News in Brief 23 January 2018

Africa:

Angola: More please - The National Institute for the Development of the Information Society (INFOSI) director Miguel Cazevo has said that the Angola Online free Internet service is being accessed by 3,200 people daily in Luanda, Angop reported. Cazevo said that there have been complaints regarding the restricted two hours of access for each device. He said that the restriction was necessary to enable wider access, as each hotspot can only support 60 users simultaneously. Partnerships will be set up with operators to extend the project and a further 105 sites are expected in greater Luanda during 2018.

Benin: Celebrity content - Kirusa, a provider of communication solutions over data networks, has announced the launch of its InstaVoice Channels Service in partnership with Moov. Subscribers can now receive voice updates from celebrities like Willy Mignon, Richard Flash, Blaaz, Dibi Dobo, Tyaff, Miss Espoir, Kemy, Vano Baby, Wilf Enighma, Dah Adagboto and others.

Cape Verde: Broadcasting bids - The National Communications Agency (ANAC), which chairs the Commission for the Implementation and Monitoring of the Transmission of the Television Broadcasting System for DTT, has launched a public tender for the construction of new DTT broadcasting centres and their maintenance in the islands of Santo Antao and Fogo. Interested parties may submit tenders for one, several or all six lots, and also request in writing clarification and interpretation of the documents by 31 January. Further details are here.

Egypt: Hopeful supplier - Linatel Telecommunications says it is in negotiations to provide infrastructure for Telecom Egypt's mobile network, the Daily News reported. CEO Hamdy El-Leithy said it has been in negotiations with Telecom Egypt's officials since 2017 and was seeking to resume discussions within the coming days.

Equatorial Guinea: New head - State-owned GETESA's General Director Constantino Obiang Mbamis is stepping down, to be replaced by Carlos Esono Miko Nsim. The decrees recording the changes were issued by the President of the Republic on 17 January 2018, as reported by Equatorial Guinea's Press and Information Office.

Ghana: Bango facilitation - Mobile payments company Bango has partnered with MTN Ghana to offer operator payments in Google Play. MTN Ghana subscribers can now pay for content and services from Google Play including apps, games, music and movies, charging the cost to their MTN Mobile Money account. MTN Ghana's acting Chief Marketing Officer Noel Kojo-Ganson said: "The quest for digital content in the world and in our country today is enormous, but a convenient mode of payment has always been a bane to access a better digital evolution. MTN is happy to have partnered with Bango to offer our subscribers the opportunity to purchase their favourite apps on Google Play Store via MTN Mobile Money to experience the bold new digital world."

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Kenya: City Hall cut - Last week Safaricom cut off City Hall from the Internet for a few hours over a KES 3.2 million (USD 380,000) debt. The cut hit services such as cash payments for items such as land rates and permits, issuance of receipts and verifications of bank and cheque payments. County ICT executive Charles Kerich said it was billed quarterly but the payment had been delayed. Services were reconnected once payment was received.

Kenya: IP expansion - Wholesale network service provider Workonline Communications has made its IP transit services available in Nairobi, Kenya. Head of business development, Benjamin Deveaux, on 19 January said: "As more users come online in East Africa at an incredible pace, the region continues to be strategically important for the development of the African Internet landscape. To realise this potential, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) need more upstreams who are focused on wholesale and who offer faster, more stable connectivity to the rest of the world. Conversely, these developments mean that Workonline's customers outside the region can reach Kenya and East Africa over a stable and reliable network, with lower latency. Our focus on the development of the local market in Kenya through our wholesale IP transit services will assist in the growth of local networks who will be able to connect, through us, to the rest of the world, and remain competitive in this fast changing market."

Lesotho: Money movements - Econet Lesotho is working with Flash South Africa to facilitate money transmission between South Africa and Lesotho. Money transfers are made via Flash agencies, and the recipient in Lesotho can withdraw their money from any EcoCash agent. The service is already available to customers in the UK and US sending money to Lesotho. Users in South Africa need to visit a Flash agent displaying the EcoCash sign, with a Lesotho Passport or RSA ID, and an active SIM card from any local network. Econet Services' General Manager Motebang Moeketsi said that the partnership is a sign of Econet's aspirations to serve its customers, regardless of boundaries.

Mali: Listing latest - West Africa's BRVM Bourse Chief Executive told Reuters last week said it will list telecom operator Societe Telecom du Mali (Sotelma) and a regional banking group this year. Sotelma, formerly a state-owned monopoly, is now 51/49 percent owned between Maroc Telecom and the government.

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Namibia: Cable cut - Vandals last week struck in the Brakwater area outside Windhoek damaging fibre that left households in the area, including Elisenheim, without voice and Internet services, The Economist reported. Telecom Namibia's Head of Corporate Communications and Public Relations, Oiva Angula, said some 53 metres of fibre was affected.

