News in Brief 15 January 2014

Africa: Capacity Consumption - Chief Executive Officer of SEACOM, Mark Simpson, says Africa?s telecom market has grown its international capacity consumption by an average compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35 to 50 percent and can be expected to maintain this trajectory for 'years to come'. SEACOM operates a 17,000km submarine broadband cable connecting Africa?s eastern coastline to Europe and Southern Asia. He noted that faster growth could be achieved if regulatory bottlenecks were removed.

Israel: DIC director - Cellcom Israel on Thursday last week that Mr. Nochi Dankner, who had been appointed as a member of the board by Discount Investment Corporation (DIC) had resigned with effect from 8 January 2014. Danker has been replaced by Mr. Raanan Cohen as the DIC appointee with effect from 9 January 2014.

Jordan: Universal wallet - Maha Bahou, Executive Manager of the Payment Services department at the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) told The Jordan Times that the Jordan Mobile Payment project allows mobile phone users to open an e-wallet with any of the mobile operators. An e-wallet can be used to make a withdrawal from any ATM in Jordan by scanning the mobile on the screen of the ATM. Participating operators have to lodge a bond of equivalent value to the number of e-wallets to be issued with the CBJ to protect users in the event they default.

Kenya: Re-hosted Exchange - Liquid Telecom is to host the Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) at its East Africa Data Centre. KIXP was set-up in 2002, and a tender process involving seven companies was undertaken. Fiona Asonga, CEO of Telecommunications Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK) said the move would increase KIXP?s capacity to help Kenyan Internet Service Providers to more easily exchange traffic within Kenya without having to rely on international data traffic.

 

Kenya: Telkom cuts tariffs - Telkom's Kenya's Orange has relaunched the Tujuane tariff, backed by an aggressive advertising campaign. The campaign uses orange to highlight the low tariffs, and lime green - Safaricom's corporate colour - to depict tariffs on other networks. Orange is charging KES 2 for on-net calls and KES 3 for off-net, compared to other operators' KES 4 for on-net and KES 5 off-net. The operator saw a 57 percent rise in volume when the rates were tested between 3 April and 31 May 2013.

Morocco: Unbundling unfair says Inwi - Inwi has taken the matter of local loop access and unbundled ADSL to the National Agency telecom regulator (ANRT), claiming that Maroc Telecom failed to notify it of increased capacity and speed. In consequence it was forced it to invest in its own infrastructure. Janie Letrot, the Director-General of Regulatory and Legal Affairs of Maroc Telecom claimed it had made local loop access available on terms approved by the regulator in 2008, but that it was just over a year ago that an operator had finally filed for access.

Nigeria: Not us says MTN - MTN claims that it is not responsible for the recent increase in its recharge cards. According to HumanIPO, subscribers were informed of a 10 percent increase last week. MTN Nigeria public relations and protocol manager Funso Aina told HumanIPO said: "Any variance from the authorised face value of recharge cards is without MTN?s knowledge or authority ".

Nigeria: Smartphone star - Globacom has launched the Nokia Asha 210 mobile phone preloaded with hit musician D'banj's hit tracks for NGN 11,000 (USD 68). The D'banj Asha 210 phone includes a free data plan of 12 months free Internet of 260 MB per month after each top-up of NGN 1,000.

Qatar: Bank guarantee - Ooredoo is to upgrade Doha Bank's network infrastructure, enhance its customer service and reinforce security. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) ensures Ooredoo's data network is continuously available and so providing round-the-clock access to ATMs, customer service call centres and Internet banking services.

Qatar: Fast Fibre - Ooredoo claims to now be supplying broadband fibre to more than 100,000 customers in Qatar, with the service continuing to be rolled-out to new areas. For as little as QAR 17 (USD 4.67) per month, Fibre customers have access to the High Definition Mozaic TV service. Both domestic and business users can access the 100Mbps plan for QAR 650 (USD 178) per month, with basic packages starting at QAR 233 (USD 64) for home broadband and voice services. Ooredoo?s investment in Fibre will continue throughout 2014.

Qatar: Ooredoo overseas - Ooredoo Myanmar has signed with Indonesian tower company Protelindo and telecom operator Digicel for the rollout of mobile towers in Myanmar, TMT Finance has reported. Potentially Ooredoo could partner with rival Telenor for tower sharing, although there is thought to have failed to agree key terms for such a deal.

Senegal: Tower sale - Orange is to initiate the search for a buyer for the towers currently owned by Sonatel by the end of January, TMT Finance reported. Lazard is reported to have been appointed to manage the sale; it is also to sell the towers belonging to Mobinil in Egypt. Sonatel owns over 3,000 towers in West Africa with an estimated value of around USD 500 million, which comprises portfolios of 1,600 in Senegal, 400 in Guinea, 1,000 in Mali, and 85 in Guinea-Bissau.

Somalia: Facebook facilitated - Telesom has launched its 'Facebook Offline Mobile' app which will allow its subscribers to access their Facebook and twitter accounts without Internet access. Head of Marketing and Public Relations Department Mr. Mohamed Abdi Ahmed Darbo said users would be able to quickly access and reply to Facebook and twitter messages through their phones. Users text 'Sub Fbn' to number 400, and the reply details the subsequent steps being taken. The company is henceforth to be known as Telesom Group of Companies which incorporates newly acquired businesses such as Salaam Bank and Somgas.

South Africa: Loan recalled - Suspended Chief Financial Officer Jacques Schindehütte has been asked by Telkom to repay a ZAR 6 million (USD 563,000) interest-free loan made in September 2013 to buy shares in the company. The loan was granted just three weeks before he was suspended for allegations related to personal misconduct. In November, Telkom said that the loan may have not complied with the provisions of the Companies Act.

South Africa: Seasonal SIM delay - First National Bank (FNB) is reported to have cleared the backlog of Cell C SIM activations that had built up through December 2013. A user complained to MyBroadband that the Cell C SIM they received from FNB on 21 December 2013 with an iPad Air order had not been activated. Head of smart devices at FNB core banking solutions, Kartik Mistry told MyBroadband that there was a delay in SIM activations due to the Christmas holiday period.

South Africa: VOD plan vented - Telkom has been talking to Germany's Bertelsmann, South African Naspers and America's Netflix and Comcast regarding the launch of its video-on-demand service. In an interview with Bloomberg, Telkom chief executive officer (CEO) Sipho Maseko took credit for the initiative and said it was looking to increase revenues from value added services for its fixed-line broadband infrastructure. In November, Bloomberg reported that Vodacom was reportedly also in discussions with Naspers over access to its TV content, which could see Vodacom taking content from Multichoice, the broadcast division of Naspers.

Tanzania: Third of dues for TTCL - Tanzania Telecommunication Limited (TTLC) has reportedly collected only USD 2 million out of USD 6.5 million it is due, ITWeb reported. TTCL Chief Executive officer, Dr. Kamugisha Kazaura, has, however, said that the debt collection exercise is still on course. In October 2013 the Parliamentary Economic Infrastructure Committee (EIC) directed it to recover money the money owed to it within three months. TTCL was partially privatised in 2001.

Zambia: Call for rate rise review - Mobile operators MTN, Airtel and Zamtel have passed a recent 5 percent hike in excise duty on airtime as mandated in the 2014 national budget onto users. Minister of Finance and National Planning Alexander Chikwanda raised excise duty to 15 percent from 10 percent in the 2013 national budget. Zambia has just over 10 million mobile subscribers, and the Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) and Chambers of Commerce and Industry, have called on the government to review the decision.