News in Brief 19 September 2018


Africa: 3G for now - Africa is not ready for 5G according to MTN Group's CEO Robert Shuter, although the situation may have changed by 2023, Reuters reported. The CEO said that 5G technology, except for very specific cases, will not be a technology for everybody as most people will not need it. Many of the group's subscribers in emerging markets across Africa and the Middle East are still waiting for 4G and will have to rely on 3G connections for some years to come.

Cameroon: ITU delegations - ITU Telecom Word 2018 held 10-13 September 2018 in Durban, South Africa was attended by a delegation from the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency of Cameroon, led by its Director General, Philemon Zoo Zame, and a delegation from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cameroon led by the Minpostel Technical Adviser, Wilfred Mfuh Kenji. Zame was congratulated by the ITU Secretary General, Houlin Zhao, for his involvement in reviving the activities of ARTAC, the Association of Telecom Regulators of Central Africa. Cameroon has been a member of the ITU since 1960 and was a member of the Council for 40 years (1973 - 2014).

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Egypt: Cable deal completed - Telecom Egypt has now acquired the Middle East and North Africa Submarine Cable (MENA Cable) from Orascom Investment Holding (OIH) through its unit Egyptian International Submarine Cable Company (EISCC). The total enterprise value of MENA Cable is USD 90 million, of which USD 40 million represents the equity value of MENA Cable and the remainder its outstanding debt. EFG Hermes was the broker for Telecom Egypt.

Kenya: Better health - Airtel Kenya has partnered with First Lady Margaret Kenyatta through her Beyond Zero initiative to accelerate universal health coverage. Airtel has donated KES 2.6 million (USD 725,200) towards the first Free Medical Safari, held in Narok County, allowing access specialised services such as fistula repair surgeries, cancer screening, eye care for the elderly as well as orthopaedic clinic and screening for heart diseases in children. Airtel’s contribution is for fistula repair surgeries for the women in Narok that will be undertaken by AMREF. Airtel will also offer free SMS broadcasts to educate on the causes of fistula, how to prevent it as well as where to seek medical care for it.

Namibia: Printing payments - Telecom Namibia (TN) is reported to have made 16 monthly payments as part of a NAD 12 million (USD 798,000) contract that turned out to be fake, documents seen by The Namibian show. The contract between TN and Canocopy Pty Limited (owned by Paratus Telecom) was signed in 2013 to provide printing facilities for 36 months. TN paid some NAD 4.8 million (USD 319,000) from March 2016 to June 2017, having renewed the deal on 9 March 2016 for 16 more months, before TN realised in 2017 that it was fraudulent. TN's head of legal services, Jinah Buys, told The Namibian that it could not comment as the matter is now before the court.

South Africa: CT sets-up in Cape Town - China Telecom (CT), through its Middle East and Africa division, has signed a collaboration deal with Teraco Data Environments, the South African supplier of neutral data centres. CT will install of an interconnection network and a telecom service centre within the Teraco Data Centre in Cape Town, South Africa. CT will then be able to offer its ICT solutions and connectivity services to multinationals that subscribe to Teraco's co-location services. China Telecom MEA's General Manager Changhai Liu said that the move had strengthened its competitiveness in the Middle East and Africa.


South Africa: FTR fall-out - Telkom started offering voluntary separation and early retirement packages to its staff on 14 September, MyBroadband reported. Telkom said that the cumulative effect of regulatory decisions had seen it provide subsidies of some ZAR 70 billion (USD 4.7 billion) to South Africa mobile network operators, and that it had implemented a number of initiatives to ensure its continued competitiveness. Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko recently stated that ICASA's decision to reduce fixed termination rates would lead to job losses, saying that the proposed FTRs would hit it much harder than its competitors, and were 'not feasible' within a three-year time frame without significant job losses.

South Africa: Mate 20 mandated - Huawei is to launch its new Mate 20 Lite on 31 October, MyBroadband reported. The device features four AI-powered cameras paired with a HiSilicon Kirin 710 chipset, which has an integrated neural processing unit (NPU). The NPU powers a variety of artificial intelligence features which improve pictures taken with the dual front-facing cameras and dual rear cameras. There is a FullView display, 81 percent screen-to-body ratio, and Android 8.1. Local pricing has not yet been published.

South Africa: Uber birthday - Uber has completed its first 5 years in Africa, launching in Johannesburg in September 2013. It has subsequently launched in 12 cities in five Sub-Saharan African countries, including Durban, Cape Town, Mombasa, Accra and Pretoria. It has 36,000 African driver-partners. It will also be launching the Uber Movement Website in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, and in Kenya's Nairobi. This will assist urban planners and the public to better understand the transportation needs of their city.

