Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Mobile Contacts Databases for sale:

The company Credit Information Bureau Namibia has developed a consumer and business database of Namibia. The complete database comprises of approximately 1 million individuals and 10,000 businesses. CRIB provides mailing and telemarketing lists to clients in the financial and personal services industry.

The company has filtered this database to create a "Professionals Database" made up of over 15,000 mobile numbers of high-net worth professionals throughout Namibia.

Most of the lists we have available are offered on a list rental basis, ie they are supplied for once off use only at a rate quoted as a cost per 500 individual consumers or company executives. For example - the cost to rent 1,000 professionals from the Namibian Professionals Database will be 1,000 x N$ 3.50 per 1000 for once off telephone, mailing and fax usage = N$ 3,500.00 excluding VAT. A processing charge of N$ 500.00 is also charged for any order. We will supply you with counts and quotes based on your selection criteria at no cost. Once you have decided what you want to rent we will invoice you and ask you to sign a list order confirmation. Once we have received the signed confirmation and proof of payment we will supply a zipped file of the data via e-mail in the file format you require (usually MS Excel).

You can contact Milton Louw at tel +264 61 222 227 for further information.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Namibia: WACS cable will arrive in 2011 but monopoly legacy holds back prices and growth

Namibia’s regulatory position is like stepping back ten years if you’re more used to the competitive rough and tumble in Africa’s more developed markets. The historic incumbent Telecom Namibia still has some monopoly privileges and the new incumbent, Government-owned mobile operator MTC is in danger of behaving in much the same way. Sadly the country has closed its regulator with a view to opening a new one. However, this has meant all things regulatory have gone into a holding pattern. Russell Southwood looks at the key market barriers that are holding things back.

Historic incumbent Telecom Namibia has an infrastructure monopoly and although the power utility NamPower has fibre assets, it has only recently tendered them: MTC (which may build a link to South Africa), Telecom Namibia and some ISPs are all interested in the capacity.
Telecom Namibia invested in what was then Africa’s only real international cable, SAT3 but didn’t invest enough to get a landing station. This is something it has regretted ever since because for many years South Africa’s incumbent Telkom South Africa would over-charge it for transit to the SAT3 landing station in South Africa.

But now if you want to get fibre access to South Africa to Telkom South Africa’s SAT3 landing station, you have no choice but to use Telecom Namibia. According to one of its customers:”The route this side of the border is 45% more expensive than what Telkom South Africa offers (in a competitive environment) on a distance basis on the other side of the border.” Telecom Namibia also has a deal with Neotel (in which it is a shareholder) for Seacom bandwidth, further limiting alternative competitive offers.

The new WACS cable will arrive in Q2, 2011 but there are understandable concerns in the market that Telecom Namibia will be the monopoly owner of the only international landing station with no other independent competitive route to South Africa being available. If MTC opened up a route, it would simply be a second Government company offering an alternative and one run by a management that is probably the least price competitive on the continent. In other African countries joint public-private partnerships are being set up to ensure equitable access to the landing station and fair, cost-oriented pricing but there is not even a discussion about this in Namibia.

Pricing has not been set and Telecom Namibia’s formal response to its customers is “it’s too early to say”. But well-informed industry sources say US$ 1,686 per mbps has been discussed. Currently customers are paying US$2,248, about three-quarters of the current satellite equivalent. Both prices seem very high when compared to the kind of wholesale prices available across the border in the more competitive South Africa.

Inevitably this has a knock-one effect to retail pricing strategy for the Internet. One aggrieved customer told us:“At a retail level, we’re paying US$15-20 per mbps. It’s immoral and they should be sent to hell for it”.

Telecom Namibia is owned by NPTH, a state holding company that also holds the Post Office, the new mobile incumbent MTC and a properties division for all three companies. The CEO of Telecom Namibia is the Chair of MPTH. Whilst most acknowledge that there has yet been no practical example of a conflict of interest, it is undoubtedly as one person told us “a fundamentally incestuous” way of running the different companies. There are no currently plans to privatise Telecom Namibia. It has international shareholdings in Multitel in Angola and Neotel in South Africa but looks likely it might pull out of the former.

Both policy and regulation in the sector seem to be in a holding pattern for as one industry insider told us: “The biggest problem is the Namibia Communications Commission (NCC), which is supposed to be changed to the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). There’s very few staff left from NCC and not enough are qualified.” There were only 7 staff when NCC ceased to operated. There has been no sign yet of the Gazetted announcement promised in early October to give life to the body.

