Information Highway stay South:Mobile Society

There is no disagreement, the future will revolves around the conception of Convergence, portability, affordability , and mobile banking.The next three years is likely to be dominated by South Africans, the younger generation going mobile banking.The key thing is that , do we have conducive environment that permit information highway to benefit the ‘information poor’? Are our legislative framework such that allows fair equitable market shares, and while on the other hand evenly spreading the fruites of a wireless world to the grasroots. Do South African consumers have more choice or more diversity not just plurality?

Mobility 2006 was a success overall, the need therefore for policy makers to incorporate this sucess into a more consultative and people orientated policy and regulations regimes. In order to keep this information highway reforms are needed, transparancy required and affordability a basic right.

Click below for an over view of a document by Aafrica Civil Society on ICT Does the Information Highway go South?


Mobility 2006 Findings: Impact of mobile and wireless on corporate SA

Arthur Goldstuck, MD World Wide Worx

The corporate South Africa is not taking a good advantage of the potentials provided by the mobile and wireless technologies. Even though a small number of SMEs are beginning to realize such a role-many have been left behind. The VoIP has lost more value as one of the promising emerging tech to the 3G and GPRS services. GPRS has about 45 % as emerging tech in 2006; hence 3G received massive rating in 2006 of about 73 %. On the other hand, it seem obvious that most South Africans are still scared of  mobile banking only a small portion of the consumer buy airtime (23 %) and less than 10 % pay accounts. Despite this low figures Mr Goldstuck ‘s research shows that majority of South Africans will consider Mobile banking in the future.Puting enormous pressure on Service Providers therefore to educate consumer to “going mobile”-about 43% of consumer believe that they will use Mobile banking in the future.


Equally important, for Services Providers to convince consumers to use mobile banking they will have to deal with security matters and then work on “corporate attitude on cell transaction” as Arthur puts it. If South Africa is to succeed in mobile banking more consumer education is needed, research into these ICTs to be a government’s top priority and business inspire new thinking in the sector. We all welcome Virgin Mobile and Neotel simultaneously into the industry in 2006. Inclusion, there are more reasons to go mobile in South Africa, besides the “dark ages” will hunt us again


Elia Tsouros-Beyond Mobile Voice-role of data in transforming communications

Elia Tsouros , Executive –Business Development Verizon Business SAThis is an age of collaborations and convergence of media technologies-commoditisation of core communications, increase market maturity but still more restrictions and legal uncertainty. However, security breaches curtail ‘social engineering’ and makes it difficult for greater deregulation. Evolving business and revenue models in response to complex and ever dynamic marketplace requires “operators to create new channels to the market”.

In Africa there will be an estimated 147 million users by 2007. Even though some operate within remote areas sometimes network problems, a vision towards “digital cities”remain foreseeable.


Mobility 2006: Leon Perlman-Mobility Commerce -Challenges and Opportunities

Mobile Commerce Markets and Regulatory Trends!The Wireless Application Services of South Africa was formed in August 2004 with the aim of monitoring developments in the mobile industry and to engage policy makers on issues affecting the Wireless industry. There are about 2.5 billion global users of mobile,with the fastest growth being in China with almost 300 million users. In Africa, South Africa has 30 million users and Nigeria has 23 million with 80 % prepaid users. The majority of users use mostly SMS text and voice. But of far more interesting is the fact that , there has been growing ‘mobile convergence’ with some using Wifi, Scanners, Bluetooth, TV, iPod, and others.

However, there has been successful WASP in South Africa paving a way for the emergence of new debates and interactive consultations on regulations. These WASP in South Africa include iTouch, Airborne, Exactmobile, worldplay, marketel, cointel, Viamedia, cell find, Grapevine, Clicktell, Bulksms, and others-yet in 2006 newcomers are Zed, Vibramoul, and Jamster (inter)-changing the faces of consumer interactions. Regulatory regimes- there are two kinds of regulations, namely hard regulation and soft or light-touch regulation. Hard regulations are national laws often rigid , less flexible and not up to date with the changing technological landscape. Soft regulation are industry self-regulations manly in the United States of America (USA) or Australia. Apart from these two form of regulations, there are other laws that indirectly affect the mobile industry, these laws are the Lotteries Act, the Gambling Act (‘illegal competition’)

Other related laws includes the Telecommunications Act of 1999, ICASA Act of 2005, the new Electronic Communications and Transactions Act of 2005, the Film and Publications Amendment Bill, and the Consumer Protection Bill.


Mobility 2006 Sajeed Sacranie:"Smoke and Mirrors"in our industry

This presentation was very funny because of a mime in the back of the room which demonstrated all sorts of funny body movements as the presentation got underway.

Sajeed Sacranie, CEO of Virgin Mobile South Africa, is an African by birth, background and preference. Born in Malawi, he spent his formative years there and because of his cosmopolitan background, is equally at home in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He describes himself as multinational and multicultural and was appointed at CEO of Virgin Mobile in March 2006. Virgin Mobile officially launched on 24 June 2006 and is South Africa’s newest and most ambitions mobile phone player. Richard Branson wanted to offer South Africans more choice and bring in some competition in the mobile market. Virgin has accused existing mobile service providers of cheating consumers through permanent billing and thus resisting “mobile portability” as they are seen by many as “fat cats” that only get fatter. In order to attract more consumers, Sajeed appealed that the legislative environment needs to permit more competitive market behaviour. In conclusion, the arguments presented forward by the new kid on the block Virgin Mobile is that, there is a need to do away with the concentration of ownership and monopoly in the markets to allow new entrance and thus more choice to consumers. Hip-hip hooray!

Checkout this awesome Virgin Mobile tv ad that’s been causing a rucus among conversative Christian groups in South Africa.


Mobility 2006: Len Peinaar – Cellphone Banking needs, challanges and solutions

Len Pienaar First National BankAnyone. Any Cellphone. Any network. Anywhere. Anytime!What are the needs of users and the challenge for the bank? First National Bank is leading mobile banking provider among entry level consumers. Len Pienaar, head of Mobile & Transact Solutions, FNB, believes that the “wireless tech evolution is inevitable” as quoted in Arthur Goldstuck’s recent book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to going Wireless”. He continued where he left off at last year’s conference, remaining more optimistic about FNB’s mobile banking success. Mobile banking allows people to request mini-statements, balance, buy airtime as well as do transfers and payments to third parties. Mobile banking like the ATM is available 24/7 and “no banking or shopping hours” apply. The inContact SMS notification service has also been a huge factor contributing to the enormous success of FNB’s in this mobile banking space. Essentially it continually reinforces the trust relationship between the bank and its clients. And there is nothing like trust that builds loyalty among your client.


Mobility 2006: Peter Searll, Are mobile South Africans techno-literate?

Peter Searll, Dashboard ResearchSouthern Africa is populated with people often with total illiteracy-can we expect these population of techno – don’t know how to effectively usage mobile technologies at their disposal. What form of digital divide in mobile is crippling South Africa-is it complete lack of mobile knowledge or inability to effectively use such technologies? The answer lies within the context in which these technologies are taking place; we have emerging new mobile handsets that equal computers in operations. Mr Searll provided deeper analytic research findings on the use of m-commerce by South Africans, and different segments of users. His six segments include the Grassroots, Lizards, Playas, Magpies, Sophisticates and Elephants.The Grassroots are largely loyal and basic users, mostly in rural areas with very poor education. This segment use mobile 86 % for voice, 14 % for SMSs and no data use at all. This group has very little income and besides from being scared of technology has very limited “know-how”, a group that Mr Mashile ‘s philosophy of regulation belong. Lizards are mostly regarded as disloyal users, find cell phones difficult to use, and no Internet literacy at all. Playas are mostly youth who are by and large mobile dependent, with 50 % of them under the age of 25, almost 80 % of their cell phone usage is for voice, above average 3G penetration, with highly data usage and 71% MMS usage.

Magpies are young technology crazy people with 71 % usage of mobile being on voice, hence only 1% data usage, 1.3 % cell phone banking and are largely technology innovators. The Sophisticates are ‘opinion leaders’, largely previously advantaged population, and 75% of mobile usage being on Voice. Interestingly 21% cell phone banking used, high data use and have potential for “growth in mobile banking”. Lastly the Elephants , this are the political and economic heavyweights , highest 3G penetration, 21 % cell phone banking though 99% of them have bank accounts, still in this segment there is 84% of mobile being used for voice. In conclusion, South Africa is making a good progress though redistribution of wealth still largely with the business corporatism, we could see things changing.

For more information on Peter Searll and Dashboard Research go here.


Mobility 2006: Paris Mashile, Complexities of regulating costs for telecommunications in South Africa

Paris Mashile chairperson ICASA The chairperson of ICASA Mr. Paris Mashile addressed the opening session of Mobility 2006 conference. Despite being accused a “losers” for delaying the introduction of mobile number portability by the current edition of Financial Mail today. His address was largely to justify state heavy regulation within the mobile industry in favour of protecting the consumers. A point was put forward that we should all remember that ‘consumers are key constituencies”. South Africa remains a “developmental state” by virtue of its economic performance, meaning that the government is obliged to play a greater role through regulation for fairer competition in the market place. The principle aim is to prevent large corporations from dominating the market and therefore facilitate socio-economic objective of regulation.

A promise was made that ICASA will ensure that regulation must “at all the times remain consistent with the accepted regulatory principles of efficiency, objectivity. Professionalism, transparency and independence”. However, the later seem to be highly debatable as to the extant of ICASA’s independence. Imagine a society without regulation at all-what will happen to ‘disparate people’, will we then be “inviting socio-political revolution”? Markets can not be self-regulatory at all, the point is that mobile technologies are playing a crucial role in social integration and cultural renaissance, their usage has a direct bearing on South Africa’s global comparativeness. Therefore state regulation is justified by that willingness to play a balancing role. With Neotel joining the party, competition is highly expected. A major concern remains whither to remove ‘permanent billing’ and place in per-second billing across all networks.


Digital Citizens Indaba on Blogging

I’ve been in Port Elizabeth for the last few days and supposedly on holiday. Yesterday I did a quick interview about Mxit on BayFM and tomorrow I’m going back to do a short sales working with their sales staff. The big news is that on Thursday and Friday this week I will be participating in the first ever Blogging Conference in Africa: the Digital Citizens Indaba at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. My session is on Friday and I will be speaking on Moneytizing blogs along with Alec Hogg (Moneyweb) and Emeka Okafor (a Blogger & Journalist). And later the same day will be conducting a workshop on the same topic plus marketing. Check out the main website for this conference here.


My 1st Sunday Times feature!

On Thursday, 7th September I spent the afternoon with Buddy Naidoo, journalist at the Sunday Times, the biggest national Sunday newspaper in South Africa. When he arrived for my interview, I was sitting with Carmel Fisher, Roxanne on eTV’s Backstage.

It seems this interviewed was inspired by the article in the Sunday Independent (part1, part2), a small circulation Sunday paper. Unlike my other interviews which focussed on my online dating research, this interview was completed focussed on how men can become more successful with women. We discussed a selection of conceptseories on meeting women and how guys can learn to become better at it, quickly and most importantly the benefits of this. I demonstrated my skills by approaching a woman sitting behind us, turned out I met her a few months ago at Moloko.

Read the full article here