News in Brief 21 September 2015

 

Afghanistan: New members - At the start of October three new ATRA Board members were named: Mrs. Jalazoy, Mr. Jafari and Mr. Mousawi, who were appointed under decree no 1206. Dr. Mohammad Najeed Azizi, Chairman of ATRA, welcomed the three.

Africa: Alliance elections - Kontemporary Nigeria's CEO Jimson Olufuye has been re-elected as Chairman of the Africa Information and Communication Technologies Alliance (AfICTA), ThisDay reported. Adrian Schofield, the VP of the Institute of IT Professionals of South Africa (formerly Computer Society of South Africa) (IITPSA) was re-elected as vice-chairman of AfICTA, while Gbenga Fijabiwas, the CEO of Great Financiers Consulting in Nigeria, was elected as Treasurer. Elected as board members were IT Association of South Africa president Sunil Geness, Computer Society of Kenya chairman Waudo Siganga, GNSE Egypt CEO Hossam Elgamal, and President of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Lanre Ajayi.

Angola: Improving Internet - Angola Cables' Executive Council President Antonio Nunes has said that in the last two years Angola has made major investments in telecoms and IT, and seen lower prices of international calls of some 200 percent, the Jornal de Angola reported. He said: "The reduction of tariffs for Internet services has put the country in line with the prices in the SADC region. " Internet services will improve when Angosat 1 comes on stream, particularly in suburban and rural areas, where coverage is deficient due to the difference between financial return and equipment maintenance costs.

Bahrain: Direct billing - Zain Bahrain is working with SLA Mobile to provide direct operator billing. Zain Bahrain's customers can now purchase digital and virtual content via their mobile phone by using their pre-paid credit or charging the transaction to their post-paid bill. Zain Bahrain customers can use Zain's Direct Operator Billing capability 'Zain Pay' with major app stores such as Windows Phone Store and Samsung Galaxy Apps as well as local and international merchants. Further announcements of the availability of direct operator billing within the Zain Group will be made in the coming months, SLA said.

Botswana: Agro app take-up - The m-Agric mobile application designed for farmers now has over 10,000 registered users at the end of September, Orange Botswana said in a release. The application is attributed to Martin Setimela, under his company Brastorne Group. The system was developed to offer affordable connectivity for all local farmers, and provides a trading platform with news and announcements on prices, subsidies, events and weather forecasts.

Botswana: IPO for 2016? - The Initial Public Offering (IPO) for state-owned Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), has been deferred again. Paul Taylor, BTCL Managing Director said: "The reasonable time for us would be April 2016, but we cautiously suggest the date given the fact there are a number of other stakeholders involved in the project. " Initially scheduled for August 2011, the BTCL IPO launch has seen a number of postponements and Taylor said that launching the IPO before year-end would be 'risky and disastrous'. The Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and State Enterprises is to ask parliament to defer the privatisation.

Cabo Verde: Settlement sought - The government and Oi are making contacts to clarify the rights of Oi to Cabo Verde Telecom (CVT), the local A Semana newspaper reported. The two are seeking an out of court settlement on the strategic partnership between the State of Cabo Verde and PT SGPS, which has since been acquired by Oi. If successful, Oi will suspend its complaints about rights to CVT presented to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank agency and the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris.

Ghana: Phantom launch - TECNO launched the Phantom 5 at the start of the month, with 4G Network capability, a 3gigabyte RAM + 32gigabyte storage, and finger print ID. The latter promises unlocking taking just 0.7 seconds. It comes with a 5.5inch full HD large screen; an 8MP front camera +flash light, wide angle; 13MP+Dual flash back camera. TECNO Ghana also says it has expanded its distribution network to include online sales at the TECNO Website at www.tecnoghana.com and also in collaboration with Jumia. Tecno Phantom 5 comes with 6GB data for 6 months from MTN.

Guinea-Bissau: National re-numbering - The National Regulatory Authority of Information Technologies and Communication has said that the new National Numbering Plan will come into force on 1 November. The current seven digitis will be replaced with a nine digit number for fixed and mobile network numbers. An awareness campaign was initiated on 14 September 2015, including teams deployed on the ground.

Malawi: Converged licences promised - Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) is to initiate converged licensing for accredited telcos from January 2016. Director of Telecommunications, Lloyd Momba, said the boundaries are now blurred between telecoms and broadcasting services, the Malawi News Agency reported. Momba said the converged licenses would assist operators to expand into new market segments.

Mauritius: IPTV still pending - Launched in 2012, Bharat Telecom Ltd (BTL) says it is still awaiting the necessary approval of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to launch its IPTV in Mauritius, NextTV A&ME reported. According to the COO, Kaylash Ramtohul, the company made its application in 2012. BTL is proposing some 50 channels with Indian and European content and will include local channels from the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC). However it is deploying FTTH, with Plaines Wilhems, including Beau-Bassin, Rose-Hill, Curepipe, Quatre Bornes and Vacoas-Phoenix now fully covered. It is now actively deploying FTTH in the southern area, which is expected to be operational by the end of the year. It has 6,000 retail and 100 business subscribers.

Nigeria: NCC data - Active lines rose to 151,018,624 in August, according to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). This compares to the 150,741,005 recorded in July, an increase of some 277,619 in August. Of these, some 148,708,160 are on the GSM network. CDMA operators had 2,125,941 active users in August, up by 68,422 from the 2,057,519 users in July. The Fixed Wired/Wireless networks' active users rose to 189,523 in August as they added 1,242 customers in the month. Penetration rose to 107.9 percent in August from 107.7 percent in July.

