News in Brief 8 October 2015

Africa: POS contract - Seamless has secured a new African order for its proprietary wireless POS terminal worth some USD 2.4 million. The Wireless Point of Sale Terminal (WiPOS) is an integrated part of the ERS 360 degree transaction platform, and is described as a mobile phone with the capacity to print receipts and vouchers for loading pre-paid cards. The product connects to the GSM network, thus substantially improving coverage while reducing costs. The identity of the buyer was not revealed.

Africa & Middle East: Satellite service starts - The new Eutelsat 8 West B is now fully powered up and has started broadcasting television programming to over 52 million homes in the Middle East and North Africa. The satellite was launched on 20 August by an Ariane 5 rocket. It is co-located with other satellites operated by Eutelsat and Nilesat at the 7/8 degrees West position.

Kenya: Asset sales sussed - Orange Kenya has been accused of selling off assets cheaply prior to its formal exit by the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek). The Daily Nation quoted Cofek Secretary-General Stephen Mutoro as saying that potential buyers were using Orange Kenya's management to undervalue its assets with a view to acquiring them cheaply.

Benin: December digital migration - Minister of ICT Etienne Kossi has announced that Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) will be available by the end of 2015. December is the new deadline set by the government to start the process of analogue-to-digital TV migration, NexTVNews reported. In December 2014 it was expected that the country would meet the ITU deadline of June 2015 for UHF services and June 2020 for VHF.

Botswana: Post's top post - BotswanaPost has a new CEO in the form of Cornelius Ramatlhakwane, effective from 1 October 2015. Ramatlhakwane has been with the Post since 2009, as Head of Business Development. He oversaw its transition into the e-commerce sphere. He takes over from Pele Moleta who has been with the organisation for almost nine years.

East Africa: EA GM - Cisco has named David Bunei as East African General Manager and will be responsible for Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Bunei joined Cisco in 2006 as a Systems Engineer from Diageo East Africa where he was the Infrastructure and Communications Manager. At Cisco he was involved in designing and supporting large transformational projects across Africa. In 2010, Bunei moved to a sales role taking the commercial business lead for finance vertical, a post he held until 2012 when he took over as the Territory Business Manager responsible for large enterprise accounts in East Africa.

Ghana: Customer-centric comms channel - Tigo Ghana has upgraded its customer-service channels. The Tigo Self-Care app and WhatsApp lines will allow access to products, services and receive feedback on queries. The app, currently available for Android users, can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. Tigo's Director of Customer Operations, Stephen Essien said that with the increasing use of smartphones the introduction of new channels would give users more options and increased convenience. The app was introduced in 2013, and has been enhanced for easy navigation and usage on smartphones and tablets. Tigo now has over 46 customer experience shops nationally.

Kenya: Bank deal - Airtel Kenya and I&M Bank are to link the mobile money wallets of Airtel Money users, who are also I&M Bank customers, to their bank accounts.

Kenya: Birthday promo - Is it only 15-years ago that Safaricom launched? To mark the event the operator is running a 60-day promotion dubbed 'Shangwe Mtaani', and will spend KES 100 million (USD 951,000) to reward more than 116,000 customers with devices, airtime and cash prizes. Prizes will be awarded regionally.

Kenya: Low-cost Lenovo - Lenovo has launched its 4G smartphone, retailing at USD 50, the Global Times has reported. Lenovo's East Africa Business Head Danish Oyugi said the Chinese multinational is banking on the rise in 4G usage and the growing Internet usage by young people to drive its smart phone business in Kenya. It hopes to capture at least 10 percent of the smartphone market in the next six months through the use of innovative marketing strategies. It will focus on the USD 50 - 300 price segment, which accounts for 50 percent of all smartphones sales. It is already present in Tanzania and Ethiopia.

Kenya: Trade association - The Telecommunications Service Providers of Kenya (TESPOK) has now changed its name to the Technology Service Providers of Kenya. TESPOK's Chief Executive Officer Fiona Asonga said: "Today we are letting everyone know that we are the voice of ICT in Kenya, in the East African region, in Africa and at the global level. "

Middle East: iPhone cometh - The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will be on sale from 10 October, and are being offered in the United Arab Emirates by both Etisalat and du. Etisalat is inviting customers to 'pre-register' whilst du has said subscribers can pre-order on its Website from 2 October 2015. The suggested retail price for the 6s is AED 2,599 (USD 707) for the 16GB model and for the 16GB 6s Plus AED 2,999 (USD 816). In Saudi Arabia STC, Zain and Mobily will retail the devices, in Kuwait Ooredoo, Viva and Zain; in Qatar Vodafone and Ooredoo; and in Bahrain Batelco, Viva and Zain.

