News in Brief 5 November 2015

Africa: Sociable Airtel - The Africa Brand Index social media index has ranked Airtel Kenya as the best telecommunication brand on social media in Africa in October, and fifth overall, based on its growth and response rate in October. Vodacom South Africa as the top telecommunications brand in the continent while SuperSport is the overall leading brand on social media in Africa. Cell C and Vodacom are ranked 8th and 9th in the overall table. Safaricom is 12th, and Glomobile 13th. Airtel Nigeria was ranked 25th.

Algeria & Tunisia: Closer co-operation - Algeria and Tunisia are to co-operate more closely in the telecoms sector, in order to increase Internet links and reduce the cost of communications between the two nations. A meeting of the Tunisia Minister of ICT Noomene El Fehri and Algerian counterpart Houda Imane Feraoun agreed to strengthen the capacity on the existing cross-border fibre link, first set-up in 2013. The link deployed by Algerie Telecom and Tunisie Telecom can be developed into a direct connection, helping to avoid other points of transit. The Ministers also agreed to work to reduce the costs of calls between the countries, with a harmonisation of mobile roaming rates.

Angola: Cable re-connected - The Regulator has said that Algeria Telecom has confirmed the repair on Tuesday, 27 October at 4.30 a.m. minutes of the SEA-MEWE4 submarine cable connecting Annaba to Marseilles. Tests carried out on the cable found that the Internet had been fully restored, and that normal service had resumed.

SEAMEWE-4 connecting Annaba to Marseilles


SEA-MEWE4 connecting Annaba to Marseilles


Burkina Faso: Regulatory chief replaced - Tontama Charles Millogo has been named as the new head of L?Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP). He replaces Mathurin Bako, who had completed his six-year term. Millogo was Technical Director at Atlantique Telecom Niger and has held posts with the Etisalat group in Africa, including Moov in several countries. Prior to that he was employed at Telecel Burkina.

Egypt: China courted
- Minister of ICT, Yasser ElKady met with ZTE Vice President for the Middle East and Africa Huang Dabin and other senior company officials. The Minister said he wanted to develop high-level strategic relations between MCIT and ZTE. Dabin said ZTE would develop a plan to grow its business and to provide necessary technologies to Egyptian operators. The plan is to be reviewed with MCIT over the next few weeks. ZTE is to launch an e-learning system for connecting educational systems in a number of schools nationally in a partnership between the General Authority for Educational Buildings, the Ministry of International Co-operation, MCIT and ZTE. The Minister also met separately Huawei's Network Sector Head Ben Wei and Huawei North Africa Vice President Shiu Yung.

Ethiopia: Bank base - On Thursday 29 October Standard Bank opened its Ethiopian office to provide a foothold in one of Africa's fastest growing economies. Foreign lenders are not allowed to own banks in the country. Ethiopia has a population of about 90 million people and which Standard Bank said has averaged economic growth of more than 10 percent for the past five years. Taitu Wondwosen is the new Office chief and is based in the capital Addis Ababa. Ethiopia has been investing heavily in new roads, railways and hydro-electric power plants to attract, although foreigners are banned from owning telecoms, banking and retail companies.

Gabon: Crisper calls - Gabon Telecom (GT) has launched HD Voice services offering improved sound quality for voice calls. Users must be within 3G or 4G coverage and own a HD Voice compatible device. GT offers a number of compatible phones from Nokia, Alcatel, Samsung, BlackBerry, Apple and other vendors.

Ghana: Banking bouquet
- Airtel Ghana has formed a partnership with First Atlantic Bank to provide telecom and banking services to their shared high value customers. The deal will exploit the synergy between Airtel Premier and Atlantic Purple Plus customers with a 'bouquet' of exclusive products and services, as well as providing access to integrated and sophisticated telecom and banking products and services.

Ghana: Broadband BSS - Broadband Home Limited (BBH), which provides broadband Internet and connectivity services under the Zipnet brand, has contracted for an Alepo BSS / OSS Service Enabler (SE) 9 solution. The solution supports multiple, next-generation data networks and allow the launch of data services and bundles across its 4GLTE, WiMAX and Wi-Fi networks, while streamlining operations and reducing total cost of ownership of the core network. The Alepo solution enables BBH to launch its IPTV service, ZipTV.

