News in Brief 7 February 2019


Africa: Digital-only banking - Standard Chartered has initiated the second phase of its digital-only retail bank in Africa. It launched a digital service in Uganda in January, followed by Tanzania in February, with Ghana and Kenya to follow. This follows the launch of Standard Chartered's first digital retail bank in Cote d'Ivoire in 2018. The second phase builds on the original CDI platform that signs up clients in under fifteen minutes and provides 70 of the most common service requests. Standard Chartered is to also launch a marketing campaign: "Be unstoppable, bank on the go!" The mobile app can be downloaded from the Google play store or Apple store.

Angola: Landing station recognition - Angola Cables' landing station in Fortaleza, Brazil, has been awarded Tier III Certification by the Uptime Institute, recognising the operational efficiency of the infrastructure and facilities constructed as of December 2018. Construction started in early 2017 and accommodates Monet, the international submarine cable system that connects Boca Raton in Florida, USA, to Fortaleza and Santos in Brazil. This is the first time that a Tier III facility has been built in the region to support a submarine cable and its backhaul.

Cameroon: Affordable devices - MTN Cameroon has promised it will shortly start selling what are described as 'affordable' high-performance smartphones in service centres according to Chief Executive Officer Hendrik Kasteel. At a press briefing on 31 January 2019, Kasteel said the devices will enable locals to benefit from 3G and 4G, and access to Internet bundles and other packages. It is also plans to roll out a 4G mobile Internet access modem. MTN lost three million subscribers after complying with SIM registration regulations, but achieved a base of 8 million in January 2019, up from less than 7 million as of 3Q 2018. He said that performance has also been highly impacted by the crisis in the North West and South West regions where MTN has a 60 percent market share.

Ghana: Fine relief - The Electronic Communications Tribunal has accepted AirtelTigo and Vodafone Ghana pleas to delay the imposition of the fines levied on them by the National Communications Authority (NCA) in late 2018, Business Ghana has reported. MTN Ghana and Glo Mobile have also sought relief but their applications are still pending. In November 2018 all four mobile network operators were fined a combined total of GHS 34.1 million (USD 6.9 million) for quality of service (QoS) issues. AirtelTigo and Vodafone Ghana will now prepare for the hearing of the case, although no date has yet been set.

Ghana: Local launch - Indian-based mobile phone maker Lava Technologies has launched in Ghana, following its earlier African entry in Egypt. It is offering feature phones including the Champion Series (C1, A1, N1), and smartphone Z series (Z81 2GB, Z81 3GB) and Iris 51. Country Manager Rahul Kumar Singh said it was banking on price and quality and plans to launch in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, Uganda, Ethiopia and Morocco. Executive Director Saurabh Verma said that it was hopeful that by 2020 it would have 20 percent of the local mobile phone market. I2 is to distribute the phones in Ghana.

Kenya: Environment ethos - Mobile network operator Safaricom is working with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Wetlands International and other stakeholders to raise awareness on the need to conserve Kenya's wetlands to mark World Wetlands Day on 2 February. In 2018 Safaricom and NEMA renewed their Memorandum of Understanding to promote environmental management in Kenya. The two agreed to work on the provision of technical support to engage the public sector on sustainability issues, the advancement of the climate change agenda via a thought leadership, policy and advocacy perspective, and providing advisory services on climate change action and information sharing.

Kenya: Medical connections - Liquid Telecom Kenya has connected Gertrude Children's Hospital in Nairobi to the Dadaab refugee complex, which houses 250,000 refugees in four camps some 500km from the hospital. Using a 15Mbps connection at the hospital's Nairobi headquarters and a 2Mbps link at Dadaab sub-county hospital, Liquid has enabled the largest paediatric centre in East and Central Africa to deliver advanced treatment directly to Dadaab. The hospital is also offering telemedicine services in Mombasa, Sekenani (Narok County) and Kibera in Nairobi and will soon deploy the services to the Mara. Interdist Alliances of the CIS Group has provided medical equipment that diagnoses patients and then transmits the results over the Internet, while Cisco has provided the audio-visual equipment for consultations.

