News in Brief 26 January 2017

Afghanistan: MTN mentoring - MTN Afghanistan under the MTN Foundation umbrella is providing a free education opportunity for 500 male and female students in various subjects in low income families. Some 1,500 interested candidates took an entry exam in October 2016. The 500 best students will now be entered into a one-year Diploma programme.

Afghanistan: New man - The new Finance and Admin Deputy-Minister, Mohammad Hady Hedayeti was formally introduced to MCIT officials, members of the National Assembly and others at a ceremony in early January.

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Africa: Airtime aspiration - Senditoo, a mobile airtime transfer start-up launched in March 2016, is looking to expand its share of the USD 3 billion global airtime market on the back of funding it secured in December 2016. Zimbabwean co-founder Takwana Tyaranini says the UK-based company allows users to send instant mobile phone top-ups to more than 140 countries, including 39 in Africa. The company has raised some USD 350,000 in funding of which USD 329,690 was raised in December 2016 from three French investors. Senditoo said it would raise more than USD 2 million in funding in early 2017.

Bahrain: Planned PoPs - Batelco has deployed a number of new points-of-presence (PoPs) to expand its global network footprint. The plan is intended to support the requirements of businesses in Bahrain and the Middle East by enabling them to extend their international reach while also meeting the needs of overseas organisations. Batelco's Chief Global Business Officer Adel Al Daylami said Batelco is focused on providing services that are relevant to its clients'.

Cameroon: Government cuts - Internet connectivity in the northwest and southwest of the country has been cut, following protests against marginalisation of the English-speaking peoples by the French-speaking government, the Quartz news portal reported. The shutdown occurred less than two hours after the activities of two Anglophone pressure groups; Southern Cameroons National Council and the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium were banned. The Anglophone regions account for just under 20 percent of the 23 million population. MTN Cameroon is reported to have sent messages to its subscribers saying that the blackout was due to 'circumstances beyond its control'.

Cameroon: Money expansion - MTN Mobile Money has enabled its international mobile money transfer service allowing transmission to 25 African countries including Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, etc. MTN Cameroon partnered with the UK's WorldRemit in October 2016 to create a new network with more than 2.6 million MTN Mobile Money subscribers in Cameroon.

Egypt: Soccer sponsorship - Orange Group has signed a new eight-year partnership with the Confederation of African Football as Official Sponsor of 5 major CAF competitions from 2017 – 2024. This includes the African Nations' competitions (2017 in Gabon, 2019 in Cameron, 2021 in Cote d'Ivoire and 2023 in Guinea). Orange will also sponsor the Women's and U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, as well as the CAF Champions League and the Super Cup club competitions. Orange Egypt has also launched a competition in which winners have the opportunity to travel to Gabon and attend the Egypt-Ghana match on 25 January.

Ghana: Fragmentation fear - The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications' CEO Kwaku Sakyi-Addo has called on media owners to be creative as the migration to digital broadcasting unrolls. He said that the move will create space for additional radio and television stations to be licensed, leading to a 'fragmentation of the market', GhanaWeb reported. K-Net won the USD 82 million contract to deploy a national digital infrastructure platform. The migration was in three phases with the first phase involving the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions. The second phase covers the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Volta regions while the third covers the Western, Eastern and Central regions.

 

 

Global: Voice value award - Sparkle, the international services arm of TIM Group, has been awarded the Global Wholesale Service Provider Excellence award for Voice Value in the mid-sized category. The awards were made by Atlantic-ACM as a result of their Global Wholesale Report Card market research. Sparkle obtained the highest voice value score calculated by combining respondents' Quality and Price Competitiveness perceptions and considering international Wholesale Voice Services such as guaranteed quality Voice Termination, best efforts Voice Termination, Global Mobile Interconnection and IPX Services. In 2016 Sparkle managed nearly 15 billion minutes of voice traffic, and ranking among the top 10 global players.

