News in Brief 11 October 2017

Africa:

Africa: Scan and Pay - Ecobank has partnered with Visa to launch a mobile money payment solution that allows consumers direct access to funds in their accounts and making payments for products in 33 African countries. Dubbed Scan+Pay with mVisa, it delivers instant, secure cashless payment for goods and services by allowing customers to scan a QR code on a smartphone or enter a unique merchant identifying code into either a feature phone or smartphone.

Algeria: Fast fibre - Algerie Telecom (AT) has signed an agreement with Huawei to deploy a fibre-optic network to homes and businesses nationally, the Algerian Press Service reported. AT's CEO Adel Khemane said that Huawei will roll out a very high speed broadband network over a 12-month period, with more than a million customers set to benefit from the service.

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Algeria: Stronger relationships - Algerie Telecom has signing new partnership deals reinforcing its collaboration with ZTE and Huawei, the Algeria Press Service reported Algerie Telecom's CEO, Adel Khemane as saying. The deals extend the operator's FTTx network and further cooperation on training in new technologies.

Central African Republic: Satellite connection launched - In collaboration with SES Networks, Orange Centrafrique has launched high-speed Internet via satellite connectivity for enterprise customers. As previously reported, the two signed an agreement in June to use SES's Medium Earth Orbit fleet and ground infrastructure to deliver an 'IP Transit' solution for Orange capable of providing connection speeds of up to 2Gbps.

Chad: QoS audit - Autoritede regulation des communications eectroniques et des postes (Arcep) is currently undertaking an audit on the quality of telecom services offered by mobile operators. The operation, due to ends on 12 October, has been running since 12 September. It is the eleventh such exercise undertaken by the regulator, and covers the entire national territory. In March 2016 report Airtel had proposed the best 2G network coverage in N'djamena and other cities. Tigo had the best coverage of roads. In terms of 3G, Tigo was better in N'djamena, while Airtel has been better in other cities. In terms of voice, Tigo has offered the best service in the capital. Tigo offered the best data service.

Cote d'Ivoire: Poor service - Orange, MTN and Moov have been fined a total of some XOF 5 billion (USD 9.1 million) for providing poor Quality of Service (QoS). The Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications de Cote d'Ivoire (ARTCI) completed its audit of QoS for 2016 and found a number of infringements, Agence Ecofin reported. Orange was fined XOF 2.09 billion (USD 3.81 million); MTN XOF 1.74 billion (USD 3.2 million) and Moov XOF 1.15 billion (USD 2.1 million). Orange has a market share in 2Q17 of 42 percent; MTN 35 percent and Moov 23 percent.

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Egypt: 4G is go - Vodafone, Orange, Etisalat and Telecom Egypt were set to launch their commercial 4G services on 28 September, the Daily News reported citing an official at the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA). A source at Etisalat Egypt said that 4G services were already live and that the launch on 28 September was a commercial inauguration.

Equatorial Guinea: Cable consortium - The government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Unicom and Cameroon telco Camtel who are readying to build a submarine cable to link Cameroon to Brazil, it was officially learned. The cable, supplied by the France-based Nexans, will run from Fortaleza in Brazil, to Kribi in Cameroon. Telefonica is building the Kribi landing point of this infrastructure will be built by the Spanish company, while in the construction of the landing site is the responsibility of the Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei.

Gambia: Bad blood - At the beginning of October the Ministers of Information and Communication Infrastructure and of Finance, and the Vice President initiated a meditation between the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) and mobile network operator, Africell. PURA has fined Africell some GMD 3.95 million (USD 84,000) last August for failure to comply with the regulations on subscriber registration, Agency Ecofin reported. Africell refused to pay the fine and has sought redress through the courts, an action PURA deemed hostile, and subsequently requested suspension of Africell's licence.

Ghana: Local payments - First National Bank (FNB) customers can now transfer money to others in the same geographical location, Ghanaweb reported. Geo Payment is an electronic payment system using mobile phones, without adding the bank details of the recipient. The FNB said authentication is provided by the banking application's existing programming interface.

