FOA Certified Fiber Optic (Technical) Course

 

Invitation to participate: FOA Certified Fiber Optic (Technical) Course, 29th November to 2nd December 2011, at African eDevelopment Resource Centre Nairobi, Kenya.

African eDevelopment Resource Centre (AeRC) is an organization that champions ICT for capacity development initiatives in the region through knowledge sharing and skill development programmes.  We would like to invite you to a 4 day unique, authoritative, high-value, hands-on practical Fiber Optics course which will provide participants with essential skills and knowledge necessary to design, install, splice, connectorize, troubleshoot and test fiber optic systems.

  • Dates: 29th November – 2nd December 2011
  • Venue: eDevelopment House, 604 Limuru Road, Old Muthaiga, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Fee: US$ 1,630 per participant exclusive of VAT

About Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT)

In today’s high tech world, certification is considered proof of professional status and is often required for jobs.  Students will be eligible to write the FOA (Fiber Optic Association) exam after completing the course. Successful students will receive the Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT) accreditation, which includes a CFOT passport.

The FOA maintains a worldwide database of fiber optic installers, contractors and consultants as a resource for those searching for a designer or installer for fiber optic projects or trained employees. The database is searchable by location and fiber optic specialty. As of the end of 2006, over 20,000 CFOT’s have been certified through training at over 135 schools worldwide. The FOA is the most recognized certification in fiber optics in the world.

Who should attend?

Previous experience in this field of fiber optics is necessary. This training program is not limited to installers or technicians, it is an excellent credential for sales and marketing personnel, indicating their comprehensive knowledge of the industry and building confidence in their assistance to their customers.

Learning outcomes

This is a comprehensive, integrated training program which covers all aspects of both local and wide area optical networks to make sure that our students are fully prepared and employable. Optical fiber installation, splicing, connectorization, troubleshooting, acceptance testing and much more are taught with extensive hands-on practice.  Also covered is the use of transceivers, switching gear, splice enclosure hardware, and procedures pertaining to installing and testing them.

Click to Download Course Outline

Regards,

Kindest regards,

James Ngatia | Business Development Manager


Africa’s leading Consulting and Training partner in ICT and Telecommunications

D.I.T Registration No. DIT/TRN 705

eDevelopment House, 604, Limuru Road, Old Muthaiga

(+254-20-4041646/47/57 : :  M: +254 726 582828 or +254 738 818283 : : Skype name: james.ngatia

Visit our website www.africanedevelopment.org for the latest catalogs, eBooks and white papers

Certified Fiber Optic Training Course, 10-13 August 2010, eDevelopment Centre – Nairobi, Kenya

Invitation: Certified Fiber Optic Training Course, 10-13 August 2010, eDevelopment Centre – Nairobi, Kenya.

African eDevelopment Resource Center (AeRC) in collaboration with 3 Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions would like to invite delegates to a 4 day unique, authoritative, high-value, hands-on practical course which will provide participants with essential skills and knowledge necessary to design, install, splice, connectorize, troubleshoot and test fiber optic systems.

AeRC is a not-for-profit organization championing ICT for capacity development initiatives in the region through knowledge sharing and skills development programmes. Formed in 2005, 3 Triple Play Fibre Optic Solutions based in South Africa is an organisation that specialises in installation and training in Fibre Optic Systems.

In today’s high tech world, certification is considered proof of professional status and is often required for jobs 3 Triple Play Fiber Optic Solutions is an approved training centre for the Fiber Optic Association Inc. (FOA). http://www.thefoa.org. Students will be eligible to write the FOA exam after completing the course. Successful students will receive the Certified Fiber Optics Technician (CFOT) accreditation, which includes a CFOT passport.

The FOA maintains a worldwide database of fiber optic installers, contractors and consultants as a resource for those searching for a designer or installer for fiber optic projects or trained employees. The database is searchable by location and fiber optic specialty.

As of the end of 2006, over 20,000 CFOT’s have been certified through training at over 135 schools worldwide. The FOA is the most recognized certification in fiber optics in the world.

