News in Brief 5 December 2018

Africa:

Cameroon: SAIL sales - Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel) has contracted Sparkwest Steel Industries, a Nigerian network tech firm to sell connectivity on the South Atlantic Inter Link (SAIL) cable to service providers and potential investors ITWeb has reported. SAIL runs on 32 Tbps and will serve the Nigerian market, which is already connected to Cameroon from Lagos to Kribi through the Nigeria-Cameroon Submarine Cable System (NCSCS).

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Satellite connectivity - Eutelsat has launched its high-speed satellite Internet Konnect Africa service in six major cities, with a range of eight access offerings for both consumer and corporate markets. It also intends to provide a Wi-Fi hotspot service branded Konnect Wifi, and located in hospitals, schools, universities and stores. Konnect Africa's Managing Director Jean-Claude Tshipama said that satellite technology had enabled high-performance connectivity solutions via local first-rate partners to distribute turnkey offers.

Egypt: Long-term planning - Vodafone has said that it is to invest more than EGP 4.5 billion (USD 251.1 million) in the current financial year to improve its network. Vodafone Egypt's CEO Alexandre Froment-Curtil said it is focusing on helping users connect with a plan to speed-up digital transformation. The development of infrastructure and fibre optics is seen as key. Vodafone Cash has over 5 million users now.

Ghana: CTO confirmed - MTN Ghana new Chief Technical Officer is Thomas Motlepa. Motlepa has over 17 years' experience, having worked in various capacities as a telecoms engineer with MTN Zambia, Iran, Cameroon and Nigeria. Prior to joining MTN, he worked with Ericsson, Telkom and SABC.

Ghana: Impounded cables - The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) is reported to have confiscated six containers loaded with substandard cables at Tema Port. According to the GSA's Director of the Inspectorate Division, Kwasi Owusu Boadu, the cables are being held pending investigation, after which they will be destroyed or returned to the country of origin. He made the comments at the launch of Germany-based Lapp Group Cable in Accra which is partnering with Automation Ghana.

Ghana: Money developments - On 28 November the second phase of the 'Mobile Money Interoperability Payment System', My Joy Online reported. This involves the interconnection of Vodafone Ghana, MTN Ghana and AirtelTigo's networks to E-zwich, the chip-based switching and payment system, managed by the Ghana Interbank Payment System (GhIPSS). The first phase saw the interconnection of the operators' mobile money platforms and the Ghana National Switch (gh-link system), which made it possible to send and receive money across networks. Some 1.3 million transactions have been made during the early phase of the project, worth GHS134 million (USD 27.6 million).

Lesotho: Tigo man named - Vodacom Lesotho has a new Managing Director in the form of Philip Fofie Amoateng, and was previously Managing Director of Tigo Rwanda from 2016 to 2018. He has held several strategic roles in operations and finance within the Millicom Group and was instrumental in the turnaround of Tigo Ghana from 2014-2016. From 2005 to 2009 and 2010 to 2014 he was the Chief Operations and Chief Financial Officer for Tigo Sierra Leone and Tigo Rwanda respectively. He also worked as the GSM Network Project Officer in Chad and Systems Design and Implementation manager for SOFT-Tribe, a Ghanaian software development company.

Liberia: Regulatory reform - On 30 October 2018 President Dr. George Manneh Weah submitted a bill to the 54th Legislature calling for the cancellation of tenured posts within the Executive Branch of Government. On 22 November 2018 the House of Representatives voted in favour of a report from its Judiciary Committee, repealing all tenured positions in Government. The House exempted the General Auditing Commission (GAC), National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). The Liberian Observer notes that the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) was given tenure to ensure its independence in performing its regulatory functions, and should, by rights, retain its status.

Maldives: Fibre expansion - Ooredoo Maldives has expanded its 'SuperNet' fibre broadband service to the island of Dhuvaafaru. The roll-out was carried out in cooperation with infrastructure partner Satlink, which has supported Ooredoo in expanding the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network on the island, Corporate Maldives reported.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Maldives: New chair - Mobile network operator Dhiraagu has named Ismail Waheed as its chairman. The board currently includes Abdul Rahman Fakhro (non-executive and independent director, Batelco director); Khulood Rashid Al Qattan (non-executive and independent, Batelco director), Ihab Al Hinnawi (non-executive director, Batelco director); Oliver McFall (non-executive and independent director, Batelco director); Ismail Rasheed (executive and non-independent director); and Imran Ali (non-executive director, public director).

