News in Brief 3 June 2015

Africa: Irish initiative - In May Ireland's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, led a high-level delegation to South Africa and Nigeria, facilitated by Enterprise Ireland. The delegation included the CEO of Enterprise Ireland, Julie Sinnamon, and executives from 34 Irish companies. Delegates visited Johannesburg and Cape Town during the three-day visit and which will be followed by a visit to Nigeria later in 2015. Enterprise Ireland set-up an office in Johannesburg in 2013, and also one in Lagos, and plans one in Nairobi. Aubrey E. Nuzum, Managing Director at AuBren, said it was 'very excited' about the growth prospects in African markets. Fred Klinkenberg is Enterprise Ireland's country manager for South Africa.

Africa: ITU indicator - In its recently published 'ICT Facts & Figures report', the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) found that Africa is the only region where mobile broadband access is below the 20 percent mark, standing currently at 17.4 percent. Europe and the Americas are the highest scoring at 78 percent.

Algeria: Metro mobile - On 28 May Mobilis launched mobile coverage on the whole of the Algiers Metro. The Minister of Transport, Mr. Boudjema Talai, attended a commissioning ceremony. Passengers can access all services, including voice, SMS and Internet browsing via 3G ++. 

Algeria Algiers Metro Line 1 

 

Algeria Algiers Metro Line 1 ;

c. Blycroft 2015

Angola: Summit summary - The Angolan delegation at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has told delegates that the number of mobile subscribers in Angola topped 14 million at the end of 2014, up from 90,000 in 2003, the Angolan Press Agency reported. Aristides Safeca said that the number of Internet subscribers has passed 5 million. All main cities are connected with a fibre optic cable, while the broadband network extends for over 40,000 km.

Bahrain: Hub launched - VIVA Bahrain has launched the region's first Global IP Exchange (GIPX) interoperability hub. It has partnered with the UK's BT Group. VIVA will deliver hosting and connectivity services while BT will extend its GIPX footprint to the Middle East. The two signed to establish the hub in April 2014. The hub is expected to be of particular interest to mobile and fixed operators who need to terminate international voice traffic to other countries.

Bahrain: Start-up support - Zain Bahrain is supporting Start-up Bootcamp's first edition this year which was organised by the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The programme aims to transform start-up ideas into operating businesses. Zain Bahrain's Pakiza Abdulrahman said: "We are committed to leverage on our technical expertise and strong partnerships in the community and to continuously support entrepreneurs and young individuals with a start-up dream. "

Botswana: Retail revolution - Orange Botswana has opened an enhanced store in Ghanzi, Mmegi reported. Ephraim Tlogelang, regional manager, North and Central said devices and equipment are displayed so that customers can handle them, with a large open area to facilitate high visitor numbers. Orange has three similar specified stores in Gaborone at the Main Mall and Riverwalk, and in Kasane.

 Chart 1: Orange Shops in Botswana

  

Orange Shops in Botswana

c. Blycroft 2015

Egypt: Ban dilemma - Orange-subsidiary Mobinil is being threatened with a boycott because of its association with the Israeli operator Partner, which, through a brand contract, uses the Orange name and logo. Opposition leader Hamdin Sabbahi has called for the boycott. Mobinil is the second Egyptian telecom operator with 34 million customers. Mobinil Chief Executive Officer Yves Gauthier responded by saying that Orange 'has no operational presence in Israel, and has no ownership connection to the Israeli company Partner Communications.' He added that the contract under which Israel's Partner Communications trades as Orange Israel was a legacy arrangement dating from 1998.

Ghana: Comments please - The National Communications Authority (NCA) intends to licence frequency in the 800MHz band to mobile operators, and is inviting comments from licensed Service Providers, consumers of Information and Communication Technology services and the general public on the selection and award process for licenses. The details can be accessed on the Authority's Website at www.nca.org.gh. The public consultation will end on 11 June 2015.

