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Internet price wars loom as capacity becomes idle

internetDAILY NATION By  Peter Mburu

Monday, June 27, 2022

More than two-thirds of Kenya’s internet supply remained idle in the quarter to March, laying ground for vicious price wars as more firms stepped up investment to add their capacities.

The latest data by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that between January 1 and March 31, the country only used 3,386.19 billion bits per second (Gbps) of internet bandwidth out of the total available capacity of 10,891.65 Gbps —indicating an oversupply that is likely to trigger price competition among service providers.

This leaves unutilised bandwidth within the country at 7,505.46 Gbps, even as organisations, including multinationals, local firms, and some state firms scramble for the internet market, deploying more internet infrastructure.

“During the review period, leased/available international internet bandwidth remained unchanged whereas bandwidth capacity utilised within the country increased by 15.2 percent to stand at 3,386.19 Gbps,” the CA report stated.


Crypto industry gripped by anxiety as bitcoin wobbles near Sh2.3m level


Monday June 20 2022

The cryptocurrency industry was on edge on Monday morning as investors feared contagion from problems at major crypto players could unleash a major shakeout if not contained.

Bitcoin which has lost 57 percent so far this year and 37 percent this month, fell below Sh2.34 million ($20,000) over the weekend for the first time since December 2020.

The level is of symbolic significance, as it was roughly the peak of the 2017 cycle.

The price fall follows difficulties at several major industry players, while further declines could have a knock-on effect as other crypto investors are forced to sell their holdings to meet margin calls and cover losses.

Crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital is exploring its options, including the sale of assets and a bailout by another firm, its founders told the Wall Street Journal in a story published Friday, the same day Asia-focused crypto lender Babel Finance said it would suspend withdrawals.


Kenyans lose billions to Crypto frauds


Saturday June 11,2022

“I still drive my Ferrari and some of you can’t afford to eat.” That is the last message the founder of a cryptocurrency wrote to Kenyans in a Telegram group after defrauding them of Sh1 billion.

In the days leading to the collapse of Bitstream Circle, a ponzi scheme designed by Kenyan and Chinese fraudsters, its investors – mostly Kenyans – started noticing delays whenever they wanted to withdraw their money.

The company, which had promised a daily profit return of five to 10 per cent of invested amount, appeared on the internet on December 7, 2021.

It gained more than 10,000 followers on its Telegram page in a short time. To be added to the “Bt Elite Team” group, one had to make a $20 (Sh2,340) deposit.

Investors were assigned a mentor who would show them how to convert their shillings into cryptocoins, trade, earn profit and withdraw their money.


Mitigating cyber-fraud risks targeting Kenyan businesses


Tuesday June 06, 2022

Last week the media reported how a Kenyan was milked dry by a well-orchestrated SIM swap fraud carried out. The victim lost Sh2.6 million in the unfortunate event. That is a snapshot of the dangers of cybercrime at a micro-level. At a macro-level where banks and large businesses are involved, the situation is dicier.

As we celebrate the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day (MSMEs) this month, let us pay attention to this challenge.

As we know small businesses have been most affected since the outbreak of the pandemic, making the reinsurance sector an increasingly challenging market. This has a ripple effect on the banks and the insurance sector that protects them and by extension the reinsurance companies that safeguard these insurers.


Kenyan domains up 39pc on faster tech adoption


Thursday May 26 2022

The number of registered Kenyan domains grew by 38.5 percent in 2020, a new report shows, at a time when companies embraced digital platforms in the wake of Covid-19's restrictions.

Official data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that a total of 101,123 local domains were established in 2020, up from 62,636 in 2016, representing a 38.5 per cent increase.

Companies recorded the highest number of applications at 35,611 followed by government entities (243), institutions of higher learning (236), not-for-profit organisations (70), blogs (12), and lower and middle institutions of learning (five) in the period.

”Total registered Kenyan domains continued to increase for the fifth year in a row to stand at 101,123 in 2020. Second Level Domain (SLD) had the highest increase of 15.9 per cent followed by Institution of Higher Learning at 8.2 per cent,” the 2021 Economic Survey shows.

After the government announced stringent lockdown measures such as social distancing, closure of schools and movement restrictions, firms adopted digital solutions to reach new and existing customers.


Helb to borrow Sh22bn for student laptops


The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) plans to borrow Sh22 billion through a bond to fund laptop purchases for university students.

The agency said on Tuesday it will issue its first so-called social bond to supplement government capitation that has failed to keep pace with the growing student enrolment.

The number of government-sponsored students in public universities has grown rapidly in the past few years due to the lowering of the entry grade to public universities to C+, outpacing Helb’s funding from the State.

“Initially we estimated this to be Sh5.5 billion. However, looking at the application of these funds, which is to finance students to acquire laptop loans for purposes of e-learning ... we estimate this now at Sh22 billion,” said Helb CEO Charles Ringera.

“The current university enrolment is at 700,000. Only 20 percent of these students have laptops, leaving over 560,000 in need of laptops. At a price of Sh45,000 for a reasonable laptop, then you can now see the actual demand – but we could start this progressively by issuing these in tranche notes.”


