News in Brief 23 January 2019

Africa:

Cameroon: Staff disciplinaries - Last week Camtel dismissed 50 workers whose files were undergoing disciplinary review, the Journal du Cameroun reported sources close to the general management as saying. Chief Executive Judith Yah Sunday reached the decision after a disciplinary board interviewed the staff involved. The layoffs come after a disciplinary board recognized the employees guilty of gross misconduct. The new CEO has also commissioned an internal audit to review staff qualifications and salaries. After being appointed CEO on 14 December 2018 Sunday ordered an internal audit to determine the current state of the company before making any critical decisions.

Chad: Ministerial moves - The appointment of Minister of Posts, New Information and Communication Technologies, Ndolenodji Alixe Naimbaye was terminated on 11 January 2019, having been in post since 18 June 2018. The decree terminating the appointment was signed by the Head of State Idriss Deby. According to AFP quoting several sources, this stems from a conflict between the Minister and relatives of the presidential family, responsible for agencies under the supervision of the Ministry of Posts, New Information Technologies and Communication. The Ministerial functions will be temporarily provided by Oumar Yaya Hissein, the Minister of Communication and spokesman of the government.

Ethiopia: IPTV interest sought - Ethio Telecom plans to start IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) service in partnership with IPTV content and solution providers, and is therefore looking for potential partners. Partners need a proven ability to build, deploy and support competitive IPTV service delivery, and are able to offer a 'rich' library of streaming content. It follows that the partner should be able to integrate the solution with ET's infrastructure. Potent applicants can contact Ato Tamirat Tesfaye via email: tamirat.tesfaye@ethiotelecom.et or on +251 911 50 87 07

Ethiopia: Old numbers offered - In December 2018 Ethio Telecom announced that it has 'recycled' 18 million idle mobile service numbers have been recycled and made ready for sale. The operator claimed that the number involved had been idle for more than two years. The sale of these numbers commenced 21 December 2018. The subscribers who had been using the numbers prior to the recycling were to be given priority to subscribe to their previous numbers, and have a month to 19 January 2019 to reclaim their old numbers. In 1Q18 ET was reported to have some 64.1 million subscribers, but in at the end of 2018 claimed to have only 39.5 million mobile subscribers. This would suggest that the final total was in the region of 57.5 million before ET restated its subscriber numbers.

Ghana: Inter-operability increasing - The number of cross-network mobile money transfers stood at 2.2 million by December, after inter-operability was launched in May 2018, according to the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS). The average monthly transactions under old the token system was some 93,000, but the average number per month since inter-operability has now reached 280,000 transactions per month. In the first month, there were fewer than 100,000 transactions but this rose to over 400,000 transactions in December 2018 alone.

Guinea Republic: 3G disruption - Orange has told its customers that an incident on 16 January 2019 saw a disruption of its 3G network at certain sites in Conakry. Voice calls and Internet were available on the 2G network. The problem related to a communication issue between one of the 8 RNC equipments (specifically the 3G controller equipment) and the Core Network devices which started at 4:47 pm, and returned to normal from 20:15 and finally, a full recovery of services at 21:00. Some 178 technical sites out of 1,515 were affected. These sites lay in the area from Cosa to Kaloum.

Kenya: Merger welcomed - Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore has told Reuters that he would welcome any potential takeover of Telkom Kenya by Bharti Airtel, following media reports that discussions have resumed. As the market leader Safaricom has long challenged regulatory proposals to restrict its activities to boost competitive activity. Collymore said: "It is a good thing because what you create is an entity which has got at least 30 percent market share. There is a critical mass that any player needs to get to, to be operating sensibly." The Communications Authority is finalising a report on competition.

Maldives: More islands - Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu) has extended its fibre-optic broadband network to Alifushi, one of the inhabited islands of Raa Atoll, and Nilandhoo of Faafu Atoll. Its 'Fibre Broadband' packages offer maximum download speeds of 100Mbps, with coverage of more than 40 inhabited islands including Male, Villingili, Hulhumale, Maafushi, Gan, Dharavandhoo, Himmafushi, Thulusdhoo, Dhiffushi, Guraidhoo, Fulidhoo, Keyodhoo, Thinadhoo, Dhangethi, Hangnameedho, Dhigurah, Maamigili, Ukulhas, Mathiveri, Thoddoo, Rasdhoo and Bodufolhudhoo.