Our Instructors

A number of instructors in this program are experienced academics from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with considerable theoretical backgrounds as well as extensive industrial experience related to fiber optic technology. (View the course outline below for more Details on the Lead Trainer).

Who should attend

This training program is not limited to installers or technicians, it is an excellent credential for sales and marketing personnel, indicating their comprehensive knowledge of the industry and building confidence in their assistance to their customers.

What will you learn

This is a comprehensive, integrated training program which covers all aspects of both local and wide area optical networks to make sure that our students are fully prepared and employable. Optical fiber installation, splicing, connectorization, troubleshooting, acceptance testing and much more are taught with extensive hands-on practice.

Also covered is the use of transceivers, switching gear, splice enclosure hardware, and procedures pertaining to installing and testing them.

Registration Fee

The registration fee for the workshop is US$1630 + 16 % VAT which will cover all the documentation, administration and meals during the workshop. To participate in this workshop, please fill out the attached registration form and return it to the email indicated. Due to the nature of the course we have a limited number of spaces available and will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Please find the links to download the Course Outline and Registration Form.

Prescribed Text for the Course will be provided upon registration:

We look forward to be of service to you should you need more information on the Course.

Regards,

Macharia Celestine

African eDevelopment Resource Centre
eDevelopment House : : 604 Limuru Road
Old Muthaiga : : P O Box 49475 00100
Nairobi : : Kenya
Landline +254 20 3741646/7 : : Cell +254 722 284 328
Training : : Research : : Consultancy : Publishing

2010 Capacity Building Opportunities:

  • VSAT Field Engineering: 7-9 July (Kenya)
  • GIS Disaster Management: 14-16 July(Kenya)
  • Knowledge Management Course: 21-23 July (Kenya)
  • Enterprise Resource Planning: 28-30 July (Kenya)
  • Certified Fibre Optic Technician: 10-13 August (Kenya)
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL): 18-20 August (Kenya)
  • Satellite Communications Systems: 25-27 August (Kenya)
  • Mini-MBA in Telecoms: 6-9 September (Kenya)

Book Now, Limited spaces available.

Kenyan Student Googles Herself To An International Award

Shikoh Gitau, a Kenyan PhD student in the University of Cape Town, Department of Computer Science, has bagged the prestigious Google Anita Borg Memorial Award for 2010, the first recipient from sub-Saharan Africa.

The award is given to female students who show exceptional academic and leadership skills in computing and technology. The award carries a cash prize and a visit to Google’s Engineering Centre in Zurich for a networking retreat.

Read more here on the UCT website

The Proposed Constitution of Kenya – Review and Highlights

This is my digest of the just published, Proposed Constitution of Kenya. I have taken great liberties to highlight the articles, sections and subsections that touched me. I have added my comments in sime places, in others I have lifted the article or section verbatim. This is to give a broad view of the document, and specifics can be read on the actual. Also not not all chapters are represented in this digest, some were dull.

A copy of the Proposed Constitution is here. From your mobile go to http://katiba.mobi

I love this opening, just read and feel it.

PREAMBLE

We, the people of Kenya—

ACKNOWLEDGING the supremacy of the Almighty God of all creation:

HONOURING those who heroically struggled to bring freedom and justice to our land:

PROUD of our ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, and determined to live in peace and unity as one indivisible sovereign nation:

RESPECTFUL of the environment, which is our heritage, and determined to sustain it for the benefit of future generations:

COMMITTED to nurturing and protecting the well-being of the individual, the family, communities and the nation:

RECOGNISING the aspirations of all Kenyans for a government based on the essential values of human rights, equality, freedom, democracy, social justice and the rule of law:

EXERCISING our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance of our country and having participated fully in the making of this Constitution:

ADOPT, ENACT and give this Constitution to ourselves and to our future generations.

GOD BLESS KENYA

Awesome!

Lets dig in……….

Chapter One – Sovereignity of The People and Supremacy of This Constitution

Nothing exciting, read on

Chapter Two – The Republic

Article 8 – No state religion. Simple. Good.

Article 9 (3) – Kenyatta Day is now Mashujaa Day (very fitting), Moi Day scrapped (it was ridiculous in the first place, so I say….good riddance)

Chapter Three – Citizenship

Article 16 – A citizen by birth does not lose citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country. Diasporians who have been clamouring for this, start filling applications in your adopted countries.

