Mobile Money Interoperability
Mobile phone networks – Tigo, Airtel and Zantel – on June 5th signed a pioneering agreement to allow their customers in Tanzania to send money to each other whether using Tigo Pesa, Airtel Money or EzyPesa on their mobile handsets. The three issued a joint press statement saying the service was expected to start by the end of June.
This is the first agreement in Africa to adopt such “interoperability” whereby mobile network operators allow their customers to send and receive money across the network and the e-money goes direct to the respective customer’s e-wallet account.
The statement also listed other benefits customers of the three companies would enjoy including sending money at more affordable rates and in a simplified way which does not require the use of PIN codes when making withdrawals.
Diego Gutierrez, Tigo’s General Manager for Tanzania, spoke of helping make Tanzania “a global pioneer in digital financial inclusion.”
The three companies paid tribute to the Bank of Tanzania for facilitating interoperability, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and IFC (International Finance Corporation) for playing leading roles.
Microwave Links Upgrade
NEC Corporation, a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world, is to upgrade microwave links on behalf of the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) in a deal worth US$1.6 million.
Under the project, six key rural and island locations in the country are being connected to double mobile network capacity and meet demand from local people, enterprises and tourists.
The government has already inaugurated the route from Dar es Salaam, the country’s main economic centre, to Zanzibar Island.
TTCL uses NEC’s iPASOLINK 400, 1000 and 5000iPS solutions which support a hybrid TDM and IP-based mobile backhaul service.
This enables the operator to continue to leverage investments in existing legacy TDM systems for voice traffic and use high speed, high capacity Ethernet for data with the option of transitioning to an all-IP network.
According to NEC, the solution can also support the expansion of LTE network services when required with minimal capacity upgrades, in addition to the 3G networks of today.
Communication, Science and Technology Minister, Makame Mbarawa, said the latest mobile infrastructure upgrades were “a key part of the important work the Tanzanian government is undertaking to deliver our Vision 2025 programme and use the latest communication technologies as a tool for sustainable development.”
Eugene Le Roux, managing director at NEC Africa, commented: “Tanzanian citizens will see a noticeable difference in the mobile network’s capacity to handle even more web browsing and m-commerce transactions as a result of this upgrade.
Wireless Mobile Backhaul
According to experts, wireless mobile backhaul, with onward transport via Ethernet to the core network, is essential in Africa to extend mobile broadband services to remote areas where it’s not possible to make fiber available. It helps to ensure high speed, cost-effective service coverage in difficult terrains and across geographic barriers like islands or mountains.
The Dar es Salaam link supports Fast Ethernet (FE) and Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) interfaces with packet switching capacity of 40 to 48 Gigabits per second (Gbps) for rapid mobile data transfer with smart bandwidth and capacity utilization and management.
Demand for mobile broadband is growing strongly to support key industries like agriculture, giving businesses access to market prices, weather forecasts and agronomy information at the touch of a button.
In addition, this enables rural populations to access public services like a new birth registration website to support accurate assessments of local demand for education and social services.
Tanzania has high mobile penetration rate of 75 % as of the end of December 2013, but just 14 % of the over 40 million population have fixed internet at home and a minority of 0.4 % own a land line.
Already 10 % of Tanzania’s GDP is transacted through mobile commerce.