News in Brief 29 August 2018


Africa: UK comes knocking - UK Prime Minister Theresa May is to make an 'unashamed' vow to use Britain's overseas aid budget to boost British investment in Africa after Brexit. The PM declared in a speech in Cape Town on 28 August that she wants to ensure UK overseas aid is used in the 'national interest'. At the start of a three-day visit, she stated her desire for the UK to overtake the USA to become the G7's leading investor in Africa by 2022. The UK's overseas aid budget totalled some GBP 13.9 billion (USD 17.9 billion) in 2017, an increase of GBP 555 million (USD 713.2 million) in 2016 and in line with the legal commitment to invest 0.7 percent of national income in this area. This is Mrs May's first trip to Africa as PM and she will be visiting South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya where she will meet the presidents of all three countries.

Cameroon: ISPs increasing - The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said that there were more than 50 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) operating in the country and reaching over a million customers, Business in Cameroon reported. These figures do not include the three mobile operators and the incumbent telco (Camtel). Cameroon at 80 percent, along with Mali and Lesotho, one of the three African countries with the fastest growth in Internet penetration in 2016, according to Internet Live Stats, member of Real Time Statistics project.

Chad: Court challenge - A complaint against the mobile operators Airtel and Tigo for blocking access to social networks for five months has been initiated in the N'Djamena High Court, Agence Ecofin reported. The basis of the action is the violation of consumer rights and an infringement of the freedom of expression, without any justification. Internet Without Borders (ISF) officially launched its activities in Chad on 9 August 2018 when it opened an office. A report on the social networks censorship was sent in April 2018 to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. This report will be considered during the Universal Periodic Review scheduled for November 2018 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ethiopia: Cyber city - The State, in partnership with Hub City Live, is to construct a technological city called 'the real Wakanda' in the city of Bahir Dar, in the federal state of Amhara, Agence Ecofin reported. The project is valued at USD 3 billion, and is projected to be completed in the 2026-2028 period. The Master Plan for the Technology City was presented by Hub City Live to other project stakeholders, namely the Ethiopian Government and the Amhara State Regional Government at a workshop held on 18 August 2018 in Addis Ababa.

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Ghana: Consumer push - Surfline Communications has a data offer for new and inactive consumer subscribers. It provides up to 15 GB free data with all new consumer activations and to dormant accounts that are reactivated within the offer period. The 15 GB free data will be spread over three months over three data purchases and will be triggered by customers purchasing any regular Surplus bundles. This free data will be valid for 30 days. In addition, all new Mifi and Router devices will be credited with 5 GB of free, promotional data valid for 15 days.

Ghana: Telemedicine triumph - BIMA Ghana has won the West African Clinical Alliance Award (WACAA) in the category 'leading telemedicine provider'. It has been recognized for its pioneering work in improving access to quality healthcare through the use of mobile technology. OECD has estimated that there is 1 qualified physician per 10,000 people. In Ghana it is common for patients to travel considerable distances or sacrifice hours waiting in a clinic to see a doctor. BIMA Doctor was launched in 2015, and is the first and currently only licensed provider in the country. It began as a pure medical advisory service, allowing subscribers to access unlimited consultations with licensed medical practitioners over the phone for only GHS 3 (USD 0.62) monthly. In the past 3 years it has evolved into a full-fledged telemedicine service, offering access to both generalists and specialists, e-prescriptions via SMS as well as a laboratory referral service providing discounts to subscribers. Just recently, BIMA Doctor has enrolled all customers onto a Health Coaching Programme delivering targeted health content via SMS and recorded voice messages. The BIMA Doctor App is to be launched in September 2018 through which subscriber can access and manage their medical records, locate the nearest health facility and talk to the BIMA Doctor medical team by phone or chat. BIMA Ghana launched its operations in 2010 with Tigo (now AirtelTigo). Through this partnership, BIMA provides 1.9 million Ghanaians with insurance. In 2014 BIMA also launched own-branded insurance products to widen access to all Ghanaian families.

Liberia: Utility payment tool unveiled - Lonestar Cell MTN and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) have launched Mobile Money Utility bill payment for all customers of LWSC. LWSC customers can now pay their water bills via mobile money by obtaining an eight-digit numeric code. MTN Mobile Financial Services' head Atty. Massa M. Dennis, noted that some 5,000 civil servants in rural areas are now paid their salary through mobile money. Over a million customers have access to digital financial services using the network of over 3,000 agents. In 2017 mobile money paid over USD 1.5 million in commission to its agents and processed USD 192 million. She added that currently the company's mobile money service is processing transactions valued at more than USD 20 million monthly.

