News in Brief 9 February 2017

Africa: Transformation team-leader - MTN Group has named Saim Yaksan as Executive for Group Transformation, with immediate effect. In 3Q 2016 MTN launched its holistic transformation programme, IGNITE. It is claimed that consequently special measures have been introduced to accelerate its business and financial performance. The programme has been initiated in South Africa and Nigeria, and is expected to be progressively rolled out to other operations. Yaksan has held various management positions across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. He was previously the Executive for Supply Chain Management in MTN Group's Procurement department, and set-up the Global Sourcing Companies in Dubai. Debbie Minnaar and Olubayo Adekanmbi will head transformation offices in South Africa and Nigeria respectively.

Africa & Middle East: Better broadband - Intelsat has signed a broadband agreement with Quantis Global, a broadband service provider in Europe and Northern Africa. The move will enhance and expand the Quantis network using services provided by Intelsat EpicNG high-throughput satellites (HTS) and IntelsatOne Flex services.

Bahrain: Less-profitable Zain - An 18 percent decline was reported by Zain Bahrain in net profit to BHD 4.3 billion (USD 11.3 billion) for the financial year ended 2016 from BHD 5.1 billion (USD 13.3 billion) in 2015. Revenues fell by 9 percent to BHD 64.6 million (USD 169.1 billion) from BHD 71.1 million (USD 186.1 billion) in the previous year. The subscriber base rose to 971,000 by 31 December 2016 from 795,000 in 2015.

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Cameroon: Account connectivity - Orange Cameroon is now linked to Mobile Account Connected (MAC), a service launched in partnership with Afriland First Bank, BusinessinCameroon has reported. Afriland First Bank clients with MTN Mobile Money or Orange Money accounts can check their bank account balance on their mobile and carry out financial transactions between their bank and mobile accounts. Orange Cameroon now benefits from two banking networks.

Egypt: Insurance bids invited - Five insurers are competing to win the new personal accident and public transportation insurance policy for Telecom Egypt (TE), Amwal Al Ghad reported last week. TE invited tenders for its staff, with the total sum insured of some EGP 11 billion (USD 584.2 million). The five are Misr Insurance Company, Arab Misr Insurance Group (GIG), Egyptian Saudi Insurance House, Mohandes Insurance Company, and Iskan Insurance Company. TE has some 41,000 staff and some 4,000 beneficiaries of the public transportation services provided by the telco.

Ghana: Dual carrier - Tigo has upgraded its 3G network with dual carrier to up its data speeds in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Western regions, and so double existing speeds. The expansion project was expected to have been completed in the Greater Accra Region by the end of January, after which it will be optimized and tuned to enhance performance.

Ghana: New NCA chief - Joe Anokye has been named as the new acting Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), succeeding William Tevie. Anokye will be responsible for the day-to-day administration of the Authority.

Ghana: Social climber - MTN Ghana has beaten 2015 frontrunner Airtel Ghana to emerge as the 2016 Most Influential Telcommunication network on Social Media in the 2016 Ghana Social Media Report spearheaded by Avance Media, CliQAfrica and Dream Ambassadors Foundation GH. The full report of the 2016 Ghana Social Media Rankings are available here.

Ghana: Subscriber savings - MTN Ghana and Fidelity Bank have launched the Y'ello Save Account. It is intended to provide a convenient way to save and earn interest of 12 percent per annum. Fidelity Bank's Managing Director Jim Baiden said it wanted to provide its services to a large audience.

Ghana: Tax query - Ghanaweb reports that operators and large corporates have appealed to the new government to scrap the 5 percent National Fiscal Stabilisation Levy from its first budget. Critics say that the tax has outlived its purpose and is now hitting the bottom line of businesses. President John Mahama's government introduced the NFSL in July 2013 to help reduce the deficit.

