News in Brief 18 March 2015

Africa: Spam stopper - Swedish-based Truecaller, a mobile application that allows users to identify unknown incoming calls and block calls, claims to have some 7 million users in sub-Saharan Africa, ITWeb has reported Chief Strategy Officer Nami Zarringhalam as saying. At the end of 2014 growth was approximately 500 percent, compared to the same period in 2013. Truecaller uses a community based spam list driven by the more than 100 million users globally. It is currently focusing on Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana.

Angola: Expansion envisaged - Unitel is looking to expand within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), according to chairman, Isabel dos Santos, when interviewed by Angop. Business opportunities are being accessed in the SADC region, which comprises Angola, South Africa, Botswana, DRC, Leshoto, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Bahrain: Asian access - Batelco has signed a master bilateral supply agreement with China Unicom Hong Kong at the annual Capacity Middle East 2015 event, held recently in Dubai. The partnership will allow the two to access to each other's networks, enabling them to extend their reach into new locations.

Bahrain: Licence lost - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) published a notice on 25 December 2014 in the Official Gazette for comments on the proposed revocation of Internet Services Provider Class Licence and Value Added Services Class Licence awarded to Icol Plus. The TRA says it has not received any comments, and consequently the ISP License and VAS Licenses have been revoked with effect from 5 March 2015.

Burkina Faso: Buyers beware - The Board of Communication and Regulatory Authority of Electronic Communications and Posts has said that AFRITNT is acting illegally, without the appropriate licences. The company is claimed to be engaging in outreach activities by TNT and marketing packages of TV channel packages and Freeview decoders. The two bodies claim that it is acting as a pay-TV channel dispenser when it has no authorisation to do so. The public is therefore warned of the risks faced in purchasing the services and facilities that are offered by the company. A decision will be made shortly.

Burkina Faso: Quality check - Regulator ARCEP launched an audit of 2G services nationally from 4 to 30 November 2013, with the aim of verifying improvements in quality of service. The Regulatory Board of ARCEP found that although the operators had made efforts to improve service, the results fell short of the specifications. An extension was granted with a second audit conducted in October and November 2014.The audit looked at the geographical coverage of 2G networks; checked the quality of services (QoS) offered on 2G voice, SMS, Internet; and checked the voice quality for 2G communications for Airtel Burkina Faso; Onatel (Maroc) and Telecel Faso. The full report is here.

Cameroon: Touting for technicians - On 26 September 2014 Cameroon Telecommunications (CAMTEL) was licensed to provide a national fixed and mobile network. To facilitate its mobile network CAMTEL has implemented a programme, and as part of this process, it is now seeking research engineers and technicians. Details of the skills and positions to be filled are here.

Egypt: Deal nearly done - The transfer of OTMT's direct stake in ECMS (Mobinil) is to be completed as an 'over the counter' deal between the two main shareholders. The parties expect that the transaction will be completed by the end of March. OTMT's direct and indirect interests in ECMS will be transferred to Orange for EUR 209.6 million. Orange will therefore increase its stake in ECMS from around 94 to around 99 percent of the capital.

Equatorial Guinea: Students bound for Spain - ORTEL Director General Hermogenes Nzang Esono has initiated a course on telecommunictions at the Catholic University of Murcia in Spain. A total of 36 students will be trained in groups of six, and will study the regulation of markets, accounting and human resources. The project is entirely government funded, and is intended to ensure the better functioning of ORTEL, according to the Press and Information Office of Equatorial Guinea).

Gabon: Severed SAT-3 - The SAT-3 submarine cable is reported to have been deliberately damaged Director Firmin Ngoye told l'Union, resulting in Gabon Telecom and other ISPs losing Internet services for most of 9 March. The Internet service was partially restored around 20:00 hrs, with 2 - 3 days being required for full restoration. No comment was made as to who the perpetrators might be, although GT has recently suffered outages as a result of strike action.

Kenya: Safaricom savings solution - KCB and Safaricom last week launched the KCB- M-Pesa account; the second such product brought to market after M-Shwari, which is a collaboration between Safaricom and the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA). Customers will also have the option of two fixed savings options, a fixed deposit account and a target savings account. KCB Group CEO Joshua Oigara described the move as 'a new frontier in the evolution of the mobile money journey for both institutions'. Users can save, place standing orders or make fixed deposits using their phones.

