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News in Brief 1 August 2013

Africa & Middle East: TOTAL top-ups - Orange Money services will be available at all TOTAL service stations in the 13 countries in Africa and the Middle East where Orange Money is available, and is already operational in Senegal and Cameroon. It will go live in over 1,300 service stations in the 11 other countries in the second half of 2013. A second stage will see Orange Money users to pay for purchases made in TOTAL service stations using their mobile account. Countries included are Botswana, Cameroon, Cte d?Ivoire, Guinea, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Uganda.

Burkina Faso: Airtel Senior Appointment - Alain Roger Pierre Coefe has been named by Airtel as its board chairman in Burkina Faso. Coefe has held several ministerial positions (Trade, Transports & Communication, Planning & Development) since 1984. He has also held senior posts at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Gabon, Congo and Guinea. At the World Bank he was involved in defining the Burkina Faso national ICT development strategy.

Cameroon: Orange on-net - An deal for an ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) cable landing point in the town of Kribi was signed on 17 July 2013. Signatories were the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, Jean Pierre Biyiti Bi Essam, and Phillipe Recco for Orange, who was accompanied by Jean Bardet, CEO of Orange Cameroon. The submarine cable is due to be commercially launched by June 2014.

Ethiopia: ROC requested - Subex via partner Softpro International Limited (Mauritius) is to supply Ethio Telecom with its ROC Revenue Assurance solution. Subex won the deal through a competitive RFP evaluation and bidding process, in partnership with Softpro International Limited (Mauritius). Softpro will work with Subex to provide a turnkey Revenue Assurance solution.

Ghana: CEO confirmed - Vodafone Ghana has appointed Haris Broumidis as its new Chief Executive Officer, with effect from 15 July 2013. Broumidis joined Vodafone in 2002 as the Marketing Director and Enterprise Unit Director in Vodafone Greece and moved to Vodafone Albania as CEO in 2007. In 2012, he joined Vodafone Group in its headquarters, London, as the Commercial Director for Europe.

Ghana: Quality questioned - The National Communication Authority (NCA) has fined the six mobile operators a total of GHS 960,000 (USD 461,000) for failing to meet Quality of Service (QoS) standards, Ventures Africa has reported. MTN Ghana was fined GHS 350,000 for failures in four of the ten regions in March and April 2013. Tigo was fined GHS 250,000 for its performance in six regions, while Expresso was fined GHS 200,000 for four regions. Glo failed in the Brong Ahafo region and was fined GHS 100,000, and Airtel and Vodafone Ghana were fined GHS 50,000 each for their failures in the Northern region.

Iraq: Facebook figures - A survey of the 18+ population by The Arab Advisors Group found 77 percent of Internet users has a Facebook account. According to the InternetWordStats Website, there are some 2.211 Internet users in Iraq as of mid-2012. Facebook itself reckons it had some 4.2 million users in June 2013, implying an Internet population using the Arab Advisor figure of some 5.45 million users currently, or that Internet users have more than doubled in the past 12 months.

Iraq Facebook users June 2013

Source: Facebook c. Blycroft 2013

The survey also revealed that that news, reality shows and Arabic series are the most popular types of TV programs watched in the country. The survey also revealed that the vast majority of respondents who watch TV prefer to watch it in Arabic.

Israel: Slimmed-down staffing - Pelephone has reached an agreement with the union for 400 - 500 of the 3,000 staff to be dismissed, the Haaretz news service has reported.

Lebabnon: Rapid approach of fast Internet - Last week the Minister of Telecommunications Nicolas Sehnaoui said that after two years of work, the backbone now connects 170 telephone areas and the remaining areas will be covered within six months. The final phase will connect some 500,000 households in 541 towns. Sehnaoui said: "The project is a part of balanced development ... and no Lebanese will be without fast Internet by the end of the year ".

Mauritania: Poor show - The Regulatory Authority carried out a Quality of Service audit 9 - 13 July 2013. It concluded that operators are failing to meet all KPIs Nouakchott city. In particular, the rate of loss of calls is greater than the 5 percent maximum permissible limit. Notice has been given to operators Mauritel, Mattel Chinguitel to comply by 23 July 2013.

