News in Brief 18 May 2017

Algeria, Ghana and Tanzania: Carrier billing - Fortumo has said in a press release that it expanded its carrier billing services to Algeria, Ghana and Tanzania. More than 79 million mobile owners can now make payments for digital services. Fortumo's Chief Business Officer Gerri Kodres said: "While each day a large amount of new smartphone owners are coming online, collecting payments from these users has so far been a challenge. Our expansion in Africa gives locals better access to digital mobile services such as games, music and video while helping merchants generate additional revenue from the region." The three new markets have low credit card penetration, with Algeria at 6 percent; Ghana at 0.9 percent; and Tanzania at 0.7 percent.

Bahrain: Cyber security certificate - Batelco has achieved Platinum status in the Palo Alto Networks NextWave Partner Programme and is the first company in Bahrain to do so. It has met the Platinum Partner performance, capabilities and business requirements of the Palo Alto Networks NextWave Channel Partner Programme in the EMEA. Palo Alto Networks provides deep cyber security expertise.

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Cameroon: Insurance initiation - Last week Zenithe Insurance in Douala initiated its e-insurance offering. Zenithe Insurance's General Manager Maxwell Ndecham said that Internet-based services mean lower cost of operations (paper based processes are expensive), innovation and customisation of insurance products, whilst the distributor would benefit from reduction in client acquisition and servicing costs. Meanwhile the policy holder has enhanced accessibility for purchase and post purchase experience.

Ghana: Self-development videos - Vodafone Ghana has launched Vision in Motion (VIM), aimed to equip young people with entrepreneurial skill. Marketing Director Agnes Emefa Essah told the Ghana News Agency that VIM would give young people knowledge and motivation and will be delivered via weekly video clips and a series of educational and self-development videos on seven main courses including T-shirt printing, soap making, beauty therapy, fashion, baking, juice making and decor. The cost is GHC 3.00 and comes with GHC 55 worth of minutes of call time to only Vodafone numbers, GHC 1.30 worth of minutes to call any other network, and 300 MB data valid for seven days.

Ghana: Third party theft - MTN Ghana has urged users of its mobile money service not to undertake third party transactions. The Graphic reported that these include loading the wallet of others, as well as cash-out services, as they expose users to fraud. Manager of Mobile Money Analytics and Compliance at MTN Ghana, Mr Solomon Hayford, told journalists that third party transactions often ended up as wrong transactions, and for money laundering purposes, it was not the best.

Kenya: Council convened - The Nigerian National Broadband Council (NNBC) has been set-up to provide periodic evaluation of progress and facilitate co-ordination in the delivery of the National Broadband Plan. Minister of Communications Adebayo Shittu said this when he inaugurated the council in Abuja. Shittu said the ministry in conjunction with ICT stakeholders have identified key challenges mitigating against infrastructure roll-out such as Right of Way (RoW) charges, Forex regime, inadequate power supply and security of installed equipment.

Kenya: Fibre future - Safaricom's Home department has been created to connect domestic residences to its fibre infrastructure. Chief Executive Bob Collymore said at an investor briefing last week that fibre and other technologies will be delivered to subscribers' homes nationally. Fibre infrastructure now passes some 53,000 homes.

Liberia: Budgeted regulation - The State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) consolidated Forecast for 2016/2017 has recorded that the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has a budget of USD 3.49 million and an establishment of 94, The News reported. This is exclusive of USD 5.71 million budgeted for other expenses not specified. The LTA's operating income is shown as USD 16.12 million, without government subsidy. Outflows are put at some USD 9.20 million.

Morocco: Secure data centre - Data centre hosting aimed at corporate customers is being launched by Maroc Telecom. This features highly secure computer rooms fitted with proven energy-efficient technology and at lower cost. It offers companies a turnkey product for hosting their IT equipment (servers, routers, storage arrays) at a data centre designed to international standards. There is uninterrupted round-the-clock security with video surveillance, access control, security guards, fire detection and suppression, and monitoring.

