ICT Policy



City Profiles

What are the strategic considerations for those delivering internet services to Africa (and how might these change going forward)?
August 24, 2014  ♦ Broadband ♦ No Comment

The latest issue of WIOCC‘s thought-leadership e-bulletin Connected asks a panel of industry figures to give their expert responses to a current question on African broadband.



August 2014′s question is: What are the strategic considerations for those delivering internet services to Africa, and how might these change going forward?

Some of the areas considered by the panelists are the challenges bringing the internet closer to African customers, with some international ISPs offering local IP Transit services in Africa and others not. Could this be because of the expansion of internet exchanges in Africa and the growth of carrier-grade data centre facilities? Also, how important are the demands for improved pan-African, intra-company communications via VPN services? And what about the debate around local versus international content?

Snippets of the responses are below:

International submarine and terrestrial network connectivity in Africa has expanded greatly in the past few years, but the industry still faces challenges providing high- quality affordable IP transit in African countries.” – Paul Brodsky, Senior Analyst, TeleGeography

The rate of internet adoption in emerging countries is continuously increasing, as barriers to entry are getting lower and the benefits in terms of efficiency increasingly justify investment in internet infrastructure, both for end user access (in particular wireless broadband technology) and in the backbone, as fiber optic networks, over submarine cables or terrestrial links replace bandwidth-constrained satellite links.” – Francois Lemaigre, VP European Sales, Cogent Communications

With the rapidly changing landscape in social, mobile and cloud; strong, robust and resilient access to internet is a critical part of a future landscape. It always starts in the same way and follows a distinct path. Firstly building sufficient access to the international markets to gain connectivity, then creating a environment to house local content, then the development of peering and finally rolling out neutral platforms to optimise the experience and reduce cost. I see that Africa is still in the first stage of development with several concurrent initiatives in place to connect bandwidth to the international markets, alongside the adoption of local content storage and peering yet to surface on the continent itself.” – Clint Collins, Regional Director, Carrier Business MEA, Epsilon

Those seeking to profit from delivering internet services in Africa must first grasp the distinctive characteristics of the African market. The most obvious of these is the poor penetration of internet services relative to most of the rest of the world. There are nearly a billion Africans between Cairo and Cape Town, and yet between them all they account for only 7% of the world’s internet users, according to Internet World Stats.” – Guy Mathews, Writing, Capacity and European Communications

There certainly have been phenomenal advances in technology and access is certainly improving across the continent. However, and there is a big caveat to this, the advancement for the most part is still firmly focused on urban Africa. For the most part Africa is still looking for an affordable and cost-effective rural solution that will give mass coverage and access to those that are most isolated.” – Bradley Shaw, IT/Telecoms Consultant

Ryan Sher, COO of WIOCC, calls out the challenge for ISPs to ensure they have sufficient bandwidth capacity and flexibility within their own networks to meet customers’ burgeoning growth in demand for high-capacity international connectivity. Caching international content is becoming a trend, and accordingly, an emphasis on creating data centres is imperative. Finally, Mr. Sher writes that the amount of operational fibre in Africa rose by 24% in the twelve months ending March 2014. There are now at least 440,000km of such fibre with nearly 100,000km under construction, another 100,000km planned, and 50,000km proposed.

View the entire publication: Connected August 2014

A new ‘video introduction’ mobile app simplifies recruitment in South Africa
August 22, 2014  ♦ Mobile ♦ No Comment

Byte Orbit, a bespoke software development company based in Cape Town, South Africa, has developed a new mobile application that could “revolutionize the face of recruitment.”


Impress Me is a video-based mobile application that allows job seekers to impress potential employers by submitting an unique video clip. The thought is that the app will not only help applicants but it will also save time for the hiring manager.

Currently this app allows for 5 positions to be posted at any one time, and it’s free. Employers can now get to better form an impression of potential candidates and determine who would be most suitable for the job before setting up first-round interviews (or phone screens).

Since the a soft launch of Impress Me, the likes of Kalahari, Price Check, RunwaySale, Groupon & RSA Web have joined to try out the platform.

In conjunction with the launch, Impress Me has a partnered with Kalahari where users of Impress Me can stand a chance to win 1 of 3 Gobii 4.5” Smartphones. To qualify all users need to do is download the app and apply for any of the positions available with a video selfie. The competition closes on 15 September 2014.