Article 18 (g)- Parliament to enact legislation giving effect to the provisions in this Chapter. According to Schedule 5, this must be done within one year.

Chapter Four – The Bill of Rights

This chapter is quite comprehensive, and everyone needs to familiarize themselves with it. It is quite elaborate – freedoms, rights, justice, comsumer rights, environmental rights, media, fair hearing, application of justice, children, people with disabilities, youth, marginalised groups, minorities, elderly people, state of emergency, human rights and equality. It’s all there.

Article 26 – Right to life. Please read carefully what the Constitution says, reproduced here, verbatim;

26

(1) Every person has the right to life.

(2) The life of a person begins at conception.

(3) A person shall not be deprived of life intentionally, except to the extent authorised by this Constitution or other written law.

(4) Abortion is not permitted unless, in the opinion of a trained health professional, there is need for emergency treatment, or the life or health of the mother is in danger, or if permitted by any other written law.

Enough said. Where is the ambiguity?

Chapter Five – Land and Environment

The following is verbatim; read carefully

Article 68 – Parliament shall —

(a) revise, consolidate and rationalise existing land laws;

(b) revise sectoral land use laws in accordance with the principles set out in Article 60 (1); and

(c) enact legislation—

(i) to prescribe minimum and maximum land holding acreages in respect of private land;

(ii) to regulate the manner in which any land may be converted from one category to another;

(iii) to regulate the recognition and protection of matrimonial property and in particular the matrimonial home during and on the termination of marriage;

(iv) to protect, conserve and provide access to all public land;

(v) to enable the review of all grants or dispositions of public land to establish their propriety or legality;

(vi) to protect the dependants of deceased persons holding interests in any land, including the interests of spouses in actual occupation of land; and

(vii) to provide for any other matter necessary to give effect to the provisions of this Chapter.

Hope that is clear, owoing to our onbsession with matters, land. According to Schedule 5, the legislation to give life to Article 68 must be done within 18 months.

Chapter Six – Leadership and Integrity

Boring stuff.

Chapter Seven – Representation of The People

Article 85 – Any person is eligible to stand as an independent candidate for election if the person –

(a) is not a member of a registered political party and has not been a member for at least three months immediately before the date of the election

Article 88 (1) – There is established the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission

Article 89 – There shall be 290 constituencies of the National Assembly, which is established by Article 97 (1) (a)

According to schedule 5, legislation on Articles 82 (elections), 87 (electoral disputes), 88 (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) and 92 (political parties) must be enacted within one year. Very important.

Chapter Eight – The Legislature

Article 93 (1) – There is established a Parliament of Kenya, which shall consist of the National Assembly and the Senate.

Article 97 – The National Assembly shall comprise – 290 elected members from the constituncies, 47 women one from each county, 12 nominated by political parties according to number of seats won to represent special interests including the youth, persons with disabilities and workers. Total 349 members, plus the Speaker, an ex-officio member.

Article 98 – The Senate shall comprise – 47 elected members one per county, 16 women nominated by political parties according to the seats won, 2 youth (man and woman), 2 members with disabilities (man and woman). Total 67 members, plus the Speaker, an ex-officio member.

Article 101 (1) – A general election of members of Parliament shall be held on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year. Brilliant stuff, no more surprises, start marking your calenders.

Article 104 (1) and (2) – People may recall members. In Section 2, Parliament to legislate, according to Schedule 5 within two years, on how the the recall clause actually works. This is very sad, they will move to save their sorry behinds.

Article 126 (1) and (2) – Either House may sit anywhere in Kenya. Great, let’s move them to Lodwar already, will help open up the area

Chapter Nine – The Executive

Article 129 (1) and (2) – Executive authority is ours to exercise as we deem necessary. The person we elect as President has this authority, no monkeying around.

Article 131 (3) – The person we appoint to exercise executive authority, also known as President, shall NOT hold any other State or public. Very important since we want focus.

