News in Brief 9 March 2017

Africa: Single platform - One Global has launched a mobile app as a single, secure platform for all digital financial services across the Middle East and Africa. The Og Money platform, formerly known as PayIt, already has 900,000 regional customers.

Botswana: Premium payments - Liberty Life’s clients will be able to pay their policies using Orange Botswana mobile money payment platform, Orange Money.


East Africa: Merger efficiencies - NFS, the holding company of Telecel mobile operations, has merged with global international carrier Telecel Global (formerly Exxon Telecom). Exxon Telecom, rebranded under Telecel Global earlier this month, and will operate as the official international gateway for carrier services for NFS operations. Telecel Global is one of the main strategic service providers in East Africa for international data capacities of several STM-1s.

Egypt: Mobile content - Online streaming service Icflix has partnered with Orange Egypt. Orange Egypt mobile customers will gain access to Jazwood (Arabic), Hollywood and Bollywood films, TV series, documentaries and children's entertainment during their 1-month free trial after which users can continue their subscription for only EGP 49 (USD 3) per month.

Ghana: Network enhancement - Announcing MTN’s ‘MTN BIG 60 Promotion’ Acting Chief Marketing Officer Richard Acheampong said that last year the telco invested some USD 96 million in network expansion and further USD 18 million to deploy 475 4G sites nationally. Acheampong promised a further 197 additional 4G sites, although did not specify the time frame for their commissioning.

Iraq: Free access - Asiacell is to offer free access to online encyclopaedia Wikipedia for its nearly 12 million mobile subscribers in Iraq. The partnership, developed by Iraqi volunteer editor and Asiacell staffer Sarmad Saeed Yaseen, is the first Wikipedia Zero programme in the country.

Iraq: IP network upgrade - Mobile operator Korek Telecom’s IP core network is to be upgraded by Ericsson, and strategic partner Cisco. The two will deploy their integrated solutions to for new sites and optimise existing ones, as part of the ‘Ericsson Evolved IP Network’ deployment. This guarantees end-to-end IP network performance and quality of service (QoS). Cisco’s ASR 9000 routers will be deployed.

Israel: Strike hits services - Pelephone expected its services to be disrupted by a strike following a labour dispute initiated by the Labour Committee. The operator said in a statement that the intensifying strike and sanctions included the non-provision of services and solutions to customers, including the non-repair of malfunctioning end equipment, delays in handling technology system malfunctions, etc. Efforts are being made to hold talks to resolve the strike action which started on 22 February.



Kenya: Eye eye - Mobile brand Fero has launched the Fero Iris On smartphone. It offers a unique security feature that allows users to unlock their screens using their eyes. The device comes with a 5-inch HD display with a 1GB RAM, powered by a 2500mAh battery. Fero Mobile Head of International Marketing Vivek Chaudhary said the vendor is focused on introducing innovative solutions designed to enhance customer experience. 

Kenya: Local PoP - UK operator BT’s new network point of presence (PoP) is to be hosted by the East African Data Centre (EADC). BT has been operating in Sub-Saharan Africa since 1992, delivering managed networked IT services for multinational companies operating in the region and providing expertise to the national operators. EADC has greatly reducing delay between points on a network, improving data services, and making the transfer of data across networks easier with its carrier-neutral facility, with network operators and ISPs being accommodated.

Kenya: Money laundering centre? - The mobile-money network can be used by both domestic and international criminal operations to make illicit financial transactions, Business Daily reported citing the US State Department's latest annual report on money laundering globally. The report describes Kenya as the financial hub of East Africa, with some 159,000 mobile-money agents, mostly through Safaricom’s M-Pesa.

Kenya: More phones - Lenovo, via its subsidiary Motorola Mobility, has announced the availability of the Moto Z smartphone and Moto Mods. The Moto Z will sell for KES 61,999 (USD 592), the Moto Z Play for KES 48,999 (USD 468), the JBL Sound Boost Moto Mod for KES, 15,000 (USD 143), the Hasselblad True Zoom Moto Mod for KES 26,000 (USD 248) and the Instashare Projector Mod for KES 26,000 (USD 248). 

Kuwait: Operator collaboration - Zain and Viva have announced the successful establishment of the first Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) interconnection in the Middle East and North Africa region in partnership with Huawei. The GSMA-led initiative will allow seamless and direct VoLTE-to-VoLTE calls between Zain and Viva customers. The connectivity was established in just five months, due, it was said, to the deployment of Huawei's flexible infrastructure and expertise.

Malawi: Bids invited - Malawi Telecommunications Ltd has invited applications from vendors to register their interest as suppliers and contractors of goods and services for the year 2017 – 18 as follows:
Lot 9: Maintenance of generators electrical and electronic equipment
Lot 11: Supply of UPS, solar systems, inverters and their accessories
Lot 12: Supply of electrical items and accessories
Lot 14: Supply of network maintenance items and accessories
Bidders must provide a comprehensive company profile; a copy of valid certificate of incorporation/registration and valid Tax Clearance Certificate, VAT certificate and TPIN. The deadline for submissions is Thursday 9 March 2017.

Middle East: Cloud control - Centrify has expanded support for its mobile security offerings, including Windows endpoints and joined to streamline app and device provisioning, extend IT security policy and provide end-users with more device choices. The new management features allow the control of Windows endpoints from the cloud, including blocking app access from unmanaged devices, and further extends Centrify’s Zero Sign-On capabilities to Windows, so once users are securely authenticated for the first time, they do not have to type in their ID again when launching an app.

