Category: "ICT"

Ethiopia - ETC's two million birr rebate

December 19th, 2006

ETC’s two million birr rebate Europe, Middle East calls breakdown

By Tedla Yeneakal
Capital Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) has so far remitted close to two million birr to clients who had appealed to the Corporation of being over charged on their bills for July and August 2006.
According to a press release from the Corporation, up to December 8, 2006, 11,075 clients have filed complaints to ETC from eight offices in the sub regions and six zone offices from Addis Ababa totaling 7,217.
Abdurahim Ahmed, Communications Manager of ETC told Capital that in the first round alone the Corporation has paid close to 2 million birr for customers from Addis Ababa alone.
He added that credit bill using clients will be exempted from paying future bills if they have genuinely been found to have been over charged.

The failure of the billing system came about after Indian telecommunications software company Usha Comm left the country after failing to supply ETC with the proper billing software.
In September 2004, the Corporation replaced its billing system for 23 million birr. The main problems with the billing system were related to delays in issuing bills and incomplete bill receipts, among other irregularities.
The management of ETC decided to remit customers, officially admitting the failure in delivering proper service to clients asking them to present the previous six months bills and taking the average and comparing it to the excess charge.

The 100% Indian owned subsidiary of UCT is Kolkata based Ushacomm India Pvt. Ltd (UIL), which handles development, customization and installation of Billing and Customer Care Software solutions for telecom operators worldwide.
According to the Corporation some 34,000 customers were not charged for a year due to the billing system software failure.

Abdurahim said that now the Corporation has resolved the billing system and is smoothly operating.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation (ETC) has been unable to allow clients from Ethiopia to make international calls to certain European countries and the Middle East due to technical failure, sources disclosed. Clients could not make calls to Italy, France, Saudi Arabia and Djibouti.
More over, the break down is a blow to ETC as it stands to looses income from the tariff differences it charges clients. The failure had not been rectified as Capital went to press.

ETC operates an international satellite earth station erected at Sululta and also has domestic satellite earth stations established at Mekele, Gode and Humera.

The Sululta earth station is used to access Europe, America, Asia, the Middle East and Far East using the Intelsat Atlantic Ocean region satellite as well as the Indian Ocean Region Satellite and the SEA-WE-ME cable.

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Ethiopia - ZTE’s Shock and Awe in the Telecom Sector

December 19th, 2006

ZTE’s Shock and Awe in the Telecom Sector

By Issayas Mekuria
Fortune Staff Writer

The competition has not been the usual Chinese companies going head to head with their European or American rivals; it has been fiercely waged among Chinese telecom giants. And it appears that China’s largest telecom supplier, Zhongxing Telecom Equipment (ZTE), has even shocked its own, after advancing in its attempt to bag a 1.4 billion dollars business from the Ethiopian telecommunications Corporation (ETC).

Nati Mobile Photo Media Ethiopia
Photo: Nati Mobile By MediaEthiopia
Even to the surprise of its Chinese competitors, Huawei Technologies Co. and China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC), managers of ZTE have lately entered into a new round of negotiations on technical matters with the management of the ETC; it was followed after the signing of the second memorandum of understanding in two months between ZTE and ETC, during the China-Africa Summit held in the first week of November 2006.

Among the delegation to Beijing, led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, were Getachew Belay, board chairman, Amare Amsalu, chief executive officer, and his chief legal advisor, Tessema Regassa.

ZTE has agreed to lend Ethiopia’s telecom monopoly 1.4 billion dollars, in exchange to have a turn-key business of building Ethiopia’s massive telecom infrastructure. The federal government wants to achieve, in its five-year development plan, the expansion of landline from the current 800,000 landlines to four million and the number of mobile subscribers from 1.1 million to 8.5 million. Extending the 4,000Km fibre optics laid in the country to 10,000Km is also an area accorded high importance by the government.

When completed, these investments are projected to cost 29.9 billion Br.

The government is in dire need of the 2.4 billion dollars that involve foreign currency. At the risk of disappointing its European vendors, ETC had signed the first memorandum of agreement with the three Chinese companies in September 2006, at the Sheraton Addis, hoping to secure financing for 1.4 billion dollars.

“Allow me to extend my congratulatory message to the companies on their accomplishments at this stage which enabled them to have been recruited as signatory parties of the MoU, following intensive evaluation of the submitted offers,” Amare had said during the signing ceremony.

