News in Brief 4 May 2017

Africa: New partners sought - Kaspersky Lab has launched a new African partner programme targeted at managed service providers (MSPs) that offer security services or would like to add them to their current portfolio. The programme allows partners to secure the complete customer infrastructure, from mobile devices and desktops to physical and virtual servers, with a portfolio that can be delivered both on-premises or from the cloud. First Distribution, operating across Africa, with offices in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, announced the news about joining Kaspersky Lab's programme, at their First for Cloud Roadshow in Johannesburg.

Bahrain: IoT hub initiative - Batelco has teamed up with Brinc, an Internet of Things (IoT) hardware accelerator, to launch its new operation in the Middle East, the Brinc-Batelco IoT Hub, which will be based in Bahrain. Brinc Mena at the IoT Hub will be launched towards 3Q 2017 and will be located in the Batelco Commercial Centre building in Manama.

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Botswana: Two TV licences - The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has issued the two television broadcasting licences under the Subscription Management Service (SMS) category to Mediacore and Star Times Satellite. Under the SMS, the broadcasting entity providing content need not operate from Botswana. Currently, there are two televisions stations in Botswana, namely, Btv and e-tv in addition to the Pay per View Multichoice. Star Times currently operates in Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Tanzania offering channels ranging from sports, films, news to music.

Ghana: MNO visit by Minister - Mobile Network Operator Tigo head office in Accra has been visited by the Minister for Communication, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful and her two deputies, George Nenyi Andah and Vincent Sowah Odotei. Chief Executive Officer, Roshi Motman provided an overview of the business, including its investment strategy of modernizing network infrastructure, building resilience and transforming IT platforms ready for virtualization. Motman noted the challenge of fibre cuts, as Tigo suffers from an average of 1 to 3 cuts a day.

Kenya: Financial app facelift - KCB's MyKash mobile banking app, which launched 2 years ago, has received a facelift with version 4.1.7. The main interface now includes options to pay bills directly from a linked KCB accounts to the merchant's accounts or using PesaLink, M-PESA or MasterCard's MasterPass and VISA's mVISA. PesaLink is included in the app for the first time, and makes possible inter-bank payments while mVISA and MasterPass integration make it easy to make mobile payments through the app.

Iran: Application development centre - The AmirKabir University of Technology (AUT) has opened the Samsung-AUT Tech Centre to support technology research and projects, as well as boosting education and employment prospects for students. Operating under the Samsung Corporate Citizenship series of programmes, the centre's primary focus is on mobile application development within the health, environment and energy, education, and employment sectors.

Israel: CFO sought - Bezeq Israel Telecom said on Thursday 27 April that its Chief Financial Officer, Allon Raveh, is leaving to take up a senior post elsewhere. He will, however, remain in post until after the filing of Bezeq's first quarter financial statements, expected in May. Bezeq said it will now start a structured process to find a replacement.

Liberia: Chair for chair - Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) Chairman Angelique Weeks is now also Chairman of the West Africa Telecommunications Assembly (WATA) for a four-year term. Liberia was handed the baton by Cape Verde.

Mozambique: Third time for Chair - Vodacom Mozambique has re-appointed Salimo Abdula as its Chairman two years after he stepped down, O Pais has reported. He was succeeded by Lucas Chachine in 2015. This is the third time that Abdula has held the post, first holding it 2009 - 2011 when he represented Intelec Holdings and from 2013 - 2015 on behalf of Vodacom International Limited. Abdula will be chair to 31 March 2019.

Nigeria: Lenders meet in London - Etisalat Nigeria was to meet lenders in London on 28 April for talks on restructuring a USD 1.2 billion debt, Reuters reported Access Bank's CEO as saying. Access Bank is one of the lenders in the consortium. The results of the discussions are expected this week.

Nigeria: Regional content - GOtv subscribers will be offering African content in May tagged 'Our Africa' and will celebrate Africa Day on 25 May. It is offering Season 2 of Lip Sync Battle Africa, which started on 22 April and will continue to air on MTV Base (Channel 72) on GOtv every Saturday. FOX Life is offering a 10-part documentary profiling successful men and women and built sound legacies. The African Legacy Project will premiere on 3 May. The FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea will air live on GOtv on 27 May, 2017.

