News in Brief 29 April 2015

Afghanistan: Ministerial meet - Newly appointed Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MCIT) Abdurazaq Wahidi was introduced to the management and staff of the MCIT by Sarwar Danish, the second Vice President of Afghanistan on Tuesday 21 April 2015. Deputy Technical Minister Eng. Baryalay Hassam thanked former Minister of MCIT Amirzai Sangin for his efforts to encourage the growth of ICT.

Africa: Wireless weather project - Oracle Academy and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have launched a project to involve African schools in a global science experiment. Participating schools will receive a Raspberry Pi hardware kit for pupils to build and operate their own weather station, with the aim of gaining skills in computing, meteorology and geography. Schools are encouraged to register their interest on Raspberry Pi's Website. The first 1,000 kits have been funded by a grant from Oracle Giving. The Oracle Raspberry Pi Weather Station project is targeted at pupils aged 11-16 years old.

Angola: Portuguese powwow - The Seventh General Assembly of Communications and Telecommunications Regulators Association of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (ARCTEL-CPLP) is to be held in Luanda on 12-14 May. Also being staged simultaneously are the ICT EXPO Angola 2015 and the AngoTIC Forum. ICT EXPO Angola will be staged 14 - 17 May. Members include Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and Timor Leste.

Bahrain: Batelco broadband - Batelco last week announced its 300Mbps residential Broadband package for BHD 150 (USD 395) a month. It features 25Mb upload, 300GB threshold, Unlimited YouTube, Browsing and Weekends and unlimited threshold with no throttling. Batelco said its value packages range from 2MB for BHD 5 (USD 13.15), while 16 MB is BHD 45 (USD 119). The price of its Superfast Packages start at BHD 35 for 25Mb, and 300Mbps is priced at BHD 150 (USD 395) per month.

Burkina Faso: Cable learning curve - A delegation from Burkina Faso is in Cameroon to learn about the management of fibre optic networks, the TICMag website reported. Lamoussa Oualbeogo, Head of the Burkinabe delegation said: "Cameroon is ahead of us in the management of the fibre optic backbone, because it already has the infrastructure. South-South co-operation will allow us to learn from this experience to the development of our infrastructure ". David Nkotto Emane, Director General of state-owned CAMTEL, is reported to have advised that infrastructure management should not be handed to a private operator, as the backbone is a national structure managed by the state. Burkina Faso recently signed with Huawei for the laying of over 5,444 km of fibre.

Cape Verde: Site's seventh season - Portugal Telecom's Internet portal Sapo Cabo Verde (CV Sapo) is celebrating its seventh birthday. Sapo CV has launched Sapo Transfer, an online file transfer service that allows the transmission of files up to 3 GB files free. Users will receive an email with a link to a Sapo Transfer page where they can download the uploaded files, over a period of seven days, also having to register or provide authentication. Sapo CV has also launched the free app Sapo Muzika, with videos and news of events and music in Cape Verde. The site claims over 10 million views and 500,000 unique monthly visitors.

Kenya: Cellular charity - The Safaricom Foundation and the M-Pesa Foundation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rotary International to explore partnerships to implement community projects. The MoU will see the three work towards mobilising financial resources and expertise from Rotary volunteers and Safaricom staff to implement community programmes in education, water, maternal  and child health and economic empowerment. Since its inception in 2003, the Safaricom Foundation has implemented over 1,000 community projects.

Kenya: Corporate Affairs chiefs named - Steve Chege has been named as Safaricom's new Director of Corporate Affairs, replacing Nzioka Waita, who has left to join the civil service, the Business Daily reported. Mary-Anne Kui Kinyanjui has also been named as the new head of the Corporate and Communications Department. Chege has been Safaricom's head of Regulatory and Public Policy since 2012. Kinyanjui was previously a manager in the same department, and joined Safaricom six months ago from IBM.

Kenya: Declaration of dominance required? - ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i has said that the declaration of Safaricom's market dominance is long overdue, The Standard reported. The secretary noted specifically Safaricom's attempt to block the introduction of thin SIM technology for Equity Bank's mobile virtual network.

Kenya: Telkom sale probe - The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) was instructed last week to identify Treasury officials who were involved in the sale of Telkom to France Telecom. BusinessDailyAfrica noted that the Ministry of Finance permanent secretary during the transaction, Joseph Kinyua was the Chief Accounting Officer and is therefore likely to face the EACC investigators. A report by the Public Investment Committee has suggested that the then accounting officer of the Ministry of Finance should be held accountable for the failure to follow due process by engaging legal consultants. This was contrary to the Office of the Attorney General Act 2012 and a government circular of June 2005.