Nigeria: Broadband smartphone stimulus - Licensed ISP Spectranet has said that to meet the 2018 30 percent broadband penetration target set by the NCC will require the adoption of cheaper but stronger 4G/LTE and VOLTE handsets. The Guardian reported Spectranet CEO Ajay Awasthi as saying that in India Reliance Jio had captured 85 percent of 4G subscribers and subsequently increased broadband penetration. He added that the provision of broadband connectivity for all citizens at affordable rates was also essential. However, Awasthi said: "The cost of providing broadband services in Nigeria is high and the cost kept increasing and it is likely to further increase by another 10 percent in the coming months". He called on the Federal Government and the NCC to address the issue of high cost of providing broadband services.

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Nigeria: Not time for mobile manufacturing - Samsung will not be establishing a manufacturing plant as its market share is not large enough, CommunicationsWeek reported, citing the Africa CEO, Sung Yoon. Yoon told a media briefing that manufacturing a mobile phone requires 400 components, none of which are available in Nigeria. Its market share in Nigeria is smaller than South Africa. Other issues are infrastructure, return on investment (ROI) and the grey market. Yoon said building a production plant depends on the ROI and efficiency of the economy. Samsung has plants in Vietnam, China, South Africa and Korea.

Nigeria: Pensioners polled - The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) has started the verification of more than over 20,000 pensioners of Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL). The exercise started last week Enugu, Lagos and Port Harcourt. The second phase will be conducted in Gombe, Kano and Abuja from 5 February.

South Africa: Double data - Telkom has launched its Mo'Nice promotion offering subscribers discounts on data bundles and voice minutes. Any pre-paid package purchased in the next two weeks will be doubled. The Mo'Nice deals are personalised, so each subscriber has a unique package of elements.

South Africa: Financial integration - Arise has partnered with FMO, the Dutch Development Bank and US-based Above and Beyond Tech (a&b) on a collaborative fintech initiative called FinForward, Fin24 reported. Arise CEO Deepak Malik said in a statement last week: "We are excited to join FinForward, which is aligned to our objective of accelerating the digitisation of the financial industry in Africa by supporting the innovation of financial institutions and mobile money providers' core businesses with digital solutions". The programme is powered by 4wrd, a&b's proprietary platform, which integrates and matches African financial institutions and mobile money providers with fintech companies globally.

South Africa: MTN man moves - MTN's Executive for Group Corporate Affairs, Chris Maroleng has stepped down in December 2017 with ITWeb suggesting that he will be the new COO of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), following a report by the Sunday World. Maroleng joined MTN in August 2014.

South Africa: Partners sought - Netflix is looking for business partners to increase the accessibility of streaming video platforms in the wake of fibre network roll-outs in South Africa. It told MyBroadband it cannot share regional subscriber numbers, but has seen strong growth in the local market.

South Africa: Portability deadline extended - The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) has extended the deadline for submissions of written comments on the draft number portability regulations to 29 January 2018. Last November ICASA published the regulations in the Government Gazette, with instructions that written presentations be submitted within 30 working days. ICASA says the extension has been granted following submissions from stakeholders who required more time. The draft is a revision of the 2005 number portability regulations. A copy of the draft regulations is available on ICASA's Website.

South Africa: Showmax stepdown - Internet TV company Showmax's CEO John Kotsaftis has now joined Fox Networks, MyBroadband reported. Kotsaftis has been appointed as executive vice president of Fox+ at Fox Networks Group Asia (FNG), and has relocated to Singapore, where he will head up the development of subscription VoD services for FNG Asia. He previously served as CEO of DStv Online and DStv Digital Media, and was overseeing Showmax's operations outside South Africa before his departure.

South Africa: Staying put - The head of Samsung's mobile business in South Africa, Craige Fleischer, is reported by MyBroadband to have turned down a job as MTN South Africa's General Manager of Devices. Samsung announced in November that he would step down, with MTN said he would start his new role in January. He was subsequently promoted by Samsung to vice-president of Samsung Africa - Mobile.

South Africa: Widening horizons - TechCentral has quoted Cell-C CEO Jose dos Santos as saying: "We are in the process of doing the right acquisitions and partnerships to be able to provide everything from content, insurance and possibly even financial services that all goes along with well-priced data and broadband services. We want to start generating different revenue streams." Targets include two fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) acquisitions and insurance. In November 2017 Cell-C launched Black, an online streaming platform, to compete with MultiChoice, ShowMax and Netflix.

Sudan: Asian assistance - The Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang received the new Sudanese Ambassador, Mohamed Elmurtada Mubarak Ismail Siraq, on 16 January 2018, Agence Ecofin reported. The President told the Ambassador that Vietnam wanted to strengthen economic relations, particularly in the telecoms sector. The Ambassador said that his country was, in turn, ready to take full advantage of Vietnam's ICT experience to make it a pillar of the national economy. The United States officially revoked the long-standing economic sanctions against Sudan on 12 October 2017.

Tanzania: Please share says Airtel - The Citizen reports Bharti Airtel as now asking the government to share its findings on the privatisation of the company. Bharti said it is ready to 'respond with facts from the records of the company' as it strives to resolve outstanding issues over ownership. The government is claiming that Airtel was owned by state-run Tanzania Telecommunications Company (TTCL) before shares were moved through an irregular share transfer. Bharti has a 60 percent stake in Airtel Tanzania.

