News in Brief 4 February 2015


Algeria: Djezzy a done deal - VimpelCom and its subsidiary Global Telecom Holding have announced sale by GTH of a 51 percent interest in Omnium Telecom Algeria (formerly known as Orascom Telecom Algerie) to the Algerian National Investment Fund, Fonds National d'Investissement for USD 2.6 billion is now completed. GTH will continue to exercise operational control over OTA and, as a result, both GTH and VimpelCom will continue to fully consolidate OTA. GTH has consequently terminated its international arbitration against the Algerian State initiated on 12 April 2012.

Bahrain: Family broadband - Zain Bahrain has launched personalised home broadband packages branded 'The Big Gigs Family'. The packages feature 4G technology, unlimited usage, generous thresholds and a free 4G-router or Mi-Fi devices. Packages include the Streamer with unlimited YouTube usage; the Downloader for feature films and TV programming with a 120GB of threshold; and the Gamer for video games using the maximum speed of the connection.

Botswana: IPO imminent - The Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Kenneth Matambo told Parliament on 2 February when delivering the 2015/16 budget speech that privatisation included the outright sale of public assets and outsourcing the non-core public services. With regard to Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), he said the privatisation process was at an advanced stage with the expected Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the first half of 2015.

Cameroon: Cost of calling falling - The cost of calling continues to fall in Cameroon. MTN cut calls to XAF 25 (USD 0.03); and now Orange is proposing to follow suit at XAF 15 (USD 0.02) a minute, with an announcement on Friday 30 January. Agency Ecofin reports that fixed line provider CAMTEL is also planning a reduction in rates. However this leaves third mobile operator Nexttel rather isolated, as it is offering on-net calls for XAF 54 (USD 0.06) a minute XAF 66 (USD 0.08) off-net: it currently enjoys 3G exclusivity.

Congo Brazzaville: Majors meet Minister - The Minister of Posts and Telecoms Thierry Lezin Moungalla has met with Google and Oracle to discuss the need to develop high speed Internet, BizTechAfrica has reported. Tidjane Deme, director of Google Francophone said: "This is an exploration mission that forms part of our objectives to contribute to the development of the internet and ICTs in this continent, boost the creation of local business and develop local economies ".

Cote d'Ivoire: Mobile landmarks - Prime Minister and Minister of Economy, Finance and Budget, Daniel Kablan Duncan, last week said that there are now some 20 million mobile subscribers, and the sector represents 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). He added that there would be some 7,000 rural locations with telephony by the end of the year 'thanks to CDMA technology'.


Ghana: Agency awards - Tigo Ghana has said it will upgrade its bulk payments platform in 2015. Head of Mobile at Tigo Ghana, Tara Squire, speaking at the Tigo cash agents awards held in Accra, said Tigo cash employs about 7,000 nationally. This year 23 agents were awarded. The service was launched in April 2011 and has some 3,500 agents in total.

Ghana: Agency awards - Tigo Ghana has said it will upgrade its bulk payments platform in 2015. Head of Mobile at Tigo Ghana, Tara Squire, speaking at the Tigo cash agents awards held in Accra, said Tigo cash employs about 7,000 nationally. This year 23 agents were awarded. The service was launched in April 2011 and has some 3,500 agents in total.

Ghana: Legal light - Airtel Ghana has appointed Hannah Agbozo as Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs. Agbozo has managed the regulatory affairs function within the company since 2008. She will have overall responsibility for Airtel Ghana's corporate communications, CSR and external affairs functions in addition to the legal and regulatory function.


Global: Tax friendly - Last week Vodafone published an update to its voluntary disclosure of the Group's taxation and total economic contribution on a country-by-country basis to include financial information for the year ended 31 March 2014. In 2013/14, Vodafone claims to have contributed some GBP 14.75 billion in cash to the public finances in the countries in which it operates. This rose from GBP 13.5 billion in 2012/13. The report is available here.

Iran: Neighbourly co-operation - Iranian Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi met with visiting Iraqi Minister of Communications, Hassan Kadhim Al-Rashed in Tehran on 26 January 2015. The ILNA News Agency reports that the two sides sought to boost relations in telecoms, post, post bank, satellite, Internet, fixed lines, mobile phones and IT. The two also agreed on reducing roaming tariffs. Vaezi said the two need to work more on the quality of communications, as on religious anniversaries a large number of Iranians travel to Iraq. Al-Rashed expressed hope that the current problems with militants would be resolved shortly.

Kenya: Better bundles - Orange has launched the Ongea post-paid plan giving subscribers the option of KES 1,000 (USD 10.70) or KES 3,000 (USD 32.12) monthly bundles to access Orange Mobile voice and data services. Company CEO Vincent Lobry said the launch is in response to the market need of a stronger value proposition for the post-paid bundle offering. The Plan 1,000 will require a subscriber to place a deposit of KES 2,000 (USD 21.42) upon registration, while the Plan 3,000 will see the subscriber pay a KES 6,000 (USD 64.25) deposit. On-net and off-net calls will be charged at KES 2 (USD 0.02) and KES 3 respectively, while on-net and off-net SMS will be charged at KES 0.5 and KES 1 respectively. Data per MB will cost KES 3 on the 1,000 Plan and KES 2 on the 3,000 Plan.

Kenya: yu integrated - Some 140 staff from yuMobile formally took up their new posts at Safaricom on 2 February, the Business Daily reported. Airtel Kenya integrated the yu subscribers and 25 staff into its network in mid-January. Airtel Kenya also gets use of the yu brand name for at least two years, and Safaricom says it has started re-farming the yu spectrum.

