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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

WING set to cover all of Cambodia

Mobile phone electronic payment service, which just turned one year old, says it will cover Rattanakiri and Mondulkiri from next week, the last provinces to gain full access to WING

THE mobile money transfer system WING will operate fully in Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri provinces by the end of the month, Managing Director Brad Jones said Monday, giving the service full coverage in the Kingdom for the first time.

Having launched one year ago, WING will allow customers to “cash out” for the first time in the two provinces from next week, Jones said.

Previously WING users could transfer money there on the service’s four partner mobile operators – Hello, qb, Smart Mobile and Mfone – but could not collect the money.

“This week we have people who are setting up Wing cash X-press outlets in Rattanakiri and Modulkiri which now gives us access to every province in Cambodia,” Jones told the Post.

He added that the expansion was the result of a A$1.5 million (US$975,000) grant from the Australian government (via Ausaid) made last year.

“We have been using that [Ausaid] grant to actually further development of WING to provincial areas” Jones said.

WING, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ANZ Bank, formally launched its operation in the kingdom on January 21 last year.

Jones said that during the first year of operations, WING had gained 85,000 users, adding that the growth rate of its users was increasing.

“In the first month, we put on maybe 4,000 to 5,000 customers. In our last month, we put on close to 20,000 customers,” he said, adding that the network aspect of the WING business model meant growth would rise at an increasing rate.

“To use WING, you need to have your friend or family on WING, so as more and more people start to use WING, it becomes more useful for people who are already WING’s customers,” he said.

The electronic payment service had also benefited from a rising number of mobile providers signing up over the past 12 months, the latest being Mfone in October.

“Smart Mobile is pleased on the results of the partnership since the launch,” CEO Thomas Hundt said by email Monday.

The two companies started to work together from the start of August.

It remained unclear how much revenue WING had generated in its first 12 months of operations.

Jones declined to give a breakdown of financial results Monday. “We don’t disclose the actual figure in terms of what’s been transacted, but I can tell you … [there has been] significant growth month on month in both the volume of transactions we have and the value of transactions.”

WING is completely dependent on coverage by its four mobile partners, Jones admitted, given that transactions are conducted by mobile phone.

WING is not available with Mobitel, the country’s mobile leader in terms of market share, or on Metfone, which is understood to cover the largest area of any mobile service in the Kingdom.

The Vietnamese operator’s Cambodia CEO Nguyen Duy Tho told the Post in October that by the end of November last year, Metfone had been due to cover between 90 and 95 percent of the Kingdom’s population of about 14 million people.

“If there isn’t coverage of that particular network, but there is coverage for Hello, they might borrow someone’s phone who is on Hello, and use the WING service,” Jones said, adding that most people would have a SIM card with one of the four operators working with WING.

Cambodia’s mobile-phone users are notorious for posessing a selection of SIM cards in a bid to make the most of tariffs that have become increasingly competitive as new mobile phone companies have entered the market.

WING had held discussions with other operators, he added, but “we don’t have concrete plans at this stage”.

“We’re not actively looking to partner with them,” he added.

Mobitel, which is wholly owned by the Royal Group, the joint-venture partner with ANZ in ANZ Royal Bank, is understood to be developing its own mobile money transfer network.

Jones said he recognised that another mobile operator was looking to set up a rival mobile payment system and that “we welcome the competition in this market”.

He added that he had not had discussions with Mobitel with which WING “are unlikely to work with”. Mobitel was going in its “own direction”, Jones said.

By not working with the market leader, it was important that WING build a strong customer and provider base, he said.
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Cambodia Gold & Ruby Exploration Project Moves to Second Phase -- Terra Energy & Resource Technologies Increases Royalty Rights

Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: TEGR), a natural resources exploration services technology company, announces that the Company has signed a phase two contract for gold and ruby exploration in Cambodia, increasing its royalty rights in the overall project.

The exploration services contract engages Terra in its proprietary satellite-based STeP® analysis of gold and ruby mineralization in Cambodia, which is the second phase contracting of exploration after it successfully completed the first phase of the project. As requested by the client, in addition to STeP®, Terra is to perform other traditional geological and management services, in order to further define and locate resources after presenting the client with good indications of mineral prospectivity and priority zones as a result of Terra's phase one survey.

