News in Brief 16 February 2017

Afghanistan: SMS threats stopped - Monty Mobile Signs has signed an SMS Management Gateway Deal with Afghan Telecom (AT). It is claimed that the system and Smart Wall will protect AT’s network against SMS threats and stop all A2P SMS leakages.

Africa & Middle East: Poor past performance - MTN Group said it expects to report a loss for 2016 after it was fined in Nigeria and experienced a poor first half in South Africa. It said in a trading statement it expects a loss in headline earnings per share (HEPS) and basic earnings per share (EPS) for the 2016 financial year.


Benin: DG disgraced - State-owned mobile operator Libercom saw its Director General relieved of his duties on 9 February 2017. The move came after the Front of National Organisations Against Corruption (Fonac) highlighted the company's 'mismanagement'. Agence Ecofin reports that Idrissou Djima, who had held the post since January 2014, was blamed by Fonac for poor management of human resources and unjustified expenses.

Botswana: Schools sought - Botswana is set to join the Orange Digital Schools project. Orange Botswana PR and Foundation Manager Boga Chilinde-Masebu said that the Orange Call for the Digital Schools project is a Group initiative with the aim to provide free educational content in digital format for primary and secondary students in Africa. The programme has already been rolled out in France, Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Niger, Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia, Mali, Guinea, Egypt and Jordan, and currently covers 500 schools, benefiting more than 130,000 children. Chilinde-Masebu said that with the right submissions, it was hoping to add Botswana to the beneficiaries list. Interested schools need to post their projects between 18 January and 28 February on-line.

Ghana: Interest paid - MTN Ghana has paid some GHS 34 million (USD USD 7.8 million) as interest to some 8 million mobile subscribers and 58,000 agents in the first quarter of 2016. Users earned from 1.5 to 7 percent as interest on their balances. The Bank of Ghana (BoG) in September 2016 approved the paying of interest by mobile money operators on the mobile money float. Total interest accrued on the float as of June 2016 was GHS 15.19 million (USD 3.49 million); the float stood at GHS 679.2 million (USD 155.9 million) in the same period compared to GHS 341.3 million (USD 78.3 million) in 2015, according to the central bank's data.

Ghana: Quality VoIP calls - Mobile VoIP software provider One Horizon Group announced on 13 February the launch of its optimized VoIP technology in Ghana via a commercial software agreement with the licensed carrier AccessPLUS Communications Ltd. Consequently smartphone users can now make high-quality Internet calls for less than the cost of a local call when using 2G and 3G networks.

Iran: Safe haven - The second phase of the National Information Network (NIN) has been launched by the Minister of ICT. The system aims to ensure the safety of children online and set up an online identification system. The Financial Tribune noted that the scheme was set up in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Iran Cyber Police. The pilot phase has already been launched in several schools in Tehran.

Israel: Smart solutions - Cellcom Israel is conducting trials in Tzfat, Kfar Saba, and Nahariya for its smart city concept, Globes reported. Cellcom is employing AGT's advanced management system which allows the control centre to monitor data being received from the field.



Israel: Strike threat - A strike notice has been issued by Pelephone staff, effective from 22 February unless the current breakdown in talks regarding the new collective bargaining agreement is resolved. Pelephone confirmed it received the notice from the Mobile, Internet and High-Tech Workers Union of the New General Federation of Workers.

Kenya: Banks approved - Six banks have been approved by The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to launch mobile money transfer platforms, the Business Daily reported. The Kenya Interbank Transaction Switch, which has been developed by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), will facilitate the immediate transfer of money between banks without needing mobile money platforms that are owned by the telcos. KBA's Chief Executive Habil Olaka said that six of its 43 member banks have been approval to pilot the product and sign up customers ready for its launch in the next two months.

Kenya: Compensation case - The Employment and Labour Relations Court has directed lawyers Thomas Letangule, Antony Oluoch and Sylvia Maleba Kitonga to quantify how money meant for former Telkom staff was spent. The three have to respond within 14 days, and have been directed to file evidence of how they distributed over KES 1.8 billion (USD 17.1 million) that they received on behalf of over 2,000 retrenched employees of Telkom Kenya. The workers are also challenging the deduction of tax from the lump sum paid to them when they agreed to settle the case out of court.

Kenya: Free booklet - Safaricom, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Communications Authority (CA) are publishing an information booklet on the safe use of telecommunication equipment. The booklet seeks to ensure that Safaricom customers understand the latest information on its expanding network. The operator has some 38 million active mobile users. The free booklet is available from NEMA and Communications Authority offices as well as Safaricom shops.