Article 132 (e) – The President shall, with the approval of Parliament, declare war. Very important, remember, Kenya Armed Forces mission … “giving the enemy a reason to die for their country”. We can’t deny them that.

Article 138 (4) a) and b) – Winner of Presidential election must garner more than 50% of all votes and at least 25% of votes in half of the counties. That’s called mandate. By the people. For the people.

Article 138 (4) – Presidential election run-off between the top two contenders within 30 days

Article 138 (10) a) and b) – Electoral Commission MUST declare winner within 7 days of election in writing to Chief Justice and incumbent President. Very important, no wasting time here.

Article 140 (1) (2) (3) – Presidential election petition within 7 days, Supreme Court decison within 14 days (and its final), fresh election within 60 days after determination. Solid stuff, no monkeying around.

Article 148 (1) – President’s declared running mate automatically becomes Deputy President, simple. I hope my friends are considering running for Presidency.

Article 152 (1) d) – Cabinet Secretaries (formerly Ministers) shall be between 14 and 22 in number. Just imagine that! Make it 14 please.

Article 152 (3) – A Cabinet Secretary shall not be a Member of Parliament. Its about time! I shall definitely be gunning for one of the posts.

Chapter Ten – Judiciary

Article 159 (1) – Judicial authority is derived from the people and vests in, and shall be exercised by, the courts and tribunals established by or under this Constitution. Thats sounds just great! We are indeed the holder’s of all the power.

Article 169 (1) The subordinate courts are (among others) —

(b) the Kadhis’ courts

Article 169 (5) The jurisdiction of a Kadhis’ court shall be limited to the determination of questions of Muslim law relating to personal status, marriage, divorce or inheritance in proceedings in which all the parties profess the Muslim religion and submit to the jurisdiction of the Kadhi’s courts. Simple and clear, what the hullabaloo about?

Chapter Eleven – Devolved Government

Article 176 (1) There shall be a county government for each county, consisting of a county assembly and a county executive.

Article 177 (1) A county assembly consists of—

a) members elected by the registered voters of the wards

Article 179 (1) The executive authority of the county is vested in, and exercised by, a county executive committee.

Article 179 (2) The county executive committee consists of—

(a) the county governor and the deputy county governor; and

(b) members appointed by the county governor with the approval of the county assembly

Article 180 (1) The county governor shall be directly elected by the voters registered in the county, on the same day as a general election

Article 184 (1) National legislation shall provide for the governance and management of urban areas and cities and shall, in particular—

(a) establish criteria for classifying areas as urban areas and cities

The legislation for urban areas and cities, according to Schedule 5, must be enacted within one year.

Chapter Twelve – Public Finance

Nothing exciting, just mind-numbing money matters, dig in if you have the stomach.

Chapter Thirteen – The Public Service

Boring.

Chapter Fourteen – National Security

Article 243

(1) There is established the National Police Service.

(2) The National Police Service consists of—

(a) the Kenya Police Service; and

(b) the Administration Police Service.

(3) The National Police Service is a national service and shall function throughout Kenya.

So there you have the cops, we still need them. We hope Parliament will enact legislation to improve on their operations and professionalism.

Article 245 (1) There is established the office of the Inspector-General of the National Police Service.

The holder of this office can only serve one, four-year term, no re-appointment. This will be the big cop, lording over both the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police Service. Each will be headed by a Deputy Inspector-General. No fuss.

Sixth Schedule (Article 262) – Transitional and Consequential Provisions

This is very detailed, and I could not understand most parts since am a lay man. It deals with what happens after the new Constitution is promulgates, after a resoundig YES vote by the majority. You better read it for yourself.

Again the Proposed Constitution is here. From your mobile go to http://katiba.mobi

Why I Will Not Use Zain’s Zap Again…..

This is a rant. Events occur in real time…..

Being that time of the month when bills are settled, and being very angry with a certain leading mobile network operator, who shall remain unnamed, I decided to send some money using Zain’s Zap money transfer service. Since I am supposed to be very organized, I get the cash and start the arduous task of locating a Zap dealer. You see the second largest mobile operator, Zain, almost 10 years in business, does not have very many agents for the money transfer service. From a second floor office, I am able to locate a few agents in downtown Nairobi.

