News in Brief 19 January 2017

Africa: pay-TV threesome - Digital TV Research forecasts that three groups will continue to account for 90 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa's pay-TV subscribers. Multichoice is reported with 11.61 million subscribers on satellite TV platform DStv and DTT platform GOtv by the end of 2016, which will grow to 17.66 million by 2022. Vivendi had 2.32 million subscribers to its Canal Plus satellite TV platform and Easy TV by end-2016, which is expected to climb by 2 million to 4.32 million by 2022.

Bahrain: Corporate comms chief confirmed - Zain Bahrain has named Shaikh Abdulla bin Khalid Al Khalifa as its new Director of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations. Shaikh Abdulla joins Zain Bahrain from the University College of Bahrain where, in his role as Executive Director, Technology & Innovation, he also developed partnerships with key stakeholders, acting as representative for the university in dealing with regional, national and international agencies and organisations. Prior to that, he was Co-Founder, CEO and Vice President of Lightspeed Communications, a Bahrain-based telco he helped launch in 2004.


Bahrain: Internet initiative - 'Bahrain WiFi' is to launched in three Seef Malls located in Seef District, Muharraq and Isa Town after Batelco signed a partnership with Seef Properties. Bahrain WiFi aims to position Bahrain as 'one home with Internet access.' The service is currently available in a number of hotspots including shopping malls and key commercial and touristic areas. The service will be available to the public.

Bahrain: Show sponsorship - Batelco has signed a sponsorship agreement with BTECH (Bahrain Technology Companies Society) for MEET ICT & Bitex 2017 on 7 - 9 February. The event will be held at the Gulf Convention Centre.

Djibouti: Centre membership - The Djibouti Internet Exchange (DjIX) has joined the African IXP Association (AFIX). AFIX is a group of Internet exchange point (IXP) African operators. There are currently 36 active Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) located in 33 cities in 28 countries. The Djibouti Internet Exchange (DjIX) is collocated at the Djibouti Data Centre (DDC) in Djibouti City, Djibouti.

Gambia: Annivesray acknowledgement - Star GSM Communication marked its fifth anniversary at the year end. Deputy Manager, Ebrima Saidy, praised Managing Director Lamin Kabba for his efforts to take the company forward. He thanked partners, including Gamcel and the MMJ Mobile Shop (Tecno's Sole Agent in the Gambia).

Kenya: Mobile slot machines - Rambo Resource together with the Licensing Board has announced the launch of GameMania. The app allows mobile users to enjoy online slots machines on the go for free or with no deposit bonuses. The app is a virtual casino offering FruitSlots Machine, Big Wheel Spins and Baccarat, and is integrated with m-Pesa and allows users to top up or withdrawal money through their m-Pesa account. GameMania is the first casino app that allows gamblers to bet in Kenyan shillings, and KES 50 allows new players to explore the casino without a deposit.

Kenya: Top stock - Safaricom accounts for 40 percent of the Nairobi bourse’s total investor wealth. Its market valuation is now greater than the combined capitalisation of the next nine largest companies, the Business Daily noted, with a market valuation of KES 719 billion (USD 6.9 billion).

Kuwait: Training talent - Zain Group has selected five Kuwaiti nationals to participate in its 12 month 'Generation Z' graduate training programme. The programme is targeted at candidates who display entrepreneurial flair and who will demonstrate a start-up mindset. Candidates were handpicked which is intended to enhance their learning through targeted development.



Libya: Telco targetted - The headquarters of mobile operator Al Madar were stormed by protestors on 10 January, the Libya Herald reported. The protests followed power cuts resulting from the closure of the main gas valve feeding the Zawia power station, which resulted in increased 10-12 hour power cuts in the capital, and in Misrata and the rest of Libya, as well as a total black out in the south of Libya for three days.

Madagascar: Orange credentials - SoftAtHome, a smart home technology specialist, has appointed former Orange executive David Viret-Lange as its new CEO. Viret-Lange joins after more than 20 years at Orange, and replaces Michel Degland, who left to become CEO of Orange Madagascar in November 2016. Viret-Lange was Orange’s Chief Information Officer at Orange Business Services.

Malawi: Missed call management - Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) is launching InstaVoice, Celeb and Sports services in collaboration with Kirusa. TNM subscribers will now be able to manage their missed calls, voicemail and voice messages over the InstaVoice app. The app, according to TNM, allows the user to respond to missed calls and voicemails, through text as well as rich media through its chat-like interface. Surinder S. Anand, Vice President of product management at Kirusa added that Kirusa and TNM will be marketing a co-branded InstaVoice app.

Nigeria: Data cost challenge - E-classified advert platform Efritin is not to invest further in Nigeria and has wound down operations 16 months after its launch. The Guardian reports that the high cost of data and operational demands were factors. In a call with Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, Saltside Technologies’ (owners of Efritin) CEO Nils Hammar confirmed the decision, blaming harsh economic conditions as the primary factor. Although there will not local staff, the site will continue as before. Efritin is thought to be involved in 10 Nigerian court cases that could cost it up to NGN 20 million (USD 63,169) in fees according to TechMoron.

Nigeria: Internet infrastructure - The NCC is expected to license the five remaining Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) in 2017, the Guardain noted. It has already licensed Lagos and North Central InfraCos with MainOne Cables and IHS. The NCC's 'Open Access Model for Next Generation Optic Fibre Broadband Network' mandates InfraCos to geographically offer extensive Layer 2 transmission services on an open entry, non-discriminatory, price controlled basis. The InfraCos can also offer Layer 1 (dark fibre) services for a commercial purpose, which is intended for providing transmission services and the deployment of municipal fibre, present at entry points to (Fibre to the Node or Neighbourhood - FTTN) access explorers.

