News in Brief 25 October 2017

Africa:

Algeria: Petition posted - Orascom TMT Investments (OTMTI) is to challenge the June ruling issued by the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). ICSID dismissed Orascom's multi-billion claim against the Algerian state for reducing the value of mobile operator Djezzy. Following the verdict, OTMTI submitted a petition for annulment to the ICSID on 28 September, advised by international law firm White & Case LLP.

Angola: Database management - Angop has reported that a working group has been created to ensure the continuous functioning of the public procurement database of the State's financial management systems. Established by the ministries of Finance and Telecommunications and Information Technology, the team is to help run the Integrated State Financial Management System (SIGFE) and the National Electronic Public Procurement System (SNCPE). The team is coordinated by the Director General of the National Service of Public Procurement, Rosaria de Fatima Rangel Filipe.

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Angola: Launch date set - Angola will launch its first communications satellite on 7 December, The East African reported. ICT Minister Jose Carvalho da Rocha said AngoSat-1 will provide telecom services nationally once operations begin. The satellite, built by a Russian consortium, will be launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and has a lifespan of 15 years. The satellite was commissioned in 2012 and its launch has been postponed on a number of occasions.

Cameroon: Payment confirmed - Orange Cameroon's Managing Director is reported to have written to Minister of Posts and Telecommunication, Elisabeth Medou Badang on 18 October 2017 to confirmed that it has made the payment of XAF 1.6 billion (USD 2.9 million) that was owed for fibre backbone access. Orange said that it was still contested the invoice.

Cameroon: Rapid development - Mobile money transactions using via reached XAF 870 billion (USD 1.57 bilion) in 2016, APA reported citing the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ART). The value of transactions have risen from XAF 200 billion (USD 360.5 million) in 2014, an increase of XAF 670 billion (USD 1.21 billion) in a two year period. Mobile penetration stands at 80 percent, representing just over 18 million subscribers.

Egypt: Rising costs - Telecom Egypt has re-priced some fixed-line services and adjusted the monthly subscription starting from October, DailyNewsEgypt reported. Fixed-line subscriptions have been adjusted to EGP 15 (USD 0.85) per month up from EGP 12 (USD 0.68). The cost of having a new fixed-line is now EGP 60, excluding tax and stamp, and includes a 3 month subscription worth EGP 45. The increase is attributed to the increase in operating costs as a result of exchange rate liberalization.

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Kenya: Better bundles - Telkom Kenya is now offering the Freedom Bundle, with free calls within the network, free WhatsApp and free texts to any local network. Calls to other networks cost KES 2 (USD 0.02) per minute, a daily bundle is KES 39 (USD 0.37); 3-days KES 49 (USD 0.47), and a weekly bundle varies from KES 99 to KES 249 (USD 0.94 - 2.37) and a monthly bundle is KES 499 to KES 2,999 (USD 4.75 - 28.52).

Kenya: Electrical Internet - Liquid Telecom Kenya has signed a ten-year deal with Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) to operate KETRACO's Optical Ground Wire (OPGW) fibre cable and expand the Internet network across East Africa. The agreement will see the upgrading of fibre connections to areas already connected to the national grid with high voltage lines of 132kV and above. They include Garissa, Isiolo, Garsen, Lamu, Rabai, Namanga, Meru, Machakos, Makueni, Wote, Sultan Hamud, Mwingi, Konza, Kitale, Eldoret, Kisii and Kisumu.

Kenya: Financial regulation - Regulators are planning a meeting in early 2018 to discuss how to regulate cryptocurrencies, The Star reported. Kenya is flagged-up as one of the fastest African adopters of bitcoin, as per data from localbitcoins. In 2015 the Central Bank of Kenya put out a notice warning the public that virtual currencies were unregulated with no legal protection. The agencies due to participate are the Capital Markets Authority, Central Bank of Kenya, Insurance Regulatory Authority, Saccos Societies Regulatory Authority and the Retirement Benefits Authority.

