News in Brief to 11 November 2015

Africa: Intelsat appointment - Intelsat has named its Regional Vice President of Sales in Africa as Brian Jakins, with immediate effect. He will be based in Johannesburg, South Africa and report to Jean-Philippe Gillet, Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa. Prior to Intelsat, Jakins was VP of Sales and Services Africa at Aviat Networks, and he previously held senior sales management positions at Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens Telecommunications and Wireless Data Services South Africa.

Africa: Microsoft MoU - In line with the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative's three core focus areas (World-class skills, Access and Innovation), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), through the COMESA Business Council (CBC), and Microsoft have signed an MoU. This sets out how they will collaborate in the areas of access to technology, development of relevant skills and the fostering of innovation in COMESA's 19 member states.

Algeria: SIM rules revised - Regulator ARPT has published revised conditions for customer identification procedures for SIM card holders and pre-paid USIM in its decision No. 71/SP/PC/ARPT/2015 of 28 October 2015. It repeals the previous Decisions of 14 July 2008 and of 11 December 2013. There are new provisions allowing operators to offer their customers alternatives to conventional hand-written signatures on paper, and they can now electronically capture signatures. Customers after subscribing will now receive a printed copy of the contract. The revised rules also deals with the obligation to submit a declaration of loss, required by operators for SIM/USIM cards.

 

 

Bahrain: ICT focus - Batelco has joined BTech (Bahrain Technology Companies Society) to support their efforts in the ICT sector. BTtech was formed in 2012 to support Bahrain's vision to improve economic efficiency by developing ICT companies and helping them to excel, said a statement.

Burkina Faso: News nuggets - Telecel and Burkina24 Info have partnered to provide the operator's subscribers with news updates. A daily subscription costs XOF 25 (USD 0.04); weekly costs XOF 100 (USD 0.17) and a month XOF 400 (USD 0.66).

Cape Verde: Technology tutorial - Last week CVT Group said it had partnered with the Pedro Pires Institute (IPP) to be a technological partner of the institution. CVT Group will support IPP in actions that have technology as their main tool, such as creating the conditions for education via teleconferencing.

 

 

Ghana: Financing farming - Airtel Money and Zeepay Ghana have partnered with Ashanti Regional Agricultural District to develop a Mobile Money payment ecosystem for Small Holder farmers and farm communities. The District will use Zeepay?s platform, which supports two-factor authentication (Biometric and PIN) to register around 100,000 farmers. Zeepay will offer its mobile money payment app to support payments and collections at the community level. Edmund Barwuah, Head Mobile Commerce, Airtel said: "...Airtel Money will provide Closed User Group services to all farmers and actors within the value chain as part of efforts to encourage communication and assist with dissemination of information under the eAgriculutre programme of Government of Ghana. As part of our Financial Inclusion strategy, all Small Holder farmers shall be given financial literacy training, on Access to credit, credit management and savings. After which, through our partner financial institutions, we will provide mobile lending to Smallholder farmers to facilitate payment for seeds and other services for improved farming, as well as Interest on Mobile Wallet Savings for improved livelihood and poverty reduction. "

Ghana: Healthy approach - Vodafone Ghana Foundation intends to support the aims of the government's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its 'Health' initiatives including Healthfest, Mobile4Good, Healthline and donations to institutions. Nana Yaa Ofori-Koree, Head of Vodafone Ghana Foundation said it will provide free medical screening and consultation, interactive mobile applications (apps), and via educational online, radio and TV programming. Through its Mobile4Good mobile apps project, a partnership with app developer Tiny David, it launched the SnooCode Ambulance app to offer the National Ambulance Services and other emergency services the ability to locate accident scenes.

Ghana: Movie payment option - MultiChoice Ghana and Tigo Ghana are to provide consumers and businesses with a real-time electronic payment channel. Users can pay for all the packages offered by MultiChoice Ghana using self-service real-time payment options via Tigo Cash Wallet. MultiChoice Ghana offers DStv Premium, DStv Compact +, DStv Compact, DStv Family and DStv Access as well as GOtv Value and GOtv Plus bouquets. It has also launched several new services and add on services such as DStv BoxOffice (now open to all Premium, Compact and Compact Plus subscribers), DStv CatchUp, DStvNow and DStv Online.

Global: Data demands - The GSMA has urged government representatives at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) to reserve more spectrum for mobile broadband. Cisco has said that global mobile data traffic will grow 10-fold from 2014 to 2019, and hence, global telecoms needs additional spectrum to meet mobile data demands. GSMA operator members agree that 600-800MHz of additional spectrum needs to be identified globally for mobile broadband to meet projected consumer demand by 2020.

