News in Brief 9 July 2014

Afghanistan: Awards announced - Roshan has received awards and special commendations at the 2014 Asia Communication Awards (ACA) and the 2014 Financial Times/International Finance Corporation (FT/IFC) Transformational Business Awards. It received the 'Social Contribution Award' at the Asia ceremony for the social impact of its Telemedicine program. In addition, it received a commendation for the 'Best Brand Campaign Award'. At FT/IFC it was commended for its transformative business solutions and success in harnessing the power of technology to address critical infrastructure gaps, including recently securing USD 65 million in financing from IFC to develop a 3G network.

Africa: Conflicting candidates - The Africa Union's Ministerial Candidature Committee has told Nigeria and Mauritania to agree on a consensus candidate for the post of the Deputy Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union, the News Agency of Nigeria has reported. The committee met at the AU summit in Malabo, but neither Nigeria and Mauritania were willing to withdraw their candidate. Nigeria's candidate is Shola Taylor, 58, a former Chairman of the ITU Radio Regulations Board. The Mauritanian candidate is Fatimetou Mohammed-Saleck.

Africa & Middle East: Basset bought - Enghouse Systems Limited last week acquired Basset for approximately USD 10.0 million, subject to certain price adjustments. Basset provides revenue management solutions to telcos and next generation electric utilities in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Steve Sadler, Chairman and CEO of Enghouse, said: "We look forward to integrating Basset's operations within the Enghouse Networks Group. " Basset recently launched its Wholesale Revenue Management platform.

Algeria: Books by broadband - Algerie Telecom has launched its 'Fimaktabati' digital library service as supplied by French-based Cyberlibris. The offering has thousands of works on a large range of topics, including science, education, culture, health, etc. Users pay DZD 2,400 (USD 30) for an annual subscription.

Algeria: Defining decree - The Autorite de Regulation de la Poste et des Telecoms (ARPT) has published a decision defining the definition of an active pre-paid subscriber. A subscriber has to recharge their credit, place or receive a call (including voice and/or video calling, SMS and MMS) or establish an Internet connection, during a 90-day period. The operators have 30-days in which to forward their pre-paid terms and conditions to the regulator for approval. Users have to be notified of the change and all pre-paid SIM cards, which have not performed one of the specified activities, will be deactivated. Expect a downward revision of subscriber numbers in the third quarter.

Egypt: Details cause delay - Despite missing the 30 June implementation date, the Minster of Telecommunications, Atef Helmy, said that details of the unified licence for both mobile and fixed telephony were being progressed, Reuters reported. In May, Telecom Egypt confirmed it would pay EGP 2.5 billion (USD 350 million) for the licence.

 

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Egypt: Orange optimistic - Mobinil (Egyptian Company for Mobile Services) has denied media reports that Orange SA's is planning to sell its 94 percent stake in the operator. Orascom Telecommunication has a 5 percent stake and 1.08 percent for stock exchange free trade. Mobinil CEO Yves Gouthier said despite losses Orange was continuing to invest in the Egyptian operation.

Egypt: Power pricing - The Daily News has reported that Mobinil and Vodafone on Sunday were denying that rates would be increased by 10 percent after energy prices rose. A Mobinil source was quoted as saying no decision had been made, and that it was considering the effect of the raised energy prices. Head of Media Relations at Vodafone, Lamiaa Atef, said that the 10 percent rise was 'a rumour' and that they too had not made any decision. However Zawya reported a source saying Vodafone would increase its rates. Electricity price increases started in June, as part of a series of rises to eliminate power subsidies within five years, and so reduce the budget deficit.

Ghana: Poor platforms - IT firm, Elcuto Consult, has found wide variances in online banking security in Ghana. Major banks such as Stan Chart and Barclays scored Grade A due to their secure nature. However banks such as GCB and Ecobank, HFC, Bank of Africa, GT, SG, Sahel Sahara, Cal, NIB, First Atlantic and the newly acquired UMB were given a F grade for the extremly poor nature of their online banking platforms.

Jordan: Smart surveillance - Zain Jordan has launched a cloud-based video monitoring service under the Zain Camera moniker. This allows users to monitor their homes in realtime using their smartphones or Internet browser. The Zain Camera service automatically detects the cameras on the network and connects them to the cloud and provides safe storage for recordings, hosted at secure data centres to be retrieved at any time. The Panasonic cameras supplied start recording immediately when triggered by motion.

Kenya: Site censorship - ISPs will bar access to 'immoral' sites. The Telecommunications Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Fiona Asonga said at the Kenya Internet Governance Forum last week that members would block sites as 'it is the law', adding 'the liability is with the service providers'. humanipo reported Asonga also saying better data protection policies are needed as users are providing large quantities of data to ISPs but it was not clear who the data belonged to.

