Why the Internet Matters

By Masimba Biriwasha | Global Editor-At-Large | January 01, 2013 | @ChiefKMasimba

With an estimated 2 billion people now connected to the internet, and the number growing by 200 million each, the internet is changing everything from business, politics, education, communication to how we find love and everything else in between.

By 2016, there will be 3 billion Internet users globally – almost half of the world’s population, according to Boston Consulting Group, adding that the internet economy will reach $4,2 trillion in the G20 economies.

Fully capitalizing the potential of the internet is increasingly a must for individuals and governments around the world. The good news is the internet is still evolving with prospects for greater power and reach.

In two decades, the internet has changed the way we live, the way we work, the way we socialize and meet, and the way our countries development and grow, according to McKinsey & Company, a global research firm.

The medium has opened up new and unprecedented opportunities to the world, improving the instant exchange of ideas, facilitating communication and closing the gap between inspiration and action when it comes to launching things. It is also opening up access to information in a way never seen in human history, in the process, making the world flatter.

It’s global capability to connect anyone with anything is literally and figuratively redefining modern lives and livelihoods.

It facilitates new ideas to show up that no-one would have ever thought of thereby giving birth to new products and services that have a potential to makes our lives easier and the world a better place. In a word, the internet is changing everything.

“The Internet embraces all of us: businesses, individuals, governments and entrepreneurs. The Web has made possible new models of business models and entrepreneurship but has also led to radical innovations for accessing, using, and delivering goods and services for everyone. It has transformed industries and governments through innovative approaches and changed how users engage the world,” states McKinsey and Company in a report titled, “Internet matters: The Net’s sweeping impact on growth, jobs and prosperity.”  

A study of 13 countries that account for 70 per cent of the global GDP revealed that the internet accounts for an average of 3.4 per cent of the GDP. In Africa alone, the upsurge in internet usage could add could add $300bn a year to the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025, according to McKinsey and Company.

“The leapfrogging effects of the Internet make it the most interesting development on the African continent since the wide-scale adoption of mobile phones,” says Armando Cabral, a Director at McKinsey & Company.

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the internet has become an essential tool for creating an environment that nurtures the technological and service innovation, and triggering positive change in business processes as well as in society as a whole.

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Zimbabwe Experiences Internet Downtime

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – PART of Zimbabwe’s internet bandwidth experienced downtime Thursday due to disruptions to Mozambique’s telecommunications services in Chimoio, according to sources.

Zimbabwe links to the 13,700-kilometre South East Asia Commonwealth (Seacom) submarine fibre-optic cable system running along the coast of Africa via Mozambique’s parastatal telecommunications company, Telecommunicacoes de Mozambique (TDM).

All Internet Access Providers (IAPs) utilising the Mozambique link were affected resulting in slow to no internet connection for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and their clients.

“Due to some disruptions to equipment in Mozambique, I can confirm that a good portion of our internet capacity has been negatively affected. However, we maintain other tributaries of internet connectivity to ensure that our clients  stay online,” said an official with a local Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Sue Bolt, a spokespersom for Dandemutande, one of Zimbabwe’s biggest IAPs confirmed that they had been informed of  Telecomunicações de Moçambique equipment failure in Chimoio.

“It is true that the internet services have been slow, and the last we heard was that there has been equipment failure in Mozambique. But we have been using back satelitte link-ups,” said Bolt. Efforts to get a comment from Seacom offices in Mozambique and South Africa were fruitless but a statement on the company’s website dated October 20, 2011 read:

“SEACOM has completed the restoration process for all of our customers on alternative routes. In the meantime, the repair vessel is now in transit to the repair ground in the Mediterranean. The vessel has received the master permit for this repair;  operational permits are being finalized and should be received prior to arrival on the repair ground. At this time repair completion is expected late October, however we’d note that the usual exogenous factors associated with sub-sea repairs, including weather and currents, may further impact the repair. SEACOM continues to monitor the situation closely and will update customers regularly on progress.”

With Zimbabwe gaining increasing access to the internet via the undersea cable system and redefining the way people communicate and do business, any disruption to services is immensely felt among businesses and the general public, especially in urban areas.

Fibre Optics Set to Transform Zimbabwe

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – A fibre optic project linking Harare-Bulawayo-Beitbridge to the undersea cable in South Africa is almost complete, according to reports in the state-owned daily newspaper.

“Once complete, the fibre optic project is expected to bolster service provision by state-owned telecommunication companies NetOne and TelOne,” reported the newspaper.

Expectations are that Zimbabwe which is landlocked will have faster Internet and telephone connection, transmission of data as well as multimedia facilities.

The Harare-Bulawayo-Beitbridge link is in addition to the Harare-Mozambique link which was completed last year at a total costpf US$6,3 million.

It is expected that by 2014 the country will be internationally networked, with about 1 340 km of cables, carrying massive amounts of mobile phone, television, internet and other telecommunication signals.

Vast job opportunities will open up while government bureaucracy, costs of internet access and doing business will be lowered, say experts.

The development is seen as ushering in a new era in Zimbabwe, for example, it is anticipated that software developers, students, internet fanatics, broadcasters and other sectors will cash in as telecommunication services become better. Put simply, fibre optic internet cables are expected to change lives and livelihoods in the country.

Zimbabwe has traditionally relied on Mazowe earth satellite link which is not only limited but very slow and expensive.

“The linking to the undersea cable will almost certainly knock down prices although it must be pointed out that in the initial stages of the connectivity tariffs will be high owing to the need by these companies to return their investments. But in the long run, internet, and other telecommunications services which will be based on this linking will drastically fall down,” said Patrick Tsvetu, an ICT sector expert based in Harare.

