News in Brief 28 May 2015

 

 

Algeria: Call centre consultation - The Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications (ARPT) has invited comments regarding five licensed call centres within 15 days with regard to their performance against the specs in their licences. ARPT says it will take 'appropriate measures' under the regulations. The operators are Euran Com And Services; Call And Call F; Sphere Global Consulting; Lifa Mohammed and HR Consulting.

Algeria: Ministerial post - The new Minister of Posts and ICT has been named as 36 year-old Iman Houda Feraoun. Feraoun succeeds Zohra Derdouri, who was in the post for 2 years and was formerly the President of the telecommunications regulator ARTP. The new Minister previously headed the science and technology research institute ATRST, and has a PhD in Physics.

Bahrain: Apps on account - Zain Bahrain users can now buy applications in Samsung's Galaxy Apps Store through Zain Pay, a direct mobile operator billing facility. Payment can be made by directly charging the purchase to the pre- or post-paid account.

Burkina Faso: Consumer complaints compiled - Bad Internet connections using USB dongles, untimely service interruptions, difficulties in joining correspondents, and a lack of coverage in some eastern towns headed the list of complaints presented to operator Telecel Faso and Airtel Burkina Faso. Consumer association LCB filed the complaints, Agence Ecofin reports. Telecel's sales and marketing director, Siaka Kone, said it plans to invest around XOF 30 billion (USD 51.6 million) by November 2015 to resolve these issues. Airtel CEO Ben Cheick Haidara took note of the complaints.

Cote d'Ivoire: Contractual contretemps - MTN Cote d'Ivoire's Chief Executive Officer Wim Wanhelleputte is to step down after six years in the post, FinancialAfrik has reported. It is suggested that MTN has decided not to renew his contract, but he is to hold the fort till June to allow the succession to be managed.

Cote d'Ivoire: Merger mandate - The cabinet has asked the Ministers of ICT, Finance and Budget to facilitate the merger of Orange Cote d'Ivoire and Cote d'Ivoire Telecom (CIT) expediently, whilst ensuring that the state's interests are safeguarded. The cabinet said the convergence of technologies and services required a speedy resolution.

Gambia: Registration process failure - Disappointment has been expressed by the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly at what it called the 'ineffective' SIM registration programme. The Public Regulatory Authority (PURA) has been urged to improve the process, the Daily Observer reported. It was noted that vendors were selling SIM cards without registering the user?s identity, despite the PURA introducing the SIM registration programme in 2011. PURA said that improved security measures involving several agencies were needed to ensure the success of the scheme.

Ghana: Award winning MTN - MTN Ghana has won four awards at the 2015 Ghana Telecom Awards, including the 'Mobile Operator of the year', Ghana Web reported. It was also named as 'Mobile Money Service of the Year', 'Customer Service Company of the Year' and 'Cloud Company of the Year'. MTN Ghana Customer Care Executive Mrs Jemima Kotei-Walsh said: "At MTN we believe service is the new selling, that?s why we pay particular attention to our customer needs. " MTN has the widest 2G coverage as well as the first to offer 3G coverage in 170 district capitals.

Ghana: Powerful promotion - Last week Tigo launched a promotion giving away 90 power generators in the next 90 days to its customers, Business Ghana reported. The 'Yensornkoaa' promotion is also offering power invertors, rechargeable lamps, power banks, fuel coupons and airtime daily. Head of Mobile, Tara Squire, said all pre-paid subscribers needed to do was make calls, send texts, browse the Internet or top up their airtime in order to reach their target. Each activity would be converted into points contributing to their target. Head of Marketing, Jesse Agypong, said research had found that users most wanted alternative sources of power. Monthly prizes will be of a 10KVA, 20KVA and 30KVA Cummins generators.

Israel: Promotion for Benbenisti - Partner Communications has appointed Isaac Benbenisti as its new Chief Executive Officer. He replaces Haim Romano who in turn is to now leave the company. Benbenisti's appointment is effective 1 July, joined Partner's management team as deputy CEO in November 2014. Benbenisti served as CEO of Bezeq International for seven years until May 2014 when Moti  Elmaliach replaced him.

Kenya: CA chief conundrum - The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) claims not to have received sufficient applicants for the vacancy for a Director-General, which has forced it to re-advertise. The original deadline was 15 May and recruitment is due to be concluded by 22 August, Business Daily reported. It is not known whether that it was just the lack of applicants or a lack of suitably qualified applicants that has forced the renewed campaign.

Kenya: Roaming reduced - Safaricom has cut the cost of roaming to South Sudan, with the cost reduced from KES 65 (USD 0.70) per minute to KES 10 (USD 0.11) per minute, ITNews Africa reported. Calls to Sudan have also been cut to KES 10 (USD 0.11) per minute, down from the standard fee of KES 30 (USD 0.33). The operator also said it had dropped the fee for receiving calls whilst roaming within South Sudan. The move follows the decision in September 2014 to reduce roaming charges for subscribers visiting Uganda and Rwanda.

