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News in Brief 14 May 2014

Africa: Handset high - According to Gallup, Zimbabwe is ahead in African mobile phone growth. Adoption of handsets has risen from 26 percent of households in 2008 to 80 percent in 2013. Mobile phone adoption growth has averaged 9 percent per annum, equalled only by Burkina Faso. Gallup also noted that 65 percent of households in 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africa had at least one mobile phone in 2013, with median growth of 27 percent since 2008 and median annual growth of 5 percent. In 2013, 80 percent of urban households had at least one mobile phone, compared with 63 percent of rural households that have at least one mobile phone.

Africa: Leading light - Bharti Enterprises founder and Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal co-chaired this year's World Economic Forum on Africa. The event is being was held in Abuja (Nigeria) from 7-9 May 2014 under the theme 'Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs'. Some 900 leaders from business, government, civil society and academia were expected to attend.

Africa & Middle East: Awards announced - The TMT Finance Middle East and North Africa Awards in Dubai last week saw Ooredoo named as Mobile Operator of the Year Award, commended for its licence in Myanmar, and its rebranding. Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenhemier was named CEO of the Year. Etisalat's binding offer for Maroc Telecom earned it the Deal of the Year Award. It was also awarded the TMT Innovation Award for its Fibre to the Home initiatives, and its GPON Technology rollout. Growth Story of the Year went to Lap GreenN; M&A Adviser of the Year was Lazard; Financing Bank was Credit Agricole-CIB; and Latham & Watkins was named Law Firm of the Year.

Afghanistan: Call for consultant - The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) is looking for a further individual consultant to assist it to implement the ICT law and policy which it issued on 3 May 2014. The closing date is 5 June 2014, and full details are here.

Cameroon: Health in the hinterland - Orange Cameroon has launched its My Healthline SMS-based service on 9 May, Camer.be reports, in a 5-year partnership with the health ministry. Orange subscribers to receive health information by SMS, at the cost of XAF 200 (USD 0.42) per message. The service is staffed between 08:00 and 22:00 hrs. Orange Managing director, Elisabeth Medou Badang, said the high 72 percent mobile penetration meant the service was highly accessible.

Egypt: Rolling program - A meeting between Vodafone Global Enterprise, ICT Minister Atef Helmy and the British Ambassador in Cairo was told that Vodafone Egypt plans to invest EGP 9 billion (USD 1.3 billion) through to 2017. The investment is thought likely to create some 3,000 jobs for Egyptians, the Daily News reported. The total Vodafone investment in Egypt during the past 15 years totals EGP 30 billion (USD 4.3 billion).

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Ghana: Customer's cemented - Newly-appointed General Manager of Millicom Ghana (Tigo), Roshi Motman, has paid a courtesy visit to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi. This is her first official visit to a traditional ruler after joining Tigo Ghana in March. The visit was to cement the strong bond between Tigo and the people of the Ashanti region, which is a strong region for Tigo.

Ghana: Infrastructure investment - Following the recently published National Communications Authority (NCA) quality of service (QoS) survey, MTN Ghana?s director of corporate services, Cynthia Lumor, said it has taken steps to improve matters, Agence Ecofin reports. It has invested GHS 274 million (USD 94.5 million) in network upgrades in 2013, and it plans to invest a further GHS 311 million (USD 107.2 million) in 2014. Glo Mobile was the only operator to achieve a compliant QoS.

Kenya: Fast finance - M-Pesa will be able to make mobile banking transactions instantly following a system upgrade to the Application Programmable Interface (API). This has seen a reduction of transaction time from an average of two hours to less than 30 seconds. Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said 12 leading banks and 26 savings and credit cooperatives (Saccos) have migrated to the new platform and migration is on-going for 30 other institutions.

Kenya: Laptop lament - The appeal mounted by Olive Telecommunications? following its exclusion from the tender for school laptops has been put back to 30 June to allow all parties to file their submissions and affidavits. In March Olive went to court to appeal against a ruling by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) to revoke the contract for the supply of computers over irregularities in the award process.

