News in Brief 24 December 2014

Africa & Middle East: Eminent Etisalat - Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, CEO of Etisalat Group has been named as Deputy Chair of the GSMA. Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar is the Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Group since 2011, responsible for Etisalat Group's overall strategy and overseeing the operations in all of Etisalat Group's markets across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Turkcell has also recently been named as a member of the GSMA Board, and is the only operator from Turkey to serve on the GSMA Board during the 2015-2016 term.

Africa & Middle East: President appointed - Alcatel-Lucent has appointed ex-Riverbed VP Willem Hendrickx as its President for Europe, Middle East and Africa. In his new role he will be responsible for the entire sales and operational management of the company?s activities in the EMEA region. Hendrickx has over 20 years? experience in sales and management roles at global ICT firms, including Riverbed, Tieto and EMC. Hendrickx replaces Luis Martinez Amago, who is taking another post within Alcatel-Lucent.

Africa & Middle East: Samsung enjoys tablet success - Data from analyst firm International Data Corporation shows that the Middle East and Africa (MEA) tablet market expanded 29.6 percent in volume terms during the third quarter to reach 4.15 million units. This growth was most evident in the consumer segment, where a number of IT festivals and back-to-school promotions across the region helped boost tablet demand. Samsung had a good third quarter, shipping 996,000 units. Apple was second with 572,000 units, down both y-o-y and q-o-q. Lenovo was third with 525,000 units. Asus shipped some 361,000 units. Huawei was fifth with 81,000.

Bahrain: Spam to be canned? - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has published a public consultation document on the Bulk Messaging Regulation on 10 December 2014. Acting Director of Legal Affairs, Dr. Jean Pierre Scerri said the changes were intended to minimise unsolicited messages. The consultation will end on 11 January 2015.

Cameroon: Property tax payments - Mobile Tax has been launched in association with mobile operators MTN and Orange. Property tax collection is estimated to reach a mere USD 16 million, as millions of property owners evade paying the tax. Taxpayers have to open an Orange or MTN Mobile Money account. Finance minister Alamine Ousmane Mey said the service would be available 24 hours a day, and will be deployed in two phases. Phase One is the launch of property tax collection in Yaoundé and Douala. The second phase will cover a range of taxes.

Iran: Web awakening - The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has reported 44.6 percent of Iranian households have a computer and 35.8 percent have Internet access in its 2014 ICT Development Index (IDI). Iran was ranked the world's 94th for connectivity. Iran had 38.3 fixed lines and 84.2 mobile subscribers per 100 people.



Israel: Ranking relegation - Mobile operators Partner and Cellcom have been nudged out of the Tel Aviv 25 Index on the local bourse, to be replaced by Melisron and Frutarom. Globes reports that the two have been hit by fierce competition in the sector. TASE said that as of 15 December Cellcom Israel and Partner Communications would be relegated from the Tel Aviv 25 index.

Kenya: Parking pay app - Airtel Money can be used to pay for car parking after a deal was concluded between Airtel Kenya, payments firm Jambo Pay and Nairobi City Council. Airtel Money users dial *217# and then follow the steps on the menu. A Nairobi City County App can also be downloaded from Google Play for an Android phone, or access the Nairobi City Web portal on their phones. Airtel has also recently partnered the Kenya Airports Parking Services (KAPS), ITWebAfrica reported.

Kuwait: Devices debuted - Zain Kuwait is now offering the Apple iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with a range of data plans including access to its LTE network. The devices include Touch ID, and are offered in gold, silver and space grey metallic finishes.

Kuwait: Listing launch - VIVA has started trading on the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE). VIVA?s Chairman, Adel Mohamed El Roumi, Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Badran, the listing advisor, NBK Capital attended the launch.

Mali: Digital dividend planned - The 'Mali Digital Plan 2020' is currently being drafted by an expert group. The 65-page document focuses on expanding access to digital networks and services; developing production and digital content; diversifying digital use and services; strengthening the existing legislative framework; developing human capital, and developing the local digital industry. The industry currently contributes 7 percent to the country?s GDP, according to the Ministère de l'Economie Numérique, de l'Information et de la Communication.