Maldives: TV treat - Ooredoo Maldives has launched Muslim Kids TV as a gift at Eid. It includes the Quran Recitation Buddy, which helps children to memorise the Quran; hundreds of animations and Islamic video content, and games to challenges children's skills. Ooredoo customers can subscribe by sending the relevant keyword to 5858. Muslim Kids TV is accessible through its Website and mobile application.

Mauritius: Self service - On 23 August Mauritius Telecom launched its 'my.t Selfcare' service which is accessible through the Website Mobile users have to visit the site, select the 'Selfcare' section and register. Users will be able to manage their accounts, and business users will be able to view and download invoices for each user, pay all the bills by making a single payment and follow up by SMS or online.

Nigeria: Rate rise checked - MultiChoice Nigeria has received an interim court order dated 20 August from the Federal High Court in relation to the price adjustment it made on 1 August. The company said that consequently the status quo will be maintained; adding that it believes the order is counter to a free market economy. Multichoice has filed an appeal and an application for stay of execution, pending the hearing of the appeal.

Nigeria: Teens touted - MTN Nigeria has launched MTN mPulse targeting tweens and teens (ages 9-15) to help them learn and acquire useful skills while having fun. MTN staged the 'mPulse Planet', when attendees with a VR masterclass facilitated by a 13-year-old, JSS3 student, Obaloluwa Odelana and the youngest hyper-realism artist in Africa, Kareem Waris Olamilekan of Waspa Art. The portal has built-in parental controls. Once a child is signed up, the registered parent/guardian can track and control what the child is accessing on the Internet.

South Africa: Black catalogue browsers - Cell-C's Black entertainment platform some 2.5 million people who have browsed its catalogue to date. Black was launched in November 2017 and has 260,000 triallists, with 60,000 transactions completed to date, the mobile operator said. Current user log-ins are 80,000. Black is the top streaming service for the DLM 3 market for average Internet users, which represent a large portion of the population in South Africa, it said, citing research from BMIT. In the DLM 5 segment, which represents high-tech users, the awareness of Black has grown by 14 percent. It said there has been a "sharp increase" in content consumption since Cell-C zero-rated data access for Black content streaming. Cell-C customers represent 70 percent of Black's subscribers, with the remaining 30 percent belonging to other networks.


South Africa: Direct payments please: Netflix is seeking to bypass Apple's app store fees both in South Africa, TechCrunch reported. New subscribers in selected markets won't be unable to pay for new subscriptions through iTunes until 30 September 2018. The test has been active since June in 10 countries, and has now expanded to cover 33 markets, including South Africa. Netflix now directs potential subscribers to its mobile Web interface. The move means that Netflix avoids paying a fee to Google and Apple; Apple currently takes a 30 percent cut on the first year of Netflix subscriptions, and 15 percent after this period, if users sign up through iTunes.

South Africa: Google initiative - Google has launched YouTube Go. The app has a simple user interface and an 'offline first' philosophy, letting it work when there is low, or no, connectivity. YouTube Go also provides transparency in how customers are using their data, added Google. YouTube Go is available from the Google Play store, and will come installed on all Android 8.1 Go Edition phones.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Zambia: Payment platform - Mangwee, a Zambian fintech start-up, has launched its payments platform, which allows users to easily make domestic money transfers and plans to offer international remittances shortly. It launched its local services in May 2018 after receiving a designation licence by the Central Bank of Zambia. Co-founder and CTO Bwalya Kampamba said over 40 percent of Zambians are excluded from the formal financial sector. Rivals players include Zoona, Airtel Money and MTN Money, but Kampamba said they had their limitations. Mangwee promotes the use of user-to-user transfers. It is currently self-funded, but is seeking investment to finance expansion, which includes growing its agent network and user base. It had registered over 1,500 users on the platform and recruited 36 agents.

Zimbabwe: Better bundles - Telecel Zimbabwe has launched weekly data bundles for Telecel Go pre-paid customers. The bundles cost USD 1, USD 2, USD 3 and USD 5 for respective data offerings of 150MB, 300MB, 500MB and 850MB. All the bundles are valid for seven days and can be purchased with a short code. These are in addition to the existing hourly and daily bundles.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Zimbabwe: IoT initiative - PowerTel, a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), and which is a fibre network operator, is to enter into the IoT segment, Agence Ecofin has reported. In addition to maintaining pre-paid electricity meters via IoT technologies, PowerTel is providing new services including vehicle tracking, generator monitoring and power line monitoring. Powertel's Marketing and Branding Manager Prosper Mutswiri, told NewsDay that it was indirectly using 800 PowerTrack technologies via IoT to maintain pre-paid meters. New services, beyond the monitoring of pre-paid electricity meters, include vehicle tracking, generator monitoring and power line monitoring.

