News in Brief 30 March 2017

Bahrain: Data destinations - Batelco has added 12 new international destinations for its data roaming packages. The bolt-on packages, which start from BHD 5 (USD 13), are available for post- and pre-paid users. The 'Data Roaming Bolt On' was launched in 2016 and is offered at a standard fixed one-day or seven-day fee based on the subscriber's package. Data roaming bolt-on services are now available in over 50 locations.

Cameroon: Soccer sponsorship - MTN Cameroon has said that it resume sponsorship of the local soccer league. CEO Philisiwe Sibiya said it would also sponsor two other championships, five years after it withdrew, allegedly due to poor relations with the football authorities. A three-year deal will be signed with the Professional Football League of Cameroon (LFPC) for the sponsorship of Premier Leagues One and Two.


Cote d'Ivoire: Money movements - Some XOF 17 billion (USD ) pass through the Mobile Money system daily, according to Rene Tano, executive of BNP Paribas subsidiary BICICI at the 5th currency and e-payment forum taking place in Casablanca, Morocco. Agence Ecofin reported Tano as saying that the ARTCI figure included all transactions (transfers, deposits, bills payment) of Orange, MTN and Moov.

Kenya: Digital tv debut - StarTimes Media has announced the roll-out of its digital TV sets. The move will complement the pay television offering it has operated for the past five years in addition to that of decoders and projector TVs. The Standard reported that the TVs come in 24, 32 and 40-inch sizes that will retail at KES 18,999, 26,499, and 38,999 (USD 182, 254 and 374) respectively. StarTimes Vice-President Mark Lisboa said the company has a continuous R&D programme. Key features of the TV sets include the ability to receive both satellite and terrestrial TV signals without connecting to an external set top box.

Kenya: Faster transfers mandated - The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has directed banks to cut by half the time taken to transact on the lenders' mobile money transfer platform, PesaLink, before launch, from the current 20 seconds, The Daily Nation reported. CBK governor Patrick Njoroge said the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), representing 43 lenders, had initially pegged their mobile money transaction time at 40 seconds, which it deemed too slow. This prompted the financial regulator to direct lenders to recalibrate their system for faster transactions as a condition for rollout. PesaLink, which allows account holders to transfer money across different banks, comes a decade after the inception of Safaricom's M-Pesa in 2007, which was initially opposed by banks

Kenya: Flexible bundles - Safaricom has launched its Flex product which allows users to determine the amount they will spend on calls, short messages and Internet bundles. Subscribers have the option of converting regular airtime to Flex units and so achieve savings of 35 percent. One unit is equivalent to 3MB of data, 20 seconds call or three short messages across all networks in the country.

Kenya: Safaricom sponsorship - Safaricom announced on 21 March a KES 3.5 million (USD 334,000) sponsorship of the 2017 Barclays Kenya Open, scheduled to take place at the Muthaiga Golf Club from 23 - 26 March. Safaricom will also provide a fully equipped media centre and wireless connectivity to the secretariat, clubhouse and the village for the duration of the tournament.

Mali: Digital defences - A Computer Incident Response Centre (CIRT) to manage cyber threats, coordinate cybersecurity incidents and establish appropriate responses is to be set-up, Agence Ecofin reported. Accordingly 20 - 23 March 2017 an information workshop was organized by the Authority for the Regulation of Posts and Telecommunications (AMRTP) on the establishment of an CIRT was held in Bamako. Some 60 delegates attended from regulatory bodies, security services, ministries, telcos and infrastructure operators.



Morocco: National coverage - Maroc Telecom has launched VSAT broadband satellite services. The service is available for residential, corporate and professional customers and so is the first national operator to offer full national coverage. Maroc Telecom offers users a wide range of broadband packages of up to 20 Mbps, with prices ranging from MAD 249 (USD 25) with a 2 GB data allowance to MAD 1,740 (USD 172) a month for 30 GB of data. At the two lower-tier price points, the advertised speed is up to 10 Mbps, rising to 20 Mbps for higher-tier customers. For business customers, the new VSAT proposition is coupled with the launch of a VPN service over satellite, with connectivity of up to 6 Mbps.

Nigeria: Logistical lightening - The launch of is expected to simplify freight brokerage activities, with the launch of 'freight bidding software', or as it is sometimes known as 'online truck load boards' will help customers to select a delivery company from a pool of professionals. The solution will also assist users, especially operators, resolve 'Origin and Destination' (O&D) modalities, as cargo shipments are usually one-way.

Oman: Entrepreneur technology - Omantel has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Oman Technology Fund (OTF) to explore potential areas for developing new technology for entrepreneurs. The MoU was signed by Talal bin Said al Mamari, CEO of Omantel and Eng Yousuf bin Ali al Harthy, CEO, Oman Technology Fund.