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Ghana: Refund agreed - Ghana-based technology firm Rlg has agreed to repay the government after it failed to complete the Free Laptop Distribution Programme. In 2010 the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology contracted RLG Communications for GHS 51.25 million (USD 11.5 million) to provide and distribute 103,181 laptops. In the event it only provided 90,448, resulting in a shortfall of 12,733 units.

Kenya: Customer acquisition - iWayAfrica Kenya has acquired the 200 strong terrestrial and VSAT customer base of Callkey Networks, a Nairobi-based corporate communications service provider and subsidiary of ImaraSat, TelecomPaper reported. This follows approval from regulators.

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Kenya: Easier payments - M-Pesa 1Tap is now available in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nyeri counties following trials over the last four months. M-Pesa 1Tap will be available to all Lipa Na M-Pesa merchants and customers. It uses an NFC reader integrated in merchants' Lipa Na M-Pesa tills.

Kenya: Fibre roll-out - Safaricom has started the regional roll-out of its Fibre to Home plan. It already has 95,000 homes connected to fibre. The first phase will start in Kitengela town and its environs, targeting 14,000 homes with a plan to reach 40 percent penetration within the next three months. Other towns that are targeted in this phase include Athi River, Buruburu, Ngong Road, Runda, Ruaka and Karen.

Kenya: Internet increases - ISP Jamii Telecom has launched a five-fold increase in Internet speeds for home and business customers whilst holding prices, Business Daily reported. Jamii Telecom, whose Internet service is popularly known as Faiba, says that it has increased bandwidth for its lowest home Internet offer six times to 30 Mbps from 5 Mbps whilst holding the rate at KES 5,000 (USD 47.65) per month. Jamii’s fastest service at 20 Mbps at KES 20,000 (USD 190.10) a month will now have speeds of 125 Mbps. It also raised speeds for business clients, with the cheapest service rising from 3 Mbps to 15 Mbps for KES 10,000 (USD 95.30) per month. Jamii's network passes more than 110,000 homes and business buildings in Nairobi, Mombasa, E

ldoret, Thika, Naivasha, Nyeri, Kitale, Kakamega, Busia, Bungoma, Meru, Embu, Kisii, Kericho, Voi, Kisumu and Nakuru.

Kenya: Photo programme - Safaricom expects to complete the photo registration of its 19 million active M-Pesa users by December 2017, Business Daily reported. It started the electronic subscriber registration of its 28.1 million users earlier in 2017, using 25,000 pre-programmed smartphones. The aim is to comply with the law and curb M-Pesa fraud using stolen handsets.

Kenya: Pesa payment recovery - Sending money to the wrong party is an on-going issue for on-line remittances. Now Safaricom is running a trial - initially amongst staff - of a facility that will allow M-Pesa users to recover cash remittances sent to the wrong account. Users send the transaction code via SMS to the number 456. Some 500 M-Pesa transactions are handled per second and it plans to extend the trial to a limited number of customers ahead of full launch shortly.

Kenya: QoS queried - The Communications Authority of Kenya has fined Safaricom some KES 270.1 million (USD 2.6 million) in the year ended March 2017 for poor Quality of Service, The Star reported. The fine represents a 72 percent increase from the KES 157 million (USD 1.5 million) that its was fined last year. The fine represents 0.15 percent of gross annual revenues as at March 2017. Safaricom achieved 62.5 per cent compliance against the minimum required of 80 percent, and is the fourth time it has failed to meet the criteria set by the Communications Authority.

Liberia: Spectrum monitoring - The installation of multiple LS Observer sensor-based monitoring stations for the Liberian Telecommunications Authority (LTA) is reported as completed. The LS system delivers sensor-based monitoring capabilities across the commercial spectrum, helping maintain a spectrum inventory or enforce spectrum usage policies and procedures.

