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News in Brief 4 June 2014

Africa & Middle East: One Touch from Orange - Orange is launching the Alcatel One Touch Pixi 2 smartphone in Africa and the Middle East. The device is a full featured 3G Android Jellybean 4.2 smartphone with a 3.5 inch HVGA screen, dual-core 1 GHz processor, 2GB of in-built memory and 512 MB RAM. Yves Maitre, Executive Vice President, Connected Objects and Partnerships at Orange said it was committed to making the Internet more accessible to its customers in Africa and the Middle East with localised content and services at affordable prices.

Algeria: Better bundle - Algerie Telecom has launched a range of unlimited call plans with the 'Idoom Fixe' moniker. Unlimited fixed local calls are offered for DZD 250 (USD 3.14) a month; unlimited local and national calls for DZD 500 (USD 6.28) a month; and a top-tier plan for DZD 1,000 (12.56) a month with unlimited local and national calls. Also users get 15 percent off calls to mobile numbers and between 10 - 30 percent off international calls. Separately, the operator has extended its 'Khlass' e-payment service allowing phone bills to be paid.

Cape Verde: Advertising aggravation - CVMvel was fined CVE 10 million (USD 123,000) on 23 May 2014 by the FAA for breaches of the advertising code. The campaign was advertising the Grilo tariff. There were also breaches of instruction 002/2008 of 16 December 2013, which establishes the rules for the display of advertisements.

The Gambia: Visiting investors - A team from Turkish-based OmniTek is reported by The Daily Observer to be visiting the country to assess the investment opportunities. The visit follows the February State visit to Turkey by President Yahya Jammeh at the invitation of his counterpart, Abdullah Gull. A Joint Economic Commission was subsequently formed. OmniTek specialises in telecommunication and security surveillance systems.

Ghana: Inclusive Finance - Tigo Ghana has entered into a USD 2 million advisory service agreement with the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and The MasterCard Foundation to develop and expand mobile financial services. This is part of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, which has funding of some USD 37.4 million available for Sub-Saharan Africa. The project will run for three years and focus on customer education and acquisition.

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Kenya: Flawed foreigners - MPs are querying the basis of the award of a security surveillance and communications system to Safaricom. The Star reports members of the Administration and National Security committee claiming that due process was not followed in the allocation of the KES 14.9 billion (USD 1.7 billion) project. Vodacom's foreign ownership was seen as a potential problem, although this applies with equal measure to the other three Kenyan MNOs.

Kenya: M2M mastery - IDC?s recent Middle East and Africa (MEA) Enterprise Communications Survey revealed that half of Kenyan survey respondents had already deployed M2M technologies, while a further 27 percent intended to within the next three years. While Kenyan enterprises are using M2M-enabled vending machines, security monitoring and fleet management, advanced M2M applications such as smart metering, pay-as-you-drive insurance and intelligence building are not gaining as much traction due to a number of capacity-related reasons. This puts Kenya ahead of other African nations.

Kenya: Safaricom challenge - Mobikash has launched 'Lipa Sasa Na MobiKash' intended to challenge Safaricom's 'Lipa na M-Pesa. Through MobiKash's solution, users from all GSM networks will now be able to conduct transactions. Lipa Sasa na MobiKash will also help deliver mobile money transactions in real time. MobiKash announced a strategic partnership with local investment conglomerate, Foundation Enterprise Program (FEP) Group. The partnership is a result of FEP Group's strategic investment in Mobikash Afrika through the acquisition of a controlling stake in 2013.

Mauritania: Bereavement - Mr. Kane Isma, member of the National Regulatory Board, has died. The President and members of the National Regulatory Board, and the staff of The Regulatory Authority have offered their condolences to family members.

Nigeria: Enabled encyclopaedia - Airtel Nigeria has partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation to offer access to Wikipedia free of data charges under the Wikipedia Zero moniker. Airtel Nigeria subscribers can access the facility at m.wikipedia.org. Airtel Nigeria's Chief Commercial Officer, Maurice Newa, said the new service would connect Nigerians with relevant knowledge and information.

Nigeria: Glo slow - Globacom Nigeria is being accused by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) of defaulting on its two-year sponsorship deal. The Leadership reports a member of the NFF executive committee saying that Glo owes a year and a halves of sponsorship dues of NGN 525 million (USD 3.22 million).