Qatar: Intelligent home - Last week Ooredoo opened the doors of its 'proof of concept' Smart Living Baytcom Project, a villa on The Pearl that showcases smart lifestyle technology on every floor. Customers and businesses can visit the villa to see the technology in action, and Ooredoo is using the whole building to test and perfect new solutions. The facility is provided in partnership with UDC, Hemaya Security Company and others. It is divided into six areas ? Home Entertainment; Personal Cloud; Home Security; Smart Utilities; Home Automation; and Concierge Services.

South Africa: LTE latest - Telkom?s LTE Advanced (LTE-A) network is now live in five further suburbs. These are Illovo and Melrose in Gauteng, Sea Point and Three Anchor Bay in Cape Town, and Umhlanga in KwaZulu-Natal. The initial launch was in Parkview, Johannesburg. Attila Vitai, Telkom's MD for Consumer and Mobile said customers are able to use the service wherever there is a signal and coverage. Telkom is offering 100GB of LTE-A data at peak speeds of up to 150Mbps for the promotional price of ZAR 1,399 (USD 120) per month on 36-month contract.

South Africa: Second time lucky - Herman Singh, Vodacom's Managing executive of mobile commerce says M-Pesa will be a disruptive force in 2015. Vodacom originally launched the mobile service in South Africa in August 2010, but received a lukewarm response. Singh claims M-Pesa is enjoying the fastest growing iteration of all 10 countries where it has been launched after its July relaunch. It now has 700,000 users active on the system although a further 300,000 applied, but were rejected as they were either under 16 or not in possession of a South African passport.

South Africa: Simplified payment for Samsung - Telkom?s Event Billing service has enabled integrated carrier billing for Samsung smartphone and tablet customers. Telkom customers will be able to buy apps from Samsung?s GALAXY Apps store and charge it to their mobile phone bill or airtime, using their Samsung devices. The two have partnered with mobile payment firm Bango. Bango CEO Ray Anderson said: "One-click Direct Carrier Billing is setting the standard for app store payment. Telkom?s consumers will now find it easier than ever to access the paid content that brings our smartphones to life. "

South Africa: Temporary terminations - Telkom says it will not renew the contracts of 480 temporary call centre staff, as part of its cost-cutting and restructuring programme. Telkom's Managing Executive for group communication, Jacqui O'Sullivan, said it was a 'necessary business decision'. Staff were notified in November; some contracts conclude at the end of December and others at the end of January.

Sudan: CEO for Canar - Sulaiman Salim Al Kaabi has been named as CEO of Etisalat-unit Canar. Al Kaabi has international experience in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Tanzania and, most recently, in Cote d?Ivoire. Abdul Aziz Al Sawaleh Al Shehhi, Chief Human Resources Officer at Etisalat Group said: "Sulaiman has demonstrated the kind of aptitude and skill that we are keen to further develop ".

Tanzania: Employment excellence - Vodacom Tanzania has been declared Employer of the Year by the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) for the second year in a row. The award was made on 11 December 2014. It also emerged top in Performance Management Process, Leadership and Governance, Human Resource Policy and Practice, Workforce Focus and Quality and Productivity of Employees.

Tunisia: SMS spamming to stop - The National Telecommunications Authority has called on operators to stop spamming their clients, citing the Order of the Minister of Communication Technology and Information dated 29 July 2013. In particular the provisions under Article 6 require operators to 'not randomly send messages to subscribers of the mobile telephone service and commit to send only to customers who have expressed their prior explicit consent to receive such SMS.' NTA says it will take steps against any operator that does not abide by the regulations.

West Africa: Crisis connectivity - Eutelsat Communications is working with NetHope to improve connectivity for humanitarian organisations working in West Africa since the outbreak of the Ebola crisis. Eutelsat said satellite broadband equipment for videoconferencing services, Internet access and voice communications had arrived in Ghana, where the UN Mission is based. The gear is for areas with poor communications in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and can be self-installed in less than two hours.