News in Brief 25 September 2014

Bahrain: Milestone merit - Batelco has been certified as a silver partner of Milestone, a supplier of open platform IP video management software. Batelco plans to become a leading provider of Physical Security and Surveillance solutions. Batelco Enterprise Division General Manager Adel Daylami said that the operator was making a significant investment in advanced technologies.

Bahrain: Public offering postponed - Zain Bahrain said last week that it was extending the subscription period for its initial share sale on the local bourse by two weeks. No reason was given in the statement for the extension, which moves the closing date for investors to buy shares in the initial public offer to 30 September. The IPO is the first in Bahrain since 2010, was originally due to end subscriptions on 16 September and aimed to sell 15 percent of the unit.

Ghana: Banking app - The Bank of Africa (BOA) has launched a secure and easy-to-use mobile Banking App dubbed B-Mobile which allows customers to undertake banking transactions. Customers engaging in external transfers would have to ensure that the recipients are on the eTransact switch. BOA Ghana is part of the BOA Group, a subsidiary of the thirteenth largest bank in Africa, BMCE.

Ghana: Data segmentation - Tigo Ghana has re-packaged its data solution, with new rates based on volumes. Jesse Agyepong, Tigo's Marketing Manager: "Our new campaign is thus to provide solutions that will answer to needs in the respective segments of our customer base ".

Israel: Compliant chair - Ami Erel is the new chairman of Cellcom Israel with effect from 21 September 2014, replacing Raanan Cohen, who has stepped-down. Cellcom stressed that the appointment has met the strictures of its licence and articles of association with regard to nationality. The operator also announced the resignation of Rafi Bisker, Haim Gavrieli and Edith Lusky as members of the board on 21 September.

Israel: Favoured destinations - Pelephone has launched a ILS 99 (USD 27) monthly overseas package that includes unlimited talk and text, 6 GB data in Israel and 100 MB per day abroad in 87 countries. Golan has launched a similar offering for 16 countries but does not include the US and Canada, Globes reported. Pelephone Deputy CEO Assaf Ofer said the package covers most of the destinations favoured by Israelis.

Kenya: Phone prize draw - Safaricom and Samsung are running a campaign to drive smart device usage. The 80-day campaign will see Safaricom customers rewarded with points for every purchase of a Samsung smartphone worth KES 6,999 (USD 78) and above at any Safaricom outlet. The points allow entry into a weekly draw for a chance of winning one of six new BMWs motorcars. The campaign runs until 30 November.

Malawi: Minister moans - Former cabinet minister and People's Party (PP) official Clement Stambuli has responded to Airtel Malawi's decision to stop offering daily Internet subscriptions for Blackberry smart phone. Stambuli told the Nyasa Times that 'Malawians always blame the government on high cost living' but suggested that 'unscrupulous business people and companies rob them in day light'.

Morocco: Limited unlimited - A mobile operator has launched a post-paid 'Unlimited Plan' which combines calls, SMS and unlimited 3G Internet. inwi subscribers can send SMS and make unlimited calls to all national operators and to fixed and mobile numbers in France, Italy, the UK, Spain, the USA and Canada. A 3G+ connection is offered without a cap. Frederic Debord, CEO of inwi said: 'It also confirms our commitment to democratisation of communications technology and our commitment to provide our customers with comprehensive and transparent solutions'. However limited remains limited, the operator added 'thresholds are, of course set, but well above the ordinary usage levels'.



Nigeria: Favoured phone - Of the some 8 million 3G devices on the MTN Nigeria, 7 million are Nokia. MTN Nigeria's Manager of Data & Devices, Usman Idris, speaking during the launch of Lmia 930 in Lagos.

Nigeria: Home work - Minister of ICT Omobola Johnson is unhappy with the way the business process outsourcing (BPO) is undertaken. She has said that outsourcing is always at the expense of local businesses. Although Nigeria is not a destination of BPO, the minister stressed the need to give national companies a chance, she told local newspaper ThisDay.

Nigeria: Internet leader - Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, has claimed that Nigeria and is now the largest Internet market in Africa. The Star reported her making the comments at the third regular meeting of the National Council on Communication Technology in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State in the south-east of the country. Johnson cited International Telecommunications Union (ITU) data showing Nigeria as at June 2012 representing 28 percent Internet penetration and 29 percent of total Internet users in Africa.

Nigeria: Tax take - MTN spent over NGN 8 billion (USD 48 million) on SIM registration in 2013, The Tribune newspaper reported. MTN Nigeria Managing Director Mr. Michael Ikpoki told the 38th Annual Conference of Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators that since it launched in 2001, it had paid some NGN 1.1 trillion (USD 6.6 billion) in taxation, whilst creating over 3 million direct and indirect jobs.

