News in Brief 6 April 2017

Africa: Distribution deal - Mobile and computer accessory maker Targus has named Axiz and Tarsus Distribution as its preferred master distributors for southern Africa. Both will serve corporate and retail markets regionally with the full range of Targus products, including laptop and tablet cases, as well as accessories and peripherals including docking stations, privacy screens, laptop coolers, locks, styluses and screen protectors. Targus’s secondary distribution relationships with Pinnacle, Rectron and Drive Control Corporation (DCC) are not affected.

Algeria: 4G bonus - Mobilis has upgraded its domestic 'Navigui 4G Pack' in the 14 wilayas covered by its 4G network. Mobilis is now providing a Huawei Wifi router together with a Navigui 4G SIM, combined with attractive data bundles, which include Welcome Bonuses. The bonuses can be accumulated from one month to the next.

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Cote d'Ivoire: Cable connections show-cased - Globacom is the telecom partner of the third Annual Conference and fourth Annual General Meeting of the West and Central African Research and Educational Network (WACREN) in Abidjan which ran until 31 March. The telco said the meeting provides a platform to generate multi-faceted ideas to elevate the standard of education and advance the cause of research and development in Africa, especially within the West African sub-region. Glo used the event to showcase some of its services that assist educational institutions, including its capabilities to link up educational institutions in the West African sub-region with their peers within and outside the continent via fibre-optic cable.

Egypt: Self reader - Vodafone Egypt has formally launched the E3rafli (Guide me) mobile app for the blind and the visually impaired on 31 March. The app uses mobile phone cameras and microphones to help identify and read out numbers and colours, and reads out the information when a mobile phone camera is pointed at it. E3rafli can read Vodafone scratch cards and enables automatic credit recharge into user accounts. The scanning system also reads taxi meters and digital cashier screens.

Equatorial Guinea: Business base - The Ambassador to China, Germán Ekua Sima Abaga, has visited the Huawei information base in Beijing. The vendor is to set-up a local base and so contribute to the development of the telecommunications sector Huawei’s regional representative Maya Zhu said. Ekua Sima commetted: “It is an interesting proposal and I think it could help our country, not only in the area of telecommunications, but also in other fields, such as security and information, among others and The Equatoguinean youth.” Smartphones on sale in March, namely the P10 and P10 plus Premium range and smart watches, Huawei Watch 2 and Huawei Watch 2 Classic the Equatorial Guinea Information and Press Office reported.

Gambia: Comium cuts cost of calling - Comium on 26 March launched its ‘Chop your dollar’ promotion to mark its return as a serious market player. Promotion supervisor Joeking Mendy said that the operator had reviewed its past promotions, and in April 2016, the new management devised the Recharge and Win promotion of 9 taxis, followed by the Collect and Win promotion and Free Bonanza. Managing Director Abdullah Abu Daya said it was the first to introduce the mobile Internet and promised that in due course Comium would launch 3G services. Comium claims to offer the lowest network-to-network calls. Comium sees its biggest challenge as its network.

Ghana: Presidential powwow - Vodafone’s Chief Executive of the Africa, Middle East and Asia Region, Vivek Badrinath and Ghana Chief Executive Officer, Yolanda Cuba have met with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at Flagstaff House. Vodafone said in a statement that the visit was to formally congratulate Nana Akufo-Addo on his appointment as President. Issues of mutual interest were discussed as the Government has a 30 percent stake in Vodafone Ghana. Vodafone highlighted its Instant Schools project, the Farmers’ club product and Vodafone Cash.

Israel: Satellite shuffle - Bezeq has noted that Spacecom has informed its Yes subsidiary that the Amos 2 satellite has now reached the end of its commercial life. As a result, Yes ceased making use of the Amos 2 satellite on 31 March and is currently using Amos 3 and Amos 7. Bezeq is to hold an EGM on 3 April seeking approval of the modified agreement for the leasing of segments in Amos 7, parallel with Amos 3.

Kenya: 3G for Naivasha - Telkom Kenya has upgraded its mobile network in Naivasha to 3G. This is part of the operator's country-wide network modernisation and expansion project that started in late 2016. The town of Naivasha sees a steady number of tourists, all with diverse mobile communication needs.

Kenya: Buoyant bond - The mobile treasury bond M-Akiba has registered 40,000 users and raised KES 43 million (USD 410,000) a week after launch. The government aims to raise KES 150 million (USD 1.43 billion) in the next three weeks of its soft launch and the funds will be used for infrastructure development. In June M-Akiba will launch the full KES 5 billion bond, opening up the market for more Kenyans. The bond has a 3 year maturity period.