Mozambique: Regulatory round-table - The 4th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Regulators of Communications of Southern Africa (CRASA) is to be hosted in Mozambique on 27 - 28 March in Vilankulo, Inhambane Province. CRASA is organising the meeting in collaboration with the National Institute of Communications of Mozambique (INCM). The Meeting will be preceded by three workshops with the themes: Mobile Telephony and Health; Quality of Postal Services; and Cost Roaming.

Oman: Sukuk sought - Omantel is planning to float sukuk Islamic debt instruments this year. Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) will seek shareholders' approval on 22 March for a relatively small issue of OMR 50 million (USD 129.5 million), the Times of Oman reported.

Sierra Leone: Open gate - The Telecommunications (Amendment) Act 2015 is now in force and consequently the monopoly of the international gateway enjoyed by the Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (SierraTel) has now ended, the Concord Times reported. Deputy Minister of Justice, John Arrow Bockarie, had said that the bill would promote telecommunication services, liberalise the international gateway as well as guarantee a secured flow of revenue as funds had been lost in the past. He added that the bill would also minimise security threats to the country's telecommunications industry.

South Africa: EMC executive - Amanda De Beer has been named as EMC Southern Africa's Regional Manager, Data Protection Solutions (DPS) business. ITWeb reports she was formerly an executive of Gijima's Enterprise Applications business unit; De Beer also worked for Cisco in the Netherlands and South Africa as well as for Microsoft.

South Africa: First forum - The Wi-Fi Forum of South Africa (Wi-Fi Forum SA) held its inaugural conference in Johannesburg on 12 March. The conference was followed by the inaugural Annual General Meeting of the Wi-Fi Forum where a new management committee was elected. Established in November 2013, the conference looked at the development of an effective self-regulatory framework for South Africa.

South Africa: Official locked-out - A Department of Telecommunications and Postal Service (DTPS) Deputy Director-General has been relieved of his post by text message by the Ministry's Director-General Rosey Sekese, ITWeb reported. Gift Buthelezi, DDG for International Relations was allegedly sacked for failing to carry out his duties and/or insubordination, but says he will challenge the dismissal in the Labour Court. He was locked out of his office on Wednesday last week. Buthelezi was appointed as acting DG until Sekese returned in April 2013.

South Africa: Outage resolved - Cell C experienced a network outage on Friday 13 March 2015. According to Fin24, Cell C spokesperson Karin Fourie said it was experiencing problems with call set-up, adding that users would have to dial the same number multiple times to make a successful call. It subsequently said that it had identified the problem with traffic management between our two major data centres affected.

Tanzania: Farmer friendly - Vodacom Tanzania has been commended for its mobile money solution for smallholder farmers dubbed Kilimo Klub, the Tanzania Daily News reported. Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, Godfrey Zambi, told a news conference that the increased rate of mobile penetration was a big push to smallholder farmers in rural areas.

Turkey: Auditor appointed - Turkcell board member Jan Erik Rudberg has made a court filing to request an independent auditor to be appointment in relation to the Company's 2014 financials as required by the Turkish Commercial Code. The court has appointed DRT Bagimsiz Denetim Serbest Muhasebeci Mali Musavirlik A.S. as the independent auditor. The appointed was previous made by the Board.

United Arab Emirates: Client for du data centre - Zain Group is to work with datamena, a UAE-based carrier neutral data centre and connectivity platform, owned by Dubai-based operator du, Gulf Daily News reported. Zain operations will be interconnected directly with various partners including other regional and international carriers, content and cloud providers, and enterprises. Zain Group is a member of the Middle East Europe Terrestrial System, which reaches into datamena and which will be connecting the GCC with high-speed fibre when it is launched later this year.

Zimbabwe: It's illegal - Econet Wireless' Dial-a-Doc scheme appears to be having issues with the Medical and Dental Practitioners' Council of Zimbabwe (MDPCZ). The Sunday Mail reports that after Econet officially launched the service, the regulatory body declared it illegal. Econet partnered with Ponai Medical Centre to provide advisory messages from doctors at the rate of USD 0.70 per minute. MDPCZ Registrar Josephine Mwakutuya said it had in written on 12 December 2014 to tell the Chief Operations Manager that Dial-A-Doc 'is medically unprofessional and also illegal'.

Zimbabwe: Signal boosted sharing - Mobile operators Econet, NetOne and Telecel are not sharing signal boosters, which, according to Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, is preventing mobile users from utilising roaming facilities. The Chronicle reported that he told Parliament that mobile operators should share their infrastructure to make it easy for users to switch onto roaming services even though they use different networks.