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Key Cape Town congress reflects the increasing importance of African connectivity in a global context

p>Key Cape Town congress reflects the increasing importance of African connectivity in a global context

Arguably Africa's premier communications event, AfricaCom is big on content, networking and technology. Leading the conference agenda, and with an exhibition featuring some of the most innovative international solutions and technology providers and African operators, topped by the AfricaCom Awards event, it has to be attended by African telecom visionaries keen to stay in touch with industry zeitgeist.



Lowering costs, maintaining investment levels, working locally, developing new sources of revenue, continuing to innovate services and technologies – these are key factors driving key communications figures to Cape Town each November. More focus than ever is on serving corporate customers, providing Internet access, migrating to IP architecture, developing the national and regional backbones, and launching new services such as IPTV, VoD, VoIP, and more.

Many affirmed an emphasis on the regulator’s perspective. The primary objectives across the continent are to ensure free competition, while maintaining a balance between accountability and the promotion of an investment-friendly, innovation-centic climate. Many spoke, also, of the increasingly available and affordable international connectivity and capacity in the region, with key contributions to the body of opinon from Corning and Acision.
Architecture specialists such as Motorola and Nokia Siemens Networks, and representative bodies such as the GSM and ICASA, openly considered the network evolution to to new standards such LTE, and to new revenue streams, new models to monetisation.

Prominent amongst the innovators I have learned from at this Cape Town event is Cambridge Broadband Networks, which provides carrier-class, intelligent packet microwave solutions and focuses much of its energies into collaboration with network operators to deliver low-risk, scalable platforms designed to reduce OPEX and CAPEX, with respect to backhaul. Then there is Memotec, which supplies optimisation solutions for backhaul networks, enabling operators to reduce network OPEX by cutting transmission costs and extending service capabilities for network evoluton.

And then there is a supplier of multimedia messaging solutions to network operators, MCTEL - one of only a few companies able to boast that it operates its own equipment, whether SMSC, MMSC, Device Management, USSD, over the international SS7 network. Also with much to say about and contribute to the future of the market is fibre optics specialist Corning; a highly respected player amongst those who are serious about the future of the network.

Much is to be learned from Gemalto on matters associated with digital security, whether one is interested in the development of software applications, the manufacture of secure devices such as smart cards, or the deployment of managed services. Look at Nitecrest and you see a specialist supplier of prepaid scratch cards and SIM cards, with expert knowledge of an industry driven by tight manufacture-to-market scheduling.

The truest opportunities in Africa are to be found in rural connectivity, converged services and the growth of data traffic. Movius continues to innovate in its support of efforts to connect remote individuals, businesses and communities, with virtual communications services and revolutionary conferencing solutions. When considering the convergence of voice, data, and video, allied to the promise of mobility, many consider Andrew Solutions, which makes great play of its support for the emerging mobile society, and the ever-growing number of supporting players in the wireless solutions space.



The AfricaCom Awards are regarded by many as an accolade to the best innovators in African telecommunications. Attended by key decision-makers, detached from the exhibition crowds, with a great after-show party, the awards this year celebrated Orange Tunisia, MTN South Africa, Comviva, Dark Fibre Africa, Flexenclosure, Sibesonke Ltd, Gateway Communications, and the MTN Foundation. Of particular note, Gateway Communications has led the way on pan-African wholesale connectivity and telecoms provision, working with the continent’s mobile operators to ensure high quality voice and data connectivity across Africa and into the rest of the world.

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