News in Brief 2 March 2017

Africa: Council chair - The African Advanced Level Telecommunications Institute (AFRALTI) governing council at a meeting held in Kampala has elected Uganda as chair. The country was represented at the meeting by Uganda Communication Commission's Fred Otunu, who now takes over the chairmanship from Swaziland and will head the council through to 2018. Zimbabwe will deputize. AFRALTI is an inter-governmental organisation headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, and mandated to provide human resource capacity building through high-level quality training, consultancy and advisory services to both management and the technical personnel in the Information and Communication and Technology sector in Africa. It is made up of 8 member countries of Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Swaziland and Mozambique. Other countries including South Sudan have expressed an interest in joining.

Afghanistan: 4G policy - The acting Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Engineer Syed Ahmadshah Sadat said the Ministry is taking a the lead role in coordinating the announcement by the presidential palace on 4G policy. Sadat said that the Ministry aims to introduce new technologies and better communication services with the new plan which it will publish shortly. It requested that interested parties contact the Afghanistan Telecoms Regulatory Authority (ATRA) regarding the potential introduction of 4G services.


Cape Verde: Superior store - The CVT Group has inaugurated its 26th store in Tarrafal de São Nicolau on 9 February 2017. The store forms part of the Group’s investment programme, and is described as a high-end stores, designed with the comfort and convenience of customers in mind.

Ghana: Cocktail cordiality - The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has officially welcomed the appointment of the new Minister of Communications (MoC), Ursula Owusu-Ekuful and Director General (DG) of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Joe Anokye with a reception held at its offices. The Minister assured the Chamber and network operators of the government's full cooperation in improving not only the telecom industry but also the private sector. Also in attendance were the CEOs including Roshi Motman (Tigo CEO), Lucy Quist (Airtel CEO), Yolanda Cuba (Vodafone CEO) and Ebenezer Asante (MTN CEO), along with officials from the NCA, MoC, etc.

Jordan: Smart store - Orange Jordan has opened its third smart store in City Mall in Amman. The other two are in Abdoun and Seventh Circle. The store has sections dealing with Home, Fun, Health, Work and On the Move and is designed to give users a thorough understanding of how the products work.

Kenya: ICT interns - Safaricom will be taking 63 university students under its 2017 technology internship programme, with a target of at least 40 female interns, CapitalFM reports. The Safaricom Technology Academy will also have four positions for persons with disabilities, while the remaining 19 posts will be open to male interns. Courses include IP Networking, Application Development, inter-personal skills, personal finances and job readiness skills. In 2016, Safaricom absorbed two permanent employees from its internship programme, while more than 20 other interns have been absorbed by 18 companies who have partnered with Safaricom on the Technology Academy. To date, more than 360 students have completed the programme since its inception in 2012.

Kenya: MP calls for M-Pesa split - The Deputy Minority Leader in Kenya's National Assembly, Jakoyo Midiwo, has said that he is proposing amendments to laws on banking and communications to force Safaricom to spin-off M-Pesa, which is regulated by the central bank, from telecoms, Reuters reported. The MP said that Safaricom is offering banking services without the necessary licence, citing Parliamentary proceedings.

Kenya: Sport scoop - Sports television company Kwese Sports has acquired exclusive African broadcast rights for the US National Basketball Association (NBA). The new multi-year deal with Econet Media to show live games and other NBA programmes on Econet's pay-TV, Internet and mobile platforms in sub-Saharan Africa will start with the 2016-17 season. Kwesé Sports has been available on mobile, Internet and satellite-based free-to-air platforms since mid-2016. As a consequence, the NBA is ending its relationship with South Africa-based satellite TV broadcaster SuperSport, a unit of MultiChoice. That contract expires at the end of this season.



Lebanon: Enabling environment - Minister of Telecommunications Jamal Jarrah has said that some 85 percent of the country will have 4G coverage by the end of March 2017. He added said all of the ministry's capabilities are focused on planning and coordinating ministries, administrations and relevant parties to develop an environment that embraces entrepreneurs' initiatives and fulfils young people's ambitions.

