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News in Brief 16 July 2014

Africa & Middle East: Satellite shuffle - The Eutelsat 3B satellite, launched on 26 May, has started providing commercial services at 3 degrees East. The satellite is designed to reach Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and Brazil. Built by Airbus Defence and Space, it is the first commercial satellite to assemble Ku, C and Ka payloads on a single platform, and can operate up to 51 transponders through a configuration. The transfer of customer traffic from Eutelsat 3D and 3A, already at 3 degrees East, was completed on 5 July. Eutelsat 3D will be redeployed to 7 degrees East to increase capacity for DTH, data and telecom in Europe, Turkey, the Middle East, Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands. It will be renamed Eutelsat 7D and operational from mid-July. Eutelsat 3A will be relocated to 8 degrees West and be de-orbited later this year.

Algeria: 3G catch-up - Djezzy GSM has launched commercial 3.5G services in seven wilayas (provinces), according to Agence Ecofin. In October 2013 the ARPT issued 3G concessions to Mobilis, Nedjma and Djezzy. Under the terms of the licence, it has to provide 3G services in Ain Defla, Algiers, Bechar, Blida, Boumerdes, Constantine, Djelfa, El Oued, Mostaganem, Oran, Ouargla, Setif, Skikda and Tizi-Ouzou by the end of 2014.

Angola: Rural reach - The State Secretary for Telecommunication, Aristides Safeca, in Cabinda last week called on the mobile operators to provide service in all communes, Angola Press reported. He said the population in remote areas needs to be connected, and that people in the border zones should no longer have to depend on operators in neighbouring countries. He said the expansion of a signal throughout the country was an issue of sovereignty.

Cameroon: Renewal renegotiations - Orange Cameroon has called on the government to license it to offer 3G services when its licence falls due for renewal. Agence Ecofin reports Managing director Elisabeth Medou Badang delivering the message to the parliamentary group for ICT on 3 July. Orange Cameroon first sought a 3G licence three years ago. She noted that the exclusivity granted to newcomer Viettel Cameroon would have expired at the same time as the Orange licence would be renewed. The end of Viettel's 3G exclusivity would have been in July, but Viettel has reportedly sought a 2-year extension as it has yet to launch commercially. Orange Cameroon's licence is up for renewal in 2015.

Egypt: Listing lag - Etisalat Misr has been planning to list in Egypt since March. However, Amwal Al Ghad reports that the local bourse (EGX) intends to reach an agreement in the 'upcoming period'. The report says EGX plans to hold meetings with companies intended to list on the bourse.

Ghana: City-centre centre - Tigo Ghana Limited has opened its third customer care centre in Takoradi in the Western region. Tigo's Head of Marketing, Jesse Agyepong, and the Head of Mobile Financial Services Selorm Adadevor attended. Stephen Essien, Tigo Head of Customer Operations noted that Tigo has relocated the office from the Harbour area to the Market Circle so as to be closer to the city centre.

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Cameroon: Renewal renegotiations - Orange Cameroon has called on the government to license it to offer 3G services when its licence falls due for renewal. Agence Ecofin reports Managing director Elisabeth Medou Badang delivering the message to the parliamentary group for ICT on 3 July. Orange Cameroon first sought a 3G licence three years ago. She noted that the exclusivity granted to newcomer Viettel Cameroon would have expired at the same time as the Orange licence would be renewed. The end of Viettel's 3G exclusivity would have been in July, but Viettel has reportedly sought a 2-year extension as it has yet to launch commercially. Orange Cameroon's licence is up for renewal in 2015.

Egypt: Listing lag - Etisalat Misr has been planning to list in Egypt since March. However, Amwal Al Ghad reports that the local bourse (EGX) intends to reach an agreement in the 'upcoming period'. The report says EGX plans to hold meetings with companies intended to list on the bourse.

Ghana: City-centre centre - Tigo Ghana Limited has opened its third customer care centre in Takoradi in the Western region. Tigo's Head of Marketing, Jesse Agyepong, and the Head of Mobile Financial Services Selorm Adadevor attended. Stephen Essien, Tigo Head of Customer Operations noted that Tigo has relocated the office from the Harbour area to the Market Circle so as to be closer to the city centre.

