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An Interview of Mr. Raj Hajela, Founder & Managing Director Estel Technologies talk about his breadth of experiences across several continents - and how telecom companies, banking firms and consumers in Nigeria are about to benefit from Estel’s platform
Estel Technologies is a leading and specialist mobile financial services technology enabler enters Nigeria
February 2013EDITOR’S NOTEMOBILE World Congress (MWC), thebiggest wireless trade show of the year,will see all the world’s major gadgetmanufacturers heading to Barcelona, Spainfor the February 25 - 29, 2013 event. Nooccasion is more important for theannouncement of new devices andcompany strategies and efforts to outshinethe competition. The 2013 MWC alsomarks a move to a larger and glitzier newvenue at the Fira Barcelona Gran Via. One of the superstars of Mobile WorldCongress 2012 was Nokia, which redis-covered its energy, shoved aside the usual8-megapixel camera phone technology thatconsumers have become accustomed to,and presented attendees with a never-before-seen 41-megapixel mobile – the 808PureView. Who is going to pull new tricksout of their hats at MWC 2013? The frenzyis palpable. Still talking mobiles, our feature titled“Which Phone Should you Buy?” comes tothe rescue of users who need help decidinghow to choose a phone that best meetstheir needs. We also have a scoop on themost anticipated smartphones for launch in2013 – phones that have taken away limits Raj Hajela Steve Evans The Nokia PureView 808and pushed them into the stratosphere. Founder & CEO of Estel CEO of Etisalat, Nigeria was a sensation at MWC And while Steve Evans (CEO of Etisalat, Technologies, India 2012Nigeria) recently predicted a 40 percentcompound annual growth for African mobile Last but not least: our interview of the enabler’ whose multi-operator e-Rechargebroadband by 2015, our article ‘Telecoms month with Raj Hajela, Founder & CEO of platform recently went live in Nigeria. ThisBoom Leaves Rural Africa Behind” suggests Estel Technologies India, brings to light comes at an interesting time when it isrural Africa might just be left out of any the workings of a little-known (at least, reported that Nigerians transacted dealsmeaningful growth in connectivity. in these parts) but efficient ‘technology worth N228m via mobile money in 2012.Telecoms Boom Leaves Rural Africa BehindWHILE mobile phone usage has exploded operators, and its capital, Juba, is teeming is only 61 percent, according to a 2012across Africa over the last decade, with giant billboards advertising mobile study by research firm Informa.transforming daily life and commerce for phones, but go just a few kilometers The average mobile phone user in Nigeriamillions, it’s a revolution that has left behind beyond a handful of fast-growing towns, owns an average of 2.39 SIM cards. Globally,perhaps two thirds of its people. and cell phones become useless. only Indonesia is higher, with an average Poor or no reception outside the towns Multiple SIM cards help users navigate of 2.62 SIM cards per user.helps explain why the continent’s mobile patchy network coverage and take Even in Africa’s biggest economy,penetration, in terms of the percentage advantage of price promotions from rival South Africa, SIM numbers comfortablyof the population using the service, is far operators. exceed the population, but given thelower than previously thought, and the cost That is typical of much of the continent. number of people using multiple devices,of providing that service to impoverished, With a population of just over a billion actual population penetration is closer tosparsely populated areas remains prohibitive. people, Africa has over 700 million SIM 80 percent, says market leader Vodacom. In rural Sierra Leone, a country where cards, but with most users owning at “You’ve got a lot of people buying SIMs,GDP per capita is less than $400 a year, least two cards, penetration is only about but maybe not enough phones to put it in,”money doesn’t grow on trees, but mobile 33 percent, according to a study released said Olayemi Jinadu, an executive with thereception can, says street trader Abass in November by industry research firm Sierra Leone arm of Indian telco Bharti Airtel.Bangura in Freetown, the West African Wireless Intelligence.country’s capital. “If we look at the fact that the rural COST VERSUS BENEFIT In parts of Tonkolili, a district in the center population of Africa is about 60-70 percent of The unserved rural millions couldof the country, or Kailahun to the