News in Brief 28 January 2015

 

Afghanistan: Special visit - The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) has been visited by the Special Representative to the President for Reforms and Good Governance, on Sunday 18 January 2015. The Acting and Deputy Technical Minister of MCIT Eng. Baryalay Hassam, and Deputy Ministers of MCIT accompanied him. The delegation subsequently visited the National Data Centre (NDC), a number of Afghan Telecom installations, and the electronic ID card printing facility.

Africa: Cloud connectivity - MTN Group is to offer Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect to business customers across multiple countries in Africa. The service will leverage the footprint of MTN?s *Global MPLS network, to provide connectivity between users' data centres and the AWS EU Ireland region. This will give enterprises across Africa a dedicated link with which they can access the AWS cloud.

Africa: Outsourcing deal - Tier 1 carrier Wananchi Telecom (WT) has partnered with Epsilon for the delivery of outsourced network services to support the growth of its wholesale telecom business. Epsilon has deployed a virtual point of presence (vPoP) in Telehouse East London and SmartHub Fujairah, UAE for Wananchi Telecom, giving it access to more than 500 carriers and network service providers locally and internationally. WT delivers communications services in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, London, UAE and Mumbai.

 

 

Algeria: Sale imminent - The sale of a majority 51 percent stake in mobile operator Djezzy (OTA) by Vimpelcom is now close, with the final agreement due to be signed this week, the TSA news Website has reported. The conversion of Cevital?s stake was to be raised by 22 January. The transaction amount is USD 2.6 billion, valuing Djezzy at USD 5.2 billion.

Bahrain: Faster fibre - Riffa is the latest destination for Batelco's Superfast Broaband network, offering download speeds up to 150 Mbps and throttling speeds of up to 20 Mbps. Existing customers will be migrated onto the new network. Locations now benefiting from the enhanced service include Saar, Riffa Views, Reef Islands, Juffair, Sanad, Khaleej, Tubli, Ishbiliya and Busaitain, with further locations to be added during 2015.

Botswana: Internet initiative - MTN's Mascom has presented ten Internet cafes to rural communities as part of the ongoing Kitsong Centre CSR initiative. Ten young entrepreneurs will be each given the opportunity to run their own cafes. The package includes a branded Portacabin equipped with computers, printers, copiers and data cards. Since 2009 Mascom has handed over a total of 81 Kitsong Centres and invested over BWP 20 million (USD 2.06 million).

 

Botswana: Non-subscribing staff - BTCL Workers Union member Kewetse Busumane has said that the 5 percent of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) shares allocated to staff in the pending IPO are unlikely to be subscribed to, as the staff do not have the funds to buy them. The government is selling 49 percent of its shares to the public, of which 5 percent has been reserved for BTC staff.

Egypt: Platform deployment - Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Submarine Cable System?s trans-Egypt terrestrial network has deployed the Infinera DTN-X platform which features the DTN-X packet optical transport networking platform. MENA is a unit of Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, owns and operates a submarine network connecting Europe to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, providing wholesale capacity to networks via Asia and the Middle East.

Ghana: Films for fixed - A video-on-demand (VoD) service is to be launched by Vodafone Ghana after it signed a deal with Nigerian online movie streaming site iROKOtv, NexTV has reported. A monthly subscription of GHS 20 (USD 6.11) will allow Vodafone?s fixed broadband subscribers can access more than 6,000 films and TV shows, while iROKOtv movie vouchers will also be made available. Julius Owusu-Kyerematen is Vodafone Ghana's head of strategy.

Ghana: Pilot project - Brussels-based World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) and Cignifi are to work with Airtel to develop and test-market a mobile savings product targeted at undeserved and dormant savers. Airtel Ghana and WSBI member HFC Bank Ghana will test the product. A pilot project has been completed, which showed that mobile phone usage is an effective predictor of a consumer?s savings behaviour.

