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News in Brief 16 April 2014

Angola: In-flight Internet - TAAG Angola Airlines has become OnAir?s first Sub-Saharan African customer, fitting its new B777-300ER fleet with Internet OnAir and Mobile OnAir. The airline will use Thales? TopConnect to access OnAir?s inflight Wi-Fi and mobile phone service. OnAir has more than 375 roaming agreements, and also uses Inmarsat?s SwiftBroadband satellite network. As with a regular Wi-Fi hotspot, passengers only need to log on and enter their enter credit card details. They can also use the in-flight GSM product, for which the charges are included in the user?s monthly phone bill, as for international roaming. Kuwait Airways has also been named as the tenth Middle East airline for OnAir as connectivity provider for 12 new aircraft as part of its privatization and fleet upgrade; the planes are to be delivered December 2014 - May 2015.

Botswana: Hopeless hospitality - The hospitality industry has been singled out for better broadband. Regulator BOCRA notes that the demand by local and international guests for fast and reliable Internet is growing exponentially. It has noted complaints relating to the lack of Internet and/or poor connectivity in most hospitality facilities, confirmed by a study carried by the Authority on Internet connectivity in hotels and lodges in 2013. The guidelines are here.

Burkina Faso: Satisfaction survey - The President of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Posts (ARCEP) has appointed the International Marketing Consultant Management Consulting Group (IMCG) to undertake a survey of consumer satisfaction of electronic communications services in Burkina Faso. ARCEP's President called on the institutions concerned to facilitate the work, and allow access to relevant staff members. The fieldwork will completed by 15 May 2014.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: First local app - The first mobile application developed solely in DRC has been attributed to 22-year old Carlo Lekea. Readers of 'Impact' magazine can now access its content online, Jeune Afrique reports. On arrival in the DRC he joined Tigo, but was frustrated in his desire to create apps. He suggested that development is thwarted by low Internet penetration, with only 200,000 Congolese having reliable Internet access.

Devices: BlackBerry blues - BlackBerry may consider abandoning its handset business, CEO John Chen has said, and his current thinking is to make the business independent of handsets. Chen took over as CEO from long-serving Thorsten Heins with a mandate to turn the company around. The BlackBerry has a strong African following.

Egypt: Draft detail - Mobinil has told the local bourse that it has received the draft of the unified telecom licence from the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA). It said it is now carrying out an in-depth study into the terms. An issue for mobile operators is that they are only being offered access to Telecom Egypt's copper network.

Egypt: Service delivery solution - UK-based OpenCloud has been chosen by Vodafone Egypt to provide its Rhino service-layer to enable delivery of new services. The deal, which follows a proof-of-concept phase, makes Vodafone Egypt the eighth member of the Vodafone group to select OpenCloud?s products. Jeff Gordon, CEO of OpenCloud said: "We believe that the openness of our Rhino products, and the flexibility, choice and control provided, are what these more competitive operators are looking for to enable cost-effective innovation ".

Egypt: Vacancies filled by Vodafone - Vodafone Qatar has appointed Mahmud Awad as Chief Business Officer and Ramy Reyad as Chief Technology Officer. Awad has joined Vodafone Qatar from rival du, where he was VP of Corporate Sales. Previously he was with Neoris, Al Wataniya Telecom and Nokia Siemens Networks. Reyad joins from Egyptian operator Mobilink, where he was CTO.

Gabon: Better billing - Libertis, the mobile unit of Gabon Telecom, is now using per-second billing with effect from 1 April. National calls cost are XAF 1 (USD 0.002) per second, Agence Ecofin has reported. It launched its Mobicash service on the same day, so allowing users to transfer money using their handset. The service is offered in partnership with Union Gabonaise de Banque (UGB).

Ghana: Scope for sharing - Vodafone Ghana's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Haris Broumidis is calling for greater voluntary co-location of services as a way of bridge the digital divide between rural and urban areas, the Daily Guide reported. He made the comments at the West Africa Telecom Summit in Accra, and called on the government to support a more flexible sharing arrangement between operators.

Kenya: Bus broadband - Safaricom is offering free Wi-Fi on minibuses or 'matatu' in Swahili. Safaricom's Head of Internet Marketing Gideon Karimi has been reported by Dow Jones as saying: "We looked at where our [potential] customers were, and they were in the matatus. Most of our customers spend two or three hours commuting every day. " The program has been expanded to some 3,000 matatus and buses nationally from about 20 in 2012. Matatu owners are given the equipment free and are charged KES 2,000 (USD 22.66) a month for data, 30 percent off the retail price.

Kenya: County connectivity - Orange Telkom has been engaging with County governments on a public-private-partnership basis, connecting 27 Governor?s offices and County Assemblies so far. CEO Mickael Ghossein said it can support the County governments with e-Security, Optimised Revenue Management, Public Transport and Fleet Management, Call Centres, efficiency in e-health Services, Education and Agriculture.

Kenya: Safaricom for Samsung - Safaricom has pre-sales of over 300 Samsung Galaxy S5 units. The operator says that over 100,000 smartphones are sold in Kenya each month, according to BizTechAfrica. Over 400,000 high end Samsung devices were sold in 2013 representing 23 percent of the smartphone devices sold through the Safaricom retail outlets.

Nigeria: Glowing Glomobile - Globacom won two separate awards last week. It was declared Brand of the Year in the Champion Newspaper?s 2013 Awards, and Outstanding Telecoms Brand of the Decade by the Marketing Edge Brands Summit and Awards Night. Clearly must be doing something right then, although a shame they can't create the same energy in Ghana.