Israel: Promotion for Benbenisti - Partner Communications has appointed Isaac Benbenisti as its new Chief Executive Officer. He replaces Haim Romano who in turn is to now leave the company. Benbenisti's appointment is effective 1 July, joined Partner's management team as deputy CEO in November 2014. Benbenisti served as CEO of Bezeq International for seven years until May 2014 when Moti Elmaliach replaced him.

Kenya: CA chief conundrum - The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) claims not to have received sufficient applicants for the vacancy for a Director-General, which has forced it to re-advertise. The original deadline was 15 May and recruitment is due to be concluded by 22 August, Business Daily reported. It is not known whether that it was just the lack of applicants or a lack of suitably qualified applicants that has forced the renewed campaign.

Kenya: Roaming reduced - Safaricom has cut the cost of roaming to South Sudan, with the cost reduced from KES 65 (USD 0.70) per minute to KES 10 (USD 0.11) per minute, ITNews Africa reported. Calls to Sudan have also been cut to KES 10 (USD 0.11) per minute, down from the standard fee of KES 30 (USD 0.33). The operator also said it had dropped the fee for receiving calls whilst roaming within South Sudan. The move follows the decision in September 2014 to reduce roaming charges for subscribers visiting Uganda and Rwanda.

Kenya: Surveillance starts - The national police surveillance system being supplied by Safaricom's is live, according to Business Daily. The KES 14.9 billion (USD 159.6 million) National Surveillance, Communication and Control System links all security agencies. The project connects 195 police stations in Nairobi and Mombasa using a 4G network.

Kenya: Vendor vexation - Airtel Kenya's resellers have mounted a legal challenge in the High Court to block unilateral changes to commission terms. The Standard reported that the two sides have agreed to settle the matter out of court, once an arbitrator has been agreed and appointed.

Malawi: Text tax - The government is to impose a 10 percent excise duty on mobile text messaging and data transfer (including Internet) services, Biztech Africa has reported. The announcement was made by the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development last week at the presentation of the national budget for the 2015-16 financial year.

Mali: Local lingo - Local languages now feature on Orange Mali's 'Kuma' audio guide, Agence Ecofin has reported. The languages are Bambara, Peulh, Soninke and Sonrhay. Orange hopes that the move will facilitate the uptake of the Orange Money service in rural areas. Orange Money Director Idrissa Diallo said the mobile money service had over 2.6 million users and 13,000+ service points.

Morocco: Better Wi-fi - Inwi awarded Aptilo Networks and Smartcom a contract for a major upgrade of its public Wi-Fi service to Wifi7dak. The upgrade will increase bandwidth, support network expansion and add new payment functionality following the deployment of the Aptilo Service Management Platform (SMP). Wifi7dak will be available to pre- and post-paid users.

Nigeria: Airport data - Glo is claiming the launch of Nigeria's first comprehensive airport Wi-Fi facility in collaboration with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Nigeria Communications Week reported. Globacom's Coordinator, Business Solutions, Ike Oraekwuotu, said the facility would be available in both the domestic and the international wings of 22 key airports nationally. Users will be directed to a subscription page where they will be able to buy a Wi-Fi data plan from one of three options.

Nigeria: Internet increase - Use of the Internet grew 52 percent in 2014 according to the Minister of Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, compared to the 11 percent recorded in 2013. The country currently has a 29 percent share of Internet usage in Africa, the Punch newspaper reported. The Minister was speaking at a news conference to mark the 2015 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day and the 150th anniversary of the International Telecommunications Union.

Nigeria: Latest low tariffs - Etisalat has launched a new tariff offering calls at NGN 0.11 per second to all networks under its Easylife 4.0 Limited Offer package. Etisalat Nigeria's Chief Marketing Officer Francesco Angelone said 'this is a voice pre-paid plan that offers the most affordable call rates to all networks in Nigeria'. A daily access charge of NGN 5 applies, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Nigeria: Promo prevention - MTN Nigeria has been ordered by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to discontinue its new MTN TruTalk+ tariff plan, ThisDay has reported. The NCC said it had not given approval for the tariff. MTN is also barred from further advertising. According to the NCC, the new tariff offers a daily access fee of NGN 5 (USD 0.03) and allows subscribers to call all networks for NGN 0.11 (USD 0.06) per second and NGN 0.20 (USD 0.10) per second to the Canada, China, India, UK and the USA.

Oman: Compliant chief - Majid Al Marzooqi has been named as Ooredoo Oman's Chief Governance Officer and Company Secretary. He will be responsible for ensuring the operator complies with all applicable corporate codes, adopting organisational governance practices and ensuring the company administers its affairs efficiently. He was previously Ooredoo's Director of Legal Affairs and Company Secretary.

