News in Brief 30 January 2018

Africa

Africa: Presidential chair - Rwanda's President Paul Kagame is to co-chair UN's Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development which brings together an influential community that just set seven 2025 targets in support of "connecting the other half" (3.8 billion) of the world's population. These were launched during the 2018 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and include ensuring that all countries should have a funded national broadband plan or strategy; that entry-level broadband services in developing countries should be at less than 2 percent of monthly gross national income per capita; and that Internet user penetration should reach: 75 percent worldwide, 65 percent in developing countries, and 35 percent in least developed countries. They will also work to ensure that 40 percent of the world's population should is using digital financial services in the 7-year period.

Ethiopia: Success acknowledged - Ethio Telecom has won international awards in two categories. It has been awarded The International Socrates Award Europe Business Assembly at an event held in Oxford, UK, for the second time in two categories. Ethio Telecom's Corporate Communications Officer, Ato Abdurahim Ahmed, received the award on 19 December 2017. He noted that the operator had rolled out modern infrastructure nationally; introducing new products and services; employed modern Corporate Management systems, and implemented customer centric service delivery systems through out its retail outlets. The second award was The International Socrates Award, and was awarded to Dr. Andualem Admassie, Chief Executive Officer of Ethio Telecom, for his efforts to evolve the operator.

Gambia: Africell LTE - Mobile operator Africell has commercial launched 4G LTE services, joining rival QCell which introduced LTE mobile service in May 2017. Africell has posted a series of promotional YouTube videos showing live LTE network speed tests with download/upload rates exceeding 68Mbps/20Mbps. Users are being offered a free 4G SIM card replacement.

Kenya: Competition consultation - Communication Authority has said that it has not illegally implemented the recommendations of the Analysys Mason competition study that address the dominance issue, following the Consumers Federation of Kenya claim that it was not consulted despite being a stakeholder. In a statement to the press, Communication Authority Acting director general Christopher Kimei said: "For the avoidance of doubt, the Authority wishes to state categorically that the pilot on mobile money interoperability rolled out last week was indeed an independent initiative of mobile telecommunications industry that had nothing to do with the outcome of the competition study."

Kenya: Data analysis - Strathmore University has launched the Strathmore Africa Data Analytic Centre, targeting businesses that do not have the capacity to collect or analyse data from their daily operations. Liquid Telecom is a partner in the venture, providing rack space and collocation offerings at the East Africa Data Centre (EADC) in Nairobi, Kenya. At the same time, Liquid will establish a direct fibre link between the Business School and EADC, which is currently being expanded and has some 2,000 square metres of secured space for data servers on four floors.

Madagascar: Helping hand - Several Airtel Madagascar teams from Diego, Fianarantsoa, Tamatave and Antsirabe have participated in a distribution operation of basic necessities and utensils in the areas most affected by hurricane Ava, Madagasikara Midi reported. More than 600 people and 150 households received sacks of rice, beans, bowls, candles, sugar, oil and other materials. Airtel Madagascar's Executive Director Maixent Bekangba said: "We are at the side of the communities we serve, in good times and in difficult times, from relief and assistance to the regions affected by Hurricane Ava."

Malawi: SIM sense - Airtel Malawi has welcomed the mandatory SIM card registration exercise announced by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), saying the development will help curbing fraud through fake promotions, Nyasa Times reported. Airtel Money's Marketing Manager Tione Kafumbu made the observation on 24 January 2018 when the operator conducted the seventh draw for the ongoing Kuufira Summer Bonanza. He added: "As Airtel, we have been doing registration of customers through our Know Your Customer (KYC) campaign and we are happy that government has introduced the mandatory registration exercise."

Mozambique: Glidepath defined - The Instituto Nacional das Communicacoes de Mozambique (INCM) board has now passed a resolution heralding new interconnection tariffs. The rates, published in the edition of the Boletim da Republica, Series II, No. 2, dated 4 January 2018 relate to the period 2017 to 2020. Rates will fall MZM 0.48, 0.43, 0.39 and 0.37 per minute for the years 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The tariffs for termination services for the years 2018 to 2020 are also defined, as well as the adjustments between operators for the period from 1 May to the date of entry into force of the new tariffs.

