News in Brief 16 November 2017

Africa:

Afghanistan: Progress - Roshan Community's (a division of operator Roshan) MD, Shainoor Khoja, told Mobile World Live that 90 percent of the population now has 'access to a mobile phone and they can make calls anywhere around the world'. Khoja noted that it now has m-Pesa that allows the unbanked to be banked, salary dispersement and a reduction in corruption, and has facilitated microfinance in rural areas. Roshan has also developed a range of remote healthcare and education applications. Roshan has contributing 6 percent of GDP.

Africa: Digital focus - In reaffirmed its belief that African telcos need to focus on Digital Operations Transformation, Huawei has revealed that it plans to invest USD 1 billion in the next three years to develop digitisation solutions, ITNewsAfrica reported. Huawei's Chief Marketing Officer Global Services, Steven Zheng, speaking at the Operations Transformation Forum at AfricaCom 2017 said: "As global voice revenue and growth is declining, data and digital services are now driving revenue growth; digital operations transformation is crucial for operators' business growth and evolution and digital operation transformation must return to the commercial nature, what specific problems to be solved and what value to be delivered." Huawei has identified three key elements for Digital Operations Transformation, namely: a set of Industry-based best practices and methodologies, open industry reference models and a series of executable targets.

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Egypt: Internet rising - The Internet market attracted some 3.5 million new clients in August compared with the same month in 2016, the Daily News reported. According to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, the number of mobile Internet users rose some 10.5 percent from 28.77 million in August 2016 to 31.78 million at the end of 30 August 2017.

Egypt: Retail expansion - Orange Egypt has opened 25 new sales outlets. The new mini-shops are located in Manial, Rehab City, Maadi and Madinaty, with a boutique in Hadayek El Kobba.

Kenya: Cyber threat solution - Internet Solutions Kenya has launched an enterprise security solution to mitigate and secure threats that businesses might be exposed to. The move anticipates a 30 November 2017 deadline set by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) for financial institutions to implement new cyber security guidelines. Internet Solutions' Head of Cyber Security Dr Bright Mawudor, noted: "Traffic from wireless and mobile devices poses a big threat especially for the Kenyan market given the integration between mobile banking and mobile money systems - a unique case that could cause the rise of specific threats. This calls for a robust and strategic approach to adequately tackle enterprise security, which is currently not clearly defined across various industries/organisations. It is therefore critical that even as businesses put in place Cyber Security plans, they invest in regular training for all their staff."

Kenya: Internet links - Some 850 hotspots have been connected by Facebook to its low-cost Internet service since the launch of the service in March this year with plans to link an additional 150 public places before the end of 2017 year end, Business Daily reported. Surf Kenya, Facebook's local partner, in partnership with Internet Solutions Kenya, plans to cover 20 towns over the next two months.

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Namibia: Preferred payment - MultiChoice Namibia announced on 8 November that it had resumed its partnership with MobiPay Namibia, three months after terminating the original contract dating from 2011. MultiChoice and Airtime City announced on 2 August that they had formed a partnership which would allow DStv and GOtv customers to make real-time payments at Airtime City vending machines nationally. Since the end of October, customers have been able to make payments on MTC Money Wallet, Standard Bank Blue Wallet, Waltons, Nedbank, Pick n Pay and Woermann Brock.

Nigeria: Tempting tv - The cost of Multichoice's GOtv decoder bundle with a one-month GOtv Plus subscription was reduced to NGN 5,500 (USD 15.23) for visitors to the 37th Lagos International Trade Fair. MultiChoice Nigeria's General Manager, Marketing, Martin Mabutho said the cut was to make GOtv services more accessible.

Rwanda: Better deals - Tigo Rwanda has launched its 'Isanzure Packs' and 'Africa Packs'. Africa Packs allow calls to Uganda, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and South Sudan starting from RWF 56 (USD 0.07) per minute, which is claimed to be the lowest rate currently available. Isanzure Packs allow let customers to use data, SMS and voice calls tailored to their needs, and they will be able to call more and for longer.

South Africa: 5G trial - Vodacom is to trial Nokia 5G to accelerate its launch in South Africa. Nokia has a 5G portfolio that it claims will allow operators to gain an early-to-market advantage in the delivery of ultra-fast mobile broadband services at multi-Gigabit speeds and low latency. Nokia will provide 5G technologies such as massive MIMO Adaptive Antennas, AirScale Radio Access, AirGile Cloud-native Core, Multi-Access Edge Computing, and Mobile Anyhaul transport networks.

