News in Brief 24 June 2015

Algeria: Licence renewals - The Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecommunications (arpt) published details of two executive decrees on its Website last week. The first related to the V.SAT licence renewal by Satellite Telecom Algeria, and the second related to the renewal of Telecom Algeria's licence for a public network of mobile personal communications using GMPCS satellites and the provision of public telecom services.

Bahrain: Car promo - Batelco has entered into a long-term partnership deal with National Motor Company, and is providing a free MiFi device with a one-year service and solution for every customer buying a new car from National Motors this year.

Bahrain: Mac Wi-Fi - Kalaam Telecom has partnered with Fakhro Restaurants to provide wireless Internet access at 14 McDonald's restaurants, the Gulf Daily News reported. General manager Ahmad Jaser said: "We chose Kalaam Telecom, as our technology partner, as they have been a long-standing telecommunications partner for us and our other associate companies within the group with a proven-track record in reliability and expertise."

Cameroon: Customer service centres - MTN Cameroon has inaugurated two new Service Centres at Bastos and Ngousso in Yaounde. They were inaugurated by the Governor of the Centre Region, Mr. Otto Joseph Wilson, in the presence of the Chief Executive Officer of MTN Cameroon, Mrs. Philisiwe Sibiya, accompanied by members of the Executive Management Team. Sibiya said that the move was in line with a programme launched in April 2013 to increase MTN's direct sales. Eight new proximity Service Centres have been created in 3 different Regions, and so nearly doubling its centres to 18.

Egypt: Management tool - EMC Egypt has supplied Etisalat Misr with its EMC Federation Enterprise Hybrid Cloud Solution together with EMC ViPR Controller software-defined storage and VMware vCloud Automation Centre Suite. Etisalat Misr has also selected EMC's VNX-F all-Flash storage array to drive application performance. Khalid Al Mansouri, Chief Information Officer, Etisalat Misr, said it would enable Etisalat to build a foundation to manage future storage and application growth while enabling new automation and auto provisioning capabilities. The single platform allows effective management of both traditional and next generation applications.

Ghana: High value users please - Airtel Ghana has signed a strategic partnership with Guaranty Trust Bank (Ghana) Limited. The partnership provides a platform for both Airtel Premier and GTBank to provide tailor-made exclusive services to high net worth customers. Customer Experience Director at Airtel, Rosy Fynn said: "Airtel Premier has a wide range of exclusive offerings while GTBank has its own  prestigious tie-ups. The combination is truly a timely value-add for the customers from two strong service organisations. "

Ghana: Roundtable rotation - Tigo Ghana's Chief Executive Officer Roshi Motman is the new Chairman of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication. Tigo takes over the helm from MTN and will hold the post for a year. Airtel's Chief Executive Officer Lucy Quist is the new Vice-Chairman, and takes over from Haris Broumidis of Vodafone.

Ghana: Spam stopper - The Wireless Application Service Providers' Association of Ghana (WASPAG) says it will soon start a sensitisation campaign to educate the public on its operations, the Ghanaian Chronicle reported. WASPAG is an umbrella organisation of operators of mobile-based value added services providers (VASPs) working in close association with the mobile networks, the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications. WASPAG Chairman Ismael Yamson said the first phase of the campaign, dubbed 'STOP', would focus on how to unsubscribe to any unsolicited or unwanted service rendered by any VAS Operator.

Iran: City comms - ISP Iranian Net Company is to rollout fibre FTTx broadband networks in Tehran, Isfahan, Karaj, Shiraz, Tabriz, Mashhad and Qom offering download speeds of up to 20Mbps, the Cihan news agency reports. Some 500,000 access ports are being deployed, and project will be completed in 2017. In 2014 the government removed speed restrictions on home Internet services, allowing speeds over 128kbps.

Jordan: More free hotspots - Zain Jordan has expanded its network of free Wi-Fi hotspots to 42 locations, of which 23 are in the capital, Amman.

Jordan: Umniah upgrade - Umniah has upgraded its Lync software to the 'Skype for Business' platform, the new Microsoft Office-integrated application. Microsoft is providing transition assistance to organisations using Lync. The upgrade enables users to communicate and collaborate more easily across multiple devices with anyone on the Skype network, whether inside or outside the organisation.

Kenya: Court order cancelled - The High Court has lifted orders barring the implementation of Equity Bank's thin SIM technology, BusinessDailyAfrica reported last week. Orders stopping the launch by Finserve Africa, an Equity Bank subsidiary, have been lifted in a case filed by Kituo Cha Sheria. The case will be allowed to continue but the stay orders, which had been granted earlier, have been lifted, as there is another related case filed by another party, which is still pending before another judge. The ruling comes a month after the High Court dismissed another application filed by businessman Bernard Murage, who  challenged the roll-out on the basis that proper assurances had not been given on the safety of personal data.

