News in Brief 21 January 2015

Africa: Channel coverage - UK-based broadcast and transmission operator ViewSat is to facilitate GOD TV Africa's coverage. The ViewSat platform allows subscribers to receive GOD TV through a standard dish and free-to-air decoder. The channel provides daily Christian content and broadcasts from Jerusalem.

Africa: Fast forward - Alcatel-Lucent's Chief Executive Officer Michel Combes has told Nigeria's Leadership that the focus of development and Alcatel-Lucent?s strategy for Africa will continue to be the accelerated development of ultra-broadband access networks in Africa, bringing connectivity to users with technologies including LTE, DSL, GPON, Small Cells and WiFi. Alcatel-Lucent is handling the ongoing network transformation project of Globacom. He said: "...Africa is among our most promising markets ? with ultra-broadband access and IP networking being very important for the development of the continent ".

Africa: SME sector shortfall - The Sub-Saharan B2B telecoms market is expected to grow at 13.1 percent CAGR over the next five years to a total of USD 9.9 billion in 2019, far exceeding the growth available in B2C markets. Analyst firm Solon reckon that fixed and mobile operators are leaving USD 2.2 billion of value on the table by either not properly serving SME customers, or not serving them at all, leaving the door open for new competitors to enter the market. Operators will need to focus specifically on the SME sector, which makes up the bulk of the opportunity, representing two thirds of the expected market potential in 2019. The whitepaper can be downloaded here.



Botswana: Fibre utilisation - A national broadband strategy report has recommended that the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) should use its extensive fibre network to provide telecom services. The report by three consultants says that BPC should be granted a licence to operate telecom services as the current legal framework is capable of accommodating the arrangement without an amendment. The ICT consultants were Setics based in South Africa, Progressus of France and ICT Consultants of Botswana. BPC owns 850km of fibre-optic cable, which covers most of the major urban areas and large villages on the eastern side of the country. It also recommended that Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) revise the pricing for Internet services

Egypt: Research funding - The Information Technology Industry Development Agency's (ITIDA) CEO Hussein El-Gueretly has signed four new funding projects, bringing the number of winning research projects to 10 out of 38 projects that took part in the 15th round of the Information Technology Academia Collaboration (ITAC) programme. One of the projects focuses on smart phones and aims to create integrated electronic chips that perform as a weather station for smart phones and tablets. El-Gueretly also honoured the graduation project 'Wasel' which was funded by ITAC. Wasel is a project for improving wireless communications services (Internet, Mobile signals and Networking) using Solar Cell Helium Balloon and WiMAX technology.

Ghana: Evolutionary offer - Tigo Ghana is aiming to upgrade feature phone users to smartphones and is targeting students, professionals and first-time phone users with its 'Drop That Yam' offer. Starting in December 2014, discounts ranging from 10 to 100 percent are being offered on the new Samsung Galaxy Young 2 phone purchased from a Tigo shop. Also offered is a 1GB data plus one month of unlimited music and six months double data. Tigo's Head of Marketing, Jesse Agyepong, said it would continue to offer affordable entry-level smartphones.


Ghana: TV loan - A Chinese loan facility will help meet the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) DTT deadline of 17 June 2015. The government via the Ministry of Communication is due to countersign the loan agreement and then submit it to parliament for ratification. The digital terrestrial transmission platform is expected to cost some USD 95 million. Contractors and suppliers of the Star Communication Network Technology are expected to complete the main capital cities for DTT by the July 2015 target.

Kenya: Flood damage - Safaricom is seeking compensation after mobile phones, SIM cards and other equipment worth some KES 120 million (USD 1.31 million) were reportedly damaged at Transglobal Cargo Centre's JKIA bay. Floods damaged the shipment when the offices were closed 25 - 27 December 2012. Safaricom is suing international airlines Emirates and TransGlobal, claiming it was not informed of the consignment's arrival. The suit was originally filed on 19 February 2014.

Kenya: Market share a sore-point - Airtel Kenya has written to Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) and Competitions Authority of Kenya (CAK) asking that Safaricom be declared a dominant player. Airtel claims that Safaricom?s share of the mobile subscriber market is over 63 percent, whilst it has some 78 percent of voice traffic in 1Q 2014. In terms of revenue, Safaricom has 80 percent of the market.


Kenya: Poor power - Orange said that the service disruption experienced on Wednesday 14 January had been resolved. The service disruption was attributed to a power fluctuation that affected some of the network equipment, although the equipment and its location were not specified.