Namibia: First steps - Focus Telecommunications, which launched in late October, has installed a high-speed broadband connection for the Maxuilili Clinic in Katutura free of charge, the Economist news site reported. Co-founder Elifas Haimbodi said its vision is to provide affordable and reliable connectivity to the unconnected and underconnected. The company provides wireless solutions connecting isolated communities, residences and businesses without geographic limitation or conditions. Haimbodi's partner is Henock Immanuel. On 22 January 2018 the Government Gazette noted Focus Engineering Services CC had been awarded a Class Comprehensive Telecommunications Service Licence (ECS and ECNS) but declined to award a Spectrum Use Licence as the frequencies applied for were in a spectrum use license exempt band.

Namibia: Superior cloud - MTC is to provide fibre Internet and digital cloud computing services to government, public and private enterprises from March 2019. It has contracted Huawei to provide the technology to create the 'MTC Secure Cloud'. The service is designed to offer a steady and high-quality data security and smooth back-up system on its virtual data centres. The service offering follows the launch of its business fibre optic fast Internet solutions.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Nigeria: AOL payments awaited - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has claimed that some network operators had failed to make payments to the Annual Operating Levy (AOL). Speaking on behalf of the NCC's Director, Licensing and Authorisation, Funlola Akiode at an Annual Stakeholders' Consultative Forum on Selected Licence Categories last week, the Head of the NCC's Post Licensing Unit, Chukwuma Azikiwe, said that the non-compliance was of concern to the commission. The defaulting operators were not named. It was also observed that some operators are not in compliance with approved Individual Consumer Code of Practice (ICCP), Type Approval of equipment, submission of statistical data and information on their change of address.

Nigeria: Major market - Digital terrestrial and satellite television service provider StarTimes claims to now have some 3 million subscribers according to Overseas Public Relations Director William Masy last week on Nigerians are subscribed to the organisation's products and services across the country's six geo-political zones. StarTimes, which was founded in 1988, has subsidiaries in more than 30 countries, including Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Africa and others, and had some 10 million users in these countries. Nigeria is the largest single market. Masy said that StarTimes had been selected for the Access to the Satellite TV for the 10,000 African Villages' project. The company is also looking for a suitable place in Nigeria to establish a factory as it has done in Kenya and other countries.

Nigeria: Technical migration - Bloomberg has quoted people familiar with the matter as saying MTN Chief Innovation Officer Herman Singh is expected to step-down to establish his own tech venture, whilst Babak Fouladi, chief technology officer is readying to join Dutch telecoms firm, KPN NV this week.

South Africa: Cell-C centre corrupted - Mobile operator Cell-C experienced an outage of voice and data services starting on 29 December and last approximately 48 hours. Cell-C claimed that the problem related to one of its data centres. On Facebook it posted a statement at mid-day on 1 Devember: "We are aware that some customers are still experiencing issues. While the problem has been identified and resolved, it unfortunately takes time for the network to stabilise and all services to be fully restored. We apologise to those still affected and kindly ask for your patience. We will keep you updated on progress".

South Africa: Cloud partners - Cloud services provider iConnect is partnering with Tarsus On Demand to offer bundled connectivity and Microsoft cloud products. The bundles will be tailored to the needs of top management, middle management and the rest of the workforce. Also its resellers will market the bundles to their own clients. This will give the end-customer a single point of contact for billing, consulting and support across connectivity, telephony and collaboration software. Customers will be able to pay their Office 365 monthly subscription fee along with their connectivity bill.

South Africa: CompCom compliant - Vodacom said at media briefing on 30 November that it is to fully cooperate with the Competition Commission's (CompCom's) investigation into government's award to it of the RT15-2016 tender contract. In March 2016 the National Treasury issued a tender for the supply and delivery of mobile communication services to national and provincial government departments for the period 15 September 2016 - 31 August 2020. In October the Commission said it had launched an abuse of dominance investigation into Vodacom. Vodacom Business Chief Sales Officer Mickey Mashale said that it hoped to conclude the investigation 'very soon'. Mashale claimed that Vodacom had already helped government save around 56 percent in expenditure from all participating government departments over a two-year period. It had connected remote community health workers to patients.

