News in Brief 30 May 2013

Africa: Booming base station sales - TMT Finance reckons there are some USD 2 billion additional African tower sales still to be done in 2013. It suggests that transactions totalling 15,000-20,000 towers or more may be done this year in addition to towers deals already completed, a senior telecom banker told the analyst firm. TMT Finance & Investment Africa 2013 will be held in London on 20 June 2013.

Africa: Communications co-operation - Libya, Egypt and Sudan have agreed a tripartite development pact with regard to telecommunications, as well as energy, food security, and information and communications technology. The deal was reached after a two-day meeting in Tripoli, under an umbrella Joint Commission. The setting-up of the Joint Commission followed a decision by the Foreign Ministers of the three countries on the sidelines of the 24th Arab Summit in Doha.

Burkina Faso: Three technology - With its recently granted licence for 3.75G licence, Airtel is now offering HSPSA + with speeds of up to 21 mbps using gear supplied by Ericsson. Airtel is focusing on the youth market with the emphasis on social networks, education and music. After Ouagadougou, the 3.75G network will be deployed in other cities such as Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya Koudougou, Banfora and Ziniaré.

Kenya: It's all Google's fault - Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Mickael Ghossein was quoted by The Daily Nation as saying: "Google has to pay us. You can?t use the Orange network, which is like a highway for Google, without paying a fee to us to maintain the network ". Safaricom?s Head of Corporate Affairs, Mr Nzioka Waita, however told the Daily Nation that the argument is premature for the Kenyan market given that the operators continue to rely heavily on content providers such as Google and Facebook for Internet penetration. He said the primary objective should be to get more people onto the Internet and 'introducing any barriers at this stage could stifle uptake'.

Kuwait: Satisfying smartphone - Zain announced this week it was now offering the new HTC One smartphone to take advantage of its 4G LTE national network in Kuwait. Omar Soud Al Omar, Zain?s Chief Executive Officer commented: "The unveiling of the new device mirrors the company?s belief in satisfying a customer?s passion for high-tech telecommunications apparatus. "

Uganda: Mobile money - The Bank of Uganda has been quoted as saying that the number of mobile money users has grown from 2.9 million in 2011 to 8.9 million at the end of 2012, according to the New Vision newspaper. This is nearly twice the 4.9 million bank accounts as of December 2012. The number of transactions has grown from 87.5 million in 2011 to 242 million at the end of 2012, and the value has grown from UGX 3.8 trillion (USD 1.44 billion) to UGX 11.7 trillion (USD 4.42 billion). However over 70 percent of mobile money transactions are less than UGX 70,000 (USD 26.47). MTN was the first launch a mobile money platform in 2009, registering 890,000 users in the first year.

Senegal: Pilgrims phone-home - Sonatel (Orange Senegal) has upped mobile capacity and provided facilities for organisers and journalists for this year's Popenguine pilgrimage on 18-23 May. It installed 3G+ services in the town for last year's pilgrimage, and for 2013 network capacity has been raised tenfold with 20 temporary base stations. It has provided a press area with computers, Wi-Fi, internet access, phone lines and laser printers. The organisers are streaming the ceremony live onto Internet using a 2 Mbps leased line and network equipment. The operator also provided 25 mobile phones for organisers to make free calls to each other. As in previous years, T-shirts, bags and water bottles have been given away to pilgrims.

United Arab Emirates: Credit charge - Etisalat's pre-paid subscribers can no longer transfer credit free of charge. It is now charging 5 percent of the transferred amount as a transaction fee. The maximum amount now allowed to be transferred is AED 150 (USD 41) per day and AED 1,500 (USD 408) per month. Etisalat launched the service in 2007 allowing Wasel customers to transfer their credit from their mobile accounts to their family and friends. In May Etisalat launched its international credit transfer, allowing Wasel and Ahlan pre-paid subscribers to transfer airtime to any prepaid account globally.

United Arab Emirates: Spectrum support - Etisalat last week said it supported the regulatory decision to allocate both the 700-MHz and 800-MHz spectrum bands for mobile broadband. Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, Etisalat's group CEO, in a statement said: "This decision enables the rapid growth of mobile broadband services and all the supporting businesses ". The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on Wednesday last week published its band plan for 700 MHz and announced the release of 800-MHz spectrum for mobile broadband services. The UAE will be the first country in the region to reap the benefits of two bands, which include superior interoperability and roaming.