Malawi: Off-net calls curtailed - Telcos Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) and MTL are reported to be in dispute over network platform access after MTL raised the access rates, Malawi24 reported. Prices are regulated and controlled by MTL. Consequently TNM is withholding access to its services from MTL users as it feels the prices rises are unfair.

Middle East: Current content - Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) and Vuclip are partnering to provide premium content on mobile devices. MBC will provide premium drama, lifestyle and sports content from a number of Arabic entertainment studios in addition to the latest Turkish drama series dubbed into Arabic.

Middle East: Legal laurels - Dentons' Middle East TMT team has been named 'TMT Legal Adviser of the Year' at the TMT Finance Investment Mena 2015 Awards. The team drafted new telecom and postal laws in Qatar, undertook major ground-breaking arbitrations, negotiated multi-million dollar IT and telecom supply agreements and ?advised on new licence bids and other licensing matters, including Algeria. On the media front, Dentons advised OSN on its successful bid for the media rights for the ICC cricket matches in the Mena region (2015-2023).

Mozambique: Digital delay - The analogue television signals will not be switched off in June 2015 as the migration to digital cannot be undertaken by the deadline. Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications, Manuela Rebelo, has said that the analogue transmissions will not be terminated, rapidtvnews reported. The funding by the Exim Bank of China, with whom the government in 2014 signed a USD 223 million agreement for the provision of digital transmission equipment, has been delayed. Eight new digital transmitters will be acquired by Mozambique Television (TVM) by October to mitigate interference from neighbouring countries' DTT transmissions.

Oman: Disaster control centre - Oman Air's IT Disaster Recovery infrastructure will be moving to a data park in Muscat. Oman Data Park (ODP) will be responsible for providing and managing the secure data centre infrastructure, including server racks, power, cooling, fire protection, physical security, including biometric access, and other functions. Management and administration of the hosted IT will remain under Oman Air IT Department's supervision and control.

Qatar: USSD service - A business USSD service has been launched by Ooredoo Qatar. This will allow corporates to offer a range of existing services on a fully supported USSD driven-menu available via mobile phone. Business USSD is a communications channel that offers interactive capabilities supported by different mobile phones. It requires no mobile data connection and the functionality will be the same even while roaming. USSD is predominantly used for services such as m-banking and m-payments, as well as customer care, polling and information.

Rwanda: Timely text reminder - The Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (RURA) has reminded operators that the transmission of unsolicited text messages without the 'unsubscribe' option contravenes the law. Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, the Head of Communication and Media Regulation at RURA told Business Times that the operators know the law but RURA has received 'numerous' complaints from subscribers concerning the volume being received. MTN said it was addressing the problem.

Rwanda: TV challenge - Tanzania-based Azam TV has launched its offering in Rwanda, and it will compete directly with StarTimes and Tele10, which markets DStv, Canal+ and GOtv, The New Times reported. In early April StarTimes said it would increase monthly subscription fees from 1 May while DStv increased its rates from 1 April. Faradjallah Ndagano, the Azam Media operations manager, said it was entering the market at a time when a more affordable pay TV was required. English viewers can have 80 channels for RWF 9,000 (USD 12.68) per month, whilst French-speakers can access 60 channels for RWF 6,500 (USD 9.15) monthly subscription fees.

Senegal: Pay Phone placements - Aly Ndiaye Koto, the Chairman of the Universal Telecommunications Services Development Fund (FDSUT) has said that public payphones will feature in future plans, saying the move is in the public interest. Koto said that when the first three-year programme was published it had been assumed that mobile coverage had eliminated the need for them. However a need for payphones to provide emergency cover for public places such as hospitals and petrol stations had been identified.

Sierra Leone: Open gateway - The National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) has said it is not planning to renegotiate a contract regarding the international gateway. The announcement followed a local news report suggesting that NATCOM was seeking to annul an existing contract with Irish-based Slone Telecoms. Control of the gateway has been managed by the Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (Sierratel). NATCOM said in a statement that 'since the international gateway has been liberalised by law, the Commission has not at any time taken a decision to terminate any contract relating to the monitoring of the international gateway, contrary to the contents of the said article'.

