Category Archives: Commercial Projects

Kenya’s Safaricom takes a pasting. Has economic contagion finally reached the booming markets of Africa?

Below I am reprinting a news report by Martyn Warwick , published at TelecomTV | News on 22 May 2009. The report covers thereduction of profits by 23%, announced by Kenya’s and Africa’s biggest mobile operator Safaricom. Alongside with the reduction in profits, the story mentions the significant annual growth in the number of registered users for Safaricom’s M-Pesa mobile money transfer service. The number of registered users for M-Pesa increased from 2.1 million to 6.1 million. Both of these news from Safaricom in Kenya indicate the relevance and timeliness of the revenue opportunities offered to African mobile operators by mobile market services.

safaricomlogoMore evidence today that the recession is a truly global phenomenon. While in the developed economies of North America, Europe, Japan and Australasia ARPU has been falling and sales of handsets are in decline, over in the burgeoning markets of Africa, (Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, for example) the mobile industry has continued to roar ahead -until today. Martyn Warwick reports.

But today comes news that, for one carrier at least, the economic downturn has now hit home and profitability is on the wane at Safaricom of Kenya, Africa’s biggest mobile carrier.

Mobile penetration in Africa has roared ahead in recent ayears and some industry observers had opined that companies like Safaricom might continue to grow despite the recession. It seems now that this has more to do with wishful thinking than dispassionate analysis.

Figures released this morning show that Safaricom’s full-year profits slid by 23 per cent – mainly because of the prevailing economic conditions but increased competition and increased costs of servicing debt have also played their part.

For the financial year ended 31 March Safaricom made a profit of 15.3 billion Kenyan Shillings – that’s about £126 million Sterling. For the previous year ended march 31, 2008, the company made 19.9 billion Shillings in profit.

Perhaps more worrying is that although the operator’s total revenues were up 15 per cent year on year, ARPU (globally accepted as being a major indicator of performance) is in serious decline have fallen by a massive 23 per cent to 475 Shillings a month.

Over the past 12 months Kenya has suffered remarkably high inflation as the national currency has weakened and the costs of basic foodstuffs, fuel and transport have rocketed. Kenyan consumers, the vast majority of whom are far from wealthy, have less disposable discretionary income than they did 12 months ago and they are using their phones less.

Confidence was also severely dented by the ethnic violence that followed the results of the disputed 2008 general election and that has had a long-term effect on the economy.

Safaricom has been one of Africa’s great success stories. It is the biggest company in East Africa, is valued at in excess of £1 billion, has 2,300 employees and 13 million subscribers. The company is 40 per cent owned by Vodafone, 25 per cent by both private and institutional investors and 35 per cent owned by the Kenyan state.

It has a market share of 79 per cent and has increased its customer base by 31 per cent over the course of 18 months.

However, the market is changing and Safaricom faces increased competition from a raft of rivals including Essar telecom’s “Yu”, Zain of Kuwait and the Orange network of the incumbent, Telkom Kenya. As a result of this intense competition mobile tariffs have fallen by 40 per cent in just a year.

mpesaCommenting on the results, Safaricom’s CEO, the amiable and approachable Michael Joseph said, “It was probably our most challenging year in terms of operating environment. But it’s not all gloom, we have delivered strong results despite the difficult economic conditions and there has been strong growth in the popular M-Pesa money transfer services, with 6.2 million registered users now compared to the 2.1 million of the previous year.”

The CEO added that Safaricom will continue to invest in its network and will also look to acquisitions to maintain its strategy for consistent growth. Mr. Joseph said, “Our capital expenditure is expected to remain high over the next few years as we continue the roll out of our data infrastructure and continue to invest in the capacity, coverage and quality of our network.”

Meanwhile, Richard Hurst, a senior telecoms analyst at research house IDC commented, “In the past, Safaricom has been quite a solid operator, usually coming up with some decent numbers, so it is a bit of a surprise,” and added that Safaricom will have to spend big money on enhancing and expanding its infrastructure if it is to fend off competition and maintain its Number One position.

Hurst believes though that the overall African telecoms will continue to grow at rates higher than in other markets. He says, “We’ve still got some quite substantial growth to go, it’s [the African market] not as saturated as the European, North American or even Asian markets. I think this is just a blip.”

Let’s hope so. New figures from Nigeria expected to be published in the coming weeks may show whether this is indeed a “blip” confined to one company in one country or if the malaise is spreading across Africa.