Nigeria: Staff severances - MTN Nigeria is reported to have sacked some 280 staff, representing 15 percent of the company's Nigerian workforce, the Premium Times reported on Monday, citing unnamed sources. Two hundred permanent staff and 80 contractors are thought to be affected. MTN is reported to have operated a voluntary severance scheme for staff with over 5 years employment.

Qatar: Staff support - Ooredoo Qatar's Human Resources department has launched the eTatweer platform to support staff training and better serve customers. Ooredoo's online learning portal eTatweer provides staff with a convenient way to access a variety of learning resources and development planning tools.

Rwanda: Premium payments - The Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) has signed mobile payment solution MobiCash to facilitate the payment of premiums to community-based health insurance (CBHI) scheme, Mutuelle de Sante. RSSB's Director-General Jonathan Gatera said that MobiCash had a growing agency network, with 700 spread across the country; together with 348 SACCOs (savings and credit), 18 Post Offices and all cyber cafes.

Rwanda: Rural TV - Following its investment of USD 92 million, StarTimes Rwanda is now targeting 400,000 households that could acquire a digital TV. The project has been described by Rwanda’s Ambassador to China as a partnership to increase penetration and access to information in rural areas. About 10 percent of Rwandan households own a TV set, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda (NISR) Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey 2013/14 report published in August 2015.

Saudi Arabia: Security development - Mobily has signed a memorandum of understanding with Palo Alto Networks to evaluate and develop security offerings. Any such services brought to market will be based on the Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation Security Platform. Mobily already offers a range of services from its cybersecurity and cloud wallet, which includes secure internet access, email protection, and anti-DDoS service.

Saudi Arabia: Smart city - The Royal Commission of Yanbu, in collaboration with Mobily subsidiary Bayanat Company has announced the launch of the first smart city in Yanbu. This included building and operating a unified telecom and IT network in Yanbu Industrial City, which is considered the first brick in achieving the Yanbu Industrial Smart City. Strategic partnerships with international technology providers have developed more than 10 services utilizing technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT). More than 1,800 km of FTTH cables has been deployed inside the city to connect around 15,000 housing units and 55 industrial units. Additionally, 22,000 ports have been executed for the housing units and 480 ports for business units.

Senegal: Star Internet - Tigo has been quick to note that in the latest ARTP QoS audit conducted in March 2017 it provided the best Internet service in the Dakar region. It launched 3G + in 2013, and Tigo General Manager Mitwa Ngambi put the total investment in modernization and extension of the Internet network at some XOF 200 billion (USD 330 million).

South Africa: Senior appointments - Blue Label Telecoms has appointed Wayne McCauley as its Chief Operating Officer in South Africa. McCauley will report to joint-CEOs Mark and Brett Levy. He joins Blue Label after nearly 30 years at SABMiller, most recently in a dual role as African sales and distribution director and as operations director for a number of Southern Africa. COO Mark Pamensky resigned in November 2015 to pursue personal business interests. On 25 April Werner van Reenen was also promoted internally to take over as group COO, from his previous role as CEO of South Africa Distribution. McCauley joins as COO of South Africa Distribution. Blue Label is still on-track to invest some ZAR 5.5 billion to acquire a 45 percent stake in MNO Cell-C.

Tanzania: April IPO - Mobile operator Viettel Tanzania Limited, branded Halotel, is reported to now be also readying to offer 25 percent of its stock in an Initial Public (IPO) offering on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange. The Viet Nam News has reported Viettel Global as saying that the IPO will be completed in April 2017; it is working with five financial advisors to submit the IPO to the Tanzania Securities and Securities Markets Authority (CMSA), and is aiming to avoid the problems Vodacom encountered with its under-subscribed IPO.

Tunisia: Targeted TT - Sicap has announced that its TargetMe customer interaction software has been deployed by Tunisie Telecom to improve its direct marketing communications. The cloud-based platform enables mobile operators to perform contextual customer profiling in real-time and target marketing campaigns better. In particular, Tunisie Telecom has used the solution to promote its LTE services among 3G customers already using an LTE-enabled handsets.

Zimbabwe: Double bonus - Telecel Zimbabwe is to re-introduce its Mega Bonus promotion which allows pre-paid subscribers to make local calls across all networks for double the value of the airtime they purchase, TechZim has reported. The validity is dependant on the recharge value but ranges between 1 to 7 days. The recharge denominations included in the promotion are USD 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20.