News in Brief 23 October 2013

News in Brief 23 October 2013

Africa: Renewable revolution - ZTE Corporation said in a press release it is working with governments and enterprises in 15 African nations, including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Niger, to deploy the use of renewable solar energy. A variety of green energy products and solutions, including solar lighting systems, mobile solar power systems, solar power for base stations and solar power for household lighting systems are being deployed.

Africa & Middle East: Traffic forecast - Senior Manager Cisco Consulting Services for Middle East and Africa Irfan Verjee has forecast Middle East and Africa mobile data traffic will grow 17-fold from 2012 to 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 77 percent. Mobile data traffic will reach 861,298 Terabytes (0.86 Exabytes) per month in 2017, the equivalent of 2,374 million text messages each second. This is attributed to the 'expected steady increase in mobile traffic is partly due to continued strong growth in the number of mobile Internet connections (personal devices and machine-to-machine applications), which will exceed the world?s population (United Nations estimates 7.6 billion) by 2017'.

Bahrain: Sponsorship signed - Batelco has signed up as a sponsor for the new StartupBahrain tablet magazine. StartupBahrain is published monthly with their eighth issue now out. Batelco will be providing monthly articles and competition prizes.

Egypt: Canadian concerns - Orascom Telecom (OT) will not be allowed to invest in fibre optical to strengthen its mobile phone network in Canada due to its involvement in North Korea, Agence Ecofin reports. National security issues are cited. OT has a 75 percent shareholder, with Korea Post and Telecommunications Corp. in Koryolink.

NEW!  Africa, Middle East & Europe Mobile Market Opportunities Wallchart 2013
Mobile penetration, net additions and Q4 2010, Q4 2011, Q4 2012 subscriber data for all MNOs

Egypt: Loss leader - Orange-subsidiary Mobinil (Egyptian Company for Mobile Services) has registered yet another loss during the second quarter of 2013. In the consolidated financial statement of the company issued on 21 October 2013 it lost more than EGP 134 million (USD 19.3 million) in the quarter, bringing the total half-year losses to over EGP 296 million (USD 42.7 million).

Egypt: Stake sought - Vodafone may be set to acquire the 45 percent stake it does not already own in Vodafone Egypt, Bloomberg has reported. It is thought that the sale could raise about USD 2 billion for Telecom Egypt. A formal approach has not yet been made.

Egypt: Touted towers - Accelero Capital has been linked to the purchase of 3,000 towers belonging to Orange unit Mobinil in Egypt. TMT Finance reports that the first stage of bidding has been completed and binding offers are imminent. Lazard is managing the process and is expected to oversee the sale of towers belonging to West African subsidiary Sonatel. London-based Ashmore Group is reported to be considering an offer, although IHS, Eaton and Helios are not thought to be interested. Accelero is owned by Naguib Sawiris who holds a 5 percent stake in Mobinil through Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding (OTMT); his controlling stake in Mobinil was sold to Orange in 2012.

Ghana: Gifting gigabytes - Airtel Ghana pre-paid users can buy data bundle for another user. The service does not come with any extra charges. Airtel Ghana Marketing Director Ashish Malhotra said that the Data Gift Service allows users to purchase data, ranging from 10MB to 12GB at no extra cost to the recipient. Head of Corporate Communications at Airtel Ghana Donald Gwira introduced the new online data subscription site at www.bundles.airtellive.com.

Iran: Frozen funds - MTN Group has some USD 450 million waiting to be repatriated from Iran, after the US imposed sanctions. Spokesman Nik Kershaw told Reuters that it is sanction-compliant, but welcomed the prospect of thawing relations. MTN owns 49 percent of MTN Irancell, which contributed 24 percent of its 2012 revenue. Some USD 120 million is dividends due to MTN with the remainder made up of loans due to be repaid to MTN.

Kenya: Account app - Safaricom?s M-Pesa is partnering with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group to launch a mobile banking app. KCB M-Benki will allow users to open a bank account with their mobile phone via the KCB Mobi platform. To open an account, Safaricom subscribers will key in their ID number through an M-Pesa pay bill account. KCB Group Chief Executive Officer, Joshua Oigara said it looked 'forward to enlisting an additional 3 million customers in the next 12 months'.