Nigeria: Subscriber data seized - The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) raided the Lagos head office of MultiChoice Nigeria on Thursday last week with a court warrant. THISDAY reported that the company was being investigated for consumer satisfaction initiatives. The investigation is thought to have been stalled when the CPC demanded the personal information of subscribers, which MultiChoice Nigeria rejected on grounds of customer confidentiality.

Rwanda: New Airtel man - Airtel Africa has announced the appointment of Michael Nii Boye Adjei as the CEO of its Rwandan operation, with effect from 15 October. Adjei joins from Vodafone Ghana where he was Commercial Director since 2012. He replaces Teddy Bhullar, who is moving on to Emtel Mauritius as MD.

Seychelles: Law enforcement - A Motorola Solutions MotoTrbo digital radio system has been deployed for police communications. The network covers 115 islands and surrounding areas in the Indian Ocean, enabling the effective dispatch of officers.


South Africa: Feature packed device - Cape Town-based Dream Mobile has launched its Dream Chat smart feature phone. The phone is being offered for ZAR 299 (USD 23), and provides Internet HTML mobile browser (Opera mini, Chrome, Facebook etc.); Bluetooth; SMS and MMS; Dual SIM card with Dual Standby; 1.8 inch QVGA screen; T-flash card reader/MICRO SD up to 8GB; Digital camera for photos and videos; Support MP3, MP4, Bluetooth; Long range battery and Stereo FM radio.

 

South Africa: Funding for fibre - Last week broadband operator Vumatel was the beneficiary of a 'significant equity investment' following the conclusion of a deal to acquire a minority stake in the ISP by investment bank Investec, Fin24 reports. CEO Niel Schoeman said that the funds would accelerate its fibre-optic rollout to communities and connect up to 100,000 homes to its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network by 2016. The FTTH network was launched in Parkhurst in October 2014, and now covers six additional suburbs.

South Africa: Pre-paid migration - Subscribers of two of Telkom's fixed line pre-paid voice services. Waya-Waya and PrepaidFone are being migrated from its copper network to what it has described as a wireless 'fixed-line-look-alike (FLLA)' platform. Some 390,000 pre-paid fixed line users will be affected. Customers will retain their numbers and pre-paid wallet balances, and will receive a FLLA device at no additional charge.

South Africa: Wholesale unit set-up - Last week Telkom said it would set-up a separate wholesale company to be branded 'Openserve'. The move is to 'facilitate greater focus, accountability and customer centricity'. The new entity will provide Telkom and alternative operators wholesale fibre broadband access as well as metro Ethernet, IP Connect (IPC) and South African Internet eXchange (Saix) services, in addition to reselling DSL services. Openserve will be autonomous and will be responsible for its own profit and loss account.

Tanzania: Certificate by cellphone - A national drive to register births by mobile phone is being undertaken to allow better planning of health, education and other public services, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported. Parents have to pay TZS 3,500 (USD 1.57) if they request a birth certificate within 90 days of a child's birth, or TZS 4,000 thereafter, as well as travel costs. The new system being rolled out over the next five years allows a health worker to send the baby's name, sex, date of birth and family details by phone to a central data base and a birth certificate is issued free of charge. The initiative is already available in 10 out of 26 regions, and is run by the government registration agency RITA, UNICEF and Tigo.

Tanzania: TTCL looks to LTE - Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL) is carrying out tests of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) in four regions namely in Mwanza, Arusha, Mbeya and Zanzibar, according to TTCL's CEO Kamugisha Kazaura, of during the launching ceremony of the Customer Service Week. NextTVNews A&ME also reported TTCL's Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Peter Ngota as saying that 4G will be deployed by the end of 2015. He said that the plan is to move from offering cable data service only to wireless and voice, and deploy 4G technologies for wireless connection, voice, and also launch IPTV service. TTCL was wholly state owned until the partial privatisation in February 2001.

Turkey: Microwave deal - Turkcell has contracted NEC Corporation to supply its iPASOLINK iX all-outdoor, ultra-compact microwave radio systems. The system will form part of Turkcell's 4G network, which it expects to launch on 1 April 2016. Turkcell obtained 4G frequencies in the government multi-band spectrum auction held on 26 August 2015, for which it paid some EUR 372.9 million (USD 423.0 million).

United Arab Emirates: Consumer competition - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has now opened up the broadband and fixed voice services to domestic customers, facilitating competition between the licensed operators. Previously both were restricted to certain areas. In 2013 the TRA introduced mobile number portability.

Uganda: Funding needed for free-to-air - The Uganda Communications Commission's Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi has called on the government to fund Signet, the signal distributor, if the concept of free-to-air broadcasting is to be maintained, The Monitor reported. Signet requires some USD 3 million per annum contribution to maintain public service broadcasting. The switch over to digital from analogue was phrased from 15 June 2015.

Zambia: New MTN manager - MTN Group has named Charles Molapisi as MTN Zambia's new CEO. Molapisi was Chief Information Officer at MTN Nigeria since 2012 and as General Manager for IT infrastructure in 2009, takes over from Abdul Ismail, who led MTN Zambia from 2011 and has now retired.

Zimbabwe: Contactless card - Econet has launched its Ecocash debit card branded as 'Tap and Pay'. The card is claimed to be the first contactless offering in Zimbabwe. Tap and Pay customers will be able to make transactions of up to USD 100 daily and will not have to enter a PIN at a till. The minimum rice the system can handle is USD 0.10.

Zimbabwe: Focus on basics - Telecel will launch 4G LTE services in 2016, although it does not believe that the market is ready for the technology. TechZim reported Telecel CEO Angeline Vere as saying that the return on investment for LTE does not 'warrant a huge rollout'. Vere noted that most 4G-ready handsets are still too expensive for the average Zimbabwean, and Telecel is therefore focusing on consolidating its 2G and 3G networks.