News in Brief 8 April 2015

Africa: Open Data - Ghana has been rated among the highest-ranked Sub-Saharan African countries on the continent in this year?s Open Data Barometer Report released by the World Wide Web Foundation. Ghana and Rwanda tied in third place on the list with a score of 46, followed by Kenya with 49 and Mauritius with 54. South Africa was ranked first on the list as being the country with the highest open data initiative. The rankings can be viewed here.

Algeria: Deadline extension - The Regulatory Authority for Post and Telecommunications has said that the deadline for the submission of bids for an analysis of the national and international wholesale telecommunications services and retail markets in Algeria has been extended from the 1 April until mid-day of 16 April 2015. Tenders are restricted to local firms.

Bahrain: ISP withdrawal - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority is continuing its clean-up of operators and has issued a notice of revocation for Golden Sands Electronics & Phone's Internet Services Provider class licence on 30 March 2015. The TRA is now asking for any objections to the revocation to be made to it by 26 April 2015.

Cote d'Ivoire: Regulatory appointment - Djaha Konan has been appointed as a member of the Regulatory Council of the Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications / ICT Ivory Coast, replacing Mr. Amadou Toure.

Cote d'Ivoire: Roaming submissions - The Regulatory Authority for Telecommunications / ICT Ivory Coast (ARTCI) from 10 April 2015 is inviting comments from 'any natural or legal person' on national roaming. The closing date is 12 May 2015, and it cautions that any submissions received might be published in the public domain. The document can be downloaded from the ARTCI Website at www.artci.ci.

Egypt: Committee councils - The arbitration committee has rejected Mobinil's case filed against Telecom Egypt. This sought to compel TE to apply the same interconnection rates that have been applied by Mobinil since June 2008. However the committee concluded that a mutual price agreement must be reached between the two entities.

Ghana: Money milestone - The number of registered Airtel Money users has crossed the 1.5 million mark, or equivalent to half the population of Accra. An Airtel Money account can be directly linked to a bank account facilitating the secure transfer of money between accounts. Users can also make withdrawals from Automated Teller Machines as cash out agents without the need for an account with the Bank or an ATM card. Airtel Money can be used to buy data bundles. There are some 11,000 registered agents, seven partner banks and 152 post offices for cash-in and -out transactions. They can also use the 289 Ecobank and Fidelity bank ATMs nationally.

Kenya: Spectrum gathering - The tenth annual Spectrum Africa Workshop will take place 3 - 5 June 2015. The Workshop is organised by Kemilinks International, hosted and co-sponsored by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). It will be held in collaboration with the African Union NEPAD Agency, the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), the Communications Regulatory Association of Southern Africa (CRASA), the East African Communications Organisation (EACO), and the West African Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA). The event will focus on Spectrum Planning and Strategies for enhancing broadband connectivity in Africa.

Kenya: Zippy Zuku - Wananchi Group's Zuku saw its share of the fixed Internet market grow to 48.8 percent in the three months to December from 42.2 percent in the preceding quarter. It outperformed Liquid Telecom, Access Kenya, Tekom Kenya and Safaricom in the wireless Internet space, which has 10 major players. Zuku offers digital TV, telephone and data connection in one package.

Mauritania: Mattel stake mulled - Mattel and parent Tunisie Telecom have met with Orange in Paris to discuss how to bring it in as a new shareholder, Kapitalis.com has reported. A sum of at least EUR 75 million (USD 84.6 million) for 51 percent of Mattel. Orange, however, is reported not to want to pay more than EUR 50 million (USD 56.4 million). Mattel competes with Maroc Telecom affiliate Mauritel.

Morocco: MENA meet - The MENA Telecoms Infrastructure Symposium, a forum for the Telecommunications and Technology community in the region, will be held on 9 -10 June 2015 in Marrakech. The forum is for policy makers, regulators, telecos and the issues and challenges they face.

Morocco: Soccer sponsorship - The Moroccan Royal Football Federation (FRMF) and Maroc Telecom have signed a five-year sponsorship deal. The parties announced a number of decisions relating to Moroccan football, including the renaming of the Moroccan professional football league. From the 2015-16 season, the League will change its name to the Botola Maroc Telecom. The deal is worth MAD 33 million (USD 3.4 million) a year for the period 2015-2019, against MAD 24 million (USD 2.4 million) a year in the period 2011-2014.

Nigeria: Internet TV - 4G Internet Service Provider (ISP) Spectranet is partnering with Internet television provider iROKOtv.com. Spectranet is offering 30 days free iROKOtv.com to existing customers who renew their Spectranet account. Spectranet?s users can access films and TV shows for free. Spectranet's Head of Marketing Mike Ogor made the announcement in Lagos, noting that the Spectranet Internet service is currently available in Lagos, Abuja and Ibadan; the company holds a pan Nigerian licence.

Nigeria: Mobile meet - The fifth Mobile West Africa will be held in Lagos 21 - 23 April. Organisations involved include MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Etisalat Nigeria, Eskimi, VConnect, Gidi Mobile, Opera Software, MoboFree, Uber, MyMusic, Basebone, Mozilla, Jovago, Wiko Mobile and MTech Communications. Sessions include: The leaders of mobile; mobile gaming; universal access; mobile entertainment; local success case studies; mobile apps; mobile content, users & consumption; and for the first time, a session on the debate surrounding the future of mobile money.