Madagascar: LTE launched - Orange Madagascar has officially launched LTE, after trialling the technology since November 2016. The service is now live in the capital Antananarivo and surrounding areas. The LTE footprint will be expanded in the coming months, covering the whole population on the island by the end of the year, Agence Ecofin reported.

Mauritius: Vanuatu sold - Fiji government-backed group Amalgamated Telecom Holdings (ATH) has announced it has completed the purchase of 100 percent of the share capital of Telecom Vanuatu from Mauritius Telecom and MT International Ventures PCC.

Mozambique: Digital debut - On 19 March the Minister of Transport and Communications, Carlos Alberto Fortes Mesquita, attended the launch ceremony of the Digital Migration Project. Government members attended, along with Chinese delegation, chairmen of the national television boards, the Transport, Multiplexing and Transmission Company (TMT) and a delegation from the StarTimes Group.

Namibia: Sporting telcos - Telecom Namibia is hosting the 30th BOLESWANASA inter-telecom games, with teams from Southern African telcos participating.‎ Teams from Telecom Namibia, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, Econet-Lesotho Telecom, Swazi Post and Telecommunications Corporation and Telkom participate in a variety of sports including football, volleyball, netball, tug of war, pool, darts and athletics.

Nigeria: Consumer conferences - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) claims to have developed a number of programmes to empower telecom consumers. The comments of NCC Director, Consumer Affairs Bureau, Abdullahi MaiKano, were made public at the 26th Consumer Town Hall Meeting in Wudil, Kano State last week. It was observed that one result of these programmes is the town hall meetings. Deputy Director, Alhaji Isma’ila Adedigba represented MaiKano, said that the NCC believed that the consumer is king, and therefore must be accorded their rights. A campaign was launched on 15 March to increase awareness on the NCC 622 toll-free line for the lodging of complaints to the NCC, and using the 2442 short code to stop unsolicited messages.

Nigeria: Dollar impacts DStv - Cable-satellite TV provider DStv subscribers have received an SMS notification of a subscription fee increase, ThisDay Live reported. DStv last raised its fees in 2015. The estimated 5 percent increase on all its packages will take effect from 1 May 2017. Managing Director, Multichoice Nigeria, John Ugbe said that its content is purchased in dollars and had absorbed previous increases to the point where it now had to pass on the extra cost.

Nigeria: Glo showtime - From 7 April Globacom, will run a festival of 54 mega music and comedy shows in 54 cities nationally over a six month period. The Glo Mega Music Nationwide Tour will feature the best of the nation’s music industry. The debut Glo Mega Music Concert on 7 April will be staged in Benin City, and the first Glo Laffta Fest on Victoria Island, Lagos on 9 April. Subscribers wishing to attend are required to use NGN 3,000 (USD 9.54) in the month preceding each show and text ‘Music’ and their preferred location to 207.

Nigeria: Rising payments - Mobile payments have been on the rise since 2014. In May 2014 the total amount of mobile money transactions stood at NGN 271 billion (USD 862.2 million), VenturesAfrica reported. In 2015 the amount stood at around NGN 4 billion (USD 12.7 million) per month, according to Dipo Fatokun, the director of Banking and Payments System Department at CBN.

Nigeria: Tower costs - The Guardian noted last week that the three major tower own some 23,000 towers. IHS has some 14,000 towers; Helios 2,000; and the new entrant American Towers Company (ATC) 7,000. David Venn, chief executive officer, Spectranet, a 4G LTE internet service provider, told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that the two key areas of challenge for Internet service providers are data prices and high tower rentals. It was suggested that the failure of Multi-Link was as a result of tower rental indebtedness to a tower company, Helios Tower. Internet Service Providers Association of Nigeria (ISPAN) president, Sunday Folayan, said the tower rental cost is determined by factors such as the number of users on a tower as well as the power and security required for each base stations.

Qatar: PR posting - Ooredoo Qatar’s new Director of Community and Public Relations is Manar Khalifa Al Muraikhi. Al Muraikhi has ten years of experience in marketing and communications, with six of them working at Ooredoo in communications and CSR roles. Manar recently graduated from the Qatari Leadership Centre (QLC) in 2017 and has an MBA from the University of Northampton Business School.

Saudi Arabia: Reduced roaming - Mobily has launched its ‘Connect Roaming’ packages during the second school term holiday. The starting price is SAR 50 (USD 13.33) for a daily package which provides 500 MB; SAR 150 (USD 40) buys 2GB; a weekly package SAR 250 (USD 67) and provides 5 GB of data. An unlimited data package costs SAR 350 (USD 93).