Collaboration@Rural in South Africa

Collaboration and Rural (C@R) is an EU project aimed at enabling the participation of European rural dwellers in the knowledge society. The methodology of the project involves the testing new technologies developed by the C@R consotium within 7 Living Labs, including the Sekhukhune Living Lab in South Africa.

Below is a video material presenting the technology developed by SAP to the benefit of SMEs and micro enterprises, within the C@R project. The featured procurement technology is focused on realising benefits through the aggregation of rural demand for manufactured goods andprocessed foodstuffs. The savings are realised due to the lower prices, achieved by a coallition of buyers who manage to order together greater quantities via mobile communication.

The main beneficiaries of the system are Spaza shops which are scattered all over the area and ensure the supply to the rural community of bread and other items such as soap, detergent, clothes etc. Stock replendishment is a challenge to Spaza shop owners because goods need to be sourced from the nearest town, which involves a transportation cost and the opportunity cost of day’s work. Ms. Sesina Mabuza, a Spaza shop owner recounts the financial constraints she faces in re-stocking her shop. Ms. Christina Zikhali, a Spaza shop owner in a very remote village explains the variability of the transportation costs incurred by using shared taxi services.

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Consistent with New Institutional Economics, C@R seeks to reduce transaction costs through vertical integration. The system implemented by SAP facilitates the establishment of virtual buying cooperatives, consisting of a number of Spaza shops and coordinated by local information service providers, known as “nfopreneurs”. The video presents the example of bread supply. Retail shop owners are enabled to order the bread they need via SMS. The messages retailers send to the “infopreneurs” consist of the name of their shop, a PIN number verifying their identity, the amount they are ordering and the code of the product. The SMS messages are aggregated by the “infopreneurs”, they are bundled and transmitted to the suppliers of the product. The system is of benefit to the suppliers by allowing them higher visibility of the market for their product. Mr. Hansie du Plessis, Manager of Tubatse Bakery in Sasko testifies to the benefit to suppliers. The savings realised are used for the delivery of the products to the Spaza shops.

The video suggests that in the future the entire basket of items carried by Spaza shops might be available through the C@R procurement system implemented by SAP in the Sekhukhune Living Lab. I think that this is a truely exciting prospect.

Nokia maintains its leadership in bringing the Internet to emerging markets

May 18, 2009

Espoo, Finland – Nokia brings the Internet in emerging markets closer to reality with the announcement of three new mobile phones that open the door to information, entertainment, family and friends. The Nokia 2730 classic, Nokia 2720 fold and Nokia 7020 each come Internet-ready, and work with Nokia’s range of emerging market services such as Nokia Life Tools and Ovi Mail, creating solutions that help people get ahead.

“The power of the internet is undeniable,” says Alex Lambeek, Vice President at Nokia. “We’ve seen mobile technologies catalyze the growth of the informal sector across the world, empowering local entrepreneurs and having an immediate and lasting impact on people’s lives. Services like Nokia Life Tools and Ovi Mail, combined with the mobile phones we’re launching today, bring powerful solutions that can be the gateway to knowledge, entertainment and people, without the need for a PC.”

According to extensive Nokia consumer research, nearly half of emerging market customers state that they would rather connect to the Internet over a mobile phone than a PC. As a result, Nokia has developed locally relevant solutions that consist of affordable mobile phones and applications, designed and built from the ground up to meet the specific needs of customers in the developing world. Lambeek continues, “Whilst many people are still primarily using voice and text, the Internet does offer a whole new range of opportunities.”

Nokia Life Tools is a service that enables people to make better informed decisions, find timely and relevant information, access learning opportunities and enjoy entertainment regardless of time or place. In a pilot study in India, results showed that the services had high appeal for livelihood and life improvement services. Another service aimed at the developing world is Ovi Mail, which has the potential to be the first digital identity for many people in emerging markets. Unlike most other email services, an Ovi Mail account can be created and used directly on a Nokia device without ever having to use a PC. Since the launch of the beta service in December 2008, around 90 per cent of the accounts have been created on a Nokia phone.
Nokia 2730 classic

Competetively priced and equipped at EUR 80, the Nokia 2730 classic is Nokia’s most affordable 3G phone offering faster access to the internet and a richer browsing experience. With the steady spread of 3G data networks across the developing world, the Nokia 2730 classic is ideal for staying connected with friends and family, and sharing one’s life with others. The Nokia 2730 classic is expected to start shipping in the third quarter of 2009.