Kenya: Profitability poser - Airtel Africa CEO Christian de Faria believes that the Competition and Communications regulators should declare Safaricom a dominant player. According to the Business Daily Africa, Airtel also wants more 4G spectrum, claiming that Safaricom has a first-to-market advantage using bandwidth allocated in 2014. Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi said Safaricom?s unchecked dominance had ensured it was the only profitable cellco in Kenya.

Kenya: Property portfolio - The Safaricom Staff Pension Scheme (SSPS) is to build the Crystal Rivers shopping centre and residential housing project over the next 5-years, with the shopping centre being constructed first. The entire project is estimated to cost KES 3.4 billion (USD 36.4 million) and will occupy 25.5 acres. Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said: "With this project, we expect to contribute significantly to the economic growth of Machakos County, which has proved to be a leader in development following implementation of devolution. " The project is situated on Mombasa Road, Machakos; which is 63 km southeast of Nairobi.

Kenya: Tea sale transactions - The Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has partnered with Safaricom to provide a cashless payment system at its 66 factories. Around KES 1 billion (USD 11.4 million) is transacted annually through Factory Door Sales which will now be handled through M-Pesa.

Lebanon: Strategic plan - Minister of Telecommunications Boutros Harb is to launch a 5-year national telecom strategy on 1 July. Although a five-year plan, Harb believes the public will see a difference in sector performance within the first three months, the Daily Star reported. A fibre optic network and 4G services covering the whole territory are envisaged.

Middle East: Untapped potential - The growing global Muslim population with a dominant youth demographic, high consumption and expenditure patterns coupled with a rising level of technology readiness is creating a largely untapped need for digital Islamic services, a new report says. Published by Deloitte and Noor Telecom, 'The Digital Islamic Services Landscape: Uncovering the digital Islamic services opportunity for the Middle East and the World' highlights the untapped potential of the digital Islamic services market and offers key recommendations. Santino Saguto, partner and Technology, Media and Telecommunications leader, Deloitte Middle East, said: "Although the prospects are noteworthy, our findings reveal that very few Islamic internet platforms have achieved a significant scale. Some verticals are being catered to, but monetisation remains a challenge. Currently there are no venture capital funds in the Middle East that specifically target Islamic needs, signifying a huge gap that could and should be filled. " The report defines nine key industry verticals and areas, namely Halal Food, Halal Travel, Islamic Finance, Modest Fashion, Islamic Art and Design (A&D), Islamic Economy Education, Smart Mosques, Islamic Media, Islamic Standards and Certifications. The report can be downloaded here.

Morocco: Cellco CEO named - The board of mobile operator Inwi last week named Nadia Fassi Fehri as Executive Chairman and CEO, le360 reported. Frederic Debord remains as Managing Director, a post he has held since 2009. Fheri joined mining group ONA in 1996 as an engineer and was involved in the opening of Morocco's first gold mine as Director of Operations. She served as Managing Director of the Narvea subsidiary and was Director of Human Resources, Communications and Support Services at ONA's headquarters. Wshe was latterly Managing Director of FC Media. Inwi launched LTE service in 26 cities on 17 June.

Nigeria: Data packages - MTN Nigeria and Opera Software have joined forces with news, jobs and entertainment portal Naij.com to provide free mobile Internet to a million citizens for one day, via the mobile operator's network. Opera's Sponsored Web Pass allows operators to package their data in a user-friendly way. Users can get access to a free day of Internet by going to webpass.opera.com via Opera Mini on the MTN network, with 40,000 passes being made available daily.

Nigeria: Free Airtel Wi-Fi - Airtel Nigeria has launched a Wi-Fi service in Lagos. The service is available to all mobile phone users, irrespective of their network, and offers 15 minutes per month free to every user. The Wi-Fi hotspots are at Ozone Cinema, Yaba, Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island and Alausa Shopping Mall, Ikeja. Further rollouts will include shopping centres, airports, universities and other major public areas in major cities.

Nigeria: International IP app - Visafone Communication has launched an application providing Internet-based voice, video and messaging for smartphones, tablets and windows PCs. It offers low-cost off-net calls and international calls to the USA, Canada, India, China, the UK and 25 other fixed destinations globally at NGN 7 (USD 0.045) per minute.

Nigeria: Simpler settlements - Paga, a payments service provider, has said that over 3 million people are using its agent, online and mobile channels to send and receive payments. Paga CEO Tayo Oviosu said the rapid growth was due to people needing a simpler way to make payments, ThisDay reported.

