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“Africa is the second largest continent in the world, yet it is the least computerised.”

Posted on 13 April 2013 by Africa Business

Exclusive interview with Gideon van Niekerk, MaraMedia CEO.  MaraMedia is a gold sponsor at the upcoming African Education Week.

1)  What would you say the main challenges are to creating a more e-friendly learning environment in South African/African schools?
“Education in our country is suffering as the lack of suitable learning material seems to be that elephant in the room that everyone tries not to notice.” Africa is the second largest continent in the world, yet it is the least computerised.

South African / African Schools face a number of obstacles in their quest for quality education in a digital format. Certain prerequisites, such as reliable power supply to operate the computers, a well functioning telephone network to transmit data, financial ability to import the technology, and computer literate personnel, are necessary for successful use of IT remain inadequate in many African countries.

The last century has seen tremendous revolutions in all industries, except education. Learners need to be prepared for the demands that a future with new problems, opportunities and challenges will hold.

Knowledge is everywhere, available at the click of a button with Google as many educators’ first port of call. Content experts and great teachers set aside mandated learner manuals every day in favour of their own materials and those they have culled from the best resources available. Textbooks as we know them are an anachronism. However, the choosing, culling, and creation of appropriate course material is an arduous task – one that MaraMedia has taken on gladly.

2)  How will technology change the way learners are taught, do you think?
Learners are destined to evolve from passive recipients of knowledge to active participants in a life-long learning process. By taking charge of his/her own learning through a digital platform, any child can be the master of his/her learning. Exploring the global classroom is made possible through the marriage of great educational material with an intuitive technology interface in the form of mobile tablets. A migration to a more digital workspace must be effected at a pace that teachers and learners are comfortable with.  Using mobile learning devices like tablets enables learners to store assets, homework and other documents and facilitates collaborative learning through enhanced communication by forum. Using tablet computers, learners have easy access to knowledge. They use their devices as supportive educational tools. By using the MaraMedia IDMs, they now have access to embedded videos, photo galleries, diagrams, articles, essays and relevant academic information written for the South African market with reference to actual news events that can vastly improve their performance in the classroom.

Until now, most people relegated “education” to a finite time in their lives: entering school at around five years old and attending school institutions all the way to university. Education is getting increasingly interspersed with our daily activities. This necessitates an innovative new merging of e- and m-learning, and will most probably be one of the ways in which Information Communication. Not only do learners have access to their entire school curriculum on their mobile learning devices, but they now have access to industry experts too. Learners can read reviews and blogs by field experts. They can follow conferences and “webinars” and even have a chance to interact with professionals from their homes or classrooms.

3)  What is your vision for education?
High quality digital and mobile education in Africa may appear presumptive: in areas of drought or malnutrition it is hard to persuade some people that education is a venture that necessitates monetary investment. But education is about information, and information is needed to help cure illness and bring food, bolster production and build stable societies. Information is needed to allow Africa to find its own ways forward. Our vision is that digital education can put South Africa at the forefront of the African Renaissance in education. In order to create true 21st century learning environments, today’s schools will need to evolve beyond traditional methods of instruction. Digital learning allows for exactly that to happen. Using mobile tablet device technology to enhance the learning experience and to break down the school walls, paves the way for a gigantic shift of the traditional learning paradigm. In opposition to the rather rigid, culturally ‘neutral’ learning material MaraMedia’s educational solution has the flexibility to adapt to the pupil’s cultural environment and to his/her personal learning style.

Technology is to develop even further in the future. Mobile information and communication technologies are important enablers of the new social structure. One only needs to look at the growth of the social media industry (and I think here particularly of Facebook) to realise that today’s youth more often than not deal with real-time as well as virtual personas on a continuous basis.

It is therefore imperative that learners are reached through the same portals when we enter the sphere of education. Interactive activities support large-scale learning and allow learners to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Most educators note that each learner requires different pedagogies or strategies for learning. Through using mobile learning devices with proper relevant and comprehensive content learners are able to learn in their own way. They can now personalise and enjoy learning.

The digital age has created a new relationship between teachers and learners. Research conducted by the London School of Economics found that children are typically the Internet experts in the family, and described this situation as a “lasting reversal of the generation gap”. This also leads to a “flip classroom” scenario whereby learners can research topics related to the curriculum themselves. The always-available nature of mobile learning empowers learners to take the initiative and direct their own learning activities, while teachers can guide this process, instill proper research methodologies and help learners to gauge the relevance and accuracy of e-content. The ability of teachers to understand and respond to digital learning opportunities is vital. Maragon Private Schools’ teachers are interested and able to provide Maragon learners with excellent learning content, learning management and support. To support Maragon Private Schools’ teachers, MaraMedia has arranged for a series of training sessions and workshops to assist teachers in what would otherwise be a very daunting task.

The MaraMedia IDMs fits many diverse learning styles: reading text and graphics, video, animation, working through decision trees, listening to audio tracks, contributing to discussions, researching on the internet, choosing the correct answer, interacting with the screen through swiping, tapping, panning, zooming or rating skills on a diagnostic… are all processes for offering learning on mobile learning devices. This enables differentiation between the different types of learners, engaging auditory-, visual- and tactile learners alike.  MaraMedia demonstrates the need for and the availability of technology capable of supporting the evolution towards the e-learning world of tomorrow while taking into account the richness of the past by following a blended approach to learning.

4)  What surprises you about this sector?
The last true educational revolution was with the invention of the blackboard by James Pillans in the 1800’s – mankind invests billions into countless sectors, but the educational sector that serves as the driving force for all of these has hardly seen any innovation in more than two hundred years.

The idea of tackling the same educational problems with the same ineffective solutions and expecting a different (better) outcome is the very definition of insanity.