east, it’s the population, and if we look at the degree represent another growth opportunity forthe only way you can get reception, he said. of penetration into the rural market, it’s Africa-focused telcos like South Africa’s “You climb stick, like mango tree, before very, very low,” said Spiwe Chireka of MTN Group, Bharti Airtel and Kuwait’syou have network,” he said. advisory firm IDC. Zain, but first they have to figure out a In South Sudan, the world’s newest In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous cost-effective way to push into sub-Saharanstate, it’s a similar story. Less than a year country, there are more than enough Africa’s remote corners.old, the country already has five mobile SIM cards for everyone, but penetration Cont. on Page 4 >>2
February 2013INTERVIEW Estel Technologies is a leading and specialist mobile financial services technology enabler…Founded in 1997 and based in India, recharge); mobile remittances (money How will Nigeria (businesses andEstel Technologies provides turnkey transfer and remittance service via consumers) benefit for yoursoftware solutions and outsourced mobiles); mobile money (branchless banking experiences in the markets youservices to telecom operators, banks, for the un-banked); mobile banking (access to operate in (Africa, Asia, Middle East,utilities and their service providers. bank accounts, and transacting using mobiles); Latin America)In this e-Interview with Anne and voucher management (voucher, e-pin Users in Nigeria will benefit from our worldAgbakoba, the company’s Founder and supply chain management). class, feature rich, scalable and robust& CEO, Raj Hajela, takes us through technologies for mobile money, mobilehis company’s breadth of experience Tell us about your role in helping payments and prepaid e-Recharge. As ouracross continents - and how telcos Rechargeitnow.com win two Deloitte customers roll out their services in Nigeriaand consumers in Nigeria are about to Technology awards - the Fast 500 using our technology, we expect them tobenefit from Estel’s platform, which APAC, and the Fast 50 India awards. offer state-of-the-art mobile money andsupports a diverse range of recharge Rechargeitnow.com uses Estel technology prepaid recharge services - backed by ouroptions. Excerpts: to power its business operations. In fact, technology and their own internal businessWhat are the specialties of Estel the entire business of rechargeitnow.com processes - to achieve a leadership positionTechnologies ? is built on Estel technology. Our platform within the country and region. processes prepaid e-recharges for theirEstel Technologies is a leading and What kind of competition are you customers, providing instant balancespecialist mobile financial services technology prepared for in Nigeria, and what is credit of their mobile & DTH TV accountsenabler with a significant presence with your advantage? with their respective telecom operators.Telecom Operators, Banks, Financial Competition is a way of life. We haveInstitutions and Service Providers across What has been your work experience successfully tackled competition in manythe globe, with special focus on Asia, in African countries, and what is countries where we operate. We areAfrica, Middle East and Latin America. the business case for launching in hopeful and confident that our superior We currently serve 24 large deployments in Nigeria? products and support services will win us19 countries globally and are growing rapidly We have extensive experience of a significant share of the market here.owing to our innovations and high implementing projects in Africa. We haveperformance world class software platforms. implemented projects for mobile operators, As our customers roll out their Our main products (software platforms) banks and service providers in Uganda, services in Nigeria using ourinclude e-Recharge Malawi, Guinea, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, technology, we expect them to(anytime, anywhere, Sudan, Burundi, and Ethiopia. This hasany value, any given us a very good understanding of offer state-of-the-art mobileservice prepaid the African region, the customer money and prepaid recharge requirements, and local issues, services - backed by our especially around infrastruc- technology and their own ture. We operate a regional internal business processes - to support centre in Uganda achieve a leadership position to offer local support to within the country and region. our customers in Africa in the same time zone. This ‘Estel Technologies Innovates with centre