Domain '.africa' to be discussed in the AITEC Banking and Mobile Money conference.

FOLLOWING the decision of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) board to expand the generic top-level domain space from four -'.com,' '.org,' '.net,' and '.biz' - to 21, DotConnectAfrica, the operator of the proposed '.africa' domain name is pushing to popularise the initiative at the AITEC Banking and Mobile Money West Africa billed to hold at the EKO Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island Lagos between 11 and 12 May 2010.

Executive Director of DotConnectAfrica, Ms. Sophia Bekele, who will be speaking on the topic: ".Africa - the New Internet Currency," at the Lagos conference, is expected to kick-start discussions and engage participants on how to get African businesses and individual buy into the '.africa' project.

Why Tanzania and Zambia are missing out in ICT sector.

According to the ICT experts, Zambia and Tanzania have over the past 10 years experienced heavy investment in the telecom sector, but the two countries have not been able to generate national income from the ICT sector due to restrictive regulatory policies and lack of a clear implementation framework and strategy.

The regulatory regime and the lack of a legal framework for the national ICT sector has undermined major investments in telecom in Zambia, according to Computer Society of Zambia President Collins Chinyama. In Tanzania, the lack of an agency that protects the interest of consumers and e-commerce providers is costing the country national income from the telecom sector despite the country having many service providers, according to Mmasi Raphael, director of information and Documentation at the Commission for Science and Technology.

ICT costs drop globally but Africa access limited

Despite a significant drop in prices for information and communication technology (ICT) services globally, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) says broadband Internet remains outside the reach of many in poor countries, particularly in Africa.

The ITU, the main source of international comparison data and statistics on ICT, reports that broadband prices have dropped worldwide by 42 percent from 2008 to 2009.

In its "Measuring the Information Society 2010" report released this week, the ITU stated that most poor countries rank at the low end in terms of access to IT because of the close relationship between ICT uptake and national income.

It said that in 2009 the ICT Price Basket -- which combines the average cost of fixed telephone, mobile cellular and Internet broadband services for 161 countries -- shows that fixed broadband services had the largest price fall, at 42 percent, compared to 25 percent and 20 percent for mobile cellular and fixed telephone services, respectively.

While high-speed Internet access is now available in almost all countries, the ITU stated that fixed broadband penetration in the developing world remains as low as 3.5 percent, compared to 23 percent in developed countries.

It surmised that countries with high income levels pay relatively little for ICT services, while countries with low income levels pay relatively more. The ICT Price Basket corresponded on average to 13 percent of gross national income per capita in 2009, ranging from 1.5 percent in developed countries to 17.5 percent in developing countries.

A regional comparison of prices for fixed broadband services highlights a striking disparity, mainly between Africa and the other regions. On average, a high-speed Internet connection represents 500 percent of average monthly GNI per capita in Africa, making fixed broadband effectively inaccessible for most people in the region.

The report features the latest ICT Development Index (IDI), which ranks 159 countries according to their ICT level and compares 2007 and 2008 scores. One of the main objectives of the IDI is to measure the development potential of ICT, or the extent to which countries can use ICT to enhance growth and development.

The index includes such indicators as households with a computer, the number of fixed broadband Internet subscribers and literacy rates, which can be used to measure ICT access, use and skills as well as help track progress over time.

With Sweden on top of global ICT ranking for the second year in a row, followed by Luxembourg and the Republic of Korea, only three African countries made it in the first 100 in the 2008 IDI. They are Seychelles (66th), Mauritius (72) and South Africa (92).

Though Sierra Leone and Liberia were not included in the 2008 IDI, Ghana, which has been touted to be the ICT hub of West Africa, was ranked 116th behind Cape Verde (102nd). Nigeria and Gambia placed 122nd and 124th, respectively.

The only African country noted as making a substantial increase in Internet usage, and fixed or mobile broadband uptake, is Nigeria.

BTC hosts SADC Telecom Operators’ bilateral meeting.

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) Group will be hosting the South African Telecommunication Association (SATA) 10th SADC Telecom Operators’ Bilateral Meeting (STOBM) at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) from 23rd- 26th February.

The Meeting brings together SATA members and their stakeholders in one place to discuss and agree on bilateral issues on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
This meeting creates an opportunity for operators to negotiate interconnect rates, network fraud and linkages and also agree on technical issues, including infrastructure connectivity as well as quality of service issues.

UIT chief hails China's dynamism in ICT development

China plays an active role in the information and communication Technologies (ICT) sector, where its experience should be shared, the secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union (UIT), Hamadoun Toure, told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.

The UIT chief made these remarks on the sidelines of the 14th summit of the African Union (AU), which is being held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with a theme of "ICT in Africa : Challenges and Opportunities for Development."

"China has been a very important partner in ICT sector and there are good lessons that we can learn from the Chinese experience," Toure noted.

He affirmed that there are "three big companies including Huawei, ZTE and ChinaMobile which have shown good examples not only to the African continent, but to the entire world in the ICT matters."