Mozambique: USF on track - Phase 4 of the Universal Telecommunications Access project will see 30 new locations, located in 28 districts given access to voice, SMS and mobile Internet, Verdade reported. The project is worth some MZN 432 million (USD 7.0 million). Mobile operator Movitel is responsible for implementing Phase 4 after it won a public open tender.

Namibia: Africa ahoy - Paratus has said that it is now fully licensed in 22 African countries, adding that it will not work with unlicensed service providers. It has fully licensed offices in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa. It plans to invest a total of more than ZAR 150 million on infrastructure in Namibia over the next three years, of which ZAR 100 million (USD 7.3 million) will be invested in fibre infrastructure.

Namibia: Cable acquisition - Musa Group has acquired Swanib Cables, a cable firm involved in utilities, infrastructure and telecommunications, ITWebAfrica reported. The deal was performed via Musa Capital Namibia, a subsidiary of South African Musa Group, using its Namibian Mid-Cap Fund. The fund was launched with capital from the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF), and is Musa Group's third African private equity fund. Musa Capital promised a 'transformation project [which] will be supported by other acquisitions under the Namibian Mid-Cap Fund. These new acquisitions will help strengthen Swanib Cables' customer base, product lines and expertise'. Musa Capital Namibia submitted its application to the Namibian Competition Commission in June 2017.

Nigeria: Sale sought - The 13 banks which inadvertently acquired Etisalat's mobile operations in Nigeria after the latter defaulted on US-denominated loans, are working towards a smooth sale of the operator, now rebranded 9mobile, before the end of 2017, CommunicationsWeek reported. Fidelity Bank's Managing Director Nnamdi Okonkwo said the creditor banks had appointed a new board and management, with the deputy governor of the CBN as chairman.

Uganda: Mobile money rising - The Bank of Uganda reports that the annual value of funds transferred through mobile money totalled UGX 43.83 trillion (USD 12.0 billion) in 2016, up from UGX 32.7 trillion in 2015 (USD 9.0 billion), representing a 34 percent increase. The Observer. Noted that the volume of transactions rose by 40.5 percent to 974.7 million in 2016 from 693.3 million a year before. At the end of 2016 there were seven mobile money service providers, namely MTN, Airtel, Uganda Telecom, Africell, M-Cash, EzeeMoney and Micro Pay. The Uganda Communications Commission 2015/16 annual market and industry report recorded mobile money subscribers rising to 21.5 million at the end of 2016 from 21.1 million as at end of 2015.

South Africa: Abuse audit - The Competition Commission has started investigating Vodacom Group for possible abuse of dominance, after it won an exclusive contract with the National Treasury to be sole provider of government mobile services, BusinessTech reported. In March 2016, the treasury put a contract for the supply and delivery of mobile services to National and Provincial Government Departments out to tender for the period 15 September 2016 to 31 August 2020. Vodacom was the preferred supplier. However Vodacom South Africa and the National Treasury have defended the award, with CEO Shameel Joosub saying that it was aware that the Competition Commission has launched an investigation.

South Africa: Auditor audited - Telkom has said that it will not award any new business to KPMG LLP’s local unit pending the outcome of an investigation into the firm by the auditors' board Bloomberg reported. Any contracts underway will be completed and their expiration dates will stand. A further decision will be made when the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors has commented.

South Africa: Cell-C COO named - Cell-C has appointed Douglas Craigie Stevenson as its new Chief Operations Officer, with effect 26 September. He was previously with Telekom Networks Malawi, where he served as CEO from October 2015. Previous positions include MD of Vodacom Business Africa Group, CFO of Business Africa Group/Enterprise Business Partner Vodacom South Africa, financial director for Vodacom Mozambique, and commercial director and financial director at Vodacom Tanzania.