is backed up by IBM’ - what is this headline about? our global 24x7 support Our partnership began with IBM many centre in India. years ago, wherein we use some of their Being one of the largest technology such as databases and web countries and markets in servers within our products to offer high Africa, Nigeria is obviously security, scalability and reliable solutions. attractive! We expect Also, IBM successfully resells our solutions two of our early Nigerian in specific geographies to customers as a customers to go live this Systems Integrator. month, and expect to get many more in the banking In terms of tourism and relaxation, and Payment Service Pro- what is your favourite location in viders segments in the Africa, and why? coming years. My personal favourite is East Africa for safaris, and South Africa for a taste of ‘modern Africa’. However, I must say that in all my travels all over Africa, I have been highly impressed by the virgin beauty of most countries, especially Zimbabwe and Malawi! www. esteltelecom.com 3
February 2013>> Cont. from Page 2 “There’s great potential, but the bigconcern for us is operational costs,” saidAndre Claasson, chief operating officer atZain South Sudan. In rural Africa, the cost of running anetwork tower often exceeds the revenueit reaps. Fuel is typically about 40 percent of atower’s operating cost, and in remote areascompanies burn more diesel by bringing fuelto towers than is used powering them. Although roughly 73 percent of Africa’sland has cell phone coverage, accordingto market research firm IDC, that stillleaves vast tracts of rural Africa withoutnetwork access. Africa has 170,000 mobile towers nowand needs another 60,000, according totower company IHS Group, which at an African expansion has not Bharti has earmarked $1.5 billionaverage $200,000 each means an outlay been cheap for telcos. Over for capex this year, while fourth-placedof $12 billion. the past five years, mobile France Telecom is spending $9.3 billion “If you are an operator asked to spend between 2010 and 2015.$200,000 to build a site and another operators have spent a com- Spare cash is increasingly rare for$2,000 a month to run it in an area with bined $16.5 billion on capital debt-strapped European telecoms opera-500 people herding cows, it doesn’t expenditure in the key tors, which are cutting their dividends tomake sense,” said Issam Darwish, IHS’s markets of South Africa, cope with falling revenues and networkchief executive. upgrade costs in their home markets. Average revenue per user is also low. It Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal and Some African regulators have set upcan vary between $1 and $10 per month, Ghana… funds to promote coverage, to whichmuch lower than in developed markets operators are expected to contribute.such as the United States, which delivered Chairman Sunil Mittal said last year. In Sierra Leone, the Universal AccessARPU of $51 in 2012 or Britain, $27. Operators can save money by sharing Development Fund (UADF) is yet to Bharti, sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest towers, but even then, some sites will subsidize the cost of putting up a singletelecom group, says it makes $6.40 per user never make sense without government mast, though it has been active forin Africa, which is higher than its home Indian subsidies, analysts say. several years. The regulator complainsmarket, where it makes only $3.30 a month, African expansion has not been cheap networks do not contribute the fees theybut the cost of operating in Africa is much for telcos. Over the past five years, mobile should.higher and there isn’t a comparable middle operators have spent a combined $16.5 “If we can’t subsidize, they’ll neverclass ready and able to spend more. billion on capital expenditure in the key erect towers there,” said Bashir Kamara, “You either have a handful of people in the markets of South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Project Manager at UADF.affluent part of the society or you have lots Senegal and Ghana, according to Wireless ($1 = 0.6350 British pounds = 160of people who can’t afford the services,” its Intelligence. Nigerian Naira). Source: Helen Nyambura-Mwaura and Simon Akam | reuters.com [Jan 31, 2013]Which Mobile is Best?Mobile phones have become a very important part of communications System it was designed from the ground up toin 2013, making it almost impossible to live without one. They have become be driven via finger presses, rather thansmarter and faster – yet the sheer variety out there can become very