Nokia 2720 fold

The Nokia 2720 fold is a compact fold phone with an exciting mirror-effect design, which helps people stay organized with easy access to email, calendar, Internet connectivity and file sharing applications. Email can be activated by completing a simple three step set-up process, and in select markets will be offered with Nokia Life Tools. The Nokia 2720 fold is expected to begin shipping in the third quarter of 2009 for an estimated retail price of EUR 55 before subsidies and taxes.

Nokia 7020

A fashionable fold phone that uses light, color and metal finishes to convey personal style, you will never miss a thing with the stardust effect when you get a call or message, or tap twice to have the cover light up. Connect to social networks, and share pictures taken with the 2 mega pixel camera and shown on the bright display. The Nokia 7020 is expected to beging shipping in the fourth quarter of 2009 for an estimated retail price of EUR 90 before subsidies and taxes.
Lambeek concludes, “With our longstanding commitment to emerging markets, a Nokia customer can be confident that any product we offer meets a strict and consistent set of high-quality standards.  This is particularly important in markets where technical assistance and repair shops are not easily accessible.”

via Nokia – ShowPressRelease.

Warehouse Receipt Systems

Here is a very informative educational documentary on Warehouse Receipt Systems produced by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACO-EU (CTA), Agence Français de Développementé (AFD) and the Natural Resources Institute (NRI).

The film documents a study visit to Tanzania and South Africa. Even though the film provides plenty of useful information, its authors make sure to note:

“The examples presented in these two countries are typified by particular experiments and contexts and cannot simply be transposed to other cases. Nonetheless there are a great number of lessons to be learnt and which could provide guidancefor certain aspects of orientation and initiatives in your respective countries.”

I personally think that the documentary illustrates theoretical issues which are encountered the world over, and are not specific to any particular context. The film raises questions regarding trust, confidence, contractual completeness, regulation, product quality and standardisation. Even though in this documentary the issues emerge with regards to warehouse receipt systems, they are intrinsic characteristics of any market negotiations (and eventual transactions) taking place without the double coincidence of time and place. The film focuses on futures markets i.e. transactions without coinsidence in time. Conversely, market negotiations carried out via mobile phones, or other ICTs exemplify transactions without coinsidene in place.


Warehouse receipt systems were developed in the 1990s as a response to farmers’ income instability due to price fluctuations resulting from liberalisation. Since prices tend to be low during harvest periods and to subsequently rise, warehouse reeipt systems provide a solution by storing commodities for the suration of the low price season. Price volatility and lack of quality standards are attributed to market liberalisation in the agricultural sector.

Warehouse receipt systems operationalise the food supply chain and involve the following stakehoders:

  • farmers (individuals or cooperatives)
  • warehouse operators
  • financial institutions
  • exporters, traders

Tanzania

The warehouse receipt system was introduced in Tanzania in 2005 with the pilot crops of coffee and cotton. It enables farmers to receive loans and assure the quality of their produce. The system allows coffee producers (individuals or cooperatives) to store their coffee in a silo. Upon the receipt of the coffee the producers are issued with 2 certificates: certificate of title for them to keep and certificate of pledge to provide to third parties. These are normally cooperative or commercial banks participating in the system. The certificates of deposit allow farmers to induce confidence in the financial institutions. They also enable the banks to reach a new set of customers for financial services.

The warehouses also ensure the transparency of the commodity marketing system. Commodities are classified according to quality and offered for sale at regional and sub-regional markets. For example, coffee is graded and offered for sale at auctions administered by a public organisation.

Producers in other sectors, such as the Chawampu rice growers cooperative, have followed suit. Representatives of the cooperative introduce a model whereby they are able to offer 70% of market value of deposited quantities of rice. Subsequently, after selling the crop and substracting the administrative costs the cooperative, they provide a second payment to the members of the cooperative. Farmers use any additional income in order to buy seeds, fertilizer and to develop off-season activities.

The warehouse receipt systems functions well due to the high price differentials between the post-harvest season and the hungry season. The main challenges to the warehouse receipt system remain:

  • providing adequate infrastructure
  • ensuring warehouse security
  • reinforcing producers’ organisations
  • increasing the number of quality control specialists
  • reducing operating costs

South Africa

South Africa presents an advanced example based on the warehouse weceipt system because it has a functioning futures market in agricultural commodities. The SAFEX was established in the 1990s during an intense period of market liberalisation.