Maldives: Mobile users - Maldives ends 2018 with 858,000 mobile customers The mobile base rose to 857,934 subscribers in December 2018, compared to 847,534 in November. Mobile penetration also rose to 235.6 percent in December, up from 232.8 percent in November, according to the Communications Authority of Maldives. Of these, 147,462 were post-paid and 710,472 were pre-paid. Fixed lines (including payphones) fell to 18,754 in December 2018 from 18,850 in November 2018. The mobile broadband subscriber base fell to 280,876 in December from to 274,015 in November, while the fixed broadband user base rose to 47,065 in December from 45,460 in November.

Maldives: Ooredoo insurance - Ooredoo Maldives and insurer Allied are to provide life insurance to post-paid subscribers at a special rate. Ooredoo will be bearing the premiums for Club Premier customers. It will provide financial support to family members in the event of an unforeseen accident or death or permanent disability due to accidents, and partial disability due to accidents.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Nigeria: Cyber code - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is to develop a code of practice for Internet service providers (ISPs) to curb cyber-crimes, reports the Leadership. NCC executive vice chairman Umar Garba Danbatta told a consumer forum that the Code would help to secure Nigeria's cyber space against imminent threats from attackers and address such issues as online child protection, privacy, data protection and objectionable content, among other things.

Nigeria: More content - MultiChoice Nigeria is improving its content library on DStv by introducing 3 new 24-hour channels from the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) from 31 January, as well as Pop Central. It said NTA News 24, NTA 2, NTA Parliamentary and Pop Central will be available to all DStv customers on Premium, Compact +, Compact, Family and Access packages in Nigeria only.

South Africa: Early indications - MTN Group expects to report an improvement of at least 20 percent in headline earnings per share for 2018. In a trading statement it said it expects to post an increase of ZAR 0.36 and ZAR 0.49 (USD 0.03 - 0.037) respectively in both headline earnings per share (HEPS) and attributable earnings per share (EPS) for the 12-month period. MTN said that it will publish its full results on 7 March. It said it will release an additional trading statement before this date, once it has a reasonable degree of certainty of the final earnings figures.

another fine mess for african telecoms

South Africa: Internet incentive - MTN South Africa has cut the cost of its out of bundle (OOB) data price by up to 75 percent for pre-paid subscribers and that it will be doubling selected pre-paid voice and data bundles for the next two months. Pre-paid users currently not making use of data bundles will pay ZAR 0.29 (USD 0.02) per megabyte for their Internet usage, and customers who do purchase data bundles will pay ZAR 0.90 (USD 0.07) per megabyte for their OOB data usage. Users who have never used data bundles, pricing has been set at ZAR 0.29 (USD 0.02) to still allow well-priced use of the Internet. The system is being phased in over seven days from 31 January. In addition, the MTN Double Your Bundle promotion will reward pre-paid subscribers with 100 percent free value when they purchase certain voice and data bundles by dialling star 142 hash through to March.

Tunisia: Single bill - Tunisie Telecom has a new retail offer dubbed Waffi, which combines a fixed broadband connection and a phone line including a 30-hour monthly call allowance to fixed numbers. There are four price points, depending on the download speed of the package. For TND 39.90 (USD 13.13) per month, the entry-level subscription offers a connection speed of 10 Mbps, increasing to 100 Mbps for the top-tier plan, priced TND 143.90 (USD 47.34) per month. All four bundles are subject to a twelve-month contract and offer the option to top up the fixed line credit if required.

Zambia: Signal coverage spread - TopStar has expanded its signal coverage for local TV stations, reports Xinhua. The Zambian-Chinese collaboration on pay-TV services between the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation and Chinese StarTimes Group, is Zambia's official public signal distributor. TopStar's Vice President Cliff Sichone announced the inclusion of an additional three local TV stations to its satellite dish service. TopStar has the most extensive terrestrial signal coverage that carries more than 20 indigenous Zambian TV stations over a network of approximately 64 transmitters across all ten provinces. All the local television stations have been included on the StarTimes ON App, which offers video-on-demand and live streaming. The StarTimes app has been downloaded more than 360,000 times in Zambia.

Zimbabwe: 4G modem offer - For its LTE service launched in December 2018 Telecel is offering modems and bundles for home and office use. Telecel's Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) modem costs USD 150 and can connect up to fifteen individual devices to the Internet. The modem can also fall back on 3G until it latches on to a LTE signal again. New subscribers who buy the CPE modem will get a 5 GB bundle free in their first month. The modem can be used in conjunction with a suite of data bundles that range from 5 GB for USD 8.00 to 75 GB for USD 90.00. Bundles are valid for 30 days.

