News in Brief to 9 December 2015

Africa: Tower offering - Tower company IHS is planning an initial public offering in 2016-2019, its Chief executive and founder Issam Darwish said last week. The Economic Tomes reported him saying: "The schedule and the decision will be taken at an opportune moment... It will be biggest the IPO ever in Africa ". The comments were made at event held by private equity firm Wendel, which has a 26 percent stake. IHS builds and leases mobile telecoms towers across five countries in Africa.

Algeria: State shake-up - Algerie Telecom's (AT) board has been instructed to appoint an interim CEO after government removed Chief Executive Officer Saad Damma of state-owned mobile operator Mobilis. Damma was named Mobilis' CEO in 2012. According to Algerie Presse Service, the Ministry of ICT and Posts said the move was 'to infuse a new dynamic at the company in an extremely competitive environment for a sector that is rapidly evolving and transforming.' AT's CEO Azouaou Mehmel is thought likely to be put in charge in the interim.

 

Cape Verde: Interconnect consultation - The National Communications Agency (ANAC) is holding a public consultation 7 December - 15 January 2016 on the General Interconnection Regulations. Contributions and/or comments can be sent by e-mail to: consultargi@anac.cv, or posted to National Communications Agency - ANAC, Avenue of China, Tea d'Areia, CP No. 892 - Beach, Republic of Cape Verde. Further details are here.

Djibouti: Chinese support - China Telecom Group has signed a deal with Djibouti Telecom (DT) to support a number of ongoing development projects. The deal was signed during the sixth China-Africa Forum held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Agence Ecofin reported. DT is looking to modernise its network, and has embarked on several separate funding rounds since August 2015. It is involved with the Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) and South-East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 5 (SeaMeWe-5) submarine cable systems. It is also reported to be attempting to complete the so-called 'DARE' draft regional fibre-optic submarine cable.

Egypt: Frequency farming - The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is looking at mechanisms to provide frequencies for mobile service operators as a prelude to issuing 4G service licences in 2016, the Daily News reported. NTRA Director for Telecom Services and Planning Christine Arida said NTRA is in talks with security agencies regarding the provision of frequencies for mobile operators to offer 4G services. As well a migrating TV to digital, NTRA is also studying new technologies and does not expect a proposal for 4G services before the first half of 2016.

 

Egypt: Mobile health - An mHealth programme is to help fight diabetes using ICT. The Ministry said the initiative would use mobile technology to communicate with patients vulnerable to diseases by sending them free text messages. It also aims to use mobile applications to raise awareness on dealing with chronic and endemic diseases. The initiative is part of a partnership between three ministries with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the three local mobile companies and ICT companies. There will be six awareness campaigns, starting with diabetes and followed by hepatitis, tumours, high blood pressure, heart diseases and chronic respiratory diseases.

Jordan: Significant slice - The contribution of the telecoms and IT sectors to GDP stood at 14 percent, according to Zain Jordan's CEO Ahmed Hinandh. The CEO noted that the sector provides the State?s treasury with some JOD 450 million (USD 631.9 million) each year, London-based Alhayat has reported. He added that the government made a number of quick decisions that negatively affected the sector, including the doubling of tax rates, with their value rising in July 2013 by nearly 100 percent, moving from 12 to 24 percent, in addition to a 16 percent sales tax.

Kenya: Retail presence - Huawei has partnered with Orange Kenya, who will sell the Huawei Y5C and Y3C entry-level smartphones in its shops within the quarter. Currently, Huawei Kenya sells 30 percent of its devices through network operators like Safaricom, Airtel and now Orange Kenya and 70 percent through open market retail partners. Huawei currently has 10 percent of the smartphone market but it is targeting 25 percent by June.

Kenya: Wearable watches - Samsung East Africa has launched two versions of the Galaxy Gear S2 smartwatches. The Gear S2 watch is for sports personalities and fitness enthusiasts, while the Gear S2 classic is for consumers who enjoy classic watch designs. The smartwatches will retail respectively at KES 32,000 (USD 307) and KES 35,000 (USD 336) respectively.

Lesotho: Transfer treaty - Funds can now be transferred from South Africa directly to M-Pesa accounts in Lesotho after Vodacom Lesotho and Mukuru signed a partnership deal. A South Africa user needs to be registered with Mukuru. The mobile phone is used to create an order with Mukuru for which no airtime is needed. Payment for the order can be made at any major retailer, including Lewis, Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Checkers, Spar and Pep. On payment, the funds are immediately transferred to the recipient's M-Pesa account in Lesotho. There are some 1,900-plus registered M-Pesa agents in Lesotho.

Mauritius: Spectrum scan - The Enforcement Directorate (ED) in India on Saturday 4 December sent a reminder to the Mauritius authorities requesting the early execution of its pending judicial request relating to the 2G spectrum fraud case. The agency has almost completed its domestic investigations, and is now waiting for the replies so it can file supplementary charge sheets. The ED had registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in March 2010, against unknown officials of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and representatives of certain companies following the award of new telecom licenses in 2008. In 2011 the agency sent requests to 10 countries including Russia, UAE, Isle of Man, Cyprus, Mauritius, Norway, Singapore and Libya.

