News in Brief 26 September 2018


Africa: Competitive platform - Liquid Telecom has announced a partnership with Zindi to support the roll-out of its new African data science competition platform. Zindi was launched this month at the AI Expo Africa in Cape Town for African data scientists to 'convene, collaborate and compete' to solve the continent's most pressing challenges. Three inaugural competitions will launch the platform in the next two to four months, including a challenge co-sponsored by Uber for data scientists to optimise public transportation in Nairobi and another to automatically process text in documents to classify them according to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals framework. A total prize money of up to USD 12,000 is available to entrants in this first set of competitions. New competitions will be launched each month.

Cameroon: Branching out - Cameroon Mobile Telecommunications (Camtel) plans to open branches in Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa, Business In Cameroon reported. Managing Director David Nkoto Emane said the move follows the recent deployment of the 6,000-km fibre-optic submarine cable South Atlantic Inter Link (SAIL), linking Fortaleza in Brazil to Kribi in southern Cameroon. Emane noted in 2016, the company deployed the 1,000-km Nigeria to Cameroon (NCSCS) Submarine Cable System, connecting Kribi to Lagos.

Ethiopia: Fraudster jailed - Ethio Telecom reported last week that it had taken action against individuals engaged in fraudulent activities. An employee accused of illegally selling over 3,000 telecom services and allegedly violated ET's System Usage Policy and Telecom Fraud Infringement Code has been jailed. Some 2,135 customers have been also been charged of using telecom services without paying ET's service fees.

Ethiopia: Internet interruption - Mobile Internet was not available in Addis Ababa from 17 September to 19 September according to media reports and Berhan Taye, who leads Access Now's #KeepItOn campaign against Internet shutdowns, according to the CPJ's Website. The shutdown occurred on the same day as protests in Addis Ababa over clashes in which ethnic minorities were targeted. Fixed lines Internet services, however, are reported to have remained available during the period.

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Ghana: Sub-Saharan soccer - Pay-TV operator StarTimes Ghana Limited has acquired the exclusive broadcasting rights for Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Europa League in Sub-Saharan Africa. Broadcasting commenced on 2 September and will see all 205 matches between the best European clubs on Star Times Ghana till until 2021. Madam Akofa Djankui, Head of Marketing, StarTimes Ghana said: "This season will be intense for football fans with Bundesliga, French Ligue 1, FIFA Club World Cup, French & Italian Cups and now UEFA Europa League." The UEFA Europa League will be broadcast in all Sub-Saharan Africa except South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. StarTimes has been awarded exclusive rights for English, Portuguese and Twi.

Kenya: Unfortunate upgrade - A Telkom Kenya staffer is in court seeking KES 60.7 million (USD 600,000) for wrongful dismissal and her replacement by a foreigner, the Daily Nation reported. Anne Njeri Nyagah was head of customer care until April when her job was upgraded to that of Director customer experience, and a foreigner recruited to replace her. The Telkom Kenya Website shows the current director of customer experience as Jackie Aritua Rozario. Nyagah claims that the new position was not advertised and the appointment of a foreigner as discriminative. In response Telkom Kenya said Nyagah was sacked for demanding to know the rationale of introducing the new post. Rozario was the head of operations at Multichoice Kenya before joining Telkom and had previously worked at Airtel Kenya and Airtel Uganda, as head of retail operations and head of contact experience respectively.

Morocco: Certification claim - Maroc Telecom has obtained ISO 9001 certification version 2015. It claims to be one of the first Moroccan companies to get the latest version of this certification. The operator had ISO 9001 version 2008 for its activities since 2004, and passed its follow-up audit conducted at its sites by the independent certification body 'Bureau Veritas' for its quality management system. Areas audited include strong customer focus, motivation and commitment from management, process approach and continuous improvement.

Morocco: Exchange point explored - On 20 September 2018 Morocco Trade and Development Service (MTDS) and N + ONE Datacenters put the case for an Internet exchange in Morocco at the National Interconnection Forum which they hosted. MTDS' managing director Karl Stanzick said that the aim of the event was to show telcos, regulators and public and private sector companies the technical and commercial opportunities that collaboration to create an Internet exchange point would create.


Namibia: Improving picture - Mobile operator TN Mobile posted a NAD 9 million (USD 628,427) profit, compared to the loss of NAD 41 million (USD 2.9 million). Chief Financial Officer Robert Offner said that this improvement stems from stable revenue, cost management initiatives and strong debt collection by the group. The growth in mobile and IP (broadband) revenues has offset the decline in voice traffic and falling prices in data segments.

