African technology sector job losses

The global technology sector has been shedding jobs at an alarming rate over the past few months. The numbers from the big tech companies have been huge. Amazon has laid off 18,000 employees, but that is a fraction of its 1.5 million staff. Most of these big companies don’t have a large presence in Africa and most of the layoffs have been in Europe and North America. What has the impact been in Africa?  Of course, data is hard to find. Layoffs.fyi has collected all the press releases and news articles into one table and sorted it by country. The […]

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Quality of service is improving across Africa

This week’s newsletter is a followup from last week’s post on affordability.  This week we’re looking at Quality of Service (QoS). Data on QoS is notoriously difficult to get. Regulators that track QoS via randomized testing don’t release the results publicly and sometimes even accessing the data within the regulator can be difficult.  Fortunately, Ookla has a publicly available data set as part of its Open Data Initiative. We downloaded the quarterly datasets from Q4 2020 to Q3 2022. The datasets have upload and download speeds, latencies, number of tests and number of devices. We did a spatial join for […]

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Affordability in 2022

Over at Many Possibilities, Steve Song has a great review of telecom developments in 2022 in Africa. It includes many of the standard categories, like undersea cables, spectrum, towers and satellite but also has developments in relatively new categories (for Africa) like fibre-to-the-home and datacentres. One thing we could add to that review is a quick summary of data pricing trends across the continent. Even with the disruption of the economic slowdown of the past couple of quarters, the overall trend of data prices is steadily downward.  We used a 20GB basket as the basis for price comparisons because the […]

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Telcos and speed tiers

One of the motivations for the launch of RIS’s Next Generation Internet Index (NGII) in May this year was the bandwidth / revenue dilemma that telcos face (there’s a great chart in our July 22 blog). In Europe, bandwidth demand is growing exponentially but revenues have remained stagnant. To overcome this dilemma, telcos need to offer new products to grow the size of the market. If telcos don’t vary their product offerings, especially in saturated markets, they will continue to see declining revenues unless new-use cases are identified and new sets of products are offered.  We can telcos doing exactly […]

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Spectrum auctions in Nigeria

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed that Airtel Africa is the sole bidder for 100MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum. The license has a 10 year term and a reserve price of USD273 million. It’s a disappointing result for several reasons:  Because Airtel is the only bidder, it is not a competitive process and therefore doesn’t meet the economic criteria of efficiency;  The reserve price is too high and excludes smaller competitors and, in the medium term, reduces the competitiveness of the Nigerian ICT sector;  The high reserve price will also mean lower investment in the sector by diverting resources to […]

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Starlink prices

This week’s newsletter is a brief look at Starlink’s prices. Starlink has generated a lot of buzz in some countries and has been touted as the solution to closing the rural connectivity gap. Starlink has acquired a license in Malawi and also in Zambia and is projected to be available in the first quarter of 2023. It has applied for a license in Tanzania. Its service is currently available in North America, Europe, Australia, Brazil and Chile. It is available in Ukraine, though on a waitlist basis.  There is no doubt about Starlink’s potential from an access point of view. […]

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Taking too long to test the waters

In a recent public letter, some large MNOs made the claim that “[d]igital platforms are profiting from “hyperscaling” business models at little cost while network operators shoulder the required investments in connectivity.” The letter implies that digital platforms have rolled out their platforms at a relatively insignificant cost. It also implies that MNOs are unable to build their own applications to compete against digital platforms because of some unspecified “blockage”.  In fact, nothing stops telcos from investing in other parts of the Internet value chain. Some of these investments, such as mobile money, have been hugely successful, while others have […]

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Competition and investment in the Internet value chain in Europe

The CEOs of Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange released a joint statement on 14 February 2022 that called upon large content platforms “to contribute to the cost of the European digital infrastructure that carries their services.” The statement raised several questions and left them unanswered. The aim of the letter seems to be a call for a regulatory intervention. South Korea’s Sending Party Network Pays (SPNP) regime is referred to positively as a way to create a “fair” regulatory environment. The letter relies heavily upon a proposal put forward by the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) to move […]

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ZICTA’s outlook on ICT sector taxes

In October this year, the Zambia ICT Authority (ZICTA) released a report assessing the impact of the National Budget on the ICT sector. It’s a fantastic document that should be required reading for any regulator in Africa. The main focus of the report is on the impact of tax policy on the ICT sector. The biggest change in the 2023 budget is the removal of a two-tier corporate tax rate, where ICT companies paid higher taxes than companies in other sectors of the economy. Prior to the 2023 budget, ICT sector companies paid  corporate taxes of 40% on profits over […]

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The Status of Community Networks in Kenya

RIS has been working on the status of Community Networks (CNs) in Africa. Our first challenge was simply the lack of data about CNs. Unlike formal telecom operators such as mobile networks like MTN, Airtel or Vodacom, many CNs purposefully operate in a grey legal area. This partly reflects the history of the telecom sector, which was dominated by fixed-line incumbents in the late 20th century and is now dominated by mobile operators. Until recently, regulators have either actively excluded CNs or ignored them. This means that some CNs operate without official licenses and want to keep a low profile.  […]

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