News in Brief 21 February 2018

Africa:

Africa: 4G future focus - Following the sale of Busy Internet, Lars Stork, Group CEO of Afrimax has commented: "The successful sale of our business in Ghana is in line with our restructuring strategy aimed at building a next-generation 4G business in Africa. He told ITWeb Africa that BusyInternet only exists in Ghana, and that ".. the Afrimax Group is focused on its core market. At present, we will continue to focus on our existing portfolio of markets. Our strategy remains unchanged - to be the #1 next-generation 4G operator on the continent. This is being moulded further by our restructuring and reorganising." It has an existing 4G License footprint covering 12 African countries, representing a population under license coverage of 250 million, and says that it is acquiring further licenses. It has also established a strategic partnership with Vodafone in several African markets, including in Zambia for the provision of data and fixed internet services, which trade under the Vodafone Zambia brand.

Algeria: ITU in town - The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecommunication Development Bureau's (BDT) Director Brahima Sanou met with the Regulatory Authority of the Post and Telecommunications' (ARPT) Chairman Mohamed Ahmed Nacer on 13 February 2018 at the headquarters of the Authority.

Angola: Licence renewal - Vodacom has renewed its multi-service licence in renewed by telecom sector regulator Inacom, Menos Fios reports. It can provide telecom services, except mobile telephony and TV. Vodacom has been providing enterprise ISP services in Angola since the end of 2017. These packages combine business Internet access media, VoIP connectivity (voice over internet protocol), hosted email and multi-site hosting.

Angola: More time - The deadline for applications for the limited tender for prior qualification for the acquisition of the Radioelectric Spectrum Management and Numbering System, the Radioelectrical Spectrum Monitoring System and the Radioelectrical Spectrum Monitoring Technique, ended on 14 February 2018, having been extended from 30 January 2017. Inacom said that some interested parties had been unable to gather the necessary documentation within the original period, and hence the extension.

Angola: Triple-play pilot - MSTelecom, a subsidiary of Sonangol EP, is to launch a triple-play service (TV, Internet and voice) on its fibre network in partnership with Multichoice Angola. The service is currently being tested by 60 users in Kilamba, who are enjoying broadband with speeds of up to 10 Mbps, digital TV with the Bue+ package and fixed telephony with free calls on-net.

Botswana: Poll position - US-based Mobile survey platform GeoPoll is now operational in Botswana, having previously added South Africa. It currently operates in Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Guinea, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia. GeoPoll claims to be the world's largest mobile survey platform, due to a network of 200 million users in Africa and Asia. It launched its Audience Measurement Service in 2014, providing daily TV ratings in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana. GeoPoll is a member of the Corporate Council on Africa and the Society for International Development.

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Ghana: Agro-satellite solutions - Universal Cyberlinks (UCL), a service provider based in Ghana, is to use the coverage and connectivity services provided by SAS to fulfill a number of government funded projects in agriculture and public services after it signed a 5-year binding agreement with Sky and Space Global. The first project is to create an agriculture value chain for the cocoa production industry, the second largest in the world, to enable the Ministry of Agriculture and Cocobod to monitor production and supply. This will cover more than 5,000 buying centres and checkpoints for tracking the movement and quality of cocoa production. UCL is to also create a digital registry for the African Green Revolution Agriculture Consortium to manage the registrations of its over 143,000 existing and new members.

Kenya: Dominance date - The Communications Authority invited operators and the public to the Hilton Hotel, Nairobi on Tuesday 20 February to disseminate the findings of the Analysys Mason study on market dominance. A public meeting on the report was called by the regulator in August 2017 but was cancelled. The meeting was heralded in a notice published in national newspapers on 16 February. A draft report last March said Safaricom is dominant in the mobile money and mobile communications sectors and that steps should be taken to improve competition, or the company should be broken up.

Kenya: Investment pays off - Telkom Kenya has said that its subscriber base has risen by a million and has reached the 4 million subscriber mark in six months. Telkom says that it is now set to invest in the second phase of network modernisation and expansion of 3G and 4G networks nationally. Telkom's Chief Marketing Officer Levi Nyakundi was quoted by ITNewsAfrica as saying: "In 2017, we completed the first phase of our national backbone and metropolitan transmission network. Our 4G network is currently available in 32 towns and urban centres across the country. We have also doubled its capacity and coverage on the 3G Network, improving our customer experience." The subscriber growth is attributed to the investments made to improve its infrastructure.

Mali: Early days - The commissioning of the Telecel 3G network on 28 December will see Orange and Malitel face fresh competition. Owned by Alpha Telecommunication Mali, it is a sister company of Telecel in Burkina Faso. According to Malinet, Telecel Mali has installed 3G capacity for 3 million subscribers at a cost of some USD 183 million, using Huawei kit, but aims for 1.5 million by the end of 2018. Penetration in Mali was 127 percent at the end of 2017, according to GlobalData. CEO Souleymane Diallo said: "Direct and indirect jobs will be created with the recruitment of a hundred Malian employees, from the first year, and several thousand distributors and resellers; local subcontracting contracts for site construction and other deployment work."