Oman: New man - Cisco Middle East has named Waheed Al Hamaid as its Country Sales Lead for Oman.

Qatar: Electronic courts - A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) and the Supreme Judiciary Council was signed on 9 January 2017 for the modernisation and development of the courts in Qatar electronically. The MoU is part of MOTC's mission to better serve individuals and businesses, create efficiency in government administration, and develop a more open government. The two will cooperate in the areas of supporting justice administration, developing courts electronically, and optimizing litigation mechanisms, through the use of the best technology to provide better services to litigants, lawyers and stakeholders.

Qatar: Top TV - Ooredoo TV now features the SPI International / Filmbox Channels Group Funbox UHD channel. It offers primetime programming as well as showing Ultra HD documentaries on nature, wildlife, society, music videos, sports, arts and culture and more. The channel is available to all subscribers of Ooredoo TV, including 'Essentials' subscribers.

Rwanda: Office move - Tigo Rwanda has relocated to the sixth floor of Kigali Heights, described as a modern landmark building in the city. Kigali Heights is located in Kimihurura sector just across from the Kigali Convention centre in Gasabo district. Departments affected are external Affairs, Human Resources, Marketing, Commercial (including Mobile Financial Services), Business-to-Business, Sales and Distribution, Customer Operations and the Offices of the CEO and Deputy CEO. Tigo Rwanda currently employs over 156 staff and provides paid internships to 32 university students annually.

Saudi Arabia: Bigger data bundle - Mobily has announced that all Connect 3 & 6 months subscribers will get 100GB data for SAR 30 (USD 8) and SAR 575 (USD 153) respectively. The offer is available for new and current subscribers. The packages are not subject to fair usage policy. Subscribers can use available data volume in their packages with high-speed connection without daily limit usage restriction, which enhances customer's experience greatly.

Saudi Arabia: Shopping channel - Mobily is collaborating with Farm Superstores, and the latter will now provide e-vouchers in 59 branches including 2 GB, 5 GB, 10 GB, 60 GB and 180 GB denominations. Mobily is seeking similar arrangements with retail mega store partners to support sales channels and keep Mobily close to its customers.

Senegal: Football focus - Sonatel has initiated an Orange branded advertising campaign promoting the sponsorship of Senegal's national football team, which will be competing in the final phase of the Total Africa Cup of Nations tournament from 14 January in Gabon.

South Africa: Computer centres - The MTN SA Foundation and the Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, handed over eleven multimedia centres to schools in Mpumalanga during an event hosted at Enkokhokhweni Primary School in Kabokweni, Mpumalanga on 12 January 2017. The schools are Phaftwa High School, Embonisweni Primary School, Hlanganani Secondary School, Edwaleni Primary School, Entokozweni Primary School, Izimbali Combined MST School, Mvangatini Primary School, Mbuyane Secondary School, Sibhulo Secondary School and Mthayiza Primary School. The computer laboratories are equipped with a server, a multi-functional printer, an inter-active white board, a data projector, a router and MTN's 24-month data connectivity. On 13 January the Foundation also unveiled a 40-seater laboratory at Izimbali Combined MST School.

South Africa: Price rises - Cell C has increased prices of a wide range of its pre- and post-paid packages, blaming the fall in the value of the rand against the US dollar. It told users that the increases would be implemented from 1 February. Out-of-bundle data tariffs have risen by more than 10 percent on many of its tariff plans, while post-paid and data subscription charges are also being increased. It said that the amended plans will be submitted to ICASA for approval.

South Africa: Telkom's double take - Telkom customers appear to have been billed twice in January, once on 3 January and again on 9 January 2017 via their stop orders and debit orders, MyBroadband reported. Fixed line and ADSL accounts appear to have been particularly affected. Telkom's Executive for Group Communication, Gugulethu Maqetuka, told MyBroadband that it was taking immediate steps to resolve the matter with its banking partners and billing vendor.

South Africa: Localised backup - Cloud backup provider Probax is to make cloud storage available for local Managed Service Providers, ITNewsafrica reported. It will also offer monthly licences for Veeam and StorageCraft at a reduced rate.

South Africa: M2M migration - MTN Business will complete machine-to-machine (M2M) number migrations by 25 February, a month ahead of the deadline set by ICASA. According to ITWeb, the operator told clients in a letter of how the move to the new fourteen-digit mobile station international subscriber directory numbers (MSISDNs) was progressing. Every active SIM card on a mobile network has an MSISDN number.

Tunisia: Broadening curriculum - Some 6,500 schools are to have broadband after Tunisie Telecom and Ooredoo signed an agreement with the government, Agence Ecofin reported. The contract, which was awarded after a public tender, is worth some TND 35 million (USD 15.1 million) over a three year period.

United Arab Emirates: Investment initiative - OMA Emirates has announced an investment in India-based MobiSwipe, which specializes in Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) solutions. The solution enables merchants to accept both credit and debit card payments via a simple mobile application. The mPOS solutions, which is PCI-DSS and PA-DSS compliant, is highly secure and utilises an Android smartphone or tablet that is loaded with the MobiSwipe application that is connected to an EMV certified pocket-size card reader. The solution runs on Ingenico payment terminals.

Zimbabwe: Cross border cash - EcoCash has partnered with cross-border mobile payments network, TransferTo, to expand its cross border reach for international remittances starting with South Africa, The Herald reported. The deal was brokered by Cassava International, the Fintech arm of the Econet Wireless Group. TransferTo's cross-border payments network is connecting Mama Money South Africa remittances to EcoCash in Zimbabwe. South Africa, USA and the UK represent the top remittance corridors to Zimbabwe and additional partnerships are expected to be gradually announced during 2017. In 2016 EcoCash also struck a money transfer deal with international remittance provider Mukuru.