News in Brief 7 September 2017

Africa:

Cote d'Ivoire: Certified signatures - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ICT) of Cote d'Ivoire (ARTICI) has approved three providers of electronic certification services (PSCE). These are Cryptoneo, Document Knowledge Business Solutions (DKB Solutions) and International Telecom Assistance (ITA). The move will allow the 300 administrative services, along with banks, insurance companies and others to now obtain qualified electronic certificates or obtain a secure and officially recognized electronic signature.

Ghana: Better bonuses - Glo has four new products. These are the Aye De Keke recharge bonus, welcome back offer, the e-Top-Up 15 percent recharge bonus and Glo Cafe. The recharge bonus is a new offer and provides four times the value of the amount recharged on specific e-Top-Up denominations. The airtime can be used to call and send SMS on all national networks.

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Guinea: Consumer power - Mobile operator Orange Guinea has started the reimbursement of subscribers who had complained of being overcharged for Internet access on 7 August 2017. The case dates from September 2016 when the Consumers Union of Guinea (UCG) protested to the operator about the increase in its data tariffs. The UCG mounted a one-day boycott on 22 August 2016 and also filed a lawsuit and demanded compensation. The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ARPT) called on both parties to negotiate for an amicable settlement.

Kenya: Comments invited - The Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology has started a public consultation on its Draft Wireless Broadband Spectrum Policy Guidelines. The new policy framework proposes a comprehensive review of frequency management practices to ensure efficient and transparent assignment and use of spectrum, in order to encourage the development of new and innovative wireless services. It also aims to promote technology and service neutrality, where appropriate. Comments should be submitted by the end of the working day on 22 September 2017.

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Kenya: Down time - Safaricom is to upgrade its M-Pesa platform from 22:00 hrs on 09 September until 11:00 hrs on 10 September. CEO Bob Collymore said the operator has put in place measures to ensure a smooth transition during the upgrade, which will provide customers and partners with more features and capabilities in the future. 

Kenya: New directors - Safaricom has appointed Mohamed Shameel Aziz Joosub and Linda Watiri Muruiki to its board as non-executive directors, with immediate effect. The appointments were announced after a board meeting on 31 August.

Mauritania: Quality issues - The Autorite de Regulation (ARE) has again warned Mauritel, Mattel and Chinguitel about poor quality of service (QoS), notably poor voice and data for the third time in 2017. An audit was undertaken between 10 July to 12 August, Mauritel offered poor voice service quality in 17 locations and poor data services in four, while Mattel had issues at ten locations for voice quality and three for data. Chinguitel was deficient in voice in six locations and poor data service at one site. The operators have four weeks to correct the issues. In June 2017 ARE fined the three mobile operators a total of MRO 451 million (USD 1.21 million), with Mauritel having the largest fine.

Namibia: New phone shop - MTC has opened a new shop at Eenhana, the 33rd store nationally to offer a full range of MTC Services. The shop was commissioned at a cost of NAD 1 million (USD 77,000) and is situated at Ewaneno Centre, Shop 1, Sam Nujoma Drive. Previously, the nearest services were at Ondangwa or Oshikango Mobile Homes, a distance of nearly 70 kilometers in each direction.

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Nigeria: Cab hailing - Taxi hailing app Little, backed by Safaricom, is expected to start operations in Lagos in October, its first foray outside Kenya. Uber and Taxify are already present in the country. Little's Little chief executive Kamal Budhabatti said it will expand its network locally by launching the e-hailing app in Eldoret and Nakuru towns. Little is currently available in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, Business Daily reported.

Nigeria: Etisalat fall-out - Access Bank said it had booked a NGN 4 billion (USD 11.1 million) impairment on its loan to mobile operator 9mobile, previously known as Etisalat Nigeria, Reuters reported. Access Chief Executive Herbert Wigwe said the bank had a direct exposure of NGN 11 billion (USD 30.5 million) to 9mobile, as well as an exposure of NGN 35-39 billion (USD 97 - 108 million) to the telco's vendors. Wigwe said it hoped to recover the debt once 9mobile was sold to new investors.

Nigeria: Tempting top-ups - Globacom is offering 15 percent bonus airtime on recharges of NGN 100 (USD 0.28) and above using e-Top Up channels. The 15 percent bonus offer started on 1 August and is given to subscribers unconditionally when they top-up via any electronic channel, such as Automated Teller Machine (ATM), bank USSD recharge code, mobile banking app, the star 805 hash USSD code, Glo Cafe, Web merchants, point-of-sale terminals or direct purchase from a Glo shop.