5)  What will be your message at African Education Week?
Africa’s richest resource is not its gold, silver, diamonds or platinum, but its human resources – its children. As one of the few continents with an overall population growth, it is imperative that Africa stands up and be noticed in the educational sphere – we owe it to our children and to their future. The distinguishing feature of our society at the beginning of the 21st Century is the rapid rate of technological and social change.  Smartphones and tablet computers have become commonplace in most households. These devices are fundamentally altering how we approach our shared knowledge sources by keeping us continually connected to near-infinite volumes of raw data, knowledge resources and communication.

6)  Why did you decide to become a gold sponsor at this event?
MaraMedia is passionate about education, about our great nation and the powerful impact that education has on our youth. We emulate the meaning of ex-president Nelson Mandela’s statement: “Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to shape our future”

7)  Anything you would like to add?
Without the help of imaginative, appreciative learners and teachers, textbooks are reduced to a jumble of words. There is no guarantee that a learner will interact with the subject content, moulding it into internalised knowledge. MaraMedia digital books provide the necessary resource to assist teachers in enlivening the content being taught.

Considering that the textbook is to the teacher what the hammer is to a carpenter or a knife to a chef, it is quite evident that the implementation of the latest possible technology as a fundamental classroom tool is essential.

The digital books allow for educators to ensure the maintenance of appropriate standards. Photo galleries, interactive mind-maps, high resolution colour images, embedded video footage, animations and sound clips take teaching and learning to a whole new level.
Content is enriched, augmented and enlivened by the integration of different media, bringing the world into the classroom.

Using a tablet device opens a legion of different teaching and learning opportunities. A scientific calculator, science lab, textbooks, workbooks and study notes for all subjects are all carried in a single device, smaller and lighter than a diary!

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Smart Card Market Focusing on Services to Sustain Growth, finds Frost & Sullivan

Posted on 12 April 2013 by Africa Business

Commoditisation of physical smart cards and the progressive digitalisation of services motivate strategic re-think


LONDON, April 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Smart card vendors continue to move from provisioning of physical cards to the delivery of smart card-related software and services. The commoditisation of physical smart cards and the progressive digitalisation of services have forced smart card vendors to re-think their strategies and focus on the services side of their business.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, Global Smart Card Forecaster – Core Industry Shipment/ Revenue Outlook, finds that the smart card market covering SIM, banking, government and transportation verticals across Asia-Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Latin America and North America, earned approximately $6,907.2 million in 2012. The market revenue is estimated to reach $9,551.6 million in 2018. Unit shipments are anticipated to expand from 7,119.8 million to 10,906.8 million units over the same time period.

The hitherto dominant SIM card market is approaching maturity. With both unit shipment and revenue growth rates expected to will slow, focusing on the high-end SIM cards segment can protect smart card vendors from intense price competition of the mid-range and low-end SIM card segments in the short-term. However, price competition will, at some point, affect the high-end segments as well.

“It is advisable, therefore, for smart card vendors to evaluate providing SIM-related services and solutions in the field of mobile payments and device management,” noted Frost & Sullivan’s ICT Global Program Director Jean-Noël Georges. “Smart card vendors should also consider engaging in M&A activity to build economies of scale, and thus, withstand the slow growth of the SIM card market and its decreasing revenue potential.”

Embedded SIMs for mobile communications could start being commercialised within the forecast period. The shift from physical SIM cards to embedded SIMs will be largely driven by smartphone manufacturers.

“The move to embedded SIM cards poses a challenge for smart card vendors as the traditional value chain will be altered,” cautioned Georges. “Vendors need to work closely with smartphone manufacturers and semiconductor vendors to gain a better understanding of consumers needs and develop software and services accordingly.”

Migration to the EMV standard in emerging countries and the United States will sustain overall market growth. Card issuers in the Americas and Asia-Pacific continue the shift from magnetic stripe cards to chip cards. China and the United States are expected to boost smart card shipments in the banking and payment vertical.

At the same time, governments worldwide are persisting with the digitalisation of public services. Countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, Poland, Russia and Turkey are, or will soon be, implementing either e-ID, e-Health, or multi-purpose card programmes.

“e-ID and e-Health cards will be the segments within the smart card government and ID market that will grow rapidly over the forecast period,” concluded Georges. “Partnerships with registration and data centralisation service providers could be valuable to winning tenders.”

If you are interested in more information on this research, please send an e-mail to Joanna Lewandowska , Corporate Communications, at, with your full contact details.

Global Smart Card Forecaster – Core Industry Shipment/ Revenue Outlook (M8E0-33) is part of the Smart Cards Growth Partnership Service programme. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants.

Our “Growth Partnership” supports clients by addressing these opportunities and incorporating two key elements driving visionary innovation: The Integrated Value Proposition and The Partnership Infrastructure.

  • The Integrated Value Proposition provides support to our clients throughout all phases of their journey to visionary innovation including: research, analysis, strategy, vision, innovation and implementation.
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For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Is your organisation prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics and emerging economies?

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SOURCE Frost & Sullivan

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Posted on 01 April 2013 by Africa Business

About WD

WD, a Western Digital company, is a long-time innovator and storage industry leader. As a storage technology pacesetter, the company produces reliable, high-performance hard disk drives and solid state drives. These drives are deployed by OEMs and integrators in desktop and mobile computers, enterprise computing systems, embedded systems and consumer electronics applications, as well as by the company in providing its own storage products. WD’s leading storage devices and systems, networking products, media players and software solutions empower people around the world to easily save, store, protect, share and experience their content on multiple devices. WD was established in 1970 and is headquartered in Irvine, California. For more information, please visit the company’s website at

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC), Irvine, Calif., is a global provider of products and services that empower people to create, manage, experience and preserve digital content. Its companies design and manufacture storage devices, networking equipment and home entertainment products under the WD, HGST and G-Technology brands.


WD’s partner road trip will reach key cities in the Central and West African market in the coming months

Nigeria, Africa – WD®, a Western Digital company and a world leader in hard drives, has kicked off its partner roadshow in Africa. The first of the planned events in Africa took place on February 19 in Lagos, Nigeria.


