News in Brief 9 November 2017

Africa:

Africa: Profitable platform - MVNE Pareteum has signed a five-year deal with an unnamed telco in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide its managed services platform. Pareteum is expected to generate some USD 12 million in revenue from the deal during the first three years. The annual value of the contract is expected to increase, and at a faster rate in its 4th and 5th years, as enrollment accelerates. The initial on-boarding of subscribers is expected to start in 2Q 2018.

Angola: Licence liberation - The president of the Board of Angolan Communications Institute (Inacom) said it has started to licence new operators for the provision of fixed telephony and Internet services, Lusa reported. Following the launch of the Angosat-1 satellite, operators will be able to pay for capacity in the national currency.

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Egypt: International interface - Telecom Egypt has renewed of its long-term deal with Vodafone Egypt to provide international call conveyance services. The agreement, which took effect from September, extends to the end of 2022. It is expected to worth some EGP 12 billion (USD 679 million) to Telecom Egypt over the life of the deal.

Gabon: Digital deal - The Minister of the Digital Economy has signed a MoU with Huawei Technologies to collaborate on several infrastructure projects contained within the Digital Gabon strategic plan, Agence Ecofin reported. These include progressing phases three and four of the BNG (Backbone National Gabonais) fibre roll-out, extending FTTx connectivity, building a national data centre and implementing a smart city project under the Smart-Gabon programme.

Ghana: New name in November - The new name for the merged Tigo/Airtel entity is to be announced on 10 November, Adom News reported. New CEO Roshi Motman has told staff about the name change. Adom notes that employees claim that the companies are asking staff to reapply for their posts so that those who do not qualify for voluntary redundancy and so can be treated as failed applicants.

Kenya: Boycott target - The opposition coalition is asked supporters to boycott three major companies it says benefit from ties to the government of President Uhuru Kenyatta, who won last week's repeat election after an opposition boycott. Reuters reports that Safaricom is being targeted as it helped transmit the election results.

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Kenya: Set-top standards set - The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is to standardise the set-top boxes and other devices used to provide television content via the Internet, the BusinessDaily reported. CA Director-General Francis Wangusi said in a notice that the standardisation of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) set-top boxes is intended to protect consumers.

Kenya: Stand-ins named - Speaking at the half-year results presentation for 2017/2018 financial year, Safaricom Chairman Nicholas Ng'ang'a said that Joe Ogutu, Director, Strategy and Innovation, and Sateesh Kamath, Chief Financial Officer will manage the business in the absence of CEO Bob Collymore who is on long term medical leave. It will not appoint an acting CEO.

Malawi: Electrical efficiency - Chairman of the Media and Communications Parliamentary Committee Sam Kawale, whilst visiting Internet infrastructure in Lilongwe, said that the lack of reliable electricity meant that ISPs were depending on other sources of energy, which were very expensive, MANA reported. He said as a result, most ISPs are surcharging consumers.

Morocco: Internet rising - Mobile Internet users have risen by some 35 percent in 3Q17, compared to 31 percent in 2Q17, according to national regulator Agence Nationale de Ruglementation des Telecommunications (ANRT). The number of users rose by 3.31 million since June, reaching 21.25 million overall at the end of September, including 6.46 million LTE connections.

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Nigeria: IPO inches forward - MTN Nigeria preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) are now described as advanced and is expected to be completed the process in the next six months, CEO Rob Shuter has told Bloomberg. Shuter described the IPO as a 'complicated process' as it involves a high level of regulation, but described the process as 'moving forward well'. MTN agreed to launch an IPO as part of its settlement with regulators after it was fined for unregistered SIMs and met with the country's Securities and Exchange Commission in November 2016 to discuss the process.

Nigeria: Passing on - Farmers in northern Nigeria have called on MTN and other telcos to block SIM cards that have not been formally registered by their users, saying they enable the operations of Islamist militant group Boko Haram, Bloomberg reported. According to MTN Nigeria's Corporate Relations Executive Tobechukwu Okigbo, there have been reports of pre-registered SIM cards being sold on to users who have not provided personal data. All unregistered cards, however, have indeed been disconnected. NCC spokesman Tony Ojobo said that the problem is not confined only to MTN, and that an industry taskforce has been set up to define the modalities for the campaign.

