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Latest update: dotAfrica Launch Plan approved, Sunrise Phase commences on 4 April, 2017

Africa’s ICT industry responds to Mandela’s passing

News of the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela on 05 December 2013 has flooded worldwide communication channels, with social networks representing the medium of choice for many to express their thoughts, feelings and experiences – including those of companies across the spectrum of Africa’s ICT sector.Mandela passed away at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, just before midnight, surrounded by family. President Jacob Zuma made an official announcement from the Union Buildings in Pretoria to the country saying “Our thoughts are with the millions of people across the world who embraced Madiba their own. We will always love you Madiba… may your soul rest in peace. God bless Africa.”

Users urged to register .africa now

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN) plans to launch some 1900 new Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD’s). This new system will allow for the registration of generic words,geographic names and brand names as top level names, for example .lawyer, .africa, .zulu, .google and .clothing, and ICANN has established a so-called ‘Trademark Clearinghouse’, which came into effect on 26 March 2013.If you register with the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) you will be entitled to register your trade mark as a domain name during the so-called ‘Sunrise Period’ for each new gTLD as and when it comes into effect. This will give you a preferential registration right, in that you will be able to register your trade mark as a domain name before the general public are able put in their applications,” the company said in a statement.

10 highly sought-after technology skills in 2014

With the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stating in a report in October this year that output in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to “expand by 6% in 2014″, academics and technology specialists have agreed that the projected growth will also fuel demand for skills.The ICT skills shortage experienced internationally, including South Africa, has also increasingly been experienced by countries in Africa. According to Professor Andre Calitz of the Department of Computing Sciences at The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the ICT skills shortage estimates presently are between 20 000 and 70 000 in S.A. and over a million in the USA and Europe.

The weakest link in cyber security

Newspaper headlines that the international space station might have been compromised by a computer virus might be sensational and grab much attention, but seem far removed from everyday organsations and businesses most of us work for and with. But the reality is that while this sort of high profile attack grabs media headlines, the majority of businesses around the world also face cyberattack and their networks will be compromised – either by professional cybercrime gangs or in this case the actions of a well meaning insider. While every year organisations around the world spend millions of dollars on internet security designed to stop cybercriminals getting into their networks

Female entrepreneurs in Africa are on the rise

Being an entrepreneur anywhere in the world is daunting but the technology sector in Africa presents its own distinct challenges. Yet, despite the limited reliability of the network or the lack of available funding and training, men and women across the continent are risking their own money to grow Africa’s economies. I have worked in eight countries across Africa, and everywhere I go, I meet young people, like myself, posing difficult questions and working on innovative solutions. However, I also encountered another, less heartening, constant. In every office I worked in, I was one of just a handful of women. This imbalance can be decidedly unhelpful when it comes to building the confidence and decisiveness that are key to entrepreneurship. In a recent US report by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, women were shown to have less self-belief than men. Without the confidence to turn their dreams into reality women are much less likely to start their own businesses.

Broadband progress from the DoC

The Department of Communications (DoC) completed its “broadband policy, strategy and plan”, and has sent it to cabinet. DoC spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza said that cabinet meets tomorrow, and that the broadband document will most likely be available on Thursday during the post cabinet briefing. Communications minister Yunus Carrim previously said that the DoC will present their revised information and communication technology (ICT) policies to Cabinet on 4 December 2013.

Local content quickens pace of broadband service delivery in East Africa

The increasing availability of affordable customer premise equipment (CPE) and smartphones in East Africa is driving the broadband services market in the region. Greater demand for access to social media platforms, especially on mobile devices, sustains broadband penetration. The laying of undersea cables, too, has helped enhance the reliability of networks, aiding market development. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, East African Broadband Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $109.5 million in 2012 and expects this to reach $159.2 million in 2017. The low broadband network coverage in Ethiopia, Sudan and Rwanda – covering an average of just 20 percent of the geographic area – is indicative of a large under-serviced market and the high growth potential it offers