Kenya: Retraction - Safaricom has requested Fortumo to withdraw any statements, whether published or unpublished, regarding the signing of a mutually beneficial billing agreement between them. Earlier this month Fortumo said it had entered into a partnership with Safaricom; the operator however claims it has not entered into any such agreements with Fortumo. Business Daily quotes Fortumo?s head of marketing Mattias Liivak saying 'there was no launch from Safaricom?s side'.

Kenya: Service suspension - Safaricom services in Garissa County were suspended following a fire caused by overheated equipment, Agency Ecofin reported. In a statement, Bob Collymore, CEO, apologised and said technical teams were on site and that restoration would take a few days.

Kenya: Set-top service - Some 150,000 free-to-air TV digital converters are to be offered for sale by the Africa Digital Network (ADN) consortium, according to Business Daily. The devices are to be sold at a one-off price of KES 2,000 - 2,500 (USD 22 - 27) according to NMG board chairman Wilfred Kiboro. The consortium is made up of National Media Group (NMG), Royal Media Services (RMS) and Standard Group (SG). A further million more devices are expected by the end of March. The set-top boxes will allow viewers to watch the consortium's free-to-air channels and also access add-ons such as Internet services.

Kenya: Stake sale - Equity Bank said that Helios is to sell half of the stake it holds in the bank to Norfininvest AS. Norfininvest owns Norfund, the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries, and Norfinance AS, established in 2013 alongside four private Norwegian partners to invest in banks and financial institutions in Africa. Helios holds 24.44 percent of the bank?s equity and will transfer 12.22 percent, or 452.9 million shares to Norfininvest. The price was not disclosed.

Middle East: Cisco cloud suite - Cisco Systems has launched its cloud-based network management suite, Cisco Meraki, in the Middle East. Distributed will be by Logicom, reported. Meraki consists of access points, edge switches and security appliances that can be managed through a Web-based dashboard via the cloud., so enabling plug-and-play branch deployments. The product line includes the suite of MR wireless access points, the MS series edge switches, and the MX series security appliances.

Middle East: Video phone - Huawei has launched the eSpace 8950, a full-HD video phone, in the Middle East. The device provides a consistent service across computers, smartphones and tablets, with its context awareness technology ensuring that users can use Bluetooth to switch between desktop phone terminal and mobile device without the call dropping.

Namibia: Compulsory promotion - MTC has confirmed that it failed to correctly implement its 'NAD 2 for 10 MB per day' promotion and has apologised and refunded some subscribers. New Era has reported regulator CRAN as saying that MTC had not acted within the Communication Act, as CRAN was not informed of the promotion. CRAN conducted a verification of MTC's billing system in December and found that MTC had made the promotion mandatory rather than optional, so that MTC subscribers were automatically added as participants in the promotion.

Nigeria: Data deployment - MainOne has opened a Tier III Data Centre. The purpose built facility will be managed by a new subsidiary, MDX-i. The Lekki Data Center is the first of a number of planned data centres being considered by MainOne. It is a NGN 7 billion (USD 37.45 million) investment and has capacity for 600 racks. The Minister of Communications Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson, said: "The accomplishment by MainOne is indeed significant as it provides an outsourcing and cost effective model to further drive ICT adoption.

Nigeria: Focus on data - MTN Nigeria has launched a new and faster Internet bundle branded 'My 2015 Better Me', the Sun News reported. MTN General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Funmi Onajide, said: "In the past, the focus was on voice, that is the ability to connect people so that they could make phone calls. " He described this as Telco 1.5, and now MTN is moving to Telco 2.0, which is characterised by a full scale focus on data and digital services leveraging the power of the Internet.

Nigeria: Seamless banking - Vodacom Business Nigeria is providing the United Bank for Africa (UBA) with data and broadband communications. UBA will now seamlessly interconnect business offices and ATMs and to deploy financial services across the group. UBA is a Vodafone Global Enterprise Customer, the first financial institution of Nigerian origin to do so.

Saudi Arabia: MVNO motivator- Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia has announced that Virgin Group founder Richard Branson has offered all customers in Saudi Arabia a chance to win an all-inclusive holiday for two on his Necker Island private home in the Caribbean. Every pre-paid and post-paid member who joins Saudi Arabia's next generation mobile service by 26 February will be entered. The holiday can be taken any time before September. and includes return flights and one week's accommodation.