Kenya: Registration regulation - The Government is to issue fresh regulations to govern the registration of SIM cards. Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Fred Matiang?i said the new regulations would deal with loopholes in the current regime. He promised that SIM card registration would be changed in a 'radical manner'. An announcement is expected shortly.

Kenya: Smartphone share - The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has been launched by Safaricom retailing from KES 75,999 (USD 879), or with related accessories for KES 99,999 (USD 1,161). Head of Retail Sales Janet Atika said Safaricom sells over 37,000 smartphones each month, representing 40 percent of the 100,000 smartphone sales sold monthly.

Mauritania: One less - Inwi, the Moroccan unit of Zain Group, has decided not to pursue an interest in Mattel, majority owned by Tunisie Telecom. This leaves Bharti Airtel, MTN and Orange as potential buyers. Mattel was established on 11 May 2000, and is the third largest operator in terms of subscribers, competing with Mauritel and Chinguetti Tel, a subsidiary of Sudatel. Tunisie Telecom is selling its Mauritanian asset to allow it to focus on its domestic market, where it has lost ground, mainly to Wataniya Telecom subsidiary Tunisiana. Tunisie Telecom hired BNP Paribas to find a buyer for its Mattel stake and a deal could be announced as early as November, Morocco?s Le Matin du Sahara has noted.

Malawi: Cheap card - Airtel Malawi last week launched a low denomination scratch card of MWK40 (USD 0.11), the Nyasa Times reported. The card offers 2 minutes to talk on Airtel at the rate of MWK 20 per minute and 4 promotional short messages (SMS) to send on Airtel to be valid until the?midnight?on the recharge date. Zone Branch Manager Pangani Msosa said the Yabooka MWK 20 card has been a success, and almost 60 percent of the total MWK 20 recharging subscribers recharge more than once a day. The MWK 40 now gives greater convenience.

Mali: Licence limbo - Agence Ecofin notes that Planor/Monaco Telecom has until 13 November 2013 to pay the balance of XOF 22 billion (USD 45.9 million) for the third mobile licence. The group trades in Mali as Telecom Alpha Malian. Non-payment may see its licence revoked. It was required to make the payment in May, but was granted an additional six months.

Nigeria: Café crime - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has issued a public notice telling cyber café licensees and operators that they must maintain databases of the subscribers who use their services. The NCC said there has been an increase in the rate of cyber crime committed through cyber cafes.

Nigeria: Service stop - MTN Nigeria has launched a new service channel via kiosks under the VISA 3000 moniker, with some 500 kiosks will be created in Forte Oil fuel stations.

Nigeria: Subscriber status - Globacom has some 35 million mobile subscribers in Nigeria, Ghana and Benin, Head of Glo world, Brenda Akhigbe has said. The Tribune newspaper also reported Akhigbe claiming 71 percent of its subscriber base is in Nigeria.

South Africa: Directorship for Decaux - Orange Business Services (OBS) has appointed Yannick Decaux as South Africa Country Manager and as Sales Director for sub-Saharan Africa, ITNewsAfrica has reported. OBS provides B2B services and integration of communications services for multinational corporations.

South Africa: Local centre - The Webhelp Group is to set-up two call centres after securing a telecommunications contract. It will open a 7,500m² facility in Cape Town, and a 4,500m² site in Johannesburg this week. It plans to recruit 1,000 people over the next 12 months. Existing clients include Virgin Mobile, Orange and Canal +.

South Africa: Mobile maths - Nokia and the Department of Science and Technology have announced the availability of Nokia Mobile Mathematics, a mobile phone service that helps learners from grades 10 - 12 better understand Mathematics. The service provides more than 10,000 exercises of varying difficulties to a data enabled device. It was piloted in 2009 according to Gerard Brandjes, Vice President, Nokia South and East Africa, and after five years of development it was now generally available. The service is available at momaths.nokia.com.

