News in Brief 19 August 2015

Africa and the Middle East: Messaging primary ad media - The Middle East and Africa generated USD 379 million in mobile ad revenue in 2014 according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Messaging accounted for the largest share of mobile advertising revenue in the Middle East and Africa.

Burundi: Payment channel - WorldRemit has introducted Instant Mobile Money remittances through a partnership with Econet Burundi. Funds can be sent to an EcoCash wallet, as Econet customers can in Zimbabwe. Some 350,000 Burundians that live overseas are being targeted.

Egypt: Mid-range market matures - E-commerce company Jumia is to target mid-range smartphones, Zawya reported. Jumia has found that 40 percent of the smartphones sold on Jumia are in the medium price range. Tamer El Fiky, Marketing Manager of Jumia Egypt, says competition in the mid-range segment is flourishing, due to the number of mid-range mobiles launched recently.

Egypt: Ops join ACH - The Commercial International Bank-Egypt (CIB) is to activate an agreement with Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat Egypt to include them in its Automated Clearing House (ACH) service in the next period, according to a CIB official. The Daily News Egypt reports that the CIB has conducted 650,000 transactions through the ACH-Debit service within the first six months of 2015, with the number of ACH Credit transactions reaching about 145,000 during the same period. CIB conducted approximately 1.3 million ACH Debit transactions in 2014, while the total ACH Credit transactions reached about 80,000 during the same period.

Ghana: Test finds Tigo wanting - Tigo is to be sanctioned by the National Communications Authority (NCA) for violating its Traffic Channel (TCH) congestion obligation in the Central region, Ghanaweb reported. The nature of the sanction is currently unknown. The NCA tested all the operators except Expresso in the towns of Kasoa, Swedru, Winneba, Elmina, Cape Coast, Ajumako, Saltpond, Twifo-Praso and Assin Fosu in June.

Kenya: Clarity on charges called for - A fee attracted by users of Safaricom's Lipa Na Mpesa mobile at petrol stations requires transparency the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) has concluded. Safaricom has to now run a 14-day multi-media campaign to inform users that a fee of 0.5 percent of the transaction value will be charged. The CAK received a complaint received on 23 January of non-disclosure of charges.

Kenya: Internet lift-off - Airtel saw its mobile Internet market share rise to 18.5 percent in 1Q15 from 14.6 percent. Airtel Kenya CEO Adil El Youssefi said that the growth was attributed to the UnlimiNET product for voice, data and SMS services which has lifted the number of mobile Internet subscribers by more than a million in the three months to March, the Business Daily reported.

Kenya: Support for Safaricom - Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has defended Safaricom following calls for it to be declared a dominant player in the mobile market. Macharia said companies that invest in emerging technologies meant to improve on service delivery and spur economic development should be encouraged, as opposed to being unnecessarily attacked. He made the comment as the launch of 'Sema Doc' last week.

Mali: Ruffled resellers - Orange and Malitel have said that they will terminate SIM cards that have not been activated from 15 August 2015. Agence Ecofin reports that at a press conference held at the start of August, the Association of recharge cards resellers (AMARCR) asked the operators to comply with the date set by the government of 9 April 2016. The Association was concerned about the high value of the unsold stock that their members hold, which was put at some XOF 1.5 billion (USD 2.6 million).

Nigeria: Cards not cancelled - The Nigerian Communications (NCC) has said that only those subscribers who register their SIM cards correctly will have them reactivated. Users who thought that their SIM cards had been cancelled permanently inundated the NCC after it made the statement last week. NCC Public Affairs Director Tony Ojobo said that when the office of National Security Adviser (NSA), the Department of State Service (DSS), the NCC and operators met, the operators were given a week to deactivate unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards. He noted that the operators had been specifically told that those subscribers whose lines were not registered, and who have not made any effort to register them, should be communicated with before their line is deactivated.

Nigeria: Cost of calling - The National Association of Telecommunication Subscribers (NATCOM) has estimated that telecom subscribers spend some NGN 212 billion (USD 1.07 billion) each month. The Guardian quoted NATCOM's President, Deolu Ogunbanjo speaking on Channels Television's 'Sunrise Daily' as saying that about NGN 2.5 trillion (USD 12.54 billion) is spent on calls annually.