Ghana: Marketing mantle - Vodafone has appointed Agnes Emefa Essah as its new Chief Marketing Officer, effective 2 July 2014. She replaces Uche Ofodile. Essah was the Marketing and Innovation Director at Guinness Ghana Breweries, a subsidiary of Diageo Plc, where she was responsible for business strategy, innovation and brand building. She has also held various leadership positions in Ghana, the UK and Namibia while with Diageo and was a member of the Board of Directors of Guinness Ghana Breweries.

Ghana: Planned progress - The Deputy Minister for Information and Media Relations, Felix Ofosu Kwakye, said the government recognises the challenges associated with providing telephony and broadband services and hence the moves to improve the quality of service. Kwakye said it had initiated plans to provide broadband to rural areas, had applied sanctions against poorly performing telcos, promoted asset sharing, launched an Internet interconnect clearing house and introduced 4G technology: all intended 'to improve the quality of voice and data services'.

Jordan: Wi-Fi windfall - Zain Jordan is offering Free Wi-Fi services in several new locations. These include Abdoun, Shmeisani, Um Uthaina, AlRabyeh and the archaeological sites in Jerash as well as the Baptism site in Madaba. Free wireless Internet services have previously been provided in Rainbow Street, Wakalat Street, North Gate at Jordan University and in King Hussein Business Park.

Kenya: App availability - Safaricom is to now offer Windows Phone apps and games through a deal reached with Microsoft. Users will be able to buy the apps without the need to have a credit card registered on a Microsoft Website. Purchasing apps and games will see the cost deducted from airtime balances or added to post-paid bills. Kunle Awosika, Microsoft Kenya Country Manager, noted that the functionality is currently limited to Lumia Windows Phones.

Kenya: Banking buddies - Safaricom and Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) have signed a deal that will enable them to roll out different products with telecom and financial service features to target different consumer segments, the Standard reported. KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara said: "By coming together, pooling our resources and building on the strength of the KCB and Safaricom brands, we have demonstrated that together we can do more to grow the business opportunities in our respective markets and deliver better solutions to our customers ". The product to be offered is Biashar@ Smart targeted at small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which will give businesses access to credit, insurance services, business advisories, online data storage, domain hosting and professional e-mail services.

Kenya: LTE latest - Last week Huawei demonstrated its 4G technology to invited clients. Dean Yu, Huawei Kenya Country Director said that it believed it was playing an important role in bridging the digital divide by creating opportunities through education. Huawei built Safaricom?s 2G and 3G networks through partnership and laid its extensive fibre-optic network. In addition, Huawei is helping Safaricom upgrade its M-PESA platform from G1 to G2, which will enable Safaricom to provide more advanced features to its users. Huawei has supported Telkom Kenya build its fixed ADSL, FTTx and CDMA networks. Huawei also built the National Optical Fibre Backbone Infrastructure for the Government in 2011.

Kuwait: Virtual VIVA - VIVA has implemented a virtualised network using Avaya Fabric Connect technology to enhance robustness and agility, while addressing the additional time-to-service demands of an expanding subscriber base. The Avaya solution includes a data centre enhancement, which enables VIVA to improve service availability to accommodate significant growth in subscriber numbers and service demand. Avaya Connect's channel partner is Middle East Telecommunications Company (METCO). A network assessment by Avaya found areas where legacy technologies and techniques were issues. Eng. Meshaal Al-Munaikh, IT Director, VIVA, noted that the solution is 'flexible and future-proof'.

Kuwait: Voicemail enhancement - Zain Kuwait has launched a single-click access Visual Voicemail system by Tecnotree Corporation. It receives messages as they are automatically downloaded to the handset. The user interface provides the ability to change settings as well as personalise voicemail accounts and greetings. Tecnotree has supplied its AgilityTM Call Completion solution with Visual Voicemail functionality. This provides interfaces between the backend voicemail system and mobile handsets, and functions independently from the voicemail backend.

Mobile Money: Rapid rebrand - The Isis mobile wallet is to be rebranded. The company said in a statement it had 'no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence'. Isis has yet to share its new branding. Isis CEO Michael Abbot said the company would 'remain committed to growing the mobile payments ecosystem, and advancing our mobile wallet. Our focus on delivering a great product and platform to our customers hasn?t changed.' Isis was founded by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, and provides a PIN-protected Wallet app allowing sensitive data to be stored on the Secure Element in a mobile device.

