The Namibian mobile operators have agreed to the anti competitive interconnection fees charged on their networks. The Namibian Communication Commission (NCC) will establish the new interconnection fees within two months to avoid further conflict. The operators, however, want the NCC to review the interconnection fees in neighbouring countries to ensure that the newly agreed upon fees are regionally acceptable.
According to Minister of ICT Joel Kaapanda, the new fee regime will be benchmarked against the telecom practices in the Southern Africa Development Community.
Two major telcos MTN and Zain are looking forward for expansion across the continent. According to Zain, it has raised more than US$4 billion for more acquisitions, while MTN has approved more than $3 billion for acquisitions and infrastructure development this year. Sooner than later African mobile market reaches a saturation point with European and Middle Eastern operators, MTN and Zain is planning to extend their foot prints in the territories of Africa, particularly in voice and data markets. MTN has already acquired Verizon Business South Africa, which provides Internet services solely to corporate clients in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia. The company have proclaimed that it has also acquired two Ivory Coast companies, landline operator Arobase Telecom and ISP (Internet service provider) Afnet.
MTN CEO Phuthuma Nhleko said that “The acquisitions reflect the progress we are making toward consolidating our business”. “The new acquisitions will support our strategy to ensure that MTN is well positioned for a rapidly converging technology market”, Nhleko added.
According to Chris Gabriel, Zain’s CEO for Africa, Zain’s expansion strategy aims to make the company a top 10 global mobile operator by 2011. The Kuwaiti company is finalizing acquisition deals in Africa so that it can provide coverage from Cape Town to Cairo through Zain’s One Network service, which eliminates roaming charges wherever Zain operates, added Gabriel.
MTC, Namibia’s largest cellco, has invested nearly USD40 million (NAD300 million) in its network infrastructure in the year to date, in projects including raising SMS capacity, the deployment of a transmission backbone across several areas of the country and the replacement of central switching equipment with next generation architecture.
The company’s fibre-optic transmission network was extended in areas including the capital Windhoek, coastal regions and in the north, ending MTC’s long-standing reliance on renting backbone capacity from Telecom Namibia. The fibre project was implemented by Nera and Ericsson at a cost of NAD76 million this year. MTC also upgraded its radio access network and wireless broadband service capabilities, in partnership with Nokia Siemens Network and Motorola, at a cost of NAD88 million. MTC’s investments over the last 13 years total NAD1.6 billion.
Namibia’s second mobile operator Cell One has announced that it has rolled out its GSM network to Karasburg, Khorixas and Omaruru, and its services have now reached all 13 regions of the country. According to chief marketing officer, Ivar Talmoen, Cell One covered around 70% of the country by the end of last year and continues to expand its footprint on a weekly basis. Powercom (trading as Cell One) launched commercial mobile services in Windhoek in March 2007, breaking the monopoly of incumbent provider Mobile Telecommunications.
IDG News Service reports that as of today, monopoly control over Africa’s SAT-3 cable system will officially come to an end, amid fears that the network will run into capacity problems as early as 2009. The submarine fibre runs from South Africa to West Africa, and then links to cable systems extending to Europe and Asia. Since 2002, SAT-3 consortium members with landing points have had a monopoly on selling the cable bandwidth in their own countries, and to countries without landing points. As a result of this closed regime, the cost of telecoms in Africa has remained high, since few operators were able to buy capacity at cost. Consortium members included Telkom of South Africa, Camtel of Cameroon, Ghana Telecom, NITEL of Nigeria, Angola Telecom, Maroc Telecom and Namibia Telecom. African regulators, policy makers, non-governmental organisations and consumers have been pushing for SAT-3 to include more operators to make the market more competitive and bring down bandwidth costs.
The scramble for bandwidth that will occur among African countries following the end of the monopoly is raising fears that the cable will run out of capacity, although Telkom is playing down this fear. Its CEO, Reuben September, said cable utilisation is continually being monitored to avoid the occurrence of any capacity shortfall
Africa currently has a number of cable projects in the pipeline, including the East African Marine System (TEAMS) linking Kenya to the United Arab Emirates, the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) which is planned to run from South Africa to Sudan with landing points in six countries, and the InfraCO West Coast project which will link South Africa to Europe. All are meant to spur bandwidth competition and bring down the high cost of telecoms on the continent.
Namibia’s new mobile operator Cell One has raised ZAR 535 million in debt financing for its network roll-out, reports Business Day. Investec and Nedbank Capital raised the capital, which includes various tranches of long-term facilities, the first in the Namibian telecommunications sector. The network roll-out is also being funded by equity contributions from shareholders. Cell One has outsourced equipment sourcing and operations to Nokia Siemens Networks, while Norway’s Telecoms Management Partner is the managing shareholder. Other shareholders are state-owned power utility NamPower, investment firm Namic, insurer Old Mutual Namibia and the PowerCom Educational Trust. Cell One started operations in Windhoek in March.
Portugal Telecom (PT) is setting up a EUR1 billion holding company for its African investments. The new firm will gather together PT’s stakes in Unitel (Angola), Teledata (Mozambique) and CV Telecom (Cape Verde), plus additional interests in Namibia and Botswana. A report from Thomson Financial, which quotes an article in Expresso, made no mention of PT’s joint venture in Morocco, Medi Telecom.
Telecom Namibia revealed yesterday that it has expanded its CDMA WiLL service to nine more towns and settlements. The offering, branded â€˜Switch’, was launched in Windhoek in November 2006 and was followed by similar launches in Oshakati, Omuthiya, Okahao, Ombalantu, Ohangwena, Oluno, Ongwediva, Eenhana, Omundaungilo, Ondobe, Ondangwa, Otjiwarongo, Tsumeb, Windhoek, Okahandja, Henties Bay, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Keetmanshoop. The latest localities to receive coverage are Rehoboth, Mariental, Opuwo, Grootfontein, Rundu, Katima Mulilo, Okakarara, Oshivelo and Onesi. Oiva Angula, a spokesman for Telecom Namibia said further rollout of the network to replace obsolete technologies was on the cards for 2007 and beyond.
Fixed line monopoly operator Telecom Namibia has announced that it will officially launch its Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Procurement Policy at the NamPower Convention Centre in Windhoek on 13 June 2007. The BEE policy, aimed at the company’s supplier base, takes a proactive approach to redressing economic imbalances in the country. The policy includes a rating system that will be used to evaluate potential suppliers, with BEE measures making up 15% of the scores. The company’s managing director Frans Ndoroma said: â€˜Telecom Namibia is committed toâ€¦BEE that is broad-based, the most difficult, yet the most rewarding form of such empowerment possibleâ€¦Properly managed, the BEE philosophy holds the promise of strengthening the social fabric by giving vastly greater numbers of people a stake in the economy.’ He added that Telecom Namibia looks forward to forging mutually beneficial business relations with all those companies that share its vision. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes that Telecom Namibia is owned by state holding company Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings (NPTH), which also owns a 66% stake in the country’s largest mobile operator Mobile Telecommunications (MTC); the government plans to complete the sale of a 15% stake in MTC to local BEE groups this year.
Telecommunications technology will in the coming years have a profound impact on many societies in Africa, contributing largely to the economic growth and wealth of millions of people on the continent.
This development, and issues related to the regulatory environment supporting the foreseen growth, will be the major themes of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation’s (CTO) European-African Telecommunications Roundtable in Helsinki and Bonn, a meeting that will bring together leading decision makers from Africa, Europe and the telecoms industry.
The CTO meeting will assemble high-level telecommunications officials from the organisation’s African member countries, with participants representing communications ministries and regulators from Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Officials from Finnish and German government and industry will also take part.
The roundtable is built around themes including the telecommunications ecosystem: the socio-economic impact of information and communication technology (ICT) and telecommunications, case studies from countries including Finland, and how similar development can be encouraged in New Growth Markets; and Europe-Africa cooperation, including European ICT initiatives in Africa and project financing.
Nokia Siemens Networks and Nokia are playing a key role in the meeting, contributing speakers and engaging in the dialogue that aims to increase understanding between the two continents, initiate concrete projects and lay the foundation for future discussions.
“While people around the world share the universal desire to connect with others, Nokia has dedicated itself to develop an unparalleled insight into the specific needs and aspirations of individuals in emerging markets. Less than a month ago, Nokia launched seven new phones based on this in-depth understanding, which are not only designed to be accessible to these consumers, but to also help spark development within the communities that they live and work,” said Veli Sundback, executive vice president of corporate relations and responsibility for Nokia.
By 2015 we expect five billion people will be connected by wire and wirelessly from one end of the planet to the other, and the clear majority of these people will come from new growth markets in Asia and Africa. We are committed to connecting the world, and this event is an excellent opportunity to engage key stakeholders to help make this vision a reality,â€ said Lauri Kivinen, head of corporate affairs, Nokia Siemens Networks.
The CTO European/African Telecommunications Roundtable will run from May 28-31 in Helsinki, and then continues until June 1 in Bonn.