News in Brief 4 March 2015

 

Africa: Broadband broadening - The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Channels Television, John Momoh, has forecast that African Internet penetration will rise to 50 percent by 2025; it currently stands at 16 percent. Momoh made the statement at 'Africa's Media -The Future', an event organised by KPMG Nigeria Alumni held in Lagos. He said Internet users would rise to 600 million by 2025 from 167 million now; and the number of smartphone users in Africa would rise from 67 million to 360 million by 2025.

Angola: Satellite service - Angola Telecom's satellite subsidiary Infrasat has opened a regional office in Saurimo, Lunda-Sul, reports RNA. This is will benefit communities in the east of the country, bringing Internet, telephony, radio and TV connections via satellite. According to Infrasat CEO Antonio Costa, there are plans to open a second regional office in Menogue in 2015, to serve the provinces in the south and interior.

Benin: Internet infrastructure loan - Benin has received a preferential loan from China of XOF 40 billion (USD 68.8 million) to fund telecommunication infrastructure projects, diplomatic sources said last week in Cotonou, Global Tomes reported. The deal was signed between Benin's Foreign Minister and African Integration Prof. Nassirou Arifari Bako and China's ambassador to Benin, Diao Mingsheng.

Burkina Faso: USF training - The Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications is holding a training workshop on the Universal Service Fund (USF) 23 - 27 March 2015. The syllabus for the fifteen Universal Service Council (CSU) delegates include the conceptual basis of universal service and broad approaches to promoting the facility. It also includes key elements of the FSU and models adopted in practice; administration, governance and operation of the FSU; and projects and strategies of the FSU. CSU oversees the implementation of service and universal access, with proposals put forward by the Regulatory Authority.

Cape Verde: Porting upset - Regulator ANAC on 10 February 2015 has fined Unitel T+ some CVE 2.5 million (USD 25,586) after it failed to responded to 57 requests for porting within 48-hours (timeouts) of the request being made. Proceedings have also been commenced against CVM?vel, which were filed by the Regulatory Authority, subject to a warning that it will be fully compliant with the rules for the implementation of the portability regulations. Unitel T+ has challenged ANAC's findings and is reported to have resorted to the courts.

Cote d'Ivoire: IPv6 test - The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is partnering with L'Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications de Cote d'Ivoire (ARTCI) for the implementation of an IPv6 test bed. This allows engineers to undertake IPv6 networks simulations, to verify the quality of service and interoperability in different environments before deployment in corporate networks, CommunicationsWeek reported. This is the first time that an IPv6 test bed has been installed in Africa by the ITU. Two similar test beds are due to be implemented this year in East and Southern Africa.

 

Egypt: Trade mission - A commercial delegation of 26 ICT companies flew to Kenya on 16 February on a three-day visit to explore opportunities for co-operation with partners in West and East Africa. As part of the 'Africa Together' initiative, the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) is boosting the participation of Egyptian ICT companies in a series of trade missions. The visit saw meetings between Egyptian companies and Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Uganda in the east, and Nigeria and Ghana in the west.

Gabon: Strikers suspend service - Gabon Telecom's (GT) Internet users in Libreville had services cut after worker's called a two-day strike with effect from 24 February 2015, Agence Ecofin reported. A spokesman of the President of the Republic confirmed the outage on 25 February 2015. The staff are demanding payment of compensation for the increased workload since privatisation. It is claimed that some 1,400 posts were reduced to just 400.

Ghana: Fibre finished - The 800km Fibre the government has completed Optic Broadband Backbone Infrastructure project from Ho in the Volta Region to Bawku in the Upper East Region, with a link from Yendi to Tamale, both in the Northern Region. The EUR 38 million (USD 42.9 million) project was undertaken by Alcatel-Lucent and covers 27 municipal and district assemblies. It has been extended to the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho.

