News in Brief 6 June 2018

Africa:

Afria: Increased capacity - SES is now able to offer greater global capacity through the expanded O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation. The Ka-band satellites orbit at approximately 8,000 km, four times closer to the planet than geostationary (GEO) satellites, delivering connectivity with low latency and fibre-like performance for data services virtually anywhere on the planet. SES says that its O3b fleet is the only non-geostationary (NGSO) system delivering fibre-like broadband services.

Egypt: ICT growth - Minister of Communications Yasser El-Kady has noted that the ICT sector grew by 14 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, with growth in the communications sector recorded at 9.5 percent, and information technology 4.5 percent. The Daily News reported the Minister as saying that in the last financial year, the sector took the lead in economic growth, pushed by investments and the communication licences issued. El-Kady noted that by the end of 2019 all government services will be offered electronically, and the government is in discussions with partners from international companies and institutions to implement the strategy.

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Morocco: Better bundles - Inwi has reworked its mobile packages, which now start from MAD 49 (USD 5.14), and all of which now offer unlimited calls according to the subscription formula chosen. It can be either unlimited calls to the same package holders (for packages starting at MAD 49), or unlimited calls to Inwi (packages MAD 99 to MAD 149). The unlimited package is now available to all national numbers, to which is added a threshold of 25 GB Internet for only MAD 199 (USD 20.89). B2C Marketing Director Hassan Fouda said that the MAD 99 will now offer 10 hours of calls and 10 GB of Internet, and so replace 10 hours of calls and 2 GB of calls/Internet or 2 hours of voice and 10 GB of Internet.

Rwanda: Kigali next call - Online taxi-hailing app Little is to launch its services in Rwanda within the next four weeks, reports Business Daily. In April it launched its services in Uganda. The company plans to roll out its services in West Africa after conquering East Africa. The Safaricom-backed Little Ride launched in Kenya in July 2016 sparking off a price war against Uber and Dubai-based Mondo Ride, which cut their fares. In Kenya, Little's services are available in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, with plans to extend to Nakuru and Eldoret.

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Senegal: Senior appointments for Sentel - On 29 May 2018 the board of Sentel GSM SA (Tigo) confirmed Mrs. Mitwa Kaemba Ng'ambi as Director-General. In turn, it thanked Mitwa Kaemba Ng'ambi for her significant contribution in the post. The board also confirmed Mass Thiam as Chief Executive Officer.

South Africa: HeroTel acquisition - Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) HeroTel has acquired the entire stake in VTN Communications (VTNC) Voice over IP Provider and Private Branch Exchange. HeroTel CEO Corne de Villiers said that decision to acquire VTNC stems from its prosperity and the growth potential it offers. He noted that the client base is mainly national and international multi-branch companies and it sees limited overlap, but huge strategic synergies. VTNC is the 28th acquisition by Herotel. With the acquisition of Safricom and Truecom, HeroTel expanded its footprint in the North West Province of South Africa. The acquisition of Lcom and IGEN Wireless allowed it to expand further into the Eastern Cape. In Cape Town, it acquired Sonic Telecoms. It claims to have a customer base of more than 45,000 users.

South Africa: Mobile migration? - Telkom is reported to be considering closing down its 2G network to allow it to put greater focus on its 3G, 4G/LTE, and eventually 5G networks, according to CEO Sipho Maseko. He made the comments at the group's annual results presentation last week. Maseko noted that it has a relatively small 2G base, and therefore a switch to an all 3G/4G network would be relatively straightforward. Telkom's wholesale division Openserve CEO Alphonzo Samuels said it has started 5G tests.

South Africa: Registration simplification - Cell-C has reacted to early feedback and has simplified the Black registration process, which now takes than less than a minute to complete. Black provides a seven-day free trial with an automatic Flexi Premium package for access to films, serials, music, documentaries and more, and allows users to access the platform on a daily, weekly, weekender or monthly basis. Users can also purchase content using pre-paid airtime.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Tanzania: Mobile money marker - Vodacom Tanzania is celebrating its tenth anniversary of mobile money services. Vodacom M-Pesa is claimed to be the market leader in Tanzania with over 42 percent of the market, and more than 8.2 million active users; 106,000 agents; 2,000 businesses; 15,000 merchants and 30 banks linked to its network. Financial inclusion stood at 65 percent in 2017, up from 58 percent in 2013 and 44 percent in 2009. Vodacom M-Pesa was recently awarded the GSMA Mobile Money certification for security and operational excellence.

