News in Brief 2 February 2017

Africa: Definitive history donation - MTN Group is supporting a UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) led drive to rewrite Africa's history from an African perspective, through the General History of Africa (GHA) initiative. The GHA project started in 1964, and MTN is making a USD 1 million donation over two years. It will be used for the production of a ninth volume.

Africa: Payment partnership - Payments technology company Visa has signed a commercial partnership with Atlas Mara, the sub-Saharan Africa financial services group, as part of a wider strategic partnership to introduce a suite of payment solutions and expand access to electronic payments within the Sub-Saharan region. Atlas Mara's banks will be able to leverage already existing Visa payment platforms, such as mVisa and Visa Direct. Andrew Torre, Group Country Manager, Visa Sub-Saharan Africa said: "Our partnership enables Atlas Mara to deploy Visa's global assets and payment solutions and has the potential to be transformational for commerce, mobile payments and financial inclusion across Africa."

Angola: Retail investment - Angola Telecom has invested AOA 40 million (USD 240,000) in its second store, located near the Maria Mambo Cafe Airport in Cabinda, Angop reported. The store apparently took some two years to construct, and will provide Internet, integrated fixed telephony services, Wi-Fi and data and voice.

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Bahrain: Thinking globally - Batelco is still committed to expanding its global presence. It said in a release that its expansion programme will expedite the growth of its global business while providing network diversity, avoiding single points of failure, providing better country resilience and efficient use of international capacities. Batelco has accordingly deployed a number of new Points-of-Presence (PoPs) to expand its global network footprint. Batelco’s Chief Global Business Officer, Adel Al Daylami said that it is focused on providing services that are relevant to its diverse range of clients, adding that it's plans align with Bahrain's vision to be a Middle East hub for ICT solutions.

Ghana: Mobile movies - MTN Ghana has partnered with Africa Movies on the Go (AMGO), a mobile content provider, to launch the video-on-demand AMGO App in Accra. It is currently available for download on Google Play for android devices, and will soon be available for other operating systems.

Ghana: New NCA chief - The new acting Director - General for the National Communications Authority (NCA) has been named as Joseph Anokye, with immediate effect. The appointment was made by President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo. Anokye was the former Telecommunications Service Manager at NASA. At NASA Anokye was responsible for Integrated Services Network and Information Technology and Services.

Iran: LTE roaming - MTN Irancell said subscribers can now have access to LTE Roaming service in 10 countries after the service recently became available in Germany and Korea. Deutsche Telecom and SK are the operators with the service available in their coverage areas.

Kenya: Brand awareness - The mobile money payments platform M-Pesa has been voted as the leading super brand for the second year in a row ahead of its parent mobile operator Safaricom. The firm rose up one place to take second place in the 2016-17 Superbrands East Africa's top 20 Kenyan consumer super brands awards in the telecommunication, broadband and software category.

Kenya: Closer to customers - Safaricom has opened a regional headquarters office in Mombasa and a retail shop in Malindi. The regional headquarters is located at the Avenue Building in Nyali. Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore said that by decentralising its operations and increasing the number of touch points it aimed to serve its customers better. Regional headquarters are planned for Mt Kenya, Western, Rift Valley, Nairobi West and East.

Kuwait: Celebratory offers - Zain Kuwait has launched its 'New Offer Every Week' promotion allowing post- and pre-paid subscribers to enjoy offers on all plans every week during Kuwait's national celebrations. In the first week pre-paid users who recharge their eeZee lines with KWD 20 (USD 65) will receive a KWD 6 (USD 20) bonus credit, while a KWD 10 recharge will get a KWD 2.50 (USD 820) of bonus credit. The eeZee Internet KWD 9 plan can be renewed for KWD 6, and the KWD 12 plan for only KWD 8 only. Subscribers taking either the KWD 35 or KWD 40 post-paid plans with 24 months commitment will get a free platinum number, while subscribes to the 24 month post-paid Internet plans will get two additional free months added.

Oman: Daily deals - Omantel has launched its new 'Makasib Daily Deals' promotion exclusively for its Makasib members. Omantel's Manager of Loyalty and Communication Management Usama al Rawas said: "Having crossed the one million lines mark in February 2016, the Makasib programme is today the largest and most popular loyalty scheme in the sultanate." Members start earning Makasib and Status points for every OMR 0.100 they spend on any Omantel service. The Status points are valid for a year and allow customers to redeem rewards from Omantel's Makasib rewards catalogue and from programme partners.

