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Sarama Resources Continues to Consolidate its Position at the South Houndé Project in Burkina Faso

Posted on 15 May 2013 by Africa Business

TSX-V Ticker: SWA
SWA.WT

VANCOUVER, May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Sarama Resources Limited (“Sarama” or the “Company“) is pleased to report that it has been granted three new exploration permits in Burkina Faso, including one adjacent to the Company’s flagship South Houndé Project, which brings the Company’s exploration landholding in this prospective region to 1,014km².

Highlights

  • Three new exploration permits totalling 240km² granted, expanding Sarama’s total exploration land package in Burkina Faso to 3,339km².
  • The grant of a 127km² exploration permit adjacent to Sarama’s Tankoro exploration property, provides Sarama a commanding presence in the geologically prospective Houndé Belt, with a total landholding of 1,014km².
  • The grant of the Youngou Est and Nianie exploration permits complements Sarama’s existing Youngou exploration property, which borders the Youga mine of Endeavour Mining Corp in the central south of Burkina Faso, bringing the Company’s total landholding in the project area to 363km².
  • Reconnaissance exploration programs to commence in second half of 2013.

Grant of Bini Exploration Permit

Sarama has been granted new exploration permits for the Bini, Youngou Est and Nianie properties by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, bringing the Company’s total exploration property interests in Burkina Faso to 3,339km² (refer Figure 1).

The 127km² Bini exploration property (“Bini“) further consolidates Sarama’s position in the highly prospective Houndé Belt, which hosts the 7.8Moz, 170koz per annum Mana gold mine of Semafo Inc and the 2.2Moz Houndé gold project of Endeavour Mining Corp.  Bini is located centrally within the belt and is adjacent to Sarama’s Tankoro exploration property where the Company has intersected significant gold mineralisation over a 1.9km strike length at the MM Prospect (refer Figure 2).

The property is underlain by a sequence of meta-sedimentary and volcanic rocks and is interpreted to contain north-north-east trending structures, which are thought to be one of the controls on the mineralisation encountered at the Company’s MM Prospect.  Sarama anticipates commencing first-pass reconnaissance exploration activities on the property in the second half of 2013.

The exploration permit gives Sarama the exclusive right to explore for gold and associated minerals during an initial term of 3 years.  Subject to certain statutory obligations being met, the permit is renewable for a further two 3-year terms, after which time, the permit will be eligible for conversion to an exploitation permit.

Figure 1:    Sarama’s Exploration Properties in Burkina Faso

Figure 2:    Sarama’s Exploration Properties in South-West Burkina Faso

Grant of Youngou Est and Nianie Exploration Permits

The Youngou Est and Nianie exploration properties, covering areas of 95km² and 18km² respectively, lie in the extreme south of central Burkina Faso (Figure 3).  Being proximal to Sarama’s existing Youngou exploration property, the permit grants bring Sarama’s landholding in the project area to 363km².

The properties are underlain by volcano-sedimentary and gneissic rocks with the prospective sequence arranged along a north-east striking trend bounded by granite.  The 90,000oz per annum Youga gold mine of  Endeavour Mining Corp is located immediately adjacent to Sarama’s property group and within the same lithological sequence, illustrating the prospectivity of the region.

Sarama anticipates commencing reconnaissance exploration activities on the recently granted properties in the second half of 2013.

The exploration permits give Sarama the exclusive right to explore for gold and associated minerals during an initial term of 3 years.  Subject to certain statutory obligations being met, the permit is renewable for a further two 3-year terms, after which time, the permit will be eligible for conversion to an exploitation permit.

Figure 3:    Sarama’s Exploration Properties in Central South Burkina Faso

Sarama’s President and CEO, Andrew Dinning commented:

“We are pleased to have been granted these new permits in two of our existing project areas.  Our position at the South Houndé Project continues to strengthen with the addition of the Bini property and we look forward to commencing our reconnaissance exploration programs in the upcoming exploration season.

Sarama is well funded with a cash balance of approximately US$11M at the end of March 2013 and is currently finalising regional exploration programs in the south of the MM Prospect which are expected to contribute to the maiden resource estimate planned for Q3 2013.”

For further information on the Company’s activities, please contact:

Andrew Dinning or Paul Schmiede
email:  info@saramaresources.com
telephone: +61 8 9363 7600

About Sarama Resources Ltd
Sarama Resources Ltd is a Canadian company with a focus on the exploration and development of gold deposits in West Africa.  The board of directors and management team, a majority of whom are founders of the Company, are seasoned resource industry professionals with extensive experience in the exploration and development of world-class gold projects in Africa.

The South Houndé Project in south-west Burkina Faso is the Company’s flagship property and is currently the focus of an aggressive exploration program to increase the size of its maiden discovery and to test gold-in-soil anomalies located in a 30km-long structural corridor.  Recent drilling programs at the South Houndé Project have intersected significant mineralisation in several prospect areas which the Company is actively following up.  The Company has built substantial early-stage exploration landholdings in prospective and underexplored areas of Burkina Faso (>3,300 km²), Liberia (>880 km²) and Mali (>560 km²) and is aggressively exploring across the property portfolio.

Caution Regarding Forward Looking Statements
Information in this news release that is not a statement of historical fact constitutes forward-looking information.  Such forward-looking information includes statements regarding the Company’s planned exploration programs.  Actual results, performance or achievements of the Company may vary from the results suggested by such forward-looking statements due to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors. Such factors include, among others, that the business of exploration for gold and other precious minerals involves a high degree of risk and is highly speculative in nature; few properties that are explored are ultimately developed into producing mines; geological factors; the actual results of current and future exploration; changes in project parameters as plans continue to be evaluated, as well as those factors disclosed in the Company’s publicly filed documents.

There can be no assurance that any mineralisation that is discovered will be proven to be economic, or that future required regulatory licensing or approvals will be obtained. However, the Company believes that the assumptions and expectations reflected in the forward-looking information are reasonable. Assumptions have been made regarding, among other things, the Company’s ability to carry on its exploration activities, the sufficiency of funding, the timely receipt of required approvals, the price of gold and other precious metals, that the Company will not be affected by adverse political events, the ability of the Company to operate in a safe, efficient and effective manner and the ability of the Company to obtain further financing as and when required and on reasonable terms. Readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information.

Sarama does not undertake to update any forward-looking information, except as required by applicable laws.