The advantages of South Africa include its good financial infrastructure for the settlement of deals and the quality of  its physical infrastructure enabling the trading, warehousing and transportation of the commodities. Critical is the legal enforcability of contractual rights and of legal receipt rights. Thereby, people are able to take the necessary steps and to manage their post-harvest risk well in advance.

SAGIS acts as an information intermediary for the South African commodity markets. It collects and distributes local consumption and up-to-date market information. The agricultural marketing giant SENWES provides mobile phone access to hourly prices of grain via SMS. Even though it is not typical of Africa in favouring large scale farmers, the South African warehouse receipt experience provides a useful benchmark for implementations elsewhere.

Service Syndication and Nokia Life Tools

This video was filmed at the Digital World Forum, W3C workshop in Maputo, Mozambique 1-2 April, 2009. Mr. Paavo Krepp, Head of Emerging Market Services, Africa and Middle East of Nokia, South Africa stresses the importance of content for the creation of adequate mobile information services in developing countries. Given the low disposable incomes of users of agricultural information services, Mr. Krepp emphasises the importance of enhancing the relevance of the delivered content by providing dynamic time and location specific information. He also discusses the customisation of mobile services to local perceptions, languages, understandings of iconography, and dynamic mappings of crops.

In the mobile sector, collaboration among content providers with local and domain knowlegde, telecom operators and device manufacturers appears to be key for the successful provision of information services for the agricultural sector, including advisory and marketing services. The recent partnership between Nokia and Reuters Market Light for the Nokia Life Tools pilot in India is a great example of syndication in the delivery of mobile services for users in developing countries. I expect that we should be seeing more partnerships of this type if mobile technology is to deliver on its promise of improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in developing countries. Nowadays, these people are facing numerous challenges ranging from erratic weather, due to climate change, to food security. Working collaboratively towards the provision of adequate technology-based information services for their needs seems the very least we could do.

Mapping Our Future

Here is a video I came across detailing the recent meeting of the CGIAR consortium for spatial information, under the heading “Mapping our future”, carried out on March 31- April 4 2009 in ILRI Nairobi, Kenya.

Video features interviews with Mr. Srikant Vasan from the Gates Foundation, Mr. Todd Slind from CH2M, Mr. Andrew Jarvis from Biodiversity, CIAT, and Mr. Stanley Wood from IFPRI. The main topic discussed is location intelligence and its use for raising incomes and reducing the poverty for smallholder farmers. Mentioned are novel means of delivering geo-spatial information to farmers and constituents in developing countries, including the mobile technology channel, web applications and low tech delivery methods. Interviewees emphasize the current drive to deliver location-based information to farmers, extension workers, agricultural input and output traders, micro-finance institutions. Mr. Stanley Wood mentions presentation by Google Kenya who have created tools to search and navigate through web-based information. He stresses the need for the parallel alignment of the efforts and resources of private technology developers such as Google and research institutions such as IFPRI.

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Mr.Andrew Jarvis summarises the current trend in geo-spatial technology to provide practical solutions to problems identified by social scientists and decision-makers. He mentions that the revolution in the use of mobile technology in Africa happened within 3-4 years, allowing the development of services such as Tradenet in West Africa and envsions a revolution in the use of geo-spatial technology. I personally am certain that location-based information delivered via mobile technology can greatly impact the efficiency of the food supply chain in African countries, thereby benefitting farmers, and facilitating the work of marketers and intermediaries.

See ICT KM Program and AGCommons for detailed information. AGCommons sets out for itself the following goals:

  • GOAL ONE: Discover how geospatial technology can improve farmer productivity and market access

Although 75 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas in developing countries, only 4 percent of total government spending goes to supporting agriculture. Providing greater support for agriculture is a critical means of fighting poverty and hunger, as highlighted by the World Bank in its World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development. The World Bank concluded that investing in agriculture is four times more effective at reducing poverty than investments made elsewhere.

Agriculture can provide a pathway out of poverty, but only if productivity and access to markets increase. Agricultural success in sub-Saharan Africa depends on a farm’s location, in addition to land, soil, natural resources, and climactic conditions. Farmers need access to location-specific (geospatial) information to make better decisions about which crops to plant and when to harvest.

Location-specific (geospatial) information is not consistently produced in ways that are helpful and accessible to local farmers. These farmers, as the best sources of data about local conditions, also have no easy way to contribute to the information-gathering efforts. After soliciting feedback and input from smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and the agricultural aid communities, the AGCommons program will identify, develop, and implement helpful tools to help farmers gain timely information about their specific locations, enabling them to boost their productivity and improve access to markets.

