News in Brief 4 September 2014

Burkina Faso: Network re-numbering - The Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal is undertaking a renumbering of part of ONATEL's fixed network, with effect from 30 November. The President of ARCEP, Mathurin Bako, hosted a press conference on 27 August 2014. Further details are here.

Cameroon: Extra digit - The switch-over to the new 9-digit numbering system is expected to take place in November 2014 according to the Telecommunications Regulations Agency (TRA). Originally scheduled to occur in 2013, it was postponed to the first quarter of 2014. Mobile operators will add a 6 to their numbers, whilst Camtel will add either a 2 or a 3. An seventh digit was added in 2001 and a eighth digit in 2007. There are some 16 million mobile subscribers and 220,000 fixed line users.

Cameroon: Launch latest - Viettel Cameroon, a subsidiary of Vietnamese operator Viettel, could launch as early as 5 September. Its formal launch date is 18 September, according to Agence Ecofin citing regulator ART director Jean Louis Beh Mengue. However the director suggested to Le Quotidien de l'Economie that services may launch under the Nexttel brand two weeks before the operator's expected date. The company has reportedly already signed interconnect deals with MTN and Orange Cameroon, and Camtel is expected shortly.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Low-cost Internet - Africell is set to launch 3G services by the end of 2014, according to Biztechafrica. The operator is expected to offer the cheapest Internet in the DRC. In June 2012, Africell paid USD 15 million for its 3G licence; its rivals also acquired licences at the same time. Africell has also extended its coverage to Lubumbashi, Kolwezi, Likasi and Kasumbalesa. Africell has yet to agree interconnect deals with its rivals. The Autorite de Regulation des Postes et Telecom (ARPTC) regards the lack of interconnection as a punishment for the operator's cut price tariffs, which competitor's saw as unacceptably low.

Gabon: Internet rising - The number of Internet users rose 14 percent year-on-year in 1Q14 to 657,928, according to figures published by regulator Arcep, reported by L'Union. Market revenues fell by 18 percent from a year earlier to XAF 5.6 billion (USD 11.2 million). Internet penetration was 43 percent of the population. Mobile Internet accounted for 94 percent of Internet subscriptions. Airtel dominates with 46.2 percent share and Gabon Telecom follows with 40 percent.

Ghana: Short code simplification - Tigo Ghana has installed an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service, allowing both pre- and post-paid customers to access its services and products through the unified shortcode 555. Voice prompts or a text menu is available; voice prompts are available in English, Twi or Ga.

Iran: Communications co-operation - Minister of Communications and Information Technology Mahmoud Vaezi has said Iran is keen to expand bilateral communications and information technology relations with Qatar. The country intends to participate at an event to be held in Qatar in 2014. Vazezi made the announcement after meeting his Qatari counterpart in Tehran, the Farsnews agency reported. The two agreed to set up a joint technology commission to broaden their mutual co-operation in ICT.

Iran: MD mandated - TCI has a new Managing Director in the form of Mr. Kazem Ebrahimi-sadrabadi. He has a long history of service in many TCI management positions. Born in Yazd city in 1958, he holds a BSc degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master?s in Public Administration.



Kenya: Advertising agenda - On 9 September Africa-based premium mobile advertising network Twinpine will hold a meet and greet event with industry leaders in Nairobi. The theme is 'Discovering the Mobile Web in Africa', and will showcase the expansion and outlook of business in Kenya and East Africa as a whole, as well as show how to capture the right value from the mobile web.

Lebanon: Ministerial mandate - Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb is targeting illegal signal jammers and repeaters that interfere with mobile reception, The Daily Star reported. The Minister said that a program has been launched with mobile operators touch and Alfa which would see illegal devices replaced with legitimate devices free-of-charge. He pledged that the Ministry will hunt down the 'jammers and repeaters' used to enhance the reception of communication devices. He added that the national infrastructure would migrate to microwave transmission, the Minister saying microwave dishes were preferable to satellite ones, as they were not affected by natural factors.

Morocco: SIM safety - Maroc Telecom is offering a SIM Card Backup which will allow lost or damaged SIMs to be replaced while retaining the phone number. Calling the Maroc Telecom Customer Relationship Centre can activate the service. The original SIM is automatically disabled after the activation of the backup.