Qualified Person’s Statement

Scientific or technical information in this news release that relates to the Company’s exploration activities in Burkina Faso is based on information compiled or approved by Michel Mercier Michel Mercier is an employee of Sarama Resources Ltd and is a member in good standing of the Ordre des Géologues du Québec and has sufficient experience which is relevant to the commodity, style of mineralisation under consideration and activity which he is undertaking to qualify as a Qualified Person under National Instrument 43-101.  Michel Mercier consents to the inclusion in this report of the information, in the form and context in which it appears.

Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

SOURCE Sarama Resources Limited

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IMF Mission Concludes the 2013 Article IV Mission to the Republic of Congo

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Africa Business

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo, May 14, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Mr. Mbuyamu Matungulu visited Brazzaville during April 29–May 13, 2013, to conduct discussions for the 2013 Article IV consultations. The mission met with the Honorable Obami Itou, President of the Senate; the Honorable Koumba, Speaker of Parliament; State and Finance Minister Ondongo, Special Presidential Advisor Gokana, National Director of the BEAC Ondaye Ebauh, and other senior officials. It held discussions with development partners and representatives of the private sector, including members of the banking profession.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Matungulu issued the following statement:

“In 2012, real GDP growth rebounded to about 4 percent despite a marked decline in oil production. Activity in the non-oil sectors was robust, driven by a surge in public spending in response to the ammunitions depot explosion of March 2012. The brisk increase in spending put pressures on prices, bringing end-year inflation to 7.5 percent as domestic supply response was limited. Reflecting the high import content of increased government outlays, the external current account turned negative in 2012. Credit growth remained robust. The basic non-oil primary budget deficit increased considerably, stemming from the expansion of government spending. However, the deficit was smaller than projected, with domestically-funded investment outlays somewhat lower than anticipated.

“Real GDP growth is expected to strengthen to 5.8 percent in 2013 despite a further decline of oil production, underpinned by continuing strong activity in construction and public works, telecommunications, as well as a timid start of iron ore production. Inflation eased to a monthly average of -0.1 percent in January-February 2013, and is projected to remain subdued during the remainder of the year as pressures from the 2012 ammunitions explosions fallout gradually recede. While the current account is expected to improve, the country remains vulnerable to adverse changes in external conditions, particularly on terms of trade. Compared to the initial budget, the mission’s current fiscal projections for 2013 reflect a shortfall in oil revenue equivalent to 4.8 percent of non-oil GDP, a reduction in government spending, as well as much higher-than-anticipated payments on arrears to social sectors. While the basic non-oil primary budget deficit should be contained below the projected level, the build-up of government deposits with the central bank would likely be much lower than targeted under the 2013 budget. The mission urged stronger treasury management and discussed quarterly fiscal targets for the remainder of the year to minimize slippages.

“The authorities’ medium-term development agenda seeks to foster private sector development, facilitate economic diversification, and secure growth inclusiveness. It appropriately emphasizes preservation of macroeconomic stability, improvements in governance and transparency and in business conditions, as well as a scaling up of investment to begin closing large infrastructure and skills gaps, while seeking further gains in budget consolidation. The mission encouraged the authorities to expedite reforms to improve the quality of spending; and welcomed World Bank involvement in the efforts to improve the management of the public investment program and enhance the productivity of the development budget. It underscored accelerated implementation of World Bank-supported reforms to improve the business environment, including in financial sector; and to roll out envisaged social protection systems. Regarding the management of oil resources, the mission reiterated calls for early adoption by Parliament of the draft law on budget transparency and accountability, following the achievement last February of compliant status under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). As Congo moves ahead with the establishment of Special Economic Zones, the staff team urged caution. In particular, the mission encouraged the authorities to refrain from extending special fiscal incentives, and to focus instead on revamping infrastructure, including the inadequate electricity network, and advancing administrative facilitation. The staff team favored implementation of economy-wide reforms that improve the business environment for all so as to prevent abuses. It confirmed Congo’s low risk of debt distress but noted the need for continuing prudent borrowing policies to maintain long-term debt sustainability in the post-HIPC era.

“The mission discussed a medium- and long-term fiscal framework aimed at protecting spending from oil revenue volatility and ensuring budget and debt sustainability while supporting growth and guarding against the risks in the face of declining oil reserves. The framework makes provisions for scaled up investment and a buildup of net wealth that would sustain expenditures when oil resources are depleted. Under the agreed framework, nearly 65 percent of projected total oil revenue for 2013–2019 would be spent (two thirds of which on capital goods), and 35 percent saved; and the basic non-oil primary budget deficit would be limited to 36.1 percent of non-oil GDP by 2015.

“The authorities concurred with the need to improve coordination of economic policy management through development of appropriate reform-monitoring mechanisms. In this context, staff welcomed the government’s support to the ongoing review of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC)’s reserves pooling framework. Finally, the mission reminded the authorities of Congo’s legal obligations under Article VIII, Section 5, including the obligation to provide data to Fund staff on official holdings of foreign exchange.

“The mission wishes to express gratitude to the authorities for their hospitality. Upon its return to Washington D.C., the team will prepare a staff report to be discussed by the IMF’s Executive Board.”

 

SOURCE

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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African energy company to expand operations in the continent

Posted on 14 May 2013 by Wallace Mawire

Cennergi, a recently-formed African energy company which is committed to providing energy solutions to Africans, is reported to be gearing up to acquire sizeable operational energy assets in generation on the African continent, according to  Liz Hart, Siyenza Management.

According to Hart, Cennergi (Pty) Ltd, is a 50:50 joint venture between South African-based diversified resources company Exxaro Resources Limited (Exxaro) and The Tata Power Company Limited (Tata Power), of India, through its subsidiary Khopoli Investments Limited.

Cennergi is based in South Africa and will focus on the, development, ownership, operation, maintenance, acquisition and management of electricity generation assets in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. The initial project pipeline focuses on renewable energy projects in South Africa and Cennergi’ s strategy is to create a balanced portfolio of diverse generation assets.

Liz says the company having spent the past year developing its business model and putting together a dynamic management team,  is now looking for African partners who can broaden its horizons.

“The company is seeking established and credible partners across Africa who own profitable, high quality operational energy generating assets, not limited to renewables, to boost its asset portfolio on the continent,” Hart said.

Cennergi is reported to have launched its operations in the South African renewable energy sector in 2012 and were awarded the bids for two wind farm projects in the Eastern Cape by participating in the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer’s Programme (REIPPP).

“Whilst the company is proud of this early achievement, and although it aims to focus on using cleaner energy technologies, it has a much broader vision for its African operations. The Cennergi team will focus on building a diversified portfolio of energy assets which includes coal, gas, hydro, wind and solar,” Hart said.

