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ICANN looking to leverage African engagement

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is looking to expand its African engagement, launching new events, awards and opportunities on the continent. Pierre Dandjinou, vice president (VP) at ICANN for Africa, spoke today (Monday) on the key developments of the association at the iWeek conference in Johannesburg. Need for increased engagement on the African content arose out of low African interaction with regards to internet operation. In the wake of the new generic top level domain (gTLD) programme, ICANN received only 17 applications from Africa, compared to the 671 submissions from Europe and 902 from North America. The majority of African applications came from South Africa.

African ministers seal internet deal

Ministers from six African countries have come to an agreement to accelerate broadband access across Sub-Saharan Africa. Government ministers from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia met during the weekend in Botswana to discuss general points for consideration to expand internet access across the countries. Nonofo E Molefhi, minister of transport and communication for Botswana, said: “The provision of universal broadband access is vital in driving economic growth and improving the quality of life in Botswana and across Southern Africa.” Heightened broadband penetration is aiming to create a further 3.2 million jobs for Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.

Sunrise to launch March 2014

The ZA Central Registry (ZACR) will roll out its Sunrise process during March 2014, releasing allocated domain names to the public. Neil Dundas, director of the ZACR, spoke this morning at the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) conference in Johannesburg on its progress. Referencing the most recent statistics, Dundas revealed the registration of more than 870,000 domains, making the ZACR the largest registrar. Among 871,556 registered domains, 335,700 are legacy domains and 350,784 are extensible provisioning protocol (EPP) registrations. Targeting the normalisation of the registry, the decrease of domain deletes versus increases is hoped for in the coming months. Currently at 20,000 deletes up until August 2013, a net loss for domains is hoped to be diminished to 10,000, in anticipation of below 5,000.

African ministers agree on mobile broadband plan

Cape Town - Government ministers and the GSMA have signed an agreement to expand mobile access and accelerate broadband penetration across Sub-Saharan Africa. On Friday, the GSMA met Ministers from countries including Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia to agree to a set of common priorities to expand broadband access across the region. "The provision of universal broadband access is vital in driving economic growth and improving the quality of life in Botswana and across Southern Africa," said Nonofo E Molefhi, Minister of Transport and Communication for Botswana. Expansion of cable broadband is limited in Africa despite the number of high-speed broadband services available on the continent.

DEMO Africa announces 2013 finalists

Tech startup launchpad DEMO Africa has announced the 40 startups that will launch at the second annual DEMO Africa event in October, with South Africa leading the way with 12 startup finalists Aside from the South African finalists, Kenya will launch nine while Nigeria and Egypt will launch four and five respectively. Tanzania had two qualifying startups while Ghana, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Uganda and Morocco will each have one project launching on the DEMO stage. The startups were picked from 300 applicants drawn from 24 African countries. “The entries this year certainly kept up with the DEMO Africa spirit to produce innovative and creative ideas that are bound to transform the technology landscape and we are excited by the growth of innovation and technological advancement in Africa as portrayed by our finalists,” said Harry Hare, DEMO Africa executive producer.

Apps come long way since iStone Age in Africa

THE term "app" was the Word of the Year in 2010 and preceded the first Apple App which was called the iStone Age. Since the launch of the Apple App Store in 2008, it has had over 50-billion downloads … and counting. With the increase of smartphone penetration in Africa, the app is not only a cool tool, but a generator of revenue. According to Pyramid Research — an international communications market analysis and consulting service company — spending on mobile apps in South Africa will multiply as much as sevenfold from $33m now to $220m in 2017. The study said the smartphone, coupled with the increasing availability of apps and various payment methods could result in greater demand for mobile applications. Businesses like MTN are tapping into the opportunities presented by the mobile app market through collaborations and their MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

'Africa's father of the internet:' Web pioneer on bringing a continent online

If you're reading this somewhere in Africa, then perhaps you should thank Nii Quaynor. The Ghanaian professor is known as "Africa's father of the internet," a web pioneer who helped establish some of the continent's first online connections. For some 20 years now, soft-spoken Quaynor has been at the forefront of web development across Africa. He is the first African to be elected to the board of ICANN, the internet corporation for assigned names and numbers. He's also played an important part in launching the African Network Operators Group and AfriNIC, the African internet numbers registry. As a result, Quaynor was recently inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame, lauded as an instrumental figure "in the early design and development of the internet." He is today chairman of Ghana's information technology agency and a professor at the country's Cape Coast University.

