News in Brief 25 April 2013

Algeria: Academic discount - The Ministry of Education's ICT development department and Algerie Telecom have signed a framework agreement to provide a 50 percent discount on access fees and subscriptions for fixed telephony and WLL to teachers and other Ministry staff. It also includes a 50 percent cut on calls over Algerie Telecom's fixed network, 25 percent on call rates to the Mobilis mobile network and 10 percent on ADSL subscriptions.

Bahrain: Batelco bond - Batelco Group on Monday said it would bond transaction, with size subject to market conditions. It has instructed BNP Paribas and Citigroup to arrange a series of fixed income investor meetings in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. The bonds may be listed on the Irish Stock Exchange from May.

Cameroon: Miserly Ministry - The government spends some XAF 1.3 billion (USD 2.59 million) on telephone calls and XAF 482 million (USD 960,000) on Internet services each month in 2011; down from XAF 1.7 billion (USD 3.4 million) in 2010, the Cameroon Tribune reported. Internet costs however rose from XAF 122 to XAF 482 million (USD 243,000 to 960,000) between 2010 and 2011. There are some 13,000 lines for centralised services; 9,000 for decentralised services and 298 Internet lines. There were also 106 Telex and 300 telephone lines out of service. The Ministry of Telecommunications is looking to cut these bills by 20 percent.

Cameroon: Satisfying service - Two new Service Centres have been opened by MTN Cameroon in Kousseri, in the Far North Region close to the border with Chad and Nigeria, and in Douala, Cameroon's economic capital. MTN is looking to open another five Service Centres nationally by 2014. MTN Cameroon?s Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, said: "Satisfying our customers is a permanent concern for us at MTN, as this endeavour explains the reason of our existence. " Since launch in 2000 MTN has invested more than XAF 500 billion (USD 994.8 million) in Cameroon.

Gabon: Cheaper faster GT - Gabon Telecom is slashing rates to improve its competitive edge, Info Gabon has reported. Mobile-to-mobile tariffs have been cut by 51 percent to XOF 120 (USD 0.24) a minute, whilst fixed-to-fixed calls are now free. ADSL plans have been cut by 58 percent, and bandwidth has been doubled. CEO Lhoussaine Oussalah made the announcement at a press conference.

Jordan: Orange outage - A major cable cut saw a number of teams deployed by Jordan Telecom (Orange Jordan) on the evening of Sunday 21 April 2013 to restore services after 40 fibre optic cables were cut in an Amman neighbourhood, the Jordan News Agency (PETRA) reported. In a release issued on Monday with the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), Orange Jordan said all services would be normally by Tuesday morning.

Liberia: Tax tally - The Liberian Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has initiated the measurement of traffic through the international gateway in a bid to identify fraud and tax evasion. LTA Commissioner, Abdullah Kamara was quoted as saying that he expects the initiative to generate "an additional USD 5-7 million for the government, annually ". The announcement was made at the Pan African Travel Agency Building in Congo Town. The LTA expects to be able to calculate the tax due whilst also preventing the re-designation of international calls as local.

Madagascar: Gulfsat consolidation - Gulfsat Telephonie and Gulfsat Madagascar have merged using the latter's name, according to the Office Malagasy d?Etudes et de Regulation des Telecommunications (OMERT). Gulfsat Madagascar, which provides commercial services under the ?Blueline? banner, offers a triple-play bundle, comprising high speed internet, IPTV and a mobile voice; the latter was introduced in partnership with Telma Mobile, and so is the first mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the country.

M-PESA: India next - Hailed by local press as 'new', Vodafone has launched M-PESA in India, using 'selected outlets'. The service has been started in Kolkata, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar, and is being offered by Vodafone's Mobile Commerce Solutions (MCSL) and ICICI Bank, with each user getting an account with ICICI Bank and a Mobile Wallet from MCSL.

Nigeria: Spends summarised - A report issued by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) last week noted that active mobile subscribers spent around NGN 401.25 billion (USD 2.49 billion) on voice calls and text messages between November 2012 and January 2013. The 120.5 million subscribers therefore spent an average of USD 20.66 each in the period.

South Africa: Conduct for Came - Former Dimension Data director Richard Came has acquired a 10 percent stake in Conduct Telecommunications, a last-mile fibre provider, according to ITWeb. Came is also a shareholder in Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), and is to be named Chairman of the Conduct board in May. He is currently President of the FTTH Council.

Uganda: MVNO links with MTN - Customers of MVNO K2 can now make calls to the MTN network, after an interconnect deal was finalised after three months of negotiations. MTN has the largest subscriber base in Uganda, standing at 7.7 million at the end of 2012, and representing a 53 percent market share. K2 Chief Executive Officer Saul Katumba said the MVNO had the cheapest calls in the market at UGX 240 (USD 0.09) per minute to all networks. K2 has already signed with Warid telecom.