Kenya: Sponsorship queried - Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore has told the Business Daily that it will cancel sponsorship deals with three sports federations in Kenya. Collymore said that the lack of transparency has dented the image of football, athletics and rugby management, and they have to put their houses in order. Safaricom signed a KES 140 million a year deal with Kenya Rugby Union in 2013 to sponsor the local Sevens circuit and last year, the sponsorship deal was renewed for a further three years. It also sponsors the Safaricom Athletics Series, which last year saw KES 47.5 million provided for 15 Athletics Kenya and community races, in addition to funding national trials.

Iran: Cultural compliance - Google could be allowed to operate in the Islamic Republic if it respects 'cultural' rules, the Fars news agency said on Sunday. Deputy Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Nasrollah Jahangard told Fars: "We are not opposed to any of the entities operating in global markets who want to offer services in Iran. We are ready to negotiate with them and if they accept our cultural rules and policies they can offer their services in Iran ". It was suggested that 40 million people out of a population of around 78 million use the Internet.

Lebanon: Delivery option - Touch has launched touch Express, which ships products to the user and offers a guaranteed on-time delivery within 3 hours within the Greater Beirut area. The service covers pre- and post-paid lines, data routers and SIM replacements for just USD 7. Vice Chairman and General Manager of touch, Wassim Mansour said: "Touch Express is part of touch?s customer-centric strategy that seeks to understand customers and identify their needs, while providing them with a wide range of cutting-edge products and services. " Market research found that 70 percent of post-paid users were interested in a delivery service.

Libya: Service suspended - The Libya Herald reports that the Wataniya TV and Radio stations in Sebha are off the air, after the building housing the stations was attacked last week. The premises were vandalised, and cables and equipment were also removed. Police protecting the building are said to have withdrawn before the attack.

Nigeria: Advertising management app - Terragon Group is showcasing its 'Adrenaline' data monetisation and advertising platform app at the 2015 GSMA Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. The app allows advertisers to buy inventory and access to reach mobile users on organically generated channels which sit on non-Internet based platforms on mobile devices. The channels include USSD based balance enquiry, Call-Me-Back messages, End of Call Notification, among others. CEO, Terragon Group, Elo Umeh, said that the planned unveiling was a reaffirmation of the strides it had made. Terragon Group is Nigerian-based and is active in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa and India.

Nigeria: Cut rate - MTN Nigeria has re-launched MTN TruTalk, a pre-paid tariff plan that offers users a new tariff rate of NGN 0.11 per second to 11 selected numbers, 8 on-net and 3 off-net. The new rate is equivalent to half the cost of making calls at a flat rate of NGN 0.20 per second. General Manager, Corporate Affairs, MTN Nigeria, Funmi Onajide, said that the industry is gradually moving to Telco 2.0, with its focus on data and digital services, but there was a need to make it easier for people to talk.

Palestine: Better billing - Wataniya has used convergent charging and billing specialist Orga Systems to deploy its GOLD Convergent Charging & Billing and a new Siebel CRM system. Orga Systems says it has taken over full delivery, integration and migration responsibility when it replaced the legacy BSS environment. In the first phase, a 'ready-to-go' option was deployed to secure business continuity that included network integration, tariff and promotion configuration. Orga Systems said that the full deployment of GOLD CCB for end-to-end revenue management and a new Siebel CRM system was implemented in less than 12 months.

Qatar: Fee realignment - Ooredoo Qatar is to remove the advance rental charges for post-paid services to provide greater transparency of communication costs. It will refund any money for advance services charged in previous bills and restart Mobile Internet Packs, BlackBerry and Mobile Broadband bundles for Shahry customers. The difference on any unused balances on packs terminated and restarted will be refunded, with the next bill only reflect charges for that month.

Senegal: Customer channel - Sonatel has opened a new communication channel for its customers, launching a TV news feed. Called Flash Kaddu Sonatel, it will provide a monthly news update covering Group activities. The channel will carry updates on the various projects it has undertaken as well as current telecommunications topics and the digital economy in general.