I march gallantly to the first agent, an yes, they can serve me. Am so excited, especially when I remember how much I dislike the unnamed leading operator’s service. More on that later.

Since I registered for Zap about 3 months ago, I had never actually used the service and I can’t remember my PIN. So I quickly call Customer Support, who promptly pick my call…..that doesn’t happen in Kenya! The young man at the other end questions me to ascertin I am who I claim to be. He resets my PIN, and I quickly change it to ****. Awesome!

Back at the agent’s, I hand over the cash and we transact, now I have the electronic value in my SIM. I am jumping up and down. I fire off a quick text to the recipient, and tell him, please wait in a few seconds you will be Zap’ing rich.

The first attempt to send KES. 13,000 fails.  I try again, thinking I missed something, since this is the first time I am doing it. Again, I get a message about exceeding the limit of 5,000. Am stunned! Since am outside the agent’s shop, I go back in and ask about limits. Girl One tells me newly registered SIMS can only send/receive 5,000. I say I registered 3 months ago BUT have never transacted. The other Girl 2 says, that’s rubbish, you can send and receive any amount up to a max of 35,000. I agree with the second girl. The first says if I don’t agree with her, I try again. I try and get the same message. Am getting annoyed. Girl 1 suggests I send in 3 tranches – 5000, 5000, 3000 total 13,000. Mmmmmhhh….since the cost is only 10 per send transaction, I agree with her, pull a chair and start the motions.

The first 5,000 is off super fast, no delay. My confidence is restored in Zain. The second 5,000 bounces, something about the recipient’s account being over limit with electronic cash! I try again, and again. No luck. I even check my balance at a cost of 1/-, still at 8,000. Mmmm….

I remember Zain’s Customer Scare, sorry Care works and you can get through on the first attempt. I call, and some guy picks, I cry my heart out to him. He explains that my account limit is set to 5,000. I tell him that’s fine, could he make it 35,000?  No sir. He says he will put the request to the “technical people”, and I ask whether he can fast track that, so I can transact now. He says the “technical people” have gone for the day, so I have wait. I am stunned beyond words. I rant a bit, but cool off, telling him its not his fault. I finish saying I will never use Zap again. He courteously says, thank you for calling etc etc

Back at the agent’s I ask Girl 1, who is supposed to be most knowledgeable, what to do and she says unless the recipient withdraws the cash, we can’t send him more. I start shaking in anger, tears well up in my eyes. I cannot believe this. I pace around the shop thinking…and get a eureka! I ask to withdraw the 8,000 so I can send by parcel courier. It should get there in a couple of hours. Tough luck! The money I just gave them has been taken to the bank! OK, where is the next agent? They direct me, and am off.

The leading mobile operator, who still remains unnamed, seems to have agents all over, but I can’t transact with them right? I am angry with them. I walk all over trying to locate the next Zap agent, and voila! I spot one. Uh….they don’t have cash so we can’t transact. Fair enough, where is the next agent? I am directed and am off.

Third agent for the day, and yes, she has all the cash I need. I quickly withdraw, zap zap. No fuss. Am happy again as I walk towards the bus stage where the matatus to my village operate from. A text message lands in my phone. Recipient has had a brainwave! Why not send using ______ (the unnamed leading mobile operator in Kenya). I am almost hit by a speeding motorist as I jump and curse him.

Everywhere I look, I see the colour schemes of the unnamed leading operator. So I reluctantly walk into one agent and inquire whether the service is working. Yes sir. Can you serve me? Yes sir. Do you have electronic float? Yes sir. Are there any delays? No sir. Are you sure? Yes sir. Is the service down? No sir. I hand over the cash, and get the electronic value in my other SIM. I quickly fire it off to the recipient, who receives and acknowledges, by text. It worked!

That’s how I sent Zap using _____ (the unnamed leading mobile operator’s money transfer service).

Cc:  Zain / Zap Customer Care

Fibre Optic Cables and Internet Bandwidth in Kenya : The Basics, part II

As discussed in part I, Kenya and the East African countries, recently joined the rest of the world in high speed, limitless bandwidth connection. This is thanks to the sub-marine fibre optic cables landed at Mombasa. So the BIG question that arose, was, now what? Or so what?