Namibia: Winter bonus - Telecom Namibia (TN) is offering an 'Unlimited Call Plan' with unlimited local and national calls on both fixed and mobile networks for NAD 299 (USD 22.30) a month. Last week TN spokesman Oiva Angula said that users would enjoy unlimited calls for the duration of the month along with 300 anytime minutes to call other fixed and mobile networks. However, standard fixed and mobile rates are applicable for out of bundle calls. The package is available from 15 May to 15 August, and a normal installation fee of NAD 222 (USD 16.56) applies for new line installation.
Qatar: Data availability - Vodafone Qatar's Red customers can now use their in-plan data in 20 countries at no extra charge. Data can be used in Qatar, UK, Turkey, Italy and other countries where Vodafone has a presence.

Qatar: Partner points - Ooredoo Qatar said that its Nojoom Loyalty Programme has added fourteen more Al Meera branches to its partner network, where members will be able to redeem and earn Nojoom Points. Retailer Al Meera has been a Nojoom partner since 2014 and has since enabled 20 of its popular branches to be eligible for Nojoom Members. Now, Nojoom Members will be able to shop at 34 Al Meera branches in Qatar and earn rewards.

Qatar: Retail review - The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) has conducted its first round of inspections in 2017 of retail outlets selling telecom devices and equipment. The Peninsular reported that it had issued some 159 written violation notices, which included unlicensed outlets. The inspection was conducted 16 – 26 April 2017 and took in 216 shops and showrooms.

Rwanda: Convention centre comms - Tigo Rwanda has signed a two-year deal with Kigali Convention Centre and Radisson Blu Hotel Kigali in which it will provide ICT solutions to the conference venue, the New Times reported. It will provide bulk (fixed and on demand) Internet bandwidth services to the facility via KT Rwanda Network, fully backed up by multiple local fibre rings and international upstream routes, according to Tigo Rwanda chief business officer Amit Chawla. Tigo will also provide mobile voice, data and 4G services for the 162 Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) staff.

Rwanda: Free Facebook - Tigo Rwanda has launched Facebook Flex which provides free access to the social media platform. Tigo Rwanda's Chief Commercial Officer, Yaw Ankoma Agyapong said it was part of Tigo's Internet For All philosophy. Access is via the Facebook app on Andriod and via Facebook.com on all data-capable devices. It also enables Tigo subscribers to control their data usage when using Facebook by switching access between free and paid modes.

Rwanda: Popular content - Kirusa has launched its Celeb and Sports content services on the InstaVoice Channels platform, with Tigo Rwanda. The Celeb content service connects celebrities and their followers. Using the voice blogging feature, celebrities express their emotions and share their joyous and challenging moments daily; the voice messages are delivered instantly, creating a 'Voice Twitter' like experience. The Sports content service provides daily soccer updates, such as team news, pre and post-match analysis, quotes from team players and managers. Users can follow all English Premiere League Clubs, along with UEFA and La Liga. Tigo subscribers can get alerts on football news, players, matches, goals, penalties and much more.

Rwanda: Smart strategy - Inmarsat has launched a series of digital service projects in Kigali in conjunction with the government. These are to develop a smart city blueprint for Africa. Inmarsat also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Youth and ICT to develop a number of key ICT projects aligned with the Rwandan national ICT strategy.

Saudi Arabia: Seductive SIM offer - Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) is giving SAR 3,000 worth of free balance for three months to pre-paid subscribers who reactivate a voice SIM. Any subscriber who did not use their voice SIM card after 2 April can reactivate it or get a free replacement. Subscribers can recharge their voice SIM with SAR 10 (USD 2.67) or more every month for three months and get SAR 1,000 (USD 26.70) monthly.

Saudi Arabia: Virus free - Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has said that it has not been affected by the ransomware virus that has spread across 150 countries since last week. It was responding to photos circulated on social media claiming to show infected STC computers. The Qatari Peninsula noted that one photo showed multiple computers displaying the red windows with an STC logo visible in the background.

South Africa: Coding incubator - BCX on 10 May 2017 said it had become the new primary growth partner of WeThinkCode, a tuition-free programme intended to educate the next generation of software engineers in South Africa, ITWeb reported. BCX will provide some ZAR 60 million (USD 4.5 million) over three years to the programme, which will see the number of entry-level coders in the South African market doubled by the end of 2018. WeThinkCode's Johannesburg office will be expanded and allow for the opening of a new campus in Cape Town in 2018.

