News in Brief 19 March 2014

Africa: Session for seniors - Mo Ibrahim, founder of Celtel (now Airtel) and president of Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman of Econet Wireless; Abdeslam Ahizoune, CEO of Maroc Telecom and Safaricom's CEO Bob Collymore are expected to attend the second Africa CEO Forum. The three-day Forum ends in Geneva on 19 March 2014 and is being organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Africa & Middle East: Interconnect inked - Etihad Etisalat Company (Mobily) and Bharti Airtel have signed a master carrier services agreement (MCSA) to interconnect each other?s MPLS, IPLC and IP transit services. The interconnection will be able to accommodate quick activation of circuits from 1 Mbps to 1Gps and also allow customers to choose from a variety of class of service (CoS) according to their strategic requirements.

Africa & Middle East: Sony eyes Samsung - Sales of Sony phones in Africa and the Middle East are expected to grow by 50 percent in 2014, compared to 30 percent in 2013, according to Rudiger Odenbach, Vice-President of the Customer Unit at Sony Mobile Communications Middle East and Africa. It is looking to become the number three smartphone manufacturer this year. It had a three percent market share in 2013. Sony is launching a premium smartphone every six months, and rolling out its entertainment content such as music and movies in key operator-led countries such as Turkey and South Africa in 2014.

Algeria: ADSL expansion announced - Algerie Telecom has announced the commissioning of MSAN equipment in the city of Blida, with effect from 6 March 2014, with a capacity of 1,500 ADSL lines covering Kef Lehmam, Ouled Yaich and Blida.

Angola: Relations reinforced - The Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, José Carvalho da Rocha received the Swedish Minister of Infrastructure, Annie Loof in the first week of March. It was noted that Ericsson is currently working in the country. The National Director of Telecommunications, Eduardo Sebastian, and Antonio Pedro Benge Director of the Office of International Exchange were present, as was the Ericsson country manager.

Bahrain: LTE roaming - Batelco has launched LTE data roaming in Saudi Arabia on Mobily's network. Batelco subscribers will be able to roam on other 4G networks using a new IPX technology by agreement with other roaming operators.

Egypt: Flotation focus - Etisalat may list its shares but has not decided which bourse to use, or who will organise the initial public offering (IPO) for the firm, it said on Monday. The move follows a relaxation of the rules by the financial regulator earlier this year. Reuters reports Etisalat (Misr) as saying it 'is studying the best option for floating its shares on the bourse and the appropriate market for them, either on the Egyptian bourse or outside it'.

Egypt, Yemen: Ministers meet - A joint submarine cable project between Yemen and Egypt and ways to develop bilateral co-operation between Teleyemen and Telecom Egypt were topics for discussion on 16 March. Yemeni Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Dr. Ahmed bin Daghr met with his Egyptian counterpart Atef Helmy in Cairo. A session was also held at the headquarters of The National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA) in Cairo and co-chaired by Dr. Ahmed bin Daghr and Head of the NTRA Hisham Alayli. Talks were also held at Telecom Egypt and co-chaired by Dr Ahmed bin Daghr and CEO of Telecom Egypt, Mohammed El- Nawawi.

Ghana: Brazil bonanza - Glo Mobile Ghana is offering a group of pre-paid subscribers the chance to watch Ghana play in Brazil. A total of 25 Ghanaians, comprising 22 subscribers and three Dealers will be sponsored in the all-expense-paid trip to Brazil. Last year Glo sponsored a number of its trade dealers from Ghana, Nigeria and Benin Republic on a trip to the Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, United Kingdom. Akeem Kazeem, Head of Business at Glo Mobile Ghana, said pre-paid customers who cumulatively recharge their lines with a minimum of GHS 15 (USD 5.85) talk-time from now till the end of May will be entered into the ?Let?s Go to Brazil? prize draw. Winners who are unable to make the trip will receive a GHS 5,000 (USD 1,950) cash prize. There are also a thousand consolation prizes for pre-paid subscribers of GHS 10 of airtime.

 

 

Ghana: Solar solution - Indian-based Vihaan Networks Ltd (VNL) is to deploy its green mobile base station solutions in Ghana. The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication is to deploy VNL's solar-powered ?WorldGSM? mobile tower architecture. VNL is already present in Nigeria, Uganda and Benin.

Jordan: Consulate communications - Orange Jordan is to supply the British Embassy with integrated telecom services; ultimate business mobile lines and Internet lines to cater for the needs of the embassy and its staff. The deal was signed by Orange Jordan?s CEO Jean Francois Thomas and by the British Ambassador Peter Millet.

