News in Brief 24 October 2018

Africa:

Algeria: Postal top-ups - Mobile operators Mobilis and Djezzy have collaborated with Algerie Poste to offer new top-up payment option using its Edahabia cash card. Mobilis said that subscribers can now use the card to top-up their credit or settle their monthly subscription at Algerie Poste's cash dispensers (ATMs). Likewise Djezzy's clients can use the card to purchase top-ups at Algerie Poste's cash machines, but also at post offices nationally and online on the Algerie Poste's Website. This strengthens the existing partnership signed in September 2015 to expand Djezzy's distribution channels.

Algeria/Sudan: Regulatory partnership - The Autorite de regulation de la poste et des communications electroniques (ARPCE) and Sudan's Autorite de regulation de la poste et des telecommunications (ARPT) are to partner on mutual development, Ecofin reported. They will exchange telecom market regulation experience and best practices for the development and modernisation of ICT networks and services.

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Burkina Faso: ICT first - African telecommunications regulators met in Ouagadougou 16-18 October at the first African conference on digital economy regulation or conference africaine sur la regulation et l'economie numerique (CAREN). The event was organized by ARCEP and Telecom Paris Tech. Topics covered included the opportunities and risks of digitalization of economies and companies, financial inclusion, social media use, E-commerce development, artificial intelligence and Big data.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Ministerial meet - The 17th Summit of the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF) was held on 17 October 2018 in Yerevan, Armenia. The Democratic Republic of Congo's Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and New Technologies of Information and Communication (PT-NTIC), Emery Okundji, said the forum had advocated the establishment of a Francophone network of ICT ministers.

Ghana: Fault finder - Complaints raised by AirtelTigo subscribers over service interruptions are to be addressed by the National Communications Authority (NCA). The NCA said in a statement that complaints have included a lack of Internet and voice connectivity, credits deducted for bundles not realised by subscribers, the inability of subscribers of other networks to reach AirtelTigo numbers, and mobile money and porting issues. The NCA said it is conducting an investigation, and is holding regular meetings with AirtelTigo.

Ghana: Telecoms taxes - Mobile network operators AirtelTigo, MTN and Vodafone are to raise their tariffs from 1 November to after taxes were increased. The Chamber of Telecommunications said that the price increases followed the government's mid-year budget review, which heralded increases in VAT, NHIL and GETFL rates.

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Kenya: Money momentum - Equitel, Equity Bank's mobile money network, saw double-digit growth in value and number of mobile money transactions according to the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). Equitel handled some 87.9 million mobile commerce transactions in 2Q 2018, up from 77.6 million in 1Q 2018. The value of mobile commerce transactions rose from KES 290.3 billion (USD 2.86 billion) to KES 328.2 billion (USD 3.23 billion).

Kenya: Taxes passed-on - Safaricom has increased the price of voice calls, data and SMS, and so passing on to end-users the 15 percent excise duty tax imposed on phone and Internet services by the Finance Act 2018. This is in addition to the VAT applicable to mobile services at the rate of 16 percent. The cost of calls rose by KES 0.30 (USD 0.03), and SMS by KES 0.10 (USD 0.001) with effect from 18 October. Zuku and Jamii Telecommunications have also implemented the price increase on their data and call products.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Libya: 4G initiation - State-owned mobile network operator Al-Madar has it had launched its 4G+ mobile Internet service, the Herald reported. The LTE-A network has been activated in the Greater Tripoli area and a subsequent roll-out to Benghazi and other cities is also planned soon in eastern areas, without providing further detail.

Chart 1: Libya Al-Madar Mobile Coverage
Libya Al-Madar Mobile Coverage
Source: al-madar

Middle East and North Africa: Mobile music - Deezer, a global music streaming service, is now providing a wide range of Arabic hits from media and entertainment-producer Rotana, through its MENA regional Deezer app, Nextvame reported. Local content from Mazzika and Saudi-based Qanawat is available, as well as 53 million tracks from global artists. The service is now available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria, Kuwait, Tunisia, Oman, Jordan, Bahrain and Mauritania.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Nigeria: Settlement in sight? - Reuters has reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria and MTN could soon reach agreement in the dispute over the repatriation of USD 8.1 billion, citing the Minister of Information Lai Mohammed. The bank says the funds were moved out of the country, in breach of foreign exchange regulations.