South Africa: Cost of retirement counted - Telkom is currently finalising its annual results for the year ending 31 March 2017, which will be released on the Stock Exchange News Service of the JSE on 5 June 2017. It has noted in a JSE listing that earnings have been impacted by voluntary severance packages (VSPs) and voluntarily early retirement packages (VERPs) of ZAR 2.193 billion (USD 163.6 million) with a related tax benefit of ZAR 517 million (USD 38.6 million) while the current year impact is significantly lower at ZAR 66 million (USD 4.9 million) with a related tax benefit of ZAR 13 million (USD 970,000).

South Africa: Directorial resignation - In a stock exchange announcement, Telkom has said that Thembisa Skweyiya Dingaan has resigned as a non-executive director with effect from 10 May 2017.

South Africa: ICT training - Vodacom South Africa has partnered with Cisco's Networking Academy (NetAcad) and recommitted to training unemployed young people in ICT skills, ITWeb reported. The Vodacom Foundation trained 367 young peoples in A+, N+ and 3G connectivity, CCNA and IT security in the 12 months ending March. To date, the foundation has trained 972 South African youths.

South Africa: Mobile municipal apps - Vodacom has launched mobile apps to support government service delivery in Mthatha. The first is OR Tambo District Municipality’s citizenship engagement platform (Thetha Nathi), which allows residents to engage the municipality on service delivery concerns. The first phase has focused on the management of water and sanitation. The Thetha Nathi platform will evolve over two more phases to cover other service delivery areas and will later integrate to the province’s service delivery operations centres.

South Africa: Take-off for Things - Vodacom's IoT division led by Deon Liebenberg has said that IoT connections have increased some 32 percent to 3 million. On Monday is said that IoT revenue had increased 19.1 percent to ZAR 662 million in the year to March 2017.

Zambia: Data costs throttle demand - The Minister of Communications and Transport Brian Mushimba has said that there were some 12.0 million mobile subscribers at the end of December 2016, up from 11.6 million at the end of 2015, representing 75 percent mobile penetration rate. The number of mobile Internet users has fallen from 6.1 million to 5.2 million in just one year, despite growth in mobile phone subscriptions, according to the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA). Mushimba said the high cost of data services is one reason for the drop in the number of mobile Internet users, and that many subscribers are using basic feature phones. In Zambia, 2GB data bundles cost as much as ZWK 190 (USD 20.60) while 1GB cost about ZWK 134 (USD 14.50).

Zambia: Fibre fest - CEC Liquid Telecom has its Fibroniks Xtra campaign offering customers two months free Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) Internet connectivity. The offering competes directly with that of MTN Zambia which also recently unveiled its FTTH product. The CEC Liquid Telecom campaign will cost the company USD 1 million and involves free fibre installations to 1,500 homes in two suburbs in Lusaka. Plans are underway to extend the campaign to other suburbs. The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) reports that there are 35,919 fixed Internet subscriptions compared to 5.2 million mobile internet subscribers.

Zambia: Revitalisation programme - Zamtel has embarked on a five-phased programme to upgrade its network that will see 55 new outlets opened. Zamtel's Chief Marketing Officer Lho-Zindaba Sakala told the Daily Mail that the operator wants to capture more customers to expand its market share. She said that a network upgrade will address congestion and Internet connectivity. The new outlets will be located in low and medium density areas and will sell phones and other products, and will be managed by its partners who already own existing outlets. Zamtel has also partnered with Allied Mobile. The fixed line reactivation programme has so far covered Lusaka’s Avondale, Kabulonga, Roma, Woodlands, Chelston, Libala and Chilenje.

Zimbabwe: Commuter connectivity - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has formally launched Wifi in Kombis (commuter minibuses) which is one of the leading modes of public transport for commuting from one point to another. At the launch ceremony held on 9 May Econet Chief Operating Officer Fayaz King said the offering would complement the company's Data Double Up offering. King said that with the purchase of a data bundle, customers get an extra 100 percent free Wifi data that they can use when riding in a kombi.