Ghana: Microsoft device for MTN - MTN Ghana has launched the Microsoft Lumia 430 phone. Cynthia Lumor, the Corporate Services Executive MTN Ghana, said buyers would receive 100 minutes of voice calls for 12 months, plus 150MB data also for 12 months and 100 percent bonus on recharge for three months. Rahul De, the Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Ghana, said the device was available in all MTN data stores.

Ghana: Million milestone for Vodafone - Vodafone Ghana has added a net 1,071,539 mobile subscribers in the quarter ending 1Q 2015. During the first quarter Vodafone also removed inactive subscribers from its base, and consequently lost some 120,000 subscribers. Its subscriber base therefore now totals some 8.1 million. MTN has 6 million more subscribers and Vodafone claims a market share of 23.43 percent at the end of January 2015.

Ghana: NCA DG exits - The National Communications Authority's (NCA's) Director-General Paarock Van Percy has stepped down when his tenure ended on 31 May. He took up the post in 2010. Joy Business reported that Van Percy was originally an investment banker. In the last five years the NCA has initiated the registration of SIM cards and introduced Mobile Number Portability (MNP).

Ghana: Penalties published - Installation, establishment and operation of communications equipment and systems without authorisation from the NCA and assembling or manufacturing of communication equipment and systems could lead to imprisonment. The NCA has now uploaded the recently received Gazetted 'Schedule of Penalties' to its Website here.

Israel: Basic broadcasting - Golan Telecom (GT) is to offer a low-cost basic television package, to which the consumer can add packages of channels for a fee. Globes reports that GT is seeking content via a profit sharing model. The format differs from that offered by Cellcom Israel, which is based primarily on a VOD library, while resembling the HOT and DBS Satellite Services (YES) offerings.

Jordan: Data centre management - Zain has won a tender to rent, rehabilitate, manage and operate the secured King Hussein Business Park Data Centre for a 15-year period. The underground centre has a 4,310-metre footprint. Special features include electromagnetic pulse (EMP) resistance, protection from earthquakes, fire and all other natural hazards, and it has an electricity sub-station with a capacity of 20 Mega Watts. It qualifies as a disaster recovery centre, and is due to start providing services in the second half of 2016 after an investment of some JOD 20 million (USD 28.1 million). Zain will be using the facility to provide its own services.

Jordan: Hotspot plan approved - The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) have authorised Zain Jordan to launch free Wi-Fi services in Amman, according to a GAM official speaking last week. GAM's Services Department Head Abdul Hameed Afashat said the municipality's council agreed on Wednesday last week to sign the deal with Zain for the establishment of Wi-Fi hotspots at no cost to the council. A total of 15 locations are to be covered including Wakalat Street, Rainbow Street, Hashemite Square, Ashrafieh Cultural Complex, Zaha Cultural Centre, Al Hussein Cultural Centre and Al Hussein Park.

Kenya: Disaster devices - Ten Iridium satellite phones have been loaned to the government by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to help co-ordinate emergencies. The phones are valued at CHF 100,000 (USD 108,400) and the government have free use of them for three months. Iridium donated emergency equipment to the ITU consisting of 25 satellite phones and batteries.

Kenya: Fertiliser for farmers - A pilot joint initiative by Safaricom and the Ministry of Agriculture is to provide farmers with access to a technology-based solution for the distribution of fertiliser and other inputs. The E-fertiliser Subsidy Management System is an electronic vouchering solution that has been specially developed for the Ministry by Safaricom. The vouchers can be accessed via a mobile phone, and allow farmers to access government fertiliser at subsidised prices. The system leverages data and SMS services to manage the issuance, redemption and reconciliation of vouchers on behalf of the Ministry's input subsidisation intervention programme.

Kenya: School service - Airtel Kenya is to offer free Internet to schools, which currently do not have access to services, the Business Standard reported. It is to invest some KES 30 million (USD 321,327) annually for the next five years. The move was announced as Airtel and Telkom Kenya's Orange were given regulatory approval to test 4G using their current spectrum. Airtel has connected over 60 schools and 52,000 students to free Internet and plans to reach a million nationally in the next 18 months.