Ghana: Payments facilitated - Standard Chartered has launched its Straight2Bank Wallet using the Airtel Money platform in Ghana, Pulse reported. The facility was first launched in Kenya in 2013, and enables corporations, governments and development organisations to make cashless payments to both banked and unbanked individuals. Standard Chartered?s Ghanaian corporate clients can now use its Straight2Bank electronic banking platform to make payments directly into an individual?s Airtel Money mobile wallet. To date Standard Chartered has launched Straight2Bank in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Airtel Money has over 13,000 registered agents, 500 merchant outlets, 80 shops that accept Airtel Money, 7 Partner banks and over 215 ATMs nationally.

Ghana: Public sector product
- Vodafone Ghana is targeting public sector workers with its 'Ready-4-Work' product, developed to provide a safer platform for their communication needs. Angela Mensah-Poku, Head of Vodafone Business Solutions (VBS) said: "Ready-4-Work was designed with feedback from public sector workers on how to empower and make their work easier. " Users have 24-months to pay for the service rendered or product purchased at Vodafone, with payment received through the workers' salary. Members of associations within these institutions can benefit from the offer.
Iraq: Falling revenue
- Asiacell, a unit of Ooredoo, has reported a fall in revenues for the first nine months of some 23 percent to QAR 3.71 billion (USD 1.01 billion) from QAR 4.80 billion (USD 1.32 billion) in 2014. EBITDA fell to QAR 1.61 billion (USD 441.7 million) from QAR 2.27 billion (USD 622.8 million) in 2014. Net profit fell to QAR 152 million (USD 41.7 million) from QAR 868 million (USD 238.2 million) in 2014. Its subscriber base stood at 10.6 million at the end of the period. The overall security situation is reported to be showing some improvement, with Asiacell starting to reactivate parts of its network in areas such as Kirkuk, Tikrit and Diyala province.

Iraq showing Asiacell restored areas


Iraq showing Asiacell restored areas


Israel: Bcyber begins - Bezeq said last week that it was launching a new cloud computer service for the enterprise sector to be branded Bcyber. Clients will be able to control information security systems, as the service collects and analyses information about threats to a business, sends targeted alerts and regular reports. Bezeq Business Division head Koby Paz the service provided maximum access, complete survivability and the highest level of security.

Kenya: Account aggregation
- Chase Bank Kenya and Safaricom are launching Mobile2Bank that allows the aggregation of all banking services and allowing access through a mobile phone. It will also allow access to micro-credit, and the movement of funds from one Lipa Na M-PESA till to another in realtime. Among those who will use Mobile2Bank are M-Pesa agents who can now move floats between their tills and bank accounts in realtime, and send float directly to another agent?s account, without having to visit the bank. The will also be able to access loans that will boost their operations through Mobile2Bank.

Kenya: Decoders discounted - MultiChoice Kenya has cut the cost of its DStv High Definition decoders by half from KES 11,000 (USD 108) to KES 5,500 (USD 54) to improve the uptake of the units. The offer includes the decoder, satellite dish, cabling and installation fee. MultiChoice Kenya's General Manager Walingo Chiruyi said it had developed and invested heavily in quality content.

Kenya: First shop - Hauwei is opening its first Kenyan store in Nairobi. Huawei's head of marketing for Kenya Millicent Ngatia said the store was on Garden City Mall along Thika Superhighway. It also plans to open another outlet in the Central Business District in the first quarter of 2016. Kenya is also earmarked for a regional HQ in 2018.

Kenya: Fund transfer expansion - Safaricom has partnered with KCB, Equity bank, Jamii Bora, Chase Bank, Co-operative Bank, Diamond Trust Bank, UBA and Consolidated Bank to enable businesses that use Lipa Na M-PESA to transfer funds from their Lipa Na M-PESA tills to their bank accounts. Currently there are ten banks that offer instant bank settlement for merchants. However, Standard Chartered and NIC Bank started offering the service, which ensures the availability of cash or e-float around the clock, in July. Now, Lipa Na M-PESA Merchants can move between KES 50 - 50 million (USD 0.48 - 482,000) from their Lipa Na M-PESA tills to their banks, with no limitation on the number of transactions that they can make during a single day.

