News in Brief 16 October 2013

Algeria: Bill buried - A bill to amend the Telecom Law of 2000 has been withdrawn from the National People's Congress (NPC) without adoption. It would have permitted number portability (NP), national roaming, and third-party broadband using Algerie Telecom's fixed network. Algeria's Press Service reports that the government submitted the amendment bill to the NPC in February 2013, and the document was subsequently examined by parliament in April. However regulator Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecoms (ARPT) said the proposed bill would weaken the regulator. The withdrawal may also delay the launch of 3G, although that process is currently on going (see story AMETW issue 13592).

Algeria: Satellite sale - Smart Link Com of Algeria has acquired Cable & Wireless Communications' Divona satellite business in Algeria for USD 1.4 million. Divona made USD 3.0 million profit before tax and before exceptional gains in 2012 and has gross assets and net assets of USD 14 million and USD 2 million respectively.

Cote d'Ivoire: Internet inauguration - The Cote d'Iviore Internet eXchange (CIVIX) has been formally inaugurated by Dr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on a visit to the regulator ARTCI's headquarters in Marcory Anoumabo, during an official visit to Côte d'Ivoire 1-4 October 2013.

Iraq: Co-operation courted - The Technical Under-secretary of the Ministry of Communications, Amir Khuder Al-Bayyati, has discussed with the Vietnamese Ambassador to Iraq, Dao Thanh Chung, prospects for co-operation in telecommunications projects between the two countries, National Iraqi News Agency (NINA) reported. Al-Bayyati invited the Vietnamese to visit Iraq and make a presentation on projects and systems in Vietnam, to lay the foundations of joint action and co-ordination between the two countries.

Kenya: Payment plan - The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has published the National Payment System Draft Regulations that recommend that e-money issuers shall utilise open systems capable of becoming interoperable with other payment systems both nationally and internationally. The same will apply to electronic retail transfers. Safaricom has previously opposed such a move, arguing that it will kill innovation and slow down the systems. Responses to the draft are required by 18 October.

Kenya: Promotion - Orange Kenya has appointed George Kebaso Mokogi as the Chief Carrier Services Officer. Previously he was Head of Public Sector.

Nigeria: Musical MTN - MTN's callertunez service is now the largest music distribution platform in Nigeria, with over 17 million subscribers, representing 33 percent of its 51.2 million subscribers at the end of 1Q13. Launched in 2008, MTN Callertunez has been a popular distribution channel as it is impossible for the service to be pirated or duplicated. MTN Nigeria's Chief Marketing Officer Larry Annetts noted that a Facebook and a smartphone app for the service would be launched before the end of 2013.

Nigeria: Critical communications - The classification of telecoms infrastructure as critical national infrastructure is shortly to be recognised in law. Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr Eugene Juwah, said a bill was at its final drafting stage. He said the bill has adopted a holistic approach, with inputs received from all the major stakeholders in both the security and the telecom sectors.

Nigeria: Regulatory road-map - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is organising the First Annual Conference of African Telecom Regulators on Consumer Affairs, to be held 17-18 October 2013, at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. The theme of the conference is 'Harnessing Regulatory Policies to Protect Telecom Consumers in Africa'. It is expected that at the end of the conference, a roadmap to resolving consumer-related issues in Africa would have been drawn-up.

Nigeria: VAS providers vetted - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has created a database of all Value Added Service (VAS) providers, in its bid to control unsolicited texts, The Tribune has reported. The NCC recently said in a press statement that it had sent warning letters to all VAS providers in which it had provided guidelines for unsolicited activities. NCC is also started enforcement against VAS operators which it has identified as illegal, and those abusing the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 and the Enforcement Process Regulations 2005. The Tribune notes the growth in robotic calls.

Oman: Persuasive plans - Nawras has announced the introduction of 4G mobile data in the form of combined voice and data plans. The 4G service can be added to existing monthly data plans. Musab Al-Haddabi, Nawras Mobile Data Senior Product Manager said: "Our high speed 4G network is designed to support data-hungry applications for video streaming, games, movies and much more. " Plans for the new voice and data experience range from 1 GB for OMR 5 (USD 13) through to 10 GB of inclusive data for OMR 24 (USD 62). Business plans extend up to 100 GB of data.