 

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MasterCard to Power Nigerian Identity Card Program

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Africa Business

13 Million Cards to be issued first, in largest card rollout of its kind in Africa


About MasterCard

MasterCard (NYSE: MA) (http://www.mastercard.com) is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews (https://twitter.com/#!/MasterCardNews), join the discussion on the Cashless Conversations Blog (http://newsroom.mastercard.com/blog) and subscribe (http://newsroom.mastercard.com/subscribe) for the latest news (http://newsroom.mastercard.com).

About NIMC

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) was established by the NIMC Act No.23, 2007 as the primary legal, regulatory and institutional mechanism for implementing a reliable and sustainable national identity management system that will enable Nigerian citizens and legal residents assert their identity. The Act mandates the NIMC to create, own, operate and manage a national identity database, issue national identification numbers to registered individuals, provide identity authentication and verification services, issue multipurpose smartcards, integrate identity databases across government agencies and foster the orderly development of the identity sector in Nigeria. The Act also empowered the NIMC to collaborate with any public and or private sector organization to realize its objectives.

About Unified Payments

Unified Payments is owned by a consortium of Nigerian Banks. Our core businesses comprise Processing, Merchant Acquiring, Switching, Payment Terminal Services and provision of Value Added Services & Solutions. Unified Payments pioneered the issuance and acceptance of EMV Chip + PIN cards in Nigeria, leading to reduction of ATM fraud in Nigeria by over 95%. The company enabled Nigerian banks and merchants for the first time ever to accept foreign cards at ATMs and Points of Sale Terminals, and also pioneered the issuance of Naira cards that are globally accepted.

About Access Bank

Access Bank Plc (http://www.accessbankplc.com) is a full service commercial Bank operating through a network of over 300 branches and service outlets located in major centres across Nigeria, Sub Saharan Africa and the United Kingdom. Listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the Bank has over 800,000 shareholders and has enjoyed what is arguably Africa’s most successful banking growth trajectory in the last ten years ranking amongst Africa’s top 20 banks by total assets and capital in 2011. As part of its continued growth strategy, Access Bank has made sustainable business core to all its operations. The Bank strives to deliver sustainable economic growth that is profitable, environmentally responsible and socially relevant.


CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, May 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) (http://www.nimc.gov.ng) and MasterCard (http://www.mastercard.com) today announced at the World Economic Forum on Africa the roll-out of 13 million MasterCard-branded National Identity Smart Cards (http://www.nimc.gov.ng/reports/id_card_policy.pdf) with electronic payment capability as a pilot program. The National Identity Smart Card is the Card Scheme under the recently deployed National Identity Management System (NIMS). This program is the largest roll-out of a formal electronic payment solution in the country and the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind on the African continent.

The Nigerian National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) will be issuing MasterCard-branded National Identity Smart Cards with electronic payment capability. This program is the largest roll-out of a formal electronic payment solution in the country and the broadest financial inclusion initiative of its kind on the African continent.

 

Earlier this year Ajay Banga commended the Finance Minister of Nigeria Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the Central Bank Governor Sanusi Lamido on the Cashless Nigeria initiative and discussed MasterCard’s commitment to supporting a widespread national identification program in the country.

 

 

Infographic – Navigating the Next Cashless Continent: http://newsroom.mastercard.com/press-releases/mastercard-to-power-nigerian-identity-card-program/mastercard_africa_infographic_01-13_v9/

As part of the program, in its first phase, Nigerians 16 years and older, and all residents in the country for more than two years, will get the new multipurpose identity card which has 13 applications including MasterCard’s prepaid payment technology that will provide cardholders with the safety, convenience and reliability of electronic payments. This will have a significant and positive impact on the lives of these Nigerians who have not previously had access to financial services.

The Project will have Access Bank Plc as the pilot issuer bank for the cards and Unified Payment Services Limited (Unified Payments) as the payment processor. Other issuing banks will include United Bank for Africa, Union Bank, Zenith, Skye Bank, Unity Bank, Stanbic, and First Bank.

The announcement was witnessed by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy in Nigeria, who stressed the importance of the National Identity Smart Card Scheme in moving Nigeria to an electronic platform. This program is good practice for us to bring all the citizens on a common platform for interacting with the various government agencies and for transacting electronically. We will implement this initiative in a collaborative manner between the public and private sectors, to achieve its full potential of inclusive citizenship and more effective governance,” she said.

“Today’s announcement is the first phase of an unprecedented project in terms of scale and scope for Nigeria,” said Michael Miebach, President, Middle East and Africa, MasterCard. “MasterCard has been a firm supporter of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) (http://www.cenbank.org) Cashless Policy (http://www.cenbank.org/cashless) as we share a vision of a world beyond cash. From the program’s inception, we have provided the Federal Government of Nigeria with global insights and best practices on how electronic payments can enable economic growth and create a more financially inclusive economy”.

Chris ‘E Onyemenam, the Director General and Chief Executive of the National Identity Management Commission, said “We have chosen MasterCard to be the payment technology provider for the initial rollout of the National Identity Smart Card project because the Company has shown a commitment to furthering financial inclusion through the reduction of cash in the Nigerian economy.” He added “MasterCard has pioneered large scale card schemes that combine biometric functionality with electronic payments and we want to capitalize on their experience in this field to make our program rollout a sustainable success for the country and for the continent.”

“Access Bank’s involvement in this project is testament to our ongoing efforts to expand financial inclusion in Nigeria,” said Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, CEO of Access Bank. “The new identity card will revolutionize the Nigerian economic landscape, breaking down one of the most significant barriers to financial inclusion – proof of identity, while simultaneously providing Nigerians with a world class payment solution”.

“Unified Payments is the foremost transaction processor and pioneer of EMV processing and acquiring in Nigeria, owned by leading Nigerian banks. We will use our expertise and experience to guarantee the success of the project and ensure that the data of Nigerians are protected. We look forward to working with other partners in delivering value to all stakeholders”, said Agada Apochi, Managing Director and CEO, Unified Payments.

The new National Identity Smart Card will incorporate the unique National Identification Numbers (NIN) of duly registered persons in the country. The enrollment process involves the recording of an individual’s demographic data and biometric data (capture of 10 fingerprints, facial picture and digital signature) that are used to authenticate the cardholder and eliminate fraud and embezzlement. The resultant National Identity Database will provide the platform for several other value propositions of the NIMC including identity authentication and verification.