Saudia Arabia: Free Fallah - Mobily subscribers aged 15-25 can join its 'Fallah' programme targetted at young people for free and get 300 free minutes and 300 free MGB monthly in addition to weekly benefits and promotions allocated especially for this service. 'Fallah' programme members also now have access to 'Fallah+' that give the subscriber 6,000 minutes monthly among 'Fallah' members in addition to 1GB monthly. The monthly 'Fallah' subscription is SAR 20 (USD 5.30).

Senegal: Regional hub - Alcatel-Lucent has moved its regional centre to Dakar. The centre's General Direteur Michel Combes said: "We decided to make Senegal a hub for the West African sub-region and the centre in the field of management, supervision and management of networks and digital data. " On a visit to Senegal, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent Group met with Prime Minister Abdullah Mahammed Boun Dionne, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, other members of the government and telcos and discussed new projects in Senegal.

South Africa: Business solution - Cell C has launched Dual Benefit Billing, designed to make communications management easier for enterprises and their staff. Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos said: "We know that businesses have long struggled to find solutions to help them better manage their telecommunications costs. Cell C's focus in the SME and Enterprise market has led to the development of this product to help employers and employees make the most of their communications. " Employees sign up for a contract and personally own the contract, while still receiving a mobile allowance or benefits provided by their employer. Employers will only ever be responsible for the allowance portion of the contract. The service was available in Business Sales and Government Sales channels from 1 April.

South Africa: Firefox first - MTN South Africa is the first operator in Africa to release a Firefox OS-based smartphone using the latest version of the operating system. In the middle of December, the OS maker said the devices would launch in Africa with three new key partners: Airtel, MTN South Africa and Tigo. The Alcatel OneTouch Fire E smartphone is immediately available. Larry Annetts, Chief Marketing Officer at MTN SA, said: "Having a smartphone based on the Firefox operating system means we can deliver numerous unique product innovations. For example, the phone can be easily set up for four of the 11 official languages, namely English, Afrikaans, isiZulu and Xhosa. "

South Africa: OTT from Orange - Orange is to launch its Libon mobile messaging and VoIP app, CEO of Orange Horizons Sebastian Crozier has said. The app provides instant messaging, cheap international calls, and visual or transcribed voicemail. The app can be downloaded and deployed in the country, but the official launch will bring additional benefits, MyBroaband News reported. Libon competes with WhatsApp.

South Africa: Phone fixing - Samsung South Africa has launched its Samsung Quick Repair Service (QRS) available at selected Samsung Brand Stores and selected partners. The service includes maintenance of mobile devices and tablets, and the repair of screens, motherboards and cameras. Staff can also assist with simple e-mail set-up, software updates and the transfer of data from one Samsung device to another. It hopes 90 percent of repairs can be done in an hour.

South Africa: Retail realignment - It is being suggested that MTN Group has struck a deal with US-based mobile device distributor Brightstar Corp. for the outsourcing of its retail outlets. Bloomberg has reported. As many as 800 jobs could be involved, with Brightstar managing MTN's retail stores, and taking some of MTN's staff.

Tanzania: Free Facebook et al - Tigo Tanzania announced on 2 April a new free Internet promotion between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m giving users 100MB. Tigo Head of Internet and Devices, David Zacharia, during the launch in Dar es Salaam said that all Tigo customers with a data enabled phone can access the service by dialling *148*00# then choosing 'Ofa Maalum' to activate their free access. Tigo recently announced plans to invest USD 120 million in 2015 on its network expansion and improvement which includes scaling up its 3G sites.

Tunisia: 4G comments - The National Telecommunications (INT) has said that it has put back the deadline for contributions as part of the public consultation on the introduction of 4G has been postponed to 15 April from the original deadline of 3 April 2015.

United Arab Emirates: Cloud conference - The fifth Cloud MENA Forum will take place 13 - 14 April 2015 at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort & Spa in Dubai. The event will feature 50+ speakers from multinationals operating in retail, hospitality, O&G, utilities, aviation, education, banking, construction, public sector, regulators, telcos and analysts.

United Arab Emirates: Contact centre calls - Etisalat said on Saturday 4 April that roaming charges on calls to its 24x7 Travellers' Help Line for mobile post-paid customers travelling abroad had been dropped. The calls will be free only for post-paid subscribers, and pre-paid will be have reduced charges at the standard incoming roaming call rate. Khaled ElKhouly, Chief Marketing Officer at Etisalat said that it had earlier launched a round-the-clock 'Live Chat' feature on its new Etisalat UAE app that gives users a way to contact customer care agents while roaming.

United Arab Emirates: LG latest - Etisalat is to offer the LG G FLEX2 in the UAE from 1 April 2015. The device is being offered via Etisalat's smartphone plans, with a 10GB data allowance, 300 flexi-minutes or 1,000 Local minutes for AED 400 (USD 109) a month on 18 months contract or 1GB data and 50 flexi minutes for AED 200 (USD 54) monthly on a 24 months contract. Flexi-minutes can be used for local, international and incoming roaming calls. The device can also be bought on a standalone basis for AED 2,799 (USD 762).

Zimbabwe: Payment suspended - Multichoice will no longer accept payments for subscriptions via Econet's payment portal Ecocash from 2 April 2015, it said in a statement. It said the service had been temporarily discontinued due to technical challenges.