News in Brief 04 July 2013

Burkina Faso: Leisurely licence - The Regulatory Authority for Communications Electronic and Posts (ARCEP) has advised that the closing date for initial offers for a converged network, including 3G, scheduled for 10 July 2013 has now been put back to 9 a.m. on 24 July 2013. The tender was originally launched on 25 April 2013. The opening of bids will take place on the same day at ARCEP's premises.

Ghana: Ghartey shows - Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General Mr Joe Ghartey finally made his appearance before the Accra Fast Track High Court last Monday to answer questions involving the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone. As the then Attorney General, he said he only advised government in 2008 on the deal signed between Vodafone International B.V, the Government of Ghana and Ghana Telecom. The purchase agreement did not infringe any law before it went to Parliament, Ghana Business noting that the Divestiture Implementation Committee therefore does not have a say in all divestitures. It was suggested that the Ghartey was not fully familiar with the law by the prosecution.

Israel: Bot battles banished - Bezeq has signed for Arbor Networks's Pravail Availability Protection System (APS) and Peakflow SP platform. This is intended to protect its network and provide managed services to customers against a top threat to availability, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Bezeq International is also a member of the Arbor Networks Cloud Signaling Coalition. The Peakflow SP platform identifies DDoS attacks and mitigates them in the cloud. Arbor's Atlas Intelligence Feed enables Pravail APS to provide protection against botnet-fuelled DDoS attacks.

Kenya: Transactions targeted - Safaricom has launched its Lipa Na M-PESA campaign, targeting retailers. Consumers would pay for goods and services using mobile money, without incurring a transaction charge. The transactions cost will be carried by the registered service provider, which would pay a 1.5 percent commission on the value of every transaction. The service can be used for transactions valued between USD 1 - 800. There are some 5,000 registered traders for Lipa Na M-Pesa service and it is targeting 100,000 by mid-2014.

Nigeria: State sale slowed - The Oyo State chapter of TOTAN (Telecommunication Operators and Technicians Association of Nigeria) has taken the Federal Government to court over plan to sell NITEL/M-TEL, the Tribune newspaper reported. TOTAN's motion moves to stop the Federal Government from selling or transferring the shares of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited and its subsidiary, Mobile Telecommunications of Nigeria (MTEL) to the Bureau of Public Enterprises pending the outcome of the court hearing.

Oman: Part two for Nwaras - The second phase of its national network modernisation program has been announced by Nawras. Mobile broadband speeds will be increased and network coverage widened. Work is to start in Quriyat and in September will continue along the Batinah coast from Al Suwaiq towards Shinas. At present, all Nawras sites in Salalah are being upgraded as capacity is doubled along with the speed of the Nawras 3.5G network. In addition, 4G technology is being deployed in the city for the Salalah Tourism Festival in August. Nawras invested some OMR 60 million (USD 155.3 million) in the first phase, upgrading the core network, building new base stations and adding 3.5G technology to the existing 2G sites from Al Bustan to beyond Al Musannah. A third 3G data carrier was activated on the 900MHz frequency band in May.

Oman: Smartphones souring - Oman is the fastest growing smartphone market in the GCC region with 65 percent of users having acquired a smartphone, according to Ashrf Fawakherji, Huawei Middle East Vice-President. Gulf News reported him on the sidelines of the inaugural launch of Huawei smartphones in Oman, saying the switch from feature phones to smartphones started in Oman in 2010. Hauwei was launching the 4G Ascend P2. Adhwa Al Billa Trading (ABT) is the local distributor and five service centres have been opened.

Qatar: Scoop for Sultanate - Ooredoo (Qatar) has won a Myanmar mobile licence, according to a Reuters report. Telenor (Norway) also won a licence. The award will bring foreign companies into the sector for the first time. The 15-year licences will be finalised by September 2013 and operators have nine months in which to launch services. They have to provide voice services in 75 percent of the territory and data in 50 percent within five years. Unsuccessful bidders included Vodafone Group (who abandoned a joint bid), together with Bharti Airtel, MTN, and Millicom International Cellular. The reserve bidder is Orange/Marubeni, who would be asked to participate if one of the winning bidders withdraws.

Saudi Arabia: Loan lengthened - Zain Saudi Arabia has renegotiated the repayment period of a SAR 9 billion (USD 2.4 billion) facility until 31 July 2013, the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) reported. The Sharia-compliant cost-plus-profit (Murabaha) loan was originally due to be repaid in 2011, but has been regularly renegotiated subsequently. According to the press release, the current extension will allow the company to finalise a new long-term replacement agreement with creditors. Zain Saudi Arabia had liabilities of SAR 19.5 billion at the end of 2012.