Oman: Registered users rewarded - More than two million users have been registered by Ooredoo Oman for its Nojoom loyalty programme. Users are rewarded for their loyalty with extra SMS, international voice calls, data or new handsets; they receive points that can be redeemed for any existing telecoms service, including local and international minutes, subscription to any of the company's data bundles or for discounts on outstanding bills. Points can also be redeemed for a number of benefits, including VIP tickets to Vox Cinemas, coffee at Gloria Jean’s Coffees baristas, and QMiles with Qatar Airways' Privilege Club, to name but a few. On Mondays, Nojoom customers enjoy 'buy 1 get 1 free' offers on cinema tickets, shopping, dining and other activities.

Oman: Top dealer recognition - Omantel has launched a programme for its dealers branded 'Hayyakum' that will classify Omantel merchants based on their performance. The aim is to classify top Omantel merchants through a tiering system that considers strategic alignment, size of activations, activation effectiveness levels and overall quality. The programme is being carried out along with Sale International, the sole distributor partner for Omantel. The programme will also allow merchants an additional commission, contingent on meeting targets and loyalty levels.

Qatar: OBE for CEO - Vodafone Qatar's CEO Ian Gray has been made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to trade relations both in the UK and abroad as part of The New Year Honours 2017 lists. Gray received his OBE last week from HRH The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. Gray joined Vodafone Qatar as CEO in December 2015. He is also currently Chairman of Vodafone Egypt having served on the board for almost 17 years.

South Africa: Analogue rises - Telkom is to increase it analogue line rental price from ZAR 189 to ZAR 199, including VAT, from 1 April 2017. Telkom said that there will be no change for consumers using its Telkom Anytime Extra, Anytime Plus, and Unlimited Fixed Line plans.

Rwanda: Media mentoring - MTN Rwanda is to provide women entrepreneurs free downloads and free browsing of the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) SheTrades mobile application. Launched in September 2015, the SheTrades Initiative will connect 1 million women to markets by 2020. MTN Rwanda CEO Bart Hofker said it would promote the SheTrades app via its media platforms and activities and provide training for businesswomen on issues from trading online to using technological applications.

South Africa: Analogue rises - Telkom is to increase it analogue line rental price from ZAR 189 to ZAR 199, including VAT, from 1 April 2017. Telkom said that there will be no change for consumers using its Telkom Anytime Extra, Anytime Plus, and Unlimited Fixed Line plans.

South Africa: B2B focus - Toshiba is to focus on the business computing market through the development of business-to-business PC devices and solutions. The vendor said on 23 March that it will concentrate its efforts on the government, higher education and wider public sector. Toshiba South Africa's Director B2B, Ronald Ravel, said: "With over 30 years heritage in the business device market, solving business challenges and driving efficiencies is in our DNA. We have been present in the South African market for several years providing advanced technological solutions through our PC offerings." It has adopted a more focused B2B distribution strategy with assembler and distributors of personal computers and complementary ICT products, Mustek.

South Africa: Equipment damaged - Fixed-line Telkom claims to have lost equipment worth some ZAR 2.5 million (USD 200,000) to vandals, ITWeb reported. It said a number of its customers in the West Rand are currently experiencing interrupted services as a result of suspected acts of vandalism. The suburbs affected include Newlands, Roodepoort, Florida and Witpoortjie. Street distribution cabinets are being targeted, with modules stolen or damaged. It noted that the stolen modules have no significant scrap value.

South Africa: Out of the Box thinking - Huawei is to set up an OpenLab in Johannesburg in 2017 as part of a USD 200 million in seven new facilities in 2017, ITWeb reported. OpenLabs allows the vendor to work with partners and customers in developing new products. Victor Yu, Huawei Enterprise’s President of Industry Marketing and Solution department at Business group, said that the OpenLab in Mexico worked with Soflex, a software vendor that provides systems for emergency services in Argentina. Huawei and Soflex developed an integrated system in one box which cut installation time from two days to 20 minutes; performance increased 40 percent and operations and maintenance (O&M) cost was reduced by 50 percent.

South Africa: Speed test - Vodacom is giving selected subscribers 1GB of free mobile data to allow them to test 'South Africa's best 4G network'. Selected subscribers were notified by SMS that th data offering would be valid for three days. The message also contains a link to the Ookla Speed Test Website. Vodacom said that the campaign is targeted at all new 4G subscribers, primarily those who have recently upgraded from 3G to 4G.

Tanzania: Advertising opportunity - Halotel Tanzania has launched its Halo Saini service that that will be accessible free of charge to subscribers who wish to advertise their businesses, the Corporate Digest reported. They will be able to draft a message describing their business, then set the message as a ring-back tone or ring tone so that the caller or call recipient will hear it. Also, Halotel Tanzania has rolled out a service that will enable subscribers to listen to their radio on the phone, regardless of whether the area they are in has FM/AM frequencies.