Mozambique: Reversed charges - mcel has launched a collect call service, for when clients either don't have the funds to make a call or would like the remote party to pay. The Aceite La service is billed based on the customer's usual tariff and works for both post- and pre-paid numbers. However, it is not available when either phone is roaming.

Nigeria: Cellular cover - Globacom has launched an insurance scheme for members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and their families. Glo is partnering with the United Bank for Africa and Skye Bank. The cover relates to any NURTW member who dies or suffers permanent disability due to a road accident or any auto-related mishap. NGN 1 million (USD 6,050) is payable on the death of the breadwinner, and NGN 850,000 for a family member suffering permanent disability. Nigeria has by repute the most dangerous roads in Africa. A Security Verified Identity Card (SVID) is also being issued under the scheme.

Nigeria: Mediation by MATS - Merchant and Agent Transactions Services (MATS) has signed deals with ten mobile money providers to allow subscribers to transact on any of the operator platforms via MATS agent outlets. MATS has created a platform that can handle and process subscriber requests from all the licensed partnering financial institutions and mobile money operators to access their agency network for transnational purposes. Recent signings include FETS, VCash, Teasy mobile, clicknpay, Readycash, Paga, eTranzact, Fortis MobileMoney and Heritage Bank for agent aggregation and agency banking. MATS is powered by Alterna technology, part of Swifta Systems.

Oman: Feedback focus - Nawras has adopted ResponseTek's 'Voice of the Customer' Listening Platform?. The Customer Experience Management (CEM) software provides feedback from all customer touch points. Nawras Director, Amaal Al-Lawati, said it is the first Middle Eastern operator to go live with the software. In the first stage, it will send SMS surveys to all customers who have dealt with the Contact Centre. The feedback program will be extended to all remaining touch points by the year-end, including complaints, in store purchases, outbound calls, payments and network queries.

Qatar: Frequency facts - The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA), working with the Qatar National Spectrum Co-ordination Committee (QNSCC), has now issued the National Frequency Allocation Table (QNFAT) to provide what it describes as a 'transparent, non-discriminatory and predictable approach' to spectrum management and to reserve appropriate spectrum for future technologies. The QNFAT document is available here.

Rwanda: Self service - Airtel Rwanda has launched its interactive self-service platform branded 'MAMO' (My Airtel My Offer). MAMO will enable customers to subscribe to a variety of services and access various products directly. The platform supports Kinyarwanda, English and French and can be accessed by calling the toll-free short code 141.

South Africa: Approvals awaited - Telkom has now lodged merger filings with regulatory entities in a number of countries as it progresses its ZAR 2.67 billion (USD 250.0 million) bid to buy Business Connexion (BCX). BCX deputy CEO Vanessa Olver expects an indication of whether the offer will succeed by November. Filings have been made in Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. ITWeb reported that Olver said it had had a 'constructive' meeting with the Competition Commission last week, with a ruling expected in January.

South Africa: Brewer for business development - Yolanda Cuba is joining Vodacom Group as Chief Officer for Strategy and Business Development. Cuba is to step down as brewer SABMiller?s local operation at the end of October and, according to Bloomberg, will be a non-executive director of the division. Cuba will work with Neil Gough, a member of Vodacom?s executive committee, during a transition period, according to spokesman Richard Boorman.

South Africa: Comms chief - Telkom has named Jacqui O?Sullivan as Managing Executive of Communications and Public Relations with effect from 15 September. She joins from oil producer Sasol Ltd. (SOL), having stepped down on 6 August. She replaces Praveen Naidoo, who has left Telkom, according to spokeswoman Leigh-Ann Francis.

South Africa: Roaming update - Telkom has said that it remains in discussions with MTN South Africa regarding the potential extension of their existing roaming agreement to include bilateral roaming and outsourcing of the operation of Telkom?s radio access network. It said a further update would be provided as soon as appropriate legal and regulatory approvals were granted.

South Africa: Testing times - Live trials have been undertaken by MTN Group of Huawei?s Transport Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and 2.4Tbps wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) system. MTN?s South Africa national fibre backbone network was used for the single-channel 2.4Tbps trial. In the first scenario, 2.4Tbps with 16QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) was achieved over a transmission distance exceeding 300km. In the second scenario, 2Tbps with QPSK were achieved over a transmission distance of 1,031km.