Saudi Arabia: Mobily MoUs - Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has signed Memorandum of Understandings with Nokia Siemens Networks and Ericsson to fund the purchase of USD 650 million's worth of equipment. The Economic Times of India reports that the operator is to work with the Finnish and Swedish export credit agencies to finalise 10-year sharia-compliant facilities. The Etisalat affiliate said the deal was the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia's telecom sector. Credit Agricole and Deutsche Bank are arrange the facility.

Senegal: Registration recommendation - The Department of Communication, Telecommunications and Digital Economy formally launched its SIM-registration program on 20 June 2013, according to Agence Ecofin. The operation is to be overseen by the Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications and Post (ARTP) and has a 31 July 2013 deadline. According to Abu Lo, ARTP's CEO, the measure was originally announced in 2007 on the recommendation of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) but six years after the decree was issued, operators have not completed the registration of all their subscribers.

Sierra Leone: Truanting telcos - The Parliamentary Oversight Committee on Information and Committee has found that two telcos, who registered in 2009, have failed to start operations. The Awoko news agency reported that Rawabi Dubai was registered with the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) but has no formal address, and has not hired any staff. However Manedaa Joshi told the committee he was the operator's Administrative Officer. The Committee also found that Ambitel was a mobile operator registered in 2009. Although it had a staff of 10, it had also failed to start operations. The committee issued a 72-hour deadline for the two to provide supporting documentation.

South Africa: MVNO marketing - Cell C has decided to bite the MVNO bullet by setting-up an MVNE (Mobile Virtual Network Enabler). According to City Press, is talking to up to 15 companies who are considering launching an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). Cell C spokesperson Vinnie Santu confirmed to City Press the process, but added that the talks are confidential. Orange claimed to be unimpressed by this initiative, preferring to wait for regulator ICASA to open the market up. The MVNO Directory lists two MVNOs in South Africa; Virgin Mobile and Econet (Red Bull is a reseller operation).

Swaziland: Cable case - Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) Senior Manager Titus Nzima has been cleared of four charges of misconduct regarding the sale of cable worth over SZL 5.9 million (USD 594,000), the Times of Swaziland reported. SPTC had instituted independent disciplinary proceedings against the Senior Manager - Supply Chain after the cable was sold as scrap to a company known as Euro Swazi Investments (Pty) Ltd. The chairman concluded that internal auditors had failed to identify who might have committed the 'workplace misdemeanours'.

Tanzania: Forecasts for farmers - Zantel Tanzania has formed a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Co-operatives and Finnish-based Sibesonke (spun-off from Nokia in 2009) are to launch the Z-Kilimo mobile application for the 33 million farmers in Tanzania. The DailyNews reports that the solution provides access to timely and relevant information regarding modern agricultural methods. It is an SMS-based application, and will provide advice on soil preparation, fertilisers, weather forecasts, crop varieties and cultivation, and a discussion group.

Uganda: Safe servers - The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has issued a tender for the virtualization and consolidation of its servers. A Disaster Recovery solution is also required. The UCC says the necessary funding has been allocated. A Pre-Bid meeting is to be held on 15 July 2013 and the closing date for bids is 29 July 2013. The bidding documentation is located on The Observer newspaper's Website.

Zimbabwe: Board banker - A new non-executive director has been named by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, The Herald reported. Martin Edge, described as a top international investment banker, has joined the board. Edge has worked in Africa for nearly 20 years with banks such as HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. Veteran US telecoms executive Dr James Myers was recently named as its new chairman. Other directors are Strive Masiyiwa, Tracy Mpofu, Craig Fitzgerald, Beatrice Mtetwa, Godfrey Gomwe, Sherree Shereni, Douglas Mboweni and Kris Chirairo.

Zimbabwe: Shareholding sought - The war veterans? company Magamba eChimurenga Housing Scheme is considering legal action against James Makamba for allegedly fraudulently acquiring its shares in Telecel Zimbabwe on behalf of Telecel International. Makamba is the former chairperson of Empowerment Corporation (Pvt) Limited which owns Telecel Zimbabwe in partnership with Telecel International. Local newspaper The Independent notes that Telecel International owns 60 percent, while Empowerment Corporation holds 40 percent. The group wants 20 percent of Empowerment Corporation, which was acquired by Telecel International through Makamba, and a further 30 percent of Empowerment Corporation?s Telecel Zimbabwe shares, which Makamba allegedly assigned to himself.