Namibia: Cables cut - Last week another cable theft in the John Pandeni (Soweto) and Katutura East constituencies in Windhoek saw some 912 Telecom Namibia users cut off. The cut occurred between Kallie Roodt street in the Northern Industrial Area, Rensburger street in the Lafrenz Industrial Area and Penning street in Soweto, and affected both business and residential customers. Two 800 pair cables, a 1600 pair cable and another 1200 pair cable were damaged in the process. The optic fibre cables affected were the forty-eight core linking Northern Industrial and Wanaheda and the forty-eight core linking Northern Industrial and Katutura.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Namibia: Failed switch - Telecom Namibia's Windhoek switching trunk for voice services partially failed on the morning of 15 January. Windhoek-based fixed line users were unable to call mobile numbers or receive calls from international destinations. Other exchanges in the country are not affected, except when dialling certain Windhoek numbers.

Nigeria: Satellite TV - A Chinese government-sponsored 'Access to Satellite TV for 10,000 African Villages Project' has started for a thousand Nigerian villages. Each village is to receive two sets of solar powered projector TV systems and one solar-powered, 32-inch digital TV set. Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the project would strengthen the already cordial Sino-Nigeria relations. Twenty recipient families with TV in each village will be provided with 20 sets of direct broadcast satellite terminal system free of charge. Viewers in each village provided with the projector TV system will get 21 satellite channels free of charge, and access to 33 satellite TV channels free of charge for two months. After the free period, access to the 33 channels is then NGN 900 (USD 2.47) per month, or limited access is available without payment.

Rwanda: SIM cap - New regulations regarding the ownership of SIM cards have been published by the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA). A cap of three cards for each of the country's two network operators, MTN and Tigo/Airtel has been set. Exemptions are businesses and for parents who wish to buy SIM cards for their children. The regulations are effective from 31 January, are designed to ensure that all SIM cards are registered to a single user to prevent phones being used for criminal activities.

another fine mess for african telecoms

South Africa: Further funding - A new funding round is planned by WorldRemit in the next six months ahead of a potential initial public offering or buyout, TechCentral reported. It is seeking more cash as it continues to expand, according to Andrew Stewart, MD of operations in the Middle East and Africa. Investors include Accel Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures, early backers of Facebook. It has partnerships with MTN Group and Vodacom Group to access their pan-African mobile money services. Stewart was speaking after WorldRemit secured a South African licence for money transfers to other African countries, enabling them to send cash from within Africa, as opposed to from the UK and the US. It also has deals with Kenya's Safaricom and Huawei Technologies of China, too.

South Africa: Microsoft MD - Microsoft South Africa has named Lillian Barnard as its new managing director from 1 March, replacing Zoaib Hoosen who has resigned after nearly five years. Barnard is currently director for the public sector at Microsoft and has more than 20 years of ICT experience. Before joining Microsoft, he was Vodafone's Chief Sales Officer and worked for IBM for fifteen years.

South Africa: Vodacom Video Play - Vodacom South Africa is to live-stream the 2018-19 FA Cup men's football tournament. Viewers can register for Video Play and watch the next five rounds of English men's football from 26 January until the final on 18 May. There is no monthly pay-TV subscription and Vodacom customers can watch live, delayed or catch-up FA Cup coverage, including highlights and clips, on any device from ZAR 35 (USD 2.55) a match. Video Play has over 1 million subscribers and prices start at ZAR 5 (USD 0.36) a day.

Uganda: Border management - Gemalto is to provide a Border Management System (BMS) with local partner SCINTL. The contract includes airport self-service eKiosks in Entebbe. The e-Immigration service uses Gemalto's fingerprint and facial recognition technology, combined with a passport scan for identification of passengers leaving the country. Gemalto's Visa Management System (VMS) will be used, which was first deployed in 2014 by the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC), part of Uganda's Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Enriched email - Batelco has adopted the cloud-based email service, Amazon WorkMail, from Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide services for both corporate and retail customers. Amazon WorkMail is a secure, managed business email and calendar service with support for all mobile devices and desktop email clients. Batelco's General Manager Enterprise Abderrahmane Mounir said: "Working with AWS enhances our digital solutions portfolio and we look forward to providing more quality services that facilitate the daily requirements of our customers." Batelco is an AWS Advanced APN Partner, Direct Connect Partner, and Authorised Channel and Public Sector Reseller, delivering AWS services in Bahrain.

