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News in Brief 2 April 2014

Bahrain: Card care - Batelco is to provide advanced technology services to American Express Middle East. The partnership will support American Express Middle East in to delivering solutions and customer service in the MENA region.

Botswana: Rates researched - Orange Botswana is launching a new set of packages following consumer research under the Ola! branding. Ola! Classic starts at BWP 6 (USD 0.68) a day, contains minutes to call all networks and SMS; Social also starts at BWP 6 a day, contains minutes to call Orange numbers, SMS and social data for Facebook & Twitter; Surf & Talk starts at BWP 12 a day, contains minutes to call all networks in Botswana and Internet Data; Ultimate starts at BWP 20 a day and contains minutes to call other networks in Botswana as well as Unlimited SMS and Internet Data.

Cameroon: Healthy hotline - Orange Cameroon is to launch a preventative medical service in collaboration with the Ministry for Health in April. The My Healthline service provides access to advice on contraception, HIV/AIDS, sexuality and STDs from specialists by texting 929 any weekday. Replies will be provides in less than an hour. The service costs XOF 200 (USD 0.42) per text.

Cameroon: Subscriber satisfaction survey - Had a bad experience in a Camtel Sales Outlet recently? Now is the time to tell the operator about your experiences. Camtel has posted two customer satisfaction surveys this week on its Website.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Slow payers - According to Radio Okapi, more than 900 teachers in the city of Idiofa no longer want their wages paid via Airtel Money, and would prefer payment via Caritas Congo. In the 24 March 2014 memo the teachers claimed that payments via Airtel Money are received up to two weeks after Caritas Congo. In 2013 the government decided payments would be made by mobile money to avoid delays and fraud in administrative services of the State. In June 2013 the military of North Kivu also refused to continue to receive their salaries via Vodacom's service.

Egypt: NTRA not available - Telecom Egypt (TE) is forecasting some 5 million mobile subscribers in its first year TE's General Manger for Investors Relations and Internal Reporting Mohamed Kamal has told the Daily News Egypt. The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Atef Helmy is expected to ratify the unified licence before 30 June. The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) Board of Directors? meeting was cancelled last week so delaying the planned announcement on Wednesday, 26 March.

Gambia: Investors welcome - The Minister of Works, Construction and Infrastructure, Bala Garba Jahumpa, who is currently overseeing the Ministry of Information, has told the 12th Annual Innovation Africa Digital (IAD) Summit that the country will welcome investors in ICT. The event is 25 - 27 March at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Banjul. The Point also reported Director General of the Gambia Public Utilities and Regulatory Authority (PURA), Abdou Jobe, said mobile network coverage was over 93 percent and the penetration rate close to 100 percent.



Ghana: Revenue maximisation - The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has called on Government to remove the 20 percent import duty on mobile handsets and other related equipment, GhanaWeb reported. Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said: "If devices are affordable, then more people will purchase them and use them. This will boost Communications Service Tax (CST) which cannot be evaded, unlike import duty which can be evaded through smuggling and bribery at points of entry and deny Government the needed revenue. "

Liberia: Connectivity curtailed - The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) is not happy with the wireless network services and WLAN infrastructure in its new offices and has invited proposals from qualified firms to upgrade or reconfigure the facilities. It notes that the Ring topology was used in an Untwisted or Twisted Pair Category 3 & 5 environment instead of a Star topology, which has affected connectivity, particularly at the extremities. It now needs the network to be assessed and remedial actions proposed and implemented.

Morocco: High Definition device - Maroc Telecom is launching the Samsung Galaxy S5 in early April. It is also now offering HD Voice technology, originally proposed in 2013, providing high definition audio quality and listening in all major cities. This service is available on all smartphones.

Nigeria: Healthy Glo - Regular information on a wide range of health and wellness issues, including how to manage various diseases or health conditions and how to prevent them. Adeniyi Olukoya, Coordinator, Marketing said it had 'taken some time to look at the areas to focus on that will be of immense help to the greatest of number of people'. Broad topics are Cancer, Diabetes, Pregnancy, Baby, First Aid, Cholesterol, Toddler, Hypertension and Blood Sugar, amongst others.

Nigeria: Open Access - Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Eugene Juwah, last week said the country will witness a broadband revolution following the recent launching of the Open Access Model by government. According to The Day, he said the NCC had concluded arrangements to licence seven infrastructure companies to provide open access for broadband deployment before the end of 2014.

Qatar: Expansion expected - Ooredoo Qatar Chief Executive Officer Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani said the telco is readying to launch big service packages within a couple of months. Sheikh Saud, speaking to The Peninsula at the company?s AGM, said: "We are expanding our capacity to further enhance the quality of our services across the country, and working on the completion of the remaining 400 sites (500 sites already completed) with 4G networks. In addition, we have some big projects going on in 2014 such as the national rollout of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) high-speed broadband network infrastructure. "

Rwanda: Incubator initiated - Tigo Rwanda is setting up a tech incubator to develop new digital solutions in which Millicom can take an equity stake. The 'think' incubator is to be located in a purpose-built facility in Kigali. Telecom.Paper reports that a small number of high potential entrepreneurs will be selected through a process. They will be provided with seed financing, structured training and coaching programmes, with access to Tigo technical resources for product testing and trials.