Zimbabwe Operators to Share Rural Network Infrastructure

By Chief K.Masimba Biriwasha

Harare, Zimbabwe – IN a development that will potentially boost Zimbabwe’s rural mobile telephony, the telecommunications regulatory authority, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, recently announced that it is installing shared telecommunications infrastructure in the country’s rural areas.

Among the players in the telecommunications sector, infrastructure is highly regarded as a competitive advantage hence the reluctance to open up platforms.

“The duplication of infrastructure is reversing the aggressive expansion mood that investors are approaching the telecommunications sector with,” said Taonaziso Chowa, an investment analyst with Old Mutual Zimbabwe’s investment research division.

The reluctance of Zimbabwe’s mobile operators to share infrastructure has been widely reported as a shortcoming which has resulted in the duplication of infrastructure such as towers for base stations, and missing the opportunity to channel resources into other areas. It has been cited as one of the limiting factors of Zimbabwe’s telecommunications industry’s growth potential.

Moreover, mobile telecommunication operators have traditionally targeted urban areas, but it is the demand from rural and low-income areas that is likely to exceed all expectations. As urban markets become saturated, the next generation of mobile phone users will increasingly be rural based. Rural areas, where a majority of Zimbabweans live, are particularly in need of better mobile and broadband service.

According to POTRAZ, the programme is expected to improve coverage of mobile phone networks through the installation of towers, power back-ups and equipment rooms. Installation of the infrastructure will be financed by a total of US$20 million dollars from the Universal Service Fund (USF).

According to the state owned weekly newspaper, Sunday Mail, the USF was established under Section 10 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act. Essentially, licensed telephone operators and other ICT providers contribute 2 percent of their gross income to the USF which is used to finance provision of services in remote areas.

“We are already installing the passive infrastructure in one district in all the eight provinces and work should be completed before year end,” the Sunday Mail quoted Engineer Charles Sibanda, POTRAZ director.

Sibanda added that the three mobile phone operators in the country and ICT service providers would share the infrastructure to install transmitters for providing their services.

According to previous media reports, POTRAZ is planning to prohibit the number of towers that each operator can erect in a given area.

“This infrastructural development will certainly ensure that our rural areas that are often ignore by the big telecommunications players in the country will now be better connected. Its very important for the future development of our country, and is a welcome development,” said Bethel Goka, an IT specialist.

The infrastructure sharing arrangement will allow the telecommunication operators to increase their coverage by utilizing the proposed base stations to reach new subscribers while concentrating on value added services.

How to Communicate In A Crowded Universe

IMAGINE how many unwanted messages you receive in your inbox each day; messages that you simply trash away without bothering to check. Yet some person at the other end of the chain is pampering themselves that they have done their job to communicate whatever it is they have at hand, so to speak. Is the golden age promised by the Internet for communicators over? Continue reading

Is Internet An Unassailable Right?

Internet

RECENT developments in Europe on Internat access legislation are indeed welcome, and point to a freer and less fettered access to this important human resource. If anything, governments around the world must follow suit and ensure that their citizens benefit from this essential resource.

Like may people around the world, I use the Internet on a daily basis, and when I can not get online access I feel sick. I am not exaggerating. For me, the internet has become as important as breathing. I have to have it or at least I have to know that I can have it.

That’s why I was so intrigued to read a recent New York Times report that European lawmakers agreed on new protections for Internet users.

Part of the report stated that consumer organizations that wanted to enshrine Internet access as an unassailable right. Governments in Europe have in past few months mooted ways to limit internet access to those deemed to be engaging in illegal downloads.

“Under the compromise, any decision to sever Internet access, an approach championed by several E.U. countries seeking to clamp down on digital copying of music and movies, must be subject to a legal review,” reported the New York Times. Continue reading

5 Tips to Make Travel Less Stressful

Traveling can be a pain in the spirit because it takes you out of your everyday routine, bringing new and unexpected pressures.  

But with a little forward planning and open-mindedness, you surely can have a successful and enjoyable trip.  

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, keeping a few points in mind can help to take the stress out of your excursion. 

In more ways than one, conscious efforts to take the stress out can make you make the most out of your trip.  

1. Get information about the place. Before you start off on your trip, you must get as much information as you can about the place that you are traveling to.

You need to develop a vague sense of where you are traveling to so that when surprise happens, it will not shake the roots out of your system. The internet is a great resource to research free information about many places around the world.  

2. Check the weather. In your research about the place you are traveling to make sure that you get information about the weather. You can do this by simply checking for details online. Depending on the tightness of your schedule, if the weather is going to be bad, it is advisable that you postpone your trip. If you absolutely have to make the trip, then make the right amends, including packing the right clothes, as the weather pre-determines. 

3. Pack the right clothes. Take as few clothes as possible. It’s always wise to pack some warm clothing just in case it gets chilly during your travel. Jeans and t-shirts – if you are not going on business – will certainly take the stress out of making clothing choices during your travel. Jeans can also be worn over and over again before they require a wash. 

If you are going on a business trip, washable silk clothing is the best especially because it does not require ironing. Also, make sure to carry your identification details because you may be required to use them during your travel.  

4. Take precaution. Whether you are traveling in-country or to a foreign place, you must keep your wits about you. The world is not always a rosy place. Make sure to look after your cards, cash and documents. Be scrupulous about people who offer to give you help as you may become an unwilling victim of tricksters. 

5. Be open minded. Traveling is traversing into new territory, immersing yourself in a space that you normally don’t exist in, so it’s all normal that you will likely encounter some surprises and strange occurrences. Don’t be too quick to take offense.

Keeping a little smile and warm heartedness can help you to glide smoothly through the strange happenings as well as the culture shocks. If you leave the baggage of your own ego behind, you will survive the shocks. 

Not to mention, traveling is like an open book that you enter making you an active reader every step of the way, so make the most to enjoy every chapter along the way.