Nigeria: More 4G - Airtel Nigeria has started LTE operations in the state of Anambra. 4G services have been launched in Onitsha, Awka, Nnewi and other major cities and towns in the state. Airtel has already launched LTE earlier this year in Ibadan and Abuja.

Qatar: Sports special - Live coverage of the Unimoni Asia Cup 2018 is available for Ooredoo TV customers with an Ultimate Sports or Pehla Prime Package. This is a One Day International (ODI) cricket tournament involving the Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka national teams. They can be watched by subscribing to the Ultimate Sports Pack at QAR 80 (USD 19) per month or Pehla Prime at QAR 145 per month (USD 40). Ultimate Sports and Pehla Prime Package add-on customers can also watch live Moto GP Granprix, UFC, Caribbean Premier League and Ryder Cup coverage in the coming months.

Rwanda: Celebratory competition - As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, MTN Rwanda has launched the Izihirwe campaign which will see customers rewarded over the next three months with prizes. Subscribers will be rewarded with free voice calls, free SMS and free data bundles multiple times, and can win weekly and monthly prizes such as cash, TV sets, goats, speakers, phones, and restaurant and cinema vouchers.

South Africa: Rate regulation? - The Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) is to regulate the cost of Internet access, Digital Business Africa reports. Speaking at ITU World 2018, Executive Director Willington Ngwepe said the measure would limit if not end the complaints of consumers who have complained of high prices across the board since 2016. A study on the entire Internet market will enable an understanding of its structure will be commissioned in October and will take 8 - 10 months, and which will establish the billing methods used by operators and Internet providers. Once completed, regulation of costs can then be considered.

South Africa: Spectrum submissions - ICASA has notified progress in assignments of 700/800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum, and on 19 September 2018 released the presentations made in respect of the Draft Radio Frequency Spectrum Assignment Plan (RFSAP) for the IMT850 band. Follow the links for each submission: Cell-C; Comsol; Huawei; SABC; South African Radio Astronomy Observatory and Telkom.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Uganda: Virtual card - A partnership with Mastercard and United Bank for Africa (UBA) has allowed MTN Uganda to launch a virtual card chat allowing quicker, safer and simpler global on-line payments. The virtual card chat is called MTN MoMo and allows users to shop and make payments at any global outlet that accepts Mastercard payments. The card is supported by United Bank of Africa, and facilitates the payment of online transactions, locally and internationally.

Zambia: Tower commissioned - A new tower has been commissioned at Iwonde in Ngabwe in the Central Province on 19 September 2018 by Zamtel's CEO Sydney Mupeta. Located some 170km from Kabwe, the new site is the first Zamtel tower in the area and is one of the 1,009 new sites that the Government through Zamtel is rolling out nationally as part of the second phase of the GRZ Communication Tower Project. Mupeta said that so far 318 new Zamtel towers have been constructed and 195 new sites commissioned in different parts of the country. By 2020 Zamtel expects to have delivered blanket coverage by the Zamtel network.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Middle East:

Israel: IPO imminent - Vendor ECI Telecom is to return to the stock market after an 11-year absence. It is considering an initial public offering of USD 230 million later in 2018 or in early 2019 on the London Stock Exchange. If it goes ahead, the offering will be managed by Barclays and UBS. The offer would be comprised of new shares, and a potential offer of existing shares to be sold by the selling shareholder, ECI said. ECI provides networking and data transport products and reported revenues of USD 197.7 million and a loss of USD 18.8 million in the first half of 2018, up from sales of USD 159 million and a USD 34.3 million loss a year earlier.

Israel: Server fall-out - Bezeq's Pelephone mobile arm lost a net 9,000 subscribers approximately in early September after it experienced multiple network failures, TheMarker reported. The fall occurred in the period 2 - 13 September, after a period when Pelephone had been a net gainer in subscribers. Consequently it increased its subscriber count by 1,400. The two beneficiaries were Xfone, whose We4G service gained about 4,800 new subscribers, and Partner with an increase of 1,800. Pelephone has retired the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise servers that have been blamed for the problem, although Globes reported that it still losing subscribers as 17 September when 780 cancelled their accounts.

Lebanon: Attendance announced - TRA's Acting General Manager Amine Moukheiber will be attending the GSMA Mobile 360 Series - MENA, taking place in Dubai on 26-27 November 2018.

