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Welcome to the Com World Series Blog. As producers of the leading telecoms, media and ICT events for developing markets, we focus on news & views that affect everyone operating in the telecoms ecosystem in Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia.

1 Apr 2015

“Adapt and innovate or simply close shop” Interview of K-NET’s Dayo Abiodun for Connecting West Africa



Dayo Abiodun is Director, International Business Development at K-NET a Ghana-based provider of telecommunication solutions for businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa, providing data and internet services in several West African countries.

Ahead of his participation to Connecting WestAfrica in Senegal on 9-10 June, we ask him a few question on the market.

What makes K-NET a unique player in Ghana’s market? “K-NET is the only company in Ghana that has built its own one stop network infrastructure integrating several platforms into a single centrally controlled network” he says. “ K-NET has its own teleport, data center, a dedicated satellite capacity and fiber link connection to major international PoPs.”

Innovation is a key theme in the region’s digital development, according to Dayo. Asked about the impact of the digital transition, as many countries are preparing for the switch in June in following with ITU guidelines, Dayo says the main impact will be felt by broadcasters:  the digital transition will “force broadcasting companies to adapt and innovate or simply close shop”. The change will not only affect broadcasters but also telecommunications. Dayo sees the main outcome of the transition will be “innovation that would lead to a knowledge society”.

The main issue for telecom operators is balancing investment in networks and monetisation. Dayo says “content and VAS will be a key driver to generating revenue from data” in the new digital market” but the first LTE deployments in the region have shown that “service affordability is still key to market penetration in the subscriber space”.

Regulators and governments have an important role to play in improving affordable access to high speed networks, by creating “an enabling environment, availability of critical infrastructure such as reliable power/electricity and elimination of double taxation”.

Dayo will be joining the panel discussion on rural telecoms at Connecting West Africa on 9th June, discussing social impact, strategies & technologies in connecting remote areas. For more information on the programme please visit http://westafrica.comworldseries.com/

26 Mar 2015

Tigo Senegal announced as Host Operator of Connecting West Africa, Dakar, 9-10 June



The Connecting West Africa team is pleased to announce that Tigo Senegal will be Host Operator partner at the event in Dakar on 9th and 10th June.

Tigo is part of the international telecommunications and media company Millicom, which has over 50 million customers in 13 countries in Africa and Latin America. Launched in 1999, Tigo Senegal provides GSM, 3G and 3.5G networks to its customers. Over 3 million customers use mobile, Internet and financial services of Tigo. Since 2014, Tigo Senegal has been testing the 4G network and is preparing for the commercial launch when provided with legal authorization.

As a digital services leader, Tigo is perfectly positioned to lead the debate on innovation to monetise data in the broadband era, one of the major themes to be discussed at Connecting West Africa this year. Tigo is innovating and providing new products and services in addition to voice and SMS (mobile financial service Tigo Cash, airtime top-up self-service machine Tigomatic, and Tigo Kiiray, Senegal’s first mobile life insurance service) to accelerate the digital inclusion in the country.

Tigo places great importance in investing in the Senegalese economy, through improving local infrastructure, investing in local talent, or introducing services to help Senegalese businesses. The company invested over $250 million between 2009 and 2013, and $100 million were invested between 2013 and 2014 into the local network, improving Senegal’s digital infrastructure. Tigo also works with a variety of other organisations to improve the quality of education for Senegalese students, and is committed to supporting the health of the local population.

Tigo Senegal's CEO Diego Camberos will be giving an oening keynote presentation at Connecting West Africa, highlighting the company's efforts in digital inclusion. Mr Camberos joined Tigo in 2009 to launch the Rwanda operation and eventually became its CEO. After a successful experience, he was appointed CEO of Tigo Senegal in 2013. He has a developed a rich and diverse experience as having held positions in the areas of Marketing, Distribution and Customer Service. Indeed, he has held various international positions in Latin America at Trilogy in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and worked nearly 10 years at McDonald's in various countries, including Bolivia and Colombia.

