Online freedoms Reporters Without Borders, also known internationally as Reporters sans frontières (RSF), is pleased to receive a grant worth EUR 422 179 from the European Commission. As an action of the call for proposals to support investigative journalism and media freedom in the EU it is aimed at implementing JTI and thus, provide a competitive advantage for trustworthy journalism to be considered even more critically important during an era of online disinformation, propaganda and implications of the Corona pandemic, where reliable information can save lives. JTI provides a voluntary, self-regulatory mechanism for news media to assess and show its compliance with professional norms. Criteria include transparency of ownership, verification and correction policies, editorial independence and ethical conduct. In addition to self-assessment and disclosure, the JTI Standard is also certifiable through a third-party audit and thus, offers an additional level of external accountability in order to build and sustain trust. The JTI standard-setting phase was launched by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), supported by its partners the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Agence France Presse (AFP), and the Global Editors Network (GEN) in 2018. Over 130 participants, representing media outlets, regulatory and self-regulatory bodies, NGOs and consumer groups, academia, the media development community and technology firms from around the world, contributed to the drafting process. Following a public consultation the final document was adopted by consensus and officially published as Workshop Agreement No. 17493 by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) in December 2019. From 2020 onwards, the JTI Standard is now available for usage by media outlets, but also for other stakeholders like advertisers, platforms and distributors, as well as regulators to provide an enabling environment for authoritative sources of information. The grant provided by the European Commission will propel efforts to develop the tools and instruments needed to support its implementation. These will include an online portal for self-assessment according to the JTI Standard, tutorials and outreach for capacity building of news media across Member States, but also the fostering and stimulation of a certification market. The provision of a machine-readable JTI data-channel for consumers and citizens but also for the private sector and all intermediaries is designed to re-align attention and spending to compliance with professional norms in journalism and thus, reward and remonetize it – in times of crisis even more needed than ever before.“We are very proud to announce this major support from the European Commission, that is highly active in the defense of trustworthy journalism and the fight against disinformation in Europe,” said Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of RSF. “This happens at a critical point in time with the inception of the Digital Services Act, where we expect affirmative action and clear responsibilities for platforms also in respect of due prominence of authoritative sources of information. The JTI signal is a custom-made solution fitting for a co-regulatory approach to the issue!””JTI project page onlineJTI Standard document for download Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is pleased to announce the signature of a grant agreement with the European Commission to support the implementation of its ‘Journalism Trust Initiative’ (JTI) in Europe. The supported pilot project is aimed at “fostering qualitative media by rewarding reliable sources”. Organisation News RSF_en July 8, 2020 European Commission awards grant to support Reporters without borders’ Journalism Trust Initiative in Europe Online freedoms Help by sharing this information
March 15, 2002 Assistant Editor Regular News JQC disclosure bill finds new life Amy K. Brown Assistant EditorAfter voting down a bill to make all complaints against judges public, the House Judicial Oversight Committee returned less than a week later and unanimously passed the bill — with an amendment specifying that Judicial Qualification Commission files will become public only after the commission determines whether to file charges.The proposed committee bill was filed as HB 1981 and has been placed on the calendar for consideration by the full House. Because the measure would amend the constitution, the bill must travel through both houses, then come before voters on the November 2002 ballot before becoming law.As this News went to press, the Senate Judiciary Committee amended SJR 162 to include language identical to the House resolution. The original provisions of SJR 162, which allowed for direct gubernatorial appointment of all appellate judges with Senate confirmation and then set terms limits of 16 years for the Supreme Court, was struck.The revamped bill passed 5-1, with Sen. Skip Campbell, D-Tamarac, voting against it.As in the previous House committee meeting, JQC chair and First District Court of Appeal Judge Jim Wolf argued against the provision.“The damage you are doing to the process is unimaginable,” Wolf said. He added that the proposed amendment still does not protect the identities of those who file the complaints.“The complaining witnesses against lawyers are clients who will probably never have to see that lawyer again,” he told the committee. “The complaining witnesses we get are lawyers. . . colleagues of that judge, court personnel who have to sit in the courtroom of that judge.”According to committee Chair Larry Crow, R-Palm Harbor, the amendment will “open proceedings upon findings of no probable cause,” but allows the legislature to create a public records exemption to prevent the release of information about the initial complainant or intimate details of the case.The amendment also provides for a legislative re-examination of the issue during the next session.Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Ft. Lauderdale, said he felt comfortable opening up JQC files “after the fact,” and added, “Perhaps it will better the public’s perception.”But Wolf argued the bill is not the safest solution and suggested the committee include compromise language in the bill to publicize only a summary of the JQC files with names of complainants and witnesses removed.Crow answered, “All of the concerns of Judge Wolf can be addressed in the next legislative session.” JQC disclosure bill finds new life
It is off to new beginnings in 2016! Join the Dynamic Learning Center on-line or on-site learning community, where virtually anything is possible! Â This is a FREE High School Diploma program with 24/7 virtual access. Â Computers are available for those without computers at home. Â Program is flexible with self-paced hours with supportive teachers to assist you. Â Enrollment is open year-around. Contact Shari Mills at (620)488-5638, 823 N. Main St., Belle Plaine, KS 67013. Â The free high school diploma completion program provides unique opportunities for people from 18 to 80 looking to earn credits toward graduation requirements. Courses meet the state and local graduation standards. These courses are available on site and online.Enrollment is easy. Just log onto the Dynamic Learning Center website hereÂ for information about how to get started. You can visit the office at 823 N. Main in Belle Plaine, or just call today at 620-488-5638.Also, â€œlikeâ€ their Facebook page here. Donâ€™t hesitate to give them a personal message.Also, e-mail Shari Mills at [email protected] if you have any questions or for more information.