Thanks to the unique and unambiguous identification of individuals under the NIMS, other identification card schemes like the Driver’s License, Voters Registration, Health Insurance, Tax, SIM and the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) will benefit and can all be integrated, using the NIN, into the multi-function Card Scheme of the NIMS. When fully utilizing the card as a prepaid payment tool, the cardholder can deposit funds on the card, receive social benefits, pay for goods and services at any of the 35 million MasterCard acceptance locations globally, withdraw cash from all ATMs that accept MasterCard, or engage in many other financial transactions that are facilitated by electronic payments. All in a secure and convenient environment enabled by the EMV Chip and Pin standard.

Upon completion of the National ID registration process, NIMC aims to introduce more than 100 million cards to Nigeria’s 167 million (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/nigeria/population) citizens.

 

SOURCE

MasterCard Worldwide

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“In each market where wind energy is being developed, the state is a big player in the initial stages of industry development and is often the sponsor of pilot projects.”

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Africa Business

Exclusive interview with Dr Emelly Mutambatsere, Principal Regional Economist, African Development Bank, and a speaker at the upcoming Clean Power Africa

1) You are the co-author of a comprehensive document on Africa’s wind energy market – can we start with a short summary of how it has evolved over the years?

The harnessing of wind energy for electricity production on commercial scale started in Africa in the late 1990s. Our study shows that the first commercial scale wind farms were commissioned in 2000/2001 in Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. This was after over a decade of pilot testing with Egypt as the trail blazer.

Between 1990 and 2010, wind energy installed capacity increased twelve fold to reach 1.1 Giga Watts in 2011. While the annual growth rate of Africa’s installed capacity was almost twice the growth of global capacity during the same period, it remains similar to the growth rate reported for global capacity when wind took-off on the global market. This growth followed a phased approach, whereby countries lacking familiarity with the technology and having limited geo-referenced data started with pilot projects, migrating to semi-commercial projects, before reaching full-fledged commercial scale. The average project size has also increased over time, while the lead time achieving commercial scale has decreased.

But overall, wind energy markets in Africa remains small in absolute terms and the importance of wind in the energy mix is limited, at less than 1 percent of continent’s total installed generation capacity. This is not expected to significantly change in the medium term given the significant concurrent development of installed capacity from conventional energy source.

2) Which structural characteristics affected the development of wind energy projects?

Taking the presence of wind energy potential as given, four key factors affect the uptake of wind energy. Firstly, the physical attributes of wind – in particular its intermittency which translates into variable electricity output – affect the role that wind can effectively play in the generation mix, and add complexity to the integration of wind-based power plants into conventional electricity grids, including the need for back-up capacity.

Secondly, the level of electrification observed in African countries with strong wind energy potential matters. Those countries that have reached high electrification rates are more amiable to adopting wind energy which they use to increase available electricity generation capacity in both peak and off-peak periods, thus improve reliability of service. On the other hand, countries trying to reach access objectives, and cannot rely solely on wind to achieve this objective given its aforementioned physical attributes, have opted for conventional energy resources which a provide a stable base-load capacity.

Third, the business environment is important. We observe that fast growing wind energy markets have benefited from strong political will, supported by strategic policy direction and an enabling business environment, including industry specific legislation. Finally, while harnessing wind energy improves the environmental footprint of African power systems, we do not see climate change benefits being an overriding driver of market development on the continent. Other factors such as achieving energy security, by improving diversity of the electricity generation mix and/or increasing use of locally available energy resources, appear to take precedence. This is because Africa still makes a meager contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, an underdeveloped market for carbon tips the scale against wind in simple economic and financial comparisons with conventional energy resources.

3) The paper provides the first mapping of the continent’s wind energy market – can you give us a summary of this, where are the most developed markets, which areas have most potential etc.?

A wind energy potential mapping exercise conducted by the African Development Bank in 2004 shows that coastal countries have the best wind from a wind speed perspective. This includes (in no particular order) Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania in North Africa; Djibouti, Eretria, Seychelles and Somalia in the East; and South Africa, Lesotho and Madagascar in the South. Another study we reference in the paper identifies Kenya and Chad as also having large inland wind energy potential. Central and West Africa are shown to have limited potential.

We observed in conducting this study that wind energy potential is a dynamic concept which evolves with the industry’s technology advancement. It is also important in discussing this concept to clearly define the type of potential being measured: whether on-shore or off-shore, whether the physical upper limit of the energy resource or the convertible potential considering technological, structural and ecological constraints. The ranking of countries by potential follows suite. For example, a study which evaluates technical potential ranks Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Madagascar, Kenya and Chad as being among the top 30 countries on global scale.

Looking at the developed potential at end-2011, we see strong concentration of wind energy capacity in three North African countries – Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Egypt held half of the continent’s total installed capacity, followed by Morocco with 40% and Tunisia with 5%. Outside of North Africa, there is commercial capacity in Cape Verde, and limited capacity in South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Eritrea and Mozambique.

The market’s outlook is also noteworthy. Our survey produced a comprehensive sample of about 60 ongoing and planned wind energy projects on the continent. This places South and East African markets in the lead in terms of market growth. South Africa alone is expected to contribute a third of the wind energy capacity currently under developed or planned in Africa; and Kenya is making significant strides toward developing what is poised to be the continent’s largest wind power project. This trend is attributed to increased strategic focus on wind in these regions, whilst in the North market development has been stalled by socio-economic instability.

4) What do African countries need to take into consideration when developing wind projects?

First, there is need to develop a national champion to promote the industry, offering a single focal point for regulation, financing and oversight. In Egypt, the New and Renewable Energy Agency (NREA) was specifically established to play this role. Elsewhere, the existing power utility or a division therein was used.

Second, the wind energy market is attractive to private developers provided clear legislation exists to support the market. This includes rebalancing the scale in cases where subsidies exist on fossil fuels in order to improve competitiveness of renewable technologies.  In addition to legislative support, the state should focus on kick-starting market development by supporting research and development, developing comprehensive geo-referenced datasets required for feasibility studies, and funding pilot projects.

It is important for countries to choose an industry development model which serves the country’s energy sector needs best. Country experiences have thus far been different among market leaders: while some countries opted for a state utility sponsored market development path (e.g. Egypt), others have used a blend of public and private sponsorship of projects including by industrial users (e.g. Morocco) and still others, a competitive private sector led path (e.g. South Africa). The same is true for choice of pricing model (whether a predetermined feed-in tariff, direct negotiation or price competition). The different approaches reflect different priorities and local preferences.

Finally, most African countries developing renewable energy markets are hoping for farther reaching results including industrialization and job creation. Countries pursing this secondary goal should support local linkages, including local manufacturing of turbines and turbine components, as an integral part of their wind sector strategy. Examples of best practice in the respect are still limited.

5) What did you find regarding funding of such projects?