South Africa: Greater coverage - ITWeb reports that Internet Generation (IGEN Wireless) has been acquired by HeroTel for an undisclosed sum, and so expanding its footprint in the Eastern Cape. HeroTel's Chairman Alan Knott-Craig told ITWeb exclusively that the move now gives HeroTel contiguous coverage from the West Coast to the Kei River. IGEN provides wireless services to over 7,000 clients in the Eastern Cape and is one of the largest WISPs in South Africa.

South Africa: IoT take-off - There are now some 3 million M2M/IoT devices connected to Vodacom South Africa's network. Vodacom's IoT head Deon Liebenberg said that it took some eight years to get to two million connections, and just a year to get to three million. Vodacom reports a current average of around 50,000 new connections per month, whilst it expects the growth rate to accelerate further as it commercially rolls out LPWA NB-IoT technology after it activated its first NB-IoT base station in May 2017.

South Africa: Rate reduction - Out-of-bundle prices for all customers will be reduced from mid-October by Vodacom South Africa, Mybroadband reported. For pre-paid and customers on top-up packages, the rates are expected to be cut by as much as 50 percent once the new ZAR 0.99 (USD 0.07) per megabyte tariff comes into effect on 15 October. The out-of-bundle rate for post-paid customers was reduced from ZAR 1 per 1 MB to ZAR 0.89 on 1 October.

South Africa: WTO notification - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) have placed a notification with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) under Article 5.6.2 of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). This concerns Certificates of Compliance (CoCs) for Electromagnetic Interference/Compatibility (EMI/EMC) to manufacturers and importers of electrical and electronic products.

Southern Africa: Roaming proposals sought - The Communications Regulators' Association of Southern Africa (CRASA) has invited proposals for the development of a roaming cost model for the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Companies interested have to submit their proposals by 30 November 2017. They can obtain the RFP documents can from CRASA via e-mail. Comesa has agreed to abolish telephone roaming charges, the Business Daily reported. The bloc said in a final report that although pricing of voice services in many African countries was becoming competitive and comparable with the rest of the world, the cost of broadband continued to be out of reach of most people. Users in Africa paid on average 25 percent of monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita on mobile calls compared with 11 percent in other developing nations.

Tunisia: Technology tax - The government is readying to impose new customs duties on imported computers and smartphones in January 2018. The Ministry of Finance has informed the professionals about its intention to impose customs taxes of 20 percent on products, in addition to increasing the value added tax from 6 to 18 percent.

Uganda: Registration success - The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) reported a 98 percent success rate for its recently completed SIM re-registration scheme. This was despite concerns that delays in issuing national identity cards would retard the process, as they were required for the registration process. A report from local radio station KFM quoted UCC's Corporate Affairs Director Fred Otunnu as saying that any customers whose lines have been disconnected can still have their service reactivated.

Zambia: Flexible finance - MTN Zambia and Stanbic Bank have launched payment plans for mobile devices. Subscribers can now acquire mobile devices and data packages using flexible payment plans offered by the bank, although exclusively for Stanbic Bank clients. Stanbic clients can also buy voice and data connectivity plans offered by MTN using Stanbic Bank channels at agreed payment periods. Standard Bank's Chief Executive of Personal and Business Banking for Africa, Zweli Manyathi, said the deal was key to driving financial inclusion for customers.

Zimbabwe: Home and away - TelOne has launched its WiFi Home and Away service. TelOne WiFi sharing will allow people with TelOne ADSL or Fibre Internet at home to use the data at any TelOne WiFi hotspot. TechZim reports that the service has been accesible from the Website for some time during the test phase. TelOne currently has over 100 WiFi hotspot around Zimbabwe though most of them are located in Harare.

Zimbabwe: Mobile replaces manual - Steward Bank has announced that manual transfers have been withdrawn in favour of mobile and online banking, TechZim reported. The bank said it is no longer going to process manual RTGS and internal transfer application forms. Instead, these transactions will be done exclusively on their Internet banking platform. NMB Bank was one of the first banks to move to exclusive online banking and mobile banking for processing these transfers.