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THE SPYMACHINE AND MALAWI: A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE?

 By Chimwemwe Chikho , chairman of Edgetech (MW) ltd and founder of  The Business Executives Association  of Malawi (BEAM)


The freedom of expression is a pivotal component of our individual development-as human beings and as ‘political animals’-to improve and radicalize democracies.

The communications act of 1998 provides the main framework for Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA)’s assumption of the regulatory functions of the communication sector in Malawi.MACRA’s powers are a mixture of policy and regulation. Regulatory reform has emerged as an important area in Malawi.

MACRA need to be transparent, coherent, and comprehensive, spanning from establishing the appropriate  institutional framework to liberating network industries, advocating and enforcing competition, policy and law and opening external markets to trade and investments.

Network operators, consumer rights groups, Politicians and media’s in Malawi have a distorted perception of the value of implementation of the CONSOLIDATED ICT REGULATORY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (CIRMS)..

The implementation of the CIRMS to monitor Revenue Assurance, Fraud, Quality of Service and spectrum management (as urged by MACRA) will improve regulatory decisions making and ultimately the effectiveness and efficiency of new and existing regulations.

It will help to identify the best choice of policy options, thereby reducing unnecessary burdens on Malawians and businesses and promoting transparency in the design of and access to regulations while protecting health, safety and the environment

Those opposing the implementation of the technology state that the technology will actually be used to invade peoples’ privacy and freedom of speech. It is perceived that Communication networks are under siege by the state and that people will fear speaking freely on any communication network.

But MACRA is mandated to supervise and promote the provision of communication goods and services through out Malawi and to protect the interests of consumers, purchasers and other users of communication services from unfair business practices, poor quality services and harmful or inferior products.

It is every Malawian’s fundamental right to access communications services at a fair price, the implementation of the CIRMS will curb unfair competition. It will enable a sound Fraud Management System that is crucial to adapt the latest detection techniques which are more capable of stopping emerging fraud types, enabling an increased efficiency in the detection processes. If left unchecked, fraud is going to be the major threat to the telecommunications business and is one of the largest causes of revenue loss for Taxpayers and businesses

Since Service providers are continuously faced with revenue leakage problems as their networks evolve into a more complex infrastructure with the adoption of new access and service delivery technologies coupled with the constantly changing service offerings to meet market demands. CIRMS will provide a comprehensive Revenue Assurance solution that incorporates the latest detection techniques, one that is highly flexible to adapt quickly to the changing landscape of revenue assurance environment.

Malawians deserves a technology that will, provide adequate, timely and comparable Quality of Service information that will help to promote investment and innovation in the provision of services and also to promotion of competition.

 

CIRMS is a highly integrated system that will provide the administrative and planning tools necessary for MACRA to verify that licensees comply with the approved standards and concessions while providing the ability to detect violators and locate illegal operators.

Malawi Government should aim at  promoting ‘a regulatory system’ that will adjust to international best practice in the communications sector and will attract investors, promote economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation

Bureaucratic, hierarchical leadership approaches might be efficient in dealing with most government concerns however the approach is not appropriate for CIRMS implementation.It requires strong political leadership in order to succeed.

 An Expert Meeting in London, (10-11 January 2005) noted that regulatory authorities are granted significant regulatory powers, with a certain level of independence in decision making. Independent regulators are being established in different administrative cultures, under various constitutional constraints, with different ways of delegating regulatory powers at arms’ length from government.

Every Malawian would love to see a ‘MACRA’ that is free from political interference, accountable, transparent and trustworthy. A regulatory authority that uses taxpayer’s money in yielding greatest net benefits to Malawi by containing explicit and measurable regulatory standards and a provision of continuing  regulatory management capacity .

CIRMS will provide a transparent management system that will consistently comply with the latest International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Commonwealth recommendations.

Some decisions are not always popular but important, the implementation of CIRMS will help MACRA to monitor and enforce compliance with rules, regulations and policies; A their best, regulations create order and basis for stability and progress.