Zimbabwe: Agro-training - Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ)'s EcoFarmer has partnered with the Mercy Corps and the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) to help achieve rural food security and boost productivity by raising mobile literacy among rural women farmers through practical training and on-the-ground knowledge transfer. The Herald reported that the training has been carried out in Manicaland and Mashonaland Central, starting in November 2017. The programme is being carried out under Mercy Corps' Agri-Fin Mobile Programme.

Zimbabwe: Licence query - Kwese may not have a licence to broadcast in Zimbabwe as it has severed its relationship with its licensed Broadcasting Partner. TechZim quotes Dr Disha's Executive Chairman Nyasha Muzavazi, as saying there is no provision in the Broadcasting Services Act for the operation of Broadcasting Service without a Licence. Kwese TV is a Zimbabwean satellite and broadcasting network owned by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, under Econet Media. On 23 August 2017, Econet Media announced that Kwese TV was now available in Zimbabwe and that decoders were available at Econet Shops.

Middle East:

Iraq: Convenient cab - MENA-based ride-hailing service Careem has launched in Iraq. From 15 January Baghdad's residents have been able to order rides around the clock via the app and, through GPS technology, and can be picked up and dropped off at locations of their choosing. Careem offers its ride-hailing operations in 13 MENA countries and has research and development departments and call centres in Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan and Germany.

Israel: Bezeq manoeuvrings - Elliott Associates, a New York-based hedge fund, has demanded a shake-up of the Bezeq board, as it aligns with other Bezeq shareholders to replace company directors. Elliott has a 4.8 percent stake. The move comes before the Annual General Meeting scheduled for April for May 2018, Globes reported. Last week it was reported that Elliott Associates required the immediate resignation of all the directors who were associated with the investigation of Bezeq's conducted by the Israel Securities Authority, or who were linked with Eurocom. Globes also reports that Eduardo Elsztain is considering Bezeq; although this would require him to give up his controlling interest in Cellcom. The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) has been investigating Bezeq, focusing on allegations that former chairman Shaul Elovitch, who owns Eurocom, had meddled in the merger in 2015 between Bezeq and its satellite TV unit YES for personal financial gain.

Oman: New deadline - Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) said that it is currently not in a position to disclose the initial unaudited financial results as Zain group is yet to announce its financial results. Zain, which is now 21.9 percent owned by Omantel, is being treated as a subsidiary of Omantel and therefore its results need to be consolidated with the holding group as per IFRS 10 standards.

Palestine: Data delivery - Mobile firms in the occupied West Bank started offering 3G services on 23 January. Palestinian Deputy Minister of Telecommunications Suleiman Al-Zuheiri told AFP on Sunday said: "Everything is ready and we left it to telecom companies to choose the right times, and they said it will be Tuesday morning". The service will be available only in the West Bank initially. Al-Zuheiri said mobile operators are waiting for Israeli approval to ship equipment into Gaza.

Qatar: Free daily data - Vodafone Qatar pre-paid users can now win free data and minutes every morning with the new 'Daily 123' promotion, set to run until 26 February. Subscribers will also become eligible to win cash every day when they activate any paid offer, Vodafone said in a statement. Vodafone will reward the winners of the cash prizes in a series of events and engage with its customers via its social media channels.

Turkey: 5G steering - Turkcell has joined 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), a group developing the standards in 5G, which is due for commercial launch in 2020. Turkcell CEO Kaan Terzioglu said: "Wwe are proud to be a pioneer in several fields concerning 5G. We reached record speeds in one of the world's first 5G tests, which took place under the roof of Turkcell. To lay the groundwork for Turkey to be a major player in the field, we are engaged in scientific cooperation with universities and are continuing to support the leading efforts of BTK (Information and Communication Technologies Authority), all aimed at making Turkey one of the first countries to implement 5G. We have gained valuable experience in infrastructure and product deployment, service development, making network improvements, and offering the latest technologies, by cooperating with global players. In the field of 5G, as a corporation we desire not to be a mere consumer".

Turkey: Better TV - The Vodafone TV mobile service has been upgraded with the addition of exclusive content. Users will be able to watch the content for free for the first month and for TRY 5 (USD 16.03) in February. The service already has more than 60 TV channels, and subscribers watch it for an average of 40 minutes a day, according to a press release. The application has been downloaded more than 1 million times so far, and a subscriber typically consumes more than 5 GB per month on the platform.

Turkey: Dynamic spectrum sharing - Vodafone Turkey and Huawei have completed the world's first trial of GSM/LTE (GL) 900MHz dynamic spectrum sharing on Vodafone's commercial networks in the Black Sea coast city of Trabzon. The press release said that the trial had demonstrated that 900MHz spectrum can be allocated between 4G and 2G services based on customer demand, allowing Vodafone Turkey to provide up to 10MHz of 4G capacity and throughput 'in a very effective way', improving download and upload throughput by 20 percent. Vodafone Turkey's Chief Technology Officer, Mallik Rao, said: "This new network optimisation technique improves spectral efficiency and enhances the experience of Vodafone customers."