Libya: Cable re-connected - A severed cable cut off Tarhouna, Bani Walid, Ashuwerif and Brak Al-Shati. The cut occurred in Geera in the Al-Shati area and affected operators Libyana; the Libya Telecom and Technology Internet service. Deputy Telecommunications Minister Mohammed Blirass Ali told the Libya Herald that the cable had now been repaired. Construction work was blamed.

Nigeria: Pharmacy payments - Globacom is working with the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) to promote its mobile money service, which runs on the network?s TextCash platform. Globacom presented the along with its SME Booster at the 2014 Annual Luncheon of the PSN at Sheraton Hotel in Ikeja, Lagos, the Leadership newspaper reported. Globacom?s head of Mobile Money, Mr. Esaie Diei said that Glo had partnered with the PSN to help members adopt cash-less payments. The SME Booster, a Closed User Group (CUG) product, allows the user to make unlimited calls free of charge, to anybody that belongs to both his own Closed User Group and any other Close User Group.

Nigeria: Prized partnerships - Etisalat has held its 2014 Distribution Partners Awards in Lagos. Awards were granted in 11 categories. Acting Chief Executive Officer, Etisalat Nigeria, Matthew Willsher said that Etisalat is pleased to recognise and reward its distribution partners, as they are an important link with the subscribers. The 'Highest SIM Activations Award' went to Upper Room Limited. Ten partners won in the Best Overall Performance category. The CEO?s Award for Overall Excellence went to Office Devices Ltd., Alennsar Infinity Company Ltd. and CantStop Nigeria Ltd.

Saudi Arabia: Internet invigoration - Mobily has joined Etisalat's SmartHub, and will be part of the Etisalat's SmartHub IX community, providing direct access to major Content Delivery Networks and streaming video services. Ali Amiri, Executive Vice President, Carrier & Wholesale Services, Etisalat said: "SmartHub will provide Mobily a competitive advantage by further reducing latency for high speed Internet services. " Mobily also recently connected its subscribers via Etisalat SmartHub IPX which enables 4G/LTE roaming services and mobile data services.

South Africa: Vodacom verified - WeDo Technologies has implemented its RAID 7 Revenue Assurance software for Vodacom South Africa. Vodacom will be able to improve its revenue assurance maturity by monitoring and auditing the provisioning and network service usage business processes. The pre-built reporting capabilities will also provide at-a-glance views of KPIs.

Togo: Salary service - Etisalat has said that the United Nations' Population Fund Agency (PLAN) is using its mobile money service Flous to pay the salaries of more than 6,000 agents. PLAN is the first UN organisation in Togo to use it, although local companies are using the service. Khalifa Al Shamsi, Chief Digital Services Officer, said infrastructure challenges hinder the effective transfer of funds through conventional means to remote areas.

Zambia: Roadshow rolls in - Huawei Technologies 'Connected Possibilities ? Make it Possible' demonstration truck has arrived in Lusaka. Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Hon. Yamfwa Mukanga officially launched the Zambia leg of the roadshow, which sees the truck covering thousands of miles across the continent to exhibit the latest state-of-the art information and communications technology (ICT) equipment. On show are ICT solutions, soft mobile strategies, depth network optimisation, LTE backhaul convergence, IP microwave, green work, smart devices and enterprise solutions.

Zimbabwe: Hello Hotspots - Econet Wireless is readying to launch Wi-Fi hotpots in a bid to ease congestion on its 3G mobile broadband networks, TechZim has reported. Subscribers using smartphones will be able to switch when they are within range of a Wi-Fi hotspot, with access priced at the same rate as their mobile broadband tariff. Field trials are being undertaken this week. It is unknown whether the switch will be optional or forced.

Zimbabwe: Payment please - TelOne claims to be working even harder on recovering some USD 200 million of subscriber debt. The state-owned fixed-line operator has hired debt collectors, who will be visiting the premises of all clients with outstanding service bills from 6 May. Last year it collected USD 90 million from its debtors and wrote off bad debts of some USD 65 million.

Zimbabwe: See you - Telecel has activated video calling for subscribers, and is available for on-net 3G calls and for pre-paid subscribers, ITWebAfrica reported. The service is available to most Android or Symbian owners. Telecel communications and branding director Obert Mandimika said: "If the video call fails the subscriber will be given the option of making a voice call ".