Libya: Helping hand - The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on 20 October agreed to support Libya in the development of its telecommunications sector. The decision was taken on the last day of the World Telecommunication Development Conference, which took place on 9 October 2017 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As with Somalia, ITU will assist Libya in developing human capacity and expertise, as well as developing laws and regulations that will contribute to a better-tuned sector.

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Mauritius: MD named - Sat-Space Africa has named Tillmann Wilschke as its new Managing Director. The company is an IP-connectivity provider using a combination of satellite and IP technology based in Mauritius, with an operations centre in Namibia. Tillmann brings with him 20 years of experience and knowledge of the telecoms. He graduated as a telecoms engineer in Germany, and then joined Infineon and later Vodafone in Munich.

Nigeria: Interest in MNO - Bharti Airtel is reported to be showing an interest in acquiring mobile operator 9Mobile and is thought to be one of the firms that has submitted an Expression of Interest. Some 16 firms have submitted their expressions of interest (EoI) by the deadline including MTN, ntel and privately owned Bua Group, according to local media reports.

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Nigeria: Internet investment - A team led by Ericsson Group's Head of Government and Industry Relations, Shitlesi Makkhofane, and Ericsson Nigeria's Peter Olusoji have said that Ericsson has studied the telecom market and concluded that the market has vast untapped potential. The Punch reported that the vendor is interested in investing in Nigeria's broadband market and is ready to deploy broadband in un-served and underserved areas of the country.

Senegal: Fibre future - Sonatel is now offering high-speed Internet to mainstream and corporate customers using fibre. It is already deploying 4G in all the regional capitals, whilst it is partnering the State of Senegal through the Emergent Senegal Plan (PSE). Fibre is to be rolled out gradually with the areas of Keur Gorgui and a part of plateau will be available by the end of October.

South Africa: Local payments - Netflix has said that it will charge for local subscriptions in rand, MyBroadband reported. Netflix's head of corporate communications for EMEA, Yann Lafargue, said it plans to be more proactive in South Africa. Netflix has tripled the number of titles in its South African catalogue since its global launch in January 2016. He said that 99 percent of the data traffic consumed locally is serviced from South Africa, as Netflix now has local servers. Currently Kwesr Play, which is the official partner of Netflix and Roku, offers one of the few ways that a Netflix subscription can be paid for in rand.

Zambia: Migration mandate - StarTimes says that Zambia is one of 17 African countries to benefit from a USD 2.5 billion contract for digital migration, Lusaka Times reported. The group signed a USD 273 million contract with the government for the migration. StarTimes Vice President Guo Ziqi said that Zambia will also benefit from the 10,000 African Villages Satellite Television project, with the government identifying villages to receive digital television.

Zambia: Fibre deal - Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) and Lusaka South Multi Facility Economic Zone have signed a memorandum of understanding for supply, delivery, distribution and maintenance of an fibre cable network. Zamtel’s Chief Executive Officer, Sydney Mupeta, said that the project will cost some ZMW 1.7 million (USD 174,000). The project will be undertaken in phases, with the first phase focused on the development of communication infrastructure for the main building. The second phase will address the rest of the area in the Economic Zone.

Zambia: Profitable telco - Minister of Transport and Communications, Brian Mushimba has said that Zamtel is now trading profitable, having posted profit over the last few months, Lusaka Times reported. He said that the government is confident that newly appointed CEO Sydney Mupeta and a new board will further improve performance.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Plan discussions - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is developing a new economic regulatory framework to support and promote the Fourth National Telecommunications Plan, by defining the rules and obligations for operators. A key meeting with Batelco, Viva, and Zain discussed the development of technical solutions between Batelco and the other mobile operators that will facilitate better quality mobile services. The TRA said there will be a transitional period prior to the finalization of the economic regulatory framework, during which Batelco will continue to supply wholesale services to mobile operators, the TRA said a statement.