Nigeria: Roaming record - Globacom has extended its roaming services with a further 100 network partners in the past 12 months. Glo has interconnectivity arrangements with over 430 partners in 176 countries, and claims to have the largest international post-paid roaming footprint of any Nigerian operator. Countries include the USA, UK, France, Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, South Africa, Ghana, UAE, Algeria, Belgium, Italy, India and Israel, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Cote d'Ivoire, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Egypt, Gambia, Kenya, Russia, Turkey and Qatar. Glo also boasts that its General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) roaming footprint is also one of the largest, and is available in 115 countries.

Nigeria: Second SIM - The GSMA Intelligence June 2014 mobile market report on Nigeria notes that although mobile penetration is close to 97 percent mark, there are nearer to 58 million unique subscribers. The head of Interconnect & Carrier Affairs, Airtel Nigeria, Ikenna Ikoku, was quoted by The Leadership as saying: "Multiple SIMming is estimated at close to two subscriber identification modules (SIMs) per subscriber which means that despite 97 percent teledensity, there still is enough gap in basic telephony, which is waiting to be filled by mobile services. For niche operators, the paucity of metro fibre infrastructure presents a significant opportunity to expand data and broadband services. "

Nigeria: Simplified roaming - Airtel Nigeria has launched a roaming package dubbed Airtel Roam and Home offers free incoming calls and discounted roaming tariff by up to 90 percent on 28 selected networks in 26 countries. The bundle is a renewable monthly plan and available in destinations such as UK, USA, Canada, India, China, Dubai, South Africa and Israel. Airtel Nigeria's Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Maurice Newa, said that roaming services are often very expensive and complex to activate. Activation can be done before or while roaming.

Saudi Arabia: Pilgrim promotion - Pilgrims will be able to obtain 200 percent extra credit when charging by SAR 10 (USD 2.67) or more on Mobily's haj and umrah packages. The free credit can be used on voice calls and SMS within the Mobily network in addition to Internet services and international SMS to most countries. International call rates start from SAR 0.55 per minute.

South Africa: Business buyer - MTN South Africa has launched the MTN Business Directory Services app, which allows users to locate a nearby business to provide a designated service. It uses location-based positioning linked to MTN?s mobile network to provide the directory service. In addition to basic listing information, including physical address and contact information, companies can list topical information such as promotions and specials. The app is available on BlackBerry World, the App Store on iTunes, Google Play and the Android App Store.

South Africa: Card-reader phone - A smartphone-based mobile payments system has been launched by Emerge Mobile. Users can accept card payments using their smartphone. iKhokha, a Cape Town-based financial services brand created by Emerge Mobile, is the inaugural go-to-market vehicle, branded The Edge, TechCentral reported. The device is a secure and compact chip-and-Pin card reader that plugs into an iOS or Android smartphone and works over the iKhokha mobile application. Emerge Mobile was founded by the father-and-son team of Clive Putman (technology director) and Matt Putman (MD), along with Ramsay Daly (Marketing Director). The Edge turns a smartphone into a secure mobile point-of-sale terminal, allowing merchants to process chip and Pin and magnetic stripe, debit and credit card payments as well as selected mobile wallet transactions.

South Africa: Contactless coffee - Cape Town-based mobile payment company FlickPay has partnered with coffee franchise Vida e Caffé. FlickPay Managing Director Trent McLelland said in a media interview that it is the only mobile payment app that is integrated into the point of sale, so giving the cashier confirmation of the payment on the till. Vida e Caffè is also in the process of developing its own app for launch in October. FlickPay is part of the wiGroup.

South Africa: Device delights - New mobile devices are to be made available by Vodacom South Africa from July. Three of the devices will be available Vodacom customers exclusively for a limited period. The Huawei Ascend P7 will be available only to Vodacom customers until 6 August for ZAR 6,699 (USD 624) or with the Vodacom Smart S plan for ZAR 379 (USD 35) per month. The Alcatel One Touch Idol Alpha is limited to Vodacom customers who purchase it from its stores from 1 July and online from 7 July at a recommended retail price of ZAR 5,989 (USD 559). The HTC One M8 has a price of ZAR 11,119 (USD 1,037) or is available with the Vodacom Smart S plan at a monthly cost of ZAR 499 (USD 42).

South Africa: Video nasties - Trade union Solidarity has released a parody video showing Telkom as Hitler and a number of his senior officers. Solidarity is claiming that the planned redundancies announced by Telkom are racial motivated. Solidarity, along with the South African Communications Union (SACU), is intending to take the matter to court.