A case for right laws for tech in Africa


Thursday May 19 2022

Emerging technologies are transforming every aspect of our lives and as a result, influencing our laws. The speed at which these technologies are shaping our lives is not matched with the pace of policy and regulatory change.

Yet, we must enable innovations to take place, allow fair markets to flourish and protect consumers from intrusive technology providers and those that seek to harm citizens.

A research on laws and emerging technologies by Esther Salmerón-Manzano highlights how new technologies will have a huge impact on society in the coming years and bring new legal challenges worldwide.

Experience shows that technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data analytics, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are already having a significant impact on our economic, social, and political lives. Covid-19 fast tracked most of these technologies.

In spite of the impact, many developing economies’ policy, regulatory frameworks and laws on technology still lag developed nations.


State seeks to control Safaricom call charges


Tuesday May 17 2022

The rates that Safaricom charges rivals for terminating calls on its network are to be controlled by the government in a bid to protect the small telecommunications firms.

Under new regulations that seek to bar dominant telcos from making profits from mobile termination rates (MTRs), Safaricom will charge fees to cover only the costs of interconnecting calls from its competitors.

The Kenya Information and Communication (Interconnection) Regulations 2022 set the stage for the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to control Safaricom’s rates of interconnecting calls from its rivals given that the telco controls more than 25 percent of mobile services revenues.

MTRs are the charges levied by a mobile service provider on other telecommunications service providers for terminating calls on its network.


Digital signatures will boost growth of online trading


The government’s vision is to empower Kenyans in a digitally enabled society as per the country’s Digital Economy Blueprint 2019.

It states that we envision a nation where every citizen, enterprise and organisation has digital access as well as can participate and thrive in the digital economy.

This is the dream of every Kenyan citizen. With the rising cost of living, a digitally-enabled economy will not only ease the burden of travelling to get these services but also have the added advantage of eliminating bureaucracy that comes with transparency risks.

In the past 10 years, we have experienced significant improvement in service delivery through digitisation initiatives.

Gone are the days when you would have to physically visit the Kenya Revenue Authority to drop off your tax returns and visit National Health Insurance Fund to deliver your monthly payment. We now have more than 30 services that are available online.


Digital masterplan: Go beyond the talk


In an article by World Economic Forum (WEF) on how digital transformation is driving economic change, they highlight how we live in a time of exciting technological innovations. And that digital technologies are driving transformative change.

According to WEF, economic paradigms shift, and innovative technologies are reshaping the products and factor markets. The changes are profoundly altering the business and work environment.

But a country without a digital masterplan cannot exploit emerging technology-assisted economic opportunities easily. Kenya took a leap of faith with her master plan launched at the Connected Kenya Summit 2022.

The launch at Leisure Lodge in Diani was like a high school reunion, with so many technology enthusiasts attending despite the Sh60,000 registration fee, thanks to the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.


How Kemsa’s IT focus will cure procurement ills


Wednesday April 06 2022

Information Technology (IT) solutions provide limitless opportunities to facilitate much-needed efficiency at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) as part of organisational reforms.

Kemsa is mandated to ensure supply chain excellence for Health Products and Technologies (HPTs) to ensure positive health outcomes.

The Authority, like never before, is banking on technology and a fit-for-purpose human resource base to meet its mandate.

IT investments at the Authority are also geared at plugging procurement loopholes, enhancing integrity, transparency and accountability at Kemsa.

As part of the Kemsa reform plan, we have ramped up strategies to offer automated web-based enterprise and customer-facing services.


Smartphone hitch hits CBK’s digital shilling plan


Wednesday March 23 2022

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has warned that lack of access to smartphones by more than half of mobile users in the country will hamper the rollout of its proposed digital currency that requires access to the Internet.

CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge said in an interview that the smartphone hitch might force the bank to delay the rollout of the central bank digital currency (CBDC) -- a virtual version of the shilling which will exchange on a one-to-one basis with physical cash.

Official data show that 33 million or 56 percent of the 59 million cellphone devices are feature phones, making it difficult for half of subscribers to transact using CBDC.


in partnership with Google made a sales offer of one million affordable digital sets, with customers paying as little as Sh20 a day over nine months, aiming to switch about four million 2G and 3G phones to 4G.


Boost for data privacy as new rules take effect

kassaitBUSINESS DAILY By Edna Mwenda

Monday March 21, 2022

Companies who breach privacy laws are now set to feel the full weight of the new data act after it received parliamentary nod last week.

In compliance with the law, all data controllers and data processors will now be required to register with the office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

A company found in breach of the new data regulations face fines of up to one percent of their annual turnover after the parliamentary committee on delegated legislation passed the data laws.

The approved set of regulations includes the data protection (General) regulations 2021, the Data Protection (Complaints Handling and Enforcement Procedures) Regulations, 2021, and the Data Protection (Registration of Data Controllers and Data Processors) Regulations, 2021.


Telcos get reprieve from fraudulent foreign calls


Wednesday February 23 2022

A tribunal has upheld the ban on secret international calls disguised as local conversations, sealing a loophole that was used by niche telecommunications service providers to avoid paying higher tariffs.