Kuwait: Platform participation - Zain Group has joined the SAMENA Telecommunications Council. SAMENA Council chief executive Bocar BA said: "Zain Group joins the council at a time when strengthened collaboration among industry stakeholders has become imperative to overcoming regulatory hurdles and reaping the full benefit of the digital revolution. " Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said the SAMENA Council provides a 'credible and truly advocacy-driven platform for telecommunications stakeholders in the region to meaningfully interact with each other and address issues of common interest'.

Malawi: Text tax - The government is to levy a 10 percent excise duty on text messaging and data transfer services, the NyasaTimes reported. Finance, Economic Planning and Development Minister Goodall Gondwe said local resources would finance the 2015/16 budget.

MENA: Venture capital venture - Zain Group has announced its second foray into venture capital investment through a strategic participation in Wamda Capital's growth stage venture fund. Wamda Capital, which is aiming to raise up to USD 75 million, will provide long-term funding for early and growth stage technology companies in the MENA region that have the potential for quick growth, the Gulf Daily News reported. Zain Group chief executive Scott Gegenheimer said Zain wanted to enhance the power of innovation through supporting aspiring and talented entrepreneurs.

 

Namibia: Corporate connectivity - The town of Tses is to be provided with free Wi-Fi after an agreement was signed with Telecom Namibia on 20 May 2015. Simon Kapenda of Tses Glass and CEO of Groot Systems said: "this is a long-term corporate citizenship for the Tses area which will go on ... for as long as Tses Glass is in business. " TN has already completed its technical research for the installation of the backbone required.
Namibia showing Tses

Nigeria: Customer care centre - Globacom last week commissioned a care centre at the cinema and entertainment Kada Plaza, in Benin City, the Edo state capital, the DailyTimes reported. Glo National Sales Co-ordinator Mid-West territory, Augustus Offor, was in attendance.

Nigeria: Fuel fiasco - A last-minute deal has ended protests that cut fuel supplies and saw power generation fall to 1,327MW, Africa Energy newsletter has reported. A strike by oil retailers had virtually paralysed Nigeria but talks on 25 May with Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala achieved a resolution. The retailers were demanding outstanding subsidy payments of USD 1 billion, and consequently tanker drivers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were not being paid. The payments were the difference between the subsidised pump price and the international market price paid by the importers, and the industry was keen that the payment be made under the outgoing administration in case new promised anti-fraud measures might delay future payments.

Nigeria: Home grown ideas sought - The Nigerian Communications Commission is inviting proposals from academics for 'feasible' research ideas, capable of replacing or enhancing imported telecom technologies. The initial submission needs to consist of a one-page executive summary of the research proposal, which needs to state the relevance of the research to the telecoms industry. Full details are here.

Nigeria: Positive PR - Airtel Nigeria and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) are hosting the second NIPR Lagos stakeholders' conference. The conference focused on 'the critical role public relations and its practitioners play in protecting the rights of consumers' a statement said.

 

Nigeria: Spectrum sale query - Technology Times is claiming that prior to the 2015 general election, President Jonathan sold 800MH and 700MH spectrum to the chairman of Visafone, Mr Jim Ovia, and Otunba Mike Adenuga's Globacom respectively without recourse to a public auction. The Leadership reports that President Muhammadu Buhari's government is expected to examine these two transactions and NCC dealings by a committee chaired by Alhaji Ahmed Joda. It is also alleged that spectrum belonging to Nigerian Police has been sold to Open Skys as well as a sale to South African investors backing 4G-provider Smile Communications.

Nigeria: Staff severance - In a post that looked rather like a 'Wanted' poster complete with a suitable 'head and shoulders' photograph, the Nigerian Communications Commission last week warned that Mr. Peter Akubo Alabi is no longer a member of the NCC's staff. It warned that 'any person who interacts or conducts any transaction with him on behalf of the Commission does so at his/her own risk and the Commission shall not in any way be held liable for any consequences arising therefrom'. According to his Linked-In profile, Alabi was employed as an IT Analyst at the NCC, and was previously employed by Virgin Nigeria.