Iran: IoT induction - Ericsson has been contracted by the government to provide the wherewithal to launch the Internet of Things (IoT) nationally. The deal was signed between Ericsson and the Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran (Hamrah Aval) on the sidelines of the Iran Telecom Fair 2017 in Tehran. No further details have been released. News portal Payvand noted that a pilot project to use the IoT has already been launched in Tehran, and that preliminaries for launching on a larger scale were then in hand.

Iran: Neighbourly colaboration - The Financial Tribune reports that Iran's Minister of Telecommunications Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi has met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to talk about the expansion of bilateral cooperation in ICT. The two have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on telecoms cooperation and exchange of technologies.

Iran: Payment service promised - The Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) is to launch its eWallet service to facilitate online purchases, the Financial Tribune reported citing the operator's Website. TCI's vice chairman Mozaffar Pour-Ranjbar said that the service will be launched by in March 2018.

Jordan: Fast fibre fixes - Orange Fibre Box has been launched by Orange Jordan for its fibre broadband customers, and the Fly Box for 4G internet customers. The Fibre Box provides speeds up to 300 Mbps and 'Super Wi-Fi' to ensure optimum domestic Internet coverage for multiple users and applications. Additionally, the Orange Fibre Box offer comes with unlimited calls to all local mobile networks and to selected international destinations at prices starting from JOD 29.90 (USD 42) per month. Users can also subscribe to 'Bait Al Aileh' to combine their fibre services and mobile subscription in a single bill with discounts and other features. Prices for the 4G Fly Box device start at JOD 12 (USD 16.87) per month.

Oman: 4x data - Omantel's Baqati plan subscribers now get up to four times the data when signing a contract. Omantel's General Manager of Marketing, Said Salim al Shanfari, said: "The new offers for Baqati post-paid customers will give up to 20GB of data to meet their increasing data requirements on the go, without compromising on connectivity." Users get a free additional data allowance up to four times when signing a 24-month contract. A 12-month option gives customers double data. The Baqati Plus offer is valid until 25 October.

Qatar: Paying for purchases - Ooredoo Qatar's both post- and pre-paid mobile subscribers can now pay for purchases in the App Store and iTunes directly from their mobile account. Users with a new or existing Apple ID can select Carrier Billing as a payment method in their account settings for the App Store and iTunes and from their iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac, or on iTunes from their PC.

Turkey: Regional discounts - Vodafone Red regional loyalty programme are being held in Adana and Antalya. Qualified subscribers are entitled to 15 percent discounts in selected restaurants. To take advantage of Vodafone Red's exclusive privileges, subscribers need to get a discount code through the 'Avantaj Cepte' mobile application.

United Arab Emirates: Content expanded - Etisalat's subsidiary E-Vision has announced its first content agreement with BBC Worldwide for the subscription of video-on-demand (SVOD) service. The deal delivers a broad spectrum of content to SVOD customers including War and Peace, Wolf Hall, Wild Mexico, Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Citizen Khan. BBC Worldwide's Vice President and General Manager for the Middle East and Mediterranean region, Natasha Hussain, said: "MENA is one of the fastest growing online markets in the world, with changing viewing habits among data-savvy consumers."

United Arab Emirates: Country calling - Etisalat has a new international calling plan for fixed line subscribers which allow unlimited international calls to a selected country of choice. The Unlimited International Calling plan, costing AED 150 (USD 41) per month, allows unlimited international calls to a mobile or fixed line in a country selected from a list of 64. Calls to countries other than the selected one at normal standard call rates.

United Arab Emirates: Promotional agreement - Abu Dhabi Distribution Company (ADDC), part of Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Etislat that will see ADDC promote the telco's elife products and services.

United Arab Emirates: Speedy tests - Tests on Etisalat's 'pre-commercial' 5G site operating over e-band using 2GHz of bandwidth as well as massive MIMO technologies has reached new record speeds of over 70Gbps in live 5G trials. 5G is due to deployed in the UAE in 2020.