Nigeria: Cost of SIM registration - Following concerns expressed at a meeting convened by the NCC into problems with the SIM registration programme, MTN Nigeria has said that it has so far spent some NGN 10 billion (USD 50.2 million) to register voice and data users on its subscriber identification module (SIM) card database since 2012. The Leadership was quoting MTN Nigeria Regulatory Affairs Senior Manager Quasim Odunmbaku.

Nigeria: Three As - The new head of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Professor Umaru Danbatta, has said he will increase efforts to tackle quality of service and other challenges, ITWeb reported. Danbatta has told NCC's senior management that he will rely on his experience to confront and overcome the challenges within the telecoms industry. He added he would draw on International Telecommunications Union (ITU) practices, notably with regard to universal access, with the emphasis on availability, accessibility and affordability of service (the three As).

Nigeria: Tunes cause trouble - The House of Representatives last week instructed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to stop unfair practices, the Daily Post reported. Specifically, mobile operators are sending unsolicited caller tunes and text messages to subscribers. It was noted that not only were the tunes and messages unsolicited but that they also carried charges, which were deducted from the subscriber's airtime, often without their knowledge.

Rwanda: One-way MTN money transfer - A one-way cross-border money transfer service has been launched by MTN Rwanda to Uganda. Currently MTN Uganda needs approval from the Bank of Uganda to transmit funds. MTN and Airtel had announced plans in 2014 to start cross-border mobile money transfers among the Northern Corridor states Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda in November this year.

Saudi Arabia: Better bundles - Zain Saudi Arabia is enabling limited data package subscribers to issue up to four extra SIM cards linked to their package at no additional charge. The service allows users to obtain up to 50 GB of Internet and 60 local call minutes on up to five devices simultaneously, in addition to the ability to share the bundle with family and friends, the Saudi Gazette reported.

Saudi Arabia: Deadline delayed - Regulator CITC has announced that it has extended the deadline for the submission of applications for a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) license hosted by Zain. The regulator claimed that it had had a number of requests from stakeholders to extend the deadline. The new deadline is 12 October 2015.

Seychelles: Quad play first - Cable & Wireless Seychelles, part of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC), has launched a TV service making it the first quad play provider in the islands.

South Africa: Wi-Fi restored - On 13 August Vodacom cut off all G-Connect's hotspots, including in-flight Wi-Fi on Mango aircraft and other hotspots. G-Connect is the trading name of WirelessG, and offers a range of Wi-Fi services. Vodacom has a 19 percent indirect stake in WirelessG, and has partnered with it to offer Wi-Fi services. MyBroadband reports that WirelessG is currently in 'business rescue'. However Vodacom said the lines were suspended temporarily 'for normal operational reasons' and that normal service had been restored.

Tanzania: Rural focus - Vodacom Tanzania's new Managing Director is to speed up the operator's expenditure on expanding rural coverage, The Citizen reported.

Tunisia: TT head named - Minister of ICT and the Digital Economy, Noonan Fehri, has named Nizar Bouguila CEO of Tunisie Telecom. Agence Ecofin reported. Former technical director Bouguila succeeds Mohammed Salah Jarraya who stepped down in July. The appointment still has to validated by the Board of Directors of Tunisie Telecommunications (EIT), which holds a 35 percent stake. Former Vice President of International Business Development unit at Orange in France, Nizar Bouguila joined Tunisie Telecom in 2007.

Uganda: City payments - MTN Uganda and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) are to partner in the launch of Mobile Money payment for fees and taxes. MTN Chief Executive Officer Brian Gouldie said: "This partnership also offers us the opportunity to extend our proposition for SMEs and traders around Kampala, and for KCCA and its stakeholders to have direct access to our growing network of agents. Being able to use Mobile Money for payment of KCCA's fees offers ease and convenience to our customers ". By 30 June 2015, MTN had recorded a 12.8 percent increase in Mobile Money subscribers, from 7.3 million (at the end of 2014) to 8.2 million.

Uganda: Voice rival - TD-LTE 4G network owner Smile Communications is to offer Africa's first commercial voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services. It says it has invested over USD 40 million in its network rollouts. The network covers Kampala, Entebbe and Mukono, and Jinja, Mbale, Soroti, Tororo, Lira, Gulu, Masindi, Kasese, Fort Portal, Kabale, Mbarara and Masaka will be added in the next few months. Up till now it has exclusively focused on data, but the addition of VoLTE means it is now rivalling the established operators.