Kenya: Contract cancelled - A contract for the supply of primary school laptops awarded to Olive Telecommunications and worth some KES 24.6 billion (USD 279.6 million) has been cancelled by the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board, CapitalFM reported. The board?s chairman Josephine Monga?re said Olive lacked the financial capability to implement the project, but also quoted KES 1.4 billion higher than the required threshold. On financial capability, Olive did not meet the annual turnover criteria of KES 8 billion for the last three years from the time of awarding of the tender.

Kenya: Federation flounders - The Kenya National Federation of Co-operatives (KNFC) liquidation process is to be extended by a year. The group once claimed an 80 percent stake in the mobile operating licence that ultimately passed to yuMobile. BusinessDailyAfrica reports acting commissioner for co-operative development P. L. Musyimi in a gazette notice on Friday as saying that KNFC would get an extension to complete the liquidation. In September 2003 KNFC announced a consortium it dominated (with 81 percent stake) had won the tender to operate the third mobile phone network called Econet Wireless Kenya (EWK). The other members were Econet Wireless International (10 percent) owned by Zimbabwean Strive Masiyiwa, Peter Kibiriti?s Corporate Africa (4.5 percent) and Manga Mugwe?s Rapsel with 4.5 percent. In early 2004 KNFC acknowledged it could not raise its portion of the USD 12 million required, despite approaches to other federations.

Kenya: Safaricom free search - Safaricom is now offering Google Free Zone. Its subscribers can access Google+, Gmail and Google Search without incurring data charges. There will no charge for Google searches, but will be charged for links that redirect users outside the Free Zone, and subscribers will see a warning page that data charges will apply.

Kenya: M-Pesa maize - The Laikipia County government is looking to partner with Safaricom in its KES 2 billion (USD 22.7 million) plan to buy maize and other cereals from farmers through a warehouse receipting system. The local government envisages using M-Pesa to pay farmers for maize deliveries. Following a meeting between the two, ways to develop the concept are to be explored, BusinessDaily Africa reported. An investors? conference is scheduled for 24 April.

Kenya: NFC nears - Safaricom is to add NFC payment capabilities to M-Pesa, Techmoran has reported. The tendering process is currently underway. The report suggests that this would make Safaricom the first mobile operator in the region to mass deploy SIM-based NFC for contactless transactions.

Lebanon: Alfa apps - Alfa has launched its own mobile application store, which allows local developers to upload their applications for free. The Alfa App Store is available on Android, Symbian and BlackBerry mobile operating systems while iOS-based applications will be available through a web portal managed by Alfa. Over 140 free and paid-for applications are already on offer. The Alfa App Store deducts app fees directly from Alfa customers via their post-paid bill or pre-paid mobile credit account. Orascom Telecom Media & Technology (OTMT) manage Alfa.

Middle East: Meeting of MPLS - Tawasul Telecom, a provider of MPLS Networking Services in the Gulf Co-operation Council states and the Middle East announced that last week it established a co-operative partnership with Multinet Pakistan. The two will interconnect their MPLS networks. Tawasul Telecom's cloud network now covers 11 active markets in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Africa including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, the UK, Germany, Singapore, Egypt and now Pakistan. Multinet Pakistan has a long haul network in over 110 cities in Pakistan.

Morocco: Messaging from Maroc - The WhatsApp Pass has been added to Maroc Telecom's Jawal services. The pass allows unlimited calls without subscription to a 3G Internet plan, starting at MAD 1 per day. The operator is also including Twitter with its MT-Talk Pass, introduced at the start of 2014, in addition to Facebook and Facebook Messenger. With the MT-Talk Pass, customers get unlimited connection time without subscribing to a 3G Internet plan, in addition to Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Twitter apps.

Nigeria: SAP solution - MTN Business Nigeria has chosen Software Application (SAP) as its technology partner to provide managed mobility services to enterprise customers utilising the Afaria device and application management solution. Chief Enterprise Solutions Officer, MTN Nigeria, Babatunde Osho, said: "Our managed mobility services are based upon a subscription model which converts the cost to the end customer from capital expenditure to operational expenditure. This allows MTN Business Nigeria to provide all the advantages of a best-in-class solution to its enterprise customers. "

Oman: iPhone imminent - Nawras announced last week that it would offer iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c to customers, who may pre-register their interest at www.nawras.om/iPhone5s. The offer is valid until 28 April 2014.