A good example of the impact of the regulatory holding pattern is number portability. NCC wanted number portability (which might open up competition in the mobile market) but whether this goes ahead, it will now wait for CRAN to “get its feet under the desk”. The new Chair of CRAN is Lazarus Jacobs, a businessman, co-owner of the Windhoek Observer and a pioneering stand-up comedian (No jokes, please.)

In terms of the mobile market, there are three players: Telecom Namibia (with its Switch product); Leo and MTC. Switch (a CDMA 2000 product) was an attempt by Telecom Namibia to act as a spoiler to Leo’s entrance into the market. There was subsequently an argument as to whether the service should be limited to the towns only and in the end there was a trade-off in which it got permission to have national coverage in exchange for there being more than one international gateway. It says it currently has 200,000 subscribers. However, Switch is likely to be closed down and Telecom Namibia will go into GSM.

This makes Leo, which was launched 3.5 years ago, the main challenger. It was set up by local investors including NamPower and Old Mutual with a Norwegian management contractor. Eventually 100% of its shares were bought by what was then Orascom’s Telecel subsidiary. By all accounts, it has the cheapest network to call on but has not made much of dent on MTC, which had many years as sole operator in which to entrench itself. Leo started to offer 3G in Windhoek a couple of months ago and has recently launched Blackberry handsets.

MTC is the largest mobile player and is 66% owned by the Government through NPTH and 34% by Portugal Telecom, which provides strategic management and key personnel. It is offering iPhones (which it did before South Africa) and iPads but does not have a Blackberry offer. It has 85% of voice business and probably 60% of all markets by value, enough for it to be considered as having significant market power. There is an agreement between CRAN and the Competition Commission on addressing issues of this kind either jointly or by CRAN alone but action will depend on CRAN getting its teeth into the barriers that affect the market.

None of the mobile operators operate m-money services like M-Pesa but Mobipay was recently launched. The Bank of Namibia gave Mobicash Payment Solutions authorisation to operate a mobile payment system where clients pay for goods, as well as transfer money, using money that is virtually stored on their cellphones.

The absence of number portability makes it hard for the challenger to peel off new subscribers from the incumbent mobile operator:”People don’t shift their number easily,” was the refrain from all sides. Leo does dual SIM card Samsung handsets (in which unusually, both SIMS are active and you don’t have to switch manually) in an effort to overcome this problem.

In terms of the Internet, there are probably around 120,000 subscribers and MTC has
3G subscribers in the low tens of thousands. By all accounts, it is a relatively slow-moving and conservative market. There are no signs of triple play offers and no e-commerce worth speaking of.

Telecom Namibia’s iWay subsidiary is the largest market player with 60% of the market and it launched ADSL two years ago. The key players are: MTN Business or corporate customers (formerly Verizon/UUNet); ITN (locally owned) and Africa Online (Telkom South Africa) which is completing its merger with MWeb.

Telecom Namibia supplies ADSL wholesale to ISPs but it took one ISP 15 months to get a reseller agreement and obviously it needs to forced to offer wholesale and retail in an equitable way to all players in the market. ITN and Africa Online offer Wi-MAX services.

Although small in population terms, Namibia has a buoyant economy and a great deal more potential than is currently being realised. Perhaps the arrival of CRAN will help take off the artificially imposed brakes but don’t hold your breath.

Proposal for Joint Education Programme for Israeli and Palestinian Administrators

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is an on-going dispute between the Jewish and Arab peoples living in Palestine under Ottoman or British rule.

There are numerous issues to resolve before a lasting peace can be reached, including strong emotions relating to the conflict on both sides; Palestinian concerns over Israeli settlements and land; status of Jerusalem; Israeli security concerns over terrorism, safe borders, incitements, violence and Palestinian refugee issues.

These are encapsulated as the six core issues:
• Jerusalem
• Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war
• Israeli settlements in the West Bank
• Israeli security concerns
• International status
• Water resources

Peace proposals
Generally speaking, the peace process is driven by the US and Israel’s Arab neighbours, most prominently Egypt. The proposals are for either:
a. Two-state solution
This would entail the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside an independent Jewish state.
b. One-state or binational state
This would mean all of Israel, the Gaza Strip, and West Bank would become a bi-national state with equal rights for all

In either of these scenarios, it is expected that Israeli and Palestinian administrators will have to work together to manage the day-to-day running of their state(s). These include issues such as border control of goods and people, education systems, water resource management, etc.