It was during this signing ceremony that Amare declared his company’s intention to move on to a final deal. In an unexpected turn of events, ETC rather has entered into a second memorandum of understanding in Beijing with ZTE, leaving the others completely out of loop. If the final agreement is successfully signed, ZTE will be responsible for finding financing and constructing landline, wireless, mobile and fibre optics infrastructure in the coming four years.

ZTE is one of the largest telecom suppliers China has today; like its competitor Huawei, it is based in Shenzhen, north of Hong Kong. Originally a state owned company (but listed in 1997) it relishes in overwhelming government support, but ZTE has been shadowed by its rival, Huawei, in the international market for many years.

It was founded in 1985 by state-owned companies affiliated with the Ministry of Aerospace Industry. It is known in Brazil, Egypt, Algeria, Mongolia, Pakistan, India, Russia, and Romania. It now aspires to become a major global player forecasting 10 billion dollars in sales by 2008, up from 4.1 billion dollars in 2004. Profit rose by 50pc, to an estimated 186 million dollars, while exports soar to 170pc, to 1.6 billion dollars.

Its reputation in Ethiopia, however, has been tarnished with the disappointing performance of its mobile network. It was hired by the ETC in 2003, to build a mobile network that could carry 200,000 subscribers, at a total cost of 30 million dollars. The network in Addis Abeba, meant to serve 100,000 subscribes, was shutdown after two years, while the one installed in the town of Jimma, 346Km west of the capital, was also terminated, unable to serve 6,000 subscribers.

This was the concern raised by middle management members of the ETC when they were informed the decision to bring ZTE onboard, at a meeting held at the Sheraton two weeks ago, disclosed sources. Chaired by Junadin Sado, minister of Transport and Communications, and attended by Getachew and Amare, the Minister had admitted the problems of ZTE in the past, but also argued that ETC should share the blame for poor supervision and follow-up, sources disclosed.

Junadin told the meeting, the parties will enter into a new engagement fully acknowledging their respective shortcomings, said these sources.

Amare, ETC’s CEO, has declined to comment on the issue.

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Ethiopia: Joseph Kibur - a Vision for the Development of IT

December 18th, 2006

Diaspora - Joseph Kibur - a Vision for the Development of IT Outsourcing in Ethiopia

The Reporter (Addis Ababa)
COLUMN
December 16, 2006

By Bathseba H. Belai*

Photo Credit: The Canadian Immigrant
Joseph Kibur - a Vision for the Development of IT Outsourcing in Ethiopia
One of the most rewarding aspects of writing this column has been the opportunity it has provided me to be in contact with some positive, forward-thinking and inspiring Ethiopians, living in Ethiopia or in the diaspora.

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure of corresponding with several, who communicated with me to learn more about my work, exchange ideas on the contribution to development that diaspora Ethiopians could make, or share their own initiatives and dreams as regards Ethiopian development and their role in it.

One such person is Joseph Kibur, a young Ethiopian-Canadian entrepreneur who, having grown up in Canada and lived there for 23 years, recently moved back to Ethiopia, family in tow, to start a new web-based business. I was so taken with his latest project, and the vision underpinning it, that I wanted to share it with all of you.

Born in Wuchale (Wollo), Joseph moved to Addis Ababa as a child, and then to Canada where his father had earned a scholarship to pursue university studies. Joseph himself studied Computer Science and Business at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, co-founding web hosting pioneer NetNation Communications, Inc., soon after graduation.

Named "one of Canada's 50 Hottest Startups", NetNation flourished despite the turbulent IT market of the late 1990s, consistently ranking among the top 10 web hosting companies worldwide. More recently, Joseph has been working on developing SwayDrive, a special Internet software which will provide online data storage that allows users to save their files in multiple "online hard drives" in various cities around the world (thus ensuring maximum data protection); automatic data backup; and, the possibility to share all types of files (photos, music, etc.) via the Internet.

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Ethiopian-born Joseph Kibur Techno trailblazer

In addition to his many entrepreneurial pursuits, Joseph is also active on the charitable front. With his wife, Mahlet Zena, he established the Unique Projects Foundation, which runs a child-sponsorship program for Ethiopian children living in extreme poverty. While sponsorship programs for poor children in Ethiopia and in Africa are common, many people - myself included - shy away from them, suspicious that a ridiculous percentage of the money thus collected ends up covering the charity organizations' overhead and salary expenses. Joseph and Mahlet's foundation is truly unique, - or, at the very least, really rare - in that they cover all administrative costs themselves. Donors can thus sponsor a child secure in the knowledge that 100% of their contribution (US$25/month) reaches the intended recipient and is used to pay for food, medication, clothing and schooling. "It doesn't take much to make a difference in people's life," Joseph observes, adding that, not only does this monthly contribution provide for a child's basic needs, but "more importantly, it gives hope to an entire family."

Joseph's latest initiative, yayajobs.com, which became ready for public use just this week, builds on his track record as a successful entrepreneur and his commitment to contribute to Ethiopian development efforts. It is a job outsourcing website that allows Information Technology (IT) professionals in Ethiopia to connect with potential employers in the international IT market.

"In its simplest form, a foreign company would post a project or job on the website, with specifications, which Ethiopian technology workers would bid for. The winner would be selected by the firm and payment escrowed with an independent third party, to be released when the job is completed satisfactorily," explains Joseph. He adds "it is a model used successfully in places such as India, Pakistan and Russia. These countries earn billions of dollars in foreign currency from outsourced projects. I believe that Ethiopia can benefit from the same phenomena, and thus my reason to return to my birth country and start this business."

Indeed, since the 1990s, the global outsourcing market has grown in leaps and bounds as, in a highly competitive world, it can provide employers with significant benefits in terms of wages, prices, productivity and ultimately, profit. The IT industry takes the lion's share of all outsourced jobs, with global spending on offshore IT services expected to reach $50 billion in 2007. In India, the global leader in the field, outsourced IT services brought in US$ 12 billion in 2004 and presently employ over 1 million workers.

The use of the service on yayajobs.com is free and only requires a valid e-mail address to create an account. Once registered, IT workers can browse for posts that employers need filled, identify those that match their skills and bid on them. The target users of the site are "software programmers, system administrators, network engineers, system analysts, website and graphic designers. But hardware engineers, support specialists and technical writers can also benefit." Moreover, the jobs need not be limited to IT as any task that can be done remotely (such as translation, documentation, research, etc.) could be included on the site.

Joseph plans to recruit potential employers by starting with diaspora Ethiopians and notes: "I believe there are a lot of Ethiopians in the diaspora that have software and Internet-related projects. I am one of them. Until recently I was spending more than US$4,000 per month employing software developers from Russia, India and Pakistan. I am slowly shifting this budget to Ethiopia." Ads placed in well-known Ethiopian websites, word of mouth as well as public relations activities are some of the means he intends to use to attract potential employers in the diaspora. He also hopes that the IT industry in Ethiopia will embrace and promote yayajobs.com.

While the site is primarily geared towards creating employment opportunities for Ethiopian IT professionals in the international high-tech market, nothing prevents foreign IT workers from bidding on projects posted on the website. There is thus a need for Ethiopian professionals to be globally competitive, not only by offering lower costs but also by providing a superior quality of work. Asked if our IT workers are up to par to compete with workers from countries such as India and Pakistan, Joseph remarks that while these countries may currently be ahead of Ethiopia in terms of qualified IT workforce, it took them years to develop their outsourcing industries to their present levels. Given the proper supportive policies, infrastructure and training, there is "no reason why Ethiopia cannot emulate their success." His personal experience with local IT firms has been quite positive (parts of yayajobs.com and the SwayDrive software have been developed in Ethiopia). He believes that the capacity and skill sets already exist and just need to be effectively exploited. Joseph is personally committed to educating young and aspiring technology workers in Ethiopia in honing their competitive skills. He, however, adds that the full commitment of the IT industry and the government is crucial if the Ethiopian IT outsourcing industry is to successfully develop and become internationally competitive.

The main challenge facing Joseph as he operationalizes this project is the lack of affordable and effective Internet access: "the job outsourcing market would function optimally where there is broadband Internet access. In Ethiopia, most people can only afford dial up access. Even for those of us that can afford broadband, the speed is not sufficient." Adequate Internet access is also required for the IT professionals to do advanced Internet programming. However, recent indications from the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) give reason to believe that broadband Internet will soon be widely available in Ethiopia.

Yayajobs.com presents a great potential to Ethiopia's IT industry, not only through the activities it directly carries out but also through possible ripple effects in the rest of the industry. Moreover, the strategies devised and implemented by yayajobs.com in its bid to attract foreign employers will doubtlessly provide valuable experiences and lessons learned for anyone seeking to sell "Brand Ethiopia" internationally, be it attracting foreign direct investments, tourism, developing an export market, and the such.