The initiative was launched to bolster WD’s relationship with its partners and increase partner knowledge about WD’s various products and the features they offer with deep training sessions. The event was also leveraged to introduce Mitsumi Distribution as WD’s focus distributor in the Central and West African region to resellers.


“WD offers a wide range of world-class products and solutions and we pride ourselves on maintaining close relationships with our partners in the regions we operate in,” says Khwaja Saifuddin, Senior Sales Director, Middle East, Africa & South Asia, WD. “The Nigeria event is the first leg of our planned tour and was attended by 42 key resellers, all of who had positive feedback about the event.”


Mitesh Shah, Managing Director at MITSUMI Distribution said, “We are very pleased to launch the WD product line in Nigeria. We have received tremendous interest from our customers. Nigeria is our home turf in West Africa and in the coming months MITSUMI plans to spruce up the Nigeria operations.”


Last year WD appointed MITSUMI Distribution as its focus distributor on the continent to cover the key markets of Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Ethopia, Congo and Algeria.


Visit the Investor section of the company’s website ( to access a variety of financial and investor information.


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Safaricom selects Gemalto’s cloud-based solution to offer Kenyan mobile users phonebook back-up services

Posted on 27 March 2013 by Africa Business

About Gemalto

Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 GTO) ( is the world leader in digital security with 2012 annual revenues of €2.2 billion and more than 10,000 employees operating out of 83 offices and 13 Research & Development centers, located in 43 countries.

We are at the heart of the rapidly evolving digital society. Billions of people worldwide increasingly want the freedom to communicate, travel, shop, bank, entertain and work – anytime, everywhere – in ways that are enjoyable and safe. Gemalto delivers on their expanding needs for personal mobile services, payment security, authenticated cloud access, identity and privacy protection, eHealthcare and eGovernment efficiency, convenient ticketing and dependable machine-to-machine (M2M) applications.

Gemalto develops secure embedded software and secure products which we design and personalize. Our platforms and services manage these secure products, the confidential data they contain and the trusted end-user services they enable. Our innovations enable our clients to offer trusted and convenient digital services to billions of individuals.

Gemalto thrives with the growing number of people using its solutions to interact with the digital and wireless world.

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, March 27, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 GTO), the world leader in digital security, has announced that Safaricom, a leading mobile operator in Africa, with over 18 million customers, is using its LinqUs Cloud Backup solution to offer mobile subscribers in Kenya a comprehensive back-up service for phonebook contacts. Compatible most of the handset models, the solution ensures that Safaricom customers can easily protect themselves against the disruption caused by phone theft, loss, damage or replacement, through saving all their contacts automatically in the mobile operator’s cloud-based storage service.


Gemalto’s LinqUs Cloud Backup is already used by more than 140 million subscribers across the world and is particularly relevant in emerging markets such as those in Africa, where the mobile phone is fast becoming the most widespread computing device, and where the many small businesses rely on the integrity of their mobile phonebook contacts to operate. LinqUs Cloud Backup combines both SIM and handset phonebook backup systems and this feature is unique to the Gemalto solution. It is simple to use as protection of the entire phonebook is just a single click process and restoration of contacts is equally straightforward.

For Safaricom, the contacts back-up service represents both an important differentiator and a new income stream within the highly competitive mobile communications market. Furthermore, customer loyalty is significantly enhanced with churn rate dropping* as the mobile operator is recognized and trusted as the guardian of the subscriber’s valued contacts information.

“The mobile phone is a technology that forges strong emotional bonds with the user, and we fully understand how important contacts data is to our subscribers. That’s why we are putting secure and convenient cloud-based back up services within easy reach, enabling them to safeguard and retrieve contacts at any time and from anywhere, no matter which type of phone they use. This mass market service fits perfectly with our strategy to offer complete peace of mind to all of our customers’ needs,” commented Thibaud Rerolle, Technical Director at Safaricom.

“With the help of LinqUs Cloud Backup, Safaricom offers customers the opportunity to protect themselves against the consequences of losing a wealth of personal- and business-critical data, simply because a handset goes missing. It will give the operator a solid and secure platform on which to build premium subscriber services,” said Eric Claudel, Senior Vice President for Telecommunications at Gemalto Middle East & Africa.

*2012 Gemalto’s studies show that subscribers using the service are staying on average an extra 9 months with the same operator.


For more information visit,,, or follow @gemalto ( on Twitter.




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SA: Education group, CTI, advances learning

Posted on 05 March 2013 by Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

CTI is the first to offer free tablet computers for study – the group says.

The groups also attests that this is the Digital learning revolution for CTI degree students.

CTI is one of South Africa’s leading private higher education institutions with students studying across 12 campuses, and awards degrees and diplomas to a growing market of full-time and part-time students in such subjects as business, information technology, law, psychology and counselling, graphic design and creative arts. The CTI group since 2006 has included partner Midrand Graduate Institute (MGI).

According to CTI, in a move that will revolutionize the way they study [students], CTI Education Group will become the first higher education institution in South Africa to offer its students tablet computers loaded with prescribed textbooks, at no extra cost.

Over two thousand students who will start their degree studies at CTI in January will receive the new ten-inch touch-screen Samsung Galaxy Note tablets, loaded with up to eight prescribed textbooks’ of course material, a note added.

The tablets will be supplied to first-year students commencing their Bachelor of Commerce and BSc in Computing Systems degrees at CTI’s twelve campuses across South Africa.

Darren Fox, chief executive of CTI Education Group, comments: “To succeed in their future careers, young South Africans will need to be IT-literate and fully fluent with the latest technology. We want to make our students’ learning experience as close as possible to the world of work they will be entering, and we’re very pleased to partner with Samsung, one of the world’s leading technology companies, to do that.”