Also speaking at the event will be Jean-Fran├žois Sene, who will join the panel discussion on managing the new digital landsape i Senegal. Mr Sene has 15 years of solid experience in Mobile Telephony. With a Computer Engineer Degree, he first joined Millicom-Senegal from 2000 to 2003 and has held several positions in ISP, IT & Billing. During 8 years, he worked for global Telcos, ICT and infrastructure companies in several countries in Africa, as an executive or consultant. In 2012, he came back to Tigo as CIO and was appointed Head of Corporate Sales in July 2013.



For more information on Connecting West Africa or to register, please click here


23 Mar 2015

Interview with CIO Forum chair Edwin Moindi, Managing Partner at Moindi Consulting

 

Edwin Moindi, Managing Partner at  Moindi Consulting talks to us ahead of East Africaom to give us his insights into the trends and challenges affecting the ICT and telecoms industry within East Africa.

Edwin will be chairing the CIO Forum which will be held on Thursday 7th May, Day Two of East AfricaCom; uncovering the best solutions and future steps towards ICT excellence. To find out more about the CIO Fourm, click here.

East AfricaCom: How is your company positioned in East Africa and what are its future objectives within ICT?

Edwin Moindi: We assist organization in developing economies align technology with their strategic goals. This is achieved collaboratively with clients, by harmonizing global best practice with local dynamics. Our core values, unique interaction with different cultures and internal structures – geared towards client satisfaction – sets us apart.

We partner with businesses and governments that have a preference for excellence in service delivery and who seek thought leadership that brings forth enduring value. Our focus is in establishing long-term relationships and high levels of integrity drive each of our endeavors.

We foresee an increasing desire to attune services to business outcomes in the region. This is a trend that will take root as outsourcing becomes acceptable and as outsourcing in the region moves through the technology adoption cycle. The drive is towards reducing costs, increasing efficiencies and becoming more competitive in line with growth strategies.

We offer services along these lines strategically assisting organizations achieve their strategic objectives using technology.

EAC: What do you think are the 3 major trends that are affecting ICT and telecoms development in the region?

EM: The dropping costs of smart phones and the provisioning of universally accessible and democratized broadband across the region may allow more people to become value creators on the Internet.

Over The Top (OTT) providers will continue to disrupt the telecom industry and force telecoms to look for more innovative ways to compete/collaborate with OTT providers in order to secure and increase their revenues.  I will watch carefully what the internet.org consortium says in the next few months.

Information security will continue to be a major discussion point as organizations embrace big data and cloud computing.

EAC: What are the remaining challenges in terms of connectivity and quality of services in the region and which technologies are most likely to resolve these issues?   

EM: Africa energy needs outstrip its current production. Electricity is a luxury for the urban areas and outages are a constant occurrence. There is need for cheap renewable energy to charge mobile phones and run telecom masts. What this calls for are mobile phones that use less power and have longer capacity batteries, solar chargers that are very cheap to acquire for rural areas, and an incentive in the form of government subsidies and innovation around cost efficient renewable power sources for telecom masts.

The battle between ultra mobile and ultra fixed broadband is currently skewed due to the inherent lack of fixed infrastructure across the region.  While cities and towns across the region are slowly getting connected to fiber through a combination of private and public sector initiatives.

The last mile huddle is still very real to many rural villages in Kenya, and the battle is likely to be won by innovative ‘dirt’ cheap solutions that are privy to the limitations of electricity and offers redundancies when there is need.  I see BRCK being one of these solutions. We cannot also discount advances that will be made by ultra fast low-orbit satellites or the 4G technologies geared for rural areas.

EAC: Do you consider affordability of high-speed connectivity and broadband for both mobile and fixed line is holding back development of SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs?

EM: Yes I do. I think more needs to be done to bring down the cost of high-speed connectivity be it mobile or fixed broadband.  I believe this will happen as more people come online across Africa, and the high cost of setting up connectivity infrastructure is spread or absorbed by consortia of public and private institutions.