 

Ghana: Set-top standards - The National Communications Authority (NCA) has published an updated version of the Conformance Regime for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) receivers (set-top boxes, integrated digital television sets, etc) for Free to Air Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). It now includes the addition of a new accredited laboratory to Annex 2 and an update of the cedi equivalent of the fees for the Test Suite and conformance certification. The Transitional period for the conformance regime lapsed on 31 December 2014 and the regime is therefore in force. The conformance regime is here. The list of certified DTT receivers is here.

Iran: Better broadband optimisation - Unlimited Mobile Internet packs are to be offered by MTN Irancell. It had success with its Mobile Internet bolt-on packs, and so decided to offer the packs for a limited period of time, with the aim of enhancing customer satisfaction, traffic management and make better use of of the Mobile Internet infrastructure. A one-day unlimited night pack costs IRR 30,000 (USD 1.09) and a one-week unlimited night pack IRR 100,000 (USD 3.64). The unlimited night packs are valid from 02:00hrs to 08:00hrs.

Kenya: Payment probe - Board members of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) have apparently raided the petty cash to the tune of KES 8.2 million (USD 89,300), and failed to provide the supporting receipts. BusinessDailyAfrica reports that some members have pocketed up to KES 1.4 million (USD 15,247) in allowances over a five month period, with some getting up to KES 240,000 for a single overseas trip. Members were also paid a minimum of KES 20,000 for attending Press briefings, retreats and team building. The Inspector-General of State Corporations is to investigate the payments.

Kenya: Mobiles cannibalise cards - Data published by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows that volume of cash sent through mobile platforms grew by a quarter to KES 2.1 trillion (USD 22.9 million) at the end of November 2014, compared to a year earlier, and was nearly double the value of card payments. Card payments fell 18.2 percent to KES 1.1 trillion (USD 11.98 million) at the end of November 2014, compared to KES 1.4 trillion (USD 15.25 million) a year earlier, Business Daily reported.

Kenya: SIM data sharing reduced - The number of times a SIM card can share data bundles has been cut by Safaricom to 20 per month; originally it was 50. Business Daily reported that the move came after it was found that traders were selling bundles at lower prices than Safaricom?s official rates by buying in bulk and then breaking them down into small bits for users. Known as 'bundles mwitu', they offer savings of as much as 15 percent.

Kenya: Store signing - Safaricom is readying to sign Tuskys and Nakumatt supermarkets as Lipa Na M-Pesa agents. According to Business Daily, Safaricom says it is already conducting trials for the service at three Tuskys outlets and is also in talks with Nakumatt. It has already signed up Naivas and listed retailer Uchumi, third and fourth largest supermarket chains. Lipa Na M-Pesa allows users to pay for shopping via mobile money by sending cash to special till numbers allocated to merchants. Safaricom charges retailers a 1 percent transaction processing fee on the Lipa Na M-Pesa service, compared to the average 3 percent levy banks charge merchants to use their points of sale (PoS).

Middle East: Sales post for Saadi - Tarek Saadi has been named as Ericsson's Executive Vice President and Head of Sales for the Middle East. Saadi will oversee the company's sales engagement throughout the Middle East. In 2010 he was appointed as President for Ericsson North Middle East. Saadi has been with Ericsson for 19 years.

Nigeria: Cost of diesel calculated - There are over 50,000 generating sets powering some 29,000 mobile base stations according to the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON). The Guardian reports that the operators spend around NGN 214.3 billion (USD 1.11 billion) per annum on diesel for the generators. It suggests that a base station with two generating sets consume NGN 325,000 (USD 1,694) worth of diesel monthly. Operator-owned sites tend to use a 15-20KVA generating set, whilst for co-location sites a 27KVA set is preferred, which are changed approximately every two years or so depending on wear and tear.