Over 17,000 domain hacks occur a day

The Trend Micro Smart Protection Network figures highlight how virulent this issue has become,” says Gregory Anderson, country manager at Trend Micro South Africa. “In August 2013 alone, they blocked 2,817 threats per second with an average of 2,797 threats per second in this quarter.” According to the RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center2 (AFCC) mobile will become the leading cyber battleground in 2014 and already that trend is in play. Global security software vendor Trend Micro has released a threat report that examines the global state of the Internet nation. In 2013 the cybercrime industry, chased by an increasingly dynamic and vigilant security industry, has shifted its modes of operation, targeting new users and platforms as well as focusing on hacktivism and online exploitation

Cloud uptake set to explode across Africa

Cloud computing uptake is about to explode in Africa’s major economies as businesses gain confidence in both the security and reliability of the Cloud. This was the key finding of the Cloud in Africa: Reality Check 2013 research study, released today by World Wide Worx and Cisco The study was conducted among a small but representative sample of senior information technology decision-makers in medium-sized and large companies in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. Survey Key Findings: The most significant finding from the study was that, while South Africa currently leads the continent in Cloud uptake, it is about to be overtaken – dramatically – by Nigeria.

Liquid Telecom SA pours broadband into education

Liquid Telecom South Africa today announced that it has provided broadband to forty schools on behalf of the Foundation for Internet Development working for the Department of Education and the Coza Cares Foundation which enables sustainable ICT environments in under-resourced South African schools through collaboration and partnerships. The schools are all located in rural parts of the North West Province. Liquid Telecom South Africa has allocated a dedicated channel on its satellite service for the schools. This provides unlimited capacity as well as Deep Packet Inspection of traffic. The content, destination and origin of data can now be monitored 24x7x365 with automatic blocking of inappropriate material.

Africa’s growth under discussion at Innovative Africa Forum

African Business magazine has teamed up with Microsoft 4Afrika as well as African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) to lead the Innovative Africa Forum in the format of a roundtable discussion on the 27th November 2013 in Kampala, Uganda. Participating will be leading experts driving innovation in Africa including Su Kahumbu, Founder of iCow, Simon Rweyongoza, of Center for Creative Leadership, and Kyai Mullei, Co-Founder of M-Changa. The Forum will be opened by The Rt Hon. Amama Mbabazi, Prime Minister of Uganda. With the theme “towards growth and development” the roundtable will explore how to create a conducive environment and an ecosystem for innovations in Africa. Conversation topics will include: developing solutions for innovations to drive social and economic growth in education, health and agriculture; Africa’s mobile banking revolution; technology and innovation as levers for business growth; and the support role of intellectual and property and patents

African insurers must address looming technology challenge

The African Insurance Organisation has long warned that lack of information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure is holding the African insurance market back. The additional challenge of getting legacy systems to provide improved risk management and mobile services, is forcing insurers to rethink their systems strategy. Rhys Collins, Head of African Operations for SSP, a leading provider of insurance technology to insurers across the continent, says modern technology overcomes these challenges, and this is increasingly drawing new players into the African insurance market.Both Hollard and Sanlam, for example, have had good success in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana and Nigeria and are believed to be eyeing other opportunities across the continent.

Mobile growth is the key market for insurers in Africa

Insurers wanting to operate in Africa need to upgrade their ICT systems and focus on the booming mobile market if they do not want to be left behind, according to Rhys Collins, head of African operations for SSP. SSP, a provider of insurance technology to insurers, said there already examples of insurers having success across the continent in countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana and Kenya. Collins said while tighter regulatory environments in Africa is good for the industry, it does mean that most providers need to make “major changes” to their administration systems.

TLDH Signs 6 New gTLD Contracts With ICANN

The Directors of Top Level Domain Holdings are pleased to announce that the Company has signed contracts with ICANN for five new gTLDs wholly-owned by the Company: .horse, .cooking, .casa, .fishing, and .budapest.In addition, Minds + Machines GmbH, the Company’s 80% owned subsidiary, has signed the contract with ICANN for .nrw, which will serve Germany’s largest state, North-Rhine Westphalia. All six applications will now progress to pre-delegation testing, the final step before delegation into the Internet’s root zone.