Nigeria: Spectrum auction - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced plans for an auction of spectrum in the 3.5GHz frequency band, the This Day newspaper reports. The spectrum will be licensed on a regional basis, with 25MHz available for 27 states and 20MHz for Abuja, according to NCC executive vice chairman Eugene Juwah. Interested parties have been asked to submit an application of interest.

Oman: Smartphone special - The iPhone 5s and 5c iPhone are now available from Nawras stores, with effect from 10 April. Nawras will also be able to offer a pre-booking service for all new Apple products when they become available in the future through its Website. The iPhone is being packaged with special offers such as getting every third month?s subscription free with Shahry post-paid packs, or 25 percent additional data for two years with Nawras? speedy 4G plans.

Saudi Arabia: Access agreed - Etihad Atheeb Telecom (GO Telecom) has signed with Mobily subsidiary Bayanat Al-Oula for access to 50,000 fibre-optic access points, in order to provide broadband access and fixed telephony services. The deal also allows for the number of access points granted to GO Telecom to be increased to 250,000 in the future. The deal is linked to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on 20 August 2013.

Senegal: Strategic seminar - FRATEL's eleventh congress was held on 15-16 April in Dakar, with '3G and 4G licenses, state of the award of the first dividend' as the theme. The two-day meeting was organised in collaboration with the Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Post (ARTP).

Somalia: Summit calls for security - The second investment Summit hosted by the Somalia Economic Forum was held in Dubai 6 - 7 April 2014 called on the Government to provide security and infrastructure. The federal government was represented by H.E Said Ali Korshel, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, H.E Yusuf Moallim Amin, Minister of Ports and Marine Transport and former Prime Minister H.E Ali Ghedi. Hassan Al Hashimi, Vice President of Dubai Chambers of Commerce highlighted the role of Dubai as a gateway and noted trade between the two countries now stood at USD 1.3 billion.

South Africa: Deals to be done - Vodacom is targeting a million users by March 2015 with the Vouchercloud application, a location-based deals app, which identifies deals in the locality of the device. Lyndon Munetsi, Managing Director of Vouchercloud SA, told ITWeb said the app uses the built-in GPS in smartphones to pinpoint a user's location, and then searches for all relevant discounting retailers close by. Munetsi said that to date the app has over 32,000 downloads in South Africa some 10 weeks since launch.

South Africa: MTRs hit minors - In papers submitted to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg Cell C has revealed that its revenue market share has declined since 2010, when the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) first introduced mobile termination rate (MTR) regulations, BusinessTech has reported. Cell C claimed that its service revenue market share in the period June-October 2013 stood at 10 percent, down from 10.3 percent in December 2010.

Tanzania: Lakeland loop - Kagera Regional Commissioner (RC), Fabian Massawe, during his tour of Vodacom Tanzania's Head Offices in Dar es Salaam, thanked the operator for the services provided on Lake Victoria's Goziba Islands in 2013. Massawe noted that fishermen on the lake had benefited directly. He also noted the popularity of M-Pesa with the local community.

Tunisia: Low rates - Tunisie Telecom (TT) has launched its TTBOX broadband and VoIP offerings, which provide unlimited VoIP calls to TT and Elissa fixed and mobile numbers and discounts on calls to other networks. Calls to European fixed lines and North American fixed and mobile lines cost TND 0.12 (USD 0.08) per minute. Broadband is packaged as 4 Mbps, 8 Mbps and 20 Mbps, at TND 55, 65 and 85 (USD 35, 41 and 53) a month, respectively on a one-year contract.

Uganda: Customer convenience - MTN's ?ContactXchange? now allows callers to exchange contact information immediately after a call using SIM based technology. Chief Marketing Officer Ernst Fonternel said: "The key message here is convenience for our customers ". The service is activated through the MTN Menu.

United Arab Emirates: Customer centric - du was judged the Best CEM Brand award, and Customer Experience Champion of the Year at the Third Annual CEM in Telecoms Middle East Summit. The Best CEM Brand award recognised the comprehensive inward and outward-facing actions that it has taken to improve brand propositions and demonstrate results. Osman Sultan was named Customer Experience Champion of the Year for the leadership he has demonstrated in engaging the organisation to make the customer central to everything that it does.

United Arab Emirates: Fine-tuned flexibility - Etisalat has announced two new 12-month post-paid mobile plans, which include three months free unlimited calls to one chosen Etisalat number. Both plans cost AED 250 (USD 68) and come with 10GB data allowance and users can choose between either 1,000 local minutes or 300 flexible minutes. Customisation is possible with up to seven savings packs, costing AED 50 each per month. Khaled ElKhouly, Chief Marketing Officer, Etisalat, said the offerings were targeted specific customer requirements.

Zimbabwe: Banking bonanza - EcoCash, Econet Wireless' mobile money transfer service, has handled some USD 4 billion since its inception in 2011, and has some 3.5 million accounts. Douglas Mboweni, Econet's Group Chief Executive made the comments to a group of MPs who were its facilities. The EcoCash service benefits some 53 percent (6.9 million) of the adult population, whilst 27 percent (3.51 million) have accounts. EcoCashSave has over a million account holders, which Mboweni said compared to about 853,000 for all bank accounts combined.

Zimbabwe: Packaged pre-paid - On Friday last week Telecel launched its pre-paid service as Telecel Go. Henceforth users will benefit from a tariff reduction across all networks, which TechZim reports is in addition to its mega bonus tariff. It is also offering Go Juic?r and Go Flexi plans which users can migrate to. Go Juic?r has a USD 0.15 flat call tariff during all hours both on net and off-net calls (across all networks), whilst Go Flexi has different calling rates for different calling times. On Go Flexi, peak time calls will cost USD 0.19, off peak USD 0.09 and night calls will USD 0.09. SMS and data will remain at USD 0.09 and USD 0.11 respectively.