South Africa: Regulatory requirements - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has asked the government to increase its operating budget by ZAR 80 million (USD 7.47 million) for the next three years. The request was made during the presentation of its strategic plan to members of the Communications Committee. According to Icasa, it has a 2014-15 budget of ZAR 376.2 million (USD 35.1 million), down 3.7 percent from the previous year. Icasa says it needs the funding to acquire additional vehicles to conduct investigations of service, renew infrastructure and carry out geographical mapping of fixed monitoring sites.

Swaziland: Tardy payers targeted - Swaziland Post and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) has said that it will disconnect all unpaid telephone accounts, with account holders facing the prospect of losing their numbers, The Observer reported SPTC Corporate Communications Manager Nqobile Magagula as saying. SPTC has introduced a 24-hour dedicated online chat facility. Which will be fine so long as the complaint does not relate to broadband availability... SPTC also has active social networking sites on Facebook and twitter.

Turkey: Appointments announced - On 7 July Turkcell's Board convened and made a number of new appointments. Seyfettin Saglam has been named as the Chief Group Human Resources Officer; Banu Isci Sezen as Chief Group Human Resources Officer reporting to Seyfettin Saglam; Doga Unay as the Chief Group Strategy and Strategic Planning Officer; Burak Ersoy as Chief Consumer Sales Officer reporting to Burak Sevilengul who is the Chief Consumer Marketing and Sales Officer.

Uganda: Capital centric - Retiring MTN Uganda CEO Mazen Mroue has said that investment in rural areas is flagging. Mobile phone penetration rose rapidly a few years ago, has since stalled, as 'some of the new players are not investing outside the capital city' Mroue told New Vision in an interview. He also noted that the recently introduced 9 percent per minute levy on international incoming traffic had seen a 40 percent drop in traffic from abroad.

Uganda: Fibre disruption - Telcos are saying that stronger regulations are required to prevent the theft and vandalism of network infrastructure, reports the Daily Monitor. MTN Uganda CTO Rami Farah said that persistent fibre damage put both the business and customer quality at risk, with some areas seeing a total blackout for both voice calls and data services. During the last 12 months, MTN saw more than 200 incidents of infrastructure vandalism, largely due to the theft of fibre and road construction. Airtel in 2013 saw thefts of diesel fuel from base stations, with Regulatory Affairs Director, Denis Kakonge, saying punitive measures should be adopted, as is the case in Kenya.

Uganda: Money hack - Fraudulent mobile money transactions have cost MTN Uganda some UGX 1.3 billion (USD 481,000) it was revealed in court proceedings. The New Vision reported that transactions were authorised from MTN computers illegally. It also alleged that in January the accused and others not apprehended, conspired to steal from the company. The five staff allegedly hacked into a MTN computer and wired over UGX 3 billion to accounts of seven agents registered with the operator.

United Arab Emirates: Disconnection deadline - Etisalat has said that 95 percent of its mobile subscribers have now registered their SIM cards, as required by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) 'My Mobile, My Identity' program. The registration process started in mid-2012, and formally ends on 16 July. In 2013 Etisalat said it disconnected 1.3 million mobile lines as part of the campaign.

United Arab Emirates: Etisalat top earners - The 30 highest paid officials include the CEO of Abu Dhabi-based telco Etisalat, Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, who tops the list with a combined salary and bonuses for 2013 of some USD 4.7 million. The research was undertaken by the Arabic website Argaam.com. Etisalat's Chief Executive of Financial Affairs, Serkan Okandan, and Chief Human Resources officer Abdul Aziz Al Sawaleh, were ranked 8th and 9th, with salaries/bonuses of about USD 1.5 million each.

United Arab Emirates: Triple-play increases - Etisalat has raised the price of its e-life triple play packages, and re-named them, ITP.Net has reported. A basic e-life master bundle, with basic TV charges and set-top box rental, previously cost AED 349 (USD 95) per month, but now start from AED 359. Existing users will continue to receive services at the old prices for now.

Yemen: Corporate communications - Intelsat has announced an extension of its current agreement with Yemen International Telecommunications Company (TeleYemen) to provide additional support for its VSAT network within Yemen. Under the new, multi-year agreement, TeleYemen will expand its Ku-band capacity on Intelsat 15 at 85 degrees East to deliver VSAT services to corporate, banking and oil and gas companies, in addition to providing capacity to telcos.