News in Brief 1 November 2018

Africa:

Africa: French landing - Orange is to wok with HKT's international division PCCW to provide the landing point in Marseille for the PEACE (Pakistan & East Africa Connecting Europe) cable project. The construction of the submarine system has been awarded to Hengtong Marine and Huawei Marine Networks, which have recently entered into the cable and material manufacturing stage of the project. Orange's existing infrastructure is to be used for the Marseille landing, enabling the cable termination in a carrier-neutral data centre. Orange will benefit from additional network capacity between Marseille and Mombasa, as well as additional resilience to traffic in the Indian Ocean region, particularly to the islands of Reunion and Mayotte.

Algeria: Satellite support - Algerie Telecom (AT) participated in the Special Exhibition of Algerian Products, which is being held in Nouakchott, Mauritania, 22 - 28 October 2018. AT provided a high-speed Internet connection during the event, with the technical support of the Algerian Space Agency (ASAL) utilising the Alcomsat-1 satellite, which was launched on 10 December 2017 and commissioned in June 2018. Algerian Minister of Post and Information and Communication Technologies Imane Houda Feraoun has said that Alcomsat-1 would target Mali, Niger and Chad, which still experience a low rate of access to telecom services in remote areas. She made the comments prior to the African Conference on Internet Governance, organized in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Angola: Cable connections - Angola Cables has reached agreement with Silica Networks in Argentina and Silica Networks in Chile to connect their terrestrial fibre networks to the newly commissioned South Atlantic Cable System (SACS). Silica Networks provides connectivity between Argentina, Brazil and Chile via a network that crosses the Andes in four locations, and approaches Sao Paulo by a terrestrial and a submarine route. SACS will be Silica Networks' preferred route in the Southern Hemisphere, providing a direct route between South America and Africa, with onward connections to Asia. The interconnection of the two fibre networks will provide access to the Pacific via Santiago de Chile, via Las Toninas in Buenos Aires, Argentina and SACS through Fortaleza, Brazil and across the Atlantic to Africa.

Burkina Faso: Improved framework - The government is to strengthen the legal framework and regulation of the telecommunications sector, Agence Ecofin reports. The Council of Ministers has met to draft a decree amending the law of 27 November 2008 on the general regulation of networks and services of electronic communication. The new decree has to go before the National Assembly before it passes into law.

Ethiopia: Money transfer - Dashen Bank, in collaboration with Moneta Technologies, has launched a social media and money transfer application called 'Meda'. The application operates on Amole, the bank's digital platform, and provides messaging, social media and social payment services in English, Amharic, Oromifa and Tigrigna languages. Amole Wallet was launched in July 2018. Dashen Bank was established in September 1995.

Ghana: Longer call incentive - Vodafone Ghana has launched Talk to Browse which see users receive 10MB free browsing for every billed minute of local calls made. The offer is intended to reward subscribers for every local call that lasts more than a minute. Users need to sign-up by dialling 5050.

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Ghana: MMI on the rise - Cross network mobile money transactions represents 12 percent of products and services offered by Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), just four months after its introduction, GhanaBusinessNews reported. GhIPSS is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank of Ghana, intended to facilitate electronic payments. GhIPSS launched cross network mobile money transfers, or Mobile Money Interoperability (MMI), in May 2018. By the end of the second quarter, MMI accounted for only 3 percent of its products, but this has grown significantly to 12 percent by the end of the third quarter, according to the GhIPSS 2018 Quarter 3 report.

Ghana: Regulatory requirements anticipated - MTN Ghana will accept the Ghana Revenue Authority's Tax Identification Number (TIN) as one of the requirements for the registration of SIM cards and mobile money services if regulatory bodies make it a requirement for the telecom sector. The Authority had issued over a million TIN numbers as at April 2018, rising by some 90,000 issuances by the end of May. In an interview with Citi News on the sidelines of a stakeholders conference in Koforidua, the Corporate Services Executive of MTN Ghana, Sam Koranteng, said: "If [the] government should say today that we want you to add the Tax Identification Number as a requirement in registering new people onto our network or the regulatory bodies ask us to include the TIN for mobile money processes or transactions, we at MTN are ever ready to collaborate with them…".

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Kenya: Academic advantage - Safaricom's M-Pesa Foundation academy is to provide education to at least 800 economically disadvantaged pupils. The institution is located on a 100 acre plot opened in 2016, and now has some 487 children enrolled. Each year the academy admits up to four pupils per county, who are selected in a multiple stage evaluation by telephone and personal interviews.

Kenya: Bundle revision - Airtel Kenya has revised its Amazing Data Bundles, adding more internet allowance for the same price and free WhatsApp. Kenya Bloggers Association (KBA) data published in 2018 records at least 12 million Kenyans use WhatsApp; the WhatsApp offering does not deny access or reduce speeds when data is depleted.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Kenya: Start-up seed capital - The government has set aside some KES 1 billion (USD 9.8 million) for local start-ups in mobile phone software and hardware segments, the Citizen News reported. Minister of ICT Joe Mucheru told an annual meeting of industry players that there are concerns regarding the 50 million telephone handsets imported every two years. Mucheru said the government expects to work with firms that seek to participate in manufacturing and assembling phones, in order to reduce their costs.