Morocco: Calculations clarified - ANRT has announced new rules for the calculation of mobile subscriber bases. The numbers are to now include all active pre- and post-paid users who have used the service in the previous 3 months, including data-only. Mobile Internet data users will include all mobile Internet customers who have made a data transfer over 3G or 4G. ANRT will publish separate figures for 3G and 4G users. In addition, the regulator will include figures for the installed base of M2M subscriptions.

Nigeria: A fine mess - The failure to pay the fines levied on the four GSM operators by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for not complying with its SIM card registration orders has seen the total value of the fine raised from NGN 120.4 million to NGN 132 million (USD 660,440), THISDAY has reported. The four were required to pay the original fine by 7 September 2015. The paper notes that the presidency summoned the four, the NCC and the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) to a meeting. The presidency has now called for an update on the registration programme.

Nigeria: NCC gets tough - The Nigerian Communications Commission has warned against buying pre-registered SIM cards, threatening offenders with prison sentences. NCC's Acting Executive Vice Chairman Professor Umaru Danbatta said selling, buying and using pre-registered SIM cards was a punishable offence. He said that service providers had already been directed to disconnect any of these cards.

Rwanda: New player - Last week Mauritius-based Bharat Telecom (BTL) said it was to launch triple-play service in 2016, NexTVNews reported. This will include FTTH broadband connectivity, FTA and IPTV along with video-on-demand services. BTL's Chief Operating Officer Kaylash Ramtohul said that it had met all local regulatory requirements and had received all the related licenses to start its activities. It is also assessing Uganda, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria as other possible markets.

Sierra Leone: Gateway fraud - A UK investor has been allegedly defrauded of some USD 800,000 by a local agent to secure an international gateway licence, Awoko reports. Dominic Anselm Joseph Beary, Director of National Proximity Sierra Leone Limited, transferred funds to Mohamed Osman Sesay to bid for one of the licences of the newly commissioned Subsea Cable System managed by the Sierra Leone Cable Company (SALCAB). Mohamed has pleaded not guilty to all counts, including conspiracy to commit a corruption offence and deceiving the principal under the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 in the High Court in Freetown. The case was adjourned.

South Africa: Apple announcement - Vodacom is to start retailing the iPhone 6S range from 16 October, with a pre-order date of 9 October. The 6S range features a faster A9 processor, an upgraded 12-megapixel main camera, a 5MP front-facing camera and Force Touch technology.

South Africa: Dish forces digital switch - The first TV household registration process for set-top boxes started on 2 October in the North Cape's Square Kilometre Array (SKA) community of Keimoes and Kai Garib, Fin24 reported. The government is subsidising the boxes for up to 5 million poorer households as part of the digital terrestrial television (DTT) roll-out. The area around the deep-space SKA project is to receive 16,000 set-top boxes as analogue tv transmissions interfere with signals received by the SKA telescope project.

South Africa: Manager named - EMC has named Jonas Bogoshi as its Country Manager for Southern Africa. Servaas Venter held the post 1 December 2012. Bogoshi left Gijima in 2012 after the company lost half of an Absa contract, and a large portion of a State IT Agency deal, ITWeb noted. After Gijima, he was named as Vice-President of Sales at T-Systems in SA in November 2013.

South Africa: Own-brand outing - Vodacom has four new own-brand devices according to 4-Traders. The Smart Ultra 6 provides a 5.5-inch full HD IPS display, octa-core chipset, Android 5.0 Lollipop OS, 13 MP premium rear camera and 5 MP front camera for ZAR 3,199 (USD 234). Post-paid customers will get 1 GB of data for three months and a Top Dog voucher at ZAR 199 per month on the uChoose Flexi 110. The Smart Grand five-inch smartphone retails at ZAR 1,099 (USD 80) for pre-paid users, and ZAR 89 (USD 6.50) per month for post-paid users on the uChoose Flexi 55 plan. The Smart Speed smartphone costs ZAR 1,299 (USD 95) for pre-paid and ZAR 99 per month on the uChoose Flexi 55. The Power Tab 10 tablet costs ZAR 1,799 (USD 132) and has a Bluetooth keyboard. It will cost ZAR 99 (USD 7.24) per month on the 250 MB Data Price plan. Vodacom's Chief Commercial Officer Godfrey Motsa said: "We are betting our summer on this. " He added that it had some 12 million active smartphones on our network, up from nine million a year ago.