Oman: Second phase starts - As previously reported, the second phase of the initial public offering (IPO) of the Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) is expected to open by the end of March, according to the Ministry of Finance. Some 71.25 million shares will be offered to Omani citizens, in consultation with the Capital Market Authority (CMA). The first phase closed on 12 March and was subscribed 1.99 times, the government receiving bids for 141,700,000 shares as against 71,250,000 shares on offer.

Senegal: Student data service - Tigo is to provide a 3G+ Internet service to the 5,000 students of business management institute ISEG under the 'One Student, One Computer' project in partnership with the Bank of Africa. Agence Ecofin reports that the BoA will buy the laptops and Tigo will provide the data services. Tigo launched its 'Digital Life Style' strategy in December 2013, when it launched 3G+, and provided a free Wi-Fi service in 250 public buses at the start of 2014.

South Africa: Nokia nominee - Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN) have appointed Deon Geyser as head of the Southern African sub-region. Geyser rejoins the vendor from mobile operator group Millicom Cellular International, which operators as Tigo in Africa. In his previous role at NSN, Geyser was Tanzania Country Director 2007 - 2012. He left to join Millicom as COO in Tanzania. Geyser had held various roles in NSN before moving to Millicom.

South Africa: Subscriber turned salesman - MTN subscribers can now sell airtime for any mobile network in South Africa and earn 5 percent cash rewards on the sale under the operator's Mobile Money Reseller Project. MTN has run adverts in the Sunday papers to promote the scheme. Commissions will be deposited into the reseller?s Mobile Money account.

Tanzania: Prize posters - Last week Tigo Tanzania awarded smart phones to its ten most active customers who provided comments through its Facebook and Twitter online platforms during 2013. Tigo Social Media Specialist, George Katoto, said the award was a gesture of appreciation to the ten customers for actively engaging the company through Facebook and Twitter last year. He noted there were over 332,000 fans and 14,700 followers on Facebook and Twitter respectively.

Tunisia: Agency head announced - Jamel Zenkri has been named as the Director-General of the Technical Telecommunications Agency (ATT), according to Tunisialive. Since December 2009, Zenkri has been serving as the General Rapporteur of regulator National Telecommunication Authority (INT). The ATT was established by decree in November 2013. The agency has been likened to the USA's NSA surveillance agency, although the Ministry of Communications noted that surveillance and filtering orders could only emanate from the judiciary.

Tunisia: Greater Google - Taieb Farhat, Commercial Director of Ooredoo-unit Tunisiana has announced a partnership with Google. The operator will now provide more enhanced services such as Google+, YouTube and Google AdWords. Mohamad Mourad, Regional Director for Google in the Middle East and North Africa, said: "Tunisiana will also be able to respond to its customers and be closer on the web with presence on Google Maps or Google Hangouts that allows making video chats. "

Uganda: Study sought - Funds have been allocated for a study on the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF), the Observer newspaper reported. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) wants to employ a consultant to look at RCDF interventions and identify their direct and indirect effects on society and the economy. It is to also include the impact of interventions on investment in ICTs.

United Arab Emirates: Cards cut - Etisalat started disconnecting unregistered SIM cards from Monday 17 March. Major points of sale across the UAE were open late on 14 March to facilitate mobile number registration by Etisalat's customers.

United Arab Emirates: Channel consolidation - du has hired ChannelSculptor to aggregate free-to-air channels for its IPTV network. ChannelSculptor?s mena.tv initiative provides a platform to link up the myriad of TV channels and the growing number of IPTV networks in the region. Ahmed Mokhles, Executive Vice-President Consumer Business at du said: "Our TV channel portfolio already exceeds 400, and we need to make the most of all our content opportunities. Working with ChannelSculptor will allow us to engage efficiently with the broadcasting community. We are making it easier, faster and hassle free for broadcasters to get on board. "

United Arab Emirates: Real time analytics - du has purchased Procera Networks' PacketLogic 10000 series of products, which will enable the company to provide an enhanced customer experience and network optimisation. The operator has deployed PacketLogic real time analytics, information and subscriber management systems. Saleem Al Balooshi, Executive Vice President of Network Development and Operation, du, noted the importance of upcoming features such as Network Function Virtualisation.

Zimbabwe: Account aggravation - Econet Wireless now wants its suppliers to open accounts with its Steward Bank. Businessdigest reports Econet Group Chief Finance Officer Roy Chimanikire as writing to say that as of 17 February 2014 Econet will pay suppliers via EcoCash 'within the EcoCash limits approved by the Central Bank'. Funds for firms that do not have an account will be held until an account is opened. Still, its not just Econet, as some European telcos now charge suppliers to submit invoices for services rendered...