Nigeria: Weather alerts - 9mobile and weather forecasting portal, Ignitia, have launched a farming service to predict weather accurately before and during the planting season. The Iska Weather Service is claimed to have an accuracy of 84 percent. 9mobile's Head of Digital Media, Bolanle Afuye, said the service will provide localised weather forecasts via SMS and USSD. Subscribers also have access to Ignitia's daily 2-day weather forecast service on rainfall risk, timing and intensity, along with the monthly and seasonal outlooks once a month.

Sierra Leone: Access assistance - Dayu Mining has said that it invested some USD 150,000 to construct the road to a hilltop where Africell was able to construct a network tower to provide coverage for villages in Simiria and Kafe chiefdoms in Tonkolil District, Northern Sierra Leone, Sierra Express Media reported. The statement was made by Community and Human Resource Consultant, Mohamed Sultan Daffae. Dayu Mining has a large-scale mining licence located close to Masumbrie and Marandaand Kalmaron villages in Simira Chiefdom.

South Africa: 5G for November - Mobile data network operator Rain is to launch a new 5G wireless network on 12 November 2018. Rain's president Paul Harris made the announcement at Investment Conference in Johannesburg 25-27 October 2018. Rain will use the existing 3.6 GHz band to build the 5G network with technical support from its partners Huawei and Nokia. Rain is hoping to demonstrate its live 5G Cape Town network at AfricaCom.

South Africa: Film gift card - Netflix is to start distributing gift cards this month, MyBroadband reports. They can be loaded with between ZAR 150 (USD 10.30) and ZAR 1,000 (USD 69) without an expiry date. Existing users can use the gift card to top up their account credit, and those who do not yet have an account can redeem their credit on-line. Users without a credit card can use the gift cards as a long-term, secure payment method.

Togo: Inclusion increasing - The Ecobank Mobile app has recorded more than 500,000 users in Togo a year after its launch. The app has been launched in the 33 countries where it operates, as Ecobank aims to boost access to financial services. Ecobank's Consumer Banking division Executive Director Patrick Akinwuntan, was reported by Togo First as saying: "Ecobank has a lot of opportunities to offer to every African. Our Ecobank Mobile app, Xpress Account, Ecobank Pay, Xpress and Rapidtransfer points are becoming prefered banking services of users, in Africa and the diaspora, due to their flexibility, low costs and instant nature".

Middle East:

Bahrain: Automated answers - Zain Bahrain has launched zBot, an all-new interactive digital channel for smart customer service. Customer services will benefit from a fast Live Chat service where customers inquiries can be answered and fulfilled in a fully automated manner without the need of human interaction. zBot utilizes robotics and the latest Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural language processing technologies (NLP). The full range of fully automated services include post-paid billing inquiries, pre-paid inquiries, mobile data usage details, offers and promotion plans, managing accounts, purchasing smart devices from the online store and information on branch locations and opening hours, etc.

Bahrain: Smart Wi-Fi solution - Batelco is to adopt Huawei's SmartWi-Fi service to provide seamless, high-speed Wi-Fi coverage, and enhance home broadband through remote cloud management and intelligent troubleshooting. It has released 500 Mbps ultra-broadband (UBB) and video services including Batelco TV. Huawei is to supply Batelco with the SmartWi-Fi solution based on high-end gateways and access points (APs). Tri-band Wi-Fi APs and Huawei's gateways on the live network support plug and play (PnP), zero-configuration deployment, and smooth roaming. Mesh Wi-Fi provides full coverage at home and supports carriage of multi-channel HD videos across apartment floors. The SmartWi-Fi system integrates a Wi-Fi cloud O&M system to remotely manage home Wi-Fi networks.

Oman: Fibre expansion - Ooredoo has extended its ‘Super Fibre’ service to Saa’dah in the city of Salalah. Users can subscribe from OMR 28 (USD 73) a month, with speeds of up to 1Gbps, as well as a free modem and installation and unlimited fixed Ooredoo minutes and discounted international rates. In home coverage can be boosted with the latest WiFi Mesh device two-packs (Linksys VELOP Tri-Band), starting from OMR 3.50 (USD 9.00) a month. Users who sign up for a twelve-month, 50 Mbps contract or above get a month’s free subscription and a complimentary D-link WiFi router.

United Arab Emirates: Data science skills development - Smart Dubai and IBM are to set-up a Data Science Lab to develop data science skills and collaboration, as well as to host a Chief Data Officer (CDO) Summit in Dubai in 2019. IBM will provide skills and expertise on data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics for the lab. Smart Dubai will provide a physical location for the Data Science Lab, host a quarterly Data Science Think Tank, communicate with government entities, promote training and engagement with government entities, conduct a Data Science Hackathon, and run an internship programme for UAE nationals.

United Arab Emirates: Medical ICT - Etisalat is to provide Abu Dhabi General Services (Musanada) with ICT for the new Al Ain Hospital. The operator will design, supply, install, test and commission IT hardware, software and network equipment. The hospital has a 347,000 square metre footprint and uses digital and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Device developments:

South Africa: Two-year deal - Telkom started selling the iPhone XR on 26 October. The phone is retailing at ZAR 749 (USD 51) per month for two years. It integrates new developments from the iPhone XS in an all-screen glass and aluminium design with a 6.1-inch Liquid Retina display with wide colour support and True Tone for more natural viewing.