In each market where wind energy is being developed, the state is a big player in the initial stages of industry development; and is often the sponsor of pilot projects.  Donor financing is also very visible in these initial stages. As the market matures, we see the profile of both sponsors and financiers evolving, from public entities and grant financing, to public-private / private entities and non-concessional financing. However, the market has not yet developed to the point where it can be fully funded by the private sector, therefore development finance institutions remain major players.

6) What will be your main message at Clean Power Africa?

Africa’s wind energy market has developed at a pace similar to that observed in leading markets at the early stages of their industry development. Despite this progress and the presence of significant potential on the continent, we should not expect wind to take over conventional energy resources in terms of share in the electricity generation mix, as key structural characteristics of the market affect both efficacy in addressing the energy access challenge, and competitiveness of wind, relative to non-renewable energy resources. Countries seeking to develop this market should do so deliberately and be intent on supporting early market development. However given the urgency with which most governments must address the more pressing access needs, conventional solutions will more likely be adopted ahead of, or concurrently with, wind energy.

7) What are you most looking forward to at the event in Cape Town?

I always look forward to interacting with practitioners and policy makers in these forums. It is an opportunity to learn from them how institutions such as AfDB can best serve as a partner in Africa’s development.

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African Development Bank Economist to present report on continent’s wind energy market at Clean Power Africa this month

Posted on 06 May 2013 by Africa Business

Some 5000 power professionals to gather in Cape Town

In each market where wind energy is being developed, the state is a big player in the initial stages of industry development; and is often the sponsor of pilot projects according to Dr Emelly Mutambatsere, Principal Regional Economist, African Development Bank.  As co-author of a comprehensive study for the AdB on the Development of Wind Energy in Africa, Dr Mutambatsere is a speaker on the topic at the  upcoming Clean Power Africa that is taking place in Cape Town from 14-15 May.

Clean Power Africa is Africa’s leading event where major stakeholders from the renewable energy sector get together and explore clean generation as a feasible solution to fulfil Africa’s electricity needs.  The event is co-located with the 13th annual African Utility Week which is attended by some 5 000 power & water professionals from all over the continent and  Eskom CE Brian Dames will once again deliver the keynote address.

60 ongoing and planned wind projects
Dr Mutambatsere says in the initial stages of the wind market development, donor financing is very visible and as the market matures, both sponsors and financiers enter the market, from public entities and grant financing, to public-private/private entities and non-concessional financing. “However,”, she says, “the market has not yet developed to the point where it can be fully funded by the private sector, therefore development finance institutions remain major players.”

By the end of 2011 the developed potential on the continent saw a strong concentration of wind energy capacity in three North African countries, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.  Says Dr Mutambatsere:  “Egypt held half of the continent’s total installed capacity, followed by Morocco with 40% and Tunisia with 5%. Outside of North Africa, there is commercial capacity in Cape Verde, and limited capacity in South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Eritrea and Mozambique.”

She continues:  “the market’s outlook is also noteworthy. Our survey produced a comprehensive sample of about 60 ongoing and planned wind energy projects on the continent. This places South and East African markets in the lead in terms of market growth. South Africa alone is expected to contribute a third of the wind energy capacity currently under developed or planned in Africa; and Kenya is making significant strides toward developing what is poised to be the continent’s largest wind power project. This trend is attributed to increased strategic focus on wind in these regions, whilst in the North market development has been stalled by socio-economic instability.”

Business environment important
According to the AdB Principal Regional Economist, Africa’s wind energy market has developed at a pace similar to that observed in leading markets at the early stages of their industry development.  She adds:  “despite this progress and the presence of significant potential on the continent, we should not expect wind to take over conventional energy resources in terms of share in the electricity generation mix, as key structural characteristics of the market affect both efficacy in addressing the energy access challenge, and competitiveness of wind, relative to non-renewable energy resources.”

The report states that the business environment is important for the development of a wind energy market. Says Dr Mutambatsere:  “we observe that fast growing wind energy markets have benefited from strong political will, supported by strategic policy direction and an enabling business environment, including industry specific legislation.”

The report reflects opinions of the authors, and not those of the African Development Bank Group’s management, Board of Directors or the countries they represent.

More Clean Power Africa speaker highlights:

· Overview of trends and policy

o Renewable energy usage in South Africa and Africa: an international comparison, Roula Inglesi-Lotz, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Pretoria, South Africa

o A review of renewable energy policy considerations for SADC countries, Martin Manuhwa, Managing Director, ZAIDG, Zimbabwe

o Effective “Plug & Play” Grid Integration of PV Plants, Vladimir Chadliev, Director Global Grid Integration, First Solar, South Africa

· Update on the SA REIPP programme

o Status of the REIPP in South Africa, Karen Breytenbach, Department of Finance, South Africa*

o Learnings from 50 REIPP projects, Richard Doyle, Managing Director, 3E, South Africa

o Community aspects of the REIPPPP, Christiaan Bode, Director, Sidala Energy, South Africa

o Grid code compliance and renewable energy projects, Mick Barlow, Business Development Director and Technical Advisor, S&C Europe, United Kingdom

On the expo floor, free CPD-accredited technical workshops on renewable energy include:
- Tips on how to become more energy efficient in your business

- How to identify the challenges facing the building of renewable projects

- Retrofitting hydropower to South African dams
- Constructing monitoring in PV and Wind
- Compliance of Solar PV installation with the new Renewable Grid Code

Clean Power Africa and African Utility Week dates and location:

Exhibition & Conference: 14-15 May 2013
Pre-conference Workshops: 13 May 2013
Site Visits: 16 May 2013
Location:  CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

Websites: www.african-utility-week.com ; www.clean-power-africa.com

Contact for African Utility Week:
Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558
mobile:  +27 82 562 7844
Email:  annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com

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Posted on 18 April 2013 by Africa Business

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“The time for a sustainable use of renewables is now. We do not have a choice. Clean energy is the way to go.”

Posted on 08 April 2013 by Africa Business

Exclusive interview with Engineer Martin Manuhwa, Managing Director of ZAIDG, Zimbabwe and speaker at the upcoming Clean Power Africa conference.

Martin is Vice President of the Federation of African Engineering Organisations (FAEO), President of the Southern African Federation of Engineering Organisations (SAFEO), Vice President of the World Council of Civil Engineers (WCCE) where he chairs the committee on Education, Training and Capacity Building.

 

1) Can you explain your background in terms of renewable energy projects in SADC countries?