Kenya: Immigration inquiry - Orange Telkom last week denied it has illegal immigrants working as expatriates. It had been under investigation by the Immigration Department for allegedly employing Armenian and French nationals in Kenya without the proper paperwork. Telkom Kenya spokesman George Mulaghui said: "Orange Telkom Kenya states that it remains compliant with the immigration laws of Kenya. All foreign nationals from our group head office, in France, who are seconded to the Kenyan affiliate, as employees of Telkom Kenya, have acquired immigration documents to work in the country. "

Kenya: Interest raised - Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) has raised the monthly loan interest rates on its mobile offering KCB M-Pesa by 2 percent on all three repayments packages with effect from 26 October. KCB said that new loans on KCB M-Pesa would attract monthly loan interest of 6 percent for a month, 5 percent for three and 4 percent for six months. Since the launch of KCB M-Pesa in conjunction with Safaricom seven months ago, the platform has transacted over KES 1 billion (USD 9.8 million) in loans. As of June, the mobile money platform had signed up 1.8 million users, and now exceeds 3 million users.
Kenya: Interswitch initiation
- Nigerian-based Interswitch has launched its new brand identity in Kenya following the completion of its merger with East African e-payments provider Paynet Group. Paynet is the owner of the PesaPoint network of ATMs, and henceforth will be known as Interswitch East Africa. Interswitch East Africa is to now launch its money transfer services, verve card and Quickteller, used for paying bills and top-up airtime in Kenya. Paynet launched in Kenya in 2003. Interswitch has already signed three Kenyan banks to facilitate the launch of its verve cards.

Kenya: Orange staff overstay their welcome - The Immigration Department has summoned three French nationals working for Orange Kenya for overstaying their special passes. The investigation also targeted two Armenian nationals, and found that there were nine expatriates based at its headquarters, the Daily Nation reported.

Kenya: Shed by Samsung - The Business Daily has reported that Samsung has shed some 26 senior managers from its local unit this year, including East Africa COO Robert Ngeru. Ngeru had lobbied for a television, laptop and printer assembly plant in Kenya, and will depart at the end of October. The plant was to employ 900 people directly and more than 1,000 in its supply and marketing activities. Other departures were Manoj Changarampatt, IT and Mobile Director in East and Central Africa; Albert Kigada, Printer Division Product Manager; Mukunya Mugo, Human Resources and Danish Oyugi, Country Manager for Hand Held Products.

Liberia: Cellular cyber-attack - Lonestar Cell MTN has said in a release last week that the service disruption on its network is a result of a cyber-attack. Consequently segments of its users of voice, SMS and Data services, have experienced intermittently service outages. It had seen a constant build-up of artificial volumes of data on its Internet links, with the aim of clogging or blocking connectivity in the network. Lonestar said it was restoring service after each incident.

Middle East: 4G enabled - Zuk Smartphones has launched the Z1 in the Middle East. When launched in China in August it had received 3 million pre-orders at the end of the first week. It is now looking to expand to the Middle East, as well as key European and South East Asia markets, reported. The Z1 comes with a 5.5-inch 1080p display with a pixel density of 401 ppi, and is powered by a Qualcomm 801 processor, 3 GB of RAM and 64 GB of ROM. The device also makes use of USB 3.0 and USB Type-C. It is dual-SIM, and comes with a large 4,100 mAh battery and 4G connectivity. Comtel will distribute the device on in the Middle East. Zuk is an independent brand backed by the Lenovo Group.

Middle East: Movie market - Netflix Vice President and Head of Communications for Europe, Middle East and Africa Joris Evers has said that the Middle East forms part of Netflix's global expansion project, and will launch there in 2016. It has posted adverts for marketing planning and analysis manager, a senior manager, EMEA marketing insights, and a social media manager for the Middle East, 7Days reported. The jobs state a preference for Arabic speakers.

