News in Brief 25 April 2019

Africa:

Algeria: Service suspensions? - A three-day strike starting on 28 April has been called by the National Federation of Post and Telecommunications Workers (FNTP), affiliated to the General Union of Workers of Algeria (UGTA). The decision to strike was taken on 18 April at a meeting between the executive board of the FNTP and the union representatives of Algeria Telecom, