Leaders of the telecommunications sector in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and across East Africa gathered today in the KICC, Nairobi for the opening of East Africa Com (www.comworldseries.com/eaafrica), the only annual congress for the whole telecommunications ecosystem in this region.
This new, larger venue hosted senior level delegates and speakers from incumbent & competitive operators, Ministry & Regulator representatives, leading investors, new entrants, and carriers who all attended to hear about how to adapt strategies to maximize growth in the new economic phase. The Permanent Secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of ICT, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, gave an official welcoming speech outlining the ministry’s vision for Kenya as a hot-bed for innovation, and bringing broadband to the country. Furthermore, and regulatory representatives were present in a session which gave an engaging overview of the East African market and its opportunities.
Chair Michele Scanlon, Director & Principal Analyst of Indian Atlantic opened the keynote session, and there was an operator Keynote presentation from prominent operator group Zain, given by their Commercial Director in Kenya Mr Raed Haddadin, outlined the service provider’s focus, both in terms of opportunities, and the challenges they have faced in diverse markets across East Africa. Mr Haddadin confirmed that they hope ZAP, their answer to Safaricom’s MPesa mobile money service will double its subscribers by the end of this year.
This would be good news for Zain, as figures given by Mai Barakat, Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, in her presentation revealed that Safaricom’s MPesa is no longer simply a customer retention scheme, it is now making significant profit for the operator.
The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) was represented by Mr Matano Ndaro, Director of Competition, Tarriffs and Market Analysis, who gave a very thorough and informative presentation giving an overview of the CCK’s intentions for the Kenyan market going forward. His message was clear, the CCK is responding to operators innovation with regulatory evolution to ensure fair competition and reliable quality of service for end users.
The morning session was finished with a very insightful presentation from Mr Mickael Ghossein, CEO at Orange Telkom Kenya. Telkom Kenya are the truly converged operator in Kenya, and so Mr Ghossein brought a valuable perspective to the opening session. He said in an interview with Informa Telecoms & Media that East Africa Com was very useful for operator CEOs in East Africa like himself, because they can meet vendors, learn about new technologies, hear other East African operators strategies, and network with peers.
As Day 1 continued delegates heard from Tim Nicholas, Solutions Consultant with Alcatel-Lucent, Jabulani Dhliwayo, Market Development Manager at Corning Optical Fibre, Mr Daniel Muhoro, Networks Manager for Ericsson, and before lunch attendees joined in the debate during a lively panel discussing the challenges surrounding international connectivity a poignant topic as currently there is no internet being provided by the SEACOM cable due to technical problems, and operators have had to fall back on satellite services. Mr Ryan Sher, CTO at WIOCC and M Jean-Pierre Bienaim, Chairman of the UMTS forum were interviewed by Peter Schulze, the Founder of the Next S IT Consulting, along with a high level of audience questioning around the issues of improving backhaul, and rolling out the last mile. The debates continued into the networking lunch, before the conference split into streams.
Stream A focused on technologies for fixed and wireless broadband and presentations from Menghistab Tesfai, CTO for Uganda Telecom, Loren Bosch, Sales Director at Internet Solutions East Africa and Kalyan Medapati, Senior Research Analyst, Global Markets, with Informa Telecoms & Media. There was another interactive session moderated by Matt Reed, Editor of the Middle East & Africa Wireless Analyst (MEAWA), and the audience posed questions to Mr Ken Munyi General Manager at Africa Online Kenya, Loren Bosch, and Billy Owino, Director of Business Development with Qualcomm.
Stream B on the other hand allowed delegates to hear presentations and panel discussion focusing on Value Added Services in East Africa. It was moderated by Thecla Mbongue, Analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, and speakers included; Julius Kinyua, CEO for Flashcom, Michael Mgambo, Director Business Development with Zantel, Tanzania, Peter Schulze, Ivan Evdokimov, CEO of A1 Systems, Thomas Yieke, Executive VP at Rick Broadman Partners, and Patrick Kuwana, Co-Founder & CEO of LiveMobile.
Delegates continued their networking over drinks and music, sponsored by Alcatel Lucent.
The second day of the event will take a closer look at converged services, with contributions from senior representatives of Safaricom, Sasatel, Tanzania and Essar Group, and more.