The slippery when wet or just when being tackled signs should have been plastered all over the football yesterday, before, during and after the Steelers-Dolphins contest. Everyone is hyped, as they should be, about the return to action of Big Ben Roethlisberger, but after three fumbles or should I say three totally unnecessary give-aways, we had all better buy a bit more stock in the company that manufactures and sales Tums.There was no logical reason for any of the turnovers. Roethlisberger put the defense behind the eight ball time every freakin’ time. After eight years in the league, c’mon, why is Big Ben still making these asinine, rookie-like mistakes? On one of the “passes” he attempted, heck not only was he in the grasp, he appeared to be attempting to throw from a jail cell on look down as he tried to “shovel” pass to someone, God only knows who.I have purposely avoided leveling superficial criticism at Big Ben, especially during these times that he is experiencing adversity from all sides but damn, tuck the ball away!One blogger named NEGiven Sundae had this to say; “What pisses me off is that my Steeler friends are defending the horrible call by the refs. Why can’t Steeler’ fans take off their homer goggles for one second and realize that yesterday’s win was a gift? I still think the Steelers are the best team in the league right now, but come on… that was a horrible call. There’s a time to defend your beloved team, and a time to be realistic and admit that the Steelers should have lost that game.”Aside from “Big” fumbles, there were plenty of coaching gaffes to spread around. What was Mike Tomlin saving or should I say wasting his timeouts for at the end of the first half.Miami coach Tony Sparano does not escape his dunce hat timeout moment either. Did you understand the running play on their final drive with no timeouts that blew away 30 seconds to pick up two yards?When Pittsburgh won their two most recent Super Bowls, the defense was nasty, nastier and nastiest. They were not “concussionists,” they were “percussionists,” because they were beating people like you and I would beat a drum.I thought that Pittsburgh was going to go back to the future. That means or was supposed to mean that the running game was going to be the first option and the forward pass was going to be second. Remember they kicked Willie Parker to the curb because it was alleged that he had lost a step and he was also not an inside runner.I don’t care if you have a 2,000-yard rusher if your QB fumbles three times. The majority of those games your squad is going to lose regardless of how good your defense is. I could accept it if Big Ben, in the process of working off the rust, threw a pick or two. However, fumbling, stumbling and bumbling the ball away and expecting the defense to charge into the “dark alley of idiocy” to bail him out and salvage the game, well that is a bit much. If the Dolphins suck it up and score a TD on just one of those turnovers, game, set, match.Big Ben was his usual enigmatic self. He said what one might consider the biggest understatement of the 2010 season. “Just a bizarre kind of play. You hate to win it that way, but you’ll take a win.” What way is Mr. Roethlisberger referring to? Could it be that his “Boney James” type of bonehead play, extending the football out to dry almost cost the Steelers a win again? But lo and behold, the defense did not fold. They held on and won the game. As thin as they were along the defensive line, being held play after play like they were new grooms on the first night of their honeymoon, they still prevailed.Miami linebacker Channing Crowder had a different take on the officiating (which I thought was sorta, kind decent). Crowder said, “The refs called a wonderful game— for the Steelers.” I wonder how many rubles are going to be extracted from Mr. Crowder’s paycheck by the NFL commissioner for that honest if misplaced remark.Referee Gene Steratore said Roethlisberger fumbled before scoring. He also added that the replays were inconclusive regarding which team recovered, and the Steelers were awarded possession at the half-yard line, allowing Jeff Reed to kick an 18-yard field goal with 2:26 left. The official said, “I have to have clear video evidence of the team recovering the fumble. It is a pile of bodies in there, and you don’t have a clear recovery.”Echoing the sentiments of his butterfingered quarterback, Mike Tomlin said, “We will take it and exit stage left.” That being said, the next time Big Ben fumbles three times or throws three picks, the defense may not be able to save him and the Black and Gold may have to leave by the back door.(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: [email protected]pittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741.)
