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Archive for November, 2009

Kato Mivule | November 24, 2009

It is interesting that many African nations are investing in Information Technology with hopes of inviting foreign investors from Europe and the United States to outsource more jobs to Africa in hopes of taking advantage of cheaper labor in Africa. However, this strategy though attractive seems to be short sighted and non proactive.

African Nations will still have to compete with giants like China and India who with larger educated populations than the totals of what Africa can provide, way out compete African Nations when it comes to outsourced jobs from the West. The Chinese and Indians are much more able to provide far cheaper labor than what African Nations can amass.

I do not think that ‘Call Centers’ are the future of the I.T Industry in Africa. Rather African Nations might as well capitalize on the regional local African Market and replicate the success that the Telecom companies have had…

International IT forum kicks off in Tunisia
UNIS, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) — Tunisia, eager to be an outsourcing services hub for foreign investors, hold an international gathering on information technology (IT) to boost growth, the country’s telecommunication ministry said Tuesday.

Tunisian government organizes the fourth edition of the IT meeting under the motto “IT Innovation as a Tool for Strengthening Competitiveness and Growth,” with the aim to promote investment and partnership, stimulate growth and develop knowledge economy, with special attention to the Mediterranean area, Africa and developing countries, according to the ministry.

About 1,500 participants from 67 countries, international IT organizations and Tunisian firms will participate in the two-day meeting.

IT Summit in Tunisia | Image Source: BBC

Delegations are expected to attend an exhibition of technological solutions, computer applications and telecommunications for export, the ministry said.

The country’s sales abroad of information technology has an annual average growth of 22 percent with value of 640 millions U.S. dollars, up from 198 million dollars in 2003, official figures showed.

Tunisia wants to lure more foreign flows in this sector to create enough jobs for the increasing number of university graduates and trim unemployment, officially at 14 percent.

The value of foreign investment in the business is set at 3 billion dollars during the 2007 to 2011 period versus just 338.5 million dollars over the 1992 to 1996 period.

The fast-growing information technology is a priority business in the North African country. It accounts for 20.4 percent of its gross domestic product and expects to raise the figure to 27.5 percent in 2011.

 

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Kato Mivule | November 9, 2009

A recent study in Nigeria compiled into a book revealed the health dangers that are brought about by Cell Phones including the mass cell phone towers that are mushrooming allover Africa.

While this is not new information, the Nigerian Government has at least taken the initiative to carry out a study and publish the facts in a book though the author seems to take a very weak approach in confronting the Multinational Corporations responsible for the ‘coming health crisis’ in Africa caused by radiation of thousands of mushrooming Cell Phone Towers across Africa.

Cell Phone Towers

Cell Phone Tower in Uganda | Image Source: Uganda Bytes

At one time MPs in Uganda had begun addressing this issue to cub the increasing number of Cell Phone Towers propping up allover the country. However, the Cell Phone industry and their powerful lobbyists placed such legislation at bay. Yet this is a serious issue that Ugandans need to debate seriously.

While there is a Telecom boom in the nation and across Africa, the health consequences resulting from the Radiation of Cell Phones and numerous Cell Phone Towers in Uganda and Africa, will be a price that we shall pay. Yet the multinational corporations will not be around to deal with the effects…

Book On Ills of Mobile Phone Radiation Launched
All Africa | 7 November 2009

Lagos state Commissioner for Youths, Sports and Social development, Prince Ademola Adeniji Adele has revealed that the inherent danger associated with use of mobile phones are mostly suffered by Nigerians especially Lagosians.

Speaking at a book presentation last Thursday, the Commissioner who was represented by Mr. Kayode Ogunleye commended the grand stride of the author Mr. Eric Edrems on the successful completion of his book entitled: Hazards of Mobile Phone Radiation

He further described the author as a worthy citizen who contributed immensely to sustainable development in our society by giving the greatest number of happiness to the greatest number of people through his book.

The book which focuses on the danger of mobile phone radiation to the health, also went further to suggest possible ways of preventing them

Although the health risk mentioned in the book are quiet revealing and scary, the author has started that the book is not aimed at raising panic in anyone, rather it is focused at educating the people on how well their phones can be placed so as to avoid such radiation hazard which emittes from their mobile phones.

Also speaking at the event, Mr. Christian Wogu, who chaired the occasion, drew the attention of participants on the duality of life and on the fact that there is always evil in good. He commended the author for not chosen to be at the rear and just take about the problems of GSM radiation, but has painstakingly proven himself to be a young man with exceptional qualities through the well concentrated research displayed in the boo k.

“It is not contestable that mobile phone has contributed greatly to us. It has made business thrive, conferences successful, etc. Mobile phone has done quiet a fortune to our nation. It has eased traveling and made loving easier. However, for it to continue to serve us better, we must heed to the caution made available in this book.” He said.cell_tower

Similarly, the book reviewer, Dr. Boniface Oru also noted that although the author highlights basic hazards caused by mobile phone, he did not stop there as he proffers solutions to them. According to him, the quest for safety, good health of mind and body are the brain behind the book.

