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Internet and e-commerce industry in Mozambique

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clubofmozambique(2010-07-22) - Today, let’s pay attention to Africa again. Well, the country we are to talk about is Mozambique, located in southeastern Africa. The country, which’s bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest, has the worst in the world life expectancy and infant mortality. Meanwhile, Mozambique has the lowest on earth Human Development Index. The country, meantime has membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and an observer of the Francophonie.

Despite the economy of Mozambique has developed since the end of the Mozambican Civil War (that took place in 1977-1992), the country remains one of the world's poorest and most underdeveloped.

As for the national telecommunication market, it is also on a very low stage of development at present reasoned by underdevelopment in other sectors of the national economy. However, country’s Internet infrastructure seems to be relatively well developed.

Internet in Mozambique was initially introduced in 1993 by the Eduardo Mondlane University through its Informatics Center (CIUEM). The full Internet connection was reached, only two years later, in 1995.

CIUEM was responsible for establishing the University's LAN which provides e-mail services in the capital, Maputo, and Internet access on campus. Until September 1997, the Center was the only source of low-cost Internet e-mail access in the country.

In May 1997 Telecomunicaзхes de Moзambique (TDM), with the assistance of the USAID’s Leland Initiative, has installed a gateway node that provides a direct link to the international Internet network via a VSAT antenna with 192 Kbps of special segment.

At present, TDM represents Mozambique's national telecommunications and Internet services provider.

The TDM Group of companies includes mCel, or Mozambique Cellular, a cell phone services company; and 50% of the stock of Visabeira, a cable television provider. In conjunction with Portugal Telecom International and Teleserve, it owns part of the stock (50%) of Mauritius Telecom, a telecommunications and Internet service provider in Mauritius, a small republic in the Indian Ocean.

At present, TDM offers the following Internet connection solutions:
• 128/64 kbit/s with 1 GB cap for R276 (about $40)
• 128/64 kbit/s with 3 GB cap for R414 (about $60)
• 128/64 kbit/s with 4 GB cap for R525 (about $75)
• 256/128 kbit/s with 7 GB cap for R663 (about $95)
• 512/256 kbit/s with 10 GB cap for R829 (about $119)
• 1024/512 kbit/s with 14 GB cap for R1160 ($165)
• 2048/1024 kbit/s with 20 GB cap for R1492 ($214)

Interestingly, Mozambique appeared to be the first African country to offer broadband wireless services through WiMax.

Actually, a number of initiatives have been taken to stipulate the progressin Mozambique and to make the Internet available within the whole country. Thus, for instance, in 2000 The Eduardo Mondlane University was carrying a project funded by the World Bank and IDRC, to install networks in 20 high schools. These networks targeted to provide access to Internet and allow the students to experiment the information technology tools.

Another program for the content creation and connectivity to Internet got start in 1996. This successful project was called SDNP and being funded by UNDP, and it enabled a number of stakeholders to get access the need to share information. The technical implementation of the project was carried by CIUEM.

It’s also important to note, the Mozambique’s government has also started playing an active role in the deployment of telecommunication and Internet industry. The Government thus managed to create a health environment for competition through liberalization of the complementary and value added services, like Internet.

Initially, the Government encourages the private sector to develop their own information system without direct interference of Government targeting to enhance Internet services infrastructure. However, it was strictly defined that the systems operators, service providers should be obliged to respect the rule of law.

Thus far, the number of ISPs has entered the Mozambican market over recent years, like followings, according the official data from Sida :

• SORT – an ISP, also delivering Internet-related services, such as support, training, and web design. The site is targeting at assisting the company's clients in using the internet.
• MULTINET – an ISP that has recently unveiled its intention to roll out its NGN network, based upon the WiMAX technology, in Sierra Leone and Mozambique.
• Internet Solutions – is a Mozambican ISP also offering computer-related services.
• Tropical Net
• Virtual Connection
• Teledata
• Internet Solutions Internet Access Provider
• Micronet-Tropical Alliance

Besides such an occurrence as Mozambique Internet exchange (Moz-Ix) exist in the country. Moz-Ix represents a neutral, not-for-profit partnership between ISP globally. Moz-Ix provides a physical interconnection for its members to exchange Internet traffic through co-operative peering agreements. Thus, far established Mozambican ISPs are welcome to join the Moz-Ix.

Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Mozambique is .mz, administered by Universidade Eduardo Mondlane.

Registrations are available at the third level beneath the second-level names such as:
• ac.mz
• co.mz
• org.mz
• gov.mz
• edu.mz.

Well, you’re now welcome to consider country’s e-commerce sector.

It’s well known, Africa is in danger of being left behind on a modern and spreading worldwide market, integrating e-commerce business as well. However, over the last several years, the Internet, e-commerce and e-business in the region as a whole have all grown dynamically.

The African private sector consists mostly of small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMEs). And it’s well known, e-commerce provides huge potential to SMEs, including potential strategic benefits such as possibilities of creating new industries, developing new content and chances to find or create employment.

Nevertheless, though a number of e-commerce activities are emerging in most African countries including Mozambique, the growth has been slow caused by a variety of important factors, such as low levels of Internet penetration and limited communication infrastructure. And unfortunately, companies and the private sector in Africa as a whole and in Mozambique particularly have not been active initiators of e-commerce.

Importantly, formally e-commerce in Mozambique doesn’t exist. The major obstacles include lack of suitable legal framework and security instruments, inadequate banking systems, poorly developed telecommunications infrastructure, especially beyond urban areas, and high rates of illiteracy.

According to some data from Economic Commission for Africa, Only 20 companies out of 66 surveyed have websites and this low proportion by world standards was considered a barrier for e-commerce and e-business development in this African country.

As it was already said government stipulates the deployment of the ICT sector, and subsequently it influences the deployment of e-commerce market. It’s important to note, e-commerce as a secondary priority by the government, while e-government is viewed as a number one priority.

Several projects, such as Govsys and Govnet are worked out, seen as immediate projects. The government views itself as leading the way to e-commerce through creating opportunities and establishing the legal and commercial framework for e-business development.

However, online business contracts still have no legal value and there are no commercial laws to accommodate requirements for e-commerce. B2C commerce, for instance is non-existent. Most websites are static and underdeveloped.

Nevertheless, strong potential is seen for Mozambique in terms of e-commerce. Mozambique thus can provide services through becoming a conference, and tourism venue. Sports tourism, for example could also become a good avenue for economic growth. But unfortunately, there is no awareness of local potential for B2B commerce.

As for e-government, the Mozambique’s government generally performs its operations manually, although there are some isolated automated pockets. The government does have a few web pages but they are almost all quite static and non-interactive.

Anyway, Mozambican authorities still need to address infrastructure development, which is key to the developing e-commerce market. It’s only possible to implement and operate e-commerce initiatives successfully in case there are modern banking and insurance platform. It is also important to raise awareness and to offer training programmes that target the business community in particular and the public in general. It’s also necessary to perfect such important communication technologies like broadband, satellite connections and VoIP.

Well, despite Mozambique claims to be one of the poorest countries, it shows positive trend in ICT development. Besides the country even managed to develop its e-commerce sector somehow, targeting to catch up with the leaders. And importantly, government is playing a significant role in the development of ICT and e-commerce industry. And fortunately, a strong potential is seen in Mozambique to become a player in the global e-commerce arena. Meanwhile, the main reason hampering the successful deployment of e-commerce still remains underdeveloped framework covering technical, economic and political aspects.

source: www.ecommerce-journal.com

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