Education Proposal
It is proposed that present and future administrative employees (public administration graduates) be identified from both sides and be invited to participate in training programmes in Germany that focus on these specific administrative issues. The curriculum will focus not only on the necessary educational qualification necessary but will also include classes on integration, and the potential solutions for the six core issues.

It is also possible to have some of the classes presented by recognised experts (in administration issues and politics) from both sides of the conflict.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Contribution to the Employment Service Bill By Chief Ankama

September 2010
BY Chief Ankama, SWAPO MP & Deputy Minister: MWT

Comrade Speaker
Fellow MPs

The Bill on the floor of this eminent House in my view is long overdue. Almost two years ago for three consecutive sessions of parliament I tabled here a motion on unemployed Namibians both professional trained and those without. When I motivated the said motion for the first time, the idea was to get a prompt reaction from the floor of this august house across the political spectrum represented here. Sadly the debate was shoddy and it had to tabled for the second time in hope for improved contributions.
Even for the second motivation many of us in this house did not take the motion on unemployed Namibians as serious shown by the poor debate and therefore the motion was re-tabled for the third consecutive time.

Comrade Speaker
Honourable Members

The Employment Service Bill squarely responds to motion on unemployed Namibians with or without professional qualifications as tabled during the last session of our parliament which was aimed to; (quoting myself-open quote)

1. discuss, assess and ascertain the seriousness of unemployed Namibians with professional trainings and qualifications obtained from recognized educational institutions here in Namibia or abroad;
2. which further examine the general unemployment of all able bodied people in Namibia in view of government sponsored initiated projects such as the green schemes, agricultural colleges in the country and vocational training institutions as a matter of example.
3. it challenged the government and private sector partnership to open up in the provision of relevant skills and creation of job opportunities for the unemployed Namibians.
4. and insisted that unemployment be critically investigated in relation to our national investment policies and further discover the unemploy-ability of all those unemployed for recommendation and appropriate action in favour of their predicament. (Close quote)

Comrade Speaker
Honourable Members

Now the Employment Service Bill before us as introduced by the Hon. Minister of Labour and Social welfare, seeks our undivided support for us to meet the unemployment situation in our country head-on and thereby suppress financial dependency, economic trauma and criminal activities just to mention but a few.
My focus is more on the Employment Service bureau –article 13 and my concern is mostly centred on the questions of;
1. how much we know about employees and employers out there including private institutions and individuals who by hooks or crooks hop from one employment opportunity to the other without notice (as employees) or those (employers) who fire and hire job-seekers without registration. In other words, the regulatory mechanism thereof.
2. Reference to the motion on unemployed Namibians with or without professional qualifications tabled earlier here I called for the
“Establishment of a centralized research centre in the country, with decentralized data bank to, readily facilitate access of data for private and collective research and planning. “ This tallies with article 14 sub-articles 1 and 2 under the heading ‘integrated employment information system’ on page 10 of the Employment Service Bill.

Comrade Speaker
Honourable Members
I cannot let go without taking issues with the current system of recruitment and filling of vacancies in our ministries and perhaps state owned enterprises. One can call it a confusing and perhaps discriminatory or some kind of a pathetic recruitment system. Such a questionable system comrade speaker is bamboozled by individuals within our employment, those dishonest people who are entrusted with responsibilities of recruitment and management. It may partly be due to a number of conflicting laws we have which some may need be repealed or those which may need amendment including the public service act and the likes of tender board act and some others.

Comrade Speaker
Honourable Members
Recruitment in our system has become a serious concern. Some departments in our ministries and agencies are turned into mini-empires and are run in a mafia style management where some individual heads of such units freeze vacancies which budgeted for on their establishment for years allegedly waiting for their next of kin to graduate from institutions of learning or to complete the required years needed for consideration of promotion. Instead other Namibians who may be readily qualified for promotion are prevented from applying as a result of frozen vacant posts.
I was also reliably informed that even foreigners are benefitting from these crooking behaviours by being extending their contracts indefinitely.

Comrade Speaker
Honourable Members
It is therefore in my view not just enough to pass the Employment Service Bill alone without identifying those laws that need be repealed, those need amendment and those need harmonised. I further would like stress review of policies and regulation which go along with the laws that we are enacting in order to simplify for example the SWAPO party election manifesto which is the SWAPO party government working document leading this vibrant nation towards vision 2030.