Nigeria: Sound sensation - Tecno Mobile has launched its Boom J7 in Nigeria, This Day Live has reported. Tagged the 'music box', it is the first in a series of mobile devices are due to be rolled out in 2015. The Boom J7 promises to deliver high quality music on mobile devices, using noise cancellation technology and sleek short cuts, as well as smart functions with Android 5.0 Lollipop. It also features double power amplifiers to provide a bigger, richer and immersive sound.

Qatar: Mobile mapping - Ooredoo Qatar is updating its Tetra offering, which allows users to track and monitor assets and people. The Tetra network has been in operation since 2005. The upgrade will enhance the existing platform and allow its evolution towards a full M2M service. The new Automatic Vehicle Location service (AVLS) offers a dedicated map application for logistics and operational centres that provides monitoring, alarm and control functions and map functionality. The AVLS system is able to display the location of people and vehicles on a graphical map based on GPS information.

Qatar: Speedy State - Qatar has been named first out of 119 countries for average mobile Internet speeds in customer tests of networks. According to the Ookla Speed Test, Ooredoo is the fastest ISP in Qatar, with average speeds of up to 33.63 Mbps, significantly faster than competitor Nawras. The Ookla Speed Test deploys data from more than 5 million tests per day, on more than 3,500 servers globally.

Qatar: TV controller app - Ooredoo Qatar has upgraded its Mozaic GO app to enable customers to turn their mobile phone or tablet into an advanced TV remote control. Viewers will be able to browse the TV listings and Mozaic film catalogue on their mobile, without disturbing the on-screen entertainment. They will be able to set and record programmes for later viewing directly from their mobile. They will be able to preview live channels on their device, before they select it on the TV. The remote feature will make it easier to search and browse the 370 channels and 5,000+ titles currently available. Ooredoo is now working on a service that will enable customers to pay for content via their mobile, enabling them to buy movies-on-demand, subscription packages and pay-per-view events at the touch of a button.

Reunion: FTTH flagged off - On 12 June Claude Jean Lacouture, Mayor of Etang-Sale, and Jean Michel Hegesippus President of SFR Reunion formally flagged off the deployment of Fibre-to-the Home in Etang-Sale. SFR Reunion has committed to pass some 230,000 homes by the end of 2017 on the island's territory. Etang-Sale is the first urban centre to sign with SFR Reunion, and rollout is being prioritised accordingly.

Rwanda: Deputy CEO named - Tigo Rwanda has named Chantal Umutoni Kagame as its new Deputy Chief Executive Officer. Kagame will take up her new role in June 2015. Kagame has some 17 years experience in the sector, and joined Tigo Rwanda in 2009. She is currently the Head of Sales Distribution department, as well as the Corporate Affairs function. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce from the Kigali Institute of Science & Technology with a major in Finance.

Rwanda: International transfers - MTN Rwanda and Western Union have launched a money transfer service. MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer Ebenezer Asante said users could now receive Western Union money transfer transactions directly on their mobile phones. Earlier this year MTN Group signed a collaboration agreement that allows MTN mobile money users in Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia to make international remittances with M-Pesa customers in Kenya, Tanzania, the DR Congo, Mozambique and vice versa. MTN said recently that about 85 percent of its subscriber base are registered on a mobile money platform.

Rwanda: Offer oversubscribed - Crystal Telecom's initial public offering (IPO) has been oversubscribed by 123 percent, the New Times reported. Some 270.17 million shares in MTN Rwanda were offered, representing a 20 percent stake. Lead transaction advisor Renaissance Capital said that it received over 2,300 applications from Rwanda, the East African region and beyond during the share sale, which closed on 5 June.

Sao Tome: Second-longest sea connection - CST and local tourism group HBD have launched a microwave radio link in Roca Sundy to support communications between Principe and Sao Tome, reports Telanon. It is claimed to be the second-largest wireless connection in the world across the sea. It will provide a nine-fold increase in the current connection speed. Principe will feel the benefit of the new connection via the submarine cable connection, and it will be able to access all the services available in Sao Tome.

Saudi Arabia: Free access - Mobily last week announced a range of Islamic applications and services for the holy month of Ramadan. Ten days free access is offered when the Islamic content services and applications are subscribed to, such as 'Islamic Dorar Application' or 'Islamic App Store', which provides videos, prayers, lectures and lessons on fasting in Ramadan. Mobily earlier released Islamic albums in its 'Ranan' service providing up to ten different Ramadan ringtones, which change with each call.