In the digital global village, high speed connectivity heralds a new dawn, hitherto not possible due to the limited capacity connections we had. New breakthroughs emerge as the world is able to communicate in a faster and more reliable way, thanks to the technology now available. The technology itself is not new, but the availability is.

For a growing economy like ours, there are myriad ways we can cruise into this new information super highway, and lift ourselves and the standards of our living. I cannot even begin to exhaustively cover what is possible due to the connections we now have, its is too broad a subject. I shall endeavour to narrow it down to what I think is relevant for the Kenya of today.

The knowledge economy driven by digital erasing of geographical and intellectual boundaries, is ours to take. We can leapfrog other economies by adapting ourselves to the new world that is now knocking. We can create new industries, new jobs, increase our industrial and agricultural capacity all using this new age technology. We can improve our academics in schools and universities, tapping into knowledge bases in far off countries. Our doctors can collaborate with colleagues across the globe and deliver better health care.

Our governemnt can take services online and enable its “customers” efficiently transact and consume services better. We can sell our farm produce in far off markets from the comfort of our farm houses. There is no limit to what we can do.

Specifically;

1. Applications Development – Software developers are having a field day. The new connectivity is bringing in lots of possibilities to create, test and deploy new software. Web applications, mobile applications, and freelancing are all happening at the speed of light. They have access to immense databases of source code, the DNA that software is made of. This access at high speeds means they can adapt the source code for our specific needs. This shortens the software development life cycle. They can collaborate with like-minded individuals across the globe and enhance their skills. The possibilities here are limitless. Is anyone taking advantage?

2. Outsourcing – There are tremendous opportunities in business process outsourcing, popularly known as BPO. This is where specialist companies are formed to take over the non-core, back office work of other corporations. This leaves the BPO’s customers to concentrate on their core businesses. The possibilities here are only limited to our innovation and industriousness. Other business opportunities lie in contact centres. Recently several of the mobile network operators have outsourced their customer care business to contact centres. This leaves them to manage their core business. Other opportunities lie in cloud computing, Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, data centres, and dedicated, ICT-centric free economic zones (FEZs) and software technology parks (STPs). The technology, know how, financing, skilled manpower are all available. We however, need proper enabling legislation to propel these new age business. Then entrepreneurs can step in and start their ventures.

3. Academics – An initiative based at Kenyatta University known as Africa Virtual University is laudable. Using high speed links, there has been academic collaboration across the continent. The bandwidth now available should enhance this venture further. Whole digital libraries are now available. The largest library on earth, the US Library of Congress has a mind-boggling digital collection, and can be accessed by any authorized person with a computer and high-speed internet connection. We can also digitise our volumes and have them accessed by other people. Academic video on demand, streaming video from content servers strewn across the globe, live video feed from lectures or class sessions across the globe are all distinct possibilities. The only limit, our speed of adapting to these possibilities. Other countries are not waiting.

4. Business and Trade – Trade and commerce enters a whole new dimension. New markets, research, bidding and competition are enabled in ways we have never seen before. E-commerce is on the rise. A distinct attraction is SMEs face low barriers to entry into the word of e-commerce. Business alliances are being formed electronically across the globe, and new markets open up daily.

5. Government – With e-government initiatives, efficient services, higher revenue collection, rapid results can be achieved at low cost. Kenya Revenue Authority’s initiatives in this area are a case in point. It is commendable that there is genuine work in this direction for various governemnt departments. Video conferencing can drastically reduce travel costs and achieve more efficient meetings. We need to study how other governments have done it.

6. Telecommuting – This woud have the most significant effect on socio-economic progress in our country. As rural-urban migration puts pressure on resources in cities the pressure is on. Telecommuting can cut down wastage in non-essential travel, better utilization of time and skills, multi-tasking, use of video-conferencing for meetings, collaborative webinars, conference calls… the list is endless. We need new labour laws, we need to re-think the whole work scene. People should be able to work from anywhere they can connect, so long as their work does not need physical presence at their work place.