Sierra Leone: Line towing agreed - The National Telecommunication Company (NATCOM) has concluded an agreement with Africell and Airtel to maintain and improve their services. New NATCOM chairman Momoh Konte met with the senior management of the telcos. Konte has promised parliament to rein in the networks regarding the quality of their services. Consequently Africel has been forced to change its billing system in line with the Commission's request. They agreed to closely monitor key network quality indicators in line with ITU standards over the next 45 days. NATCOM will undertake strict regular monitoring.

South Africa: Data dynamics - Mobile data use is set to rise by more than 11 fold over the next four years, with average speeds to handsets doubling to 3.6Mbps. That's according to Cisco Visual Networking Index forecast for 2014-2015. Cisco records that data currently makes up 13 percent of all Internet traffic and is expected to grow to 32 percent by 2019. 98 percent of that will be 3G-at-least 'smart data' compared to 82 percent today. While 21 percent of all current mobile connections are 3G enabled, Cisco is predicting that 62 percent will be by 2019. Average use is expected to rise from 710MB a month in 2014 to 7.2GB by 2020.

South Sudan: Network neighbourliness - The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Rebecca Joshua Okwacci, has announced that South Sudan has joined East African's 'one network' area. The new network treats all calls between South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda as local, APA reported.

Sudan: Revenue repatriation sought - Zain Group, with assistance from Kuwait and Sudan, is to attempt to repatriate USD 280 million worth of Sudanese pounds, Arabian Business reported. Zain Sudan had revenues of USD 669 million in 2014, accounting for 16 percent of parent Zain's total revenue. Net profit in Sudan was USD 98 million in 2014, down from USD103 million in 2013.

Tanzania: Energy efficiency - Mobile operator Tigo, PayGo solar expert Azuri Technologies and mobile retail operator Lotus Africa have announced at Mobile World Congress the formation of a strategic partnership to bring integrated pay-as-you-go energy and mobile payment services for rural households. The partnership will bring solar power, mobile phone charging and mobile money services to over 100,000 rural off-grid consumers in the next 2 years, building on Tigo's distribution networks and mobile money payment system, Tigo Pesa.

Turkey: Ukrainian licence - Turkcell's 55 percent-owned subsidiary Ukraine-based Astelit has successfully won a 3G UMTS Mobile Licence in the Ukrainian. Astelit bid UAH 3.36 billion (USD 118.4 million) for a 15 year term and frequencies in the 1920-1935 / 2110-2125 MHz frequency band.

Uganda: Providers pulled - The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has revoked the licenses of 27 communication and broadcast service providers. The UCC said that the named operators 'are therefore advised to immediately desist from carrying out any communications services in Uganda without authorisation from the Commission. The public is also advised not to engage these operators, whoever does so shall be at their own peril'. The full list of barred operators is here.

United Arab Emirates: Financial facilitation - Etisalat recently provided an end-to-end unified network connectivity solution to Dubai Financial Market (DFM). The solution is fully managed and supported by state-of-art Etisalat?s Network Operations Center (NOC) which offers 24/7 support. Hassan Abdulrahman Al Serkal, Executive VP, COO, Head of Market Operations Division, DFM said: "We are delighted to sign this essential agreement with Etisalat...as part of our enduring commitment to employ highly efficient technologies enabling DFM-licensed brokerage companies to provide investors with the fastest and reliable services. "

Uganda: Tighter transfers - The Central Bank Governor Tumusiime Mutebile has said that an amendment of the Bank of Uganda Act to provide for supervision and licensing of mobile money operations in Uganda in under consideration, The Monitor reported. Mobile money operations are currently overseen by the commercial banks that run accounts for the respective telcos. Some 18 million people are currently using mobile money transfer systems in Uganda.

Zimbabwe: Debt dump - Fixed line operator TelOne says it has so far only recovered 3 percent of the USD 58 million owed by its subscribers. MD Chipo Mtasa told NewsDay it had hired debt collectors and entered payment plans with clients. Civil servants could have their outstanding amounts deducted through the Salary Service Bureau. The company is targeting 4 percent growth in its revenue streams as it increases its focus on data services as well as fixed-mobile convergence.