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09 March, 2011

The Butali sugar Fiasco

The legal debacle facing this company is far from over following the latest court injunction halting its operations weeks after it was opened by the prime minister .

The legal tussle pits Butali Sugar Company against West Kenya Sugar Company.The bone of contention is , Butali sugar company breached the sugar act by constructing the company without following guidelines on catchment area limits .West Kenya Sugar Factory, owned by the Rai family, is only 16 kilometres from Butali but according to the Sugar Act, factories should be no closer than 24 kilometres to ensure they get enough cane.

The West Kenya factory was originally owned by the Patel family but in 2004 Jayanti Patel left the business after his nephew Sunil became the chief executive. He then applied for a licence to establish a sugar company in Kakamega. West Kenya objected but eventually the licence was issued and it became Butali.

For the past seven years, there has been a constant tug of war as government repeatedly rescinded and reinstated the Butali licence.

In October the High Court issued an injunction blocking the Kenya Sugar Board (KSB) from issuing an operating licence to Butali. The order was to be in force until February 14 when the matter was to be heard inter-partes.

West Kenya Sugar Company filed an urgent application on February 12 in arguing that the Attorney General and the Kenya Sugar Board disregarded the court order and issued Butali with a licence to operate.The court therefore , reinstated the order issued in October last year until the petition by West Kenya Sugar Company is heard and determined.

The deputy prime minister,Hon.Musalia Mudavadi, hinted at behind the scenes negotiations to see a way in helping Butali commence operations soonest possible.

08 March, 2011

Safaricom-Alepo partnership to grow 4G network.

Safaricom has partnered with Alepo, a leading provider of control plane & business management solutions for next generation services, to support its growing WiMAX network with enhanced policy control, QoS granularity, and IP address management. 

Safaricom has selected Alepo to implement its award-winning 16e AAA server and DHCP server as part of its nationwide WiMAX network.For advanced IP address management, including support for IPv4 and IPv6, Safaricom will deploy Alepo's DHCP Server. The server automatically provisions IP addresses to CPEs, either dynamically or statically for services requiring static IPs. The ability to segment and allocate IP addresses via IP pools prompts greater resource optimization.

Bob Collymore, Safaricom CEO, said the implementation of Alepo's core network elements will afford Safaricom greater control over network policy, security and resource allocation, while achieving more flexibility in designing WiMAX and Wi-Fi service offerings for their customers, residential and commercial.

 Alepo will also,  provide integration with Safaricom's existing CRM system, allowing the incumbent mobile operator to provision and manage both WiMAX and GSM subscriber accounts from one centralized and familiar CRM interface, thus reducing operational and training expenses.
Alepo's AAA server and DHCP server are fundamental components of Alepo's comprehensive suite of 4G products and solutions, and Safaricom will be able to use them to remain competitive in the market.

07 March, 2011

Mpesa to enjoy the Monopoly for Now - CBK Governor.

The Kenya's central bank governor,Prof. Njuguna Ndung'u, is against Airtel's latest proposal that aims to harmonise money transfer systems currently offered by mobile phone operators.He argues that this proposal would kill an innovation that has helped majority of Kenyans come into the formal economy.

Prof.Ndung'u believes that even though the Interoperability proposal will bring the cost down,it will greatly affect companies which have proprietary rights to the innovation,affecting growth and competitiveness in the sector.He advised the companies who are lobbying for the building of  a seamless money transfer platform ,that would allow telecoms to merge their functions with M-Pesa, to first build their Customer base before debating how interoperability will reduce costs, until then,he said, proprietary right will be respected.

Airtels proposal which was submitted to the PMs office for consideration  aimed at building a seamless money transfer platform that would allow telecom companies offering money transfer service  merge their functions.It would mean that cash transfers could be sent between networks, as well as allow new telecom companies use agency network of established telecom companies like safaricom to extend their reach, a move aimed at diluting the market leader’s dominance.

Safaricom’s rivals argued that  establishing  a central clearing house would offer them headroom to significantly cut costs  and that such a platform would remove the high cost that is preventing consumers from moving money across networks, but Safaricom argued that the move would infringe on its proprietary rights.
Currently it is possible to send money across networks, the transfer process  costs 10 times more than the price of sending money within a network, making safaricom enjoy a monopoly because of the club effect,Safaricom has 13.5 million subscribers on the service with over 22,000 M-Pesa agents while Airtel, its main rival which operates a mobile money network dubbed Zap has about four million subscribers.Orange, which runs a mobile money network dubbed Orange Money, has about 100,000 users and 1,500 agents, while Yu runs a mobile money network dubbed Yu Cash.
Airtels proposals although Noble, was seen by many as a well thought out scheme to utilise safaricoms billions of  shilling  worth of infrastructure for free.

03 March, 2011

Airtel finally launches 3G unlimited @ ksh 2,600PM in Delhi.

Telecom major Bharti airtel today launched third generation (3G) services that offer LIVE and on-demand TV channels, video calling and high-speed internet access, in Delhi. 

Customers can choose from Airtel's 3G tariff plans, which have been crafted to prevent 'bill shock' and help customers monitor their consumption of data with personalised data usage limits and alerts. 

The price of Airtel 3G Mobile TV will be about Ksh.50 for 20 minutes per week. The company is offering video call rates at 6cents per second. 
The company has offered different plans like pay as you go offers for all the existing Airtel customers who want to experience the 3G internet, this plan will be there where they have to pay the prevailing rates as on 2G services. 
Flexishield plan has a combination of free data usage and low inbuilt volume based charging rate with a bill cap of Ksh.2,600. 
To download 2GB data prepaid and postpaid customers have to pay ksh. 975. Under the Flexishield plan the customer has to pay Ksh.880 for 1.25 GB free data download with 3G speed till total data bill reaches Ksh. 2,600, after that no charges on data access with speed of 20kbps. 

Airtel Live , which is India’s largest WAP Portal with more than 1 million visitors and 10 million daily page views – has been revamped with a richer look for airtel 3G customers. In this separate all-new experience for 3G customers, customers can create a personal portal containing their favorite RSS feeds, News categories, and email inboxes with live updates from their Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and other social network accounts. Navigation has been made more intuitive, moving away from a single Landing Page access to a Tab-based approach now. The revamped look is in-sync with the new airtel brand identity – giving it a more vibrant and trendy look with higher resolution graphics adding a richer and clearer feel. 

Airtel has also introduced a first of its kind internet usage calculator that will help customers monitor and analyse their current internet data usage and choose an airtel 3G plan accordingly.

Bharti Airtel Ltd, expects 3G services to help improve its average revenue per user--a key gauge of profitability for mobile phone operators.It currently offers 3G services in seven cities and plans to extend the service in all the 13 telecom areas where it has bandwidth by the end of this month.since December 2010 Airtel has garnered about 500,000 users on its 3G network, it is currently the largest wireless operator in India controlling 20.7% share of the subscriber market.