I am the Managing Consultant of Zimbabwe Africa Infrastructure Development Group (ZAIDG), a consortium of consulting firms. My experience spans over 20 years in the field of engineering.  I worked in a number of projects involving the Integration of renewable energy systems; and de-centralised rural electrification, including small hydro electric projects, small scale solar power; renewable energy resource assessment, market assessment and planning alternative energy sources and applications.

2) You will address the Clean Power Africa conference in May on “A review of renewable energy policy considerations for SADC countries”.  Can you give us a sneak preview of what you will share with the delegates?

The conference will be held under the general theme, ‘Delivering beyond tomorrow’ and my paper will reinforce critical policy questions to be addressed by SADC in Renewable Energy Policies to deal with energy poverty.

 

The SADC Countries are confronted with a rapidly increasing energy demand in the coming decades resulting from a set of demographic, socio-economic and resource related factors. The Region has a large potential for the use of renewable energies particularly solar energy due to its high level of solar radiation. Only a small variety of solar thermal technologies, mainly solar water heaters, is used in the region.

 

Many inhabitants of SADC suffer from energy poverty. They are exposed to inadequate, unaffordable, ineffective and environmentally unsustainable energy services that fail to support economic and human development. Energy poverty has an effect on, and is affected by, other aspects of poverty, it is vital to explore issues surrounding it, such as gender, the youth and the underprivilleged in the formulation of energy policies.

 

Energy plays a vital role in improving people’s living conditions. Policy makers must fully understood this role in order to craft policies that contribute to development. Access to clean sustainable energy has become part of the international energy policy agenda in recent years. This reflects the recognition of the importance of energy in the delivery of basic services and in generating jobs and income. Energy has a direct impact on the welfare of people, it facilitates the supply of water and fuels agricultural output, helps in the delivery of health and education, creates job and contributes to overall environmental sustainability.

 

3) What are the main challenges with regards to renewable energy policies in the SADC countries?

In spite of the vital role of the energy sector in the economic and social development of the region, the sector has been faced with several challenges affecting its contribution to sustainable development.

 

These challenges are:

    First, energy accessibility to some segments of the poor and rural population.
    Secondly, is the large disparity in per capita energy consumption and energy intensity among those countries, and
    Thirdly, the challenge of relying heavily on fossil fuels to meet their energy demand.

    In recognition of the above challenges, countries in the region have been continuously revising their policy framework aiming at promoting sustainable management of the energy sector.  Varying degrees of progress have been achieved regarding the relevant key energy issues particularly on improving energy efficiency, using of cleaner fuels, promoting renewable energy and more importantly enhancing regional energy integration through the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP).

     

    The other major challenges are the lack of curiosity and innovation in Energy Policy Research as evidenced by:

     

      Renewable energy policies in SADC do not emphasize on research and innovation for renewable electricity generation, fuel production, heating and cooling. These activities will address SADC’s shared societal, industrial and environmental interests to develop sustainable economies.

      Research to better understand and address the interfaces between different societal challenges such as assuring food security, fighting pandemic disease, managing climate change, promoting inclusive information societies, and activities aligned with the global “Rio+20″ sustainable development agenda are lacking in the SADC region.

         

        SADC need to address Policy and institutional barriers in order to accelerate the use of Renewables by its citizens.

        Policy, legislative and institutional barriers for promotion of renewable energy in general and solar thermal in particular in the SADC Countries include:

         

          Lack of or weak political will both at the government and private sector level.
          Lack of national targets or strategies for promoting renewable energy resources within the national energy policy framework.
          Lack of or weak legal and institutional frameworks. This includes lack of legal framework for independent power producers (IPPs). In many countries, power utilities still control a monopoly on electricity production and distribution.

          In these circumstances, independent power producers may not be able to invest in renewable energy facilities and sell power to the utility or to third parties under the so-called “power purchase agreements.”
          Weak or Lack of domestic R&D programs and low government expenditures in R&D.

          Market barriers

          Renewable energy market in the region is distorted due to:

            Week capacity of information flow. This is due to lack of industry and professional associations, which promote renewable energy technologies, disseminate information, and undertake advocacy activities.
            Low level of consumer awareness leading to low market demand. This is due to lack of information about technologies, their availability, and their performance. Furthermore, there has been widespread skepticism about performance and reliability of renewable energy technologies due to past technology failures or weak products performances.

            Difficulties to change consumer’s behaviors and attitudes which normally take long time.

            Lack of national standards, testing and certification schemes that led in the past to installations of poor quality solar water heaters causing a variety of technical problems. This has caused widespread negative perception and bad technology reputation among consumers.

            Weak capacity of local assembly/manufacturing, distribution, installation and maintenance of solar thermal technologies. This has caused some countries to rely on more expensive imported systems, and consequently low level of market penetration due to weak purchasing power.

            Lack of training programs for renewable energy professionals, and lack of university level education in issues of renewable energy.

            Low level of awareness of local banking sector on renewable energy, and lack of proper financing schemes. Consumers or project developers may lack access to credit to purchase or invest in renewable energy because of lack of collateral, poor creditworthiness, or distorted capital markets. This is also true in rural areas where third party finance or “micro credit” is absent.

            Subsidies have been playing a critical role in development of rural areas and increasing access to modern energy services to the poor. The number of people under poverty line in the region is high especially in some countries of low per capita income. So, removing of energy subsidies might lead to negative social impacts.

            Economic barriers

            Economically, the renewable energy technologies often face unfair competition in the market due to some economic barriers. These include:

              The subsidies provided by governments for oil and gas especially in the oil producing countries. Even though lower fuel and operating costs may make renewable energy cost-competitive on a life-cycle basis, higher initial capital costs can mean that renewable energy provides less installed capacity per initial dollar invested than conventional energy technologies.

              High custom duties on renewable energy technologies adding to their high initial costs, and impairing their economic feasibility.

              High initial costs of solar water heaters that face strong competition from the gas and electric heating systems which is still more economically attractive option to consumers. This is especially valid in oil producing countries., and exacerbated by low level of awareness about the concepts of Life Cycle Analysis of investments.

              The external costs to societies due to heavy reliance on fossil fuels are not considered compared to clean renewable energy technologies. The environmental impacts of fossil fuels often result in real costs to society, in terms of human health (i.e., loss of work days, health care costs), infrastructure decay (i.e., from acid rain), declines in forests and fisheries, and perhaps ultimately, the costs associated with climate change. Dollar costs of environmental externalities are difficult to evaluate and depend on assumptions that can be subject to wide interpretation and discretion.

               

              4) What is your vision for this industry?

