News in Brief 25 June 2014

Africa: Accepted in Africa - PayPal is now active in 203 countries, having added 10 new countries to its list of active players. The new African nations are Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire and Zimbabwe, according to Rupert Keeley, PayPal's EMEA head. PayPal is only offering money transmission services initially to allow users to pay for goods and services at PayPal-enabled merchant sites. It will not be available initially for peer-to-peer transactions.

Africa: Payment provision - UK-based mobile payment enabler Bango, which connects app stores with Direct Operator Billing (DOB), says that in 2014, it has launched additional DOB for app store partners with Saudi Telecom and Mobily in Saudi Arabia, Mobinil in Egypt, Telkom in South Africa, Telefónica in Mexico and Telenor in Hungary. It claims to have developed a strong presence in the Middle East, where, despite high levels of credit card ownership, cards are not widely used for online payments. Richard Leyland, VP Marketing Communications at Bango noted it has been running a seminar program under the ?Bango Nexus? moniker, which has reached Johannesburg, with delegates from a number of 'key sub-Saharan markets'.

Algeria: Deadline extended - The Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications has announced an extension of the bidding deadline as per its announcement of 6 May 2014. The deadline for submission of bids initially set for 19 June 2014 has been extended to 3 July 2014. Bids are required for the supply of a 40 GHz Spectrum Analyser; a Field Strength Meter; a Handheld Spectrum Analyser; a Spectrum Analyser Laboratory; and the supply and installation of a platform for testing multimode 2G/3G/4G. Details are on the Website at http://www.arpt.dz/fr/.

Bahrain: IDD increase - International Direct Dial (IDD) calls made using Batelco fixed lines are set to rise from August. Calls are to be charged per minute and so align the charging process with all Batelco's voice services, including 123 Call Calling Cards. A list of the new IDD rates is available on Batelco's Website.

Bahrain: Mail message - Batelco is to launch a new voice mail service on 1 July. The service, available globally, allows subscribers to leave a voice mail message when calling users who are not available. The recipient will receive a text message, free of charge, notifying them of the voice mail message and the caller's number.

Cote d?Ivoire: Trialling time - Orange Cote d?Ivoire has started a pilot 4G trial, although apparently without the formal approval of telecommunications regulator ARTCI. Orange has posted a Web page inviting users to try the 4G facility. However News Alert reports that a licence is required for the provision of 4G Internet. Orange claims to have informed ARTCI, although 'News Alert' reports the regulator has formed a 'crisis committee'. Currently only the Internet provider YooMee Cote d'Ivoire has a 4G licence.

Egypt: Integrated implementation - A meeting with mobile operators is to be called to finalise the details for the implementation of the integrated licences. The Ministry said the meeting would review all the submissions regarding the licence, Amwal Alghad reported. There are three phases: Phase I sees Telecom Egypt issued a mobile licence without frequencies for EGP 2.5 billion (USD 348.6 million); Phase II includes giving operators the opportunity to obtain new frequencies and international gateway licences; Phase 3 seeks to make all the operators equal in the submitted services.

 

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Egypt: Sawiris spending - The Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority said last week that it had approved a EGP 1.83 billion (USD 255.2 million) offer by Naguib Sawiris and Cairo-based Beltone Financial Holding to buy 20 percent of EFG-Hermes Holding. EFG-Hemres is the largest publicly traded Arab investment bank. This is his second attempt to buy a stake in EFG-Hermes. His first was after the bank?s shareholders opted for a tie-up with Qatar?s QInvest (which failed) two years ago.

Ghana: Complimentary cash service - MTN Ghana has said that more than 5 million subscribers are transacting business through the MTN Mobile Money platform every month, of which two million are registered on the platform, the Business Chronicle reported. MTN Ghana's Senior Commercial Manager of Sales and Distribution, Eli Hini, said the growth of mobile money complements the business of microfinance companies and banks as it provides tools to enhance their services. The mobile money services are also available at partner banks, Hini noted.

Ghana: Marketing moves - Vodafone's Chief Marketing Officer, Uche Ofodile.Vodafone, has resigned, after five years of service. She joined Vodafone in 2009 as the Head of Strategy, Brand and Communications after Vodafone had acquired Ghana Telecom. In 2011 she was named as Chief Marketing Officer. A successor has not yet been named.

Ghana: Roaming regularised - MTN Ghana has introduced Roam Like Home, a new roaming tariff, which allows subscribers to travel in any of the 21 countries in which MTN operates at local rates on Voice, Data and SMS, according to Acting Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Ghana, Noel Ganson. MTN has also recently introduced a Global Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) service to facilitate international business.

