News in Brief 23 May 2018

Africa:

Botswana: Cable certification - Paratus Botswana is training its staff for its certified Molex Network Installers programme; a 25-year warranty is provided on the associated products and installation. Paratus Botswana Managing Director Shawn Bruwer said that poor installations with substandard cable and equipment reduce productivity. Paratus supplies category 6/6A/7 LAN cable and accessories that meet international standards.

East Africa: Data driver - Mobile data will be the key growth driver in East African telecoms in the five years to 2022, according to research company Ovum in its latest forecast. At the end of 2022 it reckons that there will be some 112 million mobile broadband subscriptions in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, while the forecast for nine East Africa countries at the end of 2022 is 186 million. The countries are Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Deployment and upgrade of 3G and 4G LTE networks, as well as a rise in smart phone penetration due to better affordability, are cited as the drivers. In parallel there will be 32 million LTE subscriptions in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by 2022, while smart phone connections will number 108 million.

Egypt: Finance facility - Telecom Egypt and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank Egypt have signed a USD 200 million short-term facility from the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to finance working capital and investments in Telecom Egypt's infrastructure. ADIB served as the financial advisor for the short-term facility.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Egypt: Minister meets management - Orange Egypt's newly appointed CEO Yasser Shaker has meting with Egypt's Minister of Communication and Information Technology (MICT) Yasser ElKady. Mettling described Orange in Egypt as one of 'utmost importance to our future development in Africa and the Middle East...'. In a statement Minister ElKady highlighted the importance of strengthening partnerships as part of the country's national strategy of digital transformation. In turn, Shaker pledged a closer working relationship with the Ministry of ICT to ensure digital transformation objectives are met.

Equatorial Guinea: Compliance called for - The Minister of Telecommunications has met with senior telco management at a meeting chaired by Minister Eucario Bacale Angue Oyana, with the Deputy Minister and the Secretary of State for Telecommunications, held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Transport, Post and Telecommunications in mid-May, the Equatorial Guinea's Press and Information Office reported. The minister warned that companies operating outside the law must now be compliant with the Telecommunications Law, and were given seven days to make the necessary changes to achieve compliance. ORTEL will be responsible for monitoring this mandate and will accordingly report to the ministry. ORTEL was ordered to carry out an inspection of equipment and devices, as some companies have not standardized the equipment as mandated in the General Telecommunications Law. The Minister told the companies to respect the law.

Ghana: Payment processing - The government has reached an agreement with online payment and money transfer company Paypal to be a member of its international network. Ghana is expected to see the full benefits of the services during 2020. Traders will be able to receive payments for their products sold online by the second half of 2019, and local consumers should be able to make payments online via Paypal accounts in the first half of 2020. On 10 May 2018 Mobile Money interoperability was launched after three postponements.

Ghana: QoS failures queried - The National Communications Authority (NCA) has directed AirtelTigo, Glo Ghana, MTN Ghana and Vodafone Ghana to improve their quality of service after it monitored their operations during 1Q18. The regulator said it engaged the operators to determine reasons for their performance in areas where they were unable to meet their KPIs. AirtelTigo said that multiple fibre cuts were the main challenges. Glo took note of the coverage issues, which will require new sites to be commissioned. It also said that some coverage issues were due to site outage, and it will focus on improving availability. MTN told said its three principle challenges were site acquisition, fibre cuts and permit issues. Vodafone said that it will make the necessary improvements in problem areas.

Kenya: Cash free - Standard Chartered Bank and Visa have partnered for cashless transactions. The bank's customers will earn loyalty points when they use debit and credit cards at Points of Sale (POS) or when transacting online under a system called 360 Degree Rewards. Standard Chartered Bank Kenya’s Head of Retail Banking David Idoru said the programme will reward card holders with points based on every KES 100 (USD 1.00) spent. All cardholders will automatically earn points even if not registered, but have to register online to start redeeming them.

Kenya: Rift fibre rising - Some 1,052 Nakuru homes have access to Safaricom fibre services, of which 534 have now been connected. Last week Rift Valley regional head Victor Ngumo said the telco had made its third investment in Nakuru town. Safaricom's FTTH now connects more than 48,000 households a year after the launch of its dedicated it formed a special unit to grow subscription numbers, and has laid over 5,000 kilometres of cable passing by 141,000 homes. Ngumo said that the Rift Valley continues to be one of our fastest growing regions.