In this Jan. 20, 2019, file photo, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft walks on the field before the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots, in Kansas City, Mo. Police in Florida have charged New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft with misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution, saying they have videotape of him paying for a sex act inside an illicit massage parlor. Jupiter police told reporters Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, that the 77-year-old Kraft has not been arrested. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)Misbehaving owners of sports teams have drawn headlines pretty much since sports have been around.Now, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft faces misdemeanor charges of soliciting a prostitute after police said he was twice videotaped paying for a sex act at a massage parlor in Florida amid a crackdown on sex trafficking.He joins a list of current and former NFL owners accused of crimes or social misconduct.Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, top center, watches during the first half of an NFL football game between the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)Last year, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson sold the team after allegations surfaced of sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace. Following a six-month investigation by the league, he was fined $2.7 million. Richardson, the team’s founder, then sold the franchise to David Tepper for $2.2 billion.Cleveland Browns owner Jim Haslam had legal troubles while CEO of Pilot Flying J, one of the nation’s largest truck-stop chains. Company executives either pleaded guilty or were convicted in a fraud scheme worth more than $50 million. Haslam claimed he didn’t know about the scheme in which customers were underpaid on promised rebates for fuel purchases, and he was not charged.Haslam bought the Browns in October 2012, six months before the FBI and IRS raided company headquarters. The NFL never disciplined him.Jim Irsay, whose Indianapolis Colts won a Super Bowl for the 2006 season under his leadership, had acknowledged having a painkiller addiction in 2002 and sought treatment. The DEA investigated the case, but local prosecutors did not file charges.Then, in March 2014, Irsay was arrested near his home in suburban Carmel and was held overnight after he failed sobriety tests and police found prescription medications in his car. The police said the drugs in Irsay’s vehicle were not associated with any of the prescription bottles found inside. He was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, along with four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance; police also found $29,009 in cash.He again sought treatment and in September 2014 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated, agreeing to undergo drug testing for a year. Irsay also admitted he was under the influence of the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone when he was arrested.NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Irsay for six games and fined him $500,000.Ed DeBartolo Jr., who built the San Francisco 49ers’ 1980s-90s dynasty with Bill Walsh as coach, was involved in one of the biggest owners’ scandals in the sport’s history. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony when he paid $400,000 to former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards in exchange for a riverboat gambling license.DeBartolo was suspended from the NFL for one year in 1999 for his role in the gambling fraud scandal. He also handed over control of the team to his sister, Denise DeBartolo York, and never returned to the 49ers.Former Philadelphia Eagles owner Leonard Tose had to sell the team in 1985 to pay off more than $25 million in debts to Atlantic City casinos.Football hardly stands alone in the owners’ misbehavior market.Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was sued by former employees during the days of the Big Red Machine for being a racist and, at one point, was quoted in The New York Times as saying Adolf Hitler initially was good for Germany; that her use of racially inappropriate words was in jest; and that she didn’t understand why certain ethnically insulting words were offensive.In 1993, Schott was suspended for one year by Major League Baseball and fined $25,000 for language that MLB’s executive council deemed “racially and ethnically offensive.”In this Dec. 19, 2011, file photo, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, right, sits with V. Stiviano as they watch the Clippers play the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok, File)Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was fined $2.5 million and banned from the NBA for life in 2014 for racist comments he made to a friend. Sterling scolded her for posting pictures on Instagram in which she was accompanied by Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, both Black.