EAC: In your opinion, which companies are spearheading innovation in the region and what can be learnt from them?  

EM: I think there are quite a number of companies striving to innovate across the region. But for me the team behind BRCK takes the price for their consistent innovation.

EAC: Please share with us what you are looking forward to at East Africacom 2015 and any message would you would like to deliver to the telceoms/ ICT community attending?

EM: I am looking to establish contacts and build relationships. I am also looking to pick the minds of practitioners in the technology ecosystem along the lines of advancing Africa through innovation in the areas of education and healthcare.

East AfricaCom will be taking place on 6-7 May 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information or to register, visit: http://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/

13 Mar 2015

Interview with VAS Africa 2015 speaker Antos Stella, Managing Director of Content Connect Africa



Antos Stella, Managing Director of Content Connect Africa talks to VAS Africa about the digital music industry and how new online distribution channels are supporting African artists reach an international audience.


Antos will be taking part in a panel discussion on 30th June 2015, Day One of VAS Africa, at 14:50 –  How are smart phones and low cost tablets changing consumption and distribution of digital entertainment services? For more information, download the agenda

 

VAS Africa: What is the future of digital services in Africa and what do you think are the top 3 major trends affecting your business in the region?

Antos Stella: CCA’s core business is content and primarily music and music videos. We have seen the demand for content increase right across the continent with the following major trends:

  •     Artists moving towards a business hub that can take their music beyond the borders of origin.
  •     RBT’s continue to be the number one revenue spinner for music, but the introduction of streaming services that are specific to the continent and affordable will be the next major trend.
  •     Using live platforms to attract a consumer base and push revenues up on the platforms.


VAS: Are new online distribution channels  providing an opportunity to expand the reach of African artists to international audiences?

AS: I think that the obvious distribution channels like iTunes have given artists from the continent an opportunity to reach international audiences. However, I think that there needs to be more focus around the marketing of African content to the international audiences before we see a great impact on revenue. I am still not convinced, given the minuscule sales figures, that streaming will be the ground breaker for our artists and musicians globally. Artists from our continent tour the globe tirelessly performing in front of audiences but there is never any focus from the aforesaid or any platforms to push audiences to buy, as they do with international artists.


VAS: Do you feel that  mobile is definitely the future of content distribution, not just music but all forms of content ?

AS: I definitely do believe, given the subscriber base of mobile users, that music and all other forms of content can reach a huge market. We have not even begun to tap into the market.


VAS: Are there infrastructure concerns and issues surrounding internet speeds and data costs that are hampering the growth of online music in Africa ?

AS: I think that speed and data costs are effecting the push to full tracks and VOD services, as the market still remains 80% RBTs. Once we can fix these – the opportunities are endless.


VAS: Any particular current or recent projects/success stories that you want to share?

The introduction of a new RBT platform by MTN SA and a focused music team has grown the RBT market in SA by over 280% – providing much needed revenue for local artists in South Africa.

VAS: What will be your message at the event?

AS: CCA’s business is music, we work with our partners (artists / composers) all over the continent to try and provide new revenue streams. The power of the subscriber base within the network environment is an opportunity to reach an audience who still has music and soccer as their top favourite pastimes and make money whilst reaching millions of fans. In a nutshell its about taking your music directly to your fan base.

VAS Africa will be taking place 30th June - 1st July 2015 - for more information and to register, visit the website: www.comworldseries.com/vasafrica

11 Mar 2015

Satellite-Based Connectivity: The Benefits to African Business... and What’s at Risk










 David Hartshorn
Secretary General
Global VSAT Forum


In recent years, as fiber has begun to be rolled out in major African cities, there was a common assumption that satellite-based connectivity’s days were past. But the introduction of fiber – which is at its best when providing point-to-point links – has actually paved the way for more satellite services to be deployed, providing applications for which they are best suited:  Point-to-multipoint links. 


This can be seen today in enterprise market, where large businesses with widely-dispersed operations increasingly recognize that there are major cost savings to be made through deployment of satellite networks.