Liberia: Dish dynamics - A leaked report by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority suggests that LoneStar Cell MTN reinstalled or reactivated a telecommunications dish capable of supplying broadband data capacity from Cote d'Ivoire to Liberia, FrontPageAfrica has reported. An assessment was undertaken of the three mobile operators' sites in Grand Gedeh and Nimba. A microwave dish was noted installed at the same height and in the same position as the decommissioned microwave dish connecting LoneStarcell/MTN to Cote d'Ivoire in the border town of Toe Town. A request is to apparently be made with regard to the purpose and function of the dish.

Qatar: Classic conversion - Vodafone Qatar is now offering the latest Blackberry Classic in its retail stores and eShopas from 28 January. The Classic is priced at QAR 1,799 (USD 494) and comes with 1GB of free local data valid for 30 days for Vodafone pre-paid customers and 6GB of free local data for 30 days for Vodafone post-paid customers. Customers can also take advantage of Vodafone's trade-in offer.

Qatar: Cloud commercial bank first - Ooredoo is to provide Al Khalij Commercial Bank (al khaliji) with an integrated Cloud Security system. This is the first bank to sign up for Ooredoo's Cloud Security service, which is hosted at its Data Centre. It covers 400 users within al khaliji through an Advanced Web Suite, based at the Ooredoo DaAlso. Ooredoo's Cloud Security is powered by Zservices (Zscaler Middle East Cloud), the first local Web cloud security in the Middle East.

Qatar: Promising promotion banned - The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) decision that Vodafone's '3 Months Free' is misleading has been criticised by the operator. The CRA ordered Vodafone to remove all adverts for the promotion. Vodafone noted that the ban followed a complaint by a competitor, but it has had no input into the complaint review process despite its request. The operator said it intends to pursue the matter further with the CRA through appropriate channels.

Saudi Arabia: Post-grad training - Mobily and SAP are to launch the second phase of the Mobily SAP training programme for employment which is aimed at finding Saudi university graduates job opportunities. Mobily is providing the financial and technical support for the programme, and SAP a one-year participation in the SAP Learning Hub Customer Edition for top graduates, a cloud software platform including training topics and courses on the Internet. Mobily and SAP celebrated last September the graduation of the first batch of students in the programme, consisting of 37 graduates from PSU.

South Africa: Carrier certification - Neotel has said that it is the first service provider in Africa to receive Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) Carrier Ethernet 2.0 Certification. Sunil Joshi, CEO and MD of Neotel, said: "By ensuring that the key stakeholders who use these standards are part of the forum who discuss and finalise them, MEF has managed to ensure that certified members achieve a quicker time to market services from equipment procurement through to adoption by customers. "

South Africa: Device management - Vodacom Business is now offering a solution that allows management of 'Bring Your Own Device' (BYOD) corporate environments. Vodacom Secure Device Manager provides administration functionality for businesses to remotely manage mobile devices and enforce security policies, giving employees secure access to corporate data. The tool can be used for both company-owned and employee-owned devices across the business. Chris Ross, Managing Executive of Products and Services at Vodacom Business said around 95 percent of staff use at least one personal device for work, BYOD is 'a reality that company IT security managers simply can?t ignore'.

Swaziland: Tariffs trimmed - MTN Swaziland has cut its tariffs for both voice and data services from 30 January, The Times reported. Swazi MTN Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ambrose Dlamini said it was concerned that Swaziland had the highest call rates in the region.

Togo: Intense Internet training - The government has launched an eight-week training workshop in Lome for technicians, engineers and other ICT professionals, BizTechAfrica has reported. Star students will be sponsored for further training overseas. Minister of Posts and Digital Economy Cina Lawson said the government was determined to put Togo at the forefront of high-speed Internet, and that public services needed to be improved through a successful and well performing e-government platform.

Turkey: Sureyya steps down - Last week Turkcell said its Chief Executive Sureyya Ciliv was stepping down with effect from 31 January 2015, it said in a statement to the Istanbul bourse. The operator said that Chief Technology Group Officer Ilker Kuruoz would act as CEO until a replacement had been named.

United Arab Emirates: Electronic shopping experience - On 2 February Etisalat opened a retail outlet Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall, the latest in its series of SMART stores. The SMART store concept has already been rolled out in Al Ain, Al Kifaf, Al Nahda, Al Mankhool and Emirates Airlines Headquarters. Electronic signature pads capture customer signatures and affix them to digital documents, which can be stored electronically. Suhail Al Awadi, Vice President - Retail at Etisalat said: "Our new SMART stores embody Etisalat's customer experience strategy, using technology to make our customer's visit to the store effortless, informative and enjoyable."

United Arab Emirates: Premium package - Etisalat has announced its 'Emerald' plan for the UAE's business elite, including a smart device valued up to AED 3,600 (USD 650) for free annually. Tailor-made packages start from AED 2,000 (USD 361) per month with free activation. The plan includes premium mobile numbers, up to 12,000 flexible minutes that can be used for local, international or roaming incoming voice calls, up to 30GB mobile data allowance and up to 10,000 free local and international SMS.

Zimbabwe: Reseller's claim rejected - Firstel Cellular is to now pay USD 8 million to NetOne after the Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the former. Firstel was contracted to win clients for NetOne post-paid lines and then remit the monies to NetOne, less its commission. However, between January and March 2009, when the multi-currency system was introduced, most clients who bought contract lines through Firstel failed to settle their bills, which resulted in Firstel failing to pay NetOne some USD 8.33 million.

Zimbabwe: Spectrum switch - NetOne has acquired a broadcasting frequency that was being used by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and Transmedia for USD 200 million. Information Communication and Technology Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira told the National Assembly of the development whilst responding to a question last week. He said the funds would be used to digitalise broadcasting equipment, as the deadline for the switchover from analogue is June 2015.