South Africa: Coert courted - XDSL has appointed Kenny Coert, previously with Telkom Wholesale Services, to head up its new business development team. Coert said: "XDSL has access to more than 200,000 km?s of fibre, their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are aggressive and the value-adds offered are exceptional. I see great opportunities for new and existing clients. "

South Africa: LG value - The LG G4 smartphone is to be available in mid-June at a retail price of ZAR 8,999 (USD 772), MyBroadband reported. LG South Africa said the device would be available via all mobile networks on a number of monthly contacts for less than ZAR 500 (USD 43) per month.

South Africa: Localised ecosystem - Jolla, a Finnish mobile developer, is to build a Sailfish OS ecosystem in Africa, starting in South Africa. The main objective is to gather a group of African investors to develop an independent mobile ecosystem for Africa around the Sailfish operating system for mobile devices. Jolla will work with local partner Sello Rathete, one of the co-founders of South-African operator Cell C.

South Africa: Merger still on - Telkom and Business Connexion Group have said that only two regulatory approvals remain outstanding, namely the Competition Tribunal of South Africa; and, to the extent required, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). The two said in a release that upon receipt of these two approvals, final approval would be sought from the Takeover Regulation Panel. The Implementation Agreement has been amended with the Long Stop Date revised from 31 May 2015 to 30 June 2015.

South Africa: SDN showcase - Huawei unveiled the first SDN (Soft Defined Network) solutions in Africa at its SDN&IP Summit held at the Sandton Convention Centre last week. Gai Gang, President of Huawei Carrier IP product line, officially launched the Huawei carrier SDN solution for African operators, saying: "SDN is becoming a new focus of the ICT industry. The SDN solution that Huawei unveiled today will bring lots of benefits to operators in Africa. " Huawei has undertaken more than 36 SDN/NFV joint innovations and commercial deployments with over 20 top operators including Vodafone and MTN.

Tanzania: Borrowed bundle - Vodacom Tanzania has launched new airtime credit advance facility. 'Nipige Tafu' (Swahili colloquial for 'help me') allows subscribers to borrow up to four times and up to UGX 2,000 (USD 0.68) at once. Vodacom's Head of Brand and Communication, Kelvin Twissa, said the service gives users greater freedom and ease, allowing multiple borrowings without topping up. Currently, Vodacom subscribers can borrow UGX 500 and are required to pay back UGX 600.

Tanzania: Compulsory sharing - Telcos are to be compelled to share infrastructure as the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) sets out to promote quality, reliability and lower prices. The regulations are expected to be effective from 2016 after consultations. The TCRA wants to see enhanced digital coverage in poorly served areas where rolling out infrastructure is expensive, The Citizen reported. TCRA Director General John Nkoma described the move as 'inevitable' with the increasing use of the Internet.

Tunisia: Regulatory review - Instance Nationale des Telecommunications has undertaken a Quality of Service audit of 2G and 3G to check the degree of compliance by the mobile operators against the specifications. INT has now published the results of the first campaign in 2015 and which was carried out in the 18 delegations of Beja and Jendouba governorates. The report is available here.

Uganda: Licensing legality queried - The Commercial Court in Kampala last week concluded that the mobile money services provided by the five major telcos is illegal, but said that the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is the correct body to consider the matter. The court had been petitioned to issue a declaration that mobile money services should be regulated under the Financial Institutions Act. The issue is that MTN, Warid, Uganda Telecom, Airtel and Africell are registered as telcos, and not as financial institutions.

United Arab Emirates: Faster still - In a statement issued on 27 May, Etisalat said it had completed the live testing of CAT-9 on its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network. Etisalat successfully tested and deployed CAT-6 on its LTE-A network in 2014 to provide 4G+ speeds of up to 300 Mbps. Saeed AlZarouni, Senior Vice President, Mobile Network at Etisalat, said: "The testing of CAT-9 with stellar results of up to 450Mbps reaffirms our commitment to our customers in introducing advanced broadband technologies... Following the deployment and expansion of CAT-6 speeds in many regions of the country since last year, we are thrilled to announce our new milestone today ".