News in Brief 18 October 2017

Africa:

Africa: Loan expansion - Jumia is expanding the small business loan programme it launched earlier in 2017 into every country where it operates. In conjunction with the San Francisco-based lender Branch, Jumia began offering start-up loan for small businesses in May. The loans were pegged to vendors sales history with Jumia and projections for the future performance of the businesses. So far, 200 vendors have applied for, and received, loans from a beta version of the new program, ahead of the rush associated with Black Friday sales, according to the company.

Africa: Regional directors sought - Truecaller, a mobile app that provides the identity of unknown callers, is to target Africa. The Scandinavian company will be hiring key African personnel, and it will also decide on a location, either in South Africa or Nigeria, where its African headquarters will be set up, according to ITNewsAfrica. Plans for Africa include the hiring of an African business development director and a sales director. The mobile app is used by more than 50 million people in Africa.

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Africa & Middle East: New look - Vodafone, the world's second largest mobile operator and subsidiary Vodacom, launched on 6 October the biggest advertising campaign in its 33-year history. It is replacing the 2009 'Power to You' strap line with 'The future is exciting. Ready?'. The brand positioning strategy was developed after a period of extensive research and concept testing, including quantitative and qualitative inputs from more than 17,000 people in 10 countries, with advertising concepts also tested with more than 10,000 people in 17 countries.

Botswana: 4G focus - The Sunday Standard reports that Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTCL) has set aside BWP 452 million (USD 43.5 million) to improve the operational performance of its network and commission next-generation networks. BTC has some 600 2G sites, 149 3G sites and 106 4G sites. More 4G sites to be commissioned in the 2017-18 financial year.

Cameroon: Intermittent Internet - Business in Cameroon reports that since 6 October Orange Cameroon users have been experiencing very poor Internet connectivity, starting with a complete outage. The paper notes that Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel) issued a statement on 26 September 2017, in which it demanded Orange to settle a debt of XAF 1.6 billion (USD 2.89 million) by 5 October 2017. The debt related to access to Camtel's fibre optic network, following access effective from 23 November 2016. Camtel said it the event the debt was not settled it would not be held responsible for any resulting inconvenience, and had the right to initiate a legal proceedings against Orange.

Congo Brazzaville: In-house registration - From 1 January 2018 independent retailers or itinerant traders will not be allowed to sell SIM cards. The decision was notified to the network operators on 10 October 2017 by the Direction Generale de l'Administration Centrale - Postes et Telecommunications (Arpce). Airtel, MTN and Azur therefore have three months to ensure that registration operations are henceforth carried out on their premises.

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Cote d'Ivoire: Presidential visit - Maroc Telecom Group, Chairman Abdeslam Ahizoune met the President of the Republic, Alassane Ouattara on 12 October 2017 at the Presidential Palace. At the end of the meeting, he said that he had come to update President Ouattara on the 'path travelled' over the last few years by the Maroc Telecom, including the substantial investments made in the country.

Egypt: 4G fiscal stimulus - The four mobile operators that were granted 4G licences are reported to have contributed over USD 1.1 billion to the national economy, ITWeb reported quoting the Ministry of ICT. The Ministry also says it also netted an additional EGP 10 billion (USD 566 million) from deals done with Vodafone Egypt, Orange Egypt, Etisalat Egypt and Telecom Egypt.

Kenya: Broadband bundle - DStv and Telkom, have renewed their deal to offer value on both entertainment and Internet at an affordable cost. Starting in October 2017, all customers purchasing a full kit DStv HD decoder, at a cost of KES 6,999 (USD 66.65) will get a free MiFi router pre-loaded with 30GB Data from Telkom and one month viewing on the DStv Compact package in a special promotional offer dubbed DStv Na Net. The MiFi router supports up to 15 users. The decoder and Mifi router combo is available from all Multichoice Service Centres at T-Mall, Sarit Centre and Greenspan Malls in Nairobi as well as all leading retail and dealer outlets nationally.

