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MTN, Safaricom win big

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South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom led the field at the AfricaCom Awards 2011, each taking two categories at last night’s ceremony.

South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Safaricom each won two of the ten categories in the annual AfricaCom Awards presented at a gala in Cape Town last night.,. Informa Media & Telecoms, organisers of the AfricaCom Congress 2011, hailed the winners of this year’s leaders in the ICT, Media and Telecoms industry from the African continent. ‚The quality and number of entries in this year’s awards has been exceptional‚ commented Emily Martyr, Conference Manager, Informa Telecoms & Media. ‚It has been difficult judging the submissions in 2011 as the continent has evolved to such an extent that the competition is fierce.‚ The category winners are: Best Network Improvement: MTN South Africa for Long Term Evolution (pilot) MTN South Africa’s LTE pilot had the objectives of enabling the South African public to experience this new technology’s capabilities, to internally gain first-hand experience of the technology, as well as to understand how it performs in a live environment. Clients described their experience of the new network as ‚’phenomenal, with the bandwidth on average 5-6 times faster than the 3G network, and the latency at least half with a very consistent experience in this regard.” Best New Service: Orange Surf & Pay Orange aimed to offer the first hassle-free billing solution for small businesses in Uganda and Kenya. It allows small business customers to charge end users for connecting to the Internet. It also makes it possible for neighbours to share the cost of an Internet connection. Surf & Pay will be helping to create new opportunities and new sources of income for small businesses, as well as increasing the Internet penetration rate in Africa. This service is a revolution in Uganda and Kenya. Best Cost Efficiency Initiative for Africa: Helios Towers Africa for Pioneering sale/leaseback model for telecoms infrastructure across Africa Helios Towers Africa pioneered the independent model of shared telecoms infrastructure on the African continent. They enable reduced costs in both roll out and management of networks. Resulting in a greater number of national operators and more tower availability, this increases the accessibility of communications coverage for consumers in rural Africa. Furthermore, the cost savings made by operators thanks to Helios Towers Africa can then be passed on to their consumers, reducing communications costs for business and individual users. Rural Telecoms Award: Ericsson for Rural Netco Ericsson’s Rural NetCo aspired to be a high speed, shared broadband network to provide an affordable service and enable ICT development in rural regions. It is the first wholesale company set-up to cater for rural areas. Ericsson tested it with one of the largest operators in Tanzania, and April and May 2011 saw Rural NetCo reaching a milestone when they announced coverage across 18 regions in rural Tanzania. Ericsson is still pushing this project, with plans to expand services in existing areas, and to roll out further coverage to new regions. Best Backhaul Solution for Africa: Huawei Technologies for Building IP Backhaul in South Africa Huawei was chosen as a partner to MTN South Africa with the objective of building a low-cost, high-quality and future-oriented network. Huawei’s network solution resulted in low-cost, high-quality services, and improved the end users experience. In the future the network will be better able to adapt to the future of mobile data services and enterprise business development, and will have better scalability to meet future demand on the network. Customer Service Excellence Awards: Gateway Communications Customer Service Gateway Communications’ customer service department looks after a broad base of more than 200 carrier customers. Gateway prides itself on excellent customer service being an ingrained methodology. One of the things Gateway strives to do is avoid faults, before they happen by analysing incidents trends and monitoring customer networks in real time. In a recent survey a very high percentage of customers agreed with the statement ‚‚It is a pleasure dealing with Gateway’s Network Operations Centre.” Best Marketing Campaign: MTN South Africa for MTN Zone MTN Zone currently has 11.2 million customers using it. It is a dynamic tariffing Pay-as-you-Go price plan that offers customers discounts on calls and SMSs. MTN re-launched MTN Zone with a fresh marketing campaign in October 2011. This successful campaign utilised television, radio, print, out‚of-home, digital, direct marketing mediums as well as below-the-line brand activations. With this campaign, MTN also attracted existing customers onto the MTN Zone price plan as well as new subscribers to its network. Satellite Service Provider of the Year: SkyVision SkyVision prides itself on having now reached a point where it is able to provide a diverse range of satellite connectivity solutions to meet any demand, expectation and company need. During 2011 alone, SkyVision increased its satellite capacity over Africa via various satellites, enabling it to support growing demand for its ever-increasing portfolio of services and today, SkyVision delivers the most progressive SLA in the market.In 2011 95% of customers described themselves as fairly to very satisfied with SkyVision’s services. Best ICT Solution Provider for Enterprise Markets In Africa: SafariCom Limited for‚Tele Justice’ using Telepresence Technology Safaricom’s ‚Tele Justice’ aimed to help the efficiency and accuracy of the judging process in Kenya. Cutting travelling where possible is very important to all businesses, but where court hearings are important and complex ‚ a reliable solution was imperative. This pilot successfully enabled the Judges seated in Nairobi to hear and rule on cases in Mombasa (500km away) in real time over high-res video conferencing. The solution is unique and utilizes Safaricom’s High capacity national fibre links to carry real-time, high-res video-based communications. Best Pan African Initiative: Seacom & Main One The partnering of SEACOM and Main One changed communications on the West and East Coasts of Africa. SEACOM and Main One joined to provide cost-effective services, intended to stimulate direct West to East coast connections. Through this partnership, SEACOM and Main One have managed to extend their individual cable systems to the opposite coasts of Africa. The joint solution is a first of its kind in Africa. Changing Lives Awards: SafariCom Limited for M-PESA Pay Bill Service used for a Nationwide fundraising Initiative Safaricom’s M-PESA service was used for a nationwide fundraising initiative, responding to the worst drought facing Northern Kenya in decades. The objective was to raise 500mil Kenyan Shillings in 4 weeks (approx $5 million US) to feed 4 million Kenyans facing starvation. In four weeks, the amount raised was three times more than what Kenya Red Cross Society had been able to raise in six months globally. Within those four weeks close to 300,000 needy Kenyans received emergency food and water – averting impending disaster.

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