Nigeria: Telcos top spenders - The 2013 edition of 'Mediafacts', which is for marketing professionals in West and Central Africa produced annually by MediareachOMD, found telcos MTN, Glo and Airtel were among the top 10 biggest advertising spenders in 2013. It stated: "Telecom continues to be the highest spender with overall spends of NGN 14.7 billion (USD 88.3 million) (14 per cent) of the total Above-the-Line expenditure in 2013. The Top 10 included MTN, Etisalat, Globacom, Airtel, Guinness Stout, Star, Indomie Noodles, Peak Milk, and Gulder.

Nigeria: Wholesale switch - Belgium-based World Telecom Labs (WTL) has announced that more than a billion minutes of traffic have passed through its second-generation VoIP switches deployed by Nigeria?s five interconnect exchange carriers. Breeze Micro, Exchange, ICN, Niconnx and Solid are licensed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The four leading GSM operators are all now required to divert 10 percent of their inter-carrier voice and SMS traffic to one of these operators, which launched commercial services at the end of 2013, initially acting as wholesale interconnect carriers for TDM voice traffic. The five use the switches to transfer traffic between the four existing mobile networks. WTL is also helping the operators with their billing systems and the optimisation of voice traffic to increase capacity and reduce costs.

Oman: Bank branch connection - Omantel has signed a five year deal with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) - Oman to provide MPLS service. This will link the bank branches located in different governorates, and so enhance the services provided to NBAD Oman customers, as well as speeding up the process of communication between the branches through a highly secured network. NBAD launched its first Oman branch in 1976, the only UAE bank in Oman.

Saudi Arabia: iPhone imminent - Zain started taking pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus on Friday 19 September. The devices will be available through online shop delivery and Zain branch pickup from 27 September. Zain noted that the devices would provide access to its 4G/LTE network.

South Africa: Asset auction - Part of the government's 40 percent stake held in fixed-line operator Telkom may be sold to power generator Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., MoneyWeb reported. On 15 September the National Treasury said it would dispose of 'non-strategic' assets to provide capital for Eskom. The utility has a funding deficit of some ZAR 225 billion (USD 20.5 billion) through to March 2018 it seeks to remedy electricity shortages by building new power plants.

South Africa: Crumbling edge of competitiveness - Cell C has increased the one-off SIM and connection fee from ZAR 114 (USD 10) to ZAR 195 (USD 18) between July and August 2014. MyBroadband reports it as still being cheaper than Vodacom and Telkom Mobile which charge ZAR 200 and ZAR 202 respectively. MTN is currently offering free SIM and connection on all its contracts.

Sonatel: 4G pilot - Sonatel's Director of Marketing, Aminata Niang Ndiaye, has said that the operator will assist the government with the shift from analogue to digital, expected in 2015. Ndiaye said: "As with every technological evolution, Sonatel, with its experience in terms of technology, will assist the state and the various providers who will be retained ". She was speaking at the launch of the 4G pilot.

Tunisia: Brand basics - Ooredoo is to launch its own brand of mobile phones and tablets. In an interview with Business News, it claimed that the devices will not be imported from Asia and stamped with its brand, but its own devices. Ooredoo will compete with Tunisie Telecom and Orange, who both launched their own phones and tablet brands a few months ago.

Tunisia: Consumer protection - The National Telecommunications has said that reports regarding the blocking of free services such as Skype and Viber on 3G have no formality as the INT has not received such a request. INT notes that operators have to meet the mandatory conditions set-out in the their license agreements and particularly regarding net neutrality. INT added it works to protect the rights of subscribers and deploys all necessary means to enable consumers to be in a position to determine their choice seamlessly.

United Arab Emirates: Tablet tonic - Etisalat has launched what it describes as affordable tablet post-paid data bundles that offer customers flexible purchase options and ease of payment on a 12-month and 24-month contract basis. Starting at AED 150 (USD 41) per month, post-paid customers can have a free tablet and a minimum 1GB data allowance. Device options include Samsung Tab S. Pre-paid customers can get a contract-free tablet-data bundle on an upfront payment basis with 1GB free data for the first month and AED 99 (USD 27) per month thereafter.

Zimbabwe: Points but no prizes - Local firm Trumbelt Computers has made it to court with its claim against Telecel for infringement of intellectual property rights. The Herald reported that it had claimed in court last week that Telecel had copied an idea for a quiz promotion. Some USD 340 000 is being claimed for the loss of potential income after Telecel stole its idea and implemented it with a different partner; Egyptian-based ARPU Plus. The concept involved winning points in a quiz, which were then entered into a draw for prizes.