Namibia: Digital divide bridge - MTC said last week that it will erect over 500 new towers in mainly rural areas. The 081Every1 project, expected to be completed in 2019, will see villages, settlements and outlying areas serviced with 3G technology, said MTC's Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer, Tim Ekandjo. 081Every1 is a USD 104 million project launched in July 2017 to provide 100 percent population network coverage. Ekandjo said MTC has appointed over 40 Namibian companies as contracting partners to the project.

Nigeria: Stand-by for studies - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is to reveal on 1 February 2018 a study on the Cost Based for the Determination of Mobile Voice Termination Rates at the Stakeholders' Forum at the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), Cappa, Oshodi, Lagos, The Guardian reported. The study was conducted has been undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The forum would also serve as a prelude to the release of the report and the Determination of the Mobile Termination Rates (MTR) by the commission.

Rwanda: 3G expansion - To expand its 3G service coverage MTN Rwanda has said that it is to utilise 900MHz UMTS technology. The operator currently uses the 900MHz band for 2G services, and says that all of its 2G base stations will now also support 3G technology, according to Kigali Today. MTN is says that it will invest some USD 20 million in the project. The development comes as MTN is expected to lose its top spot in the s mobile market when Airtel and Tigo complete their merger, which was approved by regulators last week.

Rwanda: Health pilot promised - The government and the e-health solution provider Babyl have signed an agreement to extend the text message oriented service to public servants under the RAMA health insurance starting in February. UK-based Babyl already has some 750,000 subscribers on its mobile phone platform, the majority of who are in rural areas. A pilot study will be launched in Rwamagana District in February, and will include subscribers of the community-based Mutuelle de Sante insurance scheme currently standing at 81 percent subscription of the population nationally.

Somalia: Ex-Minister dies - The former Somaliland Minister of Telecommunications under President Riyale's administration Liban Du'aleh Asayr (aka Abdulle), has died in London where he was undergoing medical treatment, the Somaliland Press reported. Born in Lasanod in 1942 and educated in Sheikh Primary School, he won a scholarship to the former Soviet Union to train as an engineer. On graduation he returned to Somalia but in late 1980s he applied for political asylum in the UK. In 1990s he returned to Somaliland to serve as a minister under President Egal administration.

Somalia: Tower trashed - Al Shabaab has destroyed a Hormuud Telecom mast located in the Somali border town of Elwak, The Star reported. The militants were reported to be retaliating after locals communicated with Somali security forces and African Union troops. However it would appear to have been African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces collecting information from residents in preparation for a medical camp that was set up in Elwak. Back in December 2016 suspected Al-Shabaab terrorists destroyed Safaricom and Orange masts in Kotulo, Mandera County and a Safaricom mast at Dabacity in Elwak. In June 2016 another mast was destroyed at Damasa. Safaricom has previously estimated that a single tower can cost USD 250,000.

South Africa: Local devices - Chinese electronics maker Hisense is could assemble smartphones at its factory in Atlantis, Cape Town, MyBroadband reported. Hisense South Africa General Manager Youbo Li said the Department of Trade and Industry told it that it is the first global brand to consider producing mobile phones locally.

South Africa: New solutions head - Chris Lazarus has been named as Managing Executive of Business Solutions at Vodacom Business. Lazarus was previously head of content solutions for I-Net Bridge and was also the marketing manager at Intekom. He joined Vodacom in 2005 as the executive head for corporate solutions where he managed all customer segments including large corporates, small and medium enterprises and public sector accounts. As managing executive for public sector accounts between 2009 and 2011, he established this division and increased its revenue from ZAR 200 million to just under ZAR 1 billion in two years. In 2011 he was appointed as managing executive for product and services, managing the enterprise business product suite. Vodacom appointed Lazarus as its managing executive for its Limpopo division in 2015, following a stint in a similar position in Gauteng the previous year.

Tunisia: Meetings mandated - The National Instance of Telecommunications will conduct a hearing of Internet service providers (Haxabyte; Globalnet and Topnet) on their strategies and their relationship with the national telecommunications sector. On 7 February IINT said it will conduct Business Reviews No's 232, 338, 369, 391, 387 and 402.