As this trend continues, volumes are escalating, economies of scale are increasing, technology improvements are being applied, and the satellite industry is becoming more adept at tailoring not only large-enterprise solutions but also SME and consumer applications. In parallel, another crucial trend is underway in the public sector: National administrations and groups of governments are grappling with how to bridge the so-called "digital divide". National budgets have begun to allocate funding for projects that help fulfil public policy objectives, and improved access to education is among the first to be addressed.

A few developing nations began large-scale deployments of satellite-based distance learning – Ethiopia was among the first – and they reported their successes to their neighbors. Word is spreading to the highest levels of government through inter-governmental dialogues like the World Summit for the Information Society, a program through which heads of state agreed to embrace certain principles - and to achieve tangible results - in closing the communications gap in regions like Africa.

The Battle for C-band Spectrum

Just as the prospects for satellite-based connectivity in Africa are gaining, the systems that operate in the 3.4-4.2 GHz band (C band) began suffering substantial interference, to the point of system failure, in places where national administrations are allowing Broadband Wireless Access systems like Wi-MAX to share the same spectrum bands already being used to provide satellite services.  Worse, the same will happen if 3G and the planned 4G mobile systems (also referred to as IMT systems) are allowed to use the frequencies used in the C band for satellite downlink services as is being contemplated by some African administrations in the context of the International Telecommunication Union World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (agenda item 1.1).   

To eliminate this harmful interference, operators of satellite earth stations and users of satellite communications services have begun to unite to communicate their positions and technical requirements to national and international telecommunications regulators.  Regulators and radio frequency managers need to allocate spectrum in ways that recognize the reality of harmful interference and validate the right of incumbent operators to operate and to expand services to new customers, and their customers to enjoy their services, without disruption by new users.

C band satellite, and the Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) and IMT mobile services are all important services, and there are ways to find suitable spectrum for all of them to operate. 

Several African national administrations have designated portions of the frequency band 3.4 – 4.2 GHz for terrestrial wireless applications such as BWA and future mobile services (“IMT advanced”, Beyond 3G, 4G…).  This band is already in use by satellite services, radar systems, and domestic microwave links.  This band is commonly referred to as the C band.
In places where administrations have allowed BWA services to use the C band, there have been massive interruptions of satellite services.  Interference with radars and microwave links, which also operate in these frequencies, is likely. 

Use of the C-band for satellite communications is widespread throughout Africa.  It is particularly vital for corporate communications in many developing countries, because of its resilience in the presence of heavy rain.  C-band earth stations are also used extensively in many developed countries.     C-band (“Standard C-Band” and “Extended C band” ) frequencies have been assigned for satellite downlinks since the industry was inaugurated more than 40 years ago. 

C-band services cover large areas.  They facilitate intercontinental and global communications, and provide a wide range of services in developing countries.  Services in this band now provide critical applications such as not only distance learning, but also telemedicine, universal access, disaster recovery and television transmission in many regions.  

C-band services are especially important for Africa.  The supporting equipment is relatively inexpensive and the signals easily cover large areas.  Such services are well adapted to provide voice, data services and internet connectivity in remote areas underserved by other communications means.   They are an essential component in the ITU’s push to bridge the “digital divide” between the developed and developing world.  Because they cover wide areas with minimal susceptibility to rain fade, they have proven to be exceptionally useful in tropical areas.

It is important to understand that satellite transmissions in the 3.4 – 4.2 GHz band are received by a large number of stations worldwide.  Many of these stations are “receive only”, and are therefore not registered at the ITU (or generally even with the local administrations) since such registration is not required. Co-frequency operation of BWA systems would severely disrupt reception of satellite transmissions.

It must be emphasized that operation of wireless systems at C-band frequencies will not only cause interference to existing customers receiving satellite signals in this band, but it will virtually eliminate any further expansion of satellite service to new customers and regions given the incompatibility between the two systems. This will in turn lead to an eventual stagnation of satellite business in this band.