Terra previously signed a working agreement with the Millennium International Group, which serves as a frame work of the relationship between the companies and outlines the pricing, royalty as well as co-investment rights, among other provisions, Terra Energy & Resource Technologies obtains as consideration for its services.

In connection with the phase two contract, Terra has an increased royalty interest in the acreage and co-investment rights contingent upon the advancement of the exploration license in Cambodia.

"We have had several service contracts with the Millennium International Group over the past six months. This relationship is dear to us, and we are encouraged that this client is also our market partner in Asia," said Dmitry Vilbaum, Chief Executive Officer of Terra Energy & Resource Technologies.

"The synergy is in Terra performing the services for cash, royalty, and non-promoted co-investment rights, effectively creating a joint venture with the client," said Dr. Alexandre Agaian, Terra Energy & Resource Technologies' President. "Terra is encouraged and incentivized to perform its innovative technology work and help our JV shorten the exploration cycle and expense to a minimum, so that Terra can start receiving the royalty cash flow and potentially co-invest on the same terms as the Millennium International Group."

About Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc.

Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc., through its subsidiary Terra Insight Services, Inc., provides mapping and analysis services for exploration, drilling, and mining companies related to natural resources found beneath the surface of the Earth. The Company uses a suite of innovative and efficient technologies, which facilitate the prediction and location of commercially viable deposits of hydrocarbons, gold, diamonds, and other natural resources, and assesses them for any given geographic area -- on or offshore. For more information, visit http://www.terrainsight.com/.

Safe Harbor for Forward-looking Statements

This press release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and is subject to the safe harbor created by those sections. There are many factors that could cause the Company's expectations and beliefs about its operations, its plans to acquire interests in exploration properties or technologies, plans to drill or drilling results to fail to materialize, including, but not limited to: competition for new acquisitions; availability of capital; unfavorable geologic conditions; prevailing prices for oil, natural gas and other natural resources; and general regional economic conditions.

For More Information, Please Contact:
Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc.
212-286-9197
info@terrainsight.com

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Brisbane charity rescues trafficked children in Cambodia

David Barbeler


A BRISBANE-based organisation that rescues child sex workers in southeast Asia has cracked its first Cambodian syndicate, saving two girls, 10 and 14.

The rescue was carried out by the Brisbane-based charity The Grey Man, comprising former Australian special forces soldiers, former police and civilians.

A spokesman said the group's director of operations - a former Sydney policeman who uses only the name Tony to protect his identity - was in Cambodia on a fact-finding tour when a motorbike driver offered to arrange some young girls for him.

"Tony contacted our partner agency International Justice Mission (IJM) who in turn engaged with the police," the spokesman said.

The motorbike driver took Tony to a hotel late on Monday where a pimp showed him two Vietnamese girls, aged 10 and 14, the spokesman said.

"He (Tony) asked for both girls and on the pretext of going to an ATM to get the $US600 ($A665) to pay for them, he briefed police," he said.

Police and an IJM investigator then accompanied The Grey Man director back to the room to arrest the pimp and the motorbike driver.

The girls, who'd been trafficked from Vietnam, have been placed in the care of a British aid agency. The Grey Man will assist in supporting the children.

It's understood The Grey Man representatives are working with Cambodian police to arrest others involved.

The Grey Man's president, a former special forces soldier who uses the pseudonym John Curtis, said it was the organisation's first official operation in Cambodia, having previously rescued more than 100 children and women in Thailand and Laos.

"Without our intervention these girls would have been tossed onto the street in a few short years with AIDS," he said.

"I commend the Cambodian Police and IJM for their assistance.

"It is particularly apt that on Australia Day, Australians from The Grey Man charity are putting themselves in harm's way to rescue children in southeast Asia."

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GMS cooperation brings freer flows of people, goods

Almost every day from early in the morning until dusk, Buenan, a 41-year-old migrant from Cambodia, moves around his food peddling cart in the small seaport of Trat on the eastern coastal area of Thailand’s Trat province, which borders with Cambodia’s Koh Kong province.

