News in Brief to 2 December 2015

Afghanistan: ATRA vice appointed - Engineer Saed Mohammad Anwari has been appointed as the new Vice-Chairman of Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA). H.E Abdul Razaq Vahidi, Minister of Communication and IT, H.E Wahabuddin Sadat, Finance and Admin Deputy-Minister, and H.E Mohammad Najeeb Azizi, ATRA Board Chairman, attended the ceremony.

Afghanistan: Chinese connections - On 24 November 2015 the Chinese ambassador visited the Ministry of Communications and IT (MCIT) for a joint orientation session with the Minister of CIT. The official promised continued support for capacity building and academic partnerships. MCIT's new Strategic Plan highlights the need to connect China and Afghanistan by fibre at the Wa-Kahn border. MCIT recently selected 20 employees on merit to attend a 20-day training course entitled 'Telecom Operation and Planning' in China. The trainees attended sessions on fibre optics, networking and ICT equipment.

Afghanistan: Strategic session - A three-day annual co-ordinating conference was held for MCIT provincial directors in Kabul 17-19 November 2015. H.E Abdul Razaq Vahidi, Minister of Communication, Deputy-Minister, telecom provincial directors and representatives of the media attended. A variety of topics were covered including regional connectivity, the path to a central Asian Internet, telecom services fee, SIM registration, and expansion of telecom infrastructures.


Angola: Free Wiki - Movicel has partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation to offer free access under the Wikipedia Zero programme, the Jornal Briefing reported. The initiative provides users with free mobile operator access to Wikipedia on mobile devices. Rival Unitel established a partnership with Wikimedia in December 2014.

Egypt: Internet incentive - has announced two new strategic partnerships with Vodafone Egypt and MasterCard. Through the partnership deal Vodafone Egypt will offer six months free Internet usage to customers who buy any mobile or tablet device from during The White Friday Campaign.

Egypt: Space-age smartphone - Asus has announced the launch of four new ZenFone smartphones: the ZenFone 2 Deluxe, ZenFone Selfie, ZenFone 2 Laser and ZenFone Go. All four models are available from the start of December in retail outlets throughout Egypt as well as from the ASUS network of dealers. The launch ceremony featured a space-suited figure.


Ghana: Glo no go? - This week unconfirmed reports has suggested that Glo Ghana has closed major Gloworld shops, and is thought to be considering further closures. Asoko Insight reports that sales points at Dansoman in Accra and Adum in Kumasi have been closed for some time. Further closures in Madina, Lapaz, and Mallam Junction in Accra are expected. Decommissioning of some towers is also reported to have taken place.

Ghana: Support centre - Tigo Ghana has opened a fourth Digital Support Centre in Tema, citifmonline reported. The others are located in Accra Mall, Takoradi and Barnes Road. The Tema centre has dedicated areas for specific customer needs including providing quality ICT solutions for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Chief Executive Officer of Tigo Ghana, Roshi Motman, said the centre would provide immediate and instant support from well-trained support staff.

Kenya: Comms unit - A new subsidiary to handle its telecoms business has been set-up by Kenya Power. The new unit will be responsible for the fibre optic network. Kenya Power has said that it would seek shareholder approval to incorporate Kenya Power International at its annual general meeting on 22 December. The Business Daily reported that the new unit will handle Kenya Power's telecoms business as well as transform the energy research institute into a fully-fledged university.

Kenya: Operator outrage - Money transfer operators Lipisha and Bitpesa are suing Safaricom after the operator cancelled their service contracts, claiming that they had failed to adhere to the anti-money laundering law, Business Daily reported. Safaricom said that Lipisha had not obtained the necessary authorisation from the Central Bank of Kenya. The terms of the Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act could not be met in view of Lipisha's relationship with Bitpesa, Isaac Kibere for Safaricom said.

Mali: Broadcasting split - Two entities have been formed from The Office of Radio and Television of Mali (ORTM) with the aim of improving the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, NexTVame reported. The first entity will be called and will have the task of ensuring the editing of audiovisual services is to be entrusted to ORTM. Whilst the transmission and distribution of programmes of public and private service broadcasting is to be handled by Societe Malienne de Transmission et de Diffusion (SMDT SA). The latter will also manage fibre-optic infrastructure of the state, satellite dishes and masts.