Iran: App limitation - Apps that have originated in Iran are reported to have been removed from the App Store, including the app of e-commerce service Digikala, the Iran Daily reported. In September 2016 Apple started opening up its non-official App Store to Iranians but it appears to have removed Digikala without explanation. Iran is estimated to have about 40 million smartphones with 6 million Apple iPhones. Digikala uses the Shaparak payment system and is claimed to be isolated from international systems and thus does not contradict Apple's terms and conditions for developers.

Iran: Satellites unveiled - The Nahid-1 and Payam-e-Amirkabir satellites, developed by the national aerospace industry, were unveiled at a ceremony to mark the National Day of Aerospace on 1 February 2017. The Nahid-1 telecommunications satellite has been developed by the Iranian Space Research Center. It employs photovoltaic solar panels in orbit and uses the Ku band for communication, the Tasnim News Agency reported. The Payam-e-Amirkabir satellite has been developed by Tehran's Amirkabir University of Technology to undertake surveying work.

Iraq: Senior promotion - Zain Iraq has named Ali al-Zahid as Chief Executive Officer effective from 1 February, the operator said last week. Al-Zahid was Zain Iraq's Chief Commercial Officer, the company said in a statement.

Kenya: MD mandated - Airtel Kenya has appointed Prasanta Das Sarma as Managing Director, taking over from Adil Youssefi who is reported to now be pursuing other opportunities at the end of his contract period.

Kenya: Recycling hub - Eldoret Polytechnic and Safaricom have partnered to set-up an E-waste collection centre. It will see Safaricom establish a central collection point that will serve the wider North Rift region and its environs. Safaricom Head of Regulatory and Public Policy, Mercy Ndegwa said that academic institutions play an important role in shaping future business leaders, hence why the telco was collaborating with the institution.

Kenya: Residential security - Safaricom has partnered with the Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA) to improve security in neighbourhoods, CapitalFM reported. Safaricom will co-operate with residents associations in laying out and maintaining telecoms infrastructure for use in deploying technology to enhance security. The telco will also facilitate training on health and environmental awareness for the neighbourhood associations. KARA is an umbrella organization made up of over 1,000 residents associations. KARA's CEO Henry Ochieng said that the partnership with Safaricom is a boost to its efforts to ensure living space that permits a life of dignity for all as enshrined in its vision.

Kenya: Smartphone launch - Huawei is to launch the GR5 2017 smartphone in February, in partnership with Safaricom. It will be available in all Safaricom shops nationally. Customers can pre-order the device for KES 34,999 (USD 331) and get a free Huawei Fit worth KES 11,999 (USD 113).

Namibia: PT appoints CCO - Privately owned telco Paratus Telecom has named Colwyn van Rensburg as its new Chief Commercial Officer. Paratus Telecom's CEO Barney Harmse said he established Paratus Telecom in Zambia whilst also overseeing the implementation and stabilisation of the Voice Platform at Paratus Telecom Namibia. Van Rensburg was MD of Siltek Distribution Dynamics Namibia in the late 1990s, and was then based in the UK for nine years before returning to Namibia to join the Internet Technologies Group (ITG) as a business developer for Africa. This was before ITG become Paratus Telecom. The group had a turnover of ZAR 1 billion (USD 73.9 million) last year and has a total budget for Africa of USD 110 million. It has offices in Angola, Botswana, Zambia and South Africa and delivers products and services in 22 African countries.

Nigeria: Football fanbase - MTN Nigeria is to become Arsenal Football Club's Official Mobile Network partner in the country. MTN is to offer a number of exclusive Arsenal related benefits with access to a range of match and player exclusive content including match highlights, club news, interviews and club imagery. Arsenal's Chief Commercial Officer, Vinai Venkatesham, said: "Arsenal has huge support in Nigeria, in part due to Kanu Nwankwo and the recent emergence of Alex Iwobi into the first team. This partnership with MTN will really help us engage with these passionate fans on a regular and personal basis."