              My wish is to see the up-scaling of the use of sustainable energy sources in SADC and for our Governments to multiply the use of Science Engineering and Technology (SET) in eradicating energy poverty. SET must play an important role in policymaking, including dealing with issues such as climate change. At the moment, SET, policy, politics and climate change are not as connected as they should be. One of the reasons is that policymakers many times don’t consult scientists and Engineers and this is often compounded by the fact that the science and engineering community are not as good as they should be in making sure science is taken up in policy. Engineers and scientists and researchers must run for office, participate in community boards and fight for a seat at the table when such issues as renewable energy and climate change are discussed. They should not be reluctant to be a part of the process, for the good of their country, the good of their research and community.

              5) What will be your main message at Clean Power Africa?

              There is need for the importance of energy policy serving as a catalyst for innovation. The right policy could provide incentives to come up with solutions to expand the effectiveness of energy efficiency, renewable energy and carbon sequestration. The advocates of wind, biofuels and biomass in SADC should have faith that their future is secure, as countries around the world are making renewable resources the centerpiece of energy policies.

              The time for a sustainable use of renewables is now. We do not have a choice. Clean energy is the way to go.

              6) Anything you would like to add?
              Policy Recommendations

              Based on the above analysis, the following set of  policy recommendations needs to be adopted and implemented in the SADC Countries. It should be noted, however, that each of those countries should select the appropriate policy package according to individual national contexts.

              Promote efficient and sustainable use of energy resources

              This is to be achieved through:

                Introduction of appropriate pricing policies in the energy sectors that provide incentives for promoting renewable energy resources.
                Adjust prices in a phased manner that ensures cost recovery and creditworthiness of enterprises to enable them to access domestic and foreign capital markets to finance their expansion, while protecting vulnerable groups through targeted subsidies.

                 

                Remove Key Barriers

                The most important issue is the economic performance of renewable energy technologies (RET) compared to the fossil energy sources that presently dominate the energy markets. In principle there are two approaches to addressing this problem, both of which are indispensable in developing promising strategies:

                  Bringing down the costs of RET and their related energy services, and
                  Abolishing market distortions that discriminate against these technologies, such as direct subsidies

                   

                  Implement legal and regulatory reforms

                  To promote the renewable energy deployment, national policies, strategies and laws should be adopted. The policy framework should foster opening up the market for competition and private sector participation. Examples are laws and regulations for inclusion of renewable energy technologies in energy sector, laws for demand side management, allocate budget for institutions working in renewable energy field and include R&D in various renewable energy programmes.

                  Establish national targets for renewable energy

                  Improve the overall investment climate

                  Develop proper financing schemes

                  Make use of the potential for carbon finance in the region

                  Provide financial incentives

                  Establish Renewable Portfolio Standards

                  Improve energy efficiency and reduce energy intensity

                  Develop standards, testing, and certification schemes

                  Facilitate technology transfer from developed countries to SADC Countries

                  Enhance cooperation in research and development at the national and regional levels

                  Build national capacities in solar thermal technologies

                  Encourage the creation of industry associations

                  Raise public awareness of using the renewable energy technologies

                   

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                  RALF (Restoration Aquatic Life Filtration) Provides a New Solution During a Power Outage to Help the 13 Million Households with Aquariums Sustain Healthy Aquatic Life

                  Posted on 02 April 2013 by Africa Business

                  Health- Tech Sales is the first company to offer battery powered multi-stage filtration (patent pending) which can be used during power outage emergencies. RALF will make its debut at Booth G5 at the Marine Aquarium Expo at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California on April 6 – 7, 2013.

                  Southington, CT, April 02, 2013 –(PR.com)– One of the biggest nightmares for aquarium enthusiasts is losing all their aquatic life due to a long-term power failure. During a power failure, lethal toxins quickly accumulate because current aquarium filtration is powered by AC voltage. Health- Tech Sales is the first company to offer battery powered multi-stage filtration (patent pending) which can be used during power outage emergencies. RALF will make its debut at Booth G5 at the Marine Aquarium Expo at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa, California on April 6 – 7, 2013.

                  According to statistics from a National Pet Owners Survey compiled by the APPA (American Pet Products Association) there were 700,000 households with saltwater aquariums and over 11.9 Million households with freshwater from 2011 to 2012. While investment in the cost of setting up an aquarium varies, Bloomberg Rankings examined the initial setup costs for a 90 gallon saltwater aquarium to be as high as $17,334. Since power outages are becoming more frequent and longer in duration due to unprecedented super storms like “Sandy” in the Northeast, all these aquariums are vulnerable. According to the Eaton Corp’s “2012 Blackout Tracker Report,” there were 2,808 power outages in the US during 2012.

                  “RALF is a 12VDC Powered Multi-Stage Aquarium Filter, which means that it can be powered by a battery, solar power, car, or other source of DC voltage. It requires very little power and therefore can operate for long periods of time in the event of an AC power failure,” said inventor Marc Rosenkranz. Using a standard sealed lead acid battery (similar to those used as backup in home alarm systems or UPS), RALF can provide multi-stage filtration, aeration, and water circulation for up to 8 days on one battery.”

                  Rosenkranz added that the choice of a rechargeable sealed lead acid battery is both safe for indoor use and transport, as well as, cost effective. A low cost 15 hour battery can be recharged and used at a cost of approximately 1.6 cents per hour over the life of the battery.

                  “RALF offers an economical and practical advantage over generators, which are subject to the limitations of available fuel and space. For example, during ‘Sandy’ many New York residents had to travel to surrounding states to get gas because of station closures. Generators powered by natural gas were useless because lines were shut off to thwart fires. For people living in high rise buildings, generators are not even an option and the UPS solution doesn’t offer a long enough power life at an affordable cost.”

                  The product can be purchased with RALF AC Power Fail-Auto Start. RALF will automatically start in the event of an AC power failure with this option. This means that you can go on that vacation or business trip and in the event of a power failure your aquarium and its aquatic life will survive.

                  RALF’s unattended restoration of filtration, aeration, and water circulation will reduce the stress on your aquatic life from a lack of filtration of harmful toxins, as well as, the owners stress. It is designed for large saltwater or freshwater aquariums. All materials used are aquarium safe.

                  RALF can be used in an aquarium sump or tank mounted. RALF has an adjustable tank mount that will accommodate an aquarium with or without a canopy.

                  “RALF is cost effective and designed not to just sit on a shelf waiting for a power failure, RALF can be used with a powerful new bottom cleaning accessory that utilizes the RALF Pump Head,” added Rosenkranz. “The Director “Power Vacuum (Aquarium Bottom Cleaning Accessory – Patent Pending) does not have the pump in the handle. In its design, the RALF Pump Head & Power Source is external to the handle which provides the following benefits: a very powerful flow created compared to other aquarium bottom cleaners, as well as, interchangeable handles and a position directed suction head to reach difficult areas in the aquarium.”