Tanzania: Card collaboration - Vodacom Tanzania has introduced the M-Pesa virtual card in partnership with Mastercard and BancABC. M-Pesa mobile wallet holders will be able to make payments on any local or international Website or app accepting Mastercard. Users can request the card from the M-Pesa USSD menu, and shortly also on the M-Pesa app and top the card up via the wallet.

Tunisia: MNO meetings - The President of the Instance Nationale des Telecommunications has set the agenda for the 19 September 2018 stakeholders' meeting with network operators of public telecommunications networks about quality of services and coverage in border areas.

Zimbabwe: Minister named - Former Minister of Sports minister Kazembe Kazembe has replaced Supa Mandiwanzira as Minister of ICT minister, according to ITWeb. Kazembe is expected to normalise regulatory issues in the sector and foster growth, but said he was 'still trying to understand the situation on the ground'. Mandiwanzira has not retained a post in Zimbabwe's newly sworn-in Cabinet. When in post Mandiwanzira had running battles with Econet Wireless over infrastructure sharing, which remains an outstanding issue, as well as tariffs.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Medical links - Batelco and the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) signed a deal on 2 September 2018 in support of the National Health Insurance Programme (Sehati). The aim is to strengthen the working relationship between the SCH and Batelco to carry out health related projects. Batelco will contribute BHD 850,000 (USD 2.2 million) to support the Kingdom's health sector initiative, as well as connect the health authorities with the National Health Insurance Programme. Batelco will support the SCH in the planning process, and will also work closely with the Supreme Council of Health to develop a system in which hospital and health centre records are connected, allowing patients' flexibility on choosing a hospital or health centre within the National Health Insurance Programme.

Bahrain: QoS update - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has updated its Quality of Service (QoS) regulation. The regulator said that the regulation forms part of its goal of empowering subscribers, with the update building on the existing 2008 QoS framework. Acting General Director Sh. Nasser bin Mohamed Al-Khalifa said  that the review ensures that the main quality aspects of the service delivery are in line with latest technological capabilities and best practices. The updated QoS regulation is on the TRA's website.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Bahrain: Scammer alert - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has reported that scammers may be approaching a number of subscribers through WhatsApp and mobile calls claiming to be TRA staff who are giving out cash prizes. The regulator advises consumers to report all suspicious communications to the Ministry of Interior's General Directorate of Anti-Corruption & Economic & Electronic Security. TRA also advises consumers to block these numbers on WhatsApp to limit further communication. The TRA added that it does not give out cash prizes or use WhatsApp as an official means of communication.

Lebanon: LTE launch - Alfa has launched Voice over LTE (VoLTE) from its primary retail outlet at its Dekwaneh headquarters. The network is ready both commercially and technically and it expects to start rolling out the service. It noted in a statement that handsets supporting LTE are not yet widely available, either locally or globally.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Oman: 4G roll-out milestone - Ooredoo Oman claims to have achieved 95 percent population coverage with its 4G LTE SuperNet mobile network, up from the 92 percent claimed in April. The operator said that it had exceeded its initial goal of 4G upgrades following expansion work in areas including Muscat, Al Batinah, Al Sharqiyah, Al Dakhikyah, Buraimi, Wusta, Musandam, Dhofar and Dhahirah. Zawya reported Ooredoo's Taha Al Raisi as saying: "This expansion .. has increased our 4G coverage by over 50 percent countrywide since we started our major upgrade implementation in quarter four, 2017".

Saudi Arabia: Fibre leverage - Zain Saudi and Dawiyat, a subsidiary of the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), have entered into a binding agreement to offer FttH broadband services to households in Dawiyat. Both will leverage their networks and Dawiyat's fibre network to offer Internet services.

Saudi Arabia: Superior shopping experience - Online store has launched the 'Amazon Global Store', which offers over a million products from Amazon in the USA. The dedicated storefront is available on the Souq Website and mobile app. Customers can shop in Arabic or English and pay in SAR using their local credit cards or cash on delivery.

Turkey: Application update - Turkcell said on 11 September 2018 that the local currency transfer and e-money license application licensing process for Paycell in the Ukraine was on-going. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary lifecell. It said that the announcement was in accordance with CMB's Public Disclosure Communique's requirement to provide updated information every 60 days.

Device developments:

Algeria: US opportunity - Specialist manufacturer of electronic products, household appliances, and smartphones, Saterex, on 11 September 2018 signed a contract with US-based KVS Import Solutions, specializing in online sales in the USA. Consequently Saterex's Iris branded smartphones will be available to US consumers. Iris' deputy General Manager Djamel Guidoum said that the signing was the result of four months of negotiations. Saterex is already present in the Maghreb, Mali and the United Arab Emirates and expects to increase production to 2 million smartphones per annum when its new manufacturing facility comes on-stream.