Liberia: No lobbying says Lonestar - Lonestar Cell MTN has denied reports suggesting that it has been lobbying the House of Representatives regarding its One Cent per Minute Call promotion. The Daily Observer reported that Lonestar had said that it was not involved in any discussion with a committee established by the president and the house speaker. 

Nigeria: Free device - A special LTE data plan launched by Globacom offers a free 4G smartphone. A subscriber who buys a 75 GB LTE data plan for NGN 75,000 (USD 236) also gets a smartphone worth NGN 75,000, with advanced features such as a 13 Megapixel camera, dual SIMs, a 75-inch screen and 2GB RAM.  

Nigeria: Office outburst - Protesters attacked and vandalised MTN Nigeria’s head office in Abuja yesterday on 22 February 2017, reportedly in retaliation for anti-Nigerian violence in South Africa. Equipment was vandalised and customer phones and i-pads stolen. The incident coincided with a visit by MTN chairman Phuthuma Nhleko to meet Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who is standing in for President Muhamadu Buhari.

North Africa: Government spends - Gartner forecasts that governments at all levels in the Middle East and North Africa will spend some USD 11.6 billion on IT products and services in 2017. This includes spending on internal services, software, IT services, data centre systems, devices and telecom services. Telecom services, including fixed and mobile services, will be the largest overall spending category within the government sector through to 2020.

Qatar: Doha development - Managed services provider Meeza has contracted Orange Business Services with a consulting deal to deliver services and applications for Msheireb Downtown Doha, a development project.

Qatar: Retail connectivity - A public Wi-Fi network has been launched at The Pearl-Qatar for visitors and shoppers by Ooredoo Qatar and UDC. The Cisco-based network is accessible by any compatible device, and full coverage is live across the island's three retail hubs, namely Porto Arabia, Medina Centrale and Qanat Quartier.

Qatar: Varied content - Ooredoo Qatar Ooredoo TV app store content now features more than 30 applications, including Quran Al Kareem, Tune In, Al Jazeera, XITE and YouTube. Also included video streaming service Vimeo, media site Flickr and news sites such as Deutsche Welle. Games include 'Hangman', 'Sugar Boost' and 'Pirate-Commander'.

Saudi Arabia: Engineering services - Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering) has set up a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia. Singapore Technologies Electronics (Saudi Arabia) (STSA) has a paid up capital of SAR 8.4 million (USD 6.0 million). Stake holders are ST Electronics (95 percent) and its subsidiary ST Electronics (Info-Comm Systems). STSA will offer ST Electronics' engineering services for mass rapid transit projects and intelligent transportation as well as advanced electronics services.

South Africa: DTT programme - State-owned broadcasting signal distributor Sentech says that it has completed its DTT infrastructure installation process at 183 transmitters and a direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting infrastructure to ensure 100 percent DTT access for all citizens.

South Africa: Effective emergency response - Uber South Africa is seeking partnerships to ensure a faster response to security and medical services in emergencies, IT-Online has reported. It is intending to enhance the current security number already issued to all drivers in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. The security number links to a central control room, where a geo-specific security or medical response partner can be dispatched within minutes. This follows a pilot of SOS buttons in Johannesburg September - December 2016 fitted in 500 vehicles. By March 2017 every city in which Uber South Africa operates will support the news security number.

South Africa: FreeMe extended - Telkom has launched mobile packages for families and small businesses. The FreeMe Family product provides a family-sized mobile data-sharing plan, following the launch of the original FreeMe that allows users to choose how much data they want, with free calls and text messages. Some 260,000 Telkom FreeMe connections were sold in the first three months of its launch in 2016. A standard FreeMe Family plan comes with one primary and three multi-SIM cards, and up to six additional SIMs can be added at ZAR 9 (USD 0.69) per SIM per month. FreeMe Family users will able to choose between mobile data sizes of 30GB at ZAR 699 (USD 54) per month, 50GB at ZAR 999 (USD 77) per month, or unlimited at ZAR 1,499 (USD 115) per month. This includes 300, 500 or 1,000 shared minutes respectively. Additionally, consumers receive 10GB of WiFi per SIM per month, 3,000 on-network minutes per account, 50 SMS messages per a SIM per day, and free instant messaging and VOIP calls on WhatsApp, BBM and Viber.

