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News in Brief 20 November 2013

Africa: Airwaves for Airtel - Airtel has partnered with Radio Express to provide two shows on local radio stations across 17 African countries, namely Airtel Music Express (in English) and Airtel Musique Express (in French). Airtel Music Express airs weekly in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Seychelles, Ghana and Nigeria. Airtel Musique Express airs weekly in Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Niger, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DDRC and Gabon. Andre Beyers, Chief Marketing Officer at Airtel Africa, said the aim was to raise brand and product awareness.

Africa: Best brand - Glo has been rated amongst Africa's 5 most valuable brands according to Brand Africa. In a survey conducted recently by Brand Africa, Globacom had a brand value of 655 to rank highly in a list of the Top 10 Most Valuable Brands in Africa. The report, published in the latest edition of African Business magazine, found Glo had made a significant impact in the West African sub-region where it operates.

Africa: Gadget growth - The global mobile app market is expected to be worth USD 27 billion in 2013. According to Portio Research, consumers in Africa and the Middle East represented 14 percent of mobile app users in 2012, or 168 million people. Portio forecasts that the number of app users will grow by almost 30 percent each year, and by 2017 Africa's app users could number over half a billion people.

Africa: Incentive to innovate - Genii Games and Efiwe Mobile Application are winners of the second ?Etisalat Pan-African Prize for Innovation? competition. The first prize of USD 25,000 for the most innovative product or service was presented to Genii Games (Asa), a collection of interactive teaching mobile apps for African children, and a second prize of USD 10,000 for the most innovative idea was presented to Efiwe Mobile application, a social education network that provides a simulated learning environment with in-depth resources. Acting Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher, attended the event at AfricaCom.

Africa: New BlackBerry boss - BlackBerry announced last week the appointment of Yudi Moodley as Managing Director for Africa, who replaces Alexandra Zagury, who in turn is taking up a new role as BlackBerry Managing Director for the UK and Ireland. Moodley noted that Africa is one of BlackBerry's key markets. He was BlackBerry's Business Management Director for the Middle East and Africa, joining BlackBerry in 2010 after four years with Cell C, latterly as Senior National Retail Sales Manager.

Africa: Smartphone supply - Samsung reckons it will supply half the smartphones sold in Africa in 2013, the UK's Telegraph newspaper has reported. Of the 100 million mobile phones sold in Africa each year, 20 million are smartphones with just over half of those made by Samsung. At the end of 2012 sub-Saharan smartphone penetration was just 4 percent. This compares with a global average of 17 percent, according to the GSMA. Thatbiet Allie, Head of Content and Services for Samsung Electronics Africa hopes to double smartphones sales in Africa in 2014.

The LTE Imperative...
Alcatel-Lucent have quantified the amount of bandwidth that can be profitably delivered by operators using the different technologies available (e.g., 3G, LTE and small cells). Using economic game theory it has determined the winning strategy for operators and, in particular, the relative merits of an LTE-centric versus Single RAN (mixed 3G and LTE)-centric deployment strategy. A copy of the 'The LTE Imperative' whitepaper is available here.

Africa & Middle East: Acision appointment - Acision has appointed David Huguet as senior Vice President and General Manager for the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan (MEAP) regions. Huguet brings more than 15 years' of management and sales experience in telecoms and IT, and will report directly to Acision's CEO. Huguet was previously VP of solutions for Middle East and Africa at Oasis Smart, a company he co-founded.

Cameroon: Emergency funding - China is to provide a XAF 77.8 billion (USD 160.2 million) loan to partially finance a national emergency telecoms network. The system will send alerts to the population, help protect lives and property and better co-ordinate rescue operations at the local and national level, Agence Ecofin reported.

Cameroon: Network now normal - Issues on MTN's network on 7 November are reported by Agence Ecofin to have been resolved. In the Cameroon Tribune, Melvin Akam, the Head of Corporate Affairs at MTN said it had 'faced substantial technical problems that have caused instability MTN network communities in Central, South, East and West'.

Ethiopia: Performance pilloried - The latest ICT Development report has ranked Ethiopia among the world's worst performers, with the least developed and most expensive infrastructure, the country being ranked 151st out of 157 countries assessed. It was ranked 150th last year. On cost of telecommunications it is ranked 152th out of 169.

Gabon: Subscriber base strengthened - During the first nine months of 2013 Gabon Telecom reported of XOF 63.5 million (USD 130.7 million), up 13 percent on the same period last year. Its subscriber base rose to 975,000 from 804,000 subscribers in a year; an increase of 21.3 percent. Fixed lines rose to 19,000 at the end of September, up from 18,000 in September 2012, an increase of 5.3 percent.

Israel: Cellular co-operation - Pelephone, the mobile unit of Bezeq, and Cellcom are considering working together on a 4G network after Hot and Partner struck a similar deal, Globes has reported. The Antitrust Authority however would have to approve such a move, as Pelephone and Cellcom are established players rather than a newcomer such as Hot.

Kenya: Educational expansion - Liquid Telecom Kenya is to provide leased lines to the Kenya Education Network (KENET) has been expanded and renewed for another three years from 1 November. KENET's total aggregate leased line capacity is now about 2.5 Gbps and connects half of the campuses (67) of KENET member institutions. Liquid Telecom Kenya now supplies up to 80 percent of the commercial leased line capacity.

Kenya: Tempting TV - Safaricom is planning to sell Internet and television as a package as it seeks to reduce its reliance on the voice market, which currently accounts for 63 percent of its revenues. Users will be able to buy a preferred programme and watch it on tablet, smartphone or television. Video content will be sourced from a variety of producers and delivered to centralised system such as YouTube and TV stations, earning subscription fees in the process. CEO Bob Collymore told Bloomberg that the system would be launched late in 2014.

