since the rate of mobile telephone penetration in Africa was now standing at 40 percent, and this, he noted, was the highest growth in the world.

"There are still challenges to overcome in the area of Internet usage," he said, but he was quick to add that these are challenges which should be turned into opportunities.

He congratulated African countries for having made commitments on the development of ICT, making reference to the theme of this summit, which is devoted to discussions on the issue by heads of state and governments and representatives of AU member countries.

Toure said the new services created by the ICT could come to the aid of other sectors like education, commerce, health and governance through the digital technology, which will speed up the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

He was optimistic that the summit will end up with positive results.

UIT is a UN institution specialized in the information and communication technologies. Being a center for global convergence where public and private sectors meet, UIT helps the world to communicate in three main areas: radio communication, normalization and development.

UIT, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, has 191 member states with more than 700 associations in the industry.
From www.xinhuanet.com

The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), with the support of leading U.S. and African corporations, and senior level representatives from American and African government agencies, will host its 4th U.S. – Africa Infrastructure Conference at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C., April 27 – 29, 2010.

Themed “Building Dynamic Growth in Africa,” this year’s conference will focus on key sectors ripe for U.S. investment, including information and communication technology, alternative energy, and human security. Read More The effects of climate change on Africa will also be a focus. Another primary focus will be project financing. During the conference, company representatives will have the opportunity to interact with funding entities, and learn about available instruments for project finance in the specially designed “Deal Room.”

“CCA’s U.S. – Africa Infrastructure Conference has an exceptional record of attracting key decision makers and featuring informative and thought-provoking sessions,” said Stephen Hayes, president and CEO of CCA. “This year’s conference will provide global business and government leaders with the latest blueprint on infrastructure investment return with some of Africa’s most promising sectors.”

Immediately following the World Bank spring meetings, the three-day conference will include industry-specific sessions, networking opportunities, and a special dinner in honor of the African ministers of finance and central bank governors. The sessions will be led by U.S. and African business and government leaders whose expertise stems from their own successful engagements and ongoing ventures in Africa.

Parties interested in more information on the conference should visit www.africacncl.org.

THE Inspectorate of Government has cleared the controversial sh200b Government internet project. The project, which consists of three phases, involves building a 2,100km fibre optic cable network.

Ultimately, it is meant to link Uganda to the submarine cable on the East African coast and provide faster and cheaper internet access.

The Inspector General of Government (IGG), Raphael Baku, gave the go-ahead in a letter to ethics minister Nsaba Buturo earlier this month.
Last August, President Yoweri Museveni had tasked Buturo to oversee the investigations into complaints raised about the project.

Baku explained that the project was being implemented by the time the complaint was registered with his office. “The complaint which was raised was whether the second phase should go on,” said Baku.
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“We saw no problem with it if the damages (on the first phase) could be repaired concurrently.”

The IGG argued that the Government would incur more costs if it cancelled the project.
Baku also said the ICT minister did not have the capacity to monitor the implementation of the project, which led to the shoddy work.

The IGG clearance comes after the parliamentary committee on ICT issued a directive to suspend the second phase of the rpoject.

The committee vice-chairperson, Paula Turyahikayo, said they had not seen the IGG report but would hold a joint meeting with the ICT ministry and the Auditor General on the way forward.
The Auditor General in a December report found several anomalies in the implementation of the project and questioned if there was value for money.

The national transmission backbone infrastructure and E-Government infrastructure is a $106m (sh201b) project, funded by a concessional loan from the export/import bank of China.
The first phase was meant to provide connectivity to Government ministries and departments at a total cost of $30m (sh57b).

The second and third phases were meant to connect all major towns, covering 1,900 kms at a cost of $61 million and $15 million respectively.
However, investigations found that the selection of the contractor, Huwaei Technologies, was done without competitive bidding and no price comparisons were done to ensure value for money.

“By not subjecting the proposal to proper evaluation, the ministry exposed itself to the risk of high pricing and unfavourable contract terms,” read the Auditor General’s report.

The audit found that the cost of the project was inflated. The 24 core optic cable was quoted by the contractor at $3,200 (sh6m) per kilometer.

However, in a technology brief to the board of the National Information Technology Authority of Uganda, the price of the cable was quoted as $1,400 (sh2.6m) per kilometer.

In addition, the audit found that the 24 core cable is of lower capacity than what private companies such as MTN and the Government of Rwanda laid at a much cheaper rate. It also questioned the capacity of 24 core cables to meet the under-water bury standards.
The audit further found that there was poor supervision of the project and that key implementation guidelines were not adhered to.

According to the report, the cables were placed too close to the road. Also, the depth was less that the recommended 1.5 metre and the distance from the middle of the road was found to be less than the 15 metres recommended.

There were also serious delays in the project, the Auditor General noted. Implementation of the three phases was supposed to be completed in 27 months, or by January 2009.

“However, 38 months later, the first phase, originally to be implemented in six months, has not been fully completed.” The delay is expected to lead to further administrative costs.

Already, the company has claimed $2.2m in additional costs for repairs on the first phase. The permanent secretary of the ICT ministry argued that the damages occurred after the hand-over of the network and could therefore not be covered by the insurance.

But the Auditor General observed that there was no independent assessment of the extent of the repairs, and there was no evidence that the contractor had actually obtained an insurance cover.

Former ICT minister Ham Mulira, under whose tenure the deal was sealed, has defended the huge cost of the project.

He said factors must be considered such as terrain, geographical coverage, fibre capacity to meet the potential demand based on the size of the population, and the cost of civil works.

On the size and capacity of the 24 core cable, as compared to that of MTN of 48 core and Rwanda of 90 core, Mulira argued that once the fibre is laid, the traffic capacity can be increased by changing the devices that send the traffic.
From: New Vision

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