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News in Brief 11 September 2013

Botswana: Commissions cut - BusinessWeek reports that airtime vendors are concerned after Mascom (MTN) and Orange reduced the commissions on airtime sales. The commission was reduced from an average of 10 percent to 8 percent in August. Rival beMobile is reported to still be offering a 14 percent commission.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Patchy performance - Mobile users in the Eastern Province city of Isangi (125 km west of Kisangani) are reported by the RadioOkapi Website to be having major issues with the Airtel and Vodacom networks. Mobile money transfers are apparently heavily impacted, particularly with financial transactions between Isangi and the cities of Basoko and Kisangani.

Ghana: Bandwidth bonanza - Dr. Edward Omane-Boamah, Minister for Communications has noted that the Services sector accounted for 49.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012 of which the ICT sub-sector contributed 12.1 percent and Business Services 13.5 percent. The Ghana News quoted him saying that the cost of bandwidth in 2007 for 2 Megabits was about USD 10,000 per month. In 2008 it fell to USD 7,500, in 2009 to USD 4,500, USD 4,000 in 2010, USD 2,000 in 2011 and in 2012 to USD 1,500 per month. In mid-2013 it is falling to USD 1,200. The Minister added that the Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) had confirmed in early May that 45 percent of the country?s Internet traffic is handled locally through the existing Internet Exchange Point.

Ghana: Data device - Tigo is to offer TCL Communication's Alcatel-branded One Touch Scribe HD handset which features a 5 inch HD touch screen and 720 pixel resolution. It features a touch pen, comes with a quad-core 1.2GHz processor running Android Jellybean 4.2 and is 3G+ compatible, functioning at a speed of 42Mbps. Tigo said it would soon announce a special data package for purchase of the device.

Israel: Bonus base - This week Cellcom Israel is to announce updates to its proposed remuneration policy an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). It said its annual report would show the average base salary percentile of its senior management in relation to their peer group, based on a peer group analysis conducted by a consultant. Cash bonuses for any year will now be subject to an additional minimum requirement of achieving an annual EBITDA of not less than 60 percent of the company's EBITDA for the previous year.

Israel: Cannot compete - Cellcom Israel and Hot Telecommunication have told the Minister of Communications the proposed lowering of fixed-line connectivity fees is unworkable. Globes reports Cellcom saying that the connectivity rate should be much lower than the ILS 0.99 per minute set by the Ministry of Communications; while Hot believes that the rate should be higher, saying it had found errors in the work by the consultancy firm which calculated the price.

Israel: Employee's enabled - The Histadrut (General Federation of Labour) has been recognised as the trade union representing Cellcom Israel staff, Globes reported. Cellcom considered the requisite number of signatures had not been obtained to permit the formation of a workers' committee, but more than the required 199 signatures were subsequently provided.

Kenya: Reduced rates - Airtel Kenya has said its initial tariff offer that allowed pre-paid subscribers who use mobile money to call all networks for KES 2 is now permanent. The offer is open to Airtel Money users who transmit KES 100 (USD 1.14) in a 7-day period. Dick Omondi, Airtel Kenya?s head of PR and communications, said: "...it?s close to making calls for free if you factor in both ends of the deal. "

Kuwait: Bundled broadband - Zain has launched its 'Life is eeZee when you switch to Zain' campaign, allowing pre-paid subscribers to enjoy unlimited communication from a variety of plans that offer unlimited talk time bundled with broadband Internet plans, including 4G LTE Internet in a single discounted package.

Liberia: Financial flaws - The Justice Ministry has said that audits conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) may be flawed. The Ministry's legal department is currently reviewing the audit reports, and it is suggested that there are procedural issues in the way the audits were conducted. The New Dawn reports that this may mean that the Ministry is unable to pursue the misappropriation of funds and properties. On August 22, 2013, the GAC released an audit report on the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) highlighting misuse of public funds for 2009 through 2011.

Malawi: Mobile milestone - In a series of press adverts, TNM has said it has achieved the 2 million mobile subscriber milestone. TNM was launched in 1995 and achieved a million subscribers in 2010. TNM hit the milestone in July. Its market share has risen from 29 percent in 2008 to 45 percent in 2012.

Middle East: Smart move - ZTE has appointed Logicom as a regional distributor for the Middle East, including the UAE. Zhang Rui, Marketing Director at ZTE Corporation, said: "...ZTE believe that the Middle East market is one of the fastest growing regions worldwide for the mobile industry, which defines the success rate and the acceptability of particular mobile models. "

Nigeria: Payment partnership - Jaiz Bank has partnered with Teasy Mobile Money to provide access to financial services using their mobile devices. The deal has been approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The bank, which is the first non-interest bank in Nigeria, will provide Teasy Mobile?s customer services such as mobile payments and deposit facilities, while the mobile payment service will use Jaiz Bank as its service points.

Saudi Arabia: Beach broadband - The beaches at Dammam and Alkhobar will have access to Mobily Wi-Fi free of charge, the Arab News has reported. As part of the private/public finance initiative, the city authorities have set up 50 high-speed internet access points along the two beaches, with plans set to expand the service to other areas by the first quarter of 2014.

Sierra Leone: Payment problems? - The Awarness Times has reported staff of Comium Sierra Leone assembling outside its offices on Wilkinson Road, Freetown on 4 September 2013 to express their disquiet at the management of the company, following a strike by headquarters staff the previous day. The paper reports a manager as saying that payroll payments have been delayed. Also on 3 September police and court officials attended with an injunction apparently to close the business due to debts owed to several banks.

South Africa: Send-off for Sallie - Telkom's Bashier Sallie, Managing Director for Wholesale and Networks, is to step down at the end of 2013, having completed his contractual term. Sallie joined Telkom in 1986 and has held various posts including managing executive roles in Data and special services, service management and field operations. He also served as the company?s acting CTO from March 2007 to October 2007. He then moved to the IT division before being appointed to his current role.

South Africa: TV temptation - Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub says the operator can add value by partnering with a pay-TV such as DStv. In an interview on CNBC Africa the CEO said it was building networks that can carry such content, and so allow such opportunities to be exploited. Joosub said that having a portal with different TV stations, combined with connectivity and billing systems 'could be very beneficial'. Apparently 66 percent of Vodacom?s network is already on fibre or high-speed transmission. In 2007, Vodacom launched DStv Select, but in 2011 MultiChoice took over the running of the DStv Select offering, previously administered by Vodacom.

Tanzania: Bureaucratic block - The ICT Ministry is seeking TZS 246 billion (USD 152 million) for the erection of 200 rural base stations. The funding by the World Bank for the Universal Communication Services Access Fund (UCSAF) has been problematical, with Deputy ICT minister January Makamba telling Parliament that bureaucracy has hampering the release of funds. It is now talking with India for funding. Areas along the River Rufiji Delta, Mchukwi, Dimani and Mwamba are to be covered in the second phase of the program.

Vodafone: Windfall welfare - Vodafone's USD 130 billion deal with Verizon is expected to see emerging markets, including South Africa and Turkey, benefit. Under its Vodafone 2015 strategy significant additional organic investment is promised.

Zimbabwe: Investment investigated - The Zimbabwe Mail reports TelOne Managing Director, Mrs Chipo Mutasa, as saying it is in talks with several financiers the USD 30 million required to kick-start infrastructure rehabilitation projects. The fixed line operator has a number of operational challenges ranging from huge debt, ageing equipment and a shortage of skilled labour.