Lesotho: International transfers - Econet Telecom has partnered with digital money transfer company WorldRemit. The service enables the transmission of funds to and from more than 100 receive countries. Initially; the service will be available to people living in the UK and in the USA, with other countries to be added shortly. The EcoCash subscriber receives the money in the wallet and incurs no costs for receiving it. There is no registration required with WorldRemit, although the person receiving the funds in Lesotho must be a registered EcoCash subscriber. Once the money is in an EcoCash wallet, the subscriber will be able to carry out EcoCash transactions at their convenience.

Malawi: Bill imminent - The Access to Information Bill was to be tabled in the November session of the National Assembly, MANA reported. Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education, Jappie Mhango, dismissed suggestions that Bill was not ready for submission. He said that the bill was at a very advanced stage.

Middle East: ICT funding;- The venture capital firm Middle East Venture Partners Holding (MEVP) has announced the second closing of the Middle East Venture Fund II (MEVF II), with USD 30.7 million in investor commitments. The Fund invests between USD 500,000 - 3 million in first round financing in 12 early-stage technology and mobile businesses that operate in the Middle East & North Africa region's Information & Communication Technology (ICT) sector. MEVF II has so far executed nine investments for an aggregate amount of USD 8.6 million.

Middle East & North Africa: Gaming deal - Mobile game developer Tapinator on 5 November said that through a new publishing partnership with Tamatem, it is to enter the USD 680 million Middle East and North Africa (MENA) mobile gaming market. In December 2015 the partnership will launch localised versions of Tapinator's mobile games, Cop Duty Simulator 3D and Trucker Parking 3D.

Nigeria: MTN mobile motoring - CarFi Sticks have been launched by MTN Nigeria to assist subscribers to access to the Internet for people in cars, the Vanguard reported. The Sticks were launched at the 2015 Abuja Motor Fair, which was sponsored by MTN. GM Consumer Marketing, Richard Iweanoge, said the device would make life more comfortable for road travellers using the Internet.

Nigeria: Vehicle tracker - Vodacom Nigeria is partnering with Tracker South Africa to launch its Fleet Management solution in Lagos, Footprint to Africa reported. Vodacom Business Nigeria's Senior Manager Product Portfolio, Abu Etu, said that one of the major benefits would be Stolen Vehicle Recovery. Vodacom's National Emergency Contact Centre will locate vehicles, immobilise it and provide a detailed report of its location. Two packages are being offered: LiveTrack and TomTom. For a flat monthly charge, fleets can be equipped with a solution based on GSM and GPS technologies and access it using the Internet.

Oman: HQ funding - Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) is to sell OMR 50 million (USD 129.5 million) of Islamic bonds by early 2016 in what would be the country's second corporate sukuk issue Chief Executive Talal al-Mamari told Reuters. The funds are to be used to build a new headquarters. Approvals are now being sought.

Rwanda: Daily prizes - Tigo Rwanda has launched a two-month SMS-based promotion: 'Tigo Bonane'. Daily pay outs of RWF 1 million (USD 1,320) are promised, with one winner taking RWF 5 million (USD 6,600) every Sunday. Other daily prizes include free Tigo-to-Tigo calls for a month and 10 Shabuka smartphones. Users have to send a blank SMS to 155 or call the number. All Tigo subscribers are eligible for the daily and weekly draw which will be shown on RTV every evening at 7:30pm. The promotion runs to 2 January 2016.

South Africa: Broadband beams - Avanti Communications has won a contract with Telkom South Africa to provide national high-speed broadband coverage. Service will be supplied using Avanti's HYLAS 2 Ka-band satellite, which provides 100 percent coverage of South Africa across five beams. This multi-year commitment is expected to make a significant contribution to filling HYLAS 2 and HYLAS 4 South African capacity.

South Africa: Data rollover - Cell C's new DataExtenda bundles allow subscribers extend the validity of their mobile data. Unused data can now be rolled over for another 30 days, provided an Extenda bundle is loaded before its validity runs out. Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos users want to be able 'to use the data they have purchased at times that are convenient to them, but validity periods are sometimes just not long enough to allow them to control when they use their data'.

South Africa: Digital discounts - Mobile Coupons and Vouchers are now available on the FNB Banking App, reports MyBroadband. This is a joint effort between Shoprite Checkers' EeziCoupons and FNB to provide in-store product coupons on the FNB Banking app to claim discounts at the till. Vouchers can be bought either with eBucks or cash, and can be sent as a gift from the FNB app. Electronic Vouchers available on the app include Makro, Nu Metro, Ster-Kinekor, Supa Quick, iTunes, and Price. All vouchers are stored within the FNB App, and can be redeemed in store by presenting the voucher code to the cashier at the time of purchase.

South Africa: MTN multi-SIM - Multiple SIM card ownership is to be catered for by MTN South Africa with a high-end dual-SIM smartphone. The LTE-compatible Huawei Mate S has been available to subscribers since 30 October. Battery life is nearly a day and a half with a capacity of 2700mAh and is available with 64GB storage from MTN. The Huawei Mate S is available on My MTNChoice 100 for ZAR 499 per month (USD 35). Contracts taken out in November will receive an additional 30GB data for the first month. It is also available on pre-paid for ZAR 10,799 (USD 758).