Malawi: VAT means better value - The introduction of a 16.5 percent rate of value added tax (VAT) on Internet services was effected from 1 July 2013. BiztechAfrica reports that Airtel Malawi and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) will be passing on the tax. During a presentation of the 2013-14 national budget, Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga said that the levy will 'allow Internet Service Providers to claim input VAT and this will in turn reduce costs associated with the provision of Internet services thereby making Internet services relatively cheaper and accessible to users.'

Morocco: TV content terminated - Maroc Telecom and media group Al Jazeera are to part company after they failed to reach agreement on the renewal of their two-year old partnership, Agence Ecofin has reported. Maroc offers TV services through its MT Box, of which there are currently 100,000 subscribers. Al Jazeera provides eight sports channels.

Namibia: Mobile maybe - The Namibian reports that Bidvest Namibia Information Technology has applied for a Comprehensive Telecommunications Service Licence, which would allow it to enter the mobile market. General Manager Pierre Joubert, in an application lodged with Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), said: "Bidvest Namibia Information Technology has its medium to long-term strategy to become a fully fledged ASP/ISP and to expand our WAN from current 15 major locations to cover the entire Namibia ". It currently provides hosted application services from two data centres.

Nigeria: Operator Assistance - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says 15 percent of the total 119 million active mobile users are based in Lagos State. The Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Dr. Eugene Juwah, told the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji, Fashola recently. He said that one of the most critical challenges facing operators was the issue of Right of Way (RoW), and he called on the State government to facilitate the 'easy passage for telecommunications infrastructure, to accelerate and encourage more investments in the country'.

Oman: Flexible broadband - Omantel is offering its mobile broadband subscribers free access in to its WiFi hotspots. Shadi Al Abdulsalam, Senior Manager Product Development at Omantel Consumer Unit said: "... customers with mobile broadband packages will receive free WiFi usage in locations where Omantel WiFi hotspots are available... ". Mohammed Al Farsi, Senior Engineer at Service Delivery Division hotspots will be rolled out starting in Muscat and expanding to other locations and regions. Users get 30-day access per session.

Saudi Arabia: Buoyant broadband - Zain Saudi Arabia reported a seasonal increase in broadband usage in the first week of Ramadan, with data transfers up by 350 percent compared to the same period last year in Makkah and Madinah. It also recorded an increase in voice calls and more international roaming users in both Makkah and Madinah.

Saudi Arabia: SIMs on open sale - The sale of unregistered SIM cards is reported to be alive and well, with street vendors still selling SIM cards of the major mobile operators without proof of identity. Arab News reports that SIM cards without ID numbers cost SAR 50 - 1,500 (USD 13 - 400), the price apparently depending on the uniqueness of the number sought by the buyer.

South Africa: Actuals aggregated - The Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) claims to have developed a more accurate methodology for measuring South Africa's online community. The DMMA, working with Echo?s Peter Langschmidt, has put the Internet population at just under 14 million, representing 39 percent of adults in South Africa. The figure was derived from the All Media Products Survey (AMPS) and independently validated by Effective Measure (EM), the DMMA?s official measurement provider for digital audience data. EM?s Unique Brower data was weighed against AMPS? multiple device usage and the EM panel to translate the number from browsers to people. The slightly contradictory Facebook data suggests it has some 8.27 million users in South Africa, or 59 percent of the Internet using population. Click here for the DMMA release.

South Africa: Rejuvenated ringtone - Value added services provider OnMobile Global has partnered with MTN, and is to deploy ring back tone (RBT) services. OnMobile is to start deploying RBT services for MTN subscribers over the next quarter and replace the entire service over the next 24-30 months in 14 of MTN's operations.

South Africa: Million monthly milestone - Cell C?s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alan Knott-Craig in a statement claimed to have signed up a million subscribers in July, although net additions are less than 350,000 for the month. The CEO claimed the total now stood at over 11.7 million. The network?s net additions for the month were 338,000 connections.

