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Facebook has announced the launch of free video calling via its Messenger VOiP app in the US, Canada, UK, Nigeria and 14 other countries. The new feature allows users to start a video call within an existing Messenger conversation by tapping the video icon in the corner of the screen.

Video calling in Messenger is now available for iOS and Android users in Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Laos, Lithuania, Mexico, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, the UK, the US and Uruguay, with more regions to be added in the coming months. Messenger has more than 600 million monthly users worldwide and, according to Facebook, accounts for around 10 percent of mobile VOiP calls worldwide. Read more

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Starting a new business within the continent of Africa can be as terrifying as it is exciting. At any given time, a fledgling company can come up against a number of common challenges.

From hiring the right people to defining your brand… start-ups must overcome these obstacles to ensure success. This is according to Dan Karua, Managing Director, Lamudi, Kenya.

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market recorded a significant growth in the final quarter of 2014, with holiday purchases and aggressive end-of-year promotions spurring a particularly strong performance in the consumer segment. This is according to the latest figures from the IDC.

According to the IDC, the overall MEA tablet market grew 26.1 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter to total 4.43 million units, with the activities of several Far East manufacturers spurring significant annual growth in shipments of Android (33%) and Windows (131%) tablets. Read more

FTTH Council Africa

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52 African countries are now connected to submarine cables, either directly or by terrestrial cross-border fibre optic networks. 44% of Africans live within a 25-km reach of a fibre node.

The key question now is which cities and suburbs are taking the lead in building access networks? In an attempt to answer this question theFTTH Council Africa, in collaboration with Africa Bandwidth Maps are undertaking research to determine network reach and identify Africa’s most connected cities.

Africa’s inventory of terrestrial transmission networks has more than doubled in the last five years. According to the latest research by Africa Bandwidth Maps, Africa’s total inventory of transmission network edges towards 1 million route kilometres, the continent had a total of 586,707-km of operational fibre optic network by December 2014. This comprises of long-haul, metropolitan and FTTH/B (fibre-to-the-home/building) terrestrial fibre optic networks. Read more

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Running a small business is challenging, not only when it comes to designing and managing the best product or service, but also when it comes to presenting your creation to the public. When compared to large companies, there’s certainly less help available for critical processes like establishing a mobile online presence.

According to research conducted by the Endurance International Group, small businesses in the US are currently vastly underserved in that arena — 71 percent of small businesses queried said they would benefit from having a mobile app, but 78 percent did not have one. Endurance is stepping in to rectify that disparity with an auto app builder called Instant AppMachine, a collaboration between Endurance and The Netherlands-based tech developer AppMachine, and announced it in a bit of a party atmosphere at SXSW.

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At Mobile World Congress 2015 (MWC), IT News Africa caught up with Erik Dahlman who is currently one of Ericsson’s top 5G experts.

During the course of the interview, Dahlman gives a brief overview of what 5G technology is. Additionally, he discusses when 5G will be rolled-out as well as gives an estimated forecast of when the service will be introduced into the African continent.

Dahlman also gives an explanation on how 5G can be utilised as well as how it will benefit the connected world.

 

Read more at IT Africa News 

Stuck in the waiting room

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A long-touted health-care revolution may at last be about to arrive

Oct 11th 2014 | ROME | From the print edition

THE idea of telemedicine—health care provided using telecommunications equipment—has a lengthy history. Radio News, an American magazine, devoted its cover to a patient at home consulting a doctor in his surgery via a television link as long ago as 1924. When NASA began monitoring astronauts in space in the 1960s, fantasy became reality. It has been touted as health care’s future ever since.

But even smartphones and tablets have failed to usher in the telemedicine revolution: most health care still happens face to face. Now, enthusiasts think the wait is nearly over. Governments have been slow to embrace an approach that could improve coverage and outcomes, as well as saving money. But they are under increasing pressure from ageing populations and a surge in chronic diseases, just as public budgets are being squeezed.

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Mozilla has revealed that the Firefox OS will soon expand to Africa. The Firefox OS ecosystem has gained support from three new key partners in the region: Airtel, MTN South Africa and Tigo, operated by Millicom, are the first carriers working with Mozilla to soon bring first Firefox OS smartphones to Africa.

“We are proud to see that with Airtel, MTN South Africa and Tigo, Firefox OS gains additional support to soon extend the Firefox OS footstep into Africa”, says Rick Fant, Mozilla’s VP Planning and Ecosystem. “The continued growth of Firefox OS holds great promise for enabling millions more people to access the mobile Web at an affordable cost, while helping to remove control points in today’s closed mobile ecosystems.” Read more

Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends

The 2014 Gartner Symposium, which is being held at CTICC in Cape Town, recently revealed the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015. Adding to this, Vodacom’s managing executive of m-Commerce, Hemmanth Singh, has marked Africa as the fastest growing technology market.

In his presentation, Singh touched on a great deal of statistics as to why the continent is set to grow in the technology space as well as pointed out its potential. According to Singh, Africa has 6 of the world’s top 10 fastest growing countries over the last decade.

Vodacom’s managing executive of m-Commerce Hemmanth Singh. (Image Credit: Darryl Linington).

To add to this, Singh stated that Africa additionally has:

– A predicted growth rate of 5-6 percent for the next two years
– 1 billion inhabitants, which is set to double 2050 and will essentially overtake India and China
– The world’s youngest population – 50% of individuals are under the age of 24
– Foreign direct investment up 5 percent in 2012, as global FDI fell 18 percent
– Optimism – 84 percent of Africans expect to be better off by in the next 2 years

Singh also stated that by 2016 500 million Africans will live in urban centres. He also included that by 2025 Africa’s 50 largest cities will account for 40 percent of GDP (13 percent now).  By 2030 Africa will account for more than 40 percent of the global population and by 2050 the total African GDP will grow from 2 Trillion USD to 29 Trillion USD.

Singh also revealed that, as the world’s fastest growing technology market:

– 720 million Africans have mobile devices
– 50 percent of Africans accessed the internet in the past 4 weeks
– 56 percent of urban consumers own internet enabled devices
– In Uganda there are more mobile phones than light bulbs
– mPesa is used by 15 million people in Kenya & moves the equivalent of 31 percent GDP annually
– More mobile money accounts exist than bank accounts in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
– 43 percent more Google ad clicks come from Africa

Singh ended off his presentation with one short, yet impacting sentence: “The innovation platform in Africa is just massive.”

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As of the second quarter of 2014, Facebook now has 100 million people coming to the platform every month across the African continent, representing half of the 200 million people connected to the Internet in Africa. More than 80% come to Facebook every month on mobile.

In addition to this being a significant milestone for Facebook, it also reflects the fact that people in high-growth countries want to be connected to the world around them and that mobile is providing unprecedented ways for that to happen.

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