 

WHEN FACEBOOK GIVES ME NO CHOICE

Just come across news that Facebook will on Tuesday role out their new Timeline design to each and every user on the social site,and this will be compulsory,whether the user wants or not. Timeline was launched worldwide last September and is designed to be an online scrapbook that shows “important life events” throughout users’ lives, in each year.Until now, the change to Timeline had been voluntary

I am not happy about this at all,as personally i am not a big fan of the new design and dont find it much attractive.The page is filled with too many unwanted stuff,that probably leaves one not  having much time to be going through them. Yes, not everyone is happy with change,but change should be convincing on why a facebook page should be showing things that one did or wrote in the past. I really find this unnecessary and can have alot of privacy flaws.

Having been on facebook for over 4 years now,and from my experience,the site never does much consultation when it comes to changes it makes and when it does most of them are compulsary. Its very difficult to critically blame them as joining of this social network is for free,meaning if you are annoyed with anything you can just leave. However ,from the business point of view,that may not be the right way to treat your customers.

Facebook makes money mainly through the many advertises that advertise on the network to gain advantages of its millions of users. This shows that there is direct correlation between facebook finances and the number of people on the network. Definately for this reason,they will be great need of elements of customer care so that the users might not get fed up and start deleting their accounts,which can make the network unattractive to advertisers. We do not need to go far to produce some empirical eveidence on this, as recent case studies of social site slike Myspace, Bebo, Hi5 might show you the natural death of a social networking site.

Hovering through the internet, i have compiled some reactions of different facebook users and what they think about the new changes

Writing on Sky news website,one user namely: Ewhite :wrote

“I hate that new look,,,why dont they leave it alone,there was nothing wrong with the old way,its more muddly now and puts me off using it to be honest!
If it aint broke dont fix it.
Or if the facebook team is reading this, give people the choice of either style

Another one namely,CAF  expressed his opinion “Funny, people moaning about people moaning!
The problem with facebook is it doesn’t give it’s users a choice! Being forced to make this change is nothing new with facebook… I can’t help but wonder if the owner of the site has connections with the government: Facebook makes it very easy to find out what an individual is upto… Now it just makes it even easier for prying eyes to see when & where the individual has done everything in their lives!”

In a poll conducted by Sophos and  published on msbc.com , it has revealed that the reception of the new timeline has been negative . With over 4000 respondents being questioned  over 50% said they were not happy and worried about the new design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe its time facebook give people the option on whether they want to remain on the old style, rather that making it compulsary for everyone to switch to timeline.

IS IT THE END GAME FOR THE BELOVED BLACKBERRY?

Blackberry users around the world have in the past days felt let down by the mobile phones they love most. With one of the most important features of the blackberry handset , web browsing and messaging system being affected- the handsets have felt more useless. What is even more annoying is the failure of the makers of the hand sets Research in Motion in coming up with a concrete statement ,telling their customers what the main problem is and assuring them that it will be rectified. This is why , this blogger in analysing the current situation feels Research in Motion may be digging their own grave.

The worrying thing about the company and its latest setback is that a few weeks ago,it announced that its Net profit fell to $329m (£208m) for the three months to 27 August, from $797m in the same period a year earlier. In fact it confirmed that Blackberry had lost its market share to rivals Apples iPhone and Googles Android phones with Goldman Sachs estimating that Blackberry global market share has fallen to 9% from 16% a year ago.

To any company this was a worrying situation that needed a closer look on their business model and quick change of strategies. But alas! It never rains but pours as weeks later the company finds itself in this mess. With almost all their customers angry and venting their anger on social networking sites such as twitter and facebook, Surely never has a brand needed some good PR than Blackberry at this time.

However, the greatest damage limitation the company would do is to rectify the problem quickly. As of today , the services seems to be back to normal but its not guaranteed that all is over. The latest setback has exposed some deep problems within the company

Firstly, its has shown that the company has grown beyond their expectation and imagination- with the influx of millions of new customers especially from the new markets in Asia and Africa, it seems its just too much for the company to handle.

Secondly, it has exposed lack of proper leadership within the company. The Canadian company was founded by its management, which is now being urged to step down. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have been joint chief executives for nearly 20 years and also chair Rim’s board. Disasters are always the biggest test to any leader but blackberry managers have failed to manage the situation by not being on the upfront- failing to be open and showing understanding of the problem, failing to communicate in good time and with great assurance to their customers and worse still by taking days failing to solve the problem. In a very fast and competitive business world of today, this has been a major blow to itself as a company.