Kenya: Technological boost - Ecobank Transnational is looking to increase its customer base to 100 million by 2020 from the 10 million recorded in early 2017, using technology. CEO Ade Ayeyemi told Reuters at the launch of Ecobank's new mobile banking application in Kenya, this would help the group reach more users in 33 African nations where it operates. The app allows the movement of funds and purchase of goods.

Kuwait: Threat minimisation - Tawasul Telecom has signed a new deal with BT to resell BT Security Threat Monitoring in Kuwait. Tawasul Telecom’s CEO Fajhan Almutairi said: "Collaborating for the delivery of total solution IT infrastructure services is a winning strategy for Tawasul Telecom to gain market share and take advantage of opportunities within this emerging market. State-of-the-art products and managed services will keep Tawasul Telecom at the forefront of the telecom sector as well as increase our growth within Middle Eastern and African markets." Tawasul provides MPLS networking services in the Middle East.

Oman: Cable cut - Wadi Kabir lost its phone and Internet services on Friday 3 February. Omantel said that cables had been cut after a construction company carried out drilling operations. Repair teams were pressed into action over the weekend, and it had restored services in some of the affected areas.

Rwanda: Banking technology - A mobile application has been launched by Ecobank Rwanda to enhance its banking service. Users can now open a new digital account without paper references according to Ecobank Rwanda's Managing Director Alice Kalonzo Zulu.

South Africa: Termination rate review - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is reviewing pro-competitive conditions imposed on licensees in respect of the Call Termination Regulations of 2014. It is inviting stakeholders to participate in the review of pro-competitive conditions imposed on licensees in respect of the Call Termination Regulations of 2014. It said that a copy of the questionnaire is available on its Website and in the library at 164 Katherine Street, Pin Mill Farm (Ground Floor, Block D), Sandton. Completed questionnaires should be submitted by 28 February 2017.

South Africa: Training initiative - IBM (International Business Machines Corp.) is accelerating its digital-skills training programme to accommodate as many as 25 million Africans in the next five years, te Indian-based Economic Times reported. It plans to make an initial investment of ZAR 945 million (USD 70.5 million) to roll out the training initiative in South Africa. Other countries due to benefit include Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, enabling the expansion of the project across the continent. IBM is already working with Vodacom Group in South Africa.

South Africa: Tripled fibre - Internet services provider Afrihost claims to have more than tripled its coverage through a combination of roll-outs with existing partners, following the launch of its fibre-optic services in October 2016. New partners include MetroFibre Networx, Frogfoot, South Africa Digital Villages, Mitsol and Century City Connect. It also expects to partner with Connectivity Services to provide high-speed access in Steyn City. Afrihost launched its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) over the open-access fibre infrastructure of Vumatel, TT Connect and Telkom's Openserve in October 2016.

Uganda: Debt defined - A Parliamentary select committee tasked with probing the alleged mismanagement of Uganda Telecom has found that the company is racking-up losses of some UGX 500 million (USD 138,000) monthly, whilst the debt accumulated over some 9 years now stands at some UGX 700 billion (USD 194 million), NTV reported. The government has a 31 percent stake in UTL.

United Arab Emirates: Exclusive from Etisalat - Huawei's latest limited edition smartphone Mate 9 Porsche Design is available to Etisalat subscribers from AED 229 (USD 62) with flexible smartpay plans, and at standalone prices of AED 5,250 (USD 1,429). As well as the exclusive limited edition, Etisalat will also be launching the Huawei Mate 9 Pro and Huawei Mate 9 at AED 2,949 (USD 803) and AED 2,299 (USD 626).

United Arab Emirates: Human error mitigation - Etisalat's Khalifa City Data Centre in Abu Dhabi has been awarded Tier III gold certification from the Uptime Institute for Operational Sustainability. Only 18 facilities in the world are reported to be so certified. The centre has a high degree of mitigation against the risk of human error outage, which accounts for over 70 percent of all data centre outages globally.

Zimbabwe: Interconnect debt - Econet has said that it is owed over USD 25 million in interconnection fees by two State-owned telecoms operators, NetOne and TelOne. The Sunday Mail noted Eonet’s response to statements made in parliament last week by the Minister of ICT Supa Mandiwanzira, saying that it is owed more than USD 25 million by TelOne and NetOne even after the 2 operators' previous debt of USD 60 million in interconnection fees was assumed by government in a licence payment deal.