Fortunately, this is not an insoluble problem.   Many other candidate bands have been identified during the course of ITU studies.  The merits of these have been documented at length and the alternatives will be presented to the ITU WRC-15.

It is critical that governments and spectrum management authorities recognize the very real damage caused, and tremendous threat posed, to satellite services by use of the Standard C and Extended C-bands for terrestrial wireless systems.  

A real effort to use alternatives must begin immediately. Time and again, the satellite industry has demonstrated that it is an unbeatable value proposition in supporting point-to-multi-point applications. It was demonstrated in corporate networks. It was demonstrated in DBS. It was demonstrated next in digital radio. And now it’s being demonstrated as a complement to fiber. This will be an enduring source of business for Africa for years to come.

[1] The bands 3.4-3.7 GHz and 3.7-4.2 GHz are usually referred to as Extended C-Band and Standard C-Band, respectively.  


The Global VSAT Forum are the Official Endorsing Association for East AfricaCom which will be taking place this 6th - 7th May in Nairobi, Keyna. For more information on the event, or to register, visit: http://eaafrica.comworldseries.com/ 

9 Mar 2015

African markets at MWC 2015: What were the debates about?

Maybe it was the glorious sun in Barcelona on the first two days of Mobile World Congress but it seemed that the mood this year was more positive than usually. The Com World Series team was there to meet and plan for the 2015 events, in particular AfricaCom.

A lot of noise was made around 5G and new gadgets, but there was also plenty of talk on emerging market issues: the GSMA held seminars on mobile for development, the Connected Women event looked at services for women in low and middle income countries, A4AI launched their Affordability Report with a governmental roundtable on broadband, the Innovation City showcased some exciting apps and technologies for emerging markets, and various networking events gathered African operators and industry stakeholders.
Here are some of the main ideas that we took out of it and that will be reflected at AfricaCom 2015:
  • Consolidation is needed in many African markets: too many countries still have 5-6 operators, some of them holding a licence without being able to invest in network deployment; in order to help consolidation, some are calling for support from regulators
  • LTE is getting bigger: most of Africa’s regulators are allocating frequencies or closing deals with operators to deploy; some countries are integrating it in their national broadband plans, but what type of coverage is needed and how to balance commercial imperatives with governments’ expectations?
  • Local start-ups must be supported to encourage innovation: mobile operators may not be best positioned to create new services but African entrepreneurs need help in order to succeed; this means better funding, more support from incubators and better links with their counterparts in the Silicon Valley
  • New revenue streams for operators: in the digital age, operators need to re-think their business models and to identify new revenue sources: will it be new mobile money services, enterprise services, content, big data?
  • Addressing underserved segments: rural populations and women remain untapped segments; beyond CSR objectives, there are commercial opportunities for targeted, relevant and affordable services
  • Virtualisation: incumbents and start-ups in Africa are building their networks and now is a good time to build SDN
These topics and more will be covered at AfricaCom in Cape Town on 17-19 November. Over three days, the event will include keynote sessions focusing on developing a vision for digital Africa, as well as focused streams, networking sessions, VIP activities and new features to address the major trends in the market.

If you are interested in sharing your views on the market, having an input in the topics covered or speaking at the event, please contact julie.rey@informa.com

5 Mar 2015

East AfricaCom speaker Delia Dean, MTN, on digital financial services in East Africa

 

We talk to East AfricaCom speaker  Delia Dean, Project Manager BMGF-Mobile Money, MTN Uganda, ahead of the event to hear her thoughts on digital financial services in East Africa.

Delia will be speaking at East AfricaCom this coming 6-7 May 2015 at the Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya. For more information, view the agenda.

 

East AfricaCom: Please tell us about your role within MTN Uganda and the interplay with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?

Delia Dean: I am the project Manager for the MTN- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Accelerator.  Under a matched grant by MTN and the Gates Foundation, objectives of the grant activities are to extend Mobile Financial Service to the rural poor. Increase uses case of Mobile Money among the rural poor and extend and improve the Mobile Money agent footprint and Agent quality.