Middle East: Cable cut - The South-East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 3 was damaged at Kundannoor in Kerala, India during construction of an overbridge but was fixed within hours, The Business Standard reported. State Secretary for IT M Sivasankar said that a breakage was reported in the SEA-ME-WE3 on the terrestrial element of the SEA-ME-WE3 for a five hour period.

Oman: Educational enhancement - Ooredoo Oman has signed an MoU with the Ministry of Education to connect schools nationally to its fibre and LTE networks. The partnership will facilitate the government's strategy to provide an integrated education system. Ooredoo will provide the schools with fast Internet and voice services.

Palestine: One less Wataniya - Wataniya Mobile is to become Ooredoo, as part of the Qatar-based group's efforts to unify its Middle Eastern operations. The change will be completed by mid-October and will be marked by a formal ceremony in the presence of representatives of Ooredoo Group; representatives of the Palestinian Investment Fund; the founding investor; and the executive management of Wataniya Mobile. The move comes after operations in the Gaza Strip and launch of its 3G services. Ooredoo said the company will remain registered in Palestine, while benefiting from the Ooredoo marketing resources.

Qatar: eSims explored - Ooredoo has undertaken live eSim tests on its mobile network. These will enable the operator to provide a completely digitised user experience without having to insert the normal SIM in the device. Users will be able to switch between their private and business numbers without the need to change cards. Many small devices, such as watches and other wearables, will be able to connect to the mobile network without the need for a SIM.

Qatar: Office opened - Huawei claims to be the first technology firms to register with 100 percent foreign ownership in Qatar, and has opened a new office in West Bay, Doha. This follows the enactment of a new law permitting foreigners to own 100 percent of businesses in any economic sector, according to the official Qatar News Agency in May. Investors may hold up to 49 percent of listed companies, or larger stakes with government approval. The opening of this third office reinforces the company's long-term commitment to Qatar, it said. Huawei set-up its first office in Qatar in 2005, and currently employs 180 staff. Major projects include a high-capacity CCTV storage project with Hamad International Airport and an IP Network Backbone with Qatar Rail.

Qatar: Radiation monitoring MoU - The Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) and the Communication Regulatory Authority (CRA) have signed an MoU on monitoring the non-ionising radiation levels of communication stations and towers. The aim is to enhance joint government work and support environmental development, one of the four pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030). The agreement paves the way for joint cooperation in various areas, including approvals for communication stations and towers of mobile operators, and handling the complaints related to radiation levels.

Turkey: Amazon arrives - Amazon has launched offering free delivery on orders over TRY 50 (USD 8.09). As well as its normal fare, the site is offering products from over a thousand local businesses. Amazon said it had made a substantial investment in infrastructure and technical services that help small and medium-sized businesses reach new customers globally.

United Arab Emirates: High rankings - The UAE is ranked first globally in the rate of mobile broadband subscriptions in the ICT Global Competitiveness Index. It also ranked first in the rate of the population covered by a mobile network, as well as the population covered by at a 3G mobile network. The UAE also ranked second globally in mobile subscriptions. It was ranked fourth globally in terms of households with a computer, seventh globally in rate of households with Internet access at home, and eighth in Internet users.

United Arab Emirates: Zone upgrade - Mobile network operator Du has announced a digital upgrade agreement with the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) free zone. A MoU provides a formal framework to develop its technology infrastructure, innovation platforms, potential business opportunities, digital services and pilot projects. The mandate will provide Du with the opportunity to devise bespoke, mission-critical products and services to give ADGM a competitive digital advantage.

Device developments:

South Africa: Smartphone packages - Telkom has announced contract pricing for iPhone XS, iPhone XS MaxBy. Both devices can be pre-ordered with effect from 21 September 2018, but will be shipped from 28 September. Telkom is offering one version of each device on its FreeMe contracts. The iPhone XS 64GB will start at ZAR 999 (USD 70) per month for 24 months on a 1GB FreeMe package; or ZAR 1,899 (USD 133) per month for 24 months with the Unlimited Package. The iPhone XS Max is also only offered in its 64GB guise, but will start at ZAR 1,099 per month for 24 months on the FreeMe 1GB package, and on the Unlimited Package pushes at ZAR 1,999 (USD 140) per month for 24 months. Telkom is also offering the iPhone X 64GB for ZAR 799 (USD 56) per month on the FreeMe 1GB. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is also ZAR 799 per month, while the Huawei P20 Pro is priced at ZAR 569 (USD 40) per month.