Africa Tech News Roundup 1.21.09
Apps | Google Launches New Services for SME's [Africa Business Daily, 1/20]
"Small Kenyan businesses can now access cheaper software and customized Web products following the launch of several new solutions from Internet firm Google."
Mobile | Are Mobile Companies the New Treasuries of Africa? [ICT for Development, 1/15]
Adam Denton, of GSM Association, argues that "mobile phone companies are mediating – and could mediate – fiscal relations between governments and citizens." Mobile companies provide 7% of the tax base in Africa. For the first time, a fiscal decision will have a direct impact on citizens in Africa, since the tax burden of phone companies directly affects millions of citizens.
Infrastructure | Ethiopia's ETC: The Elephant in the Room Slows Down Economic Development [Balancing Act, 1/19]
Ethopia's incumbent telecom provider ETC was one of the first adopters of fibre networks in Africa. However, today it offers the worst quality and highest cost on the continent. This is holding back Ethiopia's many talented tech entrepreneurs.
Finance | Safaricom Weighs Debt Option in Tough Market [Africa Business Daily, 1/20]
"Kenya's top mobile phone service provider Safaricom is weighing its financing options as it seeks new cash to power its growth in a market where competition has intensified with the entry of new players."
Politics | It's a War of Attrition [Daniel Kalinaki's weblog, 1/19]
Two weeks ago, Daniel Kalinaki, one of Uganda's most important journalists, was summonsed to police headquarters for publishing a certain story about northern Uganda. His narration of his interregation displays the tenuous state of press freedom in Uganda.
Politics | Advice to Obama's Africa Team: Don't Change Much [CDG Blog, 1/15]
"Rather than shy away from the continent's problems, [Bush] launched several major new initiatives that recognized Africa's significance to America. The aid budget to Africa more than tripled on his watch and the pipeline has been sufficiently filled to put the U.S. well on its way to meet President Bush's pledge to double aid to Africa again by 2010." At her confirmation hearing, Susan Rice, the next UN-Ambassador signaled that she would help Africa help itself through supporting regional bodies like the African Union.
Culture | Africa's 100 Best Books of the Twentieth Century [Zimbabwe Int'l Book Fair]
"To mark the beginning of the 21st century, and encouraged by Professor Ali Mazrui, the Zimbabwe International Book Fair launched the international compilation of 'Africa's 100 Best Books.'"