“Why are you taking pictures with minorities, why?” Sterling was recorded as saying. “Don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. . And don’t bring him to my games, OK? … Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to promo, broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”The Rigas family owned the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was forced to relinquish control of the team after indictments on bank and security fraud charges for raiding the coffers of their cable company, Adelphia. The Sabres played the 2003-04 season under NHL operation before being purchased out of bankruptcy by Thomas Golisano.Last year, NASCAR’s Brian France , whose family owns the stock car racing circuit and many of the tracks where it competes, was arrested in New York on charges of aggravated driving while intoxicated and criminal possession of a controlled substance. He immediately took a leave of absence and his uncle, Jim France, stepped in as chairman and CEO.Perhaps the most documented misbehavior by a franchise owner occurred with George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees.A 15-count indictment was handed up in 1974 in Cleveland federal court for violations of election laws. Steinbrenner pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make illegal campaign contributions, then was suspended by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for two years. That suspension was lifted after 15 months for good behavior.Steinbrenner frequently was fined for publicly criticizing umpires and for tampering. He was forced to resign as the team’s managing general partner in 1990 for dealings with and a $40,000 payment to self-described gambler Howard Spira. Steinbrenner returned to his position on March 1, 1993.___AP Pro Football Writer Rob Maaddi, Baseball Writer Ronald Blum, Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney and Hockey Writer John Wawrow, and Sports Writers Tom Withers and Mike Marot contributed to this report.___More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Earlier this month the team traveled to the Lower Mainland where they took part in the BCIHL University Showcase. The Saints beat both Trinity Western and the University of Victoria, but fell 4-3 to SFU in an entertaining game that was decided in a shootout.“The showcase gave us a good opportunity to get a focused look at where we are at this point in the season,” says Heaven.“All three games featured excellent hockey and our guys showed that we can win on any given night. There were also a lot of scouts in the stands taking a look at how our players might fit into another program once they graduate from Selkirk College. Our guys certainly gave them something to think about.”The trio of Dallas Calvin, Jamie Vlanich and Ryan Edwards continue to lead the way offensively for the Saints. All three West Kootenay-raised forwards are in the top-five of league scoring, but Heaven says the team’s depth is what stands out.“It’s fun to watch these young men perform on the ice,” says Heaven.“But championship teams are not built with one line or three individual players. It’s a luxury as a coach to be able to roll four lines and know that every single player has the ability to make an important contribution each time they are out there. Most importantly, our play in our own zone has been developing well, we are fortunate to have such a strong defensive core and great goaltending.”Trinity Western currently sits third in the league, but are last season’s defending regular season champions. Heaven expects an entertaining game on Friday night.“When we played them earlier this month, it was a great battle,” says Heaven.“They have one of the top goaltenders in the league [Silas Matthy] who is able to withstand our constant attack on offence. It took a powerplay goal by Ashton McLeod midway through the third period to get the win. I’m expecting another great game and this will be an important test as we make our way to the playoffs.”The BCIHL post-season begins on the March 11-13 weekend. Friday night’s game at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre begins at 7 p.m. The Selkirk College Saints pursuit of a fourth straight British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) title begins in earnest Friday against the Trinity Western Spartans.With the second semester of play underway, the three-time defending league champions begin a string of five straight home games at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre where they hope to get a firm grasp on the top seed heading into the post-season.“This team certainly has what it takes to become champions once again,” says Saints head coach Brent Heaven.“There’s still plenty of work to be done and we are going to get better, but we have put ourselves in a great position to compete with any team in this league.”The Saints currently sit one point back of Simon Fraser University (SFU) for first place in the BCIHL standings.The team is coming off a big 7-3 Saturday night win against Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington where the powerplay got hot with five goals on seven opportunities.