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Mali: First for TNTSat - Media regulator Haut Autorite de Communication (HAC) has authorised Africable's TNTSat Africa to start digital transition, Balancing Act reported, and so making it the first company to distribute and broadcast Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) in Mali. HAC was formed in June 2017, with calls to open up the media sector and regularise licensing. TNTSat was set up in June 2015 with its own broadcast platform and its own private teleport, which operates using the SES4 satellite.

Nigeria: Big market bet - The Betway Group, a UK-based online gambling company, is launching its offering in Nigeria. This follows previous roll-outs in Kenya, South Africa and Ghana.

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Nigeria: No news - MTN has yet to file its proposals for an IPO, with The Vanguard citing a 'source' within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) saying last week that it has not yet to been formally notified of the plans to raise USD 500 million on the local market.

Nigeria: UAE roaming - The Etisalat link is not totally cut, as 9mobile is offering discounted roaming rates on the Etisalat network in the UAE. CommunicationsWeek reports it has a promotion due to end on 30 June. With a recharge of NGN 5,000 (USD 14), subscribers can make local calls in the UAE and calls to Nigeria at the rate of NGN 100 (USD 0.28) per minute, send SMS at NGN 30 (USD 0.08) each, receive free incoming calls from Nigeria and UAE and get roaming data bundles in two variants. 9mobile's Director for the consumer segment, Adeolu Dairo, said the move follwed subscriber feedback.

Senegal: Poorly network - Last week Groupe Sonatel apologised to the users of its mobile network for disruption which started on Friday 9 February. It said that 'malfunctions' had affected the quality of service on calls and SMS, and were being addressed by its engineering teams with the expectation of a speedy resolution.

Somalia: Director confirmed - The Cabinet has approved the appointment of Abdi Sheikh Ahmed as the Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), reports Garowe Online. This follows the passing of the landmark Communications Act in October 2017 which aimed to establish the legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for the sector and called for the establishment of an independent regulator. Minister for Posts, Telecommunications and Technology, Abdi Ashur Hassan said that endorsing the director endorsed brought the establishment of the regulator closer.

South Africa: ARH award - Altron has secured a ZAR 585 million (USD 49.4 million) deal to roll out broadband in Limpopo province, TechCentral reports. State-owned Limpopo Connexion has appointed Altron's Altech Radio Holdings (ARH) to establish an open-access broadband network. Phase One of the project will see ARH provide connectivity to government departments, municipalities, businesses and households over a three-year period. ARH has previously won similar tenders in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

South Africa: New reseller - Ignite is now an official reseller of Cell-C LTE services. This follows the announcement that Internet Solutions is partnering Cell-C to expand its LTE services. Ignite's clients will have access to Cell-C's LTE at 50 GB for ZAR 349 (USD 30) monthly, a 100 GB bundle for ZAR 530 (USD 45) and a 200 GB bundle for ZAR 845 (USD 71). The bundles are available as SIM-only options or can be purchased with a free Huawei B315 router. Ignite clients preferring a Huawei B618 router can purchase this for ZAR 999 (USD 84).

South Africa: Rising fees - MultiChoice is increasing DStv subscription fees from 1 April 2018. DStv Compact Plus (the renamed DStv Extra) will increase by 4.1 percent more from April with the monthly payment rising from ZAR 489 (USD 41) to ZAR 509 (USD 43) per month. DStv Compact subscribers will pay 5.5 percent, with the monthly fee rising from ZAR 365 (USD 31) to ZAR 385 (USD 33) per month. DStv Family subscribers on the lower tier will see a 6 percent increase with subscriptions costing ZAR 249 (USD 21) per month, up from ZAR 235 (USD 20). DStv Premium will cost 2.5 percent more from 1 April, rising from ZAR 789 (USD 67) to ZAR 809 (USD 68) per month.

South Africa: Streamlined site - Vodacom no longer lists its Smart S, M, L, and XL contract tariff plans on its Website. Non-plus variants of its Red plans are also not listed, while Red Select+, Red Classic+, Red Premium+, and Red VIP+ are still available. MyBroadband reported that the plans have not been discontinued the plans, but rather the Website has been streamlined as feedback suggested that there were too many options to choose from.

Uganda: Youthful target - MTN Uganda has introduced a new weekend data bundle targeting the youth market. The MTN Pulse bundle will allow young people to stream and download music on Deezer for free, watch and create short video content and enjoy free gaming days on Game+. The bundle was announced on 15 February by MTN Uganda CEO Wim Vanhelleputte at a launch party in Kampala. He noted that the date marked 20 years of operation in Uganda. A 2017 Madsen, Daumerie and Hardee study found that 77 percent of Ugandans are below the age of 30.