A study conducted earlier this year by the Pearson Foundation of college students in the United States revealed that students believe tablets and other mobile devices will transform learning, with tablet ownership among college students having tripled in the last year.

The survey reveals that more students are reading digital books, and that a majority (63%) of college students believe that tablets will effectively replace textbooks within the next five years.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab is the third most popular tablet among the students surveyed in the Pearson Foundation study.

Nearly all the students surveyed believed these devices are valuable for educational purposes, and around half of them say that they would be more likely to read textbooks on a tablet because of access to embedded interactive materials, access to social networks to share notes or ask questions, and access to instructors’ comments in the reading material.

CTI Education Group’s Fox added: “Our partnership with Samsung makes us the first higher education institution in South Africa to offer our students tablet computers loaded with all of their prescribed textbooks at no extra cost beyond their normal course fees.

“By putting cutting-edge technology into their hands while they study with us, we believe we can give our students the best possible education for the modern world and the industries in which they will work. CTI focuses on equipping our students with the skills and drive that they’ll need to find fulfilling careers and add value to the South African economy. That is why our graduates tend to find employment more quickly than most.”

Sibongile Malebane is studying for her Bachelor of Commerce at CTI’s Pretoria campus and took part in a pilot programme by CTI on tablet usage this year. She said: “The Samsung tablet has changed my view on electronic media. I used it in lectures and it has made it easier for me to have all my study guides in it.”

Allaster Le Goabe, studying the same course, said: “The tablet is fun to use. The applications available with the study guides make studying and making notes a whole lot easier.”

CTI students will access their textbooks through advanced e-text software, allowing them to read their textbooks on-screen. Course lecturers will be able to make notes and update texts throughout the academic year. These will automatically update to students’ tablet devices.

Students will be offered training in how to use their tablets, and will have access to additional loan tablets and e-learning support when they are on campus. Students will also be able to use their tablets to access Wi-Fi at all of CTI’s campuses, at no additional expense.

CTI has also secured insurance and warranties for all the tablets and will pay for this on behalf of the students.

CTI is part of Pearson, the world’s largest education company, a pioneer in the use of digital and mobile technologies to enhance learning.

Mark Cunnington, Managing Director for Higher Education at Pearson South Africa, said: “We are constantly seeking ways to use technology to give people access to a better education all over the world. Millions of students from the United States, Europe, Asia and now across Africa use Pearson’s digital learning tools to enhance their learning every day.
Thanks to this partnership, CTI students will now be part of the digital learning revolution which has the power to transform learning outcomes in South Africa.”

In 2010, CTI became a part of Pearson, the world’s leading learning company. Pearson has over 100 years’ heritage in educational publishing and assessment, and works in more than seventy countries offering products and services that help people make progress in their lives through learning.
In South Africa, Pearson also publishes for schools and colleges under the Heinemann and Maskew Miller Longman imprints.

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M2M Market: Machine to Machine Solutions and Strategies Analyzed in Research Reports

Posted on 20 February 2013 by Africa Business

Industry forecast reports on machine to machine market covering wireless M2M opportunities, IoT, M2M communication, strategic alliances in M2M ecosystem and more.

DALLAS /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Despite its low ARPU, the wireless M2M market has become a key focus of many mobile network operators as their traditional voice and data markets become saturated. At the same time, IoT & M2M communication is projected to be the fastest growing technology segments of the Information Technology (IT) sector in the next 3 to 5 years, with significant potential investments from companies to secure their computing environment. At the forefront of the next electronics super cycle, shall be next generation wireless devices that take advantage of embedded computing and machine to machine communications as well as consumer solutions involving wearable computing and next generation applications such as augmented reality. RnR Market Research offers multiple research reports on the machine-to-machine (m2m) ecosystem with data, information, analysis and forecasts valuable to multiple stakeholders of the industry including but not limited to hardware vendors, software vendors, wireless and other market players in the Utilities & Smart Grid, Automotive & Transportation, Logistics, Public Safety, Security & Surveillance, Retail & Vending and Healthcare segments.

The M2M Bible – Opportunities, Challenges, Strategies, Industry Verticals and Forecasts: 2013 – 2018” report expects the wireless M2M market to account for nearly $136 billion in revenues by the end of 2018, following a CAGR of 23% during the five year period between 2013 and 2018. Eyeing this lucrative opportunity, vendors and service providers across the highly fragmented M2M value chain have become increasing innovative in their strategies and technology offerings which have given rise to a number of submarkets such as M2M Network Security, Connected Device Platforms (CDP) and M2M Application Platforms.

This report presents an in-depth assessment of the global wireless M2M market. In addition to covering the business case, the challenges, the industry’s roadmap, value chain analysis, deployment case studies, and the vertical market ecosystem, vendor service/product strategies and strategic recommendations, the report also presents comprehensive forecasts for the wireless M2M market from 2013 till 2018, including an individual assessment of the following submarkets: Network Connectivity, Application Services, Embedded Cellular M2M Modules, Network Security, Connected Device Platforms (CDP), Application Platforms (Application Enablement Platforms, AEP and Application Development Platforms, ADP), Integration Services and Enabling Technologies, across six regions.

The report on IoT & M2M communication market projects the industry to be worth $290.0 billion by 2017. It is expected to have an increasing CAGR of 30.1% from 2012 to 2017. Europe, APAC, and North America regions are emerging market, whereas in Latin America and Middle East & Africa regions considered a high growth in the markets. In 2011, Europe accounted for about 30.0% of the global revenue, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 27.4% from 2012 to 2017. APAC and North America are estimated to contribute $92.8 billion and $56.3 billion, respectively, by 2017; at a CAGR of 33.2% and 28.3%, from 2012 to 2017. This report deals with the market trends in IoT & M2M communication and the growth associated with it. It also analysis, various factors that will drive and restrain the market over the next 5 years. This research categorizes the IoT & M2M communication market on the basis of technology & platforms, IoT components, M2M connections & modules, verticals, and geography.