A leader by nature, national senior team goalkeeper Andre Blake, who was appointed captain for Jamaica’s crucial Caribbean Cup qualifying match against Suriname at the National Stadium tomorrow at 6 p.m., says he is not the least bit fazed by the role. Blake will lead the team in the absence of the injured Je-Vaughn Watson, and the former Glenmuir High and Sporting Central ‘shot stopper’ says his intention is to always give his best effort for his country and help the team play with one aim. “Every time I represent the country I always give a hundred per cent on the pitch. That’s my objective. So it is an honour as a lot of people want to be in my position, and a lot of people think that they should be in my position, so when I get my chance I have to go out and prove that my selection is justified.” But despite the good feedback he has been getting from local football fans over the last year, Blake insists he is still a work in progress. “It’s great (being the number one goalkeeper) but it’s still work in progress, I am still a growing goalkeeper. Getting a lot of games has helped me to grow a lot and, hopefully, I can continue playing and develop into a goalkeeper that Jamaica can rely on for the next 10 years,” he continued. Pressure However, Blake has been in the role of captain before and knows how to handle this pressure, and he says it will be business as usual for him. “I have been captain before but this is my first role as captain at the national level. It’s a privilege, it’s an honour, so my job now is to try and get the players on the same page so we can go out and do what we have to do. For me it’s no added pressure. I think I’m a leader, I don’t need to go out and do anything out of the norm to put additional pressure, I will just be me, as I have been a leader all my life. “They (Suriname) are a good team and we will have to respect that. We cannot take them lightly, because if we take them lightly it could cost us because. ‘”These days, anybody can beat anybody on any given day. But that is one of my responsibilities, to let the players know that this is a war, we are the champions of the Caribbean, and everyone wants to beat us, so it’s about being focused and going out and giving our best. Hopefully, we can correct that and start better.”
LONDON — The Raiders keep finding innovative and embarrassing ways to lose this season, and their latest act was by far the worst yet.An utter humiliation at the hands of the mediocre Seattle Seahawks at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night sent the Raiders to 1-5, their 27-3 blowout defeat the latest page in a book that keeps getting worse and worse.With the Raiders entering the bye week before facing the 1-5 Indianapolis Colts at home, here is your Week 6 report card. Passing game: …
SANTA CLARA — Running back Jerick McKinnon experienced another setback with his reconstructed right knee and his 49ers future is up in the air, general manager John Lynch said Wednesday on KNBR 680-AM.If McKinnon’s comeback is stalled again, the 49ers could put him on injured reserve, as was the case a year ago when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament eight days before the season opener. For him to be eligible to return as a short-term, injured reserve candidate, he’d first have to make …
Mobile use is soaring across the Africancontinent, with every second person nowreachable by phone.(Image: MediaClubSouthAfrica.com. Formore free photos, visit the image library) MEDIA CONTACTS • Thecla MbongueResearch analyst, Informa TM+44 20 7017 5533 RELATED ARTICLES• Mobile networks in tower-sharing deal• High-speed internet from Cell C• Cheaper internet for South Africa• MTN launches R8.1bn shares scheme• Telkom mobile to launch soonWilma den HartighAfrica is claiming its place at the forefront of telecommunications.According to new research by Informa Telecoms & Media, the continent has exceeded the 500-million mark for active mobile subscriptions. Every second person living on the African continent can now be contacted by phone.A fast-growing mobile regionAccording to Informa analyst Thecla Mbongue, these figures mainly show growth in the use of mobile phones used for basic voice telephony. Data connections represented about 8% of total subscriptions in 2010. Mbongue says that the African continent represents 10% of global mobile subscriptions.There are still many opportunities in the mobile market for investors in growth areas such as the voice segment in under-penetrated markets, and the non-voice segments with mobile broadband and mobile money services. Mbongue says that these services would apply to both business and private markets.She says that, to some degree, high computer prices still restrict the use of mobile broadband services to the top end residential and business segment.The mobile money service targets the mass market, as this is mainly unbanked. She says that the difference between mobile money and Internet banking is that customers do not need a bank account to access the former. Access is possible via the menu on a mobile phone.“Mobile money services make it possible for customers to send and receive even very small amounts, and sometimes it also enables them to pay for basic services such as utility bills and school fees,” says Mbongue. By 2014 the number of mobile money users in Africa will have risen to almost 360-million.South Africa’s MTN, France Telecom (Orange), India’s Bharti Airtel, Vodafone/Vodacom and UAE based Etisalat have all expressed interest in gaining a bigger footing in the African mobile market.Rapid growth“The expansion of networks and the decreasing price of handsets are key drivers to more people using mobile phones,” Mbongue says. The Informa report also says that the landing of new submarine cables on the east and west coasts of Africa over the past 18 months is boosting the continent’s international connectivity. It has also created more possibilities for data services.According to an Ernst & Young telecommunications study titled Africa Connected: A telecommunications growth story, many operators and governments have also embarked on projects to build national and metropolitan fibre networks to enable easy access to new services.The findings of Ernst & Young’s research, conducted in the third quarter