Mozambique: Digital licence issued - The National Communications Institute of Mozambique has issued a digital terrestrial television licence to TMT, the public operator of the DTT network. On 7 November 2010 the Council of Ministers adopted the DVB-T2 technology standard and the subsequent establishment of the National Commission Digital migration (FOO) which among other things was responsible for drawing up the National Migration from analogue to digital broadcasting strategy. TMT is formed of public companies Mozambique Television (TVM), Radio Mozambique (RM) and Telecommunications of Mozambique (TDM), in order to efficiently transmit and distribute the digital signal.

Nigeria: Apple turnover - Apple iStore is to offer up to a 50 percent off the current iPhone value when traded in for a new one in a cash purchase at iStore in Ikeja Mall, ThisDay reported. Customers can trade in up to two iPhones and use the total value towards a single new iPhone. Customers need to register online and then proceed to the iStore with the confirmed receipt to trade their current iPhone for a brand new one. The trade-in values range from NGN 27,000 (USD 133) for an iPhone 5 16GB to NGN 120,000 (USD 593) for iPhone 6 Plus 128GB.

Nigeria: Set-top factory to be set-up - Media Concepts International (MCI) has signed a partnership deal with South Korea-based KAON a promised investment of over USD 1billion, the Daily Trust reported. Chairman and CEO of MCI, Mr. Babatope Agbeyo said part of the deal with KAON was as a technical partner to establish a set-top box assembly plant in Nigeria. The plant will be commissioned before the end of 2016 at Abule Egba in Lagos, and will have the capacity to make mobile phones, tablets and television sets. A new June 2017 deadline has been set by the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for migration from analogue to digital, and MCI is one of 13 licenced set-top box manufacturers.

Nigeria: State spectrum sale - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said it will issue new spectrum licences starting from 2016 to create comprehensive Internet infrastructure in all 36 states. The announcement was made at the 21st anniversary of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) in Lagos, The Leadership reported.

Oman: MVNO milestone - Mobile Virtual Network Operator FRiENDi, part of the Virgin Mobile Middle East & Africa group, claims to now have some 600,000 subscribers. FRiENDi mobile was the first mobile reseller to launch in the Middle East when it opened in Oman in 2009, and now operates in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Malaysia. Alex Bennett has been named as the new CEO in Oman, and joins from ACN, where he was VP of European Services, based in Amsterdam. He also previously held senior roles at TalkTalk in the UK and will be based at the FRiENDi Oman main offices in Muscat.

Qatar: Gift tones - The Ooredoo Extra Website now provides a one-stop-shop for all of the operator's entertainment, add-ons and news-based services, and brings together in one location all Ooredoo's premium services. The site includes a MyTones page developed following user requests, allowing users to customise calling ringtones. Customers can now preview, buy and gift a tone through the Website, which is located at

South Africa: November for Desire - HTC?s mid-range Android smartphone, the Desire 626, is to be launched on MTN in November 2015. HTC unveiled the device in July 2015, saying the phone will offer an enhanced camera and a number of personalisation options, including a variety of colour combinations. The HTC Desire 626 ran on Android 4.4.4 KitKat at launch, but the SA version will come with Android 5.1 Lollipop. South Africa will get the 1.2GHz quad-core version of the device, which uses Qualcomm?s Snapdragon 410 chipset.

Uganda: Regulated registration - The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has given the mobile operators until the end of November to complete the registration process for all SIM card users. Fines and even termination of their licences are threatened for non-compliance, the UCC said. The New Vision quotes UCC Executive Director Godffrey Mutabaazi as saying: "The law requires us to register all SIMcards. Telecom companies cannot say no, they don?t have that mandate. We shall charge them a percentage of their gross annual revenue or go ahead and revoke their licences. "

United Arab Emirates: Advanced solution - Advance Digital, a unit of Abu Dhabi Digital Media, has signed with Etisalat which will provide a complete ?Software as a Service? (SaaS) solution with managed eHosting, security and application integration. Etisalat said its SaaS solution for Advance will provide integrated security, hosting and connectivity with a customer network and security operations centre, managed by certified security and IT professionals. All data will be hosted within the UAE.