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South Africa: Claims queried - The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against MTN over a claim that is has a superior network for audio and video streaming and that its average dropped call rate is 0.1 percent, TechCentral reported. Vodacom, via advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, lodged the complaint over a 'live-read' ad for MTN that was aired on several radio stations in late August and early September. Vodacom arguing that it was unaware of any recognised third-party or protocol that measures the quality of streaming music and high-definition videos. Ookla shows Vodacom as South Africa's fastest network for both modern devices and 4G/LTE, and the OpenSignal report from August 2017 suggested that Vodacom was top in 3G download speed as well as 3G and 4G. In tied for first place in 4G download speed, overall download speed and 4G availability.

South Africa: Data centre expansion - Internet Solutions (IS) has started work on a prefabricated extension to its Parklands data centre. IS claims that the scale of the extension is the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. Phase One is due to come online in July 2018 and will contain 130 racks while subsequent modules will be ordered in configurations best suited to client demands.

South Africa: Local infrastructure fix - Jasco's NewTelco SA has introduced an infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) offering, targeted at international telcos and service providers that are looking to grow their client bases locally, ITWeb reported. The solution includes servers, storage, co-location, local and global interconnects with other Internet service providers and telcos, as well as backhaul, distribution and operations, plus business support systems like customer on-boarding, billing and administration.

South Africa: Mobile music - MTN's Bozza network now offers Simfy Africa for both post- and pre-paid users at a cost of ZAR 25 (USD 1.79) per week or for a monthly subscription of ZAR 60 (USD 4.29). Simfy Africa allows users to download songs from a large catalogue without advertising.

South Africa: PayPal protection - PayPal has launched its Seller Protection Programme to help protect merchants from buyer's claims, chargeback and reversals. It provides coverage for unauthorised transactions, when a buyer claims that they never authorised the payment for the purchase and for Item Not Received, when a buyer claims they did not receive the goods or service purchased.

Tanzania: Dividend delight - Vodacom Tanzania has approved TZS 26 billion (USD 11.3 million) in dividends at its first Annual General Meeting since it listed on the local bourse. Some 1,500 shareholders attended the meeting which also appointed new members into the board of directors. Vodacom listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) on 15 August this year, after an initial public offering (IPO) which brought in some 40,000 new shareholders and raised TZS 476 billion (USD 207.5 million). A profit of TZS 47.55 billion (USD 20.73 million) was reported in the year ended 31 March 2017.

Uganda: SIM registration success - At the conclusion of a mandatory SIM card registration and validation on 31 August 2017, the Uganda Communications Commission's Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi told The Independent said that some 23.5 million mobile subscribers had been registered across the eight telcos. The Minister noted that there had been a significant reduction in SIM boxing, and operators have been advised to buy Fraud Management and Revenue Assurance Software which both MTN and Airtel have done. The Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) states that telcos lose over 15 percent of their interconnection termination revenue through SIM boxing.

Zimbabwe: Enhanced clouds - Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe has joined the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme. The CSP deal enables Liquid to offer products and services such as Microsoft 365, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Dynamics 365, Enterprise Mobility Suite and Windows 10. Liquid's Managing Director and Group Executive Southern Africa Wellington Makamure said: "Through the CSP agreement, local businesses now have access to essential world-class business solutions that consolidate their most valuable productivity tools on a single platform."

Middle East:

Afghanistan: Short-term stoppage - The government has blocked the WhatsApp and Telegram messaging services. Officials at the Afghanistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) last week, confirmed that they had written to service providers to ask for a temporary, 20-day ban, citing security issues. Acting Minister of Telecommunications Shahzad Aryobee also posted a message on Facebook saying that the regulator had been ordered to put a gradual block on messaging services to solve technical problems, after numerous complaints had been received. Services including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Viber are widely used by the Afghan public but also by the Taliban, who are known to operate their own complex messaging and social media operations.