                  Water can be returned to the tank or removed from the tank while debris and aquarium sand is stored in a special canister. The sand can be returned to the tank and the debris can be discarded by rinsing the filter media.

                  RALF is also designed to be used on battery or with an AC power adapter for the following routine aquarium functions; water changes, supplemental filtration, and dispersing medications and/or additives.

                  RALF is also ideal for maintaining large healthy aquatic life during transport for research or relocation.

                  For more information about RALF (Restoration Aquatic Life Filtration) visit website, www.batteryaquariumfilter.com

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                  Director, Product Marketing, Etisalat: “FTTH is necessary for businesses and consumers”

                  Posted on 02 April 2013 by Africa Business

                  Ahead of the Broadband MEA 2013 conference, taking place on the 19th-20th March 2013 at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai, UAE, Dubai, UAE, we speak to Maen Haddad, Director/Product Marketing, Etisalat on the latest broadband developments in the region and his views on issues such as piracy and FTTH deployment.

                  What major developments have there been for the broadband industry in your region over the past year?

                  Etisalat has played a key role in Broadband growth in the UAE with the latest fibre optic technology being implemented across the country. This major initiative involved rolling out a fibre network throughout the UAE, providing customers with high-speed internet of up to 300Mbps.

                  As demand from consumers and businesses for broadband in the MENA region increases, the number of broadband lines is expected to increase exponentially. The UAE has reached a broadband penetration level that is on par with many advanced nations. This is a key indicator for national competitiveness and economic development.

                  Which would you choose? Investing in coverage or investing in increasing speeds to existing customers?

                  To be able to provide maximum value to its customer base, Etisalat has adopted a two-pronged approach where both coverage and speed are improved. Conducted in phases, the initial focus was on covering the UAE with a fibre network and later, offering variety of high speeds and bundled services that are designed to suit all customer needs.

                  To what extent does wifi offload come into your thinking?

                  As mobile broadband adoption increases rapidly, demand for data traffic has also simultaneously gone up. Therefore, wifi offload is a solution for the industry today not only for data offload but also for voice and messaging, offering a wider opportunity for the usage of wifi within our service portfolio.

                  Wifi services today are a value-add in our broadband product portfolio. This enables customers to connect to the Internet anywhere and at anytime. Customers choose to use the wifi instead of 3G due to different price structures.

                  Are curated, operator-managed OTT/IPTV services the best way of reducing piracy?

                  OTT and IPTV demand will trigger increasing pressure on broadband access to providers to increase delivery speeds and the permissible download volume. Content providers and distributors will have to make major decisions about how consumers will access content to reduce piracy.

                  In the best case scenario, content providers enjoy greater audience aggregation opportunities, while consumers benefit from more flexible and possibly more diversified access.

                  Piracy rates can come down when consumers perceive that they can benefit from new options, including the ability to select and pay for specific content rather than having to pay for tiered service containing plenty of undesired content.

                  Telecom operators in the region face credible threats to core revenue streams and piracy is indeed one growing threat. They have responded by reducing availability of “free” content and enhancing availability of content to paying subscribers. Some incumbents also have resorted to strategies including caps on monthly downloads and new service tiers based on download volume.

                  OTT and IPTV alone, however, cannot successfully compete and defeat piracy unless more aggressive enforcement tactics are carried out, e.g., suspension and termination of end user subscriptions and blocking access to specific sites.

                  Is FTTH really necessary for businesses and consumers and what are the stumbling blocks to rolling it out?

                  FTTH is necessary and very important for businesses and consumers in the UAE, especially since the country ranks the highest in terms of internet penetration in the region. At the same time, the stumbling blocks to FTTH blocks have been:

                  • The customer’s availability and willingness to install Optical Network Terminal (ONT) in his/her home.
                  • Putting fibre in the relevant areas where it is needed.
                  • The ability to monetise from an early stage.

                  Are there enough services out there to drive adoption of faster speeds and is it up to the operators to get involved?

                  Yes there are enough services, and there are always more bandwidth-hungry services in the pipeline. Operators have a critical role to get involved. Etisalat is a regional player and based in a country with a high subscriber base so it clearly understands that there is limited opportunity for growth of revenue by only adding new subscribers. The focus is now expected to shift to other areas such as higher mobile data services adoption and value-added services. Mobile data services adoption will be driven by the availability of compatible mobile devices, affordable data plans and the rapidly rising mobile internet user.

                  Today a high number of ecommerce transactions taking place in the UAE are through mobile devices. With an increasing penetration of OTT-delivered services and multiscreen access to TV and other video, marketing innovation to drive revenues through these growing use models is the winning strategy.

                  Etisalat has taken a lead in investing in futuristic technologies especially LTE, to meet these increasing demands in the market. With this investment, Etisalat has also continuously launched a great value added services meeting the requirements of consumers as well as enterprises.

                  Where does fixed wireless come into your planning and if so what technologies will you be using?

                  Currently Etisalat is using WiMax and is trialling LTE for triple-play services. Due to the portability of the WiMax technology, it has seen high adoption among enterprises in the region. It can be quickly deployed to remote locations. In terms of costs it cuts down investments on the network, when compared to GSM and 3G, enhancing speeds and operability at greater distances.

                  The commercial offering of Etisalat’s LTE service began in December 2011 with the launch of LTE USB modems that enabled customers to access LTE (4G) super-speeds of up to 150Mbps. To date, Etisalat has integrated hundreds of base stations with complete mobility to the 3G network, covering 80 per cent of the populated area of UAE. In 2012, Etisalat successfully tested the world’s highest 4G LTE speeds of 300 Mbps.

                  Do you see customer resistance to bandwidth caps, line throttling and traffic management?

                  Currently Etisalat doesn’t have bandwidth caps on fixed services and at the same time have a fair-usage policy to ensure high quality of service to all customers.

                  What are the biggest challenges you expect to be facing over the next 12 months?

                  With the upcoming Bitstream project, we expect the competition to increase leading us to bring to market solutions satisfying the needs and requirements of customers.

                  Maen Haddad, Director/Product Marketing, Etisalat is speaking in the Customer Experience Improvement Strategy stream at the Broadband MEA conference, taking place on the 19th-20th March 2013 at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Dubai, UAE, Dubai, UAE.

                  Source: http://mea.broadbandworldforum.com/director-product-marketing-etisalat/

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