South Africa: Post for Pongwana? - TechCentral reports that the new head of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) with effect from 1 November will be former Vodacom executive Pakamile Pongwana. However ICASA spokesman Paseka Maleka was reported as saying that it is not yet in a position to make a formal announcement. Pongwana was a managing executive for regulatory affairs at Vodacom South Africa from June 2005 to July 2013. Before that he was deputy director-general in charge of telecom policy at the Department of Communications under former DG Andile Ngcaba.

Sierra Leone: Soccer service - Africell Lintel on 17 October 2013 launched the 'Football Live Score Service'. This transmits Match Reminders and Live Match Updates from top leagues globally, including England, Spain, Italy, France and Germany. On Match days, Live Scores Alert broadcasts will be sent to subscribers who have already registered.

South Africa: Enhanced Ethernet - Ciena is supplying Metrofibre Networx (MFN) with its packet networking platform to support enhanced Ethernet managed bandwidth service offerings. Ciena has worked with BizConnect partner Adcomtec to provide a core network infrastructure that will allow MFN to deploy its MetroConnect Carrier Ethernet services in South Africa. MFN deployed Ciena's 3940 Service Delivery Switch and MEF CE2.0-certified 5150 Service Aggregation Switch. The infrastructure is based on 10G optical fibre rings, scalable to 100G.

Syria: Warehouse wasted - The Syria Reports notes that a fire at a warehouse of the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE) has caused damages of some SYP 15 billion (USD 107.7 million), according to a company executive.

Tanzania: Return on Investment - Vodacom Tanzania paid TZS 29.2 billion (USD 17.7 million) in corporation tax in the first half of its 2013 financial year which runs from April to September, up 86 percent on the same period in 2012, according to Vodacom Tanzania?s Managing Director Rene Meza. It has invested some TZS 1.5 trillion (USD 91.1 million), and now has over 2,700 sites. The M-Pesa service has over 5 million subscribers. However Internet penetration remains at approximately 10 percent.

Turkey: Peak performance - Peak Games, a mobile, social, and online game publisher, has more than 11.8 million daily active players, and claims to dominates the markets for such titles in Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa. Peak attributes its success to tailoring content to players in the Middle East, with titles such as Okey, an online version of a traditional board game that is popular in the region. Rina Onur, Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Peak Games, in an interview with GamesBeat that it began investing when there were only 2 million mobile devices in the region, and had 10 million customers on Facebook.

United Arab Emirates: Best for BlackBerry - The Middle East continues to be one of the strongest regions for BlackBerry globally. According to data provided by research firm GfK, BlackBerry was the number three best-selling brand in the UAE in August 2013. Additionally, 98 percent of all BlackBerry users in the UAE use BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). Consequently BlackBerry notes that the UAE has one of the highest customer use rates in the world.

United Arab Emirates: Stake sale - Dubai Holding's is expected to conclude the sale of its 35 percent stake in Tunisia's state-owned Tunisie Telecom and 26 percent stake in Dubai-based mobile phone retailer Axiom Telecom, according to Reuters. J.P. Morgan Chase estimates the sales of the minority stakes could generate USD 1 billion in total. A unit of Libya's sovereign wealth fund was reported to be in talks to buy the Tunisie Telecom stake, although there are several parties thought to be interested in the stake.

Yemen: Projects published - The Ministry of Communications is to launch 260 development projects in the communications sector at a total cost of YER 12 billion (USD 55.9 million), the local Al-Thawra daily has reported. The projects will provide additional lines and Internet in rural areas, and enhanced services in urban areas.

Zimbabwe: Underwriter unknown - The EcoFarmer insurance product provided by mobile operator Econet for its farming subscribers is being investigated by The Insurance Pension Commission (IPEC), according to NewsDay. IPEC commissioner Manett Mpofu said Econet was not licensed as per the Insurance Act, and does not state in adverts whether Econet Wireless is the underwriter of the product or a registered insurance company using its mobile platform to offer the product. Econet said that it had engaged an underwriter working with IPEC.