South Africa: Cab Wi-fi - Seventy-five taxis in Johannesburg and Cape Town will offer Moovah; the in-taxi Wi-Fi device has been developed by OnRoot, in partnership with Absa and SA Taxi, ITWeb reported. The Moovah app allows access to music, games, videos, and articles for download to Android or BlackBerry smartphones. Users will also be able to browse the Internet by using a daily data quota earned by connecting to the Moovah Wi-Fi system. Additional points can be earned for exchange for data by participating in surveys, providing personal details and watching adverts. The app is geo-specific allowing targeted promotions.

South Africa: Fast fibre - The Constantia Fibre Initiative (CFI) has said that fibre connections will be rolled out to all 3,500 households in the Cape Town suburb of Constantia in 2015. Link Africa and Frogfoot Networks were appointed to deploy the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network in Constantia Valley. Completion is scheduled for Christmas 2015, MyBroadband reported The first household will be live by 29 June, and the first 100 houses connected by 31 July, CFI said. The network will use Gigabit Passive Optical Network technology, offering a maximum download speed of 1 Gbps, and upload speeds of up to 500 Mbps.

South Africa: Internet investment - The Internet Service Provider Association (ISPA) has urged the government to triple its proposed ZAR 1.1 billion (USD 94.4 million) broadband investment, and also providing roll-out specifics, MyBroadband reported. Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene made the announcement in his inaugural Budget Speech in February. ISPA chair Graham Beneke noted that the government was eyeing 100 percent broadband connectivity by 2020.

South Africa: Local music - MTN South Africa has debuted its MTN Music+, a subscription-based music streaming and download platform. It is the only platform allows the simultaneously streaming and downloading of music and videos offline. Subscribers can also share music and videos with friends and preview tracks under the same user profile. Larry Annetts, Chief Marketing Officer of MTN SA said one of the key differentiators is that the content is heavily biased in favour of music content from South Africa and across the continent. Huawei is providing the technology and support for the platform.

South Africa: Vehicle handover - Telkom's contract with Bidvest for the management of its vehicle fleet can be implemented after a High Court ruling. Debis Fleet Management must now hand over the contract. Debis won a deal in 2000 to supply 6,000 vehicles for field engineers that was renewed in 2008, 2012 and 2013. The court on Friday ordered Debis to provide vehicles through-out the lead out period and also apply its best endeavours to facilitate a seamless service during this period.

Southern Africa: Change of guard - Namibia has taken over the reins of the Southern Africa Telecommunications Association (SATA), replacing Angola, which led the organisation for twelve months. The move was confirmed at SATA's 35th annual conference in Windhoek. The three-day-conference is an annual event with the main objective to prepare and approve the projects, programmes and budget for the new SATA financial year. Outgoing SATA chairman, Angola Telecom CEO Joao Adolfo Martins said that during his tenure the SADC Region Information Infrastructure Project Phase 2, the SATA Backhaul Broadband Transmission Links Project and the Human Capital Development Project had been implemented.

Tunisia: Non-compliant Orange - Orange Tunisia has not complied with INT's notice and the injunction dated 12 September 2014 and 13 January 2015. Orange has failed to display its rates and offers in a form acceptable to the regulator in its promotional activities. At a meeting on 22 April 2015 INT levied a fine equivalent to 0.01 percent of its 2013 turnover, or TND 30.0 million (USD 15.5 million).

Tunisia: Transport deal for TT - Tunisie Telecom (TT) and SORETRAK, the Regional Transport Company of Kairouan, have signed a three-year technology partnership agreement. Fadhel Kraiem, Deputy CEO of TT and Issam Gabsi, CEO of the Regional Transport Company of Kairouan attended the ceremony. TT is providing fixed, mobile and Internet, together with GPS Tracking.

Turkey: 4G roaming - Turkcell is now offering 4G roaming with 31 telcos in 29 countries although it has yet to host a 4G network of its own. TeliaSonera International Carrier (TSIC) said last week that Turkcell has been using its IPX solutions to enable 4G roaming since the end of 2014. Matthew Jones, head of mobile solutions at TSIC said: "It's a first for TSIC and Turkcell, an excellent example of innovation. "

Zimbabwe: Satellite solution - Avanti Communications has announced that TelOne has signed an immediate extension to its connectivity contract. TelOne will use up-weighted capacity from Avanti?s HYLAS 2 satellite to meet the demand for satellite broadband services from its customers, largely where communications infrastructure is limited or non-existent.