News in Brief 06 June 2013

Ghana: Hearing halted - A case examining the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone has been adjourned by The Commercial Division of the Accra Fast Track High Court until 17 June. Ghana sold its 70 percent stake in Ghana Telecom to Vodafone International, and Joe Ghartey, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, who was Attorney General and Minister of Justice at the time, was due to have appeared in court on Monday but failed to turn-up, leading to the postponement.

Iran: Facebook facilitated - The USA has lifted trade sanctions preventing the sale of communications equipment and software to companies in Iran. The US State Department and US Treasury have also opened access to Internet services and social media in a move reported to be aimed at overcome the Iranian government?s ?attempts to silence its people by cutting off their communication with each other and the rest of the world?.

Jordan: Sites suspended - The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Authorities (TRCA) has instructed Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block access to more than 200 Websites. Al Bawaba reported that sites, which are mostly news related, have not complied with a recent change in the Press and Publications law. Sites blocked include Qatar's Al Jazeera, Time Out magazine, Penthouse and the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan.

Lebanon: Data dominant - Alfa says that having unrolled 4G-LTE data services for the first time in 2013, it has managed to surpass competitor 'touch' by enrolling 800,000 data subscribers, giving it more than 50 percent of the segment, though its overall market share stands at 48.5 percent. Alfa?s Chairman and CEO, Marwan Hayek told the Daily Star that between 2010 and 2012, its revenues rose by 38 percent. But in 2012, compared to 2011, it grew by 7 - 8 percent.

Morocco: Funding finalised - Etisalat said last week that its shareholders had approved borrowings to fund Vivendi's 53-per cent stake in Maroc Telecom. Use of the funds is still subject to finalisation of remaining terms and conditions to acquire Vivendi's stake. Etisalat is 60 percent owned by the UAE government, and is competing with Qatar's Ooredoo for the stake.

Nigeria: Internet intolerant - Tech360ng has found that the majority of people considering porting their number to another network would favour Etisalat. Of the 178 respondents, 101 had MTN as their primary provider followed by Airtel with 31, Glo 26 and Etisalat 20. The primary reason given by 114 respondents for changing is better Internet quality. However, as Tech360ng points out, an average subscriber in Nigeria has two or more lines, so has little reason to port.

Nigeria: MTN social milestone - MTN reckons it now liked by over a million Facebook friends as of Sunday 26 May 2013. MTN has been present at www.facebook.com/MTNLoaded from 2010, and also has the Twitter handle, @MTNNG and @MTN180, have proven to be very useful to us for listening to, learning from, and connecting with our internet-savvy customers and the general public, " said Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, Corporate Services Executive, MTN.

South Africa: Asian aspiration - A Bloomberg report suggests that MTN is eyeing India again, some five years after it first tried. Reliance Communications a potential target, as Reliance and MTN have twice held talks to be bought by another Indian carrier, Bharti Airtel, although talks broke down in 2009 due to political opposition in South Africa.

Tanzania: Pesa product payments - Tigo Pesa - the mobile operator's mobile money platform - can now be used as a merchant payment product, allowing customers to buy and sell goods in retail outlets, as part of its planned developments to provide a digital wallet. The Citizen reported Tigo brand manager William Mpinga as saying that over 50,000 merchants have already registered.

Tanzania: Tax take - Vodacom Tanzania paid a total of TZS 36.5 billion (USD 21.82 million) in corporate taxes in the 2012-13 financial year. Managing Director of Vodacom Tanzania, Rene Meza said this was a 20-fold increase over what it paid in the last three financial years. Vodacom says it has invested over TZS 1.3 trillion (USD 777.3 million) since its launch in 2000.

Togo: Infrastructure investment - President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe formally launched TOGO INVEST, a state-owned holding company, in Lome on 28 May 2013, with a capitalisation of XOF 20 billion (USD 39.7 million), of which a quarter has been paid up. Its primary mission is to implement a major transport corridor project of about 760 km, which will connect the Port of Lome to Cinkasse. A parallel development is the provision of a broadband telecoms network.

Turkey: Service supplemented -Turkcell has tweeted that it did not block mobile communications in anywhere in Turkey and is working to provide uninterrupted services, WorldBulletin reported. The claims have been made on social media sites that it cut Internet connection in Taksim Square over the weekend, the centre for an anti-government protests. It said it had set-up additional base stations to provide uninterrupted service for the increased traffic.

United Arab Emirates: Free-fone - Etisalat has announced that from 1 July fixed line calls anywhere in the UAE are free: previously only calls within individual Emirates were without charge. The free call are applicable for both standalone and eLife subscribers. It is also launching the region?s first high definition voice for eLife fixed-lines, with a new offering of High Definition telephones to be launched in July. The operator is also offering subscribers a 'favourite country plan', saving money on frequent calls to a specific country.

United Arab Emirates: Partner appointed - Bain & Co has appointed Grégory Garnier as its new Partner in Dubai. Garnier is mandated to develop Bain Middle East?s activity with regional telcos.