Oman: Triple talk - Omantel's Hayyak customers until 24 April can obtain OMR 9 worth (USD 24) of credit for just OMR 3 to triple their local call talk time. The extra credit cannot be used for international calls or for roaming. Saleh Mahmood al Maimani, senior manager, Product Development Consumer, said: "In keeping with our customer-focused services development strategy, this new offer greatly compliments that by offering Hayyak customers three times the value for local calls and SMSes, offering them unmatched value and convenience in the market."

Rwanda: Call rates cut - Airtel Rwanda has cut its call rates so that users pay only RWF 30 (USD 0.035) for on-net calls of up to 61 minutes under its 'Tera Stori' offering. Airtel's Marketing Director Moses Abindabizemu said users will pay for the first minute of an on-net call and then enjoy up to 60 additional minutes free. Users also receive free data for accessing Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp.

Saudi Arabia: Cyber attack alert - Telecoms regulator CITC said that companies should be on the alert for cyber attacks including a version of the destructive Shamoon virus, as a chemical firm reported a network disruption and the Ministry of Labour ministry said it had been attacked.

Saudi Arabia: Prayer time app - Zain Saudi Arabia has launched a new smartphone application in collaboration with Shaikh Mishary Al-Afasy. The app provides a wide range of Islamic content from Shaikh Al-Afasy's audio and video library, including the Holy Qur'an and supplications. The app also provides prayer times, Qibla and ringtones. A free one-month trial is being offered.

South Africa: Faster alternative - ISP iBurst has told its subscribers that it will start the decommissioning its network from early February. To ensure uninterrupted Internet connectivity, iBurst said it's offering a superior LTE alternative with significantly faster speeds, better coverage and enhanced reliability, MyBroadband reported.

Southern Africa: Dell developments - Dell EMC's channel team in South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region has a new head in the form of Jonas Bogoshi. Bogoshi was country manager of EMC in South Africa prior to the merger of Dell and EMC in September 2016, IT-Online reported. He joined EMC in September 2015 as country manager. He was previously with T-Systems and Gijima.In December 2016 it was announced that Dell Country Manager Doug Wooley was to head the South African operation from February 2017.

Southern Africa: Regional data rates - Communications Regulators Association of Southern Africa (Crasa) is planning to set up a mechanism for enforcing universal mobile data tariffs by 2019. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's (ICASA's) Richard Makgotlho, who chairs the Crasa subcommittee on electronic communication, said the move will ensure uniform mobile data charges are uniform and affordable in all Sadc countries, The Source reported. Makgotlho noted that the cost of data has become an issue in the region, but notably in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Togo: Public portal - A number of public services can now be accessed directly online via a centralized Web portal provided by the Ministry of the Digital Economy, which was officially launched on 25 January 2017. Minister of the Digital Economy, Cina Lawson said it represents a step forward in the modernization of the national administration.

Tunisia: Financial facilitation - Tunisie Telecom (TT) is to provide Microcred Tunisia with fixed, mobile, data and fibre telephony services, the Tunis Afrique Presse Agency reported. The deal was signed on 22 January. Microcred Tunisia, a Fintech company, has developed a Web mobile application allowing optimised management of the credit portfolio, according to the same source. It currently has 9 branches with 8,000 clients.

Tunisia: Way ahead - The Instance Nationale des Telecommunications (INT) has published its primary goals for 2017, and listed under eight main action areas, namely consumer protection, QoS, net neutrality & IoT, counterfeit mobile handsets, SMS+ services, fibre infrastructure sharing, IPV6 migration and regulatory market analysis.

Uganda: Low-end insurance - A mobile based health insurance product has been launched by MTN Uganda, in partnership with aYo, to target low-end consumers. The offering is a joint venture between MTN and South African insurance provider MMI holdings. Two products are being offered; Recharge with Care and Send with Care. MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer Wim Vanhelleputte said that the partnership expands its bouquet of mobile financial services offerings. 'Send with Care' provides cover for funds sent using MTN Mobile Money, whilst Recharge with Care offers MTN pre-paid customers free hospital or life cover.

United Arab Emirates: Network glitch - A technical issue affected Etisalat mobile services for 90 minutes on Friday 27 January, Gulf News reported. Etisalat said in a statement: "Technical difficulty impacted the flow of some telecommunications services, including mobile services in some parts of the country, technical teams fixed the issue and most of the services are back to normal now."

Zimbabwe: Subscriber migration - Mobile operator NetOne is reported to have added over 36,000 new subscribers in just four days after Econet Wireless Zimbabwe increased its data tariffs, and leading to the intervention of the industry regulator. The new data tariffs represented increases of up to 500 percent, bulawayo24 reported. The new tariffs were reversed by the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Supa Mandiwanzira. NetOne Acting Chief Executive Officer, Brian Mutandiro, said reports of 18,000 new subscribers were understated it had seen double that figure of new subscribers.