Tanzania: Quick payments - The Tigo Pesa app can now be used to make payments with Masterpass QR. The interoperable QR (Quick Response) service is now live and ready for use at various stores and restaurants, and removes the need to carry cash or physical bank cards. Customers pay for in-store purchases by scanning the QR code displayed at checkout on their smartphones, or by entering an eight-digit merchant code into a feature phone. Masterpass QR is accepted at Puma Fuel Stations, KFC, Pizza Hut, the Choppies and Shoppers supermarkets, JD Pharmacies, and several shops at the GSM Mall.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Uganda: Payment sent in error - The Uganda Communications Commission is setting-up a committee to investigate MTN's Mobile Money policy, following criticism on Twitter that it is refusing to cancel financial transactions made with errors, resulting in the user losing money. The original post was made by a university teacher after he made an error when sending money to a friend. However, after making a complaint, MTN Uganda told him he would need a court order to recover the money from the beneficiary sent the funds in error. MTN Uganda's spokesman Justina Ntabgoba explained that there was a clear internal policy on mobile money. She noted that if the money has not been withdrawn by the recipient, the transaction may be frozen after the company has been informed. However, if the money has already been withdrawn, the customer is advised to negotiate with the recipient. As indeed might be the case with regular on-line banking.

Western Africa: Customs unification - Burkina Faso and Togo have officially interconnected their customs IT systems with effect from 28 May 2018. The move is expected to substantially improve transit times at customs control posts by reducing the time spent on transit procedures on the Lome - Ouagadougou corridor. A single transit document from an office of departure in Togo to a destination office in Burkina Faso can now be issued under the guise of a single guarantor, according to Burkina's Minister of Commerce, Industry and Crafts, Harouna Kabore. The Minister noted that if successful, it could be 'extended to all other WAEMU member countries'. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided a XOF 1 billion (USD 1.8 million) loan.

Middle East:

Bahrain: SIMs safe till September - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has extended the SIM card registration for post-paid users to 2 September to allow subscribers who did not registered their SIMs during Ramadan to do so. It said that subscribers failing to register within the specified time would have their service suspended on a temporary basis. If registration is then not completed by 2 December, the SIM will be permanently deactivated.

Israel: TV bill - The Ministry of Communications is reported to have completed its work on a bill imposing supervision on Cellcom and Partner. The bill will now be sent to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance for comment, Globes reported. The two new multi-channel tv companies, which are currently unsupervised, will be subject to regulation by the Council for Cable TV and Satellite Broadcasting, which currently oversees only broadcasts by DBS Satellite Services (YES) and HOT Telecommunication Systems Ltd. The two are currently required to invest 8 percent of their annual revenue in original productions: however there is no such obligation for Cellcom and Partner.

Oman: Storm safely weathered - Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Mekunu is recorded as the most intense tropical cyclone to make landfall in the Gulf, which affected Socotra, the islands of the Guardafui Channel, southern Oman and eastern Yemen. Mekunu developed out of a low pressure area on 21 May, and gradually intensified and reached its peak intensity on 25 May before making landfall near Salalah, Oman. Ooredoo Oman says it was able to keep its users connected and its operations centres secured, despite the extreme weather. Ooredoo said more than fifteen teams travelled to Salalah with diesel generators and other supplies to implement protective measures on 23 May before the cyclone hit.

Saudi Arabia: Riyadh regional HQ - SAP is to establish its regional headquarters for Middle East North in Riyadh, with Ahmed Al-Faifi as regional Managing Director, and Khaled Alsaleh as Saudi Arabian Managing Director. SAP notes that major cloud opportunities include supporting Saudi Vision 2030 nationwide digital transformation, and the development of the NEOM smart city, backed by USD 500 billion in investment in foundational developments in sustainability, connectivity and mobility.

United Arab Emirates: Satellite success - Global satellite operator Yahsat has said that its third satellite Al Yah 3, located at 20 degree West has completed in-orbit testing, and is ready to for commercial service. The satellite will expand Yahsat's Ka-band coverage to 19 additional markets across Africa covering 60 percent of the population and marks Yahsat's first entry into Brazil where 95 percent of the population will have access to its satellite broadband services.

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