Kenya: Local PoP launched - Hurricane Electric has added a new Point of Presence (PoP) in Nairobiat, the East Africa Data Centre. Located at the Sameer Industrial Park, this is Hurricane Electric's first PoP in Kenya and third in Africa. The East Africa Data Centre has long distance fibre routes to Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Somalia.

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Kenya: Smartphone bundles - Airtel Kenya has launched bundles for smartphone users with a TV and radio campaign. The 1 GB daily bundle costs KES 99 (USD 0.94), the 2 GB weekly bundle KES 249 (USD 2.37) and the 1 GB monthly bundle costs KES 300 (USD 2.86). Airtel is running a TV and radio campaign advertising campaign.

Kenya: Solar solution - The UK government and a number of impact investors have raised KES 8 billion (USD 76.2 million) to fund a solar project in Kenya and Uganda, the Daily N. Mobile phone-based solar kit reseller, M-KOPA Solar, said the initial KES 5.5 billion (USD 52.4 million) was received from UK investment agency CDC (KES 2 billion), Dutch development bank FMO (KES 1.3 billion), Norwegian government's Norfund (KES 1.3 billion) and KES 900 million from Stanbic Bank. M-KOPA co-founder Chad Larson said customers will use their assets as security for the solar kits' purchase. Beneficiaries will make repayments via M-Pesa. A further KES 2.5 billion of the debt came from responsAbility, Symbiotics, and Triodos Investment Management and is denominated in US currency.

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Liberia: Water payments - Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation (LWSC) has signed with mobile money service providers Lonestar and Orange Liberia. LWSC Managing Director N-Hun Bu Tulay said it had been suffering from losses due to difficulties customers have in going to the banks, especially for customers who have to pay minimum amounts.

Morocco: Infrastructure investment - Over the last 10-years Maroc Telecom claims to have invested some EUR 6 billion (USD 7.1 billion) in African infrastructural modernization projects and quality of service improvements, the Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported. Maroc Telecom's chairman Abdesslam Ahizoune, noted that it had deployed 6,900 kilometres of national and international fibre benefiting Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Morocco. It also plans to deploy a submarine cable on the Atlantic coast. It has also erected 6,221 new mobile towers.

Senegal: Payment platform - Wari Group and WorldRemit are collaborating on instant money transfers to Senegal. WorldRemit customers in over 50 countries will be able to transfer money using the app or Website. WorldRemit's co-founder Catherine Wines said: "Our partnership with Wari will enable the half a million-strong Senegalese diaspora to send money instantly from over 50 countries to thousands of locations."

South Africa: 5G trial - Comsol, backed by Nedbank, the Industrial Development Corporation and Andile Ngcaba's Convergence Partners, will launch the first 5G network in South Africa in November, Techcentral reports. It will launch a trial 5G network, with live customers, in partnership with Internet Service Providers as a prelude to launching a commercial 5G network.

South Africa: CEO named - Wireless broadband operator Rain is reported to have a new CEO in the form of Willem Roos. Rain's new mobile arm intends to launch services in 'beta' before the end of 2017. Roos was CEO of short-term insurer OUTsurance. Rand Merchant Investment Holdings said in a statement that Roos has resigned with effect from 31 December. It added that Roos is relocating his family to Stellenbosch to take up an executive position with 4G+ mobile start-up business, Rain.

South Africa: Distribution deal - Mustek, South African assembler and distributor of personal computers and complementary ICT products, has partnered with Asus South Africa's Republic of Gamers (ROG). Availability and distribution will commence on the 16 October.

South Africa: Longer for less - MTN South Africa has launched new WOW voice bundles for calls made solely on its network. The bundles are available from ZAR 3 (USD 0.23) to ZAR 300 (USD 22.58) in daily, weekly and monthly increments.

South Africa: Sites knocked out - A severe storm on 9 October affected 80 of MTN's sites in Gauteng. MTN says engineers and service partners worked through the night to restore services. Portable generators were also deployed to as many of the affected sites.