South Africa: Confident PIC - The stake held in MTN by the Public Investment Corporation has been increased. The country's largest asset manager, which oversees ZAR 2 trillion (USD 143.9 billion) in assets, increased its MTN stake from 15 percent to 23.6 percent to take advantage of lower prices. The purchase price was not given. Currently MTN is facing a USD 10.1 billion liability in Nigeria. MTN is accused of expatriating USD 8.1 billion in dividend without the appropriate authority. A second fine of USD 2 billion has also been imposed.

South Africa: First for Telkom - Telkom is the first mobile operator to enable data transfer and the roll-over of unused data in compliance with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) End-User Subscriber Service Charter (EUSSC). Telkom's Executive for Mobile Products and Services Andrew Dawson said it implemented the end-user subscriber charter, despite regulatory uncertainty. There will be a greater benefit for users who buy smaller bundles (from 25 MB to 500 MB) who will now have up to six months to use their data.

South Africa: New directors named - Vodacom named two new non-executive directors; Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa and Thomas Reisten who will take up their seats on the board from January 2019. The move follows the resignations of Thoko Mokgosi-Mwantembe and Ronald Schellekens after a minimum of 10 years service. Mahanyele-Dabengwa is the executive chairman of Sigma Capital, and is a former Chief Executive of Shanduka Group. Reisten is Vodafone's regional Finance Director in the AMAP (Africa, Middle East and Asia Pacific) region having joined the Group via Mannesmann Mobilfunk in Germany in 1998. Vodacom has some 43 million subscribers, and is currently in talks over a South African wireless network-sharing deal with Telkom SA as a replacement for former partner Cell-C.

South Africa: Not local - ICASA has concluded that Netflix is not obliged to abide by any local content quotas or requirements, Mybroadband reported. ICASA has concluded that as it is not a licensee it is therefore exempt from local production expectations. By comparison, subscription television broadcasting service licensees are expected to spend 15 percent of their annual content acquisition budget on local content.

South Africa: Seasonal promotion period - Cell-C has launched its December Connector contract promotions. The new Plans throughout December will see increased data quotas, with an extra 1 GB of WhatsApp data. Those signing the 24 month contracts during the promotional period will also receive a subscription to the premium entertainment streaming platform 'black' free of charge. Until the end of February, streaming of content on black will be zero-rated on Cell-C. The deals are SIM only. The offers are available 23 November - 6 January 2019.

South Africa: VoD update - MultiChoice South Africa is to redesign its video-on-demand service DStv Now with a major user interface changes to make it easier for subscribers to find relevant content, together with local content for its stand-alone VOD platform Showmax, TechCentral reported. MultiChoice Africa Group's Connected Video unit head Niclas Ekdahl said a key priority is harnessing user data to deliver content that is 'relevant on an individual basis'. DStv Now is a value-added service for DStv satellite subscribers, but TechCentral reports MultiChoice plans to make it a standalone product in 2019.

Tunisia: Spam check - The Instance Nationale des Telecommunications de Tunisie (INT) launched a new regulatory service on 29 November 2018 which will enable telecom subscribers to limit the volume of SMS adverts received from their network operator. An agreement was signed in April 2018 between the INT and the Instance Nationale de Protection des Donnes Personnelles (National Instance of Protection of Personal Data or INPDP) and the Consumer Protection Organization (ODC) to implement the STOP SMS campaign. It is executable through a toll-free number that INT has published. The new INT service contains a reminder to Maroc Telecom, Orange and Inwi on the use of consumers' personal data.

Middle East:

Kuwait: Deal of the decade - Viva Kuwait has launched a special KWD 10 (USD 33) offer for its post-paid customers to celebrate its ten years of operation in Kuwait. The plan comes with unlimited on-net calls, 2,000 local minutes and 50 GB.

Qatar: Year-end offer - Ooredoo Qatar said it has re-launched the free data offer on international money transfers via Ooredoo Money, running to 31 December. Ooredoo Money users making an international transfer of QAR 1,001 (USD 275) and above will enjoy 750 MB of free data valid for five days from activation. Ooredoo Money can also be used to recharge international pre-paid numbers in more than 100 countries, purchase data bundles and pay bills in selected countries including India, Bangladesh and the Philippines.