I think it is important that the achievements of forward-looking individuals such as Joseph, whose dreams and successes we can all rally around, be known and shared among Ethiopians, and especially the youth - both at home and in the diaspora. Those interested in any one of Joseph's initiatives may reach him through his websites ( www.yayajobs.com www.uniqueprojects.org) or at joseph@kibur.com.

I will leave the last words to Joseph himself and his vision for Ethiopia's job outsourcing potential. "In the 80's and 90's, hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians fled the country, most of them through countries such as Sudan and Kenya, and some of them walking on foot, and crossing the Red Sea on boats to places such as Yemen and Saudi Arabia. These people did this in search of better jobs and living conditions. I believe in the near future Ethiopians would no longer be forced to leave their country in search of jobs. Jobs will be coming to them."

*Bathseba H. Belai is an independent researcher based in Montreal, Canada. She is currently conducting a study on mechanisms to facilitate an effective and sustainable engagement of the African diaspora in the continent's capacity building efforts, with a focus on Ethiopia as a case study.

Source: The Reporter

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Ethiopia: ETC Suspends Senior Officials

September 25th, 2006

Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) Suspends Senior Officials

The Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
NEWS
September 25, 2006
Posted to the web September 25, 2006

By Yonas Abiye
Addis Ababa

Four senior officials of the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) have been suspended from their official duties, sources told The Daily Monitor on Saturday.

Attempts by The Daily Monitor to obtain information from official sources on ETC's decision concerning the suspension were unsuccessful.

As a reasult, it was not immediately clear why the decision was made against the officials.

According to the sources, the officials were informed of the decision in a letter distributed to them late on Friday.

The high ranking Corporation officials ordered to quit are Deputy CEO Abdulsemed (name of father not known), Telecom Business Department Head Abayneh Abebe, Senior Advisor Asfaw Hailemariam, and the Chief Information Officer Badege (name of father not known).

Asked on ITC's latest decision Asfaw said on Sunday that it only came as a surprise to him.

He did not expect for such an abrupt decision, either, he said.

Asfaw was formerly IT and Database System Head with the corporation.

Although the Corporation has recently launched ICT infrastractur development projects to upgrade services, there has been reports saying the Corporations is still far from meeting the ever-increasing customer demands in the country.

In what many said was a response to the public outrage , ETC has in recent years been taking various disciplinary measures of demotions, reshuffling and reproaches involving high ranking officials.

Chinese to invest US$1.5 billion updating Ethiopia's telephone network

September 14th, 2006

Link: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/09/14/business/AF_FIN_ECO_Ethiopia_China.php

Chinese to invest US$1.5 billion updating Ethiopia's telephone network
Published: September 14, 2006

ADDIS ABABA,
Ethiopia Three Chinese firms will invest US$1.5 billion (€1.2 billion) over the next four years to upgrade Ethiopia's telephone system, officials said Thursday.

Huawei Technologies Co., China International Telecommunication Construction Corp. and ZTE Corp., plan to expand the network as part of one of the largest financial investments ever made in the impoverished Horn of Africa nation, officials said.

The companies were from among eight international bidders, among them Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens.

The firms aim to boost mobile phone users from the current 1.5 million customers to seven million. Fixed lines will be quadrupled from 1 million to 4 million users.

The project represents a huge investment in Ethiopia where annual incomes are just US$100 (€79) and the annual gross domestic product just US$8 billion (€6.31 billion).

The country frequently suffers severe food shortages and is unable to feed its 77 million people without foreign aid.

"It should be a significant improvement in our country's telecom system," said Abdurahim Ahmed, spokesman of the Ethiopian Ministry of Telecommunications. "It will even deliver services to very remote areas and expanding on already existing services in the urban centers, along with improvements in the mobile network system."

The Ethiopian government was seeking others to invest an extra US$900 million needed to completely overhaul the telecommunications infrastructure, he said.

Chinese officials were not immediately available for comment.

China is eager to expand relations with Africa, offering aid, trade and investment deals to gain access to markets and oil supplies.

Africa is also a battleground in China's rivalry with Taiwan. Chad recently ended ties with Taiwan and resumed diplomatic relations with China after a break of nearly a decade.

Bilateral trade between China and Africa has increased more than 300 percent since 2000 and now exceeds US$40 billion (€32 billion) a year.

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Source: IHT


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China wins $2.4 bln Ethiopia telecoms deal