of 2008, are based on interviews with 28 senior role-players in the African telecommunications industries. The telecommunications study shows that from 2002, the French telecommunications market grew at a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% and the Brazilian market at 28%. In comparison, the African market experienced 49.3% growth.Growth in the African economy, fuelled by a commodities boom and increased liberalisation, is believed to be the main reason for the increase. The Ernst & Young study foresees that the African telecommunications market will grow faster than any other region in the next three to five years.Data market set to soarErnst & Young also expects data to become a revenue generator in Africa, even though voice services are likely to remain the largest contributor to operator revenues in the medium term.The provision of internet access is a big market, but Mbongue says much work still needs to be done to expand it. She says that at the beginning of 2010, the rate of household broadband access in Africa was only 2.5%. The Informa report findings predict that by 2015, there will be 265-million mobile broadband subscriptions in Africa – a significant increase from the current figure of about 12-million.The Ernst & Young survey indicates that as competition in the mobile market escalates, innovation and operational efficiency will become more important. It also appears that even with the worldwide recession, new licenses were still being issued and mergers and acquisitions were still taking place in Africa in the past year.Nomalanga Nkosi, GM for Business Marketing at MTN Business, says that mobile subscriptions are changing the way business works.“Gone are the days when mobile subscriptions were only used to receive and make calls,” she says.Today, mobility is one of the fastest growing trends in business. Many companies have become more aware of the business value that mobile technology brings in terms of productivity, integration and return on investment.“It is easy to see why investments in mobile applications and technologies will increase through 2011, as organisations begin to ramp up both business-to-employee and business-to-consumer mobile spending,” Nkosi says.In the next five years Informa expects the strongest growth rates in mobile subscriptions in East and Central Africa. Mobile subscription numbers in Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea and Madagascar are likely to more than double by 2015.Africa still a challenging environmentTelephony services are now widely available in Africa, but Mbongue says that there are still many more markets to develop. For example, in rural areas the rate of mobile access is less than 10%.Operators still face many challenges such as regulatory and political uncertainty. Ernst & Young’s study says there is a big need for regulatory independence. Although political stability in Africa has largely improved, operators are cautious of government interference in the regulatory process.The absence of reliable infrastructure such as power is another concern. Operators also find it difficult to draw the right candidates to fill important technical and management positions, and retain this talent. However, findings suggest that this challenge is not seen as unique to African operators.Operators also have to keep in mind that African markets are at different stages of economic, social and telecommunications development. Only six countries – Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Gabon, Seychelles and South Africa – have penetration levels of more than 80%, while 24 countries fall below the 20% penetration mark and 17 have mobile penetration levels of less than 10%.Demographics also play a role. Countries such as Seychelles and Gabon, with penetration rates of 108% and 91% respectively, have smaller populations and higher mobile uptake levels. Larger countries such as Nigeria, with a population of almost 150-million people, should take longer to reach high penetration levels.The role of SMSShort-format text messages have become part of our day-to-day lives, but the experts say that it is no longer only a means to keep in touch with friends and family. Dr Pieter Streicher, MD of BulkSMS.com, says short message services (SMS) are also taking on a new role and improving communication globally. These days, SMS is used in crime fighting, reporting on political unrest and weather reports.Streicher says figures released earlier this year by former Nokia executive and mobile expert Tomi Ahonen show that 53% of the world’s population and 78% of the world’s mobile phone users send and receive SMSs.“If you look at the overall number of users, SMS eclipses email by 2.6 times, despite email having been around for 39 years and SMS for only 17,” says Clay Shirky, a respected digital media commentator.Thanks to SMS, farmers in rural Kenya can obtain market prices for their goods using their mobiles. This allows them to decide beforehand which market will be paying more for their produce. Shirky says that this is a good example of how access to information via SMS is helping previously economically disadvantaged people.Increased access to mobile phones in Africa has made it possible for more people to make use of SMS services. He says a lack of other communication channels such as fixed lines and email has led to the rapid adoption of SMS in Africa and other third world regions. The other advantage of SMS is that it is user friendly, readily available, and relatively inexpensive.“It isn’t surprising, then, that many grassroot innovations, and clever ideas that the phone manufacturers almost certainly never dreamt of, take place in Africa,” he says in a report. These days, mobile phone users can even get SMS reminders to take anti-retrovirals and other important medication.Africa is on its way to becoming a success story in all aspects of telecommunications. The Ernst & Young study reports that there are many expectations and the continent is set to become a central focus of global telecommunications operators and vendors in the next five years. The good news is that Africa is shaking off its reputation as a market only for brave investors, to being seen as a region open for business and investment.• Mobile networks in tower-sharing deal