  • GOAL TWO: Engage a community of interest to improve sharing and accessibility for location-specific information

During the first phase of the AGCommons program, we will engage a community of interest by reaching out to those in the agriculture development community—from farmers in the field to ministries of agriculture and aid organizations—to develop and prioritize innovative ideas to leverage geospatial technology. This will be accomplished through a series of community workshops in Africa, Rome, and the United States, followed by a methodical project prioritization process.

This community of interest will help the project team accomplish the following tasks:

· Identify critical gaps in existing geospatial technology
· Enable us to solicit and share potential high-impact solutions
· Select and deploy “quick win” projects in mid-2009 to build on existing work
· Confirm the use and value of geospatial technology services
· Establish ownership for these services
· Align existing geospatial technologies to better serve agriculture development
· Promote a set of best practices to help realize the highest potential value from geospatial investments

Engaging the people and organizations who will most benefit from this program will ensure a focus on providing the solutions most beneficial to the smallholder farmers.

  • GOAL THREE: Deliver high impact solutions that provide value to the “last 10 kilometers”

Although the AGCommons program will have wide-ranging benefits to economies of sub-Saharan countries and the agricultural community at large, the primary focus is on the end users, the smallholder farmers who rely on agriculture for their food and livelihoods. The driving force behind this program is to provide these farmers, many of them women, with easy-to-use, accessible, up-to-the-minute data that can help them make better decisions about how to farm their land, harvest their crops, and bring their harvest to market. The high-impact solutions could end up being databases, cell phone applications, or architecture or networks branching across reams of agricultural data; however, the farmers are the ones who give them meaning and utility. Engaging these farmers in identifying their greatest needs will ensure that we develop the most helpful solutions to improve their daily lives and incomes.

IBM pushes IT towards the Base of the Pyramid

Pyr.mea.IT – Permeating IT towards the Base of the Pyramid is an exploratory research project which was started by the IBM India Research Laboratory (IRL) in New Dehli in August 2006. Its aim is to create technologies which would provide IT solutions relevant to the needs of people in developing regions of the world.

voikiosk

The project team including Sheetal K. Agarwal, Arun Kumar, Amit A. Nanavati and Nitendra Rajput have recently demonstrated the use of VoiGen and VoiKiosks. These systems allow the creation and browsing of VoiceSites forming a “spoken web”. The systems developed by Pyr.mea.IT consists of the deployment of software called VoiGen through which IRL is looking to enable rural users to input and create content in the spoken web. Complimentary to VoiGen and the content generation process is a service called VoiKiosk which would allow information users to access the available content. Voice kiosks are envisaged as telecentres enabling the use of the spoken web through the proximal literacy of kiosk operators.

In order to create a voice site, a uaer would need to dail a numeber and follow the instructions provided by VoiGen.  The software asks users to record, in their local language, information such as a welcome greeting and contact details, while creating behind the scenes a VoiceSite. A phone number, analogous to a URL, is then assigned to the user’s content. Anyone who dials that number gets access to the recorded information and is given help navigating to related information. The way a caller navigates the VoiceSite is based on a templates developed by IRL, including voice site templates for advertisements and for auctions. Not unlike classified, the voice sites created through VoiGen are meant to enhance the trade opportunities of Indian small businesses offering and looking to buy anything from vegetables to jewellery, to electronics.

According to the New Scientist, 24 October 2008, “the spoken web is a network of VoiceSites, just as the internet is a network of websites. A VoiceSite can only be accessed by a phone, and only requires the user to be able to speak and listen. Callers can create their own VoiceSites or access those of others. They can also surf the spoken web, jumping from VoiceSite to VoiceSite using speech.”  The spoken web is an attempt to bring the benefits of the internet to rural India where people tend to earn only $4 per day or less.

The Pyr.mea.IT project has been targeted towards the use of voice communication because studies of mobile phone use in India, carried out by IRL have shown the dominance of voice as a communication medium. Not unlike many other places in the developing world, the popularity of text messages and WAP communication channels in India is affected by users’ literacy and technological literacy levels.

