News in Brief 25 September 2013

Africa: Mobile mastery - Brand Africa has listed the Top Ten African brands, with MTN topping the table. Nigeria?s Globacom was fifth. The Top Ten most admired and valuable international brands in Africa included Samsung, Vodafone and Airtel. Interestingly Orange didn't make the table, but this might reflect a sampling bias as Orange has a stronger presence in West Africa.

Africa: Not so Top Ten - Bloomberg this week highlighted the nations with the lowest percentage of subscribers to any kind of mobile service. Of the 10 countries it identifies, seven are in Africa, namely Eritrea (5 percent penetration); Ethiopia (23 percent); Central African Republic (27 percent); Madagascar (28 percent); Malawi (28 percent); DRC (29 percent) and Burundi (32 percent). The three countries outside Africa were Myanmar (6 percent); North Korea (7 percent) and Cuba (14 percent).

Bahrain: China connection confirmed - Last week Batelco and Huawei signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Bahrain - China Business Forum in Beijing. The agreement was to 'enhance their long standing relationship'. The agreement will further strengthen the co-operative relationship between Batelco and Huawei, and open new prospects for further co-ordination and co-operation between the two globally.

Bahrain: Senior step-downs - Reuters has noted the departures of Batelco?s Chief Financial Officer Marco Regnier and Chief Executive Officer Peter Kaliaropoulos. These follow the sudden resignation of former CEO Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa al-Khalifa in May. Kaliaropoulos left Batelco in June after eight years, having performed as CEO and COO.

Burkina Faso: Quality questioned - The Chairman of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services (ARCEP) met with the mobile operators on Friday 20 September 2013 to share the impact of bonus promotions on the network Quality of Service (QoS). Airtel, Telmob and Telecel were shown the results of tests made ??by ARCEP, which demonstrated that QoS deteriorated sharply during bonus periods. The operators were invited to consider the implications before the next meeting scheduled for 3 October.

Equatorial Guinea: Football favourites - Getesa has donated football kit to its team to be used in the third edition of the Business Football League organised by the Provincial Delegation of Youth and Sports of Bioko Norte. Gaspar Ekua Nnandong Eyeyen, Getesa's Marketing Manager made the presentation.

Gambia: Director detained - The Point newspaper has reported that Baboucarr Sanyang, Managing Director of state-owned Gamtel, has been 'removed' from his position on Tuesday last week. No reason for the move was given. The paper notes Sanyang replaced Jamal Micknas as Gamtel MD in June 2011.

Ghana: Coverage to be charted - The national coverage claimed by the mobile operators is being challenged by the Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah. The MyJoyOnline Website has quoted the Minister as saying the claim is a ?deception?, whilst making reference to the published coverage maps. The Minister was speaking on Asempa FM?s Ekosiisen about a wide range of telecom and ICT industry issues. Boamah called for greater transparency and said he had asked the NCA to publish the QoS reports to highlight areas of poor coverage by operators.

Ghana: Fire damage fixed - MTN Ghana network experienced an outage in the Western Region on 17 September after a fire at a hub-site in Axim affected the town and surrounding areas. The Chronicle reports that the fire destroyed transmission equipment and cables, and disrupting services to 22 base stations in the areas of Elubo, Tikobo, Half-Assini, Nzulesu, Esiama, and Nkroful. Services were restored to 18 sites within hours of the fire being extinguished. Head of the MTN Technical team, Teddy Hayford-Acquah said that the remaining four sites would be on-line by the end of 18 September.

Israel: Remuneration ratified - Cellcom Israel has said that its 12 September Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) had approved its Executive Compensation Policy. Earlier in the month Cellcom Israel said it would announce its proposed remuneration policy at an EGM, and that its annual report would show the average base salary percentile of its senior management in relation to their peer group, based on a peer group analysis conducted by a consultant. Cash bonuses for any year would now be subject to an additional minimum requirement of achieving an annual EBITDA of not less than 60 percent of the company's EBITDA for the previous year.