Tanzania: Cellular child registration - Tigo Tanzania has provided some 1,200 mobile phones worth more than TZS 113 million (USD 50,000) for use by workers in a mobile birth registration campaign to be conducted in Geita and Shinyanga regions. The Registration, Insolvency and Trusteeship Agency (Rita), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (Unicef), Tigo and Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) are partnering to register more than 650,000 children aged less than five years in both regions.

Tanzania: Debt dogs IPO - Vodacom Tanzania has said it will continue to work to ensure the sale of shares is completed successfully despite of attachment orders sought in a suit lodged by a businessman Moto Mabanga, the Tanzania Daily News reported. In  a statement Managing Director Ian Ferrao stated that VCT Initial Public Offering (IPO) was still underway. Mabanga's claim is principally against Vodacom International Limited (VIL) and not VCT. Ferrao said that Mabanga's purported repudiation of the settlement agreement was dismissed by the arbitral tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce which not only found that the settlement agreement was valid, but also directed him to pay damages. Mabanga is attempting to recover a debt of TZS 40 billion (USD 17.5 million).

Uganda: Computer centre - MTN Uganda has opened a new ICT Resource Centre at the Gulu War Affected Training Centre in Gulu District. The project cost an estimated UGX 100 million (USD 27,500) and comes weeks after MTN Foundation's announcement of a UGX 5 billion (USD 1.4 million) investment in community development projects. The centre features 15 computers, hi-powered UPS system and dedicated Internet connectivity.

United Arab Emirates: Accountancy accreditation - Etisalat has been awarded an 'Approved Employer' certificate at 'Professional Development' level by global professional accounting body ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). 'Professional Development' level is the highest accreditation that any organisation can achieve from ACCA as an approved employer.

United Arab Emirates: African app acquisition - Mara Social Media has acquired global platform Nimbuzz Assets. Nimbuzz released in May 2008 is a cross-platform mobile calling and messaging app which can be installed on computers, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets and allows users to make voice and video calls, enable chat and file sharing. The app has over 200 million users in India and the Middle East and is available for Android, iPhone, and Symbian, MIDP, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and PC & MAC clients. Mara will roll-out a new hybrid approach for the Nimbuzz messenger which would be an amalgamation of content, Incubator platform, smart market place and consumer communities. Mara plans to integrate the Nimbuzz platform with its existing Mara platforms including Mara Mentor and Mara Jobs into Nimbuzz Messenger and vice versa.

United Arab Emirates: Compensation considered - Du's subscribers who were affected by mobile service interruption on 19 March are to be compensated, the telco said last week. It said in a statement that it was looking into 'the best possible ways to compensate our customers who were affected by the mobile services degradation'. The National reported that some users took to social media sites, mostly Twitter, to express their frustrations after they lost the ability to make phone calls or use the Internet on their mobiles.

United Arab Emirates: Customer centre checks - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has completed the evaluation of 40 customer service centres of Etisalat and du, as part of the first phase of its ‘Erteqa’ initiative, launched in mid-2016. The aim is to unify and improve customer service standards in the industry. The TRA's guidelines include six criteria; easy access to the service centre, the facilities provided by the centre, the employee behavior with customers, presentation mechanisms of products and services, efficiency and effectiveness of provided services and meeting the customers' needs, and embedding the innovation element in all stages of service provision.

Zimbabwe: Boosted bundle - A new data, voice and text package has been launched for Telecel Go pre-paid subscribers, branded MegaBoost. Head of Marketing Christopher Rubatika said it provides more affordable mobile services. The package will give Whatsapp, data, voice calls and text benefits to Telecel customers who have recharged by USD 0.50, USD 1, USD 2, USD 5 or and USD 10 by dialling * 480 #.

Zimbabwe: Data centre debut - State-owned fixed line operator TelOne has launched two new data centres offering colocation and cloud facilities in Harare and Mazoe. These facilities form of the government's wider National Broadband project, and has required some USD 4 million of the USD 98 million loan agreed with China's Export Import Bank in December 2015. Huawei construction the new centres. TelOne says it is looking to shift its business model from that of fixed line provider to a converged mobile, broadband and cloud services provider.

Zimbabwe: Double data - Econet Wireless has now launched its Data Double Up Campaign giving users 100 percent free Wi-Fi on all data bundle purchases via the short code hash 143 hash. It is also introducing Weekly Data Bundles starting at USD 0.50. The USD 1 daily data bundle provides 250 MB along with another free 250 MB to use in any Econet Wi-Fi zone.