South Africa: Popular promotion - Cell C found people queuing from 03.00 hrs when it launched its LTE network on 1 October with a deal that offers 100GB of anytime data for ZAR 100 (USD 7.22), and valid for 90 days. The deal was only available to the first 1,000 customers in Gauteng who bought a SIM at Cell C?s head office in Buccleuch, and the first 500 who bought a SIM at its regional office in Umhlanga.

South Africa: SME summer special - Telkom has doubled the data allocation for Small and Medium Business (SMBS) customers, and is effective immediately till 31 March. It has also reduced prices on some high-end data packages and DSL and Fibre to the Business bundles. Users can receive up to 1 terrabyte of data for ZAR 1,599 (USD 117) and new in bundle data prices now give customers 100 gigabytes of data for ZAR 145 (USD 11) per month.

Tunisia: International appeal - Global MVNO Lycamobile is set to launch in Tunisia, offering low-cost rates for international and domestic calls, and data services. Tunisia's Diaspora is put at more than 1.2 million people in 2012, including over 660,000 Tunisians resident in France, 189,000 in Italy and 86,000 in Germany. The MVNO has some 14 million customers globally, including the UK, USA and Australia. Chairman Subaskaran Allirajah said: "Tunisia is one of the best-developed countries in Africa from a telecoms perspective, and it has a large diaspora concentrated in Europe. Those factors make it a natural market for us to open as we continue our international expansion, following on from our launches in Romania and Hong Kong earlier in 2015. " Its Website is here.

Turkey: Loan deal - The Turkcell board has approved a loan deal with the China Development Bank (CDB) for two amounts of up to EUR 500 million and up to EUR 750 million with two and three-years availability periods. The first will be used to refinance existing loans, while the second will be used to finance infrastructure investments sourced from Chinese vendors. The total loan package will have a ten-year final maturity with a three-year grace period and will be paid back in equal instalments. The annual interest rate of the loan is expected to be Euribor + 2.2 percent.

Uganda: New focus - The Uganda Communications Commission is to focus on licensing television content developers rather than licensing new television stations. Patrick Mwesigwa, UCC's Deputy Director, said it had abolished issuing licences as following digital migration, TV stations just needed a studio to generate the content which is now sent to Signet which allocates the channel for it to be aired. Uganda switched from analogue to digital broadcasting in June.

United Arab Emirates: Best shot - Phone maker Oppo has partnered with Etisalat to launch its new smartphone, the R7. The new device offers a 2.5D Glass curve design and VOOC flash charge, an instant charging technology developed by Oppo, which can power the smartphone for two hours of talk after only five minutes of charging, and complete 75 percent of the charging in just 30 minutes. The VOOC flash charge technology will provide users with four times faster charging speed than conventional charges, it said. The 'Anti-shake Optimization' algorithm allows multiple shots to be taken in the seconds before and after the user presses the shutter, and selects the clearest image.

Zambia: Business back-up - HAI Telecommunications has launched its data protection 'CrashPlan' technology which allows enterprises to back-up data on their devices as they work. Liquid Telecom Group director David Behr launched the product in Lusaka last week. Behr noted that about 50 percent of data now resides outside data centres, hence the launch.

Zambia: Staff settlement - Zamtel has been ordered to pay over ZMW 130 million (USD 10.5 million) by the Industrial Relations Court to several former staff who were declared redundant in 2010, the Post Zambia reported. The former staff sued Zamtel for a determination of the actual monies they were entitled to.

Zimbabwe: Market hotting-up - Liquid Telecom has set-up 200 Wi-Fi hotspots, of which 80 percent of them in or around Harare. The Wi-Fi is distributed by Liquid's retail company, ZOL Zimbabwe, through its ZOLspots, technomag reported. Locations include Sam Levy's Village, Avondale shopping centre, Westgate shopping centre, Eastgate mall, Harare International Airport, Joshua Mqabuko International Airport, Victoria Falls Airport, Bulawayo Center, Seke Teachers College, Bindura University and Joina City.

Zimbabwe: Smartphones now enabled - Econet Wireless has rolled out its LTE Internet service, saying: "4G LTE is now available on LTE enabled smartphones ", in a message to subscribers on Friday. ITWeb notes that Econet first offered LTE connectivity though modems in 2013. The LTE service has been available at all of Zimbabwe's airports and the CBDs of Harare and Bulawayo as well as in the resort town of Victoria Falls.