EAC: What are the trends you are seeing in the application of MFS across the region you cover?

DD: In Uganda particularly, thanks to the research and technical assistance work done by Helix institute, Microsave and UNCDF, stakeholders (MFI’s, Commercial Banks, MNO’s etc) have become more aware of the opportunities in rural. There are now more discussions on strategy around making MFS affordable and scale able in the rural communities. I anticipate that starting this year we shall see various stakeholders pilot various models in extending their respective solutions to the rural masses.


EAC: How has gender become an issue in the effectiveness of digital financial services in rural areas?   

DD: With respect to the MTN –BMGF Accelerator project our key milestones for every objective, have a special focus on improving mobile money activation and usage among rural women. Our product education drives have a component that is specific to women.

EAC: One would assume the challenge stems around rural connectivity and education of what MFS can provide – is this a fair assumption or do the challenges run deeper than this?

DD: In  addition to connectivity and Education, stakeholders, having identified obstacles hampering the delivery and scaling up of MFS to rural areas, are individually and collectively are working to arrive at solution. Some of the challenges include;
  • Industry regulatory and Policy matters
  • MFS industry standards issues
  • Research and development of products relevant to target market
  • Commercial viability of delivering MFS to the bottom of the pyramid
  • User awareness and education.
  • Public & Private infrastructure

 

EAC: Please share with us what you are looking forward to at East Africacom 2015 and any message would you would like to deliver to the telceoms/ ICT community attending? 

DD: I am always looking to learn more about workable solutions that have been piloted elsewhere with regards to DFS in rural communities.  Telecoms need to continue investing in R&D to arrive at scalable solutions for the rural poor. Someone has to be willing to be the first to test potential solutions in the market place.

For more information on East AfricaCom and to register, visit: www.comworldseries.com/eaafrica 

2 Mar 2015

VAS Africa speaker William Thubakgale, COO of QPlay on the future of digital services in Africa


We talk to VAS Africa speaker  William Thubakgale, COO of QPlay, ahead of the event to hear his thoughts on the future of digital services in Africa.

William will be speaking at VAS Africa this coming 30 June – 1 July 2015 at the Sandton Maslow, Johannesburg, South Africa. For more information, view the agenda.

VAS Africa: What is the future of digital services in Africa and what do you think are the top 3 major trends affecting your business in the region?

William Thubakgale: Digitally the future of Africa is looking great seeing a lot of start-ups looking for issues within Africa and from those deriving solutions for Africans. We do have constraints though which include data costs, red tapes and digital piracy.

VAS: Are new online distribution channels  providing an opportunity to expand the reach of African artists to international audiences?

WT: Yes, these distribution channels allow international markets to be exposed to African products and services. With this digital phase we have seen how we are living in a global village making it easy and faster to transact with anyone, anywhere.

VAS: Do you feel that  mobile is definitely the future of content distribution, not just music but all forms of content ?

WT: Mobile is the future. From what we have seen – a customer first looks up what they are looking to purchase on mobile, researches on tablet and completes a purchase on desktop. If mobile is the first touch point for any conversion then it is definitely the future for content distribution.

VAS: Are there infrastructure concerns and issues surrounding internet speeds and data costs that are hampering the growth of online music in Africa ?  

WT: Actually that’s the main constrain we are facing as a continent. As much as we may want consumers to consume music we have to provide, the cost must be reduced to allow users to openly consume music.

 

VAS: Any particular current or recent projects/success stories that you want to share?   

WT: With the massive growth in ecommerce in Africa; I have also become involved in a venture that allows men to purchase Premium Mens Wear – Posh Patterns(www.poshpatterns.co.za)  The immense growth has allowed the brand to grow beyond expectation by exporting to 3 countries just after 5 month of release.

VAS: How are smartphones/tablets & cloud services impacting mobile/internet service providers in South Africa?

WT: Consumption is almost immediate; With smartphones always being at hand  consumers find it easy to retrieve and use data at any moment. Thus content is king in this space.