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo business base - Mobile network operator Econet has chosen Bulawayo as the centre for its renewable energy business. Econet Energy CEO Norman Moyo said it is looking to stimulate employment opportunities in the country's second largest city. The Econet Energy business operates as Distributed Power Africa (DPA) Solar and primarily focuses on rooftop solar power systems for commercial and industrial customers.

Zimbabwe: Fake news - A message has been circulated on social media that EcoCash had been instructed by a ministerial directive to clear all wallet balances to USD 0.00. Econet has, however, confirmed that the message was described as 'fake and malicious', and that EcoCash balances are safe and secure.

Zimbabwe: More cuts? - The government has warned that it will shut down the Internet again if there are more violent protests that 'threaten the security of the country', 263Chat reported. Presidential spokesperson George Charamba said such a move is 'standard practice when we have a disturbance'. The week-long protests saw the government forced Internet service providers to close down the Web, and directed WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to cease operations during the violence. Service was only restored after a High Court ruling.

Middle East:

Israel: Indian coverage - Gilat Satellite Networks has won a multi-year contract to provide equipment and services for broadband connectivity over the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)'s GSAT-11 satellite. Larsen & Toubro (L&T) chose Gilat to supply the ground segment and operate four gateways. ISRO launched the multi-spot beam satellite GSAT-11 in December 2018, to provide broadband coverage over India's mainland and islands, boosting connectivity to rural India and chose L&T to supply, install, commission and maintain GSAT-11 ground system network. Gilat's multi-application SkyEdge II-c platform will provide broadband services across the country. Gilat's hubs will be placed and operated in the following main and diversity gateway sites in India: Ranchi, Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

Israeli: Storage funding - Pliops, a cloud storage company, has said that it has closed a USD 30 million Series B financing round led by Softbank Ventures Asia with participation from all Series A investors including Intel Capital, State of Mind Ventures (SOMV) and Viola Ventures, along with strategic investors Western Digital Capital and Xilinx. The total invested in Pliops to date to USD 40 million, including the October 2017 Series A funding of USD 10 million. The processor allows cloud databases such as MySQL or Cassandra deployed on disaggregated Flash to scale more efficiently via a 90 percent reduction in compute load, a 20x reduction in network traffic, a 50x improvement to latency and over 10x application throughput.

Qatar: New shop - Palms Mall, Muaither is the location of Ooredoo Qatar's latest retail outlet, which opened on 17 January, and will be open from 10:00 to 13:00 hours Saturday to Thursday and 14:00 to 22:00 hours on Friday.

Saudi Arabia: Oppo opening - Oppo has launched operations with the initial release of its Oppo R Series, including the Oppo R17 and the Oppo R17 Pro smartphones. Oppo has opened its head office in Riyadh, and its smartphones will be offered through a variety of online and offline channels, the group said. FMP is Oppo's national distributor. The Oppo R17 comes with 6GB RAM and 128GB ROM for SAR 1,799 (USD 480), and the R17 Pro comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB ROM for SAR 2,599 (USD 690).

Turkey: Gaming incentive - Turk Telekom's digital gaming platform Playstore will offer discounts of 50 percent off the prices of locally produced games as part of a semester holiday campaign. Acquired games can be bought in instalments for up to 12 months, and the campaign will launch on 4 February.

United Arab Emirates: CFO step-down - Du's Chief Financial Officer Amer Kazim has resigned to take up a post with a Dubai government-owned organization. Kazim will remain with Du until the end of the first quarter to provide a handover and to supervise the full year 2018 financial results.

United Arab Emirates: Speeds doubled - Etisalat's corporate and domestic subscribers will see broadband speeds doubled after an upgrade. This follows the doubling of speeds across the 'eLife Unlimited' plan line-up for consumers in December. All new and existing business customers subscribed to broadband services will get access to double the speed for free, starting from 100Mbps and rising to 600Mbps. The entry-level business broadband plans for new customers now offer speeds starting from 100Mbps, with no change in price. For home customers on 'eLife Unlimited', the entry-level plan 'eLife Starter' also offers speeds up to 100Mbps. The 'eLife Unlimited Sports and Entertainment' plans offer speeds up to 250Mbps while the 'eLIfe Premium' plans offer speeds up to 500Mbps and 1Gbps.