South Africa: Profit fall - Telkom warned investors last week that its interim profits will see a substantial fall due to costs related to severance and retirement packages due to its restructuring programme. Telkom said it expected to report basic earnings per share for the half year to September to fall by between 45 and 65 percent compared with the previous interim period. Telkom said it had made a provision of ZAR 1.5 billion (USD 107.6 million) for voluntary severance and retirement packages, compared with ZAR 325 million (USD 23.3 million) in the same period in 2014. This affected 3,108 staff, compared with 406 last year.

South Africa: Rica concerns - An investigation by The Times newspaper suggests that the implementation of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica) is flawed. The Times reports it was able to buy MTN? Vodacom and Cell C SIM cards that were Rica-registered from a Johannesburg street trader. Possible routes are insiders at mobile operators; through access to a Rica machine; and the use of sub-contractors, who did not always exercise proper control over the machines.

South Sudan: MTN money - MTN has launched its Mobile Money service in South Sudan, with users needing to register at MTN's Head Office to obtain an account and password. CEO of MTN South Sudan's CEO Joe Kaweesa said that Kenya and Uganda already have mobile money services. He added: "It is, of course, not an international process. It is just restricted to the boundaries of the country. "

Togo: Licence in limbo - League of Consumers of Togo (LCT) has written to the Minister of Post and Digital Economy, Cina Lawson, noting that more than a year has passed since a tender notice for the award of a third mobile licence was issued in July 2014, Agence Ecofin reports. In December 2014 Lawson said the identity of the winner of the third mobile licence would not be disclosed until 2015.

Uganda: Digital delivery - Seventeen upcountry satellite stations have been completed and handed over to Signet to fully implement the digital migration of regions outside Kampala Metropolitan, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has said. Signet is the signal distributor in the country. UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi, commenting on the migration to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTTV/ DTT), said work involved total upgrading of some, and in others, installing new equipment that will enable signal carriage and distribution from the main Network Operations Centre (NOC) at Kololo to the districts. The 17 sites are in Masaka, Mbarara, Kiboga, Masindi, Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, Kisoro, Rukungiri, Fort Portal, Hoima, Arua, Gulu, Mbale Soroti, Jinja, Kiboga and Rubirizi. Phase 1 of the migration saw the NOC installed and commissioned, but this only covered an area within 60km from Kololo or the Kampala Metropolitan area, including Entebbe.

Uganda: Farming forecasts - Airtel is supporting a project to provide weather reports to small-scale farmers to the tune of some USD 672,000, the Indian news service IANS reported. The Trans Africa Hydro Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) is based on similar activities in Malawi and Madagascar. TAHMO?s co-director Nick van de Giesen said that as most of the farmers were illiterate, the phone messages would be spoken messages in the relevant local language. He said: "So, as long as the farmers or fishermen know how to use a mobile phone, they can receive the messages by simply listening in. "

United Arab Emirates: ITU link-up - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) signed a new partnership initiative with the International Telecommunications Union to provide a framework for increased co-operation to undertake joint projects for ICT development in the Arab Region. The deal was signed on 3 November in Geneva, with an initial contribution to the ITU of CHF 150,000 (USD 150,000).

United Arab Emirates: Public Wi-Fi - Etisalat has launched its high-speed public Wi-Fi comprising more than 250 public locations nationally. Etisalat said its mobile data customers subscribed to 1GB mobile data allowance or higher will now have free access through the public Wi-Fi. The free allowance starts from 5 up to 30 hours of high-speed unlimited Wi-Fi Internet, depending on the mobile data package. Etisalat?s Chief Consumer Officer, Khaled ElKhouly, said: "Etisalat has laid out an excellent telecom infrastructure to enable connectivity for residents and businesses. We are taking it a step further and making free, high-speed and unlimited public Wi-Fi a norm, helping people stay connected more than ever before. "

Zambia: One SIM suites all - MTN Zambia has set out to eliminate multiple SIM card usage with its 'Spaka1 Sim', which claims to offer the lowest calling rates across all networks in Zambia. Customers can make on-net and off-net calls at the same rate and take advantage of free calling minutes, unlimited SMS and data bundles with every recharge. The MTN promotional video is here.

Zimbabwe: Payment facilitation - State-owned fixed-line provider TelOne has initiated the first phase of its pre-paid billing platform for broadband and voice products, with the longer-term aim of reducing its collectables. According to the Sunday Mail, the first phase of the rollout has taken in Pumtree, Kariba, Karoi, Mazowe, Ruwa, Marondera and the high density suburb of Chikanga in Mutare. On current billings, the company is able to collect approximately 85 percent. The deployment is a result of a USD 98 million facility provided by the China Exim Bank.