The Communications And Multimedia Appeals Tribunal ruled that the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) was right in its 2018 decision to ban the practice technically known as SIM boxing.


reported the matter to the regulator in November 2016, accusing Geonet Communications Limited of illegally terminating international voice traffic on its network disguised as local calls to take advantage of domestic mobile termination rates, which are cheaper.

The CA, among other findings, declared that Geonet was guilty of SIM boxing which it said flouted the law.

Elige Communications, another player specialising in international calls, subsequently filed an appeal at the tribunal to challenge the regulator’s decisions.


The pros and cons of digital currency


Monday February 21 2022

The global outbreak of Covid-19 ushered in a lot of digital transformations in many sectors. Central banks have been in discussions since then, on the feasibility of introducing central bank based digital currencies.

The main motivation for the proposed introduction is to take advantage of technological advancements that support the implementation of digital currency.

A central bank digital currency (CBDC) is a new type of money issued by a central bank — such as the Central Bank Of Kenya — and that is intended to serve as legal tender. In as much as CBDCs will probably use the same technology as cryptocurrencies, they differ in terms of legal banking.

A CBDC will be regulated and will be based on the value of the Kenya shilling. A cryptocurrency is however largely unregulated and its value is not tied to any asset. Its value largely depends on speculation by investors. Furthermore, cryptocurrencies are not centralised, unlike the CBDC which is centralised.


Mind about cyber threats to your business


Tuesday February 15 2022

What would you imagine your username and password are worth to a hacker? According to Microsoft’s latest threat and data research, the average price for 1,000 stolen username password pairs is around $0.97. What’s more, securing 400 million username and password combinations in bulk will earn a cybercriminal around $150.

There can be little doubt, cybercriminals have our passwords in their sights. This is particularly the case in Africa where businesses are often more prone to cyberattacks than companies anywhere else in the world.

According to one report, Kenya ranked second in Africa, experiencing 28.3 million cyberattacks. South Africa ranked first with 32 million attacks.

With weak passwords, password spraying and phishing, the entry point for most attacks, identity is the new battleground of cyberthreats. And for organisations looking to protect themselves, preventing an identity from being misused or stolen, is now the highest priority.


Why data-driven solutions are critical for banks’ survival


Thursday February 10 2022

The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the provision of financial services matters now more than ever, and banks of the future will have to keep improving their systems if they are to adapt to the emerging dynamics of customer preferences in the future.

This, according to fintech experts who spoke during the inaugural Leap 2022 global tech summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, could make the difference in profitability in the global banking sector.

“The combination of intelligent propositions and personalised experiences will set an AI bank apart from traditional incumbents,” said Rana Gujral, chief executive officer of Behavioral Signals, an enterprise software company that unravels behavioural signals from speech data.

Noting that banks across the world are struggling to connect with their customers in the current era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Mr Gujral stressed the need for personalising banking experience using AI.


Safaricom case to block CA mobile tariff slash starts


Wednesday February 02, 2022

The Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal is Wednesday set to start hearing a case in which Safaricom has petitioned it to block the sector regulator's decision to cut mobile termination rates (MTR) to Sh0.12 per minute from the current Sh0.99 per minute.

MTR are the charges levied by a mobile service provider on other telecommunications service providers for terminating calls in its network.

The CA has said the cut will have a positive impact on both consumers and operators, adding the review will reduce the need for consumers to own multiple SIM cards as charges across networks come down.

But Safaricom while appealing the decision argues the move to cut the charges will negatively impact its revenues and profitability and occasion its financial loss. 


Web 3.0 opens new markets for Africa


Thursday January 27, 2022

Despite the fact that the term Big Data has been around for centuries, it was not until 2005 that it became popular after it was launched by O'Reilly Media.

Over the years leading companies have documented how Big Data has helped them in their businesses, some having used it to cut down their outgoings. Data analytics have helped many businesses to identify new revenue streams, new customers and expand into other areas.

Big Tech companies on the other hand have collected user data and used it to create new value. Unfortunately, many of these companies are implicated in data breaches. Some of the data is improperly obtained for other purposes outside of the intended reason.

The latest iteration of Internet World Wide Web 3.0 (Web 3.0) might shift more control of web content into the user’s hands. This means that users will have more control over their data as stipulated under Article 20 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


CA downplays mobile tariff cut sustainability concerns


Wednesday January 26 2022

The Communications Authority of Kenya says the downward review of the mobile termination rate (MTR) per minute to Sh0.12 from the current Sh0.99 will not hurt the profitability of any player in the sector.

The regulator said that operators ought not to book any gains from the MTR, but rather just recoup the cost of terminating rival operators’ calls on their own network.

“The proposed MTRs of Sh0.12 is sustainable and does not negatively impact industry players’ profitability,” CA said.

“In telecommunications competition regulation principles and best practice, operators ought not to make profits from interconnection, but are meant to recoup the incremental cost of carrying an additional call from another operator, which the reviewed MTR and FTR (fixed termination rate) does.”


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