Next Generation Wireless Devices: Market for Embedded Computing + M2M Solutions + Wearable Devices + Augmented Reality” report includes evaluation of market trends, drivers, challenges, and opportunities with detailed forecasts for revenue and market growth by region and product for each of the following:

  • Embedded computing through 2017
  • M2M Forecasts through 2017
  • Wearable wireless/computing through 2017
  • Augmented Reality devices and applications through 2017

A typical machine-to-machine (M2M) solution consists of five or six stakeholders.  Each stakeholder performs one or more dedicated tasks as part of a comprehensive solution. These tasks include connectivity, platform, software development, integration services, consultation, deployment, activation and often many more depending upon the specific industry and application. The report “Strategic Alliances in the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Ecosystem” evaluates 43 strategic alliances that have been formed over the last two years within the M2M ecosystem.   This research includes analysis of long term strategies of major telecom service providers and MVNO companies.   This is must reading for any company already within the M2M ecosystem and/or any company evaluating the M2M value chain to determine potential partnerships, repositioning/renegotiation, mergers and acquisitions.

Explore more reports on the M2M market or the Information Technology and Telecommunications Industry @ is an online market research reports library of 175,000+ in-depth studies of over 5000 micro markets. Our database includes reports by leading publishers from across the globe. We provide 24/7 online and offline support service to our customers.

Explore other market reports online as well as Company Profiles and SWOT Analysis Reports of companies in multiple sectors @

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Human Rights Watch: On a Dogged Mission of Defamation

Posted on 24 January 2013 by Africa Business

Once again, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is engrossed in its frantic campaign of defamation.  The organization has just distributed, through the electronic media, a document that targets Eritrea as a “systemic violator of human rights”.  The core areas of its unfounded accusations are Eritrea’s National Service and the country’s nascent mining sector.  To this end, HRW unabashedly equates Eritrea’s National Service with “forced labour”, which, in its view, “qualifies Eritrea as a violator of human rights”.


This conclusion is arrived at on the basis of an investigative methodology that no self-respecting researcher would take seriously.  HRW pronounces Eritrea a violator of human rights on the basis of its interview of four, out of over 1,330, combined Segen and Bisha employees at the mining plant at the time.   Conclusions on the basis of these three-thousandth of one percent interviewees cannot be taken seriously not only due to its insignificant size but also for the fact that HRW took their words at their face value.  Other principal background sources that HRW dipped in to corroborate its malicious report are either certain governments that harbour hostile agendas against the country and/or notorious quislings.


Before addressing the larger issue of the legality, rationale and modus operandi of the National Service, let us first examine the veracity of the specific accusations that HRW wrongly peddles:


1.     All private commercial enterprises – whether local or foreign – are prohibited by law from employing non-demobilised National Service staff.   Needless to emphasize, the law fully applies to Segen in its civil works subcontract at the Bisha mining plant.  In practice, the enforcement of the law is ascertained by the mandatory requirement for all private enterprises to request and ensure, prior to hiring, that any prospective employee possesses the demobilisation release document that is duly issued by the Ministry of Defence.   Furthermore, the Inspection Department of the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare undertakes periodic and routine, on-the-spot, regulatory verifications to ascertain strict compliance of the respective enterprises with these regulations as well as with explicitly pronounced work-place safety standards.   This does not, of course, mean that there cannot be isolated cases where the companies concerned circumvent the rules and illegally hire non-demobilised National Service Staff.   But such rare illicit practices cannot be misconstrued as government’s acquiescence in, or wilful policy of, “forcing under-paid military servicemen to work in commercial enterprises”.


2.      Bisha Share Company and SENET were not compelled to enter into a civil-works subcontract agreement with Segen through heavy-handed government imposition as it is falsely insinuated in the HRW report.  As we shall revert to and elaborate later, the GOE has moral and constitutional obligations to maximise national value and the  financial proceeds that accrue to the country from mining ventures by augmenting its participation in the value chain of the mining operation; in all the downstream and upstream segments of the entire mining activity as far as this is practically possible.  To this end, the country’s labour laws as well as the Mining Law contain explicit provisions that require foreign companies to give precedence to Eritrean enterprises and professionals for any contract or work when and if these can be performed locally at competitive prices and with the requisite quality and professional standard.  Thus while Bisha had to hire SENET, a South African engineering company, at the considerably high, initial fee, of 30 million dollars for the engineering, procurement and management functions, Segen was hired for a relatively minor civil works contract through transparent mechanisms and in line with the normative policy of giving precedence to local companies when this is commercially feasible.  It must also be borne in mind that, as a mining company, Bisha SC does not possess the construction license to engage in civil works.


3.      NEVSUN and SENET did not dictate labour conditions on Segen on the basis of higher “corporate ethics” that they espouse.  All standard labour rights are enshrined in Eritrea’s Civil, Penal and Commercial codes; in its Labour Proclamation N0. 118/2001 and the core ILO Conventions to which Eritrea is a party.  All private enterprises, including the mining companies and para-Statals, operate under these laws.  Any employee whose rights are violated may sue the employer, even if the employer is the government in cases of public commercial enterprises. There are many instances where employees have taken government institutions to court and won their cases.

4.     Segen maintains that its remuneration of its employees in Bisha is   above the industry average.  On site accommodation facilities are not substandard as the HRW alleges on the basis of hearsay from third parties.  Segen states that it received a special Award by SENET for 1 million hours of work without a single work incident.  It also maintains that the Indian engineers it hired five years ago are still working for the company and live in the same accommodation quarters although the HRW report attributes some of the derogatory remarks to them.   HRW’s allegations thus appear unfounded or grossly exaggerated.  The central flaw of HRW’s skewed narrative indeed lies in its unprofessional approach of cobbling up spurious accusations from secondary sources with suspect agendas without cross-checking their veracity with the primary subjects of its “investigation”.  By its own admissions, HRW acknowledges that it did not contact or try to elicit explanation from Segen, the National Mining Company (ENAMCO) or any relevant government institution.


