News in Brief 28 February 2019


Egypt: Digital orientation - The government, which holds an 80 percent stake in Telecom Egypt, has reorganized the board. The new General Manager is Engineer Adel Hamed, replacing Ahmed El Beheiry. Hamed was global sales and wholesale manager for TE's wholesale and international cable systems.

Ghana: Local CEO named - The new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Vodafone Ghana with effect from 1 April 2019 is Mrs Patricia Obo-Nai. Obo-Nai, who is a member of Vodafone's executive committee, is the first Ghanaian CEO of the company. Until her appointment, she was the Director of Fixed Business and Customer Operations of Vodafone Ghana, joining the operator as Chief Technology Officer and a member of the Executive Committee in January 2011. Prior to that, she worked for 14 years with Millicom Ghana Limited, operators of Tigo.

Mauritius: Unified platform - Tecnotree completed the full roll-out of multi-play enabled digital BSS platform for Mauritius Telecom (MT), enabling the deployment of fixed, IPTV and broadband services for subscribers. MT can now offer a completely new, integrated, digital customer experience across different lines of business, based on Tecnotree Agility Products: My Life Dashboard (Self-care), Customer Lifecycle Management, Unified Product Catalog, Convergent Billing System, Loyalty & Campaign Management System, and Wholesale Billing System. Multiple disparate customer management and billing systems deployed from different vendors for different lines of business have been replaced.

South Africa: Directorial shuffle - Jabu Mabuza is to step down as an independent non-executive director and chairman of the Telkom board from 31 May, after over six years in post. He will be replaced by the board member Sello Moloko as chairman from 1 June. Moloko has an established career in financial services, serving as executive chairman and co-founder of the wholly Black-owned investment group Thesele. He is also non-executive chairman of Sibanye-Stillwater and previously was chairman of Alexander Forbes Groups. He also serves on the boards of Prudential Investment Managers, DG Capital and Stor-Age REIT. In addition, Sibusiso Sibisi has been appointed to the Telkom Board with effect from 1 April. Sibisi brings extensive expertise in ICT, start-up ventures, and business-to-business intelligence skills, the operator said.

South Africa: Expiry compliance - Vodacom South Africa is to comply with ICASA's new data expiry rules, but it will also have to charge users for rolling over unused data, TechCentral reported. Vodacom will charge up to ZAR 49 (USD 3.50) to roll over their data bundles, with different fees applying dependent on the size of the bundle remaining. A remaining bundle size of less than 100MB will be charged at ZAR 5 (USD 0.36); 250-100 MB, ZAR 12 (USD 0.86); 250-500 MB for ZAR 19 (USD 1.36); 500 MB for ZAR 29 (USD 2.07) for 1G, and ZAR 49 (USD 3.50) for remaining bundles of over 1 GB. All hourly bundles will be rolled over at a cost of ZAR 10 (USD 0.71), while all daily bundles will attract a rollover fee of ZAR 25 (USD 1.78). The planned launch date is 1 March. The charges will be added to a pre-paid or hybrid subscriber’s recharge airtime account, or added to a post-paid bill.

South Africa: Network management - Telkom-subsidiary BCX has launched a SD-WAN Suite, designed to increase business agility and assist companies to simplify their network management. Benefits include bandwidth and traffic optimisation, network-wide visibility and control, and rapid application deployment. SD-WAN supports the management of both physical and virtual devices from a central controller, allowing IT managers to create a single management console for their physical and virtual devices. BCX integrates the latest software-defined capabilities into a suite of SD-WAN solutions in partnership with leading networking vendors.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Tanzania: Mobile money discount - Airtel Tanzania has said that its subscribers can now get twice the standard data in bundles if they make the purchase using Airtel Money. The Dabo Data and Smatika plans of 1 GB will come with 2 GB for the same price of TZS 2,000 (USD 0.85).

Togo: Security enhanced - The ANCY cybersecurity agency has been established, Agency Ecofin has reported. It will ensure the security and defence of IT systems. According to the council of ministers, the agency's role is to fight threats and risks inherent to the expansion of the digital industry. ANCY will support the implementation of the national development strategy for ICTs, the council said. It falls under the reform of Togo's legal and institutional frameworks, in order to boost security and trust in the digital sector.

