News in Brief 23 May 2013

Afghanistan: Minute motivator - Afghan Wireless has launched a top-up campaign and henceforth pre-paid subscribers topping up at least AFN 250 (USD 4.52) will get 10 free on-net minutes valid for a day. The maximum recharge value is AFN 5,000 (USD 90.48) which will earn 600 on-net minutes valid for ten days.

Africa: Bankers suggest sale - Bharti Airtel has around 18,370 mobile towers in Africa; of which it owns 12,800, the rest being leased. The Business Standard reports that bankers have suggested that the operator might sell its remaining African towers to Bharti Infratel, in which it has an 80 percent, to raise the much-needed funds for its own growth and help pay off its high-cost loans. Airtel was reported as denying the report, saying it was 'speculation'.

Bahrain: Change of CEO - Batelco has said that Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa al-Khalifa had stepped-down as its Chief Executive and that his predecessor, Peter Kaliaropoulos, will now act on an interim basis. Sheikh Mohamed was appointed CEO in October 2011, having previously acted as Deputy Chairman. He replaced Peter Kaliaropoulos, who was then named as Group Chief Executive Officer for Strategic Assignments. Kaliaropoulos will work with a three-person committee until a new CEO is named. Sheikh Mohamed has left Batelco with immediate effect.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Waiting game - Vodacom is expecting the results of arbitration regarding a long-running dispute between it and its business partner in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Congolese Wireless Networks (CWN), according to ITWeb. The International Chamber of Commerce sat in October 2012 and a decision is expected shortly. Former business consultant Moto Mabanga, of Namemco Energy took Vodacom to court in 2010 over its alleged lack of payment for work he did. CEO Joosub said at the results presentation it had settled with Mabanga, but could not disclose the amount or the terms.

Nigeria: First ports processed - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has reported that some 4,000 GSM subscribers (representing 0.004 percent of the active GSM subscriber base) have ported their number to another operator in the first 48 hours of the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) regime launched on 22 April, Tony Ojobo, NCC's Director of Public Affairs, said. The Interconnect Clearing House of Nigeria (ICHN), the company managing the MNP service in Nigeria, provided the data.

Nigeria: Salary short-fall - CDMA-operator Starcomms has not paid worker's salaries since March, according to a letter sent to the DailyPost. In the letter, the workers make a number of claims regarding mis-management of investment funds intended to relaunch the company.

Nigeria: Telco transformation - Cable company Main One has re-launched itself, moving from being solely a submarine cable company to a full-fledged communications services provider through partnerships in Nigeria and Ghana and into Togo, Benin, and Burkina Faso. It unveiled its new corporate identity at International Telecoms Week 2013 in Chicago.

Saudi Arabia: Mobile mapping - Location-based services developer Appello has announced it is powering a new LBS service launched by Mobily. Amaken is a mapping, direction and local search app that also includes real-time traffic a friend finder and connections to social networks. Turn-by-turn navigation will be also added to the app shortly. Amaken covers the most common handsets in Saudi Arabia and is already available for Symbian, Blackberry, Android and the Bada platforms. It will also launch for the iPhone. The solution uses maps and traffic from HERE (NAVTEQ) and costs SAR 25 (USD 6.67) per month.

South Africa: African aspirant - On 10 May 2013 Sony held its ?Sony Conference for Africa? in Cape Town, saying it would also be targeting Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria and Angola for future growth, as it starts to take the measure of global competitor Samsung. It plans to use local staff, whilst also looking for partners with the resourcing to facilitate strategy delivery. Hiroyasu Sugiyam, Director for the Middle East and Africa, said Africa is one of the most important potential markets for Sony. In 2015 it is forecasting sales of USD 1.4 billion in consumer electronics, including mobile phones, with further growth anticipated.

Turkey: Stakeholder shame - The Turkcell ownership drama continues. According to Reuters, Turkey's Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) last week took control of 45 companies belonging to Cukurova Group, which has controlled a 13.8 percent stake in Turkcell. The seizures followed losses at a Turkish bank and impair Cukurova's efforts to continue its operations. The 13.8 percent stake in Turkcell was seized by Alfa Group, another major player in Turkcell, after Cukurova defaulted on a USD 1.7 billion loan.

Zimbabwe: Fund members fleeced - TelOne's employee benevolent funds are reported to have been switched to a microfinance institution, and so prejudicing the interests of employees, The Zimbabwe Mail has reported. Subsequently TelOne employees have had to borrow at higher interest rates. The paper reported that Chipo Mtasa, TelOne?s Managing Director in January, has suspending at least six members of the human resources committee, including a director, who it is alleged orchestrated the transfer of the fund to the microfinance company.