News in Brief 21 March 2013

Africa: Development Bank data-trove - The African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched its Open Data Platforms for Algeria, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Congo Brazzaville, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Open Data Platform program is part of the AfDB?s recently launched 'Africa Information Highway' initiative aimed at significantly improving data management and dissemination in Africa. Work is on course to complete platforms for the rest of African countries by July 2013. The facility is available at www.afdb.org/statistics.

Algeria: Competition at the borders - Maghreb-intelligence.com notes that Moroccan mobile operators Maroc Telecom and inwi are providing an effective service in the Algerian border towns of Tlemcen, Sidi Belabes and Ghazaouet, which is reported to be superior to that provided by Mobilis or Nedjma. The 3G services provided by Morocco are reported to be particularly liked.

Bahrain: Ministerial brush-up - The Minister of State for Communications Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa on Thursday last week met with a high-level delegation from ZTE Corporation, the Gulf Daily News reported. Discussions reportedly focused on 4G development, enhancing LTE standards and other initiatives being led by the Ministry.

Cameroon: Embezzlers ejected - Telecom Eto'o has dismissed Jean-Bosco Massoma, Director of Financial Affairs and Mbog Tam, Human Resources Manager according to a report by Agence Ecofin after an audit found funds had been misappropriated. The operator appointed a Hervé Perrin as CEO recently, whilst Georges Dooh-Collins, Deputy Managing Director stepped down.

Cameroon: Professionals pursued - Orange has signed a framework agreement with the Union of retail traders Wouri (Sycodew) in the Littoral region, according to Agence Ecofin. The deal provides Orange products and services to all members of Wouri, and covers the provision of mobile services at preferential rates. On 2012 Orange Cameroon adopted a strategy of signing professional associations, and it has already signed pharmacists, physicians, veterinarians, the National Association of Civil Engineers of Cameroon (ONIGC) and the National Union of Driving School operators in Cameroon (Sneaec).

Lebanon: Service safeguarded - The Telecommunications Ministry has said that state-owned OGERO will not disconnect customers who are unable to pay bills because of an ongoing public sector strike. The Daily Star quoted the Ministry as saying: "We have requested the concerned parties not to cut the landline telephone lines of subscribers who did not settle the December bills ".

Libya: Hand-over halted - Etisalat's Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Julfar said on Sunday that a tender to manage state-owned Libyan Post, Telecommunication and Information Technology Co. (LIPTIC) has been suspended. Mobile operators Al-Madar and Libyana are subsidiaries of LIPTIC. More than USD 1 billion of telecom infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war, according to BuddeComm. As well as Etisalat, Saudi Telecom Co. and Ooredoo (Qtel) have expressed interest.

Morocco: Slow sizzle for stake - Les Echos has reported that Vivendi will not now announce the sale of its 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom before the group AGM on 30 April 2013. It will apparently not now receive binding offers from Ooredoo, Etisalat and KT until the end of April. Despite reports to the contrary, Ooredoo is still thought to be Vivendi's favourite, but not that of the Moroccan government, which holds 30 percent of Maroc Telecom.

Nigeria: Go Glo Go - 'Global Excellence' Magazine has named Globacom as the Best Telecoms Company of the Year. It was honoured at the Excellence Awards 2013 event held in Lagos, being described as the catalyst which triggered the revolution in the Nigerian telecoms sector and pioneering a series of technological innovations such as Magic Plus, Blackberry, Vehicle Tracking, GPRS and MultiMedia Messaging Service (MMS).

Nigeria: Fast-access Facebook - Subscribers of Airtel Nigeria can now access Facebook via a USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) Code and engage the social network on their mobile devices by dialling *688#. Olu Akanmu, Airtel's Chief Marketing Officer, said the telco is committed to enabling users to connect online.

Nigeria: Stake upped - Bharti Airtel Nigeria is reported to have acquired a further 13.36 percent stake in Airtel Networks Limited, with the stake being acquired from a number of existing shareholders. Reuters reported Bharti Airtel's holding as now standing at 79.06 percent. Airtel Networks Limited (formerly known as Celtel Nigeria Ltd) is the largest African telecom asset of Bharti Airtel.

Rwanda: Early enrolment - Over 2 million subscribers are reported to have registered their SIM cards in the first month of the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority's (RURA) registration program. The program was launched in February. However Regis Gatarayiha, Director General of RURA, has said that all unregistered SIM cards will be disconnected on 31 July 2013: "We are not intending to extend it......We have already missed the deadline, we cannot keep postponing ".

Sao Tome and Principe: SNO naming - Macauhub has reported Unitel International Holding, backed by Isabel dos Santos, as the likely winner of the second fixed and mobile licence, citing an unnamed official. Unitel is claimed to be the only bidder to have met the technical and financial requirements of the tender issued by Autoridade Geral de Regulacao (AGER) in November 2012.

Saudi Arabia: Top slot for Samsung - A survey by Axiom Telecom and YouGov has placed Samsung as the leading brand of smartphone. The survey recorded 36 percent of respondents with a Samsung device; whilst Apple found favour with 25 percent of respondents. Nokia had occupied the top slot for 14 years. The Samsung Galaxy S4 global launch is scheduled for 14 March. Axiom Telecom is the Middle East's largest mobile retailer, currently boasting a portfolio of 575 outlets and over 8,000 retailers.

Sierra Leone: Deal breaker - Reports that LAP Green Network has not paid for its Ambitel unit continue to circulate with IDG News saying it has breached a deal with founder, Michael Kenneth Ondaan. Ondaan is quoted as saying he is owed USD 2 million as part of the 2007 deal for his 85 percent stake. Ondaan has said that a delegation from Uganda Telecom arrived in Sierra Leone in February to settle, but offered only USD 50,000. Ondaan is also due a seat on the board, and has agreed a consultancy deal on a monthly salary of USD 6,000. The unit is also obliged to trade as ?Ambitel-GreenNet Sierra Leone? rather than as ?GreenN?.