Mayotte, Reunion: Pricing probe - In Decision 15-D-17 dated 30 November the French-based Autorite de la Concurrence has fined operator SFR and its subsidiary Societe Francaise du Radiotelephone (SFR) over abusive pricing practices in Reunion and Mayotte, where it operates as SFR Reunion (formerly SRR) and SFR Mayotte, respectively. A fine of some EUR 10.7 million (USD 11.32 million) has been levied on SFR, which was guilty of 'price gouging' in relation to the fees applied to on-net and off-net calls for business subscribers in Reunion between 2000 - 2013, and Mayotte in the period 2007-2013.

Nigeria: Share increasing - Etisalat Nigeria is claiming a market share of 16 percent with over 23 million subscribers, The Guardain reported. CMO Francesco Angelone said at the 2015 Customer Forum in Lagos that contact with the customer is important, as the operator's main aim is to improve the customer experience.

Senegal: Defects highlighted - A group of MPs has proposed that the government should not to renew Orange's mobile licence in 2016 until it commits to improving its quality of service (QoS), Agence Ecofin reports. The operator has been accused of not fixing network defects, despite being the largest operator by subscriber numbers. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MINPOSTEL) and the Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes (ARTP) are being called upon to act. The MPs also want Tigo and Expresso to increase their coverage.

South Africa: Staff savings - Vodacom is to initiate a cost-cutting programme to save some ZAR 150 million, The Sunday Times reported. Some 107 network operations staff will be outsourced to a third party from February 2016. The outsourcing will be undertaken in five phases and will affect other areas in the operator. The network operations team has 139 permanent staff.

Swaziland: Lower roaming - MTN Swazi has lowered roaming charges with other MTN operations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region by half, The Star reported. Head of Corporate Services Sibusiso Nhleko said they are also extending roaming for pre-paid users in the region who can now roam with operators such as Vodacom South Africa. The move follows a directive by SADC ministers communicated by the Swaziland Communications Commission that operators should negotiate with roaming partners to reduce regional roaming rates.

Togo: December deadline - A deadline of Friday 4 December has been set by the Autorite de Reglementation des Secteurs de Postes et Telecommunications (ART&P) for mobile subscribers to register their SIM card by. Dating from 2011, Decree No. 2011-120/PR targets handsets that are being used for illegal activities. Mobile operators Togo Cellulaire (Togocel) and Atlantique Telecom (Moov) have been told to inform their subscribers of the deadline.

Turkey: Stake sought - Turkcell is to make a non-binding offer for TeliaSonera's 58.55 percent stake in Fintur, and so give it full control. Bloomberg reports that Turkcell has signed to hire Citigroup and HSBC Holdings to advise on the acquisition, while earlier in November CEO Kaan Terzioglu said Turkcell intends to fully acquire Fintur in 2016 'if all negotiations go well'. Fintur has mobile operations in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova.

United Arab Emirates: Anti-queuing app - du has provided an Appointment Booking service. It says that the duApp allows customers visiting a du store to make an appointment up to two hours before their visit. The duApp will allow customers to minimise waiting time in stores by choosing an hour slot at a time and store most convenient to them. The duApp generates a code, which is input into a machine in the store, and so ensures they are the next person to be seen.

United Arab Emirates: Project delivery - Mobile operator du has renewed its project management strategic co-operation with the Project Management Institute (PMI), Gulf News reported. du is using PMI's project management framework in order to deliver its internal projects as well as for its flagship programmes such as in its recent bid for the Smart City Initiative from Dubai Government as well as for Managed Services Solutions for its business customers.

Zimbabwe: SME support - Econet Wireless has launched OWNAI, an e-commerce Marketplace allowing Econet customers to market their products for free to over 10.2 million registered Econet customers. Chief Executive Douglas Mboweni said that the service is also available non-Econet customers who can access the marketplace platform and search for goods. Users choose to see adverts posted by others, the CEO saying that it had 'invested heavily' in sophisticated spam and fraud-detection software and that every ad will be moderated before it is published on OWNAI.