South Africa: Customer connection - Telkom’s Integrated Data Service (IDS) will allow customers to stay connected wherever they are. From 1 April IDS will allow users access to their Telkom Internet SoftCap data bundle from any smart device via a Telkom Internet SIM, even if their DSL service is not working or while on the move, from ZAR 99 (USD 7.62) a month. Should a fault interrupt DSL service users will be able to stay connected even while travelling. SMBS and enterprise customers can get up to 10 Telkom IDS data SIM cards, while consumers get up to five Telkom IDS data SIM cards. Users will also receive free monthly mobile data as the default on all SoftCap and uncapped products.

South Africa: Development tool - Vodacom has partnered with PTC to launch a local version of the ThingWorx Internet of Things development platform, MyBrodband reported. The platform features a collection of IoT development tools. Vodacom said that a well-established partner model will enable IoT developers to have access to ThingWorx. Vodacom has identified the expansion of its IoT propositions as a key growth area and continues to drive investment in the area.

South Africa: Ministry mandates - President Jacob Zuma has named new ministers including at the Department of Communications. The new Minister of Communications is Ayanda Dlodlo, who has replaced Faith Muthambi, and the Deputy Minister of Communications will be Thandi Mahambehlala. Dlodlo was previously Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration and also serves on the African National Congress' National Executive Committee. She is reported to have previously worked for Telkom, Portnet and Sanlam.

Turkey: Fibre feast - Turkcell has launched a domestic fibre Internet promotion which allows users to sign-up for a two-year deal for a 25 Mbps or 50 Mbps package until 1 May, who will then have access at 100 Mbps for the first 3 months. The monthly fee ranges between TRY 59.90 and 109.90 (USD 16.44 – 30.16) per month.

United Arab Emirates: Discord disrupted - The Discord chap app is reported to have been blocked by Etisalat, and so preventing video gamers accessing the service, The National reported. Discord functions as a voice and text chat platform for gamers to connect, independently of the games they are playing. It is liked as it is free and supports up to 100 users in any given chat room. In 2015 access to Skype was blocked, with Etisalat saying that access to Discord is ‘blocked as per the United Arab Emirates’ Regulatory Framework’. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority requires VoIPs to be licensed.

United Arab Emirates: Reduced roaming - Etisalat has reduced roaming rates for data, voice calls and text messaging in the GCC. The rates are offered to both pre- and post-paid users and were implemented on 1 April 2017. Data roaming rates have the largest discount, reduced from AED 4.774 (USD 1.30) per megabyte to AED 3.122 (USD 0.85) per megabyte. Rates for outgoing calls to the UAE and GCC countries have been reduced from AED 2.35 (USD 0.64) to AED 2.277 (USD 0.62) per minute. Incoming calls have been reduced from AED 1.285 (USD 0.35) to AED 1.028 (USD 0.28) per minute.

United Arab Emirates: Service attack seminar - Mobily Business has held an information security conference in collaboration with Arbor Networks in Dubai. The event reviewed solutions and technologies to block DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. Mobily Business’ Senior Executive Officer, Strategic Planning and Marketing Majed Alotaibi, said: “Mobily Business provides anti-DDoS services through cloud computing, where it works on securing and protecting the electronic services and information through monitoring and analyzing Internet network traffic in a way that does not obstruct electronic services to the customers.”

Zimbabwe: Meritorious money solution - Econet Wireless and Mahindra Comviva have jointly won the CashlessAfrica Awards 2017 in the ‘Best Low Remittance Provider’ Category. The award ceremony took place in Lagos, Nigeria, at the Cashless Africa Expo on 23 March 2017. EcoCash Diaspora provides a robust and safe platform for remitting money, and is powered by Mahindra Comviva's mobiquity® Money platform. Econet Wireless also partnered with MTN Zambia to provide direct mobile wallet to mobile wallet money transfer between MTN Mobile Money wallet and EcoCash wallet.

Zimbabwe: Non-managerial mandate - A breakaway trade union for telecoms workers has applied for registration with the acting Registrar of Labour, the Financial Gazette reported. In a notice in the Government Gazette the registrar said an application for the registration of a trade union called the Information, Communication Technology and Allied Workers' Union of Zimbabwe (ICTAWUZ). The union intends to represent the interests of non-managerial staff in the information communication and technology industry in Zimbabwe. Sector workers are already represented by the Communications and Allied Services Workers Union of Zimbabwe (CASWUZ), formerly the Zimbabwe Post and Telecommunications Workers Union (ZPTWU).

Zimbabwe: Vehicle tracker - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has launched Prestige Vehicle Management (PVM), which allows the tracking and monitoring of vehicles from smartphones, laptops or desktops. PVM is also useful in cases of vehicle theft.