Qatar: Highest yet - Ooredoo is claiming to be the only operator to combine 20 plus 10MHz bands on its 4Gplus network, enabling it to reach the higher maximum top speed of 225Mbps, and providing 'faster on-average' Internet speeds. The Gulf Times reported that Ooredoo currently provides extensive 4G coverage across the whole of Qatar, with speeds of up to 150Mbps for 4G. Chief Executive Officer Sheikh Saud bin Nasser al-Thani said: "Ooredoo's network is the fastest because we have designed it to be the fastest, in support of the Qatar National Vision 2030. With Qatar growing daily and the FIFA World Cup 2022 approaching, we have brought together a network aggregation strategy, spectrum strategy and outdoor/indoor network modernisation initiative to support Qatar's biggest, fastest network. "

Rwanda: MTN share sale - The 20 percent stake held by Crystal Ventures in MTN Rwandacell is the subject of an Initial Public Offering (IPO) via wholly-owned subsidiary Crystal Telecom, Reuters has reported. It is looking to raise around RWF 28 billion (USD 39.4 million) from the listing which will run till 5 June 2015, with the funds set to be invested in the energy sector. MTN Rwanda will become the third company to be listed on the Rwanda Stock Exchange (RSE).

Saudi Arabia: App development - Accenture has won a three-year contract from mobile operator Mobily worth some SAR 180 million (USD 47.9 million). Accenture is to supply application development services, encompassing end-to-end software development, delivery and implementation across Mobiliy's business support systems (BSS) platforms and technologies. Standard processes, methods and tools for software development and deployment will be implemented, as well as data analytics to track performance, monitor progress, and measure and target subscribers' requirements. . There will be a focus on time-to-market and cost reductions.

Senegal: Classroom connectivity - The Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes (ARTP) has published a tender for the supply and installation of Wi-Fi in 20 high schools. If deemed successful, the pilot will be rolled-out across the country. The bidding document is available for a cost of XOF 25,000 (USD 43), and the deadline for submissions is 18 June. Details can be accessed here.

Seychelles: May money launch - Airtel Money launched in the Seychelles on Friday 15 May. The service offers all the regular mobile money facilities, and can be accessed from both feature and smartphones. Airtel Seychelles Managing Director Amadou Dinah said Airtel was the first to launch mobile services such as pre-paid products, 3G, 3.75G and 4G. He thanked the Central Bank, which has been the regulator and facilitator of the project and the Department of Information Communications and Technology (DICT) which he said had made the launch possible.

South Africa: Altron alterations - Altron TMT's CEO Craig Venter is to leave the Altron Group and his post at TMT and Altech after 27 years of service, Businesstech has reported. Venter will step down with effect from 31 July. Altron announced at its annual results presentation on 13 May that following a business strategy review Altron will no longer be a family-managed business but will now have an independent management structure.

South Africa: Nasper content - Vodacom Group is in talks with Naspers to carry content on its network. Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub told Bloomberg that it is exploring an option whereby it would charge a fixed price to download content onto a mobile device, instead of billing per megabyte.

United Arab Emirates: Indoor improvements - Etisalat has completed of trials of voice-over-WiFi (VoWiFi). Etisalat partnered Huawei for the trial, which allowed voice calls using a home WiFi network or a public hotspot, so improving coverage in some indoor areas. No date has been given for a launch.

United Arab Emirates: Innovative role - du's new post of Senior Executive Officer, New Business and Innovation has been filled by Carlos Domingo. The focus will be on the development of new business and innovation strategies to encourage a connected society. Domingo was previously with Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) in Saudi Arabia, where he was responsible for digital services, alliances and partnerships, product development, analytics and big data. Prior to that he held the position of CEO of New Business and Innovation at Telefonica Digital and was CEO of Telefonica R&D.

United Arab Emirates: Leap latest - Blackberry's Leap can be acquired for AED 1,099 (USD 299) at many leading retailers, including the BlackBerry Store at the Dubai Mall, Emirates 24/7 reported. The Leap features the BlackBerry 10.3.1 operating system, an edge-to-edge five-inch HD display and - a very welcome - 25-hours of battery power.

Zambia: Bundle bonus - Airtel Zambia has launched 'So Che Faqs' (SCF) which allows use of bundles across all networks, The Times of Zambia reported. Airtel executive Andrew Ngulube said it was the first of its kind and will provide voice minutes, SMS and data for use across all networks. The So Che bundles will be valid for between 24 hours and 30 days. International calls will be billed according to the tariff plan although users can subscribe to discounted international calling rates.

Zimbabwe: Lower tariffs likely - Deputy ICT Minister Win Mlambo has said the government is proceeding with plans to ensure industry players share infrastructure, The Source reported. Mlambo told a 150th World Telecommunications and Information Society Day event that said shared infrastructure would lower the costs of network roll-out which in turn would allow operators to offer lower tariffs. A review of the licensing framework is also being undertaken to allow operators to offer more services on existing infrastructure. Ishmael Chikwenhere, Chair of the Postal and Telecommunications Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), said the process had started.