Israel: ISP fee increase - Bezeq has unilaterally increased the fee it charges ISPs for the customers it recruits for them by 150 percent from ILS 20 per customer to ILS 50, Globes has reported. Some ISPs have told Bezeq that they will not pay the fee, and Bezeq has replied that in such cases it will stop marketing them. Bezeq has also said it will pay the same fee when ISPs introduce customers to it, so offsetting its own fee. Customer can go to the Bezeq Website and select an ISP, which compete on price. As Bezeq dominates the market, the small ISPs are seen to benefit, as they do not have to possess large marketing networks. However the system is not beneficial for large ISPs as it gives Bezeq control of the customer.

Jordan: Content corralled - Zain Jordan has selected Irish-based Jinny SmartGuard for message filtering and content subscription control. SmartGuard provides subscriber protection from unsolicited text messages and unsubscribed content. SmartGuard also secures the network from spam and fraudulent activity such as spoofing and faking. Richard Choi, Jinny Chief Commercial Officer, said Zain approached it with a specific requirement to protect their subscribers from nuisance text messages and unsolicited premium content. Ahmad Smadi, Data & VAS Manager at Zain Jordan said Jinny was a long-standing supplier.

Liberia: High spenders hailed - Lonestar Cell MTN has launched what it describes as a 'prestige club' to acknowledge the loyalty and patronage of its High Value Customers. Three categories have been defined: Platinum, Elite and Premier. Posts and Telecommunications Minister, Dr. Fredrick Norkeh, attended the launch. Lonestar Cell MTN's Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. Sekou Barry, presented the initial prizes. 'Loyalty' was defined by length of subscribership (5 or 10 years) and by the level of spend.

Malawi: Ropy regulation - The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has formulated new regulations that give it powers to imprison mobile network executives for poor network and customer service quality. Operator TNM has said, however, that the country lacks a fair regulatory environment. TNM Managing Director Willem Swart told Blantyre Newspapers that pending the operator?s licence renewal, Macra had initiated various new regulations, fees and large penalties for a broad range of key indicators on the network and customer service quality.

Namibia: mi-Fone finds market - Retailer Gadgets Namibia said last week that the demand for mi-Fone is rapidly increasing. Sales and Marketing Manager Julia Shilunga said it offers the full range of mi-Fone products, which ranging from NAD 299 - 3,800 (USD 28 - 356). The phone utilises the Android operating system, including Jellybean and Ginger versions. A report by New Era quoted Shilunga as saying the top of the range mi-Fone was equivalent to the Samsung S3.

Namibia: President pleased - President Hifikepunye Pohamba has congratulated Telecom Namibia (TN) for the way in which the State-owned operator has fulfilled its mandate. The comments were made on a visit by a TN delegation led by the Board Chairman Dr Catherine Beukes-Amiss to the State House on 9 June 2014. Managing Director, Frans Ndoroma, attended the meeting as well as members of the board, and other key staff. The President was briefed on the roll out of Regional ICT hubs, the high-speed (3G/4G LTE) network, strengthening and expansion of the national transport infrastructure, regional and international connectivity for the country, as well as school Internet connectivity through the program run by the Xnet Development Alliance Trust.

Nigeria: Co-branded comparisons - MTN and Naspers owned online price comparison company PriceCheck has launched a co-branded app. The two launched a co-branded app in South Africa in March this year. PriceCheck Chief Executive Officer, Andre de Wet, confirmed the deal to ITWeb Africa at the Mondato Africa Summit on Mobile Financial Services in Sandton, Johannesburg. de Wet was accompanied by MTN Chief Commercial Officer Pieter Verkade.

Nigeria: Etisalat education - Etisalat has launched an educational product for children between the ages of eight and 15 branded as 'Cliqlite'. It provides e-learning features and an intuitive interface. Oluwole Rawa, Etisalat Nigeria Consumer Segment Director said it comes with pre-installed educational content that allows children, and educational Websites such as passnownow are accessible even without an active data connection. Parental controls are included in the devices.

Nigeria: Mobile money momentum - The value of mobile money payments as at May 2014 amounted to USD 1.7 billion in some 25 million transactions. This is up from USD 61.9 million (1.6 million transactions) in August 2013 according to the ex-Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Deputy Governor Tunde Lemo. In 2013 licenses were issued to 15 non-banking operators and 6 banks.

Nigeria: New channels - Consat pay TV subscribers in Nigeria now have access to SPI International?s channels FilmBox, FilmBox Arthouse, FightBox, DocuBox, FashionBox, Fast&FunBox and 360 TuneBox. The channels are broadcast from Eutelsat?s 16° East orbital slot, and the agreement marks the first time that FilmBox has been available on an African platform. In addition to SPI International?s established channels, Consat subscribers have access to new music channel 360 TuneBox.