The small seaport, which stands as a gateway for cross-border trading between Cambodia and Thailand, has for almost two years been a trading site for Buenan, who sells various kinds of snacks mostly to workers in the seaport.

“I come from a small village in Koh Kong province, Cambodia. Now it’s easier for us to cross the border. I use a seasonal identity card for the border crossing, which we can get from the gubernatorial office in Koh Kong. The others just use the normal passports and cross the border conveniently,” he said.

He was speaking to The Jakarta Post through an interpreter, when a number of ASEAN journalists visited several development projects under the Greater Mekong Sub-region cooperation program (GMS) on the invitation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) late last year.

Yem Yan, a Cambodian immigration officer at the Cham Yeam International border checkpoint on the Cambodia’s Koh Kong/Thailand Trat border, said that cross border travel through the checkpoint has increased. “It is partly because of less bureaucracy and partly because of the improving infrastructure on the border areas,” he said.

He said that on the side of Koh Kong there had been thousands of people like Buenan applying for the seasonal passports in order for them to cross the border and work in the informal sector, as house maids and construction workers, or to do small businesses like food sales.

“I decided to do this job after I saw that many Cambodian people succeed in doing this. Now I’ve found it better than doing farming in my home village,” Buenan added.

The combination of improving management of cross-border travel and increasing economic development under the GMS cooperation program have significantly contributed to the freer flow of people and goods and to the sharing of resources, which is key to the industrial development and modernization of the sub-region.

This was contrary to the strained relations between the GMS states and very limited intra-trade and economic cooperation at the beginning of the program in 1992.

With improving conditions, people like Buenan have had a better chance to improve their livelihoods outside of their hometowns or even outside of their countries within the sub-region, which comprises the six countries of Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, as well the Yunnan province of China, all linked by the Mekong River.

Initiated by ADB, the six countries set up the GMS cooperation program in 1992 to enable them to work more closely together to reduce poverty, and promote integration and economic cooperation.

Due to improving relations and increasing economic growth, people like Buenan were facilitated by this sub-regional cooperation to lift themselves out of the poverty trap.

Based on data from ADB, 10 years after the GMS cooperation program started, the proportion of people living on less than US$1 a day fell from 52.7 percent to 28.8 percent in Laos, 50.7 percent to 9.7 in Vietnam, 46 to 33 percent in Cambodia, and 10.1 percent to less than one percent in Thailand.

This trend is expected to continue as member countries committed themselves to improving their economic cooperation.

During the first GMS Summit in November 2002 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the six leaders of the sub-region stated in their joint declaration: “Our most important achievement has been the growing trust and confidence among our countries, which has provided a favorable environment for trade and investment, economic growth, and social well-being.”

Eric Sidgwick, the senior country economist of ADB in Cambodia, said that such sub-regional integration and cooperation had helped lead the transition from subsistence farming to more diversified economies, and from command economies to more open and market-based economies, particularly for the state-centralized systems in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The GMS covers an area of 2.6 million square kilometers, the size of Western Europe, with a population of about 325 million, including the Yunnan province of China. This is a large potential market, with abundant but un-exploited natural resources.

The sub-region has attracted international interest, especially from international agencies like ADB, and the World Bank which provide loans and assistance to develop infrastructure and encourage private firms to invest and expand trade.

But Eric noted that human resource development had been slow to catch up with the pace of economic development.

Despite the efforts of GMS governments to improve their human resources and the help of international agencies like ADB and the World Bank, the quality of human resources in the sub-region is still lower than hoped for.

This is shown by the relatively low literacy rate in the sub-region. “In Cambodia the national literacy rate reached up to 75 percent, but in some areas like the Koh Kong province bordering Thailand’s Trat province the literacy rate is even lower than that,” he told visiting journalists in Koh Kong town.

“Without the quality of human resources, people in the sub-region cannot benefit to the maximum from rising economic development. This is a challenge for governments in the sub-region if they are serious in realizing the social well-being of their people,” he said.

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