Liberia: Healthy development - In October Cellcom Telecommunications commissioned a new base station in Konobo District, Grand Gedeh County, in partnership with the US based health group Tiyatian Health. The venture has been endorsed by the Clinton Global Initiative, and facilitates Tiyatian Health's frontline health workers use mobile devices to provide health care to mothers in very remote locations. The tower restores telephony to the locality after a break of some 10 years.

Namibia: Internet improvement - A partnership between Telecom Namibia (TN), NewTelco SA and German Internet provider Deutscher Commercial Internet Exchange is to establish international access points in South Africa and Namibia to the German Internet exchange (DE-CIX). This follows a recent move by TN in partnership with NewTelco SA to establish Points of Presence (PoPs) in South African and European communication hubs last year. The access points will connect to the De-CIX Apollon providing direct access for Namibia and South Africa to more than 550 networks connected to the De-CIX node.

Nigeria: Phone plans - Samsung Mobile, Etisalat and Union Bank of Nigeria are offering flexible payment plans up to 24 months for the purchase of smartphones on installment plans, the Daily Trust reported. 'Get a Smart Device with Ease' is available at selected Etisalat Experience Centres from the start of November. Devices available include the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Mega, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 Zoom.

Nigeria: Service solution - Globacom is opening 'miniature' call centres to service customers in their own languages and in their local areas, notably those speaking Hausa, starting in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The new mini-call-centres can handle close to 20,000 calls per day. Director of Customer Care, Maria Svensson, said Glo had a strategy to contribute to socio-economic development.

South Africa: Cheap calls - Zimbabwe-based Africom is launching its Guroo VOIP application in South Africa. Guroo is an African originated cross platform Voice service that runs on most operating systems. The application was launched in Zimbabwe in June and to date it has acquired 14,000 subscribers globally with 6,000 in the USA. Guroo allows subscribers to make calls anywhere in the world from as little as USD 0.06 per minute.

South Africa: Health hitch - Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig is expected to make a full recovery after suffering a 'minor stroke' on Monday morning. Chief Commercial Officer Jose Dos Santos will act as CEO until Knott-Craig returns to work. TechCentral notes that Knott-Craig has suffered a number of health problems over the years, including two heart attacks as Vodacom CEO.

South Africa: Loan legalities - Chief Financial Officer Jacques Schindehütte was lent some ZAR 6 million (USD 591,000) to buy shares in the company? it said on Monday. The loan was made at the end of September three weeks before his suspension, at a zero interest rate and repayable on termination of his employment contract. Should he be dismissed, the interest rate is then base rate plus 2 percent per annum. It recognised in its half-year report that the arrangement was irregular and would be rectified 'as a matter of urgency'

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South Africa: Seasonal smartphone - MTN is to offer new branded 3G smartphones in 2013 as part of its strategy to make its data offering more affordable and accessible. Kanagaratnam Lambotharan, Chief Enterprise Business Officer of MTN SA, told ITWebAfrica the launch would be in 4-6 weeks, with a risk of missing the Christmas market.

South Sudan: Ministerial meeting - Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Rebecca Joshua Okwachi has visited Zain South Sudan's premises and met with Zain South Sudan CEO, Wassim Mansour. The Minister said one of her priorities is to establish a functioning independent telecom. Zain South Sudan has over 290 3G voice and data enabled base stations, with more planned in the near future. The technology can be upgraded to 4G LTE.

Tanzania: Infraco insight - Helios Towers Tanzania (HTT) Sales and Marketing Director, Michael Magambo said that since HTT acquired Millicom Tanzania's 1,000-plus towers in 2010 it has subsequently built 300 more sites and expects to add more soon. His comments were reported from an interview by the Tanzania Daily News in Dar es Salaam.

Turkey: Turk Telecom test - Huawei Technologies have completed a 40Tbps wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) on-spot transmission test on Turk Telecom's network, involving optical fibre line 207 kilometers from capital city Ankara to a north-east city. Turk Telecom is building a WDM backbone network with 100G coherent transmission equipment.

Uganda: Insurance initiative - 'MTN LifeCare' is the latest offering from MTN Uganda. The telco is working with AON and Jubilee Insurance to provide the life insurance policy, which can be subscribed to through MTN Mobile Money services. The cost is UGX 7,500 - 22,500 (USD 3 - 8.80) per annum will provides death benefits of UGX 1 - 6 million (USD 392 - 2,350) respectively.

United Arab Emirates: Educational Etisalat - An Arabic mobile application aimed at interactive edutainment for school-aged children has been launched by Etisalat. It is being offered on a try and buy basis, with the first week for free. Subsequent weeks are AED 5 (USD 1.36). The Lamsa application is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerrys shortly.

United Arab Emirates: Secure storage - Etisalat is partnering with cloud storage technology provider GlobeX Data to offer secure data storage and back-up services for critical business data and applications. The partnership allows Etisalat to introduce the DigitalSafe and SecurusVault technologies in the Middle East. Abdulla Hashim, Senior Vice President ICT, Etisalat UAE, said: "Data is at the heart of any organisational activity ". It features a protected digital vault for confidential information.

West Africa: Renewable roll-out - Millicom subsidiary Tigo has initiated its GSMA-IFC-Green Power for Mobile program in is Franco-phone markets in Africa, and consequently organised a seminar in Dakar, Senegal in early October. Samba Koita, Technical Director of Tigo said 29 percent of its 4,990 base stations are off-grid and running on green energy; 59 percent are reliant on diesel, and the rest use batteries and hybrid solutions. Agence Ecofin reported that the pilot would be in Senegal before being rolled out in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Mauritius.