Middle East:

Israeli: Alternative incentive - Partner Communications is to wind-up its six-month Netflix free offer for new customers, Globes reported. The offer gave its subscriber recruitment drive a strong boost. Partner TV now offer seven premium sports channels free for a year to new customers. Those already signed up for the Netflix deal will continue to receive it for free for six months but new subscribers to Partner TV will now get Netflix free for only a month, after which the service costs ILS 30 (USD 8.19) per month. The sports channels being offered would normally cost ILS 600 (USD 164) per year. Partner is also raising its Triple and Bundle prices by ILS 10 (USD 2.73) from ILS 129 (USD 35) per month to ILS 139 (USD 38) per month. Partner TV prices begin at ILS 69 (USD 19) per month. More than 100,000 customers use the combination of Partner TV and Netflix service built into their television receiver with a dedicated button on the remote control.

Israeli: Licence preferred - The government has said it will not renew a contract for assorted Microsoft desktop software at the end of the year, Reuters reported, as a change in the licence terms would double the price. Israel pays more than ILS 100 million (USD 27.3 million) a year for the procurement of Office desktop software, Windows and server software for ministries and government offices. The Ministry of Finance says it is being asked to move from a licensing system where it owns the software to a subscription system that is similar to renting and includes moving data to the cloud. It is intended to freeze the existing licence structure, which may be used without further payment. The ministry said this will also encourage government ministries to re-examine their needs to use Microsoft technology, or switch to alternatives.

Saudi Arabia: Festival freebie - STC will provide 1 GB free for every pilgrim who uses its pre-paid services during this year's Hajj season, Arab News has reported. The gift is aimed at facilitating Hajj on the day of Tarwiya and Arafat, in an initiative organised by the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, and the Communications and Information Technology Commission.

STC chairman Nasser bin Sulaiman Al-Nasser said that roaming networks for this years Hajj season have increased to more than 500,000 international circuits, a rise of 27 percent compared with 2017.

Turkey: ROC contract - Turk Telekom via its local partner and systems integrator Gantek has contracted telecom software provider Subex a new contract to deploy the latest version of its ROC Revenue Assurance platform. Subex will upgrade its existing Moneta deployments to ROC Revenue Assurance v6 and will cover the fixed-line, broadband and mobile operations of the merged entity of Turk Telekom and Avea. Gantek supported the deployment and played a large part in the project integration.

United Arab Emirates: Pay as you play - Microsoft and Etisalat now allow Xbox gamers to pay for content through their Etisalat mobile account, without the need for a credit card. They will also be able to make purchases from the Microsoft Store on Xbox consoles and Windows PCs through their pre-paid or post-paid Etisalat mobile accounts. Subscribers will get access to Xbox Games Pass, with unlimited access to more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games on Xbox One for AED 39 (USD 11) per month. If subscribers buy an Xbox One game from the current catalogue, they can save up to 20 percent, plus get up to 10 percent off game add-ons and consumables.

Device developments:

Israel: New distributor - Huawei has restructured its service, marketing and sales network, Globes reported. It halted activities in the past few months following a breakdown in its relationship with Electra Consumer Products (ECP), with which it had an exclusive marketing deal. Huawei has now chosen Bug, Ronlight Digital and KSP as exclusive importers and is in talks with the mobile operators with a view to direct sales to them. ECP sued Huawei for breach of contract. Huawei said that within the next few days, it would offer official imports of its P20 and P20 Pro telephones. It is also offering a repairs and spare parts service. CPM was chosen as its official service provider, and has committed to renewal of the stock of spare parts and accessories at all its official repair and sales points and at the repair centres of the mobile operators.

South Africa: Greater security - Samsung has launched its Samsung Pay, available to ABSA and Standard Bank cardholders on both Visa and MasterCard platforms. Security comes first with 5 layers, including fingerprint and iris recognition as well as tokenization to provide an appropriate level of security. Tokenisation sees all sensitive account information replaced with what Samsung refers to as a token. The token replaces information with a series of numbers that are card and mobile number specific. Payments are made using the token which means that this payment method adds another layer of digital security so that information is never vulnerable even in cases of theft. The token can be deactivated without going through the process of cancelling the account.

United Arab Emirates: Pre-orders - Samsung says it is now accepting pre-orders for its Samsung Galaxy Watch that features long battery life, wellness capabilities and a personalised design. Pre-orders were accepted online from 25 August and run until 1 September. It is offering free Level U Pro headphones worth AED 240 (USD 65). The new Samsung Galaxy Watch comes in a silver, 46 mm version and a 42 mm option in midnight black or rose gold. It is available for pre-orders online for AED 1,249 (USD 340) or AED 1,199 (USD 326).