Indian Ocean: Cables completed - Submarine cable solutions provider E-marine has completed the marine installation of the 260km Avassa submarine cable system, in collaboration with Huawei Marine Networks. Two cables were layed, the first linking two locations on the Grande Comore island, Moroni to Chindini, with Anjouan (all part of the Union of Comoros), while the second connected Anjouan with Mayotte. Comores Telecom (Comtel) and Mayotte-based carrier STOI Internet signed the contract with Huawei Marine in January 2016.

Israel: Compensation pack approved - Cellcom Israel announced that on 18 January that its Compensation Policy for its workers had been approved by the shareholders at an Extraordinary General Meeting.

Kenya: Data bundle - Safaricom also recently launched the Easy50 data bundle for SMEs that offers up to 50GB of data on Safaricom's network and can be accessed by up to 10 devices, using a wireless router or smartphone as a hotspot for a flat monthly rate of KES 6,000 (USD 57). Safaricom's Head of SME Sales and Regional Operations Agnes Gathaiya said that its goal was to facilitate the growth of these organisations using technology. As well as Machakos, Fibre for Business has also been rolled out in Malindi, Eldoret, Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

Kenya: User upgrade upset - Telkom Kenya is to start the second phase of its network modernisation and expansion project on 21 January 2017. The first phase was initiated in December 2016. It said in a statement that service provision to voice and data customers within the larger areas of Westlands, Lavington, Parklands and the CBD would be affected. It said the work will completed by the first week of February. Service interruption will be experienced in the morning hours during this period.

Kuwait: Sponsoring science - Zain Kuwait is sponsoring the 9th International Invention Fair Middle East. Zain's has been involved every year since its inception as part of its Corporate Sustainability and social Responsibility strategy, which aims to support the scientific arena and contribute to the further development of the science in Kuwait and the region.

Malawi: Cable shooting - A man suspected of stealing MTL cables in Area 15 opposite the Assemblies of God in Lilongwe was shot, albeit not fatally, by a Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) guard. Two suspects were seen as they were attempting to steal the cables; one was hit in the buttocks and was taken to the Kamuzu Central Hospital for treatment while the second escaped unhurt.

Morocco: Corporate calls - Orange is offering a flat monthly MAD 59 (USD 5.85) plan for professionals and entrepreneurs which provides three hours of national calls, 2 GB of Internet and 100 text messages. Director Central of Orange in Morocco Brahim Sbai said this is being offered in addition to unlimited calls among employees. Orange formally acquired Meditel on 8 December with its 13.7 million subscriber base.

Mozambique: Customized calls - Vodacom Mozambique has launched 'Only for you' personalised offers for pre-paid and hybrid customers, valid every day, and which can be activated several times during the same day. By paying MZN 20 (USD 28), subscribers receive MZN 70 (USD 0.98) in calls for two days, or for MZN 50 (USD 0.70) they get 500 MB + 50 MB valid for seven days. It has also launched 'Night Shift', providing mobile Internet access for downloading content between 00:00 hrs and 07:00 hrs.

Nigeria: Bye bye Blackberry - Blackberry services in Nigeria will be terminated from 27 January 2017, the Nigerian Bulletin reported. MTN said in a message sent to subscribers last week that the MTN BlackBerry service will be decommissioned, and asking subscribers to 'upgrade' to a smartphone. MTN is offering a 100 percent bonus on any data bundle purchased to ease the migration.

Nigeria: Call for convergence - The Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) has called for the ICT regulators to be merged. ATCON's President, Olusola Teniola said that the lack of a united regulatory environment is restraining the convergence of services in the industry, adding that 'the practical consequence is interoperability and the ability to access and operate services through a single device, for example, accessing the Internet or broadband through a mobile phone'.

Nigeria: Easy data - Glo Flexi Recharge has been launched by Globacom, giving subscribers credit for calls and Internet services, so that they do not need to purchase separate data bundles for web connectivity and calls. Glo's Website shows 1 megabyte of data costs NGN 1.00 (USD 0.003).