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South Africa: Major event - It is reported that some 11,000 delegates and 400 exhibitors attended AfricaCom in Cape Town, South Africa last week. The event celebrated its 20th anniversary this year.

South Africa: Teaching aid - Telkom group subsidiary BCX has launched a digital learning platform which is designed to drive South African education by offering free access to online educational content. The materials at BCXLearn.com are available without charge. BCX CEO Ian Russell said that learners will have free access to all the material in the standard national curriculum from Grade 4 to Grade 12.

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Uganda: VATable top-up - Mobile subscribers have been complaining of being charged unusual additional amounts when using airtime scratch cards. The Observer newspaper reports that the problem appears to relate to Value Added Tax, and whether an agent is registered for the tax. Distributors perform a service to the telco by distributing their products, and those that have already registered for VAT are adding VAT to their customer invoices, and hence the discrepancy in the amounts users are being charged. Ultimately all agents will be registered.

Zimbabwe: OneMoney expansion - The NetOne OneMoney platform was formally launched in Bulawayo last week with the Permanent Secretary Engineer Sam Kundishora, reading a speech attributed to Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services Supa Mandiwanzira. OneMoney offers a debit card linked to most banks in Zimbabwe that are on the ZIPIT platform. Customers can move money from their banks to OneMoney and vice-versa. OneMoney was first unveiled in Murewa two months ago at a syndicated mobile money platform roll-out to farmers.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Registration reminder - Batelco has reminded its subscribers that the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA)'s SIM card registration regulation came into effect on 12 July 2017. The TRA regulated for the registration of both pre- and post-paid SIM cards for all mobile operators, including Batelco. The regulation, which applies to consumer, commercial and government entities, states that all mobile customers are required to complete the registration and verification process.

Jordan: School net - Systems integrator Waseela has completed a project providing high-speed Wireless between schools and education directories using an advanced wireless network for Umniah Telecom. The project involved the design, supply and installation of more than 3,000 high speed wireless connections. Waseela says that it was the largest integrated project in the region last year, and the largest wireless connectivity project between schools in the Middle East.

Oman: 90-day promo - Omantel users who recharge their credit with OMR 3 (USD 7.77) or more via any recharge type (physical card or electronic) can be entered into a monthly prize draw to win three brand new Porsche Boxsters, TVs and gaming consoles and free Omantel services. The promotion will run for 90 days.

Oman: Current coverage - Ooredoo Oman says its Fast Home Broadband network now covers 60 Wilayats (regions). The list of areas currently covered by the home broadband network include major cities within the governorates of Dhofar, Ad Dakhiliyah, Muscat, Al Batinah and Ash.

Oman: Done deal - Oman Telecommunications (Omantel) has completed the acquisition of a 12.1 percent stake in Mobile Telecommunications Company (Zain), making it the second largest shareholder with a 21.9 percent stake. The new grouping will be the third largest combined telecoms group in the MENA region, with 52 million customers, a statement said. The total equity value of the 21.9 percent shareholding is out at USD 2.19 billion, Omantel said.

Saudi Arabia: Best in class - Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has been named as the best wholesale operator in the Middle East at the 'Capacity Europe2017' event in London. The award was received by Homoud M. Al-Kussayer, wholesale vice president, STC.

Saudi Arabia: Broadband part one - The Saudi Press Agency reports that the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has completed Phase 1 of the broadband coverage expansion project a month earlier than scheduled. The project covers more than 140,000 citizens in 13 provinces and was awarded to Zain Saudi Arabia in March 2017. Zain is set to increase high-speed broadband coverage in the underserved areas to 70 percent by 2020.

Turkey: Facebook friends - Turkcell has joined the Facebook Telecoms Infrastructure Project (TIP) initiative, saying it wants to help expand and speed up network deployments. More than 500 operators, vendors, integrators and start-ups that have joined since Facebook, Deutsche Telekom, Intel, Nokia and SK Telecom formed TIP in 2016. Turkcell CEO Kaan Terzioglu said he was looking forward to 'reimagining the traditional approach to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure'.

United Arab Emirates: Store payment system - The OMA Emirates Group has partnered with payment and business software provider Karma Technology to provide a safe and seamless mobile payment system across all 15 Maison BMore outlets. The pocket sized Ingenico iSMP terminals supplied by OMA Emirates and implemented by Karma Technology allow staff to move easily around the stores with the device, which fits comfortably in the palm of a hand.