SA tipped as future African internet leader

South Africa and Morocco could become leaders in driving the growth of the internet in Africa, according to a new report by global consulting firm McKinsey which predicts that the internet's contribution to economic growth on the continent will increase dramatically over the next decade. According to the report, released on Wednesday, the continent, following a decade of rapid urbanisation and strong economic growth, is going digital. "While just 16 percent of the continent's one-billion people are online, that picture is changing rapidly," says McKinsey. Africa's "iGDP" - the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) that is contributed by internet-related activity - currently stands at 1.1 percent, just over half the levels seen in other emerging markets and well below the average of 3.7 percent in developed economies.

Africa leads in mobile contribution to GDP

The contribution made to gross domestic product (GDP) in Sub-Saharan Africa by the broader mobile ecosystem is “well ahead” of other regions in the world and continues to grow, according to the GSM Association (GSMA). In an interview with HumanIPO, Peter Lyons, director of public policy for the Africa and Middle East region at the GSMA, said while the mobile ecosystem in Africa already contributes far more towards GDP than other global regions, further GDP increases of up to US$197 billion and the creation of 16 million jobs could be achieved in the region through mobile. “The mobile industry already makes a significant contribution to economic growth and job creation across Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for a greater proportion of GDP than in any other region across the globe,” said Lyons.

Africa well positioned for leap to 4G LTE

With its capacity for innovation, Africa’s mobile network sector is well positioned to drive the explosion in service offerings on the back of 4G LTE implementations. This is the view of Sherry Zameer, Africa and Middle East Head of telecommunication solutions for Gemalto, world leader in digital security. Zameer’s comments follow the AfricaCom conference held in Cape Town last week, which was attended by some 8000 delegates from over 100 different countries. “Africa is largely unrestricted by legacy platforms and onerous regulations, and so has the capacity to leapfrog standard 3G migrations, to embrace LTE and all the benefits of better quality service and content possibilities that the next generation platform provides,” Zameer continued.

Top 10 mobile handsets of 2013

The year has been very exciting for consumers of technology with almost every mobile technology company launching a new version of their existing flagship devices. In what has emerged as something of an annual race, major players such as Samsung and Apple have tried to entice users with updated versions of their most popular devices, while others opted to go for entirely new models. With all the major announcements behind us, IT News Africa takes a look at the best mobile handsets released this year

UNICEF mobile innovation making impact in Africa

Four years after its introduction, a mobile innovation called RapidSMS, developed by two United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) employees, continues to bring about significant change in key regions throughout Africa. Africa Renewal reports on the progress of this mobile realtime information application.When in 2009 Christopher Fabian and Erica Kochi, two employees of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), developed RapidSMS, a platform for data gathering and group communication using the short messaging system (SMS) on mobile phones, their aim was simply to tackle the problem of slow data transmission within the food security surveillance system in Malawi. Four years later, RapidSMS is touching the lives of millions in many African countries, helping to record births and monitor distribution of mosquito nets in Nigeria, monitor neonatal health in Zambia and track food distribution in the Horn of Africa, among other uses.

Internet could add $300bn to Africa GDP

A new report by McKinsey & Company shows that use of the Internet in Africa could add US$300bn to the continent’s cumulative gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025. The report, “Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa”, studies the progress of the Internet in 14 economies that make up 90% of Africa’s GDP: South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Angola, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon. Johannesburg-based McKinsey director, and co-author of the report, Saf Yeboah-Amankwah says the Internet is a catalyst for economic growth in China, India and Brazil, and has contributed more than 10% of total GDP growth in those markets in the past five years. “Its impact in Africa to date has been much smaller, but is likely to accelerate in the coming decade — and could have a transformative effect the continent’s development.”