I have just scratched the surface above, and the list can go on and on. We need new work ethic, innopvate new ideas, get the legislature to enact new laws to ensure smooth working of the new digital age economy.

In part III, we discuss the flip side. Risks, security, theft, moral decadence, criminal activities….Yes all these come hand in hand with the sweet revolution. Every sweet smelling rose comes with thorns, I think.

Let me have your feedback below.

Fibre Optic Cables and Internet Bandwidth in Kenya : The Basics, part I

This is fibre optic cables 101. The basics, introduction, definitely not for the experts. Read on if you are, or not.

I always use the analogy of a water pipe to try and describe the much-talked about fibre optic cables and bandwidth. It is until we understand what the basics are, that we can begin to get a clue on what the fuss is all about. Then we shall fully embrace the potential that we are sitting on as a country.

Imagine we have water pipes running from a fresh water well to our homes. The well has an inexhaustible supply of water, so the only limit to the quantity of water flowing into your home is the size of the pipe delivering the water. You are at liberty to connect a pipe(s) of whatever size, depending on your needs and ability. The size or quantity of the pipes used do not matter, the well cannot run out of water. Also understand that the need for water in your home is essential, whatever the you use it for.

In the Kenya of yester years, we had “small, limited capacity” pipes to connect us to the rest of the world (or well). These pipes carried data (or Internet) and voice traffic from Kenya to the well. The pipes were used to take care of all bi-directional traffic into/out of Kenya. The “pipe capacity” is what is called “bandwidth”, and in the past we used satellites (or small, limited capacity pipes) to connect us to the world (or the well as described above).

After alot of twiddling of fingers, hand wringing, foot dragging and general indecison, we managed to lay bigger “pipes” from Mombasa to various parts of the world, by inter-connecting with existing bigger “pipes” regionally.

The only thing that has changed is now we have bigger capacity pipes (called sub-marine or undersea fibre optic cables) from three suppliers, i.e. Seacom, TEAMS and Eassy. All these bandwidth suppliers are selling their bandwidth capacity to resellers, called Internet Service providers (or ISPs). The ISPs then further resell the bandwidth to you and me, the consumer. Do not worry about the complex technology connecting you and the world, that is not important, for now.

Note: They are called “submarine” or “undersea” cables because from Mombasa the cables are laid on the seabed all the way to the inter-connection points farther afield.

The immediate effect of this limitless capacity is we should now, theoretically, be able to have faster and cheaper connections to the world. Our international voice calls should be clearer, without static or the annoying delay. Our Internet experience should be richer, faster and we should be able to access bandwidth-intensive applications like streaming video with no delay. Downloads should be faster, saving us time and money. Uploads should be faster, saving us time and money. Anything interactive, like video-conferencing, should be a breeze.

NOTE: I keep saying “should”, because the reality for you and me may not be any different from the recent past.

OK, now you ask, so what? What is the big deal? Why all the fuss? So what if we have superb speeds due to the limitless bandwidth? How does this change my life, or yours? How does it change my grandmother’s life, back in my village? How does it change the small or the big commercial farmer’s life? Or the student, or politician, or small or big business owner? Or the matatu owner, or priest in your church? Or the government hospital or the goverment? Now that we have an almost limitless bandwidth capacity, what does it really mean for the ordinary Internet user like you and me?

Will this capacity create jobs? Change the economy? How? When? What has been the impact / experience in other countries? Could this be another over-hyped technological farce?

Worry not, I will hold your hand and walk you through this. This will form part II of our discussion.

Let me have your feedback below.

Of Zain, Bharti Airtel and Indian MNCs in Kenya

So MTC Kuwait, trading as Zain, is flipping its Africa operations to Bharti Airtel of India? If the deal goes through, and we shall know by March 25th, then the metamorphosis of Kenya’s second largest GSM mobile network, by subscriber base, will have undergone yet another momentous change.