Western Africa: Audience audit - Canal+ Advertising, a subsidiary of Canal+ International, announced that the audience share captured by all Canal Plus channels in French-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa rose to 31.5 percent in the year ending December 2017, based on the latest results from the Africascope survey by Kantar TNS. This is up from the average audience share of 29 percent recorded in the previous study undertaken between September 2016 and June 2017. The survey covers Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Gabon, Mali, Senegal, Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Zimbabwe: Football fix - NetOne has announced a sponsorship package of over USD 1 million for the country's Big Three football clubs, namely Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United. It also made a commitment to spread the sponsorship to the other teams in the league next season if it gets value for money from the first year. The Herald reported that Minister of ICT and Cyber Security Supa Mandiwanzira had played a significant role in the negotiations.

Middle East:

Afghanistan: Directorships confirmed - The Afghnistan Telecom Regulatory Authority (ATRA) has completed the recruitment of five new directors through an Open Competition process. They are Engineer Azatullah Dawoodzai as Director for Research and Statistics; Engineer Jawed, Director for Spectrum Management; Engineer Matiullah Kharoti, Technical Expert; Mr Ibrahim, Finance Director and Mr. Haroon Hazem, Liaison and Documentation Director. The appointments were confirmed by presidential decree after passing an exam in the presence of Independent Commission for Civil Service and Administrative Reforms representative through the open competition process. They assumed their roles on 14 February.

Afghanistan: SIMs seized - On 12 February ATRA said that it had seized SIM Boxes and other associated illegal communication equipment. It said in a statement that in co-operation with Ministry of Interior and Attorney General, ATRA had discovered and confiscating illegal communication equipments in the 10th district of Kabul city. This included 60 SIM boxes and hundreds of SIMs. A person has also been detained in connection to the case.

MENA: Lively interchange - Line Corporation has launched its Line Live app in twelve countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The interactive livestreaming service, Line Llive is aiming to be the go-to platform for the next generation of creators. Users can also communicate with broadcasters in real time and even co-host a livestream together. Received items can be exchanged for real cash. Line is teaming-up with Kharabeesh, the first YouTube-certified multichannel network (MCN) in the MENA region, to launch a creator incubation programme dubbed Line Live Lab. The deadline for applications for the five-week programme is 15 March and 250 creators will be selected to join.

Oman: Numbers auctioned - Omantel raised OMR 284,500 (USD 737,800) in an auction of 10 diamond and gold phone numbers. The number 71111111 sold for OMR 196,000 (USD 508,300). Omantel had organised the auction in co-operation with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Some 80 percent of the monies raised will go to charitable bodies, while the rest will be split between the Omantel and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). In January the TRA announced that desirable mobile numbers could be obtained via a new online auctioning system, with the aim if increasing transparency in the allocation of numbers.

United Arab Emirates: NFV centre - Affirmed Networks opened a network function virtualization (NFV) Centre of Excellence in Dubai to support the growing demand for NFV networks in the Middle East. The Centre will allow Affirmed to share its deep domain expertise ensuring successful deployments of virtualized networks. It noted in a release that network transformation will be critical for successful 5G evolution, the GSMA noting 'markets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), will be among the first countries globally to launch commercial 5G networks'. The Centre will provide proof-of-concepts, best practices and pre-integration testing for the deployment of 4G and 5G virtualized applications, including virtualized packet core, network optimization, M2M/NB-IoT and ePDG.

United Arab Emirates: Olympic connectivity - Etisalat has been confirmed as the official telecoms partner of both Special Olympics IX MENA Games Abu Dhabi 2018 and Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019. It will manage the connectivity throughout the multiple venues for the entirety of the games. Special Olympics IX MENA Games will take place 14-22 March. Abu Dhabi will be the first city to host both the MENA and World Games within a year of each another.

United Arab Emirates: Technology trials - The UAE is likely to be the first country in the region to launch 5G services after the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) recently allowed service providers to start providing pre-standard 5G services in December 2017, Trade Arabia reported. Etisalat is planning to conduct advanced field trials in 1Q 2018, and has been testing 5G, achieving a speeds of 71 Gbps in a live trial in October 2017. According to a GSMA report, MENA will have more than 50 million 5G connections, covering around 30 percent of the region's population by 2025. However a shortage of spectrum in the higher bands most suited to 5G may be an issue. Most operators operate in the 600 to 2000 MHz frequency band, especially in the Middle East. The UAE's 3G services operate in 2100 MHz frequency, and 4G services run on 1800 MHz. Telcos are expected to launch 5G in the lower spectrum bands, and will need to leverage Carrier Aggregation to overcome the limitation of the scarce and fragmented spectrum allocation in the higher bands.