News in Brief 21 November 2018

Africa:

Guinea: Warts and all - On Saturday, November 10, 2018 in Conakry Elhadj Mamadou Pathe Barry launched her latest book 'From South-South cooperation to the State portfolio (1993-2013)' in which the author looks into the financial failure of incumbent telecommunications operator Sotelgui, which was one of the first in the sub-region to successfully restructure and privatize, and launch a GSM network. The author describes herself as an engineer-economist, one-time senior inspector of telecommunications management and founding member of the Society of Telecommunications e Guinea (Sotelgui). The book examines how the operator, which was endowed with enviable economic assets and which had a high equipment rate and a pool of competent executives, found itself, 20 years later facing bankruptcy. A PDF copy of the book can be downloaded for EUR 13.99 here

Kenya: Diesel reduction - In its second annual Sustainability Report, Liquid Telecom Kenya, said that in 2017, it cut its diesel use by 35 percent by installing solar panels, deploying voltage regulators on generators, and building a power substation to lower diesel use caused by grid power outages. The introduction of energy saving bulbs saved another KES 2 million (USD 19,300) in electricity costs. An internal audit of suppliers was undertaken to improve value delivered and introduced tougher measures to eliminate and prevent conflicts of interest and inappropriate pricing, which it claimed had seen substantial savings. It said it has invested heavily in its national infrastructure and product offering to achieve consistently strong sales growth of 20 percent per annum. The greatest growth was in its business Internet services, which accounted for 56 percent of total sales last year, compared with 47 percent the year before.

Kenya: Healthy texts - Safaricom and he Ministry of Health have partnered to provide access to information on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) directly from mobile phones. Dubbed Fafanuka, the service is delivered over SMS and USSD. The platform aims to address the information gap on the prevention, management and care of non-communicable diseases. Content has been developed in partnership with various organisations who are part of NCDAK including Kenya Cardiac Society, Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations, Kenya Welfare of People with Epilepsy and the Kenya Diabetes Management and Information Centre.

Kenya: Till integration - Safaricom is to deploy faster payments at over 2,500 Lipa Na M-Pesa merchants. The aim is to provide the more than 21 million monthly active M-Pesa customers with faster transactions and increased privacy by eliminating the need to show transaction confirmation messages. Each cashier will be issued with a unique till number; previously each shop had a single till. Safaricom and the merchants have re-integrated the till numbers under the new Daraja M-Pesa Application Programming Interface, which allow for deeper integration.

Nigeria: Deal or no deal? - MTN Group is reported to be edging towards reaching a USD 800 million settlement with the authorities over a claim it illegally transferred USD 8.1 billion out of the country, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the situation. A deal is reported to be ready for signature and could yet fall through. MTN Nigeria said it continues to engage with the relevant authorities to ensure a mutually acceptable resolution.

Nigeria: Diverted traffic - Main One Cable has said that it is responsible for an issue that saw some Google global traffic routed via China, saying a network upgrade had been the cause. On 12 November when monitoring firms ThousandEyes and BGPmon said traffic to Alphabet's Google had been routed through China and Russia, raising concerns that the communications had been intentionally hijacked. The problem lasted some 74-minutes when a border gateway protocol filter used to route traffic across the Internet was wrongly configured.

Nigeria: ICT financing - Deputy Prime Minister Yemi Osinbajo has said that the country has requested financial support of USD 500 million from the African Development Bank (ADB) for its Technology Innovation Fund, Agence Ecofin reported. Osinbajo said on the sidelines of the African Investment Forum, 7 - 9 November 2018 that the funding would help to build the capital of USD 10 billion of the innovation fund that the Federal Government has commissioned the Bank of Industry (BOI) to set-up to support technology entrepreneurs and start-ups. It was noted that the ADB had made similar investments in Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire and several other African countries.

Nigeria: Widest yet - Airtel Nigeria's Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Segun Ogunsanya, has claimed that it now has the widest 4G network coverage. The Tribune reported Ogunsanya speaking recently at the Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos during the formal unveiling of Airtel 4G, said it had launched its 4G network in over 60 major cities and towns. On the 13 February, 2018, it rolled-out its 4G network in Ibadan, Oyo State. In May, it unveiled its 4G service in Abuja, while on the 19 and 25 of September, it announced the launch of its 4G service in major towns and cities in Anambra and Delta states. In early November mobile operator Globacom claimed that its 4G network now reaches all 36 states and 208 tertiary institutions. Glo formally launched its 700MHz LTE network in October 2016 in the cities of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Jos, Warri, Eket, Benin City, Yola and Zaria. 

South Africa: Black benefits - MNO Cell-C has announced a Black Friday reduction for the top package of its Black streaming service with Black Binge Elite now ZAR 89 (USD 6.23) will drop from ZAR 449 (USD 31.46) from 23 November to 31 December. The rate will be held for twelve months after users sign-up. Elite offers serials, music, films, shows and documentaries together with over 60 linear TV channels including eight from Fox, as well as Fox VoD but excluding film rentals. Subscribers also receive the additional benefit of free unlimited Black data until February 2019.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

South Africa: Broadband inquiry - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is to undertake an inquiry into mobile broadband services. This will be conducted in terms of section 4B of the ICASA Act in addition to section 67 of the Electronics Communications Act. This follows ICASA's identification of priority markets for improved regulations. ICASA said it will assess the state of competition and determine whether there are any market segments in the mobile broadband services sector which may require additional regulation. The regulator said that it aims to finalise this inquiry in the 2019/2020 financial year.