Zimbabwe: Competition capped - The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has said that there is insufficient free wireless spectrum to support a fourth player. The sector is currently served by privately-owned Econet Wireless and government-backed NetOne and Telecel. POTRAZ's Technical Services Director Nicholas Muzhuzha also told The Herald that the fixed line market, which state-owned TelOne has a monopoly in, could be expanded to accommodate a second operator. TelOne was granted a mobile licence several years ago but has not exploited the opportunity.

Middle East

MENA: BT bolstered - BT has named Eyad Shihabi as its vice president for the Middle East and North Africa region. Shihabi joins BT from HPE, where he was responsible for regional operations. Shihabi has served as Vice Chairman on the business and technology committee of Airport Council International World's North America chapter.

Middle East: New face for fibre - Corning Optical Communications' Middle East regional director Juan C. Colina has been named as president of the FTTH Council MENA, following recent elections. Colina said fibre-to-the-home plays a critical role in transforming economies. As of September 2017 the region had a 46 percent FTTH penetration rate, with the UAE maintained the top position worldwide with nearly 100 percent coverage.

Qatar: Cloud offering - Ooredoo Qatar has partnered with SAP to deliver cloud services for business software. Ooredoo will offer managed cloud services through a private hosted cloud, and can package and manage SAP business services, from analytics to enterprise resource planning, delivered via a consumption model on-premise or via the Ooredoo Data Centre.

Qatar: Greater roaming - Ooredoo said on 28 January 2018 that all existing and new Ooredoo Passport, Ooredoo Passport Card and Ooredoo Monthly Passport subscribers will enjoy 1 GB of extra data when roaming in three new countries; Turkey, UK and the USA. This is in line with the bonus previously only available for travellers in the GCC. The promotion runs till 25 April 2018, and provides the usual 100 roaming minutes and 1 GB of data, plus 1 GB of extra roaming data, valid for seven days for just QAR 100 (USD 27.34). Ooredoo Monthly Passport subscribers will receive 300 extra roaming minutes and 4 GB of roaming mobile data, plus 4 GB extra roaming data, valid for 30 days for QAR 350 (USD 95.69).

Qatar: Mesh solution - Ooredoo and Netgear have announced the launch of an advanced Mesh Wi-Fi system. The Netgear Mesh Orbi Tri-band Wi-Fi system has been designed to provide high-bandwidth and Wi-Fi coverage in every corner of a home and is the world's first MESH networking system to leverage Netgea's patented FastLane3, which can provide a dedicated wireless channel between the Orbi router and each Orbi satellite. Ooredoo has announced it will offer the service on monthly payment plans of 12 or 24 months for all new Fibre Home plans. The Ooredoo Fibre network now connects some 260,000 homes and businesses.

Saudi Arabia: New entrant - Talkpool has appointed a country manager, having selected Saudi Arabia as its next market. It will initially concentrate its efforts on providing consultancy services before increasingly focusing on IoT. Client orders for approximately six full-time consultants have been received from Airbus. The new business is planned to exceed EUR 1 million in sales, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) exceeding 10 percent in its first year of business.

Turkey: Base secured - A Huawei next-generation BBU5900 base station has been successfully verified on Turkcell's commercial network. The technology will support LTE wireless broadband service expansion and NB-IoT services, providing the capability to rapidly introduce 5G NR with uplink and downlink decoupling to achieve low-cost deployment and seamless coverage of 5G NR and LTE co-site location in the future.

United Arab Emirates: Scracth card superiority - Dubai-based Workz Group has once again been ranked as the number one scratch card manufacturer in the world by the Nilson Report, with over one billion telecom recharge cards shipped. It is the second year running that it has received recognition for being a major global producer in the mobile payments industry, it said in a statement. The Nilson Report also acknowledged Workz as the 13th largest SIM manufacturer in the world, having delivered almost 60 million SIM cards to mobile network operators in 12 months, it said. Workz has invested over USD 1 million in upgrades to its SIM manufacturing facilities which will double its production capacity to over 100 million SIM cards per annum and offer customers 60 percent faster lead-times. The upgrade to its Dubai regional facility will be operational by 1Q 2018 and will include both new machinery and a 15,000-sq-ft expansion of production space.