We now proceed to address HRW’s ludicrous accusation that equates the National Military Service to “forced labour”.


As it must be true with all self-respecting governments, the State of Eritrea considers sacred its constitutional duty to defend and protect the sovereignty and political independence of the country.  The National Military Service was accordingly enacted by the National Assembly with that duty and responsibility in mind. Today, Eritrea’s sovereignty is under threat not least because Ethiopia continues to occupy Eritrean sovereign territories, including the town of Badme, in flagrant violation of international law and the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC).  As long as that threat exists, and in view of the failure of the UN Security Council to shoulder its legal and moral responsibilities, Eritrea has the inalienable right of protecting its sovereignty and independence the way it deems appropriate.  This was true in the 1950s when Eritrea’s right of decolonisation was ignored and suppressed by the UN.  And it remains broadly true today.


But in spite of these compelling national security exigencies, Eritrea’s youth are not invariably enrolled in a “never-ending and exclusively militaristic” service.   Indeed, at the time when the National Military Service was proclaimed, the young Eritrean State had embarked on a comprehensive and widely acclaimed demobilisation programme in which 65,000 of the 100,000 freedom fighters that had liberated the country in a 30-year armed struggle were released from the army.  Again in 2001, and anticipating that the border war would be irrevocably settled through the binding arbitration process that was underway on the basis of the Algiers Peace Treaty that both countries had signed, the GOE established a Demobilisation Commission and set in motion a second demobilisation programme with financial support from the World Bank, the European Union and other multilateral and bilateral partners.  More than 105,000 National Service members were demobilised and reintegrated into civilian life in a space of four years until the programme came to an end in 2005.


Furthermore, the broad annual enrolment pattern does not constitute of rigid, automatic and routine assignment of fresh and eligible entrants in the National Service to the military and/or to public companies involved in developmental work.  The Government has been investing considerable resources, as a matter of highest national priority, in the development of its human capital – literally the youth – by increasing access to tertiary education.  Those who are eligible annually for National Service are thus enabled to continue their first degree studies in the various colleges or pursue two-year diploma programmes in vocational/technical training institutions whose exponential expansion was vigorously pursued in the last decade.  In tandem with government policy of free health services, education, including at the tertiary level, remains fully subsidized and students are charged neither tuition nor boarding fees which are shouldered by the Eritrean State.


Yet, in spite of these flexible qualifications and caveats, National Military Service remains mandatory, onerous, and much prolonged than the 18 months limit stipulated in the 1994 law.  Graduates of these institutions of higher learning have to resume their deferred National Service obligations and work in the public sector – schools, hospitals, Civil Service and the Army – as well as in developmental and infrastructural public projects under subsistence National Service pay for years irrespective of their qualifications.  The Government and the community at large undertake, periodically and intermittently, a variety of practical measures to mitigate the financial burden on the servicemen and servicewomen in active duty.  Still the problem has not been resolved as yet although the government has recently launched various schemes and stop-gap measures until the overall situation reverts to full normalcy.


But onerous as it is, it would be preposterous to misconstrue this imposed reality as a deliberate government policy of “forced labour”.  The burden is not, indeed, confined to those enrolled in the National Military Service. It is shared, with varying degrees of intensity, across all segments of the society.  Civil Service and Armed Forces salaries – which were high by regional standards when they were substantially increased just before the war  –  have, for instance, remained frozen across the board during the last decade due to the same considerations.  Eritreans in the Diaspora continue to contribute 2% of their net income in accordance with the rehabilitation tax that was originally introduced in 1994 but that continues to-date for the same reasons.  This noble tradition of burden-sharing is deeply embedded in Eritrean culture and history.  In 1991, when the country was liberated, the new government found out that the coffers of the State were empty.  Thus while the civil servants that served under the colonial regime continued to receive their salaries, (and even had salary increments in 1992), all the freedom fighters that were assigned to the public sector or the new Eritrean Defence Forces were asked to live in camps and continue serving their country without pay until 1994 when the economy picked up and a new salary scheme was introduced.


Indeed, although HRW is obviously ignorant or oblivious to these realities, burden-sharing, which is deeply ingrained in Eritrea’s history and culture, is what, to a large extent, propelled it to assert national independence and sovereignty against all odds.  It is nothing less than audacious cynicism for HRW to lecture Eritrea on the low wages and living conditions of our youth in the National Service when, it is safe to assume, it has no clue about Eritrean history in general and the salary structure of the Eritrean Civil Service and the military, including top level officials, in particular.  The austerity scheme in place has nothing to do with contemporary practices in several countries that seem to shift the burden of the current financial crisis to pensioners and other vulnerable segments of society while corporate heads are rewarded through hefty silver parachutes.


The diversionary vanity of HRW and its cohorts aside, the National Service scheme is rendering historic and unparalleled contribution not only to the defence but also to the overall socio-economic development of the country.  Today, Eritrea has significantly increased its stock of social and economic infrastructure; be they schools, health facilities or welfare institutions, roads, bridges, and air and sea ports, thanks to a large measure to its Military and National Service scheme. The deployment of these two institutions in infrastructure building is also widespread in many parts of the world (US army contingents in our region regularly publicise their developmental/infrastructural philanthropic work in the countries of deployment) and no one has the right to ostracise Eritrea for practicing it.


The concerted campaign by HRW and others to target Eritrea’s mining sector is prompted by overriding geopolitical reasons rather than with genuine concerns for the welfare of the Eritrean people.  In this context, it is noteworthy that the HRW document makes reference to the unjust and politically-motivated Security Council sanctions against Eritrea. It says:



In a December 2011 resolution the [UN Security] council expressed concern at the “potential use of the Eritrean mining sector as a financial source to destabilize the Horn of Africa region.” It called on Eritrea to display transparency in its public finances, and mandate their governments to ensure that any firms under their jurisdiction with investments in the Eritrean mining sector “exercise vigilance” in this regard.