South Africa: Free streaming - MultiChoice South Africa's DStv is offering its customers free access to music streaming service JOOX VIP, normally costing ZAR 89.99 (USD 6.20) a month, Mybroadband reported. This will be granted to DStv Premium, Compact, and Compact Plus package holders and four of their family members. Users have to sign up to JOOX, and then click on the DStv banner or profile image and select JOOX VIP, and then DStv Customers. From there, they must enter their ID as the DStv account holder, and key in a temporary PIN that has been sent to the associated telephone number.

South Africa: Vodacom talks to vendors - Vodacom South Africa is to partner with device manufacturers to introduce Enhanced Voice Services (EVS), or Super High Definition (SHD) voice or HD Voice+ on a live commercial network. VoLTE subscribers using a compatible handset can now experience the improved voice clarity. EVS offers up to 20 kHz of audio bandwidth (CD quality). VoLTE, without EVS, offers more than double the bandwidth available over 2G voice, and is similar to 3G WB AMR codec (23.85). With the addition of EVS, the bandwidth is again increased, improving speech quality when using EVS-SWB (Super Wideband).

Zambia: New MTN numbers - MTN Zambia is to launch a new range of numbers and expanded its existing subscriber base. The new range has the '076' prefix and customers can reserve their desired contact number on the link: http://my076.mtnzambia.co.zm. MTN Zambia Chief Executive Officer Charles Molapisi said that the move had been forced by its growing subscriber base. New subscribers will get free 300 MB data and 10 minutes on-net minutes and all MTN customers will get free Instagram, free MTN TV+ and free Facebook, plus send money for free when they recharge their phone with K2. Additionally, MTN have introduced the new services specifically tailored to meet subscribers’ changing communication demands, according to Molapisi.

Zambia: Savings solution - Kasaka, a savings product targeted at the unbanked, has been launched by MTN Zambia, Barclays Bank Zambia and Jumo Mobile Mone, the Daily Mail has reported. Barclays Bank Zambia CEO Mizinga Melu said Kasaka expands the existing lending facility, Kongola which was launched in 2016 and has made more than 5 million loans so far. The Kongola loan facility will be available to people aged 18 years and over, and MTN customers who have been on the network for more than 90 days with an active MTN mobile money account.

Middle East:

Kuwait: Better broadband - Zain Kuwait has launched its BEAM LTE-based home broadband Internet service with download speeds of up to 40Mbps, the Kuwait Times reported. Two post-paid both offer unlimited data; 20Mbps for KWD 25 (USD 62.50) or 40Mbps for KWD 40 (USD 100) monthly on a 24-month contract, whilst Zain subscribers will also get a free BEAM home router and complementary portable LTE Hotspot device with free 50GB monthly data. Coverage includes areas between the first and fifth ring roads of Kuwait City, with further areas to be added in due course.

Jordan: Internet incentive - Mobile network operator Umniah is mounting a limited-time offer for home and mobile Internet. Customers receive 2 TB of data for home Internet services and 50 GB for mobile internet for JOD 22 (USD 31) per month. Umniah said it seeks to provide integrated solutions that are highly flexible.

Kuwait: Network services - Zain Kuwait has partnered with Cisco to provide cloud-based, managed network services to corporates. Zain will utilise Cisco Meraki products, to deliver secure, high-performance network solutions. IT infrastructure is managed from the cloud through a web-based dashboard.

Kuwait: Prime offerings - Zain Kuwait is to offer Prime Video after it signed a distribution deal with Amazon. An exclusive offer is available to Zain's user base. The announcement was made at Gitex 2018.

Israel: Vendors meet VNPT - IT and Telecommunications Regulatory Agency, together with more than 10 vendors had a working session with Vietnam’s VNPT, and some of its units, including VNPT-IT, VNPT-Net, VNPT-Technology. The vendors showcased their telecom and IT capabilities and products, with the focus on opportunities for cooperation and investment with VNPT. Three groups discussed in depth areas such as mobile, IT and IoT platform technologies and value added services.