Lebanon: Short stay - The management contract held by Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding (OTMT) for mobile phone company Alfa has been extended for a further month. The extension expires on 31 July 2014.

Mobile money: Tanzania turns up trumps - The GSMA has placed Tanzania ahead of Kenya for mobile money usage. The report found 44 percent of the adult Tanzanian population using mobile money in 2013, against the 38 percent of Kenyan adults who were using the service. Safaricom's M-Pesa is now just one of 242 mobile money providers in over 89 countries, which now support over 203 million mobile money accounts, the GSMA said. It also noted that mobile-money accounts outnumber bank accounts in nine African countries, namely Cameroon, DRC, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Mozambique: Social access - mcel has launched additional Netgiro mobile Internet packages that also include access to Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. A total of ten packages are on offer, from 10 MB for MZN 2 (USD 0.06) per day or MZN 5 per week (USD 0.16) through to 10 GB costing MZN 1,500 (USD 48.23) a month.

Nigeria: Comms channel - The Minister of Water Resources has selected Globacom for communication facilities at the Ministry of Water Resources office in Abuja, the Tribune reported. The partnership is expected to greatly enhance communication within the Ministry and with the public. The Minister called on Glo to extend its fixed lines and other communication facilities to the 12 river basins under the remit of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. It also called for the inclusion of Internet facilities.

Nigeria: MTN music app - MTN Nigeria is due to launch its Music+ app which is a converged music streaming and download platform, optimised for mobile and online access and is socially enabled to accommodate cross-user activity. ITNewsAfrica reported that the app would be free; however prices for content may vary.

Nigeria: Reasonable rates - The National Association of Telecommunication Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) has said that the high charges imposed on telcos for base station installations, which can rise to as high as NGN 800,000 (USD 5,000) per mast in some states, must be addressed by the government. NATCOMS President Dele Ogunbanjo said telcos are also charged NGN 5,000 (USD 30) per metre for fibre cables. He noted the Ministry of Communications & Technology has worked with the Lagos State Government to reduce the cost of Right of Way in the state to NGN 500 (USD 3) per metre.

Saudi Arabia: App users ascendant - Youthful users are the dominant mobile app users in Saudi Arabia, whilst 25 percent of Saudi's mobile app users are not aware of the operating system of their smartphone, a survey by the Arab Advisors Group found. Mobile app users constitute some 55 percent of total mobile users in the country. Messaging applications were used by all mobile app users reported, while 73.4 percent of mobile app users used calling applications. SMS usage is down due to messaging applications. 92.6 percent of mobile app users reported sending SMS messages before messaging applications compared to 64.4 percent of mobile app users who still send SMS messages.

Saudi Arabia: Business billing - Mobily has launched its ?Sadad Access Service?, which enables business customers to connect to SADAD's payment services using Mobily?s network IP VPN. The SADAD Payment System (SADAD) is a Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) system, which connects the commercial sector and government entities with local banks. It offers the ability to collect customer payments electronically through all the banking channels 24 hours a day.

Saudi Arabia: Silicon sign-up - Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has joined the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley. STC is its first Middle Eastern telco to join. Membership includes more than 25 fixed and mobile operators from around the world.

Saudi Arabia: Soccer special - Mobily has launched HTC's M8 ds with dual SIM cards; the operator saying it has an exclusive partnership with HTC for the Championship of Europe League and UEFA events in Saudi Arabia. Some Mobily subscribers will attend matches during the coming season.

Saudi Arabia: Training tablets - The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation has signed memorandums of understanding with Mobily and Microsoft Arabia. The agreement is intended to harness technological development to enrich the training process. The institution is seeking to equip all training units with modern equipment to ensure that trainees are fully equipped to deal with developments in the labour market. Tablet computers are to be provided for the trainees with productivity applications such as Microsoft Office and other educational applications programs and applications.

South Africa: Complimentary cables - Neotel CEO Sunil Joshi is promising faster speeds after its acquisition by Vodafone. In an interview with MyBroadband, Joshi said Neotel has access to 16,500km of national long-distance fibre, of which about half belongs to Neotel and half is leased; and around 8,500km of metro fibre. He said the metro fibre is complementary to Vodacom?s own capability.

South Africa: Mobile marketeers - The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) has announced the addition of 13 new industry leaders to its MMA South Africa Board of Directors serving for a one-year term from 1 August 2014. Chris Babayode, Managing Director MMA EMEA said: "Mobile is the cornerstone of every successful marketing strategy in Africa. Last year we saw outstanding growth in MMA South Africa and marketers embracing the importance of mobile in their communication strategy."