VAS: What will be your message at the event?

WT: Let’s celebrate African greatness.

19 Feb 2015

Download the Connecting West Africa 2015 brochure!

http://westafrica.comworldseries.com/download-2015-brochure/ 


Connecting West Africa will return for its 12th year to Dakar, Senegal this 9th - 10th June, bringing you a new, refreshed programme addressing the key issues in West Africa's digital market. 

Connecting West Africa 2015 is the ONLY broadband and digital event in West Africa. Download the brochure now to see the full details of the agenda, speakers, brand new features and networking opportunities available to you. 

Join the debate to shape the future of West Africa’s digital economy:

Apply for a Free Operator/Regulator Pass here
Purchase a Conference Pass here
View the agenda here
Contact our team to become a sponsor or to book a stand here


16 Feb 2015

Regulation, spectrum allocation and digital transition : Amadou Makhtar Fall talks to Connecting West Africa 2015




Amadou Makhtar Fall is a Telecoms and Broadcast regulatory affairs specialist with more than ten years’ experience in a major telco in Africa: he is the founder of publication ITMag and is head of Legal and Regulatory Monitoring at Orange-owned Sonatel, Senegal’s leading mobile operator. He is a regular participant at Connecting West Africa and will moderate this year’s keynote session.



We ask Amadou his thoughts on the main trends in the development of broadband networks in West Africa: “The relatively low penetration of xDSL in this area of the continent has somehow called for the development of high speed mobile networks” he says. “The future of broadband in West Africa will inevitably be based on 3G and 4G/LTE networks by taking advantage of the democratization of fixed 3G-4G-LTE / WiFi Set-top Boxes”.

This year may see a gear change in the broadband market, particularly in Senegal : “The appointed date of June 2015 for the transition from analog to digital TV as well as the possible allocation of 4G/LTE licenses can actually make 2015 a special year for the development of digital Senegal.”

Digital transition will potentially have a strong impact on West Africa’s telecoms and media sector. Telecom operators can potentially be more involved in content distribution and perhaps more importantly have strong expectations regarding “the allocation of golden’ frequencies released through the transition, also called digital dividend”. On the media side, the digital transition will, according to Amadou, “completely mess up broadcasters’ business models. Some investments on satellite can be quickly outdated as they are incompatible with the distribution of DTT channels. That is why all broadcasters must be actively involved with the authorities in charge of the deployment of DTT.”

LTE will unquestionably play a major part of broadband development in the region. Several LTE launches have taken place and many operators are in testing phases, but licensing conditions and spectrum allocations are major questions:  "several grey areas persist on the conditions of allocation of these scarce resources: will auctions be organized or will they be beauty contests? Will 2G/3G frequency re-farming be allowed? All this remains to be determined by the regulatory authorities” says Amadou.It would be very deplorable if 4G/LTE license allocations were to be done in a dispersed’ way in some countries in the region, without any call for applications”.

The impact of regulation on access to affordable broadband cannot be underestimated and telecom operators need “improved regulatory visibility on the short/medium term” says Amadou; “As broadband is more and more about wireless infrastructure, which is very intensive in spectrum resources, an improvement on the cost of acquisition of these frequencies could allow operators to make access to broadband more affordable. The redistribution of spectrum resources from the digital dividend is also a big opportunity to boost mobile broadband”.

See the topics Amadou is most interested in at Connecting WestAfrica 2015 and where to find them in the programme:

Infrastructure sharing : hear from Wilgon Tsibo, Group CTO of Azure Telecom on the various models, and join the subsequent roundtable debate
Challenges and obstacles to the development of mobile broadband : follow the keynote sessions on broadband investment, regulation and LTE
Mobile banking: check out the debate on monetising data in broadband and join the ‘idea generator’ interactive session on service innovation
The transition to digital TV => digital dividend: check out the debate on Senegal’s market

For more information and to register for your Connecting West Africa ticket, visit: http://westafrica.comworldseries.com/