Kenya: Cancer concerns - Court of Appeal judges have defied an order from the Supreme Court to move to new offices, citing fear of radiation from nearby communication masts, HumanIPO has reported. In Gazette notice number 11154 of 8 August 2013, the relocation to the new building at Elgon Place, in Upper Hill, Nairobi was mandated. The judges have argued that intense exposure to radioactive emissions could lead to sickness and even death, the judges have argued. Other staffs, however, have already relocated.

Kenya: Internet investment - An 8 percent increase in CAPEX is planned by Safaricom in the 2013-14 financial year to meet demand for Internet access, Bloomberg reported. CEO Bob Collymore said it will have to continue investing in infrastructure, which will rise to KES 27 billion (USD 303.6 million) from KES 25 billion. The CEO said that he expects Kenya's data usage and penetration to overtake that of Egypt in five years due to the investment in fibre-optic networks and lower pricing per data unit. Internet users rose 11.6 percent to 16.2 million in 4Q12.

Lebanon: App accepted here - Contrary to what is going on elsewhere, touch, which Zain Group manages, has recently launched a WhatsApp Bundle. The WhatsApp bundle is available for pre-paid subscribers at just USD 4 per month and provides 200 MB. Just two weeks after launch, the WhatsApp Bundle had reached over 50,000 subscribers. Claude Bassil, General Manager of touch said it had partnered with WhatsApp.

Morocco: Interactive Inwi - On Friday 13 September 2013 inwi achieved one million fans on Facebook. The operator claims over 1.2 million unique visitors to its Inwi.ma Website. On Facebook it has an engagement rate of between 2.5 and 6 percent. For online games, it has more than 150,000 gamers and more than 1.5 million games.

Namibia: Salaries settled - The Namibia Public Workers Union (NAPWU) signed a Memorandum of Agreement last week on Salaries and Benefits with Telecom Namibia (TN) to review remuneration for the 2013-14 financial year. Increases will be implemented from 1 October, and will cost Telecom NAD 23 million (USD 2.3 million) in the 2013-14 financial year, according to the Namibian Economist.

Nigeria: Big spenders - Mediafacts, a unit of MediaReach OMD, has revealed MTN Nigeria as the biggest telecoms advertiser in 2012, with the spend put at USD 30 million. Second was Etisalat with USD 27.2 million. Airtel and Globacom spent USD 18.5 million and USD 18.3 million respectively. The USD 96.3 million spend by the telecom sector in 2012 was down from the USD 124.5 million spend in 2011.

Nigeria: CBN connectivity - The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said mobile payments are gaining ground in Nigeria, and that the policy is being taken beyond cash-in-cash-out remittances and top-up, according to CBN?s Director of Banking and Payment System Department, Mr Dipo Fatokun. Fatokun said that the Central Bank was close to signing an MOU with Nigerian Communication Satellite (NICOMSAT) to provide Wi-Fi technology across Nigeria to improve connectivity. The observation was made at one-day conference in Lagos under the 'Mobile Money and Financial Inclusion' banner organised by Leeds Bryan International Limited and the Brookings Institution, Washington, DC.

Nigeria: Record roll-out - As part of its efforts to improve customer service, MTN Nigeria has rolled out a record 10,000 base stations according to CEO Michael Ikpoki. It has also installed additional switching centres, aside from its network management centre, and approximately 20,000 kilometres of fibre-optic cable connecting centres and around metropolitan hubs. Ikpoki said there is still room for improvement, and that operational challenges relating to the environment sometimes robbed the network of the gains it has made in capacity expansion.

Oman: Billing bids - Dr Rasheed bin Al Safi al-Huraibi, the chairman of the Tender Board said this week that a tenders for upgrading of devices and database of Oman Telecommunications Company's billing system is expected to be awarded shortly.

Saudi Arabia: Five-year financing - Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) is to invest SAR 22 billion (USD 5.9 billion) through to 2018 to enhance products and services, Arab News reported. Mobily has invested some SAR 54 - 58 billion (USD 14.4 - 15.5 billion) since launch in 2004, according to its Chief Executive Khalid Al-Kaf. Its 3G services cover 92 percent of the territory, whilst 4G is available in 45 cities.

Syria: Chiefs canvassed - Syrian Telecom has announced two vacancies, both with the rank of Director and based in the central administration in Damascus. The posts are in financial and commercial management and have the titles Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Full details are here.