South Africa: Car phone - Bidvest Car Rental has launched the Snappdrive mobile app which replaces keys for rental cars, MyBroadband reported. Users can find their car using the phone's GPS, as well as unlock and start the vehicle without a physical key. Users are sent an SMS prior to when the car is due back, and which allows the rental period to be extended if required. The Snappdrive app is available in Apple’s App store and the Google Play store, and is being rolled out in two phases. The first phase will be available to Bidvest's Car Rental Corporate customers and deployed in a separate vehicle group at OR Tambo, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and King Shaka airports. The second phase will be introduced to premium vehicle groups and other markets, with value-add functionality for Bidvest customers.

South Africa: Cloud centric - Mitel announced the expansion of its cloud portfolio with a partnership with South Africa's largest technology and knowledge service integrator, EOH. Using a secure, resilient network across multiple locations, the partnership is intended to deliver low-cost solutions scalable for any size business. MiCloudSA, powered by EOH, claims to offer a consistent user experience across desk phone, smartphone and PC/laptop environments.

South Africa: Digital head named - Accenture announced on 19 January that Wayne Hull had been appointed as Managing Director and Head of Accenture Digital for South and Sub-Saharan Africa. Hull was previously the Digital Advisor for Sportradar Global. He has held a number of senior positions including board member and Global Senior Vice President for AGT International, Director and General Manager for Cisco in the Middle East and Pakistan. He also headed the Technology Group and Financial Services Consulting practices at IBM Southern Africa. Hull is returning to South Africa after spending 13 years in the Middle East, Pakistan and Switzerland.

South Africa: Free Facebook - Vodacom has launched Facebook Flex, offered under the Vodacom Siyakha platform using the basic version of Facebook. Users, once signed up to the service, can update their Facebook status and comment on posts at no data cost. To access multimedia content they will need to switch from the free version to data mode and access the full Facebook service. Vodacom will add other products to their low-cost Siyakha service in due course.

South Africa: Internet interruption - A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) affected the Telkom network on 12 January, which affected some Telkom Internet customers. Telkom spokesperson Jacqui O'Sullivan said the operator had taken immediate steps to minimise the impact for users, MyBroadband reported. Users were advised to terminate and re-establishing their PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) connections.

Swaziland: Sport sponsorship - MTN Swaziland has sponsored sport to the tune of some SZL 3.4 million (USD 251,000) in the current season, according to Prime Minister Dr Sibusiso Dlamini, as reported by The Observer. The PM was delivering his congratulatory speech during the handover of the African Union Region 5 medal of honour to MTN Swaziland and outgoing Swaziland Olympic and Commonweath Aassociation (SOCGA).

Tanzania: M-Pesa Pay back - Vodacom is to disburse some TZS 32 billion (USD 14.1 million) as part of the package of benefits for both its M-Pesa customers and agents. It said in a statement that the disbursements are being paid in batches. Before this current round, Vodacom had already paid over TZS 39 billion (USD 17.1 million) in previous disbursements.

Tanzania: Uber rival - A new travel app has been launched. Dar es Salaam-based Twende App claims to be able to connect passengers and the vehicles. CEO Justin Kashaigili said the app can be downloaded on a smartphone to connect passengers with motorcycles, three-wheelers and taxi drivers. It claims to have 1,000 taxi drivers, 1,500 three-wheelers’ drivers as well as 5,000 bodaboda operating in the city connected.

Uganda: Top-up benefit - MTN Uganda, in partnership with aYo, announced innovative micro-insurance products, Recharge with Care and Send with Care. The two are the first products launched by aYo, a joint venture between MTN and MMI Holdings, announced in September 2016. aYo was formulated to have a strong focus on delivering micro-insurance solutions across the African continent. By the act of loading load-time, users will receive 30 days free cover. Wim Vanhelleputte, Chief Executive Officer at MTN Uganda said: "Send with Care adds a further layer of security and customer-facing benefit by adding cover to funds sent using MTN Mobile Money while maintaining the convenience that has become a core feature of Mobile Money itself."