Starting off as Kencell (jointly owned by Naushad Merali’s Sameer Group and Vivendi), part of the company was then sold by Vivendi Universal of France to Celtel BV, then promptly re-branded Celtel. That was in 2004. Celtel continued with many mistakes that Safaricom capitalised on. Dealers were unhappy, marketing and advertising did not touch the Kenyan soul (many of them were cut-n-paste pan-African ads which did little to “talk” to Kenyans), and a high employee turn over, especially at the executive level did not instill alot of confidence in the business. Interestingly, the most recognised CEO in Kenya is Michael Joseph of Safaricom, who has been at the helm since inception.

Almost a year later in 2005, MTC of Kuwait came knocking with some serious petro-dollars, a whole US$3.4bn and bought out Celtel International with all its network assets, including Celtel Kenya. The network later went on to be re-branded as Zain, in line with MTC’s international branding policy. The story has not ended yet, as we await March 25th when Bharti and MTC will emerge from the boardroom.

The journey has been long and arduous, as Zain’s number 1 nemesis and market leader, Safaricom, overcame teething problems in the early years to streak way ahead of the competition. Safaricom simply studied what the people wanted, capitalised on Zain’s simple mistakes, like charging a fee for any recharge voucher (since discontinued) and basically connecting with the ordinary Kenyan who was being introduced to mobile telephony, or any form of telephony for that matter, for the first time. Safaricom quickly cut an image of a “mwananchi” (citizen) conscious company, while Zain, then Kencell, was seen as elitist and playing to the corporate theatre. This was to set the battle field dynamics that played until the other two late entrants, yu, an Essar Telecom network, and Orange, a France Telecom network came in. Safaricom by then was light years ahead in terms of innovation, products (especially M-Pesa money transfer), mass subscriber base appeal, philanthrophy, network coverage etc.

It will be interesting to see how Bharti Airtel of India deals with the Zain brand, an early starter turned laggard. Bharti is no push over, it is India’s largest integrated telecom company in terms of customer base. They offer mobile services, fixed line services, broadband & IPTV, DTH, long distance and enterprise services. Globally, Bharti Airtel is the 3rd largest in-country mobile operator by subscriber base, behind China Mobile and China Unicom. In India, the company has a 24.6% share of the wireless services market, followed by 17.7% for Reliance Communications and 17.4% for Vodafone Essar (part owned by Essar Telecom, operating in Kenya as yu). Are the Indians coming?

Will Bharti start by re-branding Zain? Perhaps this time to Airtel (the brand they use in the largest GSM network in India?) How do they address subscriber apathy despite great tariffs, well built network, and competitive products e.g. Zap money transfer? How do they address the distribution chain?

We can only wait and see.

Free Internet Until Jan 4th, from KDN Butterfly

The nabobs that be at Parkside Towers, KDN HQ, looked across the city scape, and said, let us give them free Internet until 4th Jan. So KDN is extending their Butterfly service for free as a year end bonus for 2009. They are hoping you will remember this gesture of goodwill and sign up for their service, if you haven’t already.

My only wish is that the KDN Customer Scare, sorry, Customer Care nabobs can look across the city scape and say, let us offer them the best customer experience, let us create stark-raving mad evangelists from our customers, let us make them so happy, they will shed tears of utter joy, let us organize our Customer Service machinery and indeed the entire organization, to serve them best, and let’s see the business balloon, but no. That is too much for them to do. Twirling their fingers 24-7 is a better way to spend their important time.

I wish the Tech Support nabobs would look across the cityscape and say, let us over-support our customers. Let us pro-actively manage our network, let us tweak, look under the hood, test, re-test, simulate, and otherwise anticipate all possible tech problems. I wish they could say, let us quickly and firmly deal with any issue that escapes our attention and affects the customer, hence making them happy and productive. But no, that is too much. Twirling their fingers 24-7 is a better way to spend their important time.

You then wonder why our economy is stuck! The landing of the under sea FOC is not the end all be all, that is just humongous bandwidth to be hawked.

Service delivery is king! Just do it, KDN! Period.

Afripot – Africa’s melting pot!

Afripot.com is a web portal designed to bring together the North, South, East and West of Africa, and indeed the African Diaspora throughout the rest of the world, in a conglomeration of information, discussion and creative intercourse that aims at opening the doors to the further development of our beloved Africa.

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