Pyr.mea.IT is an exciting project because by making voice the primary mode of communication and information exchange, it takes a step towards adjusting the development of technological solutions to the information needs, and literacy requirements of end users. Still, many challenges remain. Voice services are traditionally challenged by users’ propensity to hang up because of time pressures, because of users’ dissatisfaction with the progress they have been able to make, or because users have reached a node where none of the available navigation choices seems appropriate. Additionally, the navigation process could be challenged by the suitability of the voice recognition technologies currently available to the specifics of Indian rural languages and dialects.

KACE (Kenya) and the Kerala Fish Trade (India) on TelecomTV

Under the title “Market Intelligence: How Mobiles are Helping Farmers and Fishermen” Telecom TV recently covered the work of the Kenya Agricultural Commodity Exchange (KACE) , as well as the use of mobile phones for price discovery by fishermen in Kerala, India. Trades of various other goods and services in India were also covered. Both, the work of KACE and the changes in the information behaviour of fishermen in Kerala are phenomona well familiar to people interested in the application of mobile technology to agricultural trade in developing countries. Still, the video material allows us the opportunity to visualise the daily routines and work conditions of Kenyan market traders and of Kerala fishermen.

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Name: TV Ramachandran, Mutahi Kagwe, Godfrey Fwamba
Recorded: 13/03/2009 – Nairobi, Kenya and Kerala, India

jensen-2007The background behind KACE is that it is a commercial enterprise seeking to facilitate the process of price discovery occurring the market exchange of agricultural products. The video footage covers the work of Godrey Fwamba who appears to work as an enumerator and his duties seem to involve daily visits to the Nairobi market. During those visits he collects prices from the local traders, then sends them back to his office via SMS, where they are made available to farmers. The role of enumerators is crucial for the successful implementation of mobile market information services. A dedicated network of extension workers is capable of collecting comprehensive price and avalability information from local markets, thereby enabling ICT solutions to deliver relevant information with potential for changing the behaviour and choices of market suppliers.

The video further shows the work of Pradeep Kumar, skipper of the Sreevaltsom, a trawler fishing in the seas of Kerala, India. Pradeep Kumar is shown using his mobile to check fish prices, thereby ensuring he lands his catch at the most profitable quayside market. The story about the impact of increased mobile network coverage in the coastal waters of Kerala on the market prices for fish in the region is familiar from the work of Robert Jensen. In Issue 3, 2007 of the Quarterly Journal of Economics Robert Jensen published the results from a study carried out between 1997 and 2001 in theh Kerala region. The empirical worked showed that the increased availability of mobile phone communication, encouraged fishermen to make informed decisions about which port to land at and reduced the price dispersion among fish markets in different ports. It is worthwhile to point out that the behavioural changes and the welfare gains in Kerala were not the result of any subsidised mobile market information initiative. By contrast, the changes in Kerala were self-sustaining because they resulted from individual bhavioural adaptations to information availability.

Location Information at CellBazaar, Bangladesh

I have been taking a good look at the website of Grameenphone’s CellBazaar in Bangladesh. The CellBazaar initiative is certainly worth some consideration because it is one of the better established mobile marketplaces.

CellBazaar offers multiple channels for checking the listings and for submission. The mobile channels include SMS and WAP. Concurrently, all the sell osms-buy1ffesms-sellrs submitted within the last 30 days are available for viewing online.

I have been particularly interested in the CellBazaar tutorials for the viewing of the available offers via mobile technology and for the submission of offers. The tutorials feature the procedures for announcing a sell lead and for checking the sell leads. The procedures (SMS Buy, SMS Sell) involve the sending of 4 text messages in order to sell, and of 5 messages in order to buy. In response, the user of the system receives lists of the available metacathegory, cathegory, sub-cathegory and price range options. The user makes a choice by texting to CellBazaar the number of the selected option.

wap-buywap-sellThe buying and selling procedures are less clumsy when the users have WAP trechnology at their disposal. The buying and the selling procedures are explained respectively at WAP Buy and WAP Sell.

Considering the SMS and WAP procedures one fact sticks out. In neither selling procedures (SMS or WAP) is the user required to specify his/her location. In the WAP Buy procedure once a buyer chooses the sub-cathegory of goods he/she is interested in, he/she needs to specify a location and a price range. In the SMS Buy procedure the is required to specify a price range. This all leaves the question open as to how CellBazaar is able to know the location of its users. Is anyone aware of what location technology they are using? If CellBazaar do indeed infer the location of their users without asking them to confirm it, that seems to me a rather poor practice. If it is otherwise, I would very much appreciate hearing about it.