South Africa: Tracker progress - Vehicle recovery and telematics company Cartrack announced interim results for the six months ending August last week. The number of subscribers tracked rose by 21 percent to 666,422 across the 24 countries the company's services are offered in. Growth was spread geographically, with increases registered in South Africa (+19 percent), Europe (+24 percent) and Asia-Pacific (+122 percent). The only area with blot was in, which saw steady subscriber numbers but falling revenue was the rest of Africa. Subscriber revenue jump by 19 percent versus the same period in 2016, and contributed to the 14 percent increase in total revenue of ZAR 629 million (USD 47.3 million).

South Africa: Weather-related faults - Telkom SA's wholesale division Openserve infrastructure in Gauteng and KZN coastal areas, particularly in the West Rand, is reported to have been affected by the recent bad weather resulting in a significant increase in network related faults. Telkom noted that Gauteng has a high water table which has led to flooding of its underground infrastructure, which in turn has restricted workmen from accessing the fault zones.

Zimbabwe: Debit card corralled - Last week Econet Wireless Zimbabwe's mobile money platform, EcoCash suspended the use of its debit card to pay for international transactions. This was as a result of the country's foreign currency shortage. In August, Econet capped monthly online purchases at USD 50. The card will remain in use within Zimbabwe as all local limits remain unchanged.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Authorised reseller - Batelco is now an Amazon Web Services (AWS) authorised channel and public sector reseller. The AWS Global Channel Reseller Programme enables qualified partners to resell AWS services to both commercial and public sector end customers. The programme is designed for APN Consulting Partners who have built their AWS practice to include professional services and management of end customer AWS deployments, such as: System Integrators (SIs), Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Digital Agencies, and Value-Added Resellers (VARs).

Bahrain: Cisco commended - Last week Batelco said it had renewed its Cisco Gold Certification. The Cisco Channel Partner Programme provides a framework for partners to build the sales, technical and Cisco Lifecycle Services skills required to deliver Cisco services to end-customers. Batelco said it had continued to meet rigorous standards in technical competency, service and support and customer satisfaction.

Iran: Data centre collaboration - Minister of Telecommunications Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi met his Armenian counterpart Vahan Martirosyan during a state visit to Tehran by Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan last week. The two ministers discussed joint programmes for the establishment of data centres. Bilateral ties in the fields of data transit, cybersecurity, and postal services are also to be strengthened.

Israel: Contract extension - Gilat Satellite Networks has announced that Sprint has expanded its contract with Gilat to include a three-year managed service project. Gilat will provide both services and equipment to operate Sprint's 3G and LTE networks in selected areas for mobile backhaul and other applications. Gilat will deliver services to remote sites over a three-year period with an optional extension, to support Sprint's network coverage and expansion plans.

Kuwait: Data centre debut - Ooredoo Kuwait has launched of its new data centre through its FASTtelco unit. FASTtelco will provide a suite of managed hosting services to fit business needs.

Kuwait: Exclusive distributor - Networking vendor Allied Telesis has appointed Easa Husain Al-Yousifi & Sons as its value added Accredited Systems Integrator exclusively in Kuwait. It distributes business equipment from firms such as Panasonic, IBM, Lenovo, Netavis, Dahua, Samsung, Epson, TOA, Televes, PKLNS, York, Nova Light, etc. The entire range of Allied Telesis products will be carried.

Middle East: UAE online leader - A study by Amazon company Payfor of seven Arab countries found a 22 percent increase in online transactions during 2016. This was led by strong growth in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, showing 27 percent, 22 percent and 21 percent year-on-year growth respectively. The report identifies 'Events and Entertainment' as the fastest growing payments sector, with annual 33 percent growth in 2016. In 2016 the ecommerce industry for Egypt and KSA and UAE and Jordan and Kuwait and Qatar and Lebanon reached a combined size of USD 10.37 billion representing 26.2 percent growth over the previous year. UAE leads the seven with Qatar lagging behind Egypt and KSA and Jordan and Kuwait and Lebanon.