Qatar: Camping connectivity - Ooredoo Qatar and the Ministry of Municipality and Environment are offering mobile broadband discounts for the camping season which starts on 1 November. Customers who sign up or upgrade to an Unlimited Endless Internet Standalone Pack (mobile broadband) from 16 October until 16 November get 20 percent off their pack costs for four months, reducing the monthly subscription to QAR 400 (USD 0.11). New and existing users that upgrade their Endless Internet Standalone Pack can also obtain a discounted My-Fi for QAR 720 (USD 196) and Cradle device for QAR 100 (USD 28), saving up to QAR 578, and a free subscription to Starzplay.

Saudi Arabia: Blockchain prototyping - Saudi Telecom Company (STC) and ConsenSys have launched blockchain on the STC Cloud. It will provide a path to enable mass adoption of the technology through lower costs of prototyping and experimentation. The technology was showcased at Gitex 2018. Users can create blockchain nodes in a sandbox environment and build blockchain networks and test use cases without the need for infrastructure investment or heavy development.

Syria: Listing gets initial approval - Syriatel has received the initial approval to list its shares on the Damascus Securities Exchange. The announcement was dated 18 October 2018, and the company is now required to complete the procedures according to the rules and conditions of listing in the market to obtain final approval for listing on the bourse. The original signing of the agreement between the telecoms regulator, the bourse and Syriatel Mobile occurred on 15 February 2017.

Turkey: Better gaming - Turk Telekom’s digital gaming platform Playstore has announced it is collaborating with local e-store OverGame, and is offering PlayStation 4 games and player equipment at a promotional price. Equipment such as the Dualshock V2 wireless control devices, and Razer gaming mouses and mousepads are being offered. Turk Telekom home Internet customers can buy these products in 12 monthly instalments.

United Arab Emirates: Visitor pack - Mobile operator Etisalat is working with Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal (Abu Dhabi Ports) to offer a package of a visitor SIM card and a selection of services to all visitors arriving at the terminal from the Etisalat kiosk in the passenger hall. A booklet of vouchers provides discounts on theme parks, restaurants, shopping and other lifestyle activities.

United Arab Emirates: Enterprise SD-WAN - Service provider Du and vendor Cisco are to offer software-defined Intelligent Connectivity Service (SD-WAN) to business customers. The solution provides clear visibility of the customer's WAN, allowing traffic optimisation and bandwidth to match business and seasonality demands.

United Arab Emirates: Multiple dashboards - Mobile operator Du said it will provide the Community Development Authority (CDA) with multi-tile dashboards to facilitate decision-making for its business functions. A dedicated Dubai Pulse BI platform was carved out of the existing one, and was hosted in the high performance IaaS cube dedicated to the CDA.

Device developments:

Kenya: Hamper premium gift - Huawei has launched its Y9 2019 mobile device which features an upgraded Central Processing Unit (CPU), front and rear dual camera, and the notched Huawei FullView Display. It will be retail at KES 24,990 (USD 246) at all leading consumer electronics retail stores as well as on the Jumia Online retail platform. The phone could be pre-ordered from 18 October and is to launch on 27 October. The pre-order will come with a gift hamper worth KES 8,000 (USD 78).

Kuwait: iPhone initiation - Zain Kuwait announced it started offering the iPhone XR for pre-order from 19 October and in Zain stores from 26 October. The device supports dual-SIM use with an eSIM, and is available in white, black, blue, yellow, coral and red.

United Arab Emirates: e-SIM expected - Both du and Etisalat confirmed at Gitex last week that they will have e-SIM provision to the new iPhone XS line-up which includes the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and the upcoming iPhone XR, TechRadar reported. The announcement for e-SIM support for the latest iPhones is expected by the end of October from both operators, with support for the Apple Watch series 3 by du expected early next year; Etisalat already supports it. Apple is still working to bring e-SIM functionality to the masses via a software update later this year, although iPhone XS and XS Max users who are part of iOS 12.1 beta can take a crack at it contingent on carrier support.