Iran: Taxing times - The Trend Website reports that some 630,000 mobile device were sold each month during the summer, quoting a report by GFK (Growth from Knowledge). Samsung had the largest share at 51 percent, followed by Apple (30 percent), LG (10 percent), Huawei (8 percent), Sony (3 percent), HTC (2 percent) and others (2 percent). The report apparently suggests that only 10 percent are legal, with customs tariffs paid. Of these, 70 percent are sold. It is also reported that the Iran Customs Administration has imposed a 5 percent duty on imported devices; importers also need to pay 9 percent value added tax (VAT).

Oman: Speeding bullet - Ooredoo is advising customers to invest in devices that support Cat 16 technology, such as the Nighthawk MR 1100 Mobile Router which is available at Ooredoo Shops and on the eShop. With speeds up to 1Gbps, an MP3 file of 3 MB can be downloaded in less than a second, a 950 MB HD TV episode in eight seconds, and a 15 GB Blu-Ray Movie in two minutes.

Oman: Talk time - Omantel has launched a promotion offering Hayyak customers greater value on talk time. Talk+ offer provides customers with up to 1,000 minutes to be used for local calls at the rate of 10bz per minute. The new plans will offer 300 national minutes on a recharge of OMR 3 (USD 7.75); 500 national minutes on a recharge of OMR 5 (USD 12.95) and 1,000 national minutes on a recharge of OMR 10 (USD 25.90). Omantel's Consumer Business Unit Manager of Core Services, Mohammed al Hakmani, said the offer was valid till 26 January 2018.

Qatar: Staff salaries - Ooredoo Qatar says its Mobile Money Payroll service now services some 130,000 employees. Every month it is used to pay over QAR 100 million (USD 26.2 million) to workers in Qatar via their Ooredoo Money Wallet. This save businesses bank processing fees, reducing accounting and administration costs and improving business efficiency.

Saudi Arabia: Central processing - Mada Communications, a fully owned services subsidiary of Zain Group, is rolling out a new Distribution Denial of Service (DDoS) mitigation offering to its country operations and international roaming customers. An agreement with application security experts F5 Networks will see Zain benefit from next-generation, cloud-ready DDoS mitigation technology. A centralized 'scrubbing' service processes incoming traffic to detect, identify and mitigate threats in real-time. Clean traffic is then returned to relevant sites, preventing attacks from reaching the network.

Saudi Arabia: Cyber protection - The government has set up the National Authority for Cyber Security a following a Royal Decree with the Minister of State Musaed Al Aiban named as its chairman, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The authority will be directly linked to Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Turkey: Search success - Turkcell's Web search engine Yaani hit the one million download mark within a week of launch it said in a statement on 25 October. Yaani also became the most downloaded application in the country's application markets in the first 3 days after its release. The app is designed to use the unique syntax of Turkish, which is intended to give better results to searches made in Turkish.

United Arab Emirates: Playbook purchased - Etisalat Group, Deloitte and Huawei on 30 October the launched a joint White Paper entitled 'From Pipelines to Clouds - Etisalat's Playbook'. In it Etisalat shares the lessons learned and likely future direction towards a cloud-native Telco which will ultimately make a contribution to the telecommunication industry, as well as to indicate how all these technologies combined can elevate a Telcos' capabilities to revamp their business. Etisalat Group’s Chief Technology Officer Hatem Bamatraf said: "Cloud computing presents unique opportunities for Etisalat to attain sustainable growth in the emerging digital ecosystem." Etisalat is devising strategies for the adaption of SDN and NFV technologies as well as MEC, AI, Machine Learning, 5G, etc.

United Arab Emirates: PoS provision - Etisalat and Rakbank have signed a memorandum of understanding for managed point of sale services. Rakbank will be provided with last-mile PoS operations by Etisalat as an outsourced and managed service partner, which is claimed to be a first in the UAE payments and banking industry.

United Arab Emirates: Secure solution - Gemalto has supplied Emirates NBD with its Mobile Suite that offers robust security and an enhanced end user experience. This includes the 'Smart Pass' service which quickens the authentication of digital banking transactions by eliminating the need for customers to wait for a one-time password (OTP) via SMS.