Oman: Roaming rates - Ooredoo Passport World Service has been extended to seven new locations. For OMR 15 (USD 39) travellers to Vietnam, Georgia, Iraq, Switzerland, Morocco and Singapore will get 1GB and 30 voice minutes.

Qatar: Connected cars - Ooredoo is to provide mobile network infrastructure and IoT services needed to enable the Bright Box Connected Car services for automotive businesses in Qatar and the region. Bright Box Middle East provides the Remoto connected car platform.

Saudi Arabia: More cloud for Mobily - Cloud computing services are to be established at the Mobily Melgha 2 data centre in Riyadh, which will be linked to the two existing cloud computing data centres located at Dammam and Jeddah. Consequently Mobily Business claims it will have the largest cloud computing network in Saudi Arabia.

United Arab Emirates: Closer integration - The Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD) and the Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the strengthening of mutual work, providing SEDD with a complete and fully managed Internet protocol solution, as well as network and hardware management and maintenance services.

United Arab Emirates: Cyber-threat curtailment - The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) has signed a protection deal with Etisalat to develop a system to deal with cyber-threats. The SCCI will receive technical and consultation support from Etisalat to devise the necessary plans and develop solutions to maintain the safety of SCCI's workflow. It also provides for establishing backup support plans to help prepare for setbacks that may result in disrupting work in case of digital security breaches.

United Arab Emirates: Exclusive entertainment - Du has signed a new partnership agreement with entertainment network OSN, offering an exclusive subscription to OSN's all-new online and mobile app entertainment platform, 'WAVO', for no additional cost until 31 December. Du is now the exclusive third-party distributer for WAVO in the UAE.

United Arab Emirates: ICT on upward trajectory - Expenditure on information, communication and technology (ICT) reached USD 4 billion in 2016, driven by growing demand for products and services within the country's public and private sectors. Increased use of computers in homes and offices and the adoption of new ICT technologies has led to growing demand for ICT goods and services in the UAE and foreign markets. Tablet computer sales accounted for 67 percent of the total volume of computer sales in 2016, up from 32 percent in 2012. The analysis, based on recent data from Business Monitor International (BMI) and Euromonitor International, looked at sales within product categories such as computer hardware and software, as well as IT, communication, and telecommunication services. Spending on cloud computing in the UAE rose from USD 51 million in 2011 to USD 381 million in 2016; a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 49 percent over the period. Demand for cloud services has been strong, and this trend is expected to continue in the future and create new opportunities in the market. The number of mobile subscribers rose from some 11.6 million in 2011 to about 19 million in 2016.

United Arab Emirates: Regional focus - Etisalat and eCommerce platform Noon have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to appoint noon.com as an Etisalat partners offering Etisalat products and services online. Etisalat Group's Chief Executive Officer Saleh Al Abdooli said it was proud to be associated with Noon, the UAE's homegrown eCommerce platform. Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Noon, said it will continue to focus on working with regional brands and service providers.

United Arab Emirates: Retail deal - Etisalat and Tasheel signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) to appoint Tasheel Enjazat as a key retail partner for Etisalat's pre- and post-paid services as well as elife packages. Tasheel Board's Chairman Khamis Bin Salim Al Suwaidi said: "Our services mainly include banking, general directorate of residence and foreign affairs, Federal authority for identity and citizenship, Ministry of health and Department of Economic Development."

United Arab Emirates: Upwardly mobile - The UAE has increased its overall score on the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index by five points over the last two years, according to new data in the the Mobile Connectivity Index. Between 2014 and 2016, the UAE demonstrated progress across all four enablers for mobile Internet adoption as measured by the Mobile Connectivity Index: infrastructure; affordability; consumer readiness; and content. Its overall score over the two-year period increased from 67 to 72, well above the global (59) and regional (58) averages.