Zimbabwe: Roaming exchange rate issue - Telecel Zimbabwe is reported to be reluctant to allow customers to activate roaming on their own because of the ongoing liquidity crunch in the country, ITWebAfrica reports. Subscribers are requested to engage the operator to activate roaming on their phone before leaving the country, the company confirmed this week. Telecel brand manager, Farai Katiza, said that while roaming is generally expensive globally, in Zimbabwe the visitor network has to be paid in forex and not in RTGS (Real Time Gross Settlement) or US-dollar surrogate currency bond notes.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Zimbabwe: Traffic control aids - Mobile network operator NetOne has donated items to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Traffic Section for use when controlling traffic at intersections, particularly during peak times. The aim is to enhance the force's capacity to de-congest the central business district (CBD) and ensure a smooth flow of traffic. NetOne donated four motorcycles, 217 reflective jackets, 31 rain suits and whistles worth over USD 65,000 under the banner of the ZRP-NetOne Smart Cities partnership.

Middle East:

Bahrain: 5G update - In mid-February Batelco Chairman Shaikh Abdulla bin Khalifa Al Khalifa has visited the operator's Training Centre to review readiness for 5G and the plans developed to deliver 5G-related products and services, which will be gradually introduced over the next three years. The Chairman was accompanied by a number of Board members and executive management, who were briefed by Ericsson, Batelco's technology partner in the development of the 5G network. Ericsson presented a detailed presentation on the advantages of the 5G technology and how it will enhance the experience of individuals and business owners alike. Ericsson has set up a technical centre at Batelco headquarters in Hamala to test the 5G network with Batelco's dedicated team, working alongside them in the network development project. Batelco's Business unit also presented its strategic plans. The project will be rolled out in three phases. The Chairman also saw a short film showing a mobile device connected to the Batelco 5G experimental network supported by Ericsson to give a live experience of the service.

Bahrain: Youth opportunities - Zain Bahrain has signed a new cooperation agreement with Majra, a platform for young job seekers and students. Zain said the deal is in line with the Zain Youth Empowerment Programme which contributes to the professional establishment of motivated Bahraini youth. Zain will have its own page on the Majra Website that will feature interviews with Zain management discussing the available opportunities at Zain Bahrain. They will also share work environment expectation points, interview tips with Zain youth employee members and their work experience and career growth with Zain Bahrain.

Iran: Senior appointment - MTN Group has said the head of MTN Irancell is to retire, and will be replaced by an academic with sector expertise. MTN said Alireza Ghalambor Dezfouli, who has headed MTN Irancell since its 2005 inception, will be replaced by university professor Bijan Abbasi Arand. The appointment comes a week after South Africa's former ambassador to Iran, Yusuf Saloojee, was arrested on charges that he helped MTN acquire the Iranian licence in return for ZAR 1.4 million and used the money to purchase property. There are allegations that MTN used bribes to win the fifteen-year operating licence in competition with Turkish rival Turkcell.

Middle East: Network modernisation - Zain Group has contracted Parallel Wireless to modernise their existing 2G and 3G networks, with the aim of fully virtualising its 2G and 3G networks with Parallel Wireless' unified 2G/3G/4G/5G mobile architecture to reduce costs, improve operational efficiency and to future-proof its networks for 4G and 5G. Parallel Wireless' virtualised multi-technology Open RAN system will disaggregate hardware and software to make deployments easy and affordable to install, maintain and upgrade to any future technology.

Oman: Banking collaboration - Omantel and Sohar International are to offer subscribers new digital services. The aim is to redefine the way telecom and banking can bring greater convenience and value to users. The agreement will be the first telecom-banking tie-up of its kind in Oman. The bank is investing in the latest technological developments at customer touch points, to offer responsive banking.

Oman: New SIM - Ooredoo Oman has launched the new Shababiah Smart SIM with a longer validity period. A pre-paid SIM costing OMR 3 (USD 7.77) provides 1 GB of data and 25 local call minutes for up to 30 days. Customers can choose their pre-paid number using the Ooredoo App and get the SIM delivered to their home, or from their nearest store or dealer. Existing customers can get the benefits of this offer by subscribing to the new OMR 3 Shababiah monthly plan through the Ooredoo Oman App.