South Africa: Buyer beware - MTN South Africa has said there is no working relationship with Data SIM, which is offering a ZAR 149 (USD 13) per month offer of unlimited data. MyBroadband reported that Data SIM was offering MTN-powered SIM cards to provide unlimited Internet browsing, social media usage, Skype video calling and file downloads. Mangale said MTN offers wholesale mobile data to ECS/ECNS-licenced operators only via a model that is usage-based for contract terms ranging from 12-60 months. Alpheus Mangale, MTN SA's Chief Enterprise Officer said users should exercise caution before signing up for the unlimited data service.

South Africa: Dual-SIM debut - On 30 January 2015 Pinnacle Africa said it would launch its branded dual-SIM Windows phone, the Proline SP4, for ZAR 999 (USD 86). The smartphone features a 4-inch display, a quad-core Snapdragon processor, and will run on Windows Phone 8.1, MyBroadband reported. The phone's 1,950mAh battery is the largest in its class.

South Africa: Regional recycling - Refurbishment specialist UK-based Pursuit4 is now offering its services in South Africa. It is an authorised KAZAM smartphone dealer and UK wholesaler of refurbished laptops and mobile phones, and has launched under the Pursuit4SA banner. Ken Finneran, Director Pursuit4 said it had "...a mission to grow globally with a vision to provide quality refurbished stock to retailers. For this, we have launched our first international store in South Africa. Our services to mobile phone retailers include buying back, recycling, screen grade, refurbishment and trade ins. " Pursuit4SA is currently operating in Zimbabwe, Ghana, Namibia and Algeria.

Tunisia: Subscriber survey - The National Telecommunications (INT) is launching an online survey for mobile subscribers to measure their degree of satisfaction with operators (Tunisie Telecom, Ooredoo and Orange Tunisia). The survey is online here.

Turkey: International licence - Turkcell says that its 55 percent owned subsidiary, Ukraine-based Astelit has applied to participate in the Ukrainian 3G UMTS Mobile Licence Tender.

United Arab Emirates: Exclusive Nexus - Etisalat has launched the 4G-enabled Nexus 9 LTE by Google, an Android 5 Lollipop tablet, on an exclusive basis. The device will be available across all Etisalat business centres and key retail outlets. Affordable tablet post-paid data bundles on a 12-month and 24-month contract basis are being offered. The entry price for post-paid users is AED 200 (USD 54.43) per month, with a minimum 1GB data allowance. Customer can choose to upgrade their data plan with extra AED 100 or AED 200 (USD 27 - 54) per month for 5GB or 10GB respectively, it added. Pre-paid users can also get a tablet-data bundle on an upfront payment basis with 1GB free data for the first month and AED 99 (USD 27) per month thereafter.

United Arab Emirates: Freight friendly - Workz Cargo, the IATA licensed freight forwarder has joined the World Cargo Alliance (WCA), giving Workz access to the largest network of independent freight forwarders offering a global alliance between its 5,580 plus members across nearly 200 countries. Middle East-based Workz Group provides telecoms subscriber products and solutions in the Middle East and Africa, and transports over 800 million products to market each year. Workz Cargo, previously known as Workz Logistics was acquired by Workz Media in 2014 and re-branded as Workz Cargo.

United Arab Emirates: Valentine voided - Etisalat-users are reportedly having difficulties accessing the dating app Tinder, with the dispaly of photos being a specific issue. The 7Days newspaper reports that attempts to access via Etisalat triggers a redirected to a page reading 'Access to this site is currently blocked. The site falls under the Prohibited Content Categories of the UAE?s Internet Access Management Policy.' Sadly the UAE's Prohibited Content Categories lists online dating or matchmaking. The paper, however, reports that subscribers to the du network are not affected.

Zambia: Television target - The government has initiated a project to establish new television stations across the nation?s ten provinces. The project follows migration to digital broadcasting in Lusaka. Minister of Information and Broadcasting Service Dr. Joseph Katema spoke at the launch of the project in Solwezi in North-Western province and said the provincial television stations will be implemented alongside the digital migration project. It expects to meet the June 2015 digital migration deadline set by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Zimbabwe: Cable alarm - TelOne is now installing alarm systems on its infrastructure, including copper cables. The operator said it intends to cover most of its routes and noted that routes already covered have already seen an increased number of arrests. TelOne has some 300,000 fixed-line users. It has said that it is keen to launch services under its recently awarded mobile licence.