News in Brief 18 April 2013

Ghana: Data mandate - The National Communications Authority (NCA) organised a workshop on Industry Data Collection on Wednesday 10 April 2013 at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra. The Authority is empowered to conduct research into social, economic, cultural, and technical issues relating to broadcasting to allow it to carry out its mandate effectively. The NCA focused on the challenges facing the broadcasting industry; the developing mechanism to gather accurate, reliable and consistent data; and the utilisation of periodic data for ensuring regulatory compliance and analysing sector development for benchmarking.

Ghana: Outsourcing outrage - Airtel Ghana is reportedly considering terminating the contracts of Local Value Added Services (VAS) suppliers according to a report by the MyJoyOnline news site. Some of these arrangements date back to Zain before it was taken over by Airtel in 2010. Services include text messaging, supply of equipment, shortcodes, caller ring back tones, etc. MyJoy notes that it is a licence provision that there should be a technology transfer to local firms.

Israel: Competition copied - Pelephone Communications is offering new subscribers two months free; this mimics a similar offering from Golan Telecom, the Globes news service reported. Pelephone is offering two plans of unlimited calls and SMS, and either one or three gigabytes of Internet access. The usual price of these plans is ILS 99 (USD 27.28) per month and ILS 199 (USD 54.83) per month, respectively. The promotion will end on 30 April.

Kenya: Calls to competition cut - Calls to competing networks have been cut by Telkom Kenya by a quarter in its latest marketing move, BusinessDailyAfrica reported. On Thursday last week it cut calls to rivals to KES 3 (USD 0.035) a minute from KES 4 (USD 0.047), the lowest cross network rate. The rates will apply to 31 May and Telkom Kenya CEO Mickael Ghossein said it will then decide whether to make the change permanent. Safaricom charges KES 4 a minute for both on and off net calls; Airtel charges KES 3.60 and Essar KES 3.

Saudi Arabia: Losses lessened - Zain Saudi Arabia (Mobile Telecommunications Co. of Saudi Arabia) this week reported a net loss of SAR 398 million (USD 105.99 million) in 1Q13, a 10 percent smaller loss year-on-year. The operator has reported losses in every year since its formation, and its liabilities as of the quarter ended 31 March 2013 exceed its assets, Zain said in its earnings statement. Revenue rose 17 percenbt year-on-year to SAR 1.78 billion (USD 474.0 million), and a 25 percent fall in financial charges saw the loss narrowed in the first quarter.

South Africa: Court cancelled - WirelessG has elected not to proceed against Vodacom, following an offer from Vodacom?s legal team, BusinessTech reported WirelessG CEO, Carel van der Merwe, as saying. In January 2013, WirelessG and six other applicants filed a court application arguing that Vodacom was not compliant with its shareholding agreement with WirelessG. There was a court hearing on 9 April 2013, after which WirelessG withdrew its application.

South Africa: International initiative - MoneyGram is to work with First National Bank (FNB) to launch a mobile money transfer service, giving FNB account holders the ability to send and receive international money transfers using their mobile phones. Transactions are available for collection within 10 minutes, subject to an agent?s hours of operation. The two previously partnered when FNB?s branches were ingratiated into MoneyGram?s agency network.

United Arab Emirates: SIM Phase Three - The third phase of the SIM-card registration process has seen Etisalat and du telling subscribers to re-register their cards 16 April or risk disconnection. According to a report by Gulf News, Etisalat has cut off 1.3 million cards so far. TRA launched its ?My Number, My Identity? campaign in June 2012, with the process planned to be completed in six batches over an 18 month period. Etisalat has 105 registration points across the UAE, while du has 46.

Zambia: Bankin potential - Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco) is eyeing the mobile money market. Martyn Schouten, Managing Director of Zanaco, told Bloomberg last week that some 37 percent of the bankable population has been reached, and therefore two-thirds of those who could be banked are not banked yet. Zanaco is planning to boost customer numbers by providing mobile banking services after forming an alliance with Airtel.