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News in Brief 6 August 2014

Cameroon: Matters arising - The Board of the Regulatory Agency (ART) held its 33rd Annual meeting on 24 July 2014. Matters discussed included the arrival of a third mobile operator; the pending acquisition of control equipment; completion of the construction of the Garoua Regional Delegation offices; restarting the building the a headquarters building; migration from eight to nine digits; completion of the number portability project and the 'continued implementation of the control of international traffic'.

Ghana: Cellular cinema - Vodafone Ghana has launched its 'Red Moviethon' promotion which allows subscribers to get an extra free film ticket with any ticket purchased at Silverbird Cinema in Accra and Weija each Wednesday. Jerry Abayaa, Head of Customer Value Management, said that the promotion was available to both pre- and post-paid subscribers, and will run for a year.

Global: Cable for China - China?s CITIC Telecom International is reported to be readying to acquire Reliance Communications? (RCOM?s) submarine cable unit, Global Cloud Xchange (GCX, previously known as Reliance Globalcom), for up to USD 1 billion. CNBC reports that CITIC is only looking to acquire the company?s submarine cable operations and has no interest in GCX?s voice business.

India: - MTN abroad - CNBC-TV18 reports that MTN is in talks with three Indian telcos, namely Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices and Idea Cellular. The channel suggests that MTN may be considering the strategic acquisition route for India, following a tweet by Harsh Goenka, chairman of RPG Enterprises.

Kenya: M-Pesa merit - Michael Joseph, Vodafone?s Director of Mobile Money, has received the Leadership in Technology Management Award from PICMET (Portland International Centre for Management of Engineering and Technology) for his work developing Vodafone M-Pesa. The award was made at the PICMET?s 2014 conference in Kanazawa, Japan. He said: "When I went to Kenya to become the CEO of Safaricom I wanted to change people?s lives for the better. I was determined that we would be an innovative company by design ? the now world-famous M-Pesa product was the result of that thinking. "

Kenya: Power partnership - Rapid Communications, a mobile solution provider, is to provide a mobile application platform for loan applications for new customers sign up with Kenya Power. The third partner is Jamii Bora Bank, who will provide the loans. Anwar Majid Hussein the CEO of Rapid Communication said it was honoured to be part of the deal, which was expected to see power connections rise by 70 percent by 2015.

Myanmar: SIMs on sale - Ooredoo starting selling SIM cards on Saturday. Less than 10 percent of the population are thought to have access to phone. Ooredoo and Norway?s Telenor, were granted licenses in 2013. Ooredoo Myanmar CEO Ross Cormack described the event as historic. The SIM card costs MMK 1,500 (USD 1.52), compared to USD 1,500 under the junta. Cormack said that several million SIM cards will be on sale from 6,500 dealers, ahead of a wider rollout to cover 68 towns and cities, around and including the three hubs launched last Saturday, by mid-August.

Namibia: Whistleblowers welcomed - A cash reward of up to NAD 20,000 (USD 18,700) is being offered by Telecom Namibia for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person responsible for vandalism or theft on its network. Unscrupulous individuals for commercial gains or even sabotage are causing most cable damage. It said there had been over 20 incidents of criminals targeting underground and aerial cables so far in 2014.

Nigeria: Airtel for Android - Airtel Nigeria has announced Internet Bundles for Android devices. The Android 2.0 provides 2GB data designed for medium Internet users while the Android Bundle 4.5 with 4.5GB data is for high Internet consumers. Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Maurice Newa, said it was the first of its kind in terms for data offerings in Nigeria. The bundles cost NGN 2,000 and NGN 3,500 (USD 7.35 - 12.87) respectively and are both valid for 30 days.

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Oman: Conference calls - Omantel has launched a Managed Video conferencing as a Service (MvaaS). It allows video meetings ADSL, ILL or ISDN local or international point-to-point connectivity at high speeds. Users can register and share other locations.

Rwanda: Integrated finance - Maurice Toroitich, KCB Rwanda Managing Director, told The New Times in an interview, that it had integrated its mobile banking platform with telecom MTN's and Tigo's mobile money platforms. Airtel money is due to join shortly. The move allows subscribers to access their bank accounts on one platform, allowing them to transfer cash from their bank accounts to mobile phones and vice versa. Airtel money and I&M Bank have a similar arrangement. Some 3.4 million mobile subscribers are registered on the three mobile money platforms.