But in truth, it is not the mining companies or the foreign countries in which they are registered that are entitled to claim the moral high ground to regulate how the GOE dispenses with the revenues that may accrue from this or other foreign investment activities that may be conducted in the country.  The custodian of these natural endowments – that belong to current and future Eritrean generations – is the government of Eritrea; not any other putative foreign benefactor.  And while ensuring that the foreign companies obtain reasonable financial returns for the risks they undertake and the investment capital and expertise they deploy, the GOE has absolute responsibilities to secure a fair deal for the country.  The GOE has to ensure that foreign companies do not resort to unorthodox financial methods to extract inordinate profits through opaque procurement procedures for goods and services; hidden transfer pricing to their subsidiaries abroad; excessive salaries to expatriate staff; onerous conditions from banks and other institutions that lend loans to these projects  etc.   The Mining Law as well as the regulatory powers routinely exercised by the Ministry of Mines and Energy; the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare; the Ministry of Land, Water and Environment were originally conceived and put in place precisely in order to safeguard and enhance these interests.  The Government’s decision to buy 40% share in Bisha’s stock; its decision to open a new Faculty for mining and process engineering at the Eritrean Institute of Science and Technology are, likewise, well-thought out measures that intend to build and augment national human capital and increase the national revenues that accrue from this natural wealth to the country in an industry that is historically known for egregious corporate malpractices.


Human Rights Watch and its behind-the-curtain mentors may be lethargic and not wedded to the GOE’s judicious approach described above. The real purpose of their campaign of defamation, using human rights as a cloak, may indeed be curbing Eritrea’s laudable endeavours to ensure fair play and earn the revenues that the country rightly deserves and needs in its development drive.



Ministry of Foreign Affairs


21 January 2013

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Innov Africa forum essential for Africa’s Mobile Communication services

Posted on 28 November 2012 by Africa Business

By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

As online reports reveal, the InnovAfrica forum currently taking place in Dakar, Sénégal is looking to improving communication between continental stakeholders.

And it has also been announced that Orange, has presented Emerginov, an open-ended solution for the co-development of mobile micro-services by innovation players in Africa.

Emerginov is really an innovative solution for mobile services development in Africa.

·         Orange is present at the 4th InnovAfrica forum in Dakar, held from 26 to 29 November, and is contributing to the development of innovative online services in Africa,

·         Orange is providing the source code for Emerginov to African organizations – institutions, academic organisations, Non Governmental Organisationss, etc. – and assisting them in their mobile services development projects,

·         Emerginov is an open environment developed under an open source license

Emerginov is also a software solution produced by Orange Labs. It incorporates multiple open source software components and enables the development of applications based on SMS or on vocal interfaces.
Together with mobile-embedded technologies, the solution can provide simple services, giving the mobile user access to expertise or to content in different fields such as health, agriculture and trade.

In addition, the partners also benefit from an open-ended solution combining conventional telephone resources with access to IT services (web hosting, content storage, access to third-party APIs) from a
simple web browser.

Orange’s Emerginov platform is already used for competitive programming as well as research contracts with African universities (University of Dakar, ESMT and Université Gaston Berger in Senegal, University of Technology and University of Mauritius, and the University of Botswana). Emerginov is also used extensively in connection with cooperative projects with NGOs and local and
international institutional players, including:

·   A remote training initiative for Madagascan teachers. Equipped with a mobile phone and a solar recharger, teachers can access educational content embedded in their phones and may leave questions on a voice server; they receive an SMS when the answers are available.
A secure payment system via Orange Money was also set up, and tutors as well as teachers may now go to Orange boutiques to collect their compensation. The operation is led by the French remote teacher training initiative (IFADEM, Initiative française pour la formation à distance des maîtres) in partnership with Orange and the French Development Agency (AFD, Agence française de développement).

·  Experiments with m-health in Senegal and m-agriculture in Mali using features of Emerginov are in progress as part of the VOICES project (VOIce-based Community cEntric mobile Services for social
development) funded by the European Commission. The objective is to broaden access to the Internet in West Africa via the mobile telephone.

Furthermore, Orange publishes the Emerginov source code and promotes co-innovation.

And by opening up the code, Orange is following through on its commitment to providing innovation players in Africa with a set of customized open tools enabling rapid prototyping of services over telecom networks.

Also, throughout the forum, Orange is holding workshops to present the solution and help local players use it to develop and deploy their own mobile services tailored to the needs of the local population.

A report adds that the program is hosted by the OW2 consortium, an open source forge devoted to middleware of which Orange is a founding member. With Emerginov, Orange’s ambition is to co-build a library of license-free micro-services in order to nurture the dissemination of ideas originating in the field to mobile users.

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Posted on 14 November 2012 by Africa Business


Company expands presence in growing African market

Dubai, UAE – WD, a Western Digital company, has appointed Nairobi-based Mitsumi Distribution as its new partner for Africa. With this tie up, WD further strengthens and extends its global footprint by specifically catering to rising demand from Africa’s growing storage market. Enterprise and home users alike will have better availability of the comprehensive range of storage, networking and entertainment solutions offered by WD. Mitsumi Distribution is WD’s first Africa-focused partner.


Mitsumi Distribution, one of Africa’s leading IT distributors, will cover the Central, East and West African regions for WD’s component and branded products. WD’s component products include internal storage products such as desktop, mobile, SOHO NAS and enterprise hard drives, while the company’s branded products comprise external storage devices, home entertainment solutions, small business storage, and networking solutions.