The book can be better described as a highly informative and resourceful material that addresses issues and provides solutions to mobile phone radiation as it affects all categories of user.
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It is often not sufficient to embrace the benefits of mobile phones only, while we shy away from its inherent dangers.

While speaking on the need to support the effort of the likes Mr. Eric Edrems, the public relation officer of the Nigerian Institute of Safety Professionals, Mr. Odutola Akinlade has described the book as a safety measure, hence a must read for everyone . “Getting this book is not an extra cost. Its just like getting the helmet which every safety conscious person will not hesitate to have.”

As part of the highlights of the event, the Life Mirror Theater further thrilled the audience with an illustrative drama presentation, which drove home the points and health risk raised in the book.

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Bank of Uganda's Old but still standing Building | Image Source: Bank of Uganda

Kato Mivule | November 9, 2009

Though this is a major development in Uganda’s ICT Sector, serious questions of Privacy remain and Ugandan citizens have no serious advocacy group that would stand up for the rights of citizens when it comes to issues of privacy and technology in Uganda. If there is any Privacy Advocacy group in Kampala, new technological implementations in Uganda seem to be way ahead…and this should a major concern to all Ugandans…

New software to overhaul Uganda’s banking sector
November 6, 2009 | The Daily Monitor

Parents are to start paying school fees using a biometric system (finger prints) as opposed to the Automated Teller Machines cards and traditional over the counter system.

National Capital Region NCR, a global technology company that supplies ATMs, is set to upgrade software that will see financial sector clients withdraw and deposit money without using envelops as it has been the case.

Regional Vice President of NCR for East Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa Mr Stelios Fragkos during a press briefing in Kampala on Tuesday said: “Those who do not want to use ATM cards will instead use biometric finger print readers to withdraw money or make any transactions.”

He said the new system would enable clients check in for flights for 24 hours before their scheduled flights and also be able to receive their air tickets from ATMs.

The first ATM in Uganda was launched by Standard Chartered Bank in 1997.

ATMs have aided the growth and development of convenience banking in the country since they allow people to access money from banks at any time.

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Corruption continues to hinder progress in Uganda’s highly potential IT Sector…

Failed rural ICT projects eat up $10m in Uganda
The East African | November 2 2009

Several rural communication projects that have so far used up more than Ush20 billion ($10 million) could fail with some districts complaining of huge maintenance costs.

At a recent district leaders ICT meeting in Kampala called to assess the first phase of the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF), it emerged that only 923 projects out of 3,863 that have been completed are still in operation countrywide.

Overall, however, the ambitious project that was meant to bring communication services to rural communities where telecommunication operators did not find it viable to invest, was supposed to roll out 4,786 projects during the first phase, which is ending soon.

Some achievements of the project include 71 Internet points of presence, 98 Internet cafes, 68 ICT training centres, 78 district web portals, 3,349 public pay phones, four research programmes and 43 ICT health projects.

The district web portals are meant to provide a communication link between local and central government.

However, districts are grappling with maintenance challenges and a number of portals are turning into white elephants, district leaders said.

“The costs of hiring and redesigning the web portals are very high,” said Kaberamaido district officer Stella Aringo.

For instance, it costs Ush600,000 ($300) per annum to hire a company to host the web portal, while designing fees range from a minimum of Ush1 million ($501) to Ush3 million ($1,503) annually.

The domain name, on the other hand, comes at an annual cost of Ush70,000 ($35).

However, the 78 districts receive fixed budgeted amounts, and portals — which often require redesigning — are never included in the allocations.

But RCDF director Bob Lyazi insists that the job of the Uganda Communications Commission is to set up the web portals and the districts to meet maintenance costs, a situation that district leaders say is not sustainable.

In the six years to 2008, the RCDF had accumulated close to $10 million, of which $6 million came from the one per cent levy on revenues of telecoms operators.
The leaders cite other costs too, like electricity.
Cyber Cafe in East Africa: Image Source: The East African
“Power is a big challenge,” Arua district chairman Richard Ferua Andama said. RCDF was started in 2003 to provide access to basic communications services within a reasonable distance to Ugandans as well as to leverage investment in rural communications development, thereby promote ICT use.

Since 2003, the World Bank and UCC have spent over $10 million in RCDF projects to bring communication facilities to rural areas that telecommunication companies deem unviable for investment.

UCC generates money through its one per cent levy on annual revenues of telecoms companies operating in Uganda as per licensing obligations.

Over the years, MTN, Uganda Telecom and Zain have contributed to nearly half of this investment in rural communications development, but district leaders are pushing for more.

With three other operators — Warid, Orange and I-Telecom — in the market now, it is expected that RCDF money will increase significantly.

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