Mauritius: ICT initiative - The three-day Cloud Camp event, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Technology, Communication and Innovation and Microsoft Cloud Society, Middle East and Africa, was attended by around one hundred participants seeking experience of disruptive technologies such as Block-chain, Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. Minister of ICT Minister Yogida Sawmynaden said Mauritius ranks first in Africa and 73rd in the world on the ICT Development Index 2017 of the International Telecommunication Union. Mobile penetration stands at 144 percent and there is 100 percent FTTH across the island since December 2017. With 55.2 percent FTTH household subscribers as at September 2017, Mauritius is ranked eighth globally. In 2019 Mauritius will be connected to two further submarine cables.

Nigeria: Commercial non-compliance - Mobile network operator 9mobile has come to the attention of the Compliance and Enforcement Monitoring Unit of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) after it mounted a promotion that was not approved by the regulator, The New Telegraph noted. The enforcement and compliance monitoring report for 1Q 2018 on the NCC's Website notes that 9mobile was undertaking a ‘ZTE Mf910 4G Mifi Promotion’ in which it promised that customers who purchased a 9mobile ZTE MF910 4G mifi device for NGN 18,800 (USD 52) would enjoy 10GB free data valid for 30 days. A second promotion for the Samsung S9/S9+ was approved by the Commission, but varied in its implementation from what had been approved.

Senegal: Commission cuts - Following a reduction in commission, Orange Money agents announced on 16 May 2018 that they will boycott Orange financial products, and effectively blocking the withdrawal or transmission of funds. The National Network of Money Providers' (RENAPTA) Vice President Khalil Ndiaye, a member of the Orange Money Distributor Dialogue Framework, noted that the commission rate had been reduced by 20 percent. Furter action will include a sit-in (surely sit-down? ed) outside Orange's headquarters before starting an unlimited boycott of its mobile financial services.

South Africa: Peering power - Growth in African peering communities has seen Africa's largest Internet Exchange Point, NAPAfrica now ranked in the top fifteen. This ranking is in terms of the number of unique ASNs or peering members across the IXP. NAPAfrica has 323 members, connecting to over 350 unique ASNs servicing sixteen countries. Launched in 2010 by Teraco, NAPAfrica's first significant milestone was reached when Google joined the IXP in 2012. By 2016, NAPAfrica exceeded peak daily throughput of 100Gbps. In a statement issued on 17 May Teraco said Telkom Group's Openserve wholesale and networks division is to also peer at the IXP.

South Africa: Video venture - Vodacom Group is expected to launch a content service shortly that will offer a wide selection of media. Joosub told MyBroadband that the platform will include access to third party services, such as Netflix and Showmax, as well as its own video service. The service is expected to offer rich video content at attractive price points, with discounted data usage options. Vodacom recently launched its Social Ticket multimedia bundles, which provide 50 ercent discounts on data usage for Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, Showmax, YouTube, Apple Music and more.

Tanzania: IoT integers - The M2M/IoT numbering plan has been published by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) for public consultation. It noted that there had been a dramatic increase in the volume of M2M devices and IoT applications being deployed which had made it necessary to create a dedicated number range. This is to be of 15-digits compared to the existing mobile twelve-digit series, as per ITU-T Recommendation E.164, while the activation of M2M devices 'and all other devices with eSIM' are subject to the 2018 SIM Card Registration Regulations.

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Zambia: Audit announced - The government has completed an in-depth study of the viability of Zamtel, which is claimed to have provided a blueprint for the turnaround of the company to reduce its dependency on the treasury. Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba said the study had been undertaken by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). Yamba said there were concerns about the poor performance of some State- owned enterprise and it is determined to find a lasting solution to problems hindering their growth and contribution to national economic development. The content or conclusions of the report was not shared.

Zimbabwe: Cash from China - Minister of ICT and Cyber Security Supa Mandiwanzira has said that China has injected over USD 71 million towards development of the country's information, communication and technologies (ICTs) infrastructure, NewsDay reported. At the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) in Murehwa on 17 May Mandiwanzira said the funding is to be used for additional towers and boosters in rural areas to improve connectivity.

Zimbabwe: Director dismissed - The Empowerment Corporation (EC) which holds a 40 percent stake in mobile network operator Telecel has parted company with board director Gerald Mlotshwa, the Zimbabwe Independent reported. Mlotshwa joined the Telecel board in 2017 as under the terms of a sale and purchase agreement (SPA) signed between Kestrel Corporation, Ecsponent (Private) Limited and businessman James Makamba in his personal capacity. The SPA has apparently lapsed, and hence Mlotshwa’s departure.

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Zimbabwe: Video channel - Fixed-line provider TelOne has secured a broadcasting licence for video-on-demand (VoD) services from the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), reports ITNewsafrica. The operator had initially set June 2017 as the time to deploy its VoD services, but was delayed due to the regulator's licensing conditions. TelOne has more than 100,000 Internet subscribers on both fibre and ADSL.