Swaziland: Contingent costs - The ruling of the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) following the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) launch into the mobile market, and the subsequent challenge by MTN, has cost it some SZL 75 million (USD 7.7 million), according to its 2012/13 Annual Report. SPTC had to close down all its mobile services and other products that were competing with Swazi MTN and so were in breach of the Joint Venture Agreement between the two. SPTC also had to pay Swazi MTN SZL 30 million in damages. To put this in context, there was also continued escalation of the Defined Benefit Pension Fund (DBPF) deficit; the value of the deficit reaching SZL 126 million (USD 12.9 million).

Turkey: Fast track for TT - Trk Telekom International has deployed Ekinops 100G across its network between Germany and Ukraine, where it connects with Ukrainian operator Datagroup to create an ultra-fast low latency 100G route to Russia, for a total distance of 3,600 kilometers. The Ekinops 100G solution uses only one 50 GHz channel, which allows service providers to transport 10 times the capacity in every port.

Turkey: TV tempts TT - Turk Telecom said its offer for 53 percent of Turkish digital pay-TV operator Digiturk is worth USD 530 million. Majority owned by Turkish conglomerate Cukurova, Digitruk has also attracted interest from Dogan Holding and Dogus Group and could fetch up to USD 1 billion, Reuters reported earlier. Other interested parties are NewsCorp and Liberty Global.

United Arab Emirates: Device deal - Etisalat Group is to offer Samsung devices in 15 of its markets. The group's CCO Rainer Rathgeber said customers will have access to Samsung's mobile technology and some products will get to the market quicker than previously.

United Arab Emirates: International money - Dubai-based Ersal has launched MobiPesa to allow the transmission of funds to mobile subscribers in Kenya. MobiPesa is powered by Rapid Communications Limited, and facilitates money transfers in real-time, enabling person-to-person money transfers. The service, which will be provided at the Al Ghurair Exchange branches in the UAE, needs only the name and mobile number of the recipient.

United Arab Emirates: Pakistan prospects - Etisalat has appointed Goldman Sachs to advise on a bid for Pakistan mobile operator Warid Telecom, Reuters has reported. Warid is thought to be worth USD 1 billion, with Etisalat and China Mobile being suggested as potential bidders. Etisalat has existing operations in the country through its stake in Pakistan Telecommunication Co Ltd (PTCL). Warid is owned by the Abu Dhabi Group, and launched mobile services in May 2005. It had 12.54 million subscribers by the end of 1Q13, down from 17.39 million in 2010-11.

United Arab Emirates: Smashing spam - Regulator TRA has been waging war on unwanted spam messages. It notes that in 1Q13, over 3 million requests have been processed to stop unwanted promotional SMS from local companies. Etisalat and du also filter Spam SMS and offer users the ability to opt-out of receiving messages. Some 20 million unwanted promotional SMS from international companies and promotional firms were also blocked. Etisalat and du have issued warnings to 32 companies, temporarily disconnected the service of 28, and permanently ceased one company, which did not follow TRA policies to limit spam SMS.

Uganda: Switch-off set - Unregistered SIM cards will be disconnected on 31 August 2013, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has confirmed. UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi told the Parliamentary ICT committee that the deadline had been extended several times. He said 90 percent of subscribers have so far registered. In March 2013 only 70 percent of SIM cards had been registered.

Zimbabwe: Messaging massacre - Kubatana.net says that its bulk messaging service has been blocked by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), the SW Radio Africa Webportal reported. Kubatana discovered on Wednesday last week that network access had been restricted when text messages were bounced. Econet told the firm an informal directive to block its messages had been issued. Kubatana claims that it distributes in bulk to opt-in subscribers, and has done so for several years. The issue appears to relate to bulk messages distributed from international gateways, and comes immediately before local elections.

Zimbabwe: Payment plans promised - TelOne is setting out to recover USD 50 million of unpaid bills over the next three months, in a move intended to improve its working capital. TelOne Chief Executive Officer Chipo Mtasa last week told the NewsDay newspaper that it had implemented a debt collection program. It plans to visit clients with overdue bills and negotiate a payment plan with them. TelOne has some 470,000 fixed lines, which account for 60 percent of its revenue while data and value-added services make up the remainder.