News in Brief 23 February 2017

Africa: Cloud partnership - Microsoft East Africa and Liquid Telecom (LT) are to improve and accelerate the use of cloud services in Africa. The joint project will help boost the continent's access to software.

Africa: Seamless Wi-Fi - African ISP Internet Solutions (IS) and UK-based Accuris Networks have partnered to introduce a seamless continent-wide Wi-Fi network for global carriers, multinationals and local Internet Service Providers. IS' previously independent African Wi-Fi networks are now consolidated using the Accuris Wi-Fi Server, enabling a carrier-grade, homogenous network accessible anywhere with single sign-on. IS is a division of Dimension Data.


Angola: More outlets - Mobile operator Movicel has opened three new stores in Xiamy Benguela, Xiamy Morro Bento and Kero Cacuaco, reports Sapo. It has also launched its 'Back to School' campaign, which includes an offer for a portable Movicel router with Wi-Fi and 4G, SIM card and 1 GB of internet, all for AOA 25,000 (USD 150). The offer is valid until 28 February.

Cameroon: Transaction transparency - Mobile money transaction mini-statements are now available from MTN Cameroon. The operator claims it has over 2.6 million users. It added that the facility contributes to the transparency of the service, as users can see out what is happening on their account immediately without charge.

Ghana: Better bundles - Glo Mobile Ghana has launched a number of products that allow subscribers to call and browse at affordable rates. These include Talk More, a pre-paid plan that allowing calls to local networks at a flat rate, and Flexi Recharge, which allows users to make calls and use data without heavy charges when they do not have data bundles. Two New Data Packs offering 400MB for GHC 5 and 850MB for GHC 10 for 30 days were also announced. It has also revamped its ‘Three Minutes to Free’ promotion. The pre-paid plan offers free on-net calls and 60MB data after the first three minutes of charged calls from the main account to call any network. All local calls will be charged at GHS 0.11 (USD 0.025) per minute after the first three charged minutes of the day; the first three minutes will be charged at GHS 0.18 (USD 0.04) per minute. The user is also eligible for free 60MB data valid for 24 hours. Glo has also announced the 'Borrow Me Data' which allows subscribers to borrow data up to 400MB whenever their data bundles are exhausted and they do not immediately have an airtime balance to renew their data plan.

Iran: Penalty points - ZTE Corp warned last week that penalties it expects to incur for allegedly breaking US sanctions against Iran could impact its results. In March 2017 the US government hit ZTE with some of the toughest-ever US export restrictions for the alleged breaches. It has since issued temporary reprieves on the curbs, which are now due to take effect some time after 27 February, Reuters reported. ZTE has undertaken a management overhaul and the appointment of a new Chief Export Compliance Officer based in the United States.

Kenya: Pension top-up - A four-member Retirement Benefits Authority tribunal (RBA) has established that some 2,613 retrenched employees of Telkom Kenya were underpaid by the Trustees of Teleposta Pensions Scheme and Provident Fund, of which they were members, the Business Daily reported. The ex-staff are to be paid an additional KES 7.2 billion (USD 68.3 million) in terminal dues.

Kuwait: Pre-paid deal - The double credit deal run in February by Ooredoo Kuwait is to be extended. Pre-paid customers get double their credit upon each recharge transaction, for free.



Lebanon: Back-office upgrade - Mobile operator Alfa has deployed Oracle Exadata to improve customer service, performance and scalability, lower operating expenses and reduce the amount of energy and space required. Alfa has chosen to consolidate its existing databases into Oracle's Exadata Database Machines equipped with Oracle DBEE, Real Application Clusters and Partitioning.

Namibia: Copper cable cut - A main copper cable in the Windhoek area was cut and stolen on 9 February, which consequently has disrupted Telecom Namibia services to many business customers. Thieves broke into Telecom Namibia's underground infrastructure access to cut and remove a 1,000 pair main cable which feeds street distribution cabinets in the Northern Industrial area.

Namibia: Enterprise enhancement - Mobile Telecommunications Limited Namibia launching Flickswitch International's business SIM management service. MTC's Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer, Tim Ekandjo, said: "With this partnership we firmly believe that it will stimulate innovation, support start-ups and large corporates alike, with the necessary business tools to address their mobile requirements". Mobile communication spends can now be aligned with a range of MTC products, all in real time. The enterprise administrator can now define how much airtime or data is to be loaded on each SIM, across any time period or usage pattern. Flickswitch International Director Rudi Barnard said that it is now supporting 110,000 SIMs for more than 600 Enterprises, largely in South Africa, and more recently in Kenya.