Senegal: Tigo taken to task - Following a court ruling, Tigo Senegal has been ordered to pay XOF 1.09 billion (USD 2.0 million) to local distribution partner Interface Mobile, Agence Ecofin reported. Tigo was accused of breaching the terms of its commercial agreement with Interface Mobile by applying inadequate commission rates.

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Sierra Leone: Queried QoS - The National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) has fined Airtel Sierra Leone (Orange), Lintel SL (Africell) and Sierra Leone Telecommunications Company (Sierratel) a total of USD 1.35 million for failing to meet the requirements for key performance indicators. These include Call Completion Success Rate (CCSR), Call Drop Rate (CDR), Handover Success Rate (HSR) and Call Congestion Rate (CCR). Orange was ordered to pay USD 750,000; Africell USD 400,000 and Sierratel USD 200,000, all to be paid by 7 September. Each operator has also to offer three consecutive days of free calls to compensate subscribers.

South Africa: Reduced rates - ISP OpenWeb has reduce the costs of top-ups its Rain Network LTE mobile offering. Top-ups now cost ZAR 10 (USD 0.77) per Gig and can be purchased on demand. Credits are effective for thirty days from the date of purchase.

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South Africa: Service spends - End-user spending on communications services is expected to total ZAR 122 billion (USD 9.36 billion) in 2017, up 0.7 percent from 2016, mainly due to moves to less expensive legacy service offerings as competition increases, according to a study by Gartner. This slight growth in spending compares favourably with the global market, which is forecast to show a 0.2 percent fall. Business customers are applying effective pressure on service providers to get shorter contracts, lower and more accurate pricing, and shifting to software-defined architectures that improve their ability to order only what they need at the time growth occurs.

South Africa: Stake reduction - Telkom has issued a cautionary shareholder statement to say that the government is thinking of reducing its 39 percent holding. The fixed line operator said the government is considering various strategic options, which may have a material effect on Telkom's share price. Shareholders are therefore advised to exercise caution when dealing in Telkom securities, until a further announcement is made.

Submarine cable: Storms slash cables - The SEA-ME-WE3 cable has been cut between Singapore and Perth. Vocus Communications confirmed on 30 August that there was a break in the cable, and gave a 'tentative' repair date of 13 October. The break is believed to have been caused by heavy tropical storms in the South China Sea, which also hit the Asia American Gateway and Intra Asia systems, according to Vietnam's VNExpress. Tropical Storm Pakhar and Typhoon Hato hit the Hong Kong and Macau region last week, killing twelve people.

Zimbabwe: Posts waits on POTRAZ - State-owned postal and courier company Zimpost is reported by TechZim to be in the process of implementing an MVNO project, and now only needs a licence from the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to enable it to start operations. Zimpost expects to be the country's first operational MVNO.

Middle East:

Oman: Daily deals - All Ooredoo Oman pre-paid users will be able to take advantage of new offers every day with its Deal of the Day promotion. From extra data to free minutes, credit and free subscriptions to the most popular services, customers can take advantage of 14 new deals over the next 90 days.

Palestine: App funding completed - Social app discovery platform AppMahal has completed a USD 4 million financing round. After initial success, the company launched a second product called Sila, which it claims is the first instant messaging platform devised for the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia: Better prepared - STC has increased the number of international circuits by 25 percent to 425,462 circuits, compared with the number provided for the 2016's Hajj season, divided into eight international switches. It has also prepared the networks at Arafat to receive pilgrims on 31 August, allocating more Cell On Wheels (COWs) and 4G towers there.

Saudi Arabia: Pilgrim package - Mobily says it is offering its subscribers a Haj and Umrah package dedicated to pilgrims, an additional free balance of up to 300 percent when recharging with SAR 10 (USD 2.67) or more. The balance can be used for voice calls and SMS on-network, as well as data and international SMS to most countries.

United Arab Emirates: Mobile medical care - Etisalat Digital and Mobile Doctors 24-7 (MD 24-7) are to jointly develop medical care solutions. Etisalat's unit will provide digital enabling capabilities for Mobile Doctors 24-7's services. The two will develop chronic disease management solutions to reduce chronic patient emergency room visits, reduce the average length of stay in hospital, and reduce unnecessary hospital re-admissions.

United Arab Emirates: VR venture - Acer is to supply Virtual Reality equipment for a Dubai theme park, with construction to be completed by the end of 2017 or early 2018, according to company chairman Jason Chen. Acer will supply its Star VR head-mounted display (HMD), developed jointly with Starbreeze. The theme park will use a profit-sharing business model and content will be updated every six months. Chen is optimistic about Microsoft's mixed reality (MR) HMD, which is scheduled to be released in October, and expects Microsoft's MR ecosystem to become the largest of the VR industry.