Saudi Arabia: 4G roaming - Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has signed a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) roaming agreement with Batelco, which will provide customers of both companies with advanced Internet services outside of their domestic markets, Zawya reports.

Saudi Arabia: App awards - Mobily is taking applications for the 2014 Apps Developers Award, which closes on 10 August at http://developers.mobily.com.sa/award. 20 Apps will be nominated after a voting process to determine the winners, with a first prize of SAR 100,000 (USD 26,700).

South Africa: Concentrated computing - Vodacom Business has opened its third data centre in Midrand. The 3,000 square metre facility has been designed to have a minimal environmental impact. Ermano Quartero, Vodacom Business managing executive, said Vodacom was working hard on its green credentials. He argued that hosting servers in data centres would save the equivalent of a small city such as Pretoria, by moving computers from individual company premises into the data centres, as the data centres are more efficient and therefore greener.

South Africa: One-tap app - Instagram has launched Bolt, a one-to-one visual messaging app for iOS and Android that is similar to Snapchat. South Africa is one of three countries chosen for the initial rollout, the others being New Zealand and Singapore. Bolt allows Instagram users to capture and send images with a single tap and was available from app stores from 30 July 2014. It is trialling the app in smaller markets before a US launch.

South Africa: PoS funding - Cape Town-based mobile Point-of-Sale (PoS) start-up Nomanini has received an investment of ZAR 4.8 million (USD 450,000) from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). Aimed at emerging markets lacking modern infrastructures and therefore primarily cash reliant, vendors using the company?s hardware help provide critical services to their communities. Nomanini CEO Vahid Monadjem said the investment would be used to leverage mobile tech to create locally relevant products on its pre-paid platform.

Tanzania: Tilling by text - Tigo Tanzania has launched a text service that provides farmers with commodity market prices, availability of buyers and sellers as well as weather forecasts via mobile phones. At a joint press conference with Tanzania Agricultural Society (TASO) held in Lindi, Tigo?s Corporate Communications Manager, John Wanyancha said that it is also co-sponsoring the annual farmers? exhibitions ?Nanenane?. Tigo users can access the service free of charge.

Uganda: Shipper in the soup - Waiswa Kafuko, CFO of Three Ways Shipping Company, has been charged with embezzling UGX 10 billion (USD 3,770) from MTN Uganda, the New Vision reported. Three Ways Shipping has been a clearing agent for MTN since 2004, and the two fell out recently over the alleged theft, which is alleged to have occurred between 2009 and August 2012. An out of court settlement was reached, but subsequently not honoured by Three Ways. The court has thrown out the case, as the deal was illegal. The case has been adjourned to 2 September.

United Arab Emirates: Tailored tariffs - Etisalat is offering tailor-made packages for post-paid customers in a bid to move Wasl pre-paid users to post-paid contracts, ITP.net has reported. A base deal of for a flat monthly rate of AED 50 (USD 13.60) provides 50 flexible minutes, including incoming roaming minutes while overseas, and 50 MB of data. Users can then sign for additional services for AED 50 each to create a tailor-made package. An extra AED 50 will equal 200 local minutes, a smaller number of international minutes, or 1 GB of data.

Zambia: Cyber crime - A cyber security laboratory has been launched by the International Telecommunications Union's (ITU) deputy secretary-general Houlin Zhao. It is located at the Zambia Police Service headquarters in Lusaka. The Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) refurbished and acquired equipment for a cost of ZMW 700,000 (USD 113,000). ITU-IMPACT in partnership with ZICTA is organising the first Cyber Drill in Africa to be held in Lusaka from 29 September - 1 October and will provide high-level training on computer incidents for African Computer Incidence Response Teams (CIRTs) professionals.

Zimbabwe: Eco card - Users of Econet's mobile money service EcoCash will now be able to undertake international payments using a special debit card. Last week Wednesday revealed its EcoCash debit card linked to MasterCard. CEO Douglas Mboweni said it reduced the need to carry cash, whilst Cuthbert Tembedza, EcoCash CEO, said it linked directly to the mobile wallet and features a chip and a PIN number. The card costs about USD 2 to access and transaction fees range from USD 0.30 - 2.45.

Zimbabwe: Rates ratified - Econet won't be engaging in a price war after rivals cut their rates Group CEO Douglas Mboweni told the AGM last week. Mboweni said the operator's strategies were sustainable and a solid base for the future of the business, whilst rate cutting was not sustainable.