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The East African : April 21st 2014
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK APRIL 19-25,2014 e -AF R ICAN Govts must play a critical role in promoting open data Open data could unleash mo≥e than $3 t≥illion in global economic value annually A JOINT REPORT Special Correspondents I nstitutions and companies across the public and private sectors have begun to release and share vast amounts of information in recent years, and the trend is only accelerating. Yet, while some information is easily accessible, some is still held in paper records. But there are degrees when it comes to just how “open” data is and, as a result, how much value it can create. While businesses and other pri- vate organisations can make more information public, governments have a critical role in unleashing the economic potential of open data. A recent McKinsey report, Open data: Unlocking innovation and performance with liquid information, identified more than $3 trillion in economic value globally that could be generated each year in seven domains through increasingly “liquid” information that is machine readable, accessible to a broad audience at little or no cost, and capable of being shared and distributed. These sources of val- ue include new or increased revenue, savings, and economic surplus that flow from the insights provided by data as diverse as census demographics, crop reports, and information on product recalls. A government can spur value creation at all levels of society Telkom Kenya questions awa≥ding of new mobile licences By OKUTTAH MARK Special Correspondent TELKOM KENYA has written to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) seeking to find out why the agency licensed three Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in the absence of contractual guidelines. The firm said the licensees pose unfair competition to existing operators. Mickael Ghossein, Telkom Kenya chief execu- tive officer, said that lack of rules of engagement and parameters on how the four mobile operators should carry out the new business has made it difficult to strike deals. Mr Ghossein said the vacuum may cause inequitable distribution of the partnerships and market concentration of the MVNOs to a single operator. A major concern for Mr Ghossein is that the MVNOs are only charged Ksh100,000 ($1,170) as licence fee, even though they will offer all services, including voice, data, mobile money trans- Mobile Pay Ltd’s director Gichane Muraguri (L), chairman and CEO Oscar Ikinu (C) and programmes manager Wahome Githumbi (R). The firm is among the three issued with MVNO licences by CAK. Picture: DIANA NGILA fer services and SMS. This automatically makes them serious competitors despite not having invested as much as existing telcos. “The authority ought to consider the amount of money existing players have invested, which the MVNOs have not, and which may lead to them engaging in competitive practices that would lead to market dumping and trigger fresh price wars,” said Mr Ghossein. Telkom Kenya wants to know what measures CAK has put in place to protect the investments of existing operators. Francis Wangusi, the CAK director-gener- al, said the authority is working on the policy guidelines and will release them before June. The three firms issued with the MVNO li- cences are Finserve Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Equity Bank; Mobile Pay Ltd, owned by Tangaza Money; and Zioncell Kenya. They will use existing operators’ networks at a negotiated fee, saving them heavy capital expenditure associated with rolling out telecommunication networks. The regulator said this would promote competition. The firms have entered into a contract with Airtel to use its infrastructure and are expected to roll out their services as soon as they are offered prefixes by CAK. by concurrently fulfilling four important open-data roles of provider, catalyst, user and policy maker. Provider. Across all levels of government in all regions of the world, millions of individual data records are collected, stored, and analysed. From tax returns and unemployment claims to hospital reimbursements and energy use, much of this information can be made available electronically and readily shared. By making this data available to enterprising companies and individuals, a government can spur private-sector innovation and increase transparency — two of the most important goals of any open-data initiative. Catalyst. Government can serve as a catalyst for the use of open data by creating a thriving ecosystem of data users, coders, and application developers. To at- EXAMPLES In the US, on data.gov, the federal government’s online portal for open data, more than 85,000 data sets are now available, along with user guides, event postings, and examples of applications across industries. In the UK, the website findthebest.com uses government data in its UK Car Fuel Economy and Emission Data App, which helps car buyers compare features such as fuel economy based on their type of commute. tract an ecosystem of developers, it can advertise open-data availability through press releases or other ma r k e t i n g materials, or even engage in individual outreach efforts. Other marketing platforms to champion open data include interagency meetings, roundtables with NGOs and businesses, and public-awareness campaigns. User. There are two key actions that government agencies can take to use open data. First, to optimise the use of public data within their own agencies, government leaders can invest in talent, tools, and systems. This includes hiring and train- ing staff at all levels — even those not in technical roles — about how to use data to make better decisions, including designing experiments, as well as the benefits of providing data to third parties. Second, governments can apply advanced analytics to improve internal decision making, promote the creation of new services, and increase accountability. Policy maker. Public sector leaders are often called on to protect individuals and organisations from the risks of open data while also advancing open data’s potential value. Leaders can draw on their legislative authority and enforcement powers to enhance safety, security, equity, and justice for all members of society. They can also participate in setting technical standards that can significantly increase and scale the benefits of open data. For a government to serve as an open-data provider, catalyst, user, and policy maker in an effective and sustainable way, it needs to have the right people, tools, and systems in place. By Diana Farrell, global head of the McKinsey Centre for Government and a director in McKinsey’s Washington, DC, office where Kate Jackson is a consultant. The article is adapted from McKinsey Global Institute BRIEFS Telcos in Kenya could soon share network base The Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) is working on a national regulation framework that will see mobile operators in Kenya share network infrastructure across the country. None of the operators will be allowed to carry excess spectrum. “It will open up the market for competition,” said Francis Wangusi, CAK director-general. Rwanda praised for fast technology adoption Rwanda has been applauded for its fast technology adoption compared with its African peers, making it an attractive destination for investors. According to David Meads, Cisco vice president for Africa, the country is fast becoming the go-to destination in terms of infrastructure and development. “Rwanda is one of the fastest growing countries and President Paul Kagame knows that technology can transform governments,” said Mr Meads. 29 The construction site of the Kigali Conference Centre. It is a key infrastructure project for the country. Picture: AFP EA to miss out on growth of mobile money transfers East African countries may miss out on a share of the predicted growth in the value of global payments via mobile devices. A new report from Juniper Research titled Mobile Payment Strategies: Remote, Contactless and Money Transfer 2014-2018 points out that in a number of emerging markets, such as Kenya and Uganda, the imposition of service taxes threatens the buoyancy of domestic mobile money transfers. Purchases of physical goods through mobile devices will push up the value of global payments via mobile devices to $507 billion this year, a rise of nearly 40 per cent year-on-year. Philips launches roadshow to showcase products Philips is seeking to expand its business footprint in Africa by developing innovations to tackle local challenges. The company’s pan-African Cairo to Cape Town roadshow kicked off recently and aims to understand local needs and grow the market. The roadshow will focus on the need for energy-efficient lighting and the revitalisation of African healthcare infrastructure. Philips officials said the company plans to install 100 “light centres” in off-grid communities by 2015.
April 14th 2014
April 28th 2014