News in Brief 30 May 2018


Africa: Google challenge - The first African Google Impact Challenges has been launched in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria. USD 2 million is being offered in grants in each country to non-profit and social enterprises that have a compelling technology-based project that can improve society on a local or national scale. The money will be shared between four winners and eight runners up in each country. Applications must be from registered charities and are open for the next six months. The public will vote, after which the judges will select three more winners after hearing in-person pitches from a set of finalists. The final awards ceremony will be held during the week commencing 26 November.

Angola: Competitive stimulus? - Mobile subscription penetration in Angola reached 43 percent in 2017 compared to a sub-Saharan regional average of 73 percent, with penetration forecast to reach 72 percent in 2023, according to GlobalData. Angola's mobile sector has been dominated by Unitel, with 70 percent of the subscription market share. The remaining 30 percent was held by Movicel, in which state-owned fixed operator Angola Telecom has a share. According to the study, a number of local and foreign investors have expressed interest in a fourth licence, which will be a unified licence. The report suggests these reforms and the introduction of new mobile players will boost competition and support mobile penetration pushing mobile subscription Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) to 13 percent in the forecast period.

Angola: Peering points - Additional peering points have been added by Angola Cables at international locations: IX.BR Sao Paulo and Fortaleza, Equinix Ashburn and Miami (formerly NOTA), and NIIX and DE-CIX in New York following the commissioning of the Monet Cable System of which Angola Cables is a consortium member.

Cameroon: Soccer sponsorship - MTN Cameroon is reported to have revised its year-old sponsorship contract with the professional football league (Ligue Professionnelle de football du Cameroun-Lpfc). The original sponsorship covered a 10-year period, ending in January 2013. Business in Cameroon reports that the nature of the changes to the XAF 1 billion (USD 1.8 million) contract are unknown but that it will expire in 2019 as originally planned, and that first and second leagues will remain as 'MTN Elite One' and 'MTN Elite Two'. The move follows a reported fall in MTN's subscriber base in the second half of 2017 when it disconnected some 2.4 million subscribers.

Ghana: Helping hand - Vodafone Ghana says its Super Care service for subscribers with speech and hearing impairments has received over 7,000 video calls since its inception. Over 300 registered members of the Ghana National Association for the Deaf (GNAD) have subscribed to the service. Vodafone has gifted 100 smartphones to the secretariat as part of its anniversary celebrations. SuperCare customers also got free and unlimited browsing on the anniversary day.

Ghana: Interoperability starts - Some 23,000 transactions worth GHS 1.8 million (USD 387,000) have been undertaken using the mobile money interoperability platform between its launch on 10 May and 15 May, Ghana Business Week reported. General Manager, Technology and Operations Kwadwo Ntim said Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GHiPSS) expected the volumes to increase with time for users to derive the most benefits. The first phase allows mobile users to move money from their mobile money wallet to another mobile money wallet across networks. Services still to be implemented include the transfer of money from a mobile money wallet to a bank account and transfer of money from a bank account to a mobile wallet, and also to an e-zwich card and vice-versa.

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Ghana: IPO imminent - MTN Group is to start selling more than a third of its Ghanaian unit for USD 754 million this week in an initial public offering (IPO) which will be 10 times larger than the previous biggest share sale in Ghana, Bloomberg reported. The IPO is expected to start on 29 May and close at the end of July, and will offer some 4.64 billion shares.

Ghana: Technological triumph - In the latest Quality of Service test conducted and monitored by the National Communications Authority in the Ashanti, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern and Western region, MTN Ghana was the only mobile network operator that met its 3G obligation by covering all 120 districts monitored in the five regions and scored good and fair in voice quality with minor challenges in some areas. MTN recently deployed High Definition (HD) Voice service which is now live on the 3G network. The service uses the Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband (AMR-WB) coding standard. With the launch of 4G LTE services, MTN became the only mobile operator providing 4G services in all regional capitals and large cities. It has also built three modern switch and data centres.

Kenya: Church circuit - Liquid Telecom Kenya has installed a MPLS-based Wide Area Network for the Christ is the Answer Ministry (CITAM) enabling it to launched services on YouTube and its Website, due to CITAM's nineteen branches being interlink. The service is already reaching over 1,200 YouTube subscribers, with 157 motivational and biblical videos posted by CITAM which have achieved over 70,205 views in less than three months. The branches are connected at 10Mbps and its headquarters at a 100Mbps, with just one church in Kapsabet in Nandi County connected with a high-speed wireless link. The system is now powering an E-board platform, which is managing board papers, minutes, decision papers, agendas and a voting module.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Kenya: Farming facilitated - Mobile network operator Safaricom has opened a Digifarm depot in Burnt Forest town, Uasin Gishu County, to encourage smallholder farmers to transition into agribusiness by creating opportunities to access high quality inputs and sustainable markets. The depot has been opened in partnership with agricultural supply chain platform iProcure, and provides high quality seeds, fertilisers, animal feeds and agricultural chemicals. Farmers will be able to purchase these materials using M-PESA or credit payable over a period of one to three months. Digifarm is an integrated mobile platform that has improved the collection of agricultural data by registering farmers.