Oman: Loyalty lulu - Omantel reports that its ?Makasib? Loyalty Program has attracted some 500,000 subscribers since launch last November. The program sees users earning points which can be redeemed for a range of services including free calls and International SMS, and at leading reatilers such as Lulu hypermarkets, Mother Care, Next, etc. Usama Ahmed Al Rawas, Loyalty and Communications Manager at Omantel Consumer Unit, said: "The program contributed to enhancing our customers experience and we are happy to see the large number of lines who jointed [the] ?Makasib? Program over this short period. "

Qatar: Footy fest - Ooredoo has launched the Ooredoo Football Portal, providing exclusive content including 3D video clips, snippets of interviews and press conferences to subscribers. Dr. Nasser Marafih, Group CEO, Ooredoo, said: "As part of our commitment to youth, we aim to inspire young football players to become the football stars of tomorrow. " Digital Production ME noted that in In Qatar, Ooredoo has launched the #Koora campaign, which includes a sports television package with the beIN SPORTS channel; the Hala Football Club for pre-paid customers to opt-in for extra SMS and calling minutes. There is also a range of community activities, encouraging fans to upload short Instagram videos under the theme of 'Cheer On Your Team'.

Qatar: Mozaic milestone - Ooredoo now provides its Fibre Broadband and Mozaic TV services to more than 150,000 customers, and comes six months after it connected 100,000 customers. Ian Dench, Chief Marketing Officer, Ooredoo, noted that ultra-fast broadband is 'not just the domain of large businesses any more', with consumers now demanding high speed and quality. Ooredoo?s research has shown that much of the customer growth is due to the free upgrades from ADSL to Fibre.

Saudi Arabia: Data dividend - Zain KSA has launched a post-paid package 'Xtra', offering a monthly subscription of 1 TB along with a free router and up to 3 extra SIM cards allowing subscribers to use the data on 4 different devices at the same time. It includes 2,400 local minutes on all networks, 300 free international minutes and 512 MB free data roaming service in addition to a choice of the latest smart phones. Subscribers can also choose a diamond vanity number.

South Africa: Dangerous dominance - The Wireless Access Providers' Association (WAPA) is calling for Vodacom SA to be split into distinct retail and wholesale arms, if the mobile operator's ZAR 7 billion acquisition of Neotel receives approval by the Regulator and the Competition Commission. WAPA chairman Mohammad Patel said WAPA is concerned that Vodacom is becoming increasingly dominant and could increase the rates for Neotel's wholesale services and stop selling certain wholesale products.

South Africa: VISA variety - On Monday MTN Group launched a Mobile Money Visa card for its subscribers in South Africa. The card can be activated within 72 hours and will enable users to pay for goods and services at most retail stores and withdraw cash from any ATM. MTN claims that there will be no monthly or annual card fees and unlimited card swipes. In April MTN said it had some 16.6 million registered Mobile Money subscribers.

Tanzania: Cable culprits - The vandalism of cables belonging to Tanzania Telecommunications Company (TTCL) has seen two thieves jailed for 22-years. The offence was committed on 23 December 2012 at Bweri, Mwisenge and Mtakuja in Musoma Municipality. The value of the damaged infrastructure was put at more than TZS 50 million (USD 29,638), the Citizen reported.

Tanzania: POP provided - Tanzania Telecommunication Company (TTCL) and Telecom Italia Sparkle are providing IP services in South and East Africa through a new point of presence in Tanzania. The two will provide fully protected global IP connectivity systems to TLC operators, ISPs and service providers that are connected to Dar es Salam through submarine and terrestrial cable systems. The new POP reinforces TI Sparkle's positioning in East and South Africa, which already has a presence in Djibouti due to a long-standing partnership with Djibouti Telecom.

United Arab Emirates: Extended weekend - Etisalat has launched Wednesday packages on the Etisalat Marketplace app and at www.etisalat.ae/Wednesday. Partners include Novo Cinemas, Hardees, TGIF, Aquaventure Water Park, Pizza Express, Pizzaro, La Brioche, Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme. Promotions include two-for-one cinema tickets, dining, desert safaris, amusement parks, spas and beauty salons.

Zimbabwe: Telecash expansion - Old Mutual, Zimnat and Nyaradzo have joined Telecel Zimbabwe's mobile electronic wallet service, ITWeb has reported. Telecash subscribers can already make payments to Eagle Insurance and First Mutual Life. Telephone bills and municipal bills can now be paid using telecash. After selecting the service provider to be paid, the subscriber enters their account number and the amount to be paid. The subscriber will receive a transaction ID to confirm the transction. There are more than 3,000 telecash agents, including all Bon Marche, OK Bazaars and TM supermarkets and all post offices.