South Africa: Thoughtful Virgin - Virgin Atlantic passengers from the UK can call home for free whilst awaiting their luggage at OR Tambo International in Johannesburg. Virgin Mobile have teamed up with Virgin Atlantic to provide the airlines' 300 daily passengers landing in Johannesburg a free Virgin Mobile SIM, pre-loaded with ZAR 20 (USD 1.86) airtime and 100 MBs.

Tanzania: Smartphone supplier - Network operator Tigo is to distribute Huawei smartphones. Tigo's customers will be able to buy the Huawei Y330 (for entry level users) at a discounted price of TSZ 130,000 (USD 76.38) and the Huawei 530 at an upgrade cost of TSZ 195,000 (USD 114.58). Tigo Brand Manager?s William Mpinga said the youth market was a specific target, and that buyers will be offered 600 minutes of airtime.

Tanzania: Stake sale stuck - Talks to resolve the ownership of Airtel Tanzania's 35 percent stake in Tanzania Telecommunications Company (TTCL) with the government have been stalled for over a year, according to The Citizen. This means that government efforts to implement a new business plan or to look for new investors in TTCL are also stalled. Airtel has rejected the government's offer of TZS 5 billion (USD 2.9 million) for its 35 percent of TTCL, whereas Airtel is looking for TZS 21.5 billion (USD 12.6 million).

Uganda: Students sized-up - 33 students will have the chance to work with MTN Uganda as part of their course/degree completion requirement. Students will be assigned to Marketing, Engineering, Finance, Sales & Distribution, Legal and Human Resources. Many of the former interns join MTN Uganda as full-time staff on graduation. Since 2009 more than 236 students have completed the internship program. MTN Uganda General Manager Human Resources Michael Sekadde said that the program runs for three months each year.

Uganda: Transaction tax - MTN Uganda has announced a rise in mobile money withdrawal charges with effect from 1 August. This is attributed to the 10 percent tax levied by the government. In June Minister of Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka announced the levy in the 2014/15 budget. Apparently the revenue target was not met after a similar levy last year was placed on mobile money deposits. Tax of some UGX 16 billion (USD 6.01 million) is expected to be raised. Last year, 14 million people made mobile money transactions worth UGX 18.6 trillion (USD 7.0 billion).

United Arab Emirates: Retail independence - Lifestyle e-shopping destination MOXiT is claiming independence from MOX Telecom AG, as its parent seeks financial protection proceedings under German law. It is an independent start-up in the UAE, founded in 2012. It operates independently of MOX Telecom in its target market across the Middle East. The MOXiT brand, and its operations in the markets it serves, are not in any way impacted by the MOX Telecom proceedings, Zawya reported. MOXiT's has seen strong growth in the Middle East and is targeting expected revenue of almost USD 300 Million within the next 3 years.

United Arab Emirates: Tariffs for travellers - Etisalat has announced the launch of eight new data roaming 'Business Traveler Packs', from 30-day one-off packs to monthly recurring plans. John Lincoln, Senior Vice President - Small and Medium Businesses at Etisalat said the international packs are part of its on-going strategy to offer value-packed packages to SMB customers. Options include e-mail-only and e-mail-plus-social-media packs, in addition to Internet access for browsing and downloading. The packs range from 100MB at AED 60 (USD 16) to 10GB at AED 1,500 (USD 408), with price points of AED 200 (USD 54) for 500MB and AED 100 (USD 27) for 200MB.

Zimbabwe: Cash customers - Telecel's mobile money service Telecash now has 600,000 registered subscribers 5 months after launch, according to General Manager, Angeline Vere. TechZim noted that this compares to the 800,000 users EcoCash had signed up at the same point after it launched its services in February 2012.

Zimbabwe: Distribution duo - Liquid Telecom is partnering with Far South Networks to distribute its products. IP, PBX and SIP products will be distributed in Zimbabwe first, and Liquid Telecom plans to utilise Far South Networks? VOIP technology in order to offer its business customers voice services over its fibre network. A warranty swap out centre will be staffed by two Far South Networks? certified engineers.

Zimbabwe: Support structure - TelOne has inaugurated a new data client service centre, housed at the TelOne's Main Exchange on Sam Nujoma Street. The telco has converted part of the building into a customer centre where Internet clients can obtain support and order services. It will deal with queries such as problems with ADSL modems/routers, settings, activating accounts and technical assistance on the compatibility of modems. TelOne is offering data service on ADSL, VSAT and its fibre last mile. TelOne's Managing Director, Mrs Chipo Mtasa said it was seeing growing demand and had opened central support centres.