South Africa: Internet investment - Some ZAR 1.9 billion (USD 146.7 million) has been allocated National Treasury for broadband coverage nationally, ITWeb reported. Finance minister Pravin Gordhan tabled the 2017 budget in Parliament on 22 February 2017 and said that it prioritises both national and provincial economic infrastructure requirements, of which broadband is a key part.

South Africa: M2M number migration - Vodacom South Africa says it will meet ICASA's number migration deadline for Internet of things (IOT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices. Vodacom IoT Managing Executive Deon Liebenberg said clients who have not migrated to a fourteen-digit number should do so by 28 February. It said that numbers not migrated by the deadline could be disconnected or forcibly changed. The rapid rise in M2M devices has put pressure on the availability of ten-digit mobile numbers, prompting ICASA to create a dedicated fourteen-digit number range for M2M services.

Tanzania: New TTCL chief named - President John Magufuli has appointed Engineer Omary Nundu as the new Chairman of the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) with effect from 24 February. Nundu is a former cabinet minister and Member of Parliament, and takes over from Professor Tolly Mbwete.

Tanzania: Retailer push - Vodacom Tanzania is looking to increase the number of retailers for its mobile payment platform. According to Vodacom Head of Sales and Distribution in Nyasa region, Macfadyne Minja, the company has exceeded its annual target for 2016, which was to have a total of 20,000 'Lipa Kwa M-Pesa' outlets. It now has over 40,000 outlets nationally. Minja said the 40,000 'Lipa Kwa MPesa' outlets include retail stores, pharmacies, bars, restaurants, hardware stores, petrol stations and supermarkets.

Tunisia: Improved insights - Swedish-based Network and Customer Analytics provider Polystar has announced that Ooredoo Tunisia, has selected its solutions to deliver customer insights and so allow improvement of the subscriber experience. Polystar's KALIX and its Customer Insights Solutions have been supplied. Ooredoo Tunisia’s CTO Hatem Mestiri said: "We needed to replace a legacy solution that did not provide the insight and intelligence with the flexibility we required to support our customer-centric focus."

United Arab Emirates: Big numbers - Mobile operator du has raised some AED 7.4 million (USD 2 million) from the sale of some 50 numbers in its Exclusive Packages for Special Numbers auction. It included the introduction of the number 058 888 8888, which raised over AED 4.5 million (USD 1.2 million).

United Arab Emirates: Federal fees - Etisalat is to pay the federal government a royalty fee of 30 percent of the company's profit for 2017-2021, according to a bourse statement issued last week. A royalty rate on Etisalat's revenues of 15 percent will be based on domestic products and services, while revenues from international operations will be exempt from royalty fees, the statement said.
World Congress: Humanitarian assistance honoured - At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona the GSMA announced that Asiacell, Deutsche Telekom, Turkcell, Vodafone and Zain are the winners of the GSMA's 'Outstanding Contribution to the Mobile Industry Award' for 2017. The five were recognised for their work in supporting millions of Syrian refugees who have been displaced by the conflict in their home country. Some 11 million Syrians fled their homes since the civil war started in 2011. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that nearly 3 million people fled to Turkey, 1 million to Lebanon, 240,000 to Iraq, 650,000 to Jordan and some 1 million to Germany, with many more displaced across Europe and beyond.

Zambia: Acting CEO - Zamtel's Chief Technical Officer Sydney Mupeta has been appointed to act as CEO following CEO Dr Mupanga Mwanakatwe resignation last week, the Lusaka Times reported. The Auditor General's report of 2014 found that Zamtel's performance had deteriorated under Mwanakatwe's management. In July 2012 Zamtel's new board was named following the telco's forced nationalisation in January 2012, with Mwanakatwe named as CEO, a former technical director at Celtel. It is also reported that the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has dissolved the Zamtel board. Zamtel company secretary Leya Ngoma said that a new board would be appointed shortly to steer the telecommunications company into 'a new direction of growth and profitability'.