SAMENA: CEO takes chair - The South Asia, Middle East, North Africa (Samena) region Telecommunication Council has elected Dr Nasser Marafih as its new chairman. Marafih is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ooredoo. He is taking up the post from outgoing chairman, Mohamed Bin Isa Al Khalifa, the former group CEO of Bahrain Telecommunications Company.

Saudi Arabia: Fibre cable franchise - The Middle East Fiber Cable Manufacturing Company (MEFC) have formalised a working relationship with m2fx, manufacturer of Miniflex fibre cables. Riyadh-based MEFC - a Saudi-Japanese venture - has an estimated 40 percent of the Gulf market for fibre optic installations. Through installer Detasad, MEFC has already supplied Miniflex cable to Mobily, among the 500 regional fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) projects that m2fx cable has so far been employed in.

Saudi Arabia: iPhone latest - From 3 November Mobily will start offering iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C smartphones through its outlets. The devices are shipping with the latest iOS 7 and 4G. Mobily claims to be the first operator to exclusively launch iPhone devices in Saudi in 2009.

Sierra Leone: Office opening - Airtel Sierra Leone has formally opened its new headquarters office at Hill Station in Freetown. The Siray Timbo, Chairman of the National Telecommunication Commission, congratulated Airtel for improving the working environment for staff.

Somalia: Messaging mishap - A message deemed political in content and distributed by mobile operator Golis has led to a rebuke by the Puntland government in northern Somalia, Garowe Online reports. The message originated from the Somali Federal Government in Mogadishu and was not disseminated by members of the Media Association of Puntland (MAP) and local journalists. Aden Sheikhdon, Golis General Manager apologised for the text messages, claiming that they were sent as an International SMS and that Golis was in talks with government officials to prevent future mishaps. Meanwhile Ali Haji Warsame, General Manager of Golis, stepped down, and it is suggested he is a Puntland presidential hopeful who will participate in the upcoming elections to be held on 8 January 2014.

South Africa: Dampen, not broaden - The Wireless Access Providers? Association (WAPA) has registered 'strong opposition' to Vodacom?s acquisition of Neotel. It says that the acquisition would stifle competition, lead to job cuts, and do little to reduce the digital divide. WAPA and its membership apparently enjoy an 'excellent relationship' with Neotel, whereas Christopher Geerdts, chairman of WAPA, believes Vodacom?s influence will dampen the gains achieved, severely limit open wholesale access and set back rather than increase competition and consumer choice.

South Africa: Device distribution - HTC has closed its South African office and appointed Ingram Micro Mobility as distributor of its smartphones, TechCentral has reported. It originally entered the market using the services of distributor Leaf Wireless, but in 2012 HTC established a South African office to serve mobile operators MTN and Vodacom directly.

South Africa: Loyal users - Instant messaging service provider Mxit has been supplanted by Facebook as the country's largest social network, but has retained the loyalty of its user base, according to the SA Social Media Landscape 2014 research study, released this week by World Wide Worx and Fuseware. The Mxit user base fell significantly in the past year. In July 2012, a 30-day active measure gave Mxit 6.2 million subscribers. A year later, in July 2013, the active subscriber base had grown marginally to 6.3 million, while, in August, this number had grown to 6.5 million. Click here to download the executive summary of 'SA Social Media Landscape 2014'.

South Africa: Risky business - MTN?s General Manager of Business Risk, Lily Zondo, was due to attend Sandton police station this Monday morning, after a warrant was issued on Thursday over an extortion case. BDLive reported Zondo as being allegedly implicated in the case after suspended MTN Corporate Services Executive, Robert Madzonga, foiled an extortion attempt made against him.

Tanzania: Tax trial - The Attorney General (AG) asked the High Court to dismiss an application placed by five mobile operators, who are challenging the law over monthly deductions of TZS 1,000 (USD 0.60) for each user, as per the 2013 Finance Act. The DG argued that the person named on the affidavit was not able to represent the five named companies: Vodacom Tanzania, Airtel Tanzania, MIC Tanzania (Tigo), Zanzibar Telecommunications and Tanzania Telecommunications. However the court dismissed the objection and adjourned the case to 21 October.

Zimbabwe: Fibre funding - The Infrastructural Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) is to provide USD 54 million to TelOne and the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) for infrastructure development projects, according to The Herald newspaper. IDBZ CEO Charles Chikaura said TelOne will use the funding to complete its on-going national fibre-optic project.