confusing the styluses that were commonly used tofor anyone looking to buy a new phone. navigate around previous smart phones. What really sets iOS apart from theFocus on your top features you will never use. Focus on ease of use, crowd is the intuitive design of its user speed and a good app store, which will interface. Most people can simply pick upWhen it comes to choosing your phone, an iPhone and start using it, without havingpick the top two or three features you make your phone more flexible, so it can become exactly what you need. to refer to a manual.can’t live without, and focus on finding Apple has added numerous features toa handset that offers them. If you love iOS over the years, including multitaskingto take photos and surf the Web on Choose your Operating System Here is a quick run-down of the main support -- so you can run more than oneyour handset, look for a phone that has application at a time -- and cut and pastea good lens and a top browser. Or, if operating systems on the market: features for text editing. The iPhone’spoor battery life is a bugbear, consider a iOS App Store has also been a huge success,phone with a smaller screen and a slower iOS is the software that Apple uses on offering thousands of applications toprocessor to keep the power drainage the iPhone, as well as the iPad and iPod download, ranging from games to recipein check. Don’t be swept up in the hype. touch. When it was introduced on theDon’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to features original iPhone, iOS was revolutionary, as Cont. on Page 5 >>4
February 2013 Top 10 Anticipated Phones 2013>> Cont. from Page 4apps. iOS is still the gold standard formobile operating systems. Quite a few Android and Windows phones are due for launch in 2013. ConsultAndroid our list before you set out to buy or upgrade that smart phone.Android is Google’s mobile operatingsystem. Although Google created the 1 Apple iPhone 6 6 Nokia Lumia 820software, it’s offered for free to mobile OS: Windows 8phone manufacturers, and now many ofthe big names, including HTC, Motorola,Samsung and LG, produce smart phonesthat use Android. Like iOS, Android has an intuitivetouchscreen interface and offersadvanced features, such as multitaskingand live widgets, which you can placeon the home screen. The software alsoprovides access to the Android Market,from which you can buy and downloadapps. While the Market isn’t yet as jam- 7 HTC 8packed as Apple’s App Store, it isn’t thatfar behind either. 2 Samsung Galaxy S IV OS: Windows 8 OS: Android 4.2 or Android 5.0BlackBerry OSRIM’s BlackBerry OS is only available onthe company’s BlackBerry range of smartphones. One of the key features of theOS is the way it handles push email. Windows Phone 8Basically, this means that new messagesare pushed out to the phone as soon asthey arrive in the user’s inbox, rather thanwaiting for the inbox to refresh itself.Push email has made BlackBerry phones 8 Samsung Galaxy Note 3hugely popular among business users. 3 Nokia Lumia 920 OS: Android 5.0Cheaper models, such as those in theCurve range, combined with the Mes- OS: Windows Phone 8senger app, which allows people to sendinstant messages for free to other BlackBerryhandsets, has made the BlackBerry linepopular among youngsters. The BlackBerry OS wasn’t originallydesigned for touch input. Despite beingupgraded to support touch in the last fewyears, BlackBerry devices still aren’t asintuitive as Android or iOS devices.Windows Phone 8Microsoft has been tinkering around with 4 BlackBerry BB Z10 9 Google’s Nexus 5smart phones since 2001, when it OS: Android OS: BB 10introduced Pocket PC. But, althoughPocket PC and its later incarnation,Windows Mobile, were packed with features,they were also clunky and difficult to use. Windows Phone 7 debuted to surprisinglywarm reviews in 2010, but struggled togain much market share, despite compa-nies such as HTC, Samsung and LG producingWindows Phone devices. Fortunately for Microsoft, its latest 5 Sony Xperia Z / ZLattempt at smartphone software –Windows Phone 8 – is a job well done. It is OS: Android 10 Samsung ATIV S OS: Windows 8snappy, easy to navigate and customise, andgood-looking too. Hopefully this will helpMicrosoft jump up from its 2 percent of theglobal smartphone market share, compa-red with 75 percent for Android smartphonesand 15 percent for the iPhone. Anne Agbakoba [Chief Research Officer]; Yetunde Quartermaine [Editorial]; Jean-luc Atelier [Admin & Artisanal Design]Production email@example.com | www.numeris-ag.com | +234 803 400 7009 | +234 1 898 1061