Nigeria: Restoration fund - Some USD 5 million is needed to re-establish telecoms infrastructure and coordinate humanitarian projects in the battle-torn northeast of Nigeria, CAJ News Africa reported. The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is at the forefront of the fundraising campaign. The requirements for the Borno and Yobe States put at some USD 4.9 million of which USD 1.2 million has been raised so far. The states are two of the three most affected, along with Adamawa. United Nations security communications system will also be upgraded, including the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) Communications Centre (COMCEN) in Maiduguri. Security telecoms services in operational areas in Maiduguri and Damaturu, the Borno and Yobe capitals will also be targeted.

Nigeria: School solution - Vodacom says a three-part ICT development initiative launched with Kaduna State will benefit more than 4,000 when fully implemented. Vodacom Business's Chief Officer Vuyani Jarana has said that the ICT initiative is part of an Africa programme as the solutions are also available in Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. The first part is a mobile school management solution which provides real-time visibility of all management activities at schools. A school feeding programme module allows the monitoring of feeding programmes. The solution uses mobile phone and tablet technology and will be implemented by June 2017.

Nigeria: SIM search - CommunicationsWeek reports that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has raided the shops and kiosks of agents thought to be engaged in the indiscriminate registration of SIM cards in Abuja metropolis and its environs. Three people were arrested and about seven registration machines were confiscated.

Oman: Venues assessed - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has carried out field surveys to assess the mobile networks of Omantel and Ooredoo at the Muscat Festival venues Naseem Gardens and Amerat Park. The survey was held in conjunction with festival events and aimed to measure the quality of service when a high number of users visited the festival.

Qatar: Accessorised Mate - The Huawei Mate 9 smartphone is now available from Ooredoo Qatar for QAR 2,299 (USD 631), and is being offered with accessories valued at over QAR 400 (USD 110) when purchased in an Ooredoo Shop or via the Ooredoo eShop. Buyers get a 15GB data card, Huawei Bluetooth headset and fitness band.

Rwanda: Savings encouraged - MTN Rwanda, together with Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), has launched a savings and loans product under the 'MoKash' moniker. This will enable registered MTN Mobile Money customers to save, earn interest and take loans on a short term basis using their phones.

Saudi Arabia: Concept HQ - Virgin Mobile Saudi Arabia has officially launched its new headquarters, which it has branded as a 'new office concept', the Saudi Gazette reported. CEO Fouad Halawi said that the MVNO plans to launch initiatives focused on youth and women empowerment in the telecom and tech industries. Halawi said: "Virgin Mobile has, since its establishment in 2014 as the first MVNO, succeeded in achieving and solidifying a prominent position in the telecom industry of Saudi Arabia, with over 2.5 million subscribers to date."

Saudi Arabia: Outlet expansion - Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) has added Viastore, a retail chain specialized in smart phones and luxurious electronic accessories, as a strategic partner to its Neqaty programme. Viastore also specializes in providing electronic maintenance services and has 60 outlets. Users can now collect and redeem points throughout Viastore's outlets, where they would receive one point for every SAR 5 (USD 1.33) spent at the store, and a cash discount if they have 4,000 points or more.

South Africa: Portability public hearings - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) held public hearings into the number portability regulations published on 26 August 2016. Presentations were limited to stakeholders who made written submissions and indicated that would like to make oral representations. The hearing was held at ICASA Head Office on 16 February 2017.

Sudan: Ministerial update - Vice-President of the Republic, Hassabo Mohamed Abdul-Rahman, has called on telcos to support infrastructure deployment in remote areas when he met with the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Dr Tahani Abdalla. The Minister also briefed the V-P on the outcome of the Arab Regional Forum in Khartoum as well as the Ministry's efforts to lift US sanctions imposed on Sudan. Sudan is to attend Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, starting on 27 February.

Tunisia: Paper-free payments - Tunisie Telecom has joined electronic billing system network Tunisia TradeNet. Customer transactions will be improved by offering a paperless digital billing service.

Uganda: Fundamo fraud - A former MTN Uganda employee has been ordered to repay some UGX 5 billion (USD 1.4 billion); part of more than UGX 9.6 billion (USD 2.64 million) that was stolen from the company's mobile money system. Patrick Sentongo was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after convicting him on eight offences related to fraud. Joan Nabugwawo was fined UGX 7.3 million (USD 2,000) or a one year's imprisonment in default. Between May and December 2011 the pair stole money from the MTN mobile money system FUNDAMO by creating fictitious journals and exiting the money through the MTN public access shop operated by Nabugwawo and created 17 fake subscribers to receive funds and an accomplice MTN mobile money agent. Three other former MTN staff were acquitted.

United Arab Emirates: Cost cutting - Mobile operator du is to cut 'at least' AED 1 billion (USD 273 million) by 2019 as higher government taxes continue to weigh on its net profit, CEO Osman Sultan told reporters on a conference call last week, Reuters reported. The savings are expected to come from reductions in the cost of sales, operational expenses and capital expenditure. Du reported last week a 20 percent fall in fourth-quarter profit.