Nigeria: User group - Globacom is to link 20,000 civil servants in Taraba State on its Closed User Group platform. Speaking at the launch of the CUG platform in Jalingo, Abisoye Ajibola, Glo's Project Coordinator, Workers Intercom, said it had started selling of the CUG lines to the staff. Staff members will be able to make unlimited calls to other participants for NGN 500 (USD (1.60) a month.

Oman: Youth learning platform - Omantel, in partnership with 'Rudha' and 'Point', has launched what is described as the first Omani open e-learning platform 'Edlal'. Omantel's CSR manager Laila Mohammed al Wahaibi, said the platform enables the experiences, knowledge and skills to be shared between experts and young people. Omantel staff will provide practical workshops and seminars. In 2016 Omantel's CSR investments exceeded OMR 2 million (USD 5.2 million).

Rwanda: Loan pilot - Tigo has piloted the 'Tigo Nshoboza Loan Service', which allows eligible TigoCash subscribers to acquire small loans without collateral via their mobile wallets to cater for emergencies, buy groceries, or pay for electricity or school fees, the New Times reported. Tigo Rwanda's deputy Chief Executive Officer Chantal Umutoni Kagame said that the facility will encourage more people to use mobile financial services regularly. In the pilot phase, subscribers will be able to borrow up to RWF 7,000 (USD 8.31), but the amount will increase when the facility is rolled out in the commercial stage.

South Africa: Agro resource - Vodacom has partnered with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to launch a mobile technology solution to support small-scale farmers. The Connected Farmer platform, a cloud-based Web and mobile software solution, will link thousands of smallholder farmers to the agriculture value chain, enabling access to information, services and markets. The project has an estimated combined investment of EUR 1.5 million (USD 1.6 million) over three years. Through the partnership with Manstrat Agricultural Intelligence Solutions, a local developer of agricultural decision support systems, Vodacom will provide farmers and enterprise users with access to a broad and extensive reservoir of relevant and expert content.

South Africa: Spectrum monopoly - The Free Market Foundation (FMF) has warned that a new government policy has the potential to disrupt established mobile network infrastructures by effectively nationalising the future 4G mobile network. The FMF says that the government intends to use high demand spectrum to build a single wireless open access network (WOAN). This means that as MNOs migrate from the older 2G and 3G spectrum to 4G/LTE and beyond, they will be forced to use the single government controlled network.

South Africa: Seamless app - Telkom has a new app allowing users to manage home and mobile accounts from their smartphone or tablet. It replaces Telkom (for home accounts) and Telkom Mobile (for mobile accounts). Users can pay bills online, top-up data, log-in to report fixed line faults, place orders and make appointments, upgrade phones, and cancel WASP services. The app is available for iOS and Android devices.

Tanzania: Affordable device - Vodacom Tanzania has launched a Swahili smartphone branded 'Smart Bomba' retailing for TZS 99,000 (USD 43.45) and sports a flashing front and back cameras as well as duo-Sim cards capability. The phone has a 4-inch screen, Android OS 6.0 and accurate GPS system which makes it compatible with all taxi applications including Uber. The smartphone comes with 10GB free per month for three consecutive months since purchase. It will be available in all Vodacom Shops.

Tunisia: Consumer consultancy - The Instance Nationale des Telecommunications (INT) is inviting comments on new measures intended to increase transparency for consumers, detailing the way in which ISPs and network operators need to communicate and advertise their services. INT would like to require core information provided by telecoms and added value services, alongside specific rules on how the terms and conditions of advertised offers are displayed on TV, press and outdoor campaigns.

Tunisia: Quality audit - INT (Instance Nationale des Telecommunications) has published its QoS mobile study, focusing on 2G/3G voice and data services provided by Tunisie Telecom, Ooredoo and Orange Tunisia in the regions of Tunis and Ariana. It carried out the study in October 2016, and previously in June 2015.

United Arab Emirates: Compensation for clients - Following a network outage on 27 January, Etisalat is compensating subscribers with free data, minutes and Premium TV channels. Etisalat said the offer was a token of appreciation for their understanding, and it was offering affected customers 1GB of mobile data and 120 local free minutes.