South Africa: App added - Deutsche Welle's Crossroads Generation is being offered as in-app content on Mxit. DW and Mxit worked together to develop an app which makes the educational audio content available to users throughout Africa. Users with any Internet-enabled mobile phone can listen to the programme for free after adding 'crossroadsgen' as a contact in their Mxit account. Petra Schneider, Director of Distribution at DW said: "We can definitely imagine expanding the partnership in the near future to include online and audio content in several African languages, as well as video content in English. " Mxit has nearly 5 million users in South Africa. Other key markets include India, Nigeria and Indonesia.

South Africa: International debut - Netflix has told shareholders that it would complete its international rollout - including South Africa - by 2017, MyBroadband has reported. It said it would do so while remaining profitable.

South Africa: No sale - Vox Telecom is not to be sold and is to now pursue a stand-alone business strategy, BusinessTech has reported. Chief Executive Officer Jacques du Toit said that the current investors have 'faith in the economy and specifically the ICT sector' Vox is to now focus on entering new markets, launching new products, lowering costs and ?aggressive? customer acquisitions.

South Africa: Staff streamlining - MTN South Africa is to reorganise its local enterprise business unit. ITWeb reports that some 570 staff are expected to re-apply for their jobs. The development follows the appointment of former Microsoft SA head, Mteto Nyati, in September 2014 as Group Chief Enterprise Officer. He said the reorganisation was to enhance its customer service and market differentiation.

Tanzania: Pesa payout - Tigo has announced its Tigo Pesa profit share payment of some TZS 3.1 billion (USD 1.70 million) to users for the fourth quarter of 2014. Tigo Interim General Manager, Cecile Tiano, said this followed the TZS 3.2 billion paid out three months ago and the TZS 14.25 billion paid out in July last year when the profit share scheme was launched. Tigo Pesa currently has some 3 million users.

Togo: Healthy tax - A new tax has been levied on incoming international calls, Agence Ecofin has reported. The international interconnection fee has been dubbed ?Titi?, and adds an additional XOF 25 (USD0.043) per minute levy on all operators. The tax will be used to fund the government?s universal health insurance scheme.

Tunisia: Stakeholder visions sought - INT is organising a workshop for the development of a universal service policy labelled 'Telecommunications in Tunisia', to be held on 26 January 2015. The workshop will share the visions of the various stakeholders, and also share experiences from regulators including Morocco, Austria, Italy, Spain, the United States and France.

United Arab Emirates: Etisalat targets education - Etisalat Group is to engage Intel Corporation to transform education solutions in the Middle East. The deal was signed at Bett 2015 in London last week, and will accelerate education transformation projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Khalifa Al Shamsi, Chief Digital Services Officer at Etisalat Group, said: "Innovative technologies like these help to form a holistic digital educational model that will benefit from Etisalat?s advanced infrastructure and leading cloud solutions. " Intel's education programmes and solutions consist of a holistic approach including the adapted material, personalised software content and professional development for teachers.

United Arab Emirates: Packages as presents - Etisalat users can now gift mobile data packages to their families and friends and receive 10 percent bonus data as a reward. A variety of data packages from 100MB up to 20GB to suit different needs are being offered. Gift packages can be sent pre-paid to pre-paid, post-paid to pre-paid and pre-paid to post-paid customers. Khaled El Khouly, the Chief Marketing Manager said it was 'extending our mobile data offering as gifting options for the first time in the UAE'.

West Africa: International payments - Online money transfer service Azimo has announced that customers in Europe can now send money to recipients in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo in CFA francs for instant cash pick-up. Michael Kent, CEO of Azimo, said that these 8 countries have a combined population of over 100 million people and GDP of USD 80 billion. The World Bank estimates that nearly USD 3 billion was remitted to the region in 2012.

Zambia: Insurance initiative - Airtel has paid out over TZW 580,000 (USD 90,346) in insurance claims since it launched a free life insurance product in 2014, according to its Head of Corporate Communications and Governance Relations Yuyo Kambikambi said. The package is offered in partnership with Africa Life Insurance Zambia and Micro-Ensure.