However, all is not lost as there is still a chance to instil confidence in their customers. We don’t know which damage limitation strategy the company will use but if no proper action is taken or the management still procrastinates ,this could be the start of the last days of blackberry as a major force in the smart phone business. The frustrated customers need to have confidence in the handsets again otherwise there will be a mass exodus of blackberry customers to rival handsets in the coming months

MERGERS AND ACQUISTION (M&A) – SIMPLE EXPLANATION

By : Winston Upile Mponda

If you are an interested reader of various business news articles, this is one of the common topics that always make headlines across the world media. But What does it mean?. It is all about companies buying, selling and combining with each other. These two words are always confusing and are used interchangeably by most of us but to be specific I would say that a merger takes place when two companies join forces and both of them cease to exist in order to form a new corporate entity. While on the other hand an acquisition occurs when one company buys another. The company acquired which is known as a “target” stops to exist as an independent body and becomes part of the buying company otherwise known as a predator.

It has always been argued that in practice there is no difference between the two because even in a merger one company always dominates the other in terms of control and in reality most of M&A deals are acquisitions. Therefore for the reasons above I have chosen to focus mainly on acquisitions in this article though the fundamentals applied remain the same with mergers.

To begin with there are two main common types of acquisitions known as share acquisitions and asset acquisitions. A share acquisition is where the buyer buys shares in the target company to obtain control while an asset acquisition is where the buyer purchases the assets of a target’s business instead and these assets could be anything from tangibles such as property, plant and equipment, factories, stocks etc to intangibles such as brand name, intellectual property, software, patents etc. In most asset acquisitions the buyer can chose only to purchase those asset that the buyer is attracted to.

REASONS FOR M&A DEALS

Usually the main reason behind most deals is that the buyers assume that they can improve the target’s economic performance and enhance its value. But why would buyers make such assumptions about enhancing the targets value? Well there are believes in most buyers that there will be gain in synergy created as a result of the economies of scale, economies of scope, tax reductions, increase in market share, vertical and horizontal integration and many more business activities. A buying company might be looking at improving its efficiency as well, for instance, by acquiring the target it could reduce the number of staff or move them around between the two companies, close some facilities or move them to a different location or cut cost in different sections of the combined business. In reality buyer will have different reasons why they think an M&A deal will add value.

It is not always the buyer that initiates the deal, sometimes the target company may put itself for sale for survival reasons, meaning that the company may be under financial distress or subjected to an aggressive competition and the owners might realise that their company is unlikely to survive as an independent entity. Or else the owners might sell just because they want to cash in on the value of the business and move on with their lives with liquid cash in their pockets or the owners have reached their retirement age and they do not have any succession plans they just want to get rid of the business and retire.

The other obvious reasons can also be that the a private company may acquire a public company just because they want to be listed on the stock exchange market without going through an expensive IPO process and also a buyer can acquire a target company just because by doing so it generates publicity and prestige to the buying company. Sometimes professional M&A deal advisors such as lawyers, accountants and bankers may encourage a deal because of the large amounts of money they earn in fees for their service rendered to both parties in processing the deal.

FINANCING DEALS

Most M&A deals are mainly financed by the buyer paying cash to the target’s shareholders in exchange for their shares. The deals where payment is by cash are usually considered as acquisitions as the target shareholders cease to hold their shares in the entity hence loss of control over the target company. It is also true that most deals are financed by the buyer giving shares to the target’s shareholders in exchange for their shares in the target company. Most mergers are done in this way as the target’s shareholders may continue to have influence over the new merged company as shareholder.

Finally not all M&A deals are done swiftly; sometimes the target company may resist the deal. In this case the buyer may go ahead seeking to acquire the target without the target’s approval and will be able to take control only if the buyer acquires enough shares to make it gain a controlling stake in the target company. Such a deal is known as Hostile takeover while the opposite of this where a target company agrees 100 percent to the deal is known as a Friendly takeover.