News in Brief 25 February 2015


Africa: Analogue abeyance - The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has said that 30 African countries can delay their digital migration, and do not have to comply with the June 2015 global deadline. According to the Daily Nation, countries that have been granted an extension include the Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea have also been allowed to continue using analogue signals beyond the deadline.

Africa: Facebook feature phone facilitation - U2opia Mobile has rolled out services enabled by its proprietary USSD platform, Fonetwish, with MTN in South Sudan and South Africa, and Tunisie Telecom in Tunisia. The platform enables users to access services such as Facebook and Twitter on any mobile device, without an active Internet or data connection. Matrix Partners and Omidyar Network provide strategic market reach and financial support. Fonetwish has also been launched with Claro in Guatemala, and Viettel in Vietnam.

Algeria: Tender time - The Authority of the Post and Telecommunications Regulatory has invited tenders for national and international suppliers for the completion of a study on the analysis of wholesale telecommunications services and retail markets in Algeria. Full details are here.


Algeria: Advanced broadband for Bejaia - Mobilis has launched its 3G++ service in the wilaya of Bejaia, with a delegation led by its Managing Director Mr. Saad Damma. At the launch the operator confirmed its support programme for associations in the capital of Hammadites. Some ten organisations have received financial support for various social, sporting, cultural and environmental projects. The presentations were made at an event on 19 February 2015.

Angola: Cable rebrand- Cable operator TV Cabo is now offering its Fibra Business' corporate data, voice and TV services under the Viv brand, which was previously reserved for its domestic offerings. It is also extended its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network to Lubango, the capital city of Angolan province Huila. TV Cabo is currently available in the metropolitan areas of Luanda, Benguela and Lobito.

Bahrain: Whelan walks - Batelco Group's CEO Alan Whelan is to step down, and Ihab Hinnawi, CEO at Umniah since 2009, will take his place. Hinnawi will be the Group's acting Chief Executive Officer, said Batelco chairman Shaikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Khalifa.



Botswana: Better broadband - Mascom Wireless is readying to launch its LTE 4G technology, The Voice reported. CEO Jose Vieira Couceiro speaking at its 17th anniversary celebrations said Mascom had been the first operator to pilot 4G LTE in 2012. He added that 70 percent of the population are on 3G. By March 2015 it is targeting another 38 villages to be covered by 3G. To date any village or city with more than 5,000 people is covered by 3G. It now had some 1.7 million subscribers and a market share of 52 percent. In partnership with the Government it delivered the NTELETSA II Rural Telecommunications Project which included setting up 41 Kitsong Centres; there are now 81 Mascom Kitsong Centers nationally, consisting of a branded Portacabin with computers, printers, copiers and Data cards.

Botswana: Come back for CEO - Thari Pheko is confirmed as the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The CEO's contract expired in December 2014. Pheko worked for BOCRA for 8 years, and after his departure, a recruitment process was initiated. Tshoganetso Kepaletswe, Deputy CEO responsible for regulatory affairs and Noble Katse, Director for Business Development were shortlisted. Kepaletswe was Acting CEO during January. However Pheko is reported by BizTechAfrica to have returned on a 2-year contract.

Chad: Cable consultation - Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel) and Telecommunications du Tchad (Sotel Chad) have signed a technical and co-operation agreement, Agence Ecofin has reported. Camtel will support Sotel's fibre rollout, having deployed over 6,000 km of fibre backbone in its own right. Sotel's fibre network is only 750 km long currently. The deal includes training and strengthening competencies, particularly in the area of FttH and setting up an appropriate pricing system. Camtel said it was currently connected to the SAT-3 and WACS cables.


Cote d'Ivoire: ICT initiative - The government launched its 'One Citizen, One Computer, One Internet Connection' programme last week. It is intended to help 500,000 families own IT equipment and connect to the Internet in the next 3 years. 10,000 households will benefit this year, and 200,000 in each of 2016 and 2017, with the help of subsidies to be co-ordinated by the National Agency of universal service for telecommunications for ICT (ANSUT). President Alassane Ouattara said: "Opportunities of development and job creation in the ICT sector are real. These technologies have a transversal impact and help invigorate all activities they cover ".

Democratic Republic of Congo: Office opening - Bharti Airtel has unveiled its new regional head office in Matadi, Bas-Congo. DRC Managing Director Alain Kahasha said that the building was one of Airtel's key regional investments. The building will house 75 staff together with all of Airtel's infrastructure in the region. Earlier this year, Airtel acquired an office block in Kinshasa, which serves as the national head office. Its DRC East commercial head office is under construction in Goma.

Ghana: Account access - MTN Ghana subscribers can now manage their accounts and also perform other basic services including transferring credits without visiting the customer service centre. This follows the re-launch of MTN's Self Service in Accra. All users can now register and update their PIN number; connect and disconnect MTN numbers; recharge other MTN numbers; request a PUK and SIM change. The Acting Customer Corporate Executive, MTN Ghana, Mr Lawrence Akosen said MTN had introduced eight customer on-line channels, including Eself care, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Skype and Webchat.