781 million mobile subscriptions in Africa

Nigeria and South Africa are two of the continent’s most connected countries in terms of mobile phone subscriptions and have helped to push up overall numbers on the continent to over 781-million subscriptions. This is according to Ericsson’s annual Mobility report. Nigeria has been the fastest growing country on the continent, adding more mobile subscriptions than any other country. In the second quarter of this year, the nation added 20-million new connections. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country has 181-million connected lines and over 120-million active lines.

Technology’s unfulfilled promise holds back Africa

WHEN the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) met in Geneva in 2003, it adopted the WSIS Declaration, which posits access to information as a basic human right. Ten years later, Africa would do well to recall this philosophy; far too often here, information and communications technology (ICT) and the internet are still effectively luxury goods. The website Africa Connected hosts an array of stories about ordinary Africans who have benefited economically or socially from accessing the internet. These stories are a testament to the fact that access to technology, and with it information, can transform lives for the better. Much has been made of technology’s ability to have this kind of impact — to uplift communities, raise living standards and promote economic development.

Digital divide in Africa getting wider

Suraj Ramlall, chief technical officer (CTO) of Saab Grintek, has said the African digital divide is getting wider due to the high price of broadband. Ramlall was speaking at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) on the potential impact of broadband satellites on socio-economic status. “The digital divide is getting wider in Africa because prices are rising,” he said. Ramlall spoke of the need to be “technology agnostic” and to use multiple technologies to meet Africa’s demand for data. Saab Grintek is a South African based technology group focusing on ICT and energy management. The telecommunications expert said only a combination of cables and satellites would meet the demand.

IT salaries in SA: the least you should earn

ActiveTechPros’s IT Salary Benchmark Wizard offers insight into the salaries of South African IT professionals. The online platform allows IT professionals to benchmark their salary against other local IT professionals with information updated daily. The salary information is based on profiles of IT professionals who registered on the ActiveTechPros website. MyBroadband looked at some of the most popular IT job categories, and listed the salaries based on years of experience. It should be noted that these average salaries are for professionals in any sized business, different skill levels, and across South Africa

Broadband discussions 'come full circle'

While SA's industry players may be talking the same language they were a decade ago, the country's ultimate goal of ubiquitous broadband has come full circle, says FibreCo CTO Marius Mostert. Wrapping up the 16th Southern Africa Telecommunications Networks and Applications Conference (Satnac) yesterday, Mostert presented a retrospective scene of the themes that have been covered over the period – illustrating the loop effect SA finds itself in. Click here The bottom line – after years of dialogue – he says: "We have still not connected the unconnected."

LTE the key to mobile broadband in Africa

Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology will be the key enabler of mobile broadband, with video and mobile broadband being the most important mobile service, according to Noel Kirkaldy, head of technology of the Middle East and Africa Region at Nokia Solutions and Networks. Speaking at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference (SATNAC) 2013 yesterday, Kirkaldy highlighted the shift taking place away from voice calling and towards mobile broadband, and argued that LTE is the way to ensure mobile broadband access for all. “LTE will be the mobile broadband technology. That’s a big statement,” Kirkaldy said. “LTE is not an if, it’s a when,” he said.