 

Middle East: Recruitment platform - Tech Mahindra is taking its Saral Rozgar mobile employment platform that serves blue-collar workers to the Middle East and will looking to bring in outside investment to help scale the platform and spin it off as a separate company. The Economic Times has reported Vivek Chandok, Head of TechM's consumer business, as saying: "With the current subscriber base of 6 million+, we aim to scale this to 100 million over the next 5 years. We plan to expand our distribution and our operations aggressively. Currently this has been funded from within but to expand we will definitely look at strategic investors to fund the next level of growth. "

Nigeria: Money event - The sixth Remittance and Mobile Money Expo is to be held in Lagos 2 - 3 February 2016. Event director at Mobile Money Africa, Emmanuel Okoegwale, said that the continent had made great strides in mobile technology adoption and penetration, saying: "However, despite the pervasive coverage of such mobile networks across Africa, technological innovation has yet to drive down costs in Africa?s remittance markets. " According to the UK's Overseas Development Institute think-tank Africa pays nearly USD 2 billion a year due to the higher-than-average cost of sending money to the continent with average cost to transfer money to sub-Saharan Africa at about 12 percent, compared with a global average of 7.2 percent.

Nigeria: Sale investigation - The House of Representatives is to investigate the sale of the Nigerian Telecommunication Limited (NITEL) and its mobile subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunication (Mtel). It has been suggested that the sale process of the two nationally-owned telcos for USD 252 million to the NATCOM consortium was flawed. Members noted that NITEL?s critical assets alone are worth more than what it was sold for.

Saudi Arabia: Better billing - Mobily is launching direct carrier billing service in conjunction with Google. This will make it easier for Android users to purchase apps, games and digital content on their devices. Mobily's users will now be able to carry out online purchases through the Google Play Store by paying for purchases using their mobile phone balance.

South Africa: Better business - Vox Telecom has introduced unlimited VoIP calls for SMEs for a fixed monthly fee on a term contract. Three contract options are available, starting at ZAR 1,495 (USD 104) per month for five outbound channels, ZAR 4,990 (USD 347) per month for 10 outbound channels and ZAR 8,985 (USD 622) per month for 15 outbound channels. Customers will be required to port to Vox Telecom, and thereby retain their existing fixed-line numbers. The company will be complementing the uncapped VoIP service with an offer of a private branch exchange (PBX) for new customers free for six months on a minimum 24-month contract. Henda Edwardes, executive head of Communications Services at Vox Telecom said: "We want to make telephony costs predictable, and cost effective for small to medium businesses, and an uncapped voice solution, with a fixed monthly fee, is undoubtedly the way to go. "

South Africa: US targeted - Naspers is expanding its US exposure, and looking to expand its operation in North America, Europe and Australasia. Bloomberg reported that last September Naspers invested USD 100 million in Letgo, a US mobile-only classifieds-ads application. It is also planning to invest in more companies based around San Fransisco. Naspers now operates in 130 countries and focuses on four main businesses in printed media, TV, Internet, and Internet service provider. It has a 34 percent stake in Chinese tech company Tencent Holdings, which is Naspers' biggest investment.

Tanzania: London PoP - Six Telecoms has partnered with NewTelco South Africa (a joint venture between the Jasco Group and NewTelco), to deliver an international point of presence (PoP) through NewTelco?s co-location hub in London. The PoP is located in one of the major global interconnection hubs, connecting a number of submarine cables and providing Six Telecoms with direct access to Internet services in Europe. NewTelco is providing technical installation of network routers and switches in order to facilitate the delivery.

Turkey: VP Sales - Turkcell has promoted Murat Erkan to the post of Executive Vice President of the Sales Function, effective from 1 December. He was previously Senior Vice President of Retail, and joined Turkcell in June 2008 as the General Manager of Turkcell Superonline. Since October 2015 he has served as the Senior Vice President of Retail and Active Sales under the Sales Function. Previously, he served as Senior Vice President of the Home and Consumer Business.

United Arab Emirates: Office opened - UK-based Comtec, a supplier of products and services to operators and contractors in the GCC, now has a presence in Dubai. The Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai and the UK's British Centres of Business (BCB) initiative collaborated. John Buck, Managing Director of Comtec, said: "We have two objectives for our new operation in Dubai - to better serve our customers in the UAE, such as Etisalat, and to establish our regional headquarters... " It opened an office in Qatar in 2010.

United Arab Emirates: Speed packages - Etisalat has launched its new Nonstop data plans for pre-paid customers, offering a choice of three plans based on data access speeds, and not the amount of data downloaded. Etisalat's Chief Consumer Officer Khaled ElKhouly said: "...customers can choose a plan depending on the speed they require as per their preference and usage. It's affordable, it gives all-day access and it's simple to use. We are certain that these new options will live up to the expectations of our prepaid mobile customer segment. "