Lesotho: School fees initiative - Vodacom has provided free Internet connectivity to 90 schools as part of its Schools Connectivity Programme, whilst committing to connect a further 200 schools by the end of the financial year. At a ceremony in Maseru, Minister of Education Dr Ntoi Rapapa, Vodacom Lesotho Managing Director, Rishaad Tayob and Executive Head of M-Pesa, Palesa Mphunyetsane, presented Lesotho High School with a fully equipped computer lab. The school collected the highest proportion of fees through M-Pesa, received a Vodacom branded container (8mx3m), 12 computers with software (windows and office), desks and chairs as well as WiMAX Internet for 6 months.

Liberia: Celebratory scratch card - Orange has launched new scratch cards as part of the celebrations marking Orange Liberia's first year in the country. Chief Marketing, Communications and Customer Service Officer Noel Chateau said last week that each of the new scratch cards would be sold for LRD 100 (USD 0.72) and will allow customers to choose between a voice and a data bundle. When users activate the voice bundle, they will get 4 days of free calls, of which 3 days is for them and the fourth for a person of their choice. If they activate the data bundle, they will receive 500 MB as well as an extra 500 MB of free music on

Nigeria: 5.4GHz infringements - Earlier in May companies in Uyo, Akwa Ibom and Calabar, Cross River States have had their premises closed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for failing to comply with the guidelines for the deployment of 5.4GHz frequency band. The NCC's Enforcement team undertook an audit in the two areas on 26 and 27 April 2018. A public notice dated 3 April 2018 warned unlicensed operators and the general public to vacate illegal transmission in the 5.4GHz frequency Band within 14 days. Hot Minet Services located on 80 MCC Road, Calabar and United Bank for Africa (UBA) on Udo Udoma Banking layout, Uyo, were judged to have failed to comply with the Guideline and the public notice issued by the Commission.

Nigeria: Broadband brake - A recent directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to collect a 0.005 percent levy on all electronic transactions for a National Cyber Security Fund account will hamper broadband development according to the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), CommunicationsWeek reported. ATCON's National President Olusola Teniola, said the levy would severely hamper government and private sector efforts to accelerate broadband penetration. ATCON has a mandate to protect investment in the telecom sector from undue pressure from the government in the form of additional burdens on its members, which he said are already overtaxed by all tiers of government. Teniola said that the formulation and implementation of policies were not properly coordinated.

Nigeria: Investment overview - MTN Nigeria says that it has invested over USD 1.8 billion has been invested in building mobile infrastructure it noted on its 'About MTN' Webpage. In January 2001 it paid some USD 285 million for one of four GSM licences and on 16 May 2001 was the first GSM network in Nigeria to make a call. It claims to service 223 cities and towns, more than 10,000 villages and communities and a growing number of highways. The 3,400 Kilometre Y'elloBahn digital microwave transmission backbone was commissioned in January 2003 and is reputed to be the most extensive African digital microwave transmission infrastructure. MTN Nigeria also recently expanded its network capacity to include a new numbering range with the prefix 0806, making MTN the first GSM network in Nigeria to have adopted an additional numbering system, having exhausted its initial 0803 subscriber numbering range. A self-help toll-free 181 customer-care line allows subscribers to resolve queries free of charge.

Somalia: Deputy named - Prime minister, Hassan Ali Khaire appointed 6 new ministers, deputies and State ministers last week complete the cabinet, Garowe Online reports. Deputy Minister of Post, Telecom and Technology has been named as Abdirahman Idan Yonis. The Minister for Posts, Telecom, and Technology was previously named as Abdi Ashur Hassan.

South Africa: Control centre - MTN South Africa is now offering the Cisco Jasper Control Centre automated IoT connectivity platform for busineses to provide IoT services on MTN's mobile network. MTN said it is the first mobile operator in South Africa to deploy Control Centre, with particular interest being shown by the connected car, vehicle tracking, building security and automation, and logistics industries, MTN said.

South Africa: WASP policy - A 'Treating Customers Fairly' policy has been launched by MTN South Africa with the aim of preventing wireless application service provider's (WASP) from taking advantage of its users, MyBroadband reported. The announcement was made in a letter to its WASP business partners, in which it said it had seen 'deteriorating customer experience relating to digital services'. The policy framework is intended to improve subscriber notifications, subscriptions and charging and is mandatory across all services on the MTN network. It said existing ICASA and WASPA regulations apply, but certain areas are not addressed. The rules will be applied by 1 July to all third parties connected to MTN's network.