Ghana: Battery bonanza - Mobile operator Tigo is concerned about growing battery thefts from its telecom sites. It says the batteries are being used to power inverters to provide an alternate source of power, particularly for domestic use. Tigo's Chief Operating Officer Obafemin Banigbe told Joy News that it had tightened security at its sites. He said that when the ECG power supply fails, it uses generators as back up. When the generators also fail, the site runs on batteries.

Kenya: Investment threatened - Safaricom has threatened to reduce its planned USD 400 million investment if the regulator imposes penalties to limit its market dominance. CEO Bob Collymore said in an interview last week: "We're all up for going through the process, defining the areas that we may or may not be dominant in, defining what the abuse is, and defining what the remedies are. Not simply standing and calling people names. " Communications Secretary Fred Matiang'i wrote to the Communications Authority late last year to ask why Safaricom had not been declared a dominant provider, the Daily Nation newspaper reported on 17 February.

Nigeria: Illegals identified - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reckons it has identified 128 illegal telecom operators in Kano State. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos has obtained a copy of the NCC's "Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Reports for the Fourth Quarter of 2014 ". These operators run cyber cafes, sell accessories and undertake installation services. Pre-enforcement notices have been issued.

Nigeria: Smartphone spur - Fly Managing Director Nitin Sood has said that following the launch of its products in Nigeria last year, it is now to launch in Mozambique, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. Fly has a portfolio of seven smartphones and a feature phone. The Pulse newspaper reported that the new range will include the Fly Posh DS131, a feature phone in a magnesium aluminium body, and a range of smartphones, including the Fly Epic-IQ4602, Fly's first entry into the 6-inch phablet segment. The range will also include the 5-inch Fly Titan-IQ4511, that features an octa-core platform and double-sided Gorilla Glass.

Palestine: Hostile environment - Mobile operator Paltel posted a 5 percent fall in 2014 revenues to USD 502 million. Net profit fell by 13.6 percent to USD 120 million. EBITDA stood at USD 205.7 million compared with USD 231 million in 2013.

Qatar: Smart solutions - The Ooredoo Advanced Smart Innovative Solutions (OASIS) Lab in Doha is one-year old and has been accessed by more than 200 businesses in Qatar since it opened. Ooredoo leveraged its long-standing relationships with leading technology companies to provide the latest examples of next generation smart solutions. Speaking on the occasion of the anniversary, Sheikh Nasser Hamad Nasser Al-Thani, Chief New Business Officer, Ooredoo, said: "The OASIS Lab was designed to create a space for businesses across Qatar to come and test ground-breaking technology on the biggest, fastest network "

Rwanda: Football favourites - Kirusa has launch of its InstaVoice celeb and InstaVoice sports services on Airtel's network. InstaVoice celeb provides a seamless flow of messages from celeb-to-fans and fans-to-celeb, whilst InstaVoice sports provides daily football updates such as team news, pre and post-match analysis and quotes of team managers as well as players.

Saudi Arabia: MTRs cut - The Communications and Information Technology Commission has cut call termination rates by 40 percent to SAR 0.15 (USD 0.04) per minute from SAR 0.25. Zain Saudi has been lobbying CITC to have the charges reduced, arguing it is unfairly penalised with higher network charges due to its smaller subscriber base.

Senegal: Profitable year - Sonatel has announced a net increase in net profit of 15.1 percent to XOF 218 billion (USD 375.1 million) and sales up 10.5 percent to XOF 816 billion (USD 1.4 billion). The details were filed with the Regional Stock Exchange (BRVM).

Turkey: IR replacement - Turkcell has said that Investor Relations Executive and Corporate Governance Committee Member Emre Alpman has been replaced by Nihat Narin, who holds the appropriate authorisations and is a full time employee of the company.

Uganda: Second slice of sponsorship - Airtel Uganda has announced a partnership renewal with Buganda Kingdom. Airtel Uganda Managing Director Tom Gutjahr said it had partnered on several projects, and will now provide some UGX 170 million (USD 58,215) each year for the next three years for The Kabaka Run, Kabaka's birthday, the Kabaka's coronation as well as Eid El Fitri.

United Arab Emirates: Collaboration sought - Enhancing network performance and improving the quality of coverage were major topics of discussion when the Director General of the General Authority for Regulating the Telecommunications Sector (TRA) Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori met with Osman Sultan, CEO of the Emirates Integrated Telecommunication Company (du) last week. The plan to form a joint team with members from the TRA and the operators to find solutions to customer complaints was aired. It was also agreed to hold regular meetings to discuss matters relating to the sector and explore methods to deal with all the issues of concern to the public.

United Arab Emirates: Satellites sourced - A deal valued at just over USD 1 billion to buy satellite systems from Airbus and Thales. The deal was announced on 22 February at the International Defense Exhibition in Abu Dhabi. Exhibition chairman Obadi al-Ketbi said the deal is worth AED 3.75 billion (USD 1.02 billion). He did not give details on the satellites' use.

Zimbabwe: No news - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has not published its financial results for the year, and will do so in May, according to Econet spokesperson Rangarirai Mberi. The Chronicle's report noted that a number of online publications last week reported the telco with a turnover of USD 752 million for the 12 months to February 2015, although Mberi said this was last year's figure.