“Africa’s storage market, while rapidly growing, is still underserved. This presents immence long-term growth opportunities to WD,” explained Khwaja Saifuddin, Senior Sales Director India, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, WD. “Mitsumi Distribution was appointed to focus specifically on the Central, East and West African regions in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Congo, Algeria, Tanzania and Uganda. We partnered with Mitsumi owing to its healthy regional reach and strong in-country presence, as well as its wide customer base.”

Khwaja Saifuddin, WD


Mitsumi operates in 19 countries in Africa, but will cover cover the key markets of Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Ethopia , Congo  and Algeria. Mitsumi Distribution will also provider customer support via its in-country service centers.


Mitesh Shah, Managing Director of Mitsumi Distribution added, “Strengthening our product portfolio is one of our key focus areas for 2013, so we are very excited to be working with a world renowned brand like WD. The partnership will help us diversify the product portfolio of our partners as we can better equip them to cater to the growing storage demands in Africa. Since Mitsumi has domain expertise and a pan-Africa footprint, we are confident the relationship with WD will be fruitful.”


About WD

WD, a Western Digital company, is a long-time innovator and storage industry leader. As a storage technology pacesetter, the company produces reliable, high-performance hard disk drives and solid state drives. These drives are deployed by OEMs and integrators in desktop and mobile computers, enterprise computing systems, embedded systems and consumer electronics applications, as well as by the company in providing its own storage products. WD’s leading storage devices and systems, networking products, media players and software solutions empower people around the world to easily save, store, protect, share and experience their content on multiple devices. WD was established in 1970 and is headquartered in Irvine, California. For more information, please visit the company’s website at

Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ: WDC), Irvine, Calif., is a global provider of products and services that empower people to create, manage, experience and preserve digital content. Its companies design and manufacture storage devices, networking equipment and home entertainment products under the WD, HGST and G-Technology brands. Visit the Investor section of the company’s website ( to access a variety of financial and investor information.

About MITSUMI Distribution:

MITSUMI Computer Garage Ltd was formed in Nairobi, Kenya in the year 1996 with the aim of introducing appropriate and affordable technologies to Africa and now 16 years on, we are a Pan Africa Distributor.

We are authorized distributors for leading global IT hardware & software brands. Our growing brand portfolio includes HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung, WD, Tripplite, BenQ and Microsoft.

As one of the Africa’s largest IT distributors, MITSUMI is the conduit through which the power of technology flows to 19 Countries in Africa. MITSUMI has 15 warehouses and 8 service centers in Africa.

MITSUMI is a leading and fast growing technology distributor in Africa because of its Pan Africa distribution strategy/vision, aggressive expansion, regional geographical coverage and extensive customer base. MITSUMI has its head office in Kenya and presence in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Benin, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Mauritius and Madagascar including strategic mother hub in Jebel Ali (U.A.E).

About Mitsumi IT Distribution (Microsoft Word)

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LAGbook Founders Set to Launch Online Game Development Company Naija Arts in 2013

Posted on 13 October 2012 by Africa Business


Chidi and Chika Nwaogu, founders of Africa’s largest social networking website LAGbook are set to launch their online game development company Naija Arts as LAGbook hits the 1,000,000 member-mark in 2013.
Lagos, Nigeria, October 13, 2012 –(– Founders of prominent African social networking website, Ladies And Gentlemen book, popularly known as LAGbook, today announced they’ll be launching Naija Arts, an online game development company after LAGbook hits the 1,000,000 member-mark in 2013. 

Naija Arts will be founded with LAGbook’s Chief Financial Officer, Josh Osemwegie, and will focus on online game contents (HTML5) that will made available on the LAGbook social discovery platform, and the Naija Arts website using the HTML iframe technology.

“We want Naija Arts to be Africa’s equivalent of Miniclip. Initially we registered Naija Arts last year, and started working on Oleku, a 3D computer game for Windows. Oleku was to be a street (crime) life and survival game with features of famous locations in Nigeria. But the piracy issue in Nigeria became too disturbing,” said Chidi Nwaogu, Co-founder of LAGbook.

Chidi continued, “We tried our hands on creating free trial versions that will need paid licensing after 15-days of pay, but then we realized the license key(s) could be distributed along with the free trial versions for payment. Which ever way we turned, there was a counter piracy attack. This inhibited the project, and finally the development came to a halt.”

“We figured out that online gaming contents was the only way to prevent piracy. We’ll make money off the ads placed on the web pages in which the games are embedded on using the HTML iframe technology. But then, we needed a huge traffic, and a ready database of potential gamers. So we decided to pour more energy into the growth of LAGbook, and introduce our online game contents once our user size is robust and impressive,” said Chika Nwaogu, CEO and President at LAGbook, Inc.

Chika continued, “LAGbook is now what we have always wanted it to be; a fast growing social networking website, and this has rekindled our dream for Naija Arts. Once LAGbook hits the one million member-mark extrapolated to be in the early months of 2013, we’ll be releasing Boko, a 3D adventure game based on the Boko Haram menace in Nigeria.”

“We thought Nigerians want to play Boko, more than they would want a survival game like Oleku. So we will be debuting with Boko, and Oleku follows subsequently. Boko will be the first three dimensional computer game born out of Africa, and we’ll be blessed to break that record,” said Chidi

“I’m glad to be a co-founder of this project. I intend contributing with early investments, and financial planning. I’ll be Co-founder and CFO at Naija Arts, and you don’t know how much that means to me,” said Josh Osemwegie, CFO at LAGbook, Inc.

LAGbook is Africa’s largest and fastest growing social networking website with about 500,000 registered users and 6,000 daily signups. LAGbook is most popular in the cities of Yaba in Lagos-Nigeria (where it was incepted and ranks #2), Hirtshals and Sindal in Denmark (where it is ranked #37 and #28 respectively), and Tsim Sha Tsui in Hong Kong (where it is ranked #27).

Contact Information
LAGbook Inc.
Nosa Ilegbinehi

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