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Zimbabwe: Area code updates - TelOne has introduced new area codes and telephone numbers, and most will run concurrently with the old numbers, but at least five areas are reported to be already fully operating under the new area codes and numbers. The new area code for Banket is 067 and the prefix is 214; Beatrice's code is 024 and the prefix is 2127; the Harare CBD, Kuwadzana and Dzivarasekwa code is now 024 and the prefix is 2; Chimanimani's code is 027 and the prefix is 205, and for Bulawayo suburbs and Hillside, the code is 029 with the new prefix being 2.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Home calling - Zain Bahrain has launched introduced its new express home delivery service with SIMS and devices delivered directly to them. Users should visit the E-shop portal and place an order, and a trained representative will complete the required service. Subscribers can also register their Zain line through the newly-implemented SIM card fingerprint registration at home. The trained representative will arrive with the SIM card fingerprint registration machine to complete the process on the customer's doorstep. Customers will have to carry their Bahraini CPR or a valid GCC national identity card or Passport to undergo the new registration prior to the 2 June deadline for post-paid customers and 2 March 2019 for pre-paid.


Iran: First phase fibre - The first stage of a major Fibre to the X (FTTX) project was inaugurated in Karaj, the capital of Alborz Province (west of Tehran), the Financial Tribune reports. The project represents an investmen of some IRR 580 billion (USD 13.9 million) by the state-owned fixed line operator Iranian Net Communication and Electronic Services. The project was originally launched in April 2015, when Iranian Net undertook to install 200 km of fibre in Karaj.

Oman: Upwardly mobile - The number of Internet subscribers increased by 8.6 percent to 381,702 at the end of April from 351,335 on 31 December 2017, the Muscat Daily reported. Fixed broadband subscribers with service over 256 kbps rose 8.7 percent to 379,355 by the end of April from 348,926, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), but active mobile broadband subscribers fell by 4.6 percent to 4.15 million in April from 4.35 million. Fixed lines rose by 5.9 percent to 527,113 by the end of April from 497,716, and VoIP lines grew by 13 percent to 138,901 from 122,949. Analogue fixed telephony connections rose by 3.7 percent to 332,828 from 320,799. Post-paid mobile connections increased by 4.2 percent to 678,415 customers in April from 650,812 but pre-paid mobile connections fell by 3.9 percent to 6.05 million from 6.29 million at the end of 2017.

Qatar: International encouragement - Ooredoo Money users who transmit funds via MoneyGram and Ooredoo Money for the first time will receive a QAR 15 (USD 4.08) instant cash-back reward, valid until 30 June. To send, Ooredoo users need to register for an Ooredoo Wallet via the USSD menu or the Ooredoo Money app.  Customers can make deposits into their mobile wallet from Ooredoo self-service machines, shops or a bank account in Qatar. MoneyGram enables international money transfers to 200 countries.

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United Arab Emirates: Attack reduction - Websites in the UAE have seen a reduction in the number of cyber-attacks in the first four months of 2018 which fell to 155, compared to 297 attacks during the same period of 2017, a fall of 48 percent, WAM reported. The improvement is attributed to the National IT Emergency Response Team of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Forty-five attacks involving fraud and phishing were recorded during that period, and a further 26 aimed to leak information. The other attacks involved defamation and other purposes. The authority's statistics also showed that 85 attacks had a medium impact, 35 had a low impact, and 35 attacks had a major impact. Cyber-attack risks include the vulnerability of Internet Explorer, the smart installer of Cisco, hidden programmes included in Microsoft updates, the Ziklon programme and the ransom programme for the known e-cloud.

United Arab Emirates: Evening outage for Etisalat - Etisalat's mobile network crashed in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the evening of 24 May, with issues still unresolved the following day. Users were unable to make or receive calls from mobiles or from fixed lines to mobile numbers. The Website showed outages in both major cities, with a spike just after 5 p.m. on the Thursday.

United Arab Emirates: Virtual visitor experiences - Etisalat Digital has signed strategic partnerships with tech companies as part of the Dubai Future Accelerators Programme. The fourth phase was launched in March 2018 with the participation of Etisalat Digital and other government bodies and in cooperation with other companies. Mobiliya, Digicomm, and Sturfee will address the first challenge of transforming the experience of visitors, to city attractions by leveraging extended reality, augmented/virtual reality and artificial intelligence at each stage of the visitor journey by 2021. UAE-based Digital Communication (DigiComm) will develop Virtual Reality tours of major attractions. KocharTech is offering an integrated solution with multiple technology stacks using Artificial Intelligence, SIM, Robotic process automation and Digital Enablement solutions for their subscribers. Over the nine-week programme, Etisalat Digital engaged with the companies which involved forming the original concepts, prototyping and testing.

Device developments:

Kuwait: Shamel smartphones - Ooredoo Kuwait has launched a special Ramadan offering smartphones with the benefits of Shamel plans, starting at KWD 19 (USD 63) per month. The offer includes flagship devices such as the iPhone X and iPhone 8 as well as Samsung's Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+. The bundles include 500 local minutes, 30 GB of mobile internet, and a variety of perks available only with Shamel post-paid plans. Benefits include carrying over unused Internet to the following month, freezing contracts in case of travel for up to three months, and the ability to add a new device to the same contract and transfer contract ownership.