Middle East:

Iran: Smartphone deficit - Minister of ICT Azari Jahromi has said that more than a third of the country's mobile users are still not using smartphones. The Minister said that of its 50 million active subscribers, mobile market leader MCI had approximately 18 million without a smartphone, while second-ranked MTN Irancell had 9 million of its 30 million users without a smartphone, Tech Rasa reported. Jahromi also said that some 1,246 cities now have access to 3G and 4G mobile networks, offering full urban coverage, whist coverage levels in rural areas are at the 55 percent mark.

Israel: Stakeholder guidance - Elliott Advisors has written to Bezeq's newly appointed chairman Shlomo Rodav to share its views on Bezeq's governance transformation and proposing that the company consider a share buyback programme, Globes reports. The letter notes the poor corporate governance, and the Israel Securities Authority investigation, with a number of board members and executives being placed under house arrest and barred from the company. Elliott proposes a new CEO should be appointed; rebuild a constructive regulatory dialogue; develop a new strategy for the business; and review shareholder distribution policy, immediately seeking authorization to buy back shares and consider implementing a buyback programme when appropriate.

Kuwait: Acquisition completed - Kalaam Telecom on 16 May wholly acquired Tawasul Telecom, a Kuwait-based Information and Communication Technology solutions provider. Tawasul has a network presence in the Middle East, UK and Singapore, with and offices in 5 countries. This is the third acquisition by Kalaam since 2014.

Oman, Qatar: Neighbourly chat - Oman's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) of Qatar met on 14 and 15 May to discuss future bilateral cooperation. The CRA also presented its latest regulatory frameworks related to the sector, specifically regarding radio spectrum.

Qatar: Flexible finance - Vodafone Qatar has arranged a medium-term revolving credit facility with Barwa Bank for QAR 911 million (USD 248 million), available over a six-year period. The funding will speed-up the operator’s fixed services roll-out and 5G deployment, Vodafone said in a statement. The flexible financing features are regarded as a first of its kind in Qatar.

another fine mess for african telecoms

United Arab Emirates: Registrations required - The National Media Council (NMC) has told electronic media outlets including news Websites, digital content providers and social media influencers who are paid for promotions, that they need to register their activities by the end of May, Reuters reported. The move follows legislation passed in March. The council specified four categories that are subject to electronic media registration requirements. These are websites showcasing and selling audio, visual and written content including selling e-books, video games, and subscriptions to consume digital content; websites specialising in electronic advertisements, including sites that primarily aim to sell electronic ads for commercial purposes, and owners of social media accounts within the UAE that post commercial adverts for monetary gain (websites of licensed, traditional media outlets such as newspapers, magazines, radio and television, do not require any additional licences); electronic news websites and social media accounts that offer news services; and websites that offer book publishing services, either electronic books or those that offer an on-demand printing service to authors.

Device developments:

Africa: Smartphone success - Market research firm Canalys reports that sales of Transsion Holdings devices exceeded those of Samsung to become the top vendor in Africa in the first quarter of 2018. The report noted that Transsion's success in Africa reflects its strong knowledge of the market with carefully studied the consumption habits and abilities of African consumers and a high level of co-operation with local telcos. Sales of Transsion’s Tecno, iTel and Infinix brands overtook Samsung with a 38 percent market share in the first quarter, compared with a 23 percent share for Samsung. Huawei was ranked fourth with a 7 percent market share, down some 3 percent from the first quarter of 2017. Global Times notes that Transsion offers some special features for smartphones in the African market, such as improving the smartphone torch function for users with little or no electrical lighting.

Maldives: Huawei launch - Ooredoo Maldives has launched Huawei's P20 and P20 Pro, which can be purchased with 3 GB of free data per month on Ooredoo's 4G+ network for a year. The device can be purchased with a 12-month instalment plan of monthly payments of MVR 825 (USD 52.30) per month. Full payment also comes with 3 GB of free data per month for a year, with prices of MVR 11,299 (USD 717) for the P20 and MVR 14,299 (USD 907) for the P20 Pro.

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South Africa: All-touch availability - The all-touch BlackBerry Motion is now being offered by TCL Communication via Cellucity, IT-Online has reported. Prices are ZAR 7,399 (USD 602) or for ZAR 399 (USD 32.50) on a two-year contract. It is the first BlackBerry smartphone to offer IP67 water and dust resistance, a new anti-scratch screen, and a battery offering up to two days of life per recharge.