Microsoft awarded top employer status in Africa

Microsoft has been certified for the second year running as one of Africa’s Top Employers in 2013/2014 for its operations in Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, and South Africa. This makes the company part of the CRF Institute’s Top Employers in Africa Index along with the first class of certified multinationals. Economies across Africa are growing rapidly and opportunities are abundant, but attracting, retaining, and engaging top talent remains a challenge. According to the CRF Institute, Microsoft has successfully demonstrated its excellence in the application of its Human Resources policies and practices across all of the countries where it operates, and this is the key criteria for certification.

Broadband application – why it is time for Africa

If broadband is to make any difference to consumers, there needs to be a balance in the ecosystem incorporating both infrastructure and applications – a model that continues to generate interest globally. ICT industry analysts and operators believe BRICS markets are emerging as a strong frontier in the rollout of broadband to develop economies. Speaking at the SATNAC 2013, hosted by Telkom South Africa in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, Noel Kirkaldy, Head of Technology of Middle East and African Region, Nokia Solutions and Networks, detailed the vision of mobile networks to deliver one gigabit of personalised data per user, per day and do so profitably. From a telecommunications industry point of view, Africa has the infrastructure and the opportunity to harmonise spectrum, to coordinate with government and really benefit from this growth he said.

Africa’s dream of all-inclusive, high-speed broadband

South Africa’s Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim has emphasised the importance of a national broadband policy, specifically pointing to its role in providing essential services to the people, and committed to the rollout of a policy for the country by end November 2013.Minister Carrim, along with ICT industry leaders, academics and decision makers, convened today in Stellenbosch, Western Cape, at SATNAC 2013 to discuss the role that broadband can- and will play in developing economies and digital inclusion across the continent.“We are in the very early stages of a journey towards broadband access and we need to work together,” he said. In his opening address Professor Brian O’Connell, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Western Cape, opened proceedings and described the event as “one of the most important to take place this year in South Africa”.

What SA’s tech top dogs get paid

The latest financial reports reveal which telecommunications executives earned the highest salaries over the last financial year. Topping the list as the highest paid CEO in telecoms and tech, MTN‘s Sifiso Dabengwa ended the 2012/2013 financial year R23.5 million rand richer. This includes a base salary of R8.4 million, benefits of R1.678 million and a bonus of R13.45 million. Blue Label Telecom‘s Levy brothers were each paid a salary of R13.309 million for the year

Sustaining self-generated innovation in SA

Organisational culture is one of the key drivers for stimulating self-generated innovation in South Africa as it promotes innovation internally that can then have an impact externally. At FNB, for example, which focuses heavily on innovation as a differentiator in a competitive industry and environment, the following attributes help drive innovation internally: providing employees with the space to contribute, issuing challenges that require solutions, encouraging and rewarding innovative idea, being flexible, and empowering people though a high degree of autonomy. Importantly, there needs to be tolerance for failed innovations as this is part of the learning process for successful ones.

Google to add more African languages to Google Translate

Search engine giant Google already has 71 languages in their highly-successful Google Translate service, and it seems that a number of African languages are gearing up to be added to the online translation service.Google Translate is a free automatic language translation service by Google. It works without the intervention of human translators, using state-of-the-art technology instead. Google Africa yesterday put out a call for volunteers to judge the quality of the beta translations for African languages Hausa, Igbo, Somali, Yoruba and Zulu. “Hello Africa, We need your help with evaluating translation quality for some of our “promising” African languages,” Google said in a Google+ post.

Google announces $25 000 African prize

Cape Town - Internet giant Google has launched a programme to reward successful online ventures in Africa. The company announced on Tuesday that its programme, Africa Connected: Success stories powered by the web, will pay prize money of $25 000 to five Africans who have demonstrated a successful online venture on the continent. "Google wants to hear from young, spirited entrepreneurial web adopters in sub-Saharan Africa who have a healthy disregard for the impossible and who are using the web and technology to do cool and extraordinary things to rise above their circumstances, change their world, and achieve success," said Affiong Osuchukwu, Google lead for the Africa Connected programme. Africa is widely regarded as the next high-growth emerging market after Asia and Latin America.