South Africa: Tomorrow's Telcom today - Telkom has launched its 'Tomorrow Starts Today' promotion, marking the second rebrand in just over a year. In July 2013 it re-launched its mobile unit 8ta as Telkom Mobile, but henceforth neither Telkom Mobile or 8ta are to be used. The new logo simply features the word Telkom. Chief Marketing Officer Enzo Scarcella said it was part of its turnaround strategy.

Turkey: A-Tel resolved - Turkcell has sold its 50 percent stake in A-Tel Pazarlama ve Servis Hizmetleri (A-Tel). The stake had a nominal value of TRY 7 million, and was sold to Bereket Holding, the other shareholder of A-Tel, for TRY 31.025 million (USD 14.33 million). At the same time a settlement protocol was also signed with Bereket Holding for the company to pay A-Tel compensation of TRY 30.4 million. The lawsuit filed by Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) against the company with a claim of TRY 131.88 million and then assigned to Bereket Holding is also to withdrawn along with another related lawsuit. Turkcell booked a provision relating to A-Tel worth TRY 34.375 million (before tax) in 2012.

Uganda: Convenient cash - MTN and Centenary Bank Uganda have signed a partnership deal, so that its subscribers can withdrawal cash at all Centenary bank ATMs. Centenary bank has some 147 ATMs are located at all the 62 branches. Mobile money transactions totalled UGX 11.7 trillion in 2012 (USD 4.4 billion), up 211 percent on 2011. MTN now has some 6.2 million registered money users. It launched launch in 2009.

Uganda: PoP partnership - Roke Telkom and Tata Communications have launched a new point of presence (PoP) in Kampala. Tata?s Vice President James Walker noted that the partnership was ?in line with Tata?s emerging markets strategy, helping global businesses to capitalise on growth opportunities in these markets.?

United Arab Emirates: Expansion extended - du has revised its LTE expansion plans for 2014 upward by 25 percent. The operator has already doubled its 4G LTE footprint in the first 3 months of 2014, and is working on completing the additional expansion by the end of the year. Saleem Albalooshi, Executive Vice President, Network Development and Operations, du, said the move will allow customers to experience seamless 4G LTE connectivity in more areas than before. du launched Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology earlier in 2014. It has also run a successful field test for LTE-A Carrier Aggregation between the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands. Deployment of IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) on its network is scheduled for late 2014.

Zambia: Solar solution - Solar panels that charge mobile phones as quickly as a conventional mains power source have been launched in Lusaka. World Panel Zambia CEO Jacob Sikazwe, said that the utility-grade personal solar charger would be a boon for people without regular access to electricity. Inventor John Anderson noted that only 8 percent of rural Zambia is connected to an electrical grid. The Zambia?s Revenue Authority has notified the company that its application for zero customs and VAT has been approved.

Zimbabwe: Cheap cash - Telecel is offering mobile money transfers free of charge between Telecash users, according to ITWebAfrica. Chief Commercial Officer Nkosinathi Ncube has described this as a 'market first'. Econet says it has four million EcoCash users while Telecel Zimbabwe claims it has some 600,000 Telecash users.

Zimbabwe: Funding finesse - A team from Clyde & Co in London and Dar es Salaam have been advising Econet on three separate secured facilities totalling approximately USD 300 million for mobile banking expansion and solar energy products. The facilities are being provided by an Afreximbank led syndicate (including DEG, FMO, Proparco and Stanbic Zimbabwe), China Development Bank and Ericsson Credit AB. The Clyde & Co team comprised Robert Franklin, Legal Director, London and Teresa Parkes, Legal Director, Dar es Salaam.

Zimbabwe: Rate reminder - A local council has filed a summons at the Bulawayo High Court demanding payment of rates from Econet for the period January 2012 - June 2014. bulawayo24 reports that Econet is planning to mount a defence. The claim is for USD 48,774.

Zimbabwe: Telecash team trimmed - Telecel Zimbabwe will not be renewing 250 contracts for staff in its commercial department. The Herald reports that most of the staff concerned had been engaged on the rollout of Telecash. The staff were employed on a six month contract for a Telecash subscriber acquisition campaign, and represent approximately half the staff so employed.