Oman: Threats tackled - Ooredoo Oman has partnered with Akamai to offer new levels of online protection over mobile and fixed networks. The service will block access to unsafe sites, in addition to protecting against malicious, phishing and ransomware attacks. The list of dangerous sites will be permanently updated via unique cybersecurity techniques to counter the new generation of Internet threats, Ooredoo said. All devices will be protected against Internet threats such as malware, botnets, spyware, phishing and ransomware without any action required by users.

Oman: Zain consolidation - Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) has released its preliminary unaudited results for the year ended 31 December 2018. Fully-consolidated Zain Group results are included, while previously it has only included the results of Zain Group from 15 November 2017 to 31 December 2017. Omantel has posted group revenue of OMR 2.2 billion (USD 5.70 billion) for the full-year 2018, compared to OMR 751.7 million (USD 1.95 billion) a year earlier, mainly due to the consolidation of Zain's revenue. EBITDA rose by 194 percent year-on-year to OMR 854.6 million (USD 2.21 billion), while net profit rose 109 percent from OMR 99.8 million (USD 258.5 million) to OMR 208.9 million (USD 541.1 million) over the same period.

Turkey: First AirDensity deployment - Turkcell and Airspan have deployed Airspan's AirDensity LTE-A small cells to provide coverage and capacity in the most constrained indoor locations in Turkey as well as extending coverage to rural areas and enabling development of next generation solutions including Drone-based flying cells. AirDensity is based on the AirUnity platform and part of the Airspan network densification portfolio that counts approximately half a million 4G/LTE cells deployed globally. The deployment follows a strategic cooperation signed on 23 February, 2017. Airspan has an R&D centre in the Istanbul Technopark and provides regional support for Airspan's deployments.

Turkey: Samsung specials - Pre-orders for the new Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones are now being taken by Turkcell online. Turkcell subscribers who buy an S10+, S10, or S10e by 15 March will receive the new Galaxy Buds headphones free of charge. Vodafone subscribers who acquire any of the Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone models and meet the campaign conditions also have the opportunity to win the Galaxy Buds, which has a recommended retail price of TRY 799 (USD 150). Turkcell is offering  the S10+ at TRY 7,499 (USD 1,408) inclusive of VAT; the S10 at TRY 6,599 (USD 1,238), and the S10e at TRY 5,499 (USD 1,032) without any contractual obligation. As part of a smartphone trade-in promotional campaign, Vodafone customers can purchase any of the S10 phones with a discount of TRY 5,000 (USD 939).

United Arab Emirates: 5G for du - Mobile network operator Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company PJSC, which trades as du, has said that it is planning to launch commercial 5G services by the end of 2019, deploying more than 700 5G-enabled base stations in the process. Its direct competitor Etisalat recently said that it would have 600 5G base stations in service by the end of 2019.

United Arab Emirates: 600G trial - Etisalat has carried out the first test of a single-wavelength 600G trial site, in conjunction with Huawei, using the vendor's latest generation of OptiXtreme series oDSP chips. Using the industry's channel-matched shaping (CMS) algorithm, this enables programmable and flexible adjustment of multiple code patterns from 100G to 600G. A new AI neuron module is embedded into the chips, marking all wavelengths in optical transmission networks and automatically optimising performance.

United Arab Emirates: Cable link - Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), the parent of du, is facilitating the launch of a new submarine cable between the UAE and Pakistan, Gulf News reported. It is expected to provide faster internet connectivity, increase data flowing in and out of the UAE, and significantly enhance redundancy in operations. Bandwidth capacity is expected to increase with the launch of 5G.

United Arab Emirates: Electronic enhancements - BLS International is working with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) on a portfolio of mobile services under TAW-SEEL. The project will start with the Ministry of Labour to provide mobile services for issuance, renewal and amendment of labour permits and employment offer letters. The generation of Emirates ID card, Amer, Tawjeeh, Tasheel and Tadebeer services under MOHRE are to added later. Project TAW-SEEL is a special initiative by MOHRE to utilise technology to provide the best service experience to its users. BLS International will roll out vehicles equipped with all necessary equipment to scan documents and capture biometrics, and which will be connected to the Ministry's electronic systems.