Saudi Arabia: Faster fibre - Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has completed a DWDM network which has a capacity of 8 terabits a second, a ten-fold improvement of the old network earlier. The network links all regions, and is some 12,000 km in length. It also provides international connectivity through neighbouring countries and submarine cables.

Saudi Arabia: Famous games - The Zain Games Club has been launched, allowing subscribers to download several famous games and enjoy unlimited playtime. Options include daily, weekly or monthly subscriptions. A collaboration of unique games has been made with major entertainment corporations to ensure that the service offers a diverse range of games.

Senegal: Mobile soccer - Tigo Senegal has signed with Radio Television Senegalaise (RTS) to offer football World Cup games on mobile phones and tablets, Le Soleil has reported. The World Cup is to be held 12 June - 13 July. RTS has paid some XOF 250 million (USD 524,153) for World Cup broadcasting rights.

Senegal: State savings - The government is to enjoy cheaper telecoms rates after the Minister of Economy and Finance, Amadou Ba, and the Director General of Sonatel lioune Ndiaye signed a deal last week which will see the cost of calls halved. This agreement was signed under the direction of President Macky Sall. The deal also guarantees greater annual revenue for the operator.

South Africa: Internet interrogation - Skyrove has spun off a new venture, Viento, which will focus on providing analytics on top of WiFi hotspots to shopping centres, retailers and businesses. Skyrove will henceforth focus on pre-paid Internet access and branded hotspots, claiming to be the country's largest independent WiFi hotspot network with over 600 WiFi hotspots. Ellie Hagopian will head up Viento, moving from Skyrove. Ross van der Pas will take over as CEO of the WiFi company.

Sudan: Internet interrupted - Mustafa Abdul-Hafiz, of the National Telecommunication Corporation has threatened to block 'negative websites' 100 percent, according to the Sudanese Media Centre (SMC). Internet cafes are to monitored and an educational campaign is to target children. Last year, the agency blocked YouTube and local Arabic news Websites.

Tanzania: Switch service - Vodacom Tanzania has named Umoja Switch as a partner for its mobile money service. Subscribers can now withdraw cash from Umoja Switch ATMs using Vodacom's M-Pesa service. Vodacom Tanzania Head of Brand and Communications, Kelvin Twissa, said that its subscribers can now access their cash using Umoja Switch ATMs. Umoja Switch is a local banking network for transaction services dating from 2006. The service has more than 200 ATMs across the country, and has entered into partnership with 24 banks.

Tunisia: INT rules - Tunisiana challenged the tariff squeeze exerted by Tunisie Telecom on fixed wholesale deals, which was dismissed. Orange challenged Tunisiana's 200 percent recharge bonus; an injunction was issued against Tunisiana compelling it to cease the activity without INT's approval. It also successfully challenged the marketing of a 3G dongle by Tunisiana. Orange also challenged Tunisiana's 'Amigos' promotion both in its revised form as well as the launch. Tunisiana was ordered to withdraw the marketing materials in conjunction with the offer within a week. However it didn't all go Orange's way as Tunisiana queried the former's (unspecified) commercial offers, which it was ordered to drop.

Uganda: Free airtime - MTN Uganda has launched its '6 to 6' promotion that gives two free minutes of airtime between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. for on-net calls for all subscriber classes. MTN Chief Marketing Officer Ernst Fonternel attended the launched at Platinum House.

Zimbabwe: Faster Liquid - Econet Wireless subsidiary Liquid Telecoms Zimbabwe says it has doubled the length of fibre optic cables it lays on a daily basis to 4 kilometres after investing USD 32 million in the project over the last five years. It has laid a total of 17,000 km of fibre optic across nine African countries. Liquid Telecom managing director Wellington Makamure said that it has employed more than 50 local contractors in Zimbabwe. It is the first operator to build a satellite hub at Teraco's vendor-neutral earth station in South Africa.

Zimbabwe: Huawei hiring - Huawei plans to invest USD 10 million to enhance its presence by expanding operations, recruiting staff and establishing a new office complex, according to Huawei Managing Director, Wen Mingxuan. It claims to be the biggest network vendor having partnered with Net One, Telecel, TelOne, Africom, Econet and Liquid Telecom. It intends to double its 100 staff.

Zimbabwe: Overhead Internet - TelOne?s CEO Chipo Mutasa has said that it has adopted a new strategy for rolling out fibre optic cable. Henceforth it will use power transmission poles and routes to lay cables nationally instead of digging trenches. ITWeb reported that the CEO was to visit Chisumbanje in Eastern Zimbabwe with a view to connecting it to the fibre backbone. The government is also to sign a USD 218 million loan with China to support the broadband rollout. Deputy ICT minister Win Mlambo has told NetOne Managing Director, Reward Kangai, to maximising the funds.

Zimbabwe: Services rendered - The Herald reports NICLIFT Investment is tackling Telecel through the courts for allegedly not paying it some USD 52,000 for services rendered four years ago. In 2010 it provided site acquisition services amounting to USD 105,200, of which Telecel paid only USD 52,600 and failed to pay the balance.