South Africa: Micro money solution - EcoCash and its partners have won approval from the South Africa Reserve Bank to commence a cross border remittance service from South Africa. Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa can send money to any Econet Wireless number using EcoCash. Econet said it would take several weeks for the service to be fully established, but expects to be fully operational by the end of July. Econet is hoping that its 'micro-remittance' solution will stimulate increased remittances into Zimbabwe.

South Africa: Rationale awaited - Cell C continues its campaign to block the Vodacom/Neotel ZAR 7 billion (USD 600.5 million) deal. Following approval by ICASA, Cell C is concerned that four days after the approval that the regulator's decision has not been published, apart from comments attributed to the outgoing chairman Stephen Mncube. ICASA gave conditional approved, saying that details would be published. Conditions are thought to include compliance with local ownership law and adherence to terms regarding the rollout of broadband infrastructure and services. ICASA's Paseka Maleka told Fin24 that it would publish its reasons either on 19 June or the following week.

South Africa: Talks failure - Telkom has failed to reach agreement with three trade unions on how to proceed with plans to eliminate at least 24 percent of its workforce, Bloomberg reported. It said in a statement that it would now approach the Centre for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to facilitate further talks. Some 4,400 staff will leave the company through voluntary severance and early retirement, Telkom spokeswoman Jacqui O'Sullivan said on 9 June.

Tanzania: ICT partner - The government and Huawei have signed to facilitate the nation's Vision 2025 programme through ICT. Minister for ICT Makame Mbarawa said that Huawei is now ICT advisor to the government. The company will also facilitate training, education, summit and exhibitions on ICT according to the Daily News. The government is to build an Internet Data Centre at Kijitonyama, in Kinondoni municipality, Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania: SIM registration regulation reminder - Mobile phone users are required to update their registration details or register new SIM cards using the ongoing electronic SIM card registration process adopted by all mobile operators. A joint statement was issued last week by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Mobile Owners Association of Tanzania (MOAT) and the National Identification Authority (NIDA). All subscribers will be required to produce valid identification, preferably a national ID, at a mobile network agent. Vodacom Tanzania Managing Director Rene Meza, who is also the Chairman of MOAT, said mobile operators are required by law to register every SIM card before activation in accordance with the Electronic and Postal Communication Law (EPOCA).

Turkey: Buy-out broached - Turkcell is initiating talks to buy the remaining stake in Astelit. Ukrainian partner System Capital Management holds a 44.96 percent stake in Euroasia Telecommunications Holding, the controlling shareholder of Astelit, which operates under the brand Life:). Turkcell holds 55.04 percent in Euroasia, a subsidiary based in the Netherlands.

United Arab Emirates: ISO recognition - Mobile operator du's Information Technology Department has been awarded ISO 27001:2013 certification for an Information Security Management System (ISMS). The certificate was presented to du?s Chief Operations Officer Farid Faraidooni by Basem Obaid, Area General Manager, India Middle East and South East Europe, Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance Ltd, during the awards ceremony at du headquarters in Dubai Media City.

United Arab Emirates: Rules to be relaxed - Etisalat is to allow foreign share ownership for the first time, with overseas investors and foreign and domestic institutions able to hold up to 20 percent in the company. Etisalat is 60 percent-owned by the government via the Emirates Investment Authority (EIA), while local individual investors hold the remainder. A date for the relaxation to be implemented has yet to be given.

Zambia: Slicker service - Zamtel has launched a Self-care portal the, Times of Zambia reported. The service is expected to free up the Zamtel call centre, as subscribers can check their bills online. CEO Mupanga Mwanakatwe said that Zantel had spent more than ZMK 1 million (USD 189,000) per annum to print out some 2.2 million billing sheets.

Zambia: Talking tough - The Zambia Information and Communication Technology (ZICTA) last week said it would review mobile operator licenses if services to subscribers re not improved. Director-General Margaret Mudenda in a letter addressed to the operators expressed concern over the poor services being provided by the three mobile service providers.

Zimbabwe: Agro advice - Econet Wireless has launched a new agricultural service, which allows farmers to connect with research and extension officers for farming advice. The 'Dial-A-Mudhumeni' service has been launched in partnership with the country's Ministry of Agriculture. Farmers dial 144 to access the EcoFarmer call centre, and will then be routed to any of the three specialist services available, which are agricultural marketing advisers, livestock specialists and tobacco experts. The EcoFarmer service - launched in 2013 - currently serves over 300,000 farmers.

Zimbabwe: Top-up ultimatum - Lines that have not been used for over 180-days are to be disconnected by Econet on 24 June. It has mounted a newspaper advertisement campaign in which it has advised subscribers to recharge their inactive Buddie line with airtime of any amount. With 9+ million subscribers, Econet is the dominant mobile operator, with some 65 percent of the mobile market.