Nigeria: Mobile media - Globacom has launched its 'Total Entertainment' application. This allows users to watch music videos, Hollywood and Nollywood trailers and full-length feature films, red-carpet events, stand-up comedy, sports and lifestyle content, television serials, and fashion and celebrity news on their mobile devices. Head of Value Added Services Nagasai Viswanath said that the library is updated on a daily basis.

Nigeria: Porting promoted - Etisalat Nigeria has been busy promoting a new MNP testimonial campaign to encourage people to port to its network, Acting Etisalat CEO Matthew Wilshir told a meeting. Etisalat Head of High Value and Marketing, Adesokan Idowu, said Etisalat prided itself for quality services and speed of data and 'value for spend' offers. Celebrity porters to Etisalat were named.

Qatar: Targeted Internet - The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology launched its 'Better Connections Program' at the third Qatar ICT Conference and Exhibition QITCOM 2014 organised by the Ministry at the Qatar National Convention Centre on 26-28 May. The Program is to address the lack of facilities and unfamiliarity with the Internet which form barriers for many migrant workers, of whom there are almost half a million in Qatar, mainly housed in labour accommodation.

Senegal: Pilgrims pampered - Sonatel increased mobile network capacity in Yoff, Ngor and Cambrne which were to see most of the activities associated with the 134th Call Seydina Limamoulaye, scheduled for last Friday and Saturday in Dakar. The Organising Committee was provided with mobile phones, credit Orange key and broadband Internet. For the welfare of pilgrims, Sonatel also provided mats, wash basins and water.

South Africa: eWallet excellence - First National Bank's (FNB) records that its eWallet service handled ZAR 5.3 billion (USD 500.9 million) worth of transactions last year. ITWeb reports that this is 53 percent of the total amount of mobile money sent to recipients since the launch of the service back in 2009. To date some ZAR 10 billion has been sent via FNB's eWallet service since its launch, the bank said.

South Africa: Meter money - Smart meter developer Invirohub has integrated bitcoin payments into its smart meters. Each meter has a specific wallet address and 3G SIM card for connectivity. Once a user puts a deposit on the address their account will be credited at the current exchange rate. Bidvest owns Invirohub.

South Africa: MVNO imminent - TechCentral reports that former Virgin Mobile South Africa boss Steve Bailey has launched a Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE) to bring Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) to market. He claims to have a large, well-known retailer ready for launch in the next few weeks. This will be only the second MVNO in South Africa after Virgin Mobile. Red Bull Mobile is a brand licensee, managed by Cell C.

Tunisia: Meeting of minds - Dr. Tawfik Jelassi, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Information and Communication Technology on Wednesday 28 May 2014 met with the Vice-President of Alcatel-Lucent to North Africa and the Middle East and the Director General of the company in Tunisia. The focus was on the participation of Alcatel-Lucent in the workshop dedicated to the development of a national strategy for information and communication technologies.

United Arab Emirates: Sharing shortly - Etisalat has said in a bond prospectus that it expects to share its fixed network infrastructure with du by the end of 2014. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said in April that the technical architecture for infrastructure and network sharing was in place, and that it was targeting network sharing by the two operators by the end of 2014. Etisalat said in the prospectus that it was still in discussions with du, the TRA and other stakeholders on the nature and pricing of bitstream access products.

United Arab Emirates: SMEs sought - Etisalat has acknowledged the contribution of its Channel Partner, with the completion of Phase 1 of its Rewards Program. The operator is targeting the SME sector. John Lincoln Senior Vice President for Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) at Etisalat, said the Channel Partners continue to be a very important tool in helping SMEs in the UAE to maximise their telecom and ICT spends while benefiting from its 4G network. Phase 2 of the Rewards Program was also announced to run to 31 July.

Zimbabwe: Tracker technology - Econet Wireless is to soon release its 'EcoTrader' tracking device. Group CEO Douglas Mboweni said it would enable farmers to keep track of their livestock as well as parents to check on the whereabouts of children. Mboweni and the company?s financial director, Roy Chimanikire, addressed delegates to the Imara Investing in Africa conference that ended in Harare on Friday 30 May 2014.