South Africa: Cell-C roaming roll-out completed - Cell-C has completed the national roll-out of roaming on the MTN network. The roll-out has been completed in sixteen weeks, ahead of schedule. MTN now provides both 3G and 4G services to Cell-C in areas where Cell-C has chosen to purchase coverage rather than self-build, mainly outside of the main metro areas. Two thirds of the new sites available to Cell-C users are LTE-enabled. Cell-C's network offers 99 percent 2G population coverage, 96 percent 3G population coverage and 80 percent 4G population.

South Africa: Cloud connectivity - Huawei is to launch a new cloud region in South Africa, with a local data centre to provide cloud services in Africa. Huawei Cloud South Africa region will start offering services at the end of 2019, allowing organizations operating inside South Africa and neighbouring countries to access low-latency, secure cloud services, such as Elastic Cloud Server (ECS), Elastic Volume Service (EVS) and Object Storage Service (OBS). Huawei Cloud also indicated a plan to unveil more new regions in Africa and announced the Africa Partnership Programme with local channel partners, such as Altron, ATOS, BCX, Datacentrix, EOH, Gijima, StorTech, TCM, Tech Mahindra, T-Systems and XON.

another fine mess for african telecoms

South Africa: Deal challenge - Reuters has reported the Competition Commission has concluded that a distribution deal between MultiChoice and South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in 2013 was a notifiable merger. MultiChoice and the SABC could now face disciplinary action if they do not register the transaction as a merger under the Competition Act. The ruling goes against a 2016 decision by the Competition Tribunal that the deal did not constitute a merger. SABC was to be paid ZAR 500 million (USD 35 million) in the 2013 deal, which also prevented the public broadcaster from encrypting any of its free to air channels in the migration to digital terrestrial television. At the time, the deal was seen as protecting MultiChoice's dominance in the pay-TV market.

South Africa: MTN marginally in the lead - MTN South Africa has narrowly beaten Vodacom in OpenSignal's mobile networks video experience award. The study calculates a score on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the best video experience possible. In South Africa, both MTN and Vodacom rated a Good score (55-65), while Cell-C and Telkom were in the Fair (40-55) category. MTN and Vodacom's scores were the second-highest rating achieved by any of the 69 countries analyzed in the State of Mobile Video report. Vodacom's score of 58.6 was within three points of MTN's 60.9, while Cell-C and Telkom scored 50.2 and 46.7 respectively. South Africa's national score of 55.9 beat more developed mobile markets such as France, Ireland and Russia.

Uganda: Tax reduction - Minister of Finance David Bahati has assured Parliament that the mobile money tax will reduce from 1 to 0.5 percent from 16 November, The Monitor reported. The statement followed questioning from Members of Parliament about why the change in the tax had not been implemented, more than a month after it was passed by the House.

Zimbabwe: Rising metrics - Information Communication Technology (ICT) saw a rise in revenue to USD 1 billion in 2017 from USD 600 million in 2010, The Herald reported. Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) Director-General Gift Machengete said investment in the sector had been rising, and deployment of fibre reached 8,765 km in 2017. The mobile penetration rate rose from 25 percent in 2009 to 102 percent in 2017, and Internet penetration rose from 5 percent in 2009 to about 51 percent in 2017. Sector revenues increased from around USD 600 million in 2010 to above USD 1 billion in 2017.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Medical installation - VIVA Bahrain has equipped the Al Salam Specialist Hospital with the latest ICT solutions designed for the healthcare industry and medical support systems. Dedicated Internet covers the whole hospital as well as unified fixed-line solutions in office areas. Al Salam Hospital medical staff members will also enjoy VIVA Business mobile services.

Oman: FttH expansion - Omantel Telecommunications Company (Omantel) has expanded its fibre-to-the-home (FttH) service to the Al Saadah area in the city of Salalah, Muscat Daily reported. The launch follows expansion to a number of new areas, including Al Amerat, Al Khuwair, Al Khoud Old, Al Musannah and Madinat A'Sultan Qaboos, enabling residents to access broadband speeds of up to 200Mbps and VAS such as Omantel TV+.

Qatar: Plan upgrade - Ooredoo Qatar has updated its Shahry 'Welcome Home' offer with additional benefits. Earlier this year Ooredoo allowed new and existing Shahry subscribers who upgraded their plan to obtain bonus data allowances. Now new Shahry users can get a free Star Play subscription until 31 December, and all new Shahry 100 pack subscribes will get 10 GB extra over two months; Shahry 150 customers will have 24 GB extra over three months; Shahry 200 customers can obtain 48 GB extra over four months and new Shahry 250 customers can get 60 GB extra over four months. The offers are valid until 13 December 2018.

Turkey: 5G test site - Regulator Bilgi Teknolojileri ve Iletisim Kurumu (BTK) is overseeing the first '5G open test site' in Turkey at the 'BTK Market Surveillance Laboratory' located in Ankara's Hacettepe University, Milliyet.com.tr reported. Mobile network operators Turk Telekom, Turkcell and Vodafone Turkey, and the lab's infrastructure is open for testing by technology companies including start-ups.