Middle East & North Africa: Customer insights - Mobile operator Zain is to deploy Flytxt’s Customer Value Management (CVM) systems in eight markets. The system will deliver deeper customer insights to enhance customer experience and revenue, and the deal includes Flytxt's flagship product NEON-dX.

Nigeria: Caller tune court ruling - The Ibadan Federal High Court last week awarded NGN 530,000 (USD 1,666) to Oluwole Aluko for unathorised deductions from his account by MTN Nigeria. MTN did not challenge the action, claiming it did not receive the court apers. The court concluded that subscribers have the right to allow or reject the use of a caller tune.

Nigeria: Consumer campaign - Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Chief Umar Garba Danbatta said that consumer protection and empowerment is one of the eight pillars of the eight-point Agenda of his administration. Accordingly it will shortly launch a strategic campaign, aimed at empowering and protecting telecom consumers in Nigeria, The Guardian reported.

Oman: Co-habitation - Oman Air has announced the soft opening of retail offices within the Omantel premises in Duqm and Khasab. The move is expected to leverage the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two. Oman Air have use of existing Omantel’s self-service kiosk machines for online check-in, co-operation on an e-commerce platform as well as overall joint marketing activities. Omantel has 70 retail offices in total across Oman which will be utilized for further collaboration and expansion between the two companies.

Oman: Fixed rising - The National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) reports that the number of fixed lines rose some 3.3 percent as at 31 January to 481,029, from 465,721 in January 2016. Pre- and post-paid fixed telephone lines increased by 0.6 percent to 298,755 lines at the end of January from a year earlier. The number of fixed telephone lines connected via Internet Protocol (IP) stood at 136,005.

Qatar: Pro launched - Ooredoo Qatar has announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona the official launch of its 4.5G Pro network. Ooredoo Qatar said it is the first operator in the Ooredoo Group, the Middle East, and one of the first in the world to launch 4.5G Pro services, which is powered by the Nokia AirScale radio platform. The deployment leverages two component carrier aggregation with 4x4 MIMO antenna technology and 256 QAM to deliver peak 800 Mbps speeds.

Saudi Arabia: Developmental duo - STC has signed a Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Ericsson to further the development of 5G network technologies and services. Ericsson will undertake joint market-leading trials of advanced technologies, incorporating network tests on 'Very High Speed', 'Ultra Low Latency' and ‘highly reliable extreme capacity broadband network’.

Saudi Arabia: Managed services - Improved network agility and performance, new customer experiences and reduced OPEX and CAPEX are some of the benefits spend promised to STC after it signed a 3-year managed services agreement with Cisco. The end-to-end engagement extends the longstanding relationship between the two. STC core network and operations will be upgraded in preparation for the digital era.

Saudi Arabia: Next-gen data centre - Zain Saudi Arabia and Ericsson have agreed to develop next-generation hyperscale data centres with a very high degree of automation in orchestration and management. The Memorandum of understanding provides for the creation of truly software-defined infrastructure, and so creating an agile and dynamic environment. The build also includes Intel's rack-scale design.

Saudi Arabia: Router reductions - Mobily has extended its offer which gives a 50 percent discount for three months on the managed routers service (basic and advanced) and on devices for new business customers. The managed router service provides customers the facility to install, monitor, and maintain routers through a virtual private network (VPN). Commenting on the service, Ismail Alghamdi, CBO, Mobily, said: “The managed router service... confirms (Mobily’s) leading role in presenting advanced services... to customers”.

South Africa: Payment option - Subscribers to DStv digital satellite TV service from MultiChoice can now pay for their monthly bills with their smartphones, following a new partnership with Mastercard. Customers can download the Masterpass app on iOS or Android, load a payment card onto it, and click a link texted to them from DStv, to settle the bill.

South Africa: Promotional plans - Cell-C has enhanced three SmartData products and combined its Multi-Data Connect service to create the SmartData Share Plans with effect from 7 March. The products will be available in March and April and give data but also free anynet Wi-Fi Calling minutes. The three packages are the SmartData Share 5GB, the SmartData Share 20GB and the SmartData Share 50GB. They will include 1,000 Wi-Fi Calling minutes, and the ability to share the data and minutes using Cell C's Multi-Data Connect service, allowing the link up of 14 SIMs. Users signing up by 30 April will receive double the data value for the remainder of the contract. 

Zimbabwe: Enhanced educational tool - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has upgraded its Ruzivo Smart Learning platform (Ruzivo) with more subjects, the Financial Gazette reported. Ruzivo is an online interactive digital learning platform with locally developed academic content including interactive lessons, exercises and tests. The packages which pupils can access through smart phones, tablets or any internet connected devices can be used both in the classroom for lessons and at home for revisions. Econet Wireless Chief executive officer Douglas Mboweni said it had added new subjects to Ruzivo, namely Ndebele, Shona, Home Economics, Social Studies and Religious and Moral Education, all offered up to Grade 7. Access to the Ruzivo content is currently free via a device with internet connectivity.

Zimbabwe: No dollars for DStv - Telecel Zimbabwe has said that it is no-longer handling DStv payments on its Telecash platform after 28 February 2016, the Bulawayo24 newsite reported. This follows the announcement some weeks ago by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that some USD 206.7 million was spent on DSTV subscriptions in just six months in 2016. The bank warned that its dollar reserves were for essential products, such as foodstuffs, but a disproportionate amount was being used for subscriptions.

Zimbabwe: Rights offer approved - Mobile operator Econet Wireless has received regulatory approval for its USD 130 million rights offer to raise the capital required to pay off a debt facility. The approval sees the company overcome earlier disagreements with the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) over compliance issues, ITWeb reported.