Iran: Third stage failure - Minister of Telecoms Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi has announced, according to The Express, that the Payam satellite launch failed in the third stage as it did not reach adequate speed, according to a repirt on the Ministry's Website. Payam was to have been used for imaging and communications and had four cameras, and was to have been orbited at an altitude of 300 miles for approximately three years. The launch was made despite warnings from the US and France, which had asked the government to scrap three planned rocket launches as they violated a UN Security Council resolution. Azari-Jahromi posted on Twitter to say that another satellite called Doosti was waiting to be launched.

Israel: Revised licence - The Israel Broadband Company (IBC), which offers wholesale broadband infrastructure services under the 'Unlimited' banner, is thought to have applied to the Ministry of Communications (MoC) for a revised operating licence. Globes Online reports that the application follows a change in IBC's ownership, as it is now 70 percent owned by Cellcom and the Israel Infrastructure Fund, with the remaining 30 percent held by Israel Electric Corporation. The revised licence is reported to have been approved by the authorities, and the operator is now required to formally apply for it, with the process expected to be completed within two to three months.

Israel: Shared ducts - The Ministry of Communications has decided to allow communications companies to share existing underground cable ducts. Ministry of Communications Director General Nati Cohen signed an amendment to the 'Mutual Use of Passive Infrastructure' service, which enables fibre companies to make use of the existing underground ducts. To date, new ducts have been required alongside existing infrastructure to connect buildings, and caused disruption for road users and pedestrians when highways were dug up. Cohen said: "This move will increase competition in the fixed-line communications infrastructure market, with the aim of providing advanced communications services via fibre optics. This will lead to faster surfing speeds and high-quality Internet, while meeting the growing demand for devices requiring an Internet connection."

Jordan: Orange store - Orange Jordan has opened a new Smart Store in the Dahiet Al-Yasmeen area, bringing the total number of stores to 61. CEO Thierry Marigny said the store will service the largest number of subscribers, through special offers. The store provides the operator's latest offers and services, as well as accessories and bill payment service.

Oman: Routers on instalments - Ooredoo Oman is offering Wi-Fi Mesh device two-packs (Linksys VELOP Tri-Band) on instalments with 12 and 24-month contracts for its Fast and Super Fibre Home Internet plans. Instalment plans include OMR 20 (USD 52) up front and OMR 7 (USD 18) a month for the duration of the contract with a 12-month contract, or a OMR 20 deposit and then OMR 3.5 a month for a two-year deal. Users can choose from a number of plans including Fast Home Broadband from OMR 25 a month (USD 65) and Super Fibre starting from OMR 28 (USD 73) a month.

Qatar: 5G for Shahaniya - Ooredoo Qatar has deployed 5G in Shahaniya to support its Supernet network. Al Shahaniya City lies in the west of Qatar.

Qatar: Manateq facilities - Vodafone Qatar is to start deploying its coverage infrastructure and network across all Manateq projects. The design, construction, and installation of Manateq's telecommunications networks are to start immediately, Vodafone said in a statement. The deal will provide businesses and customers operating in the logistics parks and industrial zones with high speed access and connectivity to Vodafone's network, including 5G services for a 10-year period.

Turkey: Huawei P deal - Turk Telekom has started selling the Huawei P Smart 2019 smartphone in 12 cash monthly instalments. The offer is part of a promotional campaign under which the company is offering smartphones at promotional prices until the end of April.

United Arab Emirates: Prime video offer - Mobile network operator Du is offering Amazon Prime Video to Du's entertainment service, with a special three month offer. From 17 January, all its customers will be able to get exclusive access Prime Video for three months. After the three month promotional period, they will pay AED 11 (USD 3) per month for the next six months and AED 22 (USD 6) per month after that.