Impress Me is available on the following platforms:


A screenshot from the app. {Impress Me}

Stay tuned for more from the developer Byte Orbit – their annual Startup Knight competition often happens in October.

Volo’s first customer quickly launches affordable high-speed Internet service in northern Uganda
August 18, 2014  ♦ Broadband ♦ No Comment

Just two months ago, we reported on how Silicon Valley-based Volo Broadband is enabling ISPs to use radically lower cost technologies to deliver high-speed fixed broadband, especially for small and medium enterprises, complementing mobile broadband for consumers. At the time, Volo was working on launching a new ISP in Gulu, Uganda. Hardly 12 weeks since first partnering, Volo’s first customer has already launched reliable (and affordable!) Internet service.

Backed by Volo Broadband’s expert design and cloud-based software integration, Zoom Wireless, northern Uganda’s newest Internet Service Provider, is now delivering the most affordable high-speed Internet access to businesses and residences in Gulu, Uganda. In fact, monthly Internet service can be had for 110 000 Ugandan Shillings, or roughly 40 USD.

volo zoom noc

Inside the Volo-powered Zoom Wireless Network Operations Center

A new start-up built based on years of field experience and designed in Silicon Valley, Volo enables ISPs and telecom providers in emerging markets to design and deploy fixed wireless broadband services quickly and profitably. As mentioned above, Zoom Wireless began offering a range of corporate and small business/residential grade fixed wireless services in Gulu, Uganda, within weeks of partnering with Volo.

With Volo’s engagement, the new ISP has designed and deployed a carrier-grade last mile WiFi network. This network is fiber-backed and integrated with the latest cloud-based management software, enabling Zoom Wireless to deploy it with 10 times less capital and operating cost than traditional LTE networks.

Volo’s experts got us up and running from greenfield to market in under 12 weeks. That would have been impossible without them. Now we have the systems to manage the network and the skills to deploy and expand it. We’ve already exceeded our goals for time to market and customer response to our first of a kind affordable fixed wireless service has been rapid.” – Joseph Walusimbi, General Manager of SINFA Uganda LTD and Zoom Wireless

Zoom Wireless is currently offering Internet services for corporate customers with speeds from 1-9 Mbps and small business/residential options of 512 kbps, 1 Mbps, or 3 Mbps at approximately 50% of the rates of their competitors and no usage caps. Custom-managed WiFi services are also available.

While these speeds may seem low in the context of developed world economies, the ability for ISPs or telecom providers to offer these services at affordable prices in emerging and frontier markets like Northern Uganda is transformative. Faster, more reliable access to the Internet is driving real productivity and employment.

This transformation was seen immediately at SINFA Uganda LTD’s Microwork division, where employees perform digital business process outsourcing that is 100% reliant on Internet access to download and upload data. Connected to the Zoom Wireless network in July as an early customer trial, the amount of microwork completed in one month was double their typical output. This boom in productivity meant they were able to not only perform more work but also employ more workers, increasing both revenue, and job opportunities – all things that are vital to economic growth in the region.

With these speeds, the future of the cloud is here. Businesses and consumers can confidently access cloud-based productivity tools that fuel economic growth that include Google Apps, Microsoft Office 365, Quickbooks Online and YouTube. As Volo’s first customer, Zoom Wireless proves the need for and impact of Volo’s services. Building on the success of Zoom Wireless, Volo is now ready to make our cloud-based ISP automation platform available in limited release and work with providers in Africa to demonstrate the speed and profitability that can be achieved with our system and expertise.” – Mark Summer, CEO and co-founder of Volo

Interestingly, a recent independent Quality of Service (QoS) assessment carried out by the Uganda Communications Commission indicated MTN Uganda as the leading network operator for the period February 2014 to June 2014. Large mobile operators like MTN may have thousands of kilometers of fibre infrastructure and hundreds of 3G sites. Yet performance is all relative – does it matter if one ISP or mobile operator is the best of what’s out there if on an absolute level all lack truly affordable and useful Internet service?

Hopefully outside-the-box thinkers like Zoom Wireless can benefit from the hardware and expertise that companies like Volo can provide. In many areas – both urban and rural – the most affordable solution for stable Internet connectivity may very well come from a WiFi network that acts like a fixed broadband connection rather than less reliable (but more commonly deployed) 3G and LTE services .

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JumpStart Africa makes crowdfunding available to African entrepreneurs
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UN survey finds African governments need to prioritize online service delivery
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Reasons why Cameroon needs to open up its 3G market
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