Motion on Unemployed Namibians with or without Professional Qualifications

BY: Chief Ankama, SWAPO MP

Comrade Speaker, I regard this motion as an extraordinarily important one, not just to me but to other many Namibians if not all. This is the third time that I move this motion in the house. It first lapsed during the first term of 2008 when parliament went into recess and then re-introduced during the last term of last year but ended without reaching its intended goal, the goal of finding a lasting directive to solving unemployment situation in Namibia. Now comrade Speaker, I am here again standing to re-introduce the motion on unemployed Namibians with or without professional qualifications, accompanied by some amendments.

The motion seeks to:
1. discuss, assess and ascertain the seriousness of unemployed Namibians with professional trainings and qualifications obtained from recognized educational institutions here in Namibia or abroad;
2. this motion equally should include in our discussion the general unemployment of all able bodied people in Namibia in view of government sponsored initiated projects such as the green schemes, agricultural colleges in the country and vocational training institutions as a matter of example.
3. This motion should further challenge the government and private sector partnership to open up in the provision of relevant skills and creation of job opportunities for the unemployed Namibians.
Correspondingly this motion urges that unemployment be critically investigated in relation to our national investment policies and further discover the unemploy-ability of all the above mentioned people for recommendation and appropriate action in favour of their predicament.

We all know or see many Namibian graduates from the University of Namibia, Polytechnic, Vocational training institutions, colleges of education and some with foreign qualifications. Individuals as they are, they talk about their disappointment and frustrations with regard to institutions where they obtained qualifications. They also talk about “a corrupt” recruiting system in both the public and private sector. That people with no professional qualifications, for instance with grade 12 are being preferred for professional job opportunities above trained candidates. This may be the reason why some divisions, departments and offices both in public and private services, do not perform to the expected standard of their clients.
Further, when we come to work every day, we see many able bodied Namibians sitting at traffic lights or along the street pavements in hope for someone to pick them up for a casual one –off job for a day if lucky.
Many of these are very young Namibians whose energy could be maximally utilised for the good of this country.

Comrade Speaker, hon. Members, we are all witnesses to this degrading situation of unemployed Namibians with or without qualifications. Many if not all of these people are very young, energetic, full of zest and thus able to do some good work.
However the questions are;
1. Why and how come that we keep on training people for fun while Namibia is in dire need for skilled people?
2. Why can’t we create incubation centres or units within the sectors of Agriculture, forestry, construction or fishing industry just as an example for us to produce?
These could help equip the unemployed Namibians with practical skills. Such incubation centres can collaborate in terms of academic theory with our national institutions of education and training for a joint certification of the in-service trainees. After graduation, those who wish can then be organised in co-operative companies with start-up facilities and grow themselves both socially and economically into the world of authenticity.

Others may want to go their own way by establishing own companies or sell themselves to work abroad because of their skills, and thereby bringing money into Namibia. The system of incubation centres /units will also help the country in general to unlock competition of productivity and trade, thus stimulating fast economic growth.

Comrade Speaker, hon. Members
I am 1001 % convinced that establishment of a centralized research centre in the country, with decentralized data bank to, readily facilitate access of data for private and collective research and planning, is essential. I know we have a number of research units in various institutions around the country, such as in ministries, institutions of education and those in private, but do you know how difficult it is to access data from many of these institutions? This is one of the many reasons why we fall short in planning to determine e.g., the number of classroom needed for the first graders, space of learners for grade 10, we fail to determine how many math, science teachers we will need in 5 years time or the quota for electrical engineers we shall need in 10 years time.
Having a one-stop research centre in the country does not mean that we should to away with the existing ones. It simply translates in improving our efficiency in planning, budgeting and service delivery. With an ICT act soon in place, ministries, entities and individual citizens may be able to access data on line when they so want for own purposes.
In simple terms, this will help individual students or anybody so wish to do appropriate planning, advising, setting up projects goals, reviewing successes of programs, prioritising students’ careers etc, etc.

Comrade Speaker, hon. Members
To address the situation of unemployment and do better placement of our professional cadres where they can perform with vigour, we need to plan better, and to do so, we need to be guided by empirical data. Data that are correlated, continually updated and data that are ever accessible when needed. This is a necessary foundation for us to meet our national developmental agenda.
Having this in place, we will have low risk of having both semi and professional trained human resource roaming our streets.
In addition, we will be in a better position as a country to tackle the overall unemployment situation countrywide.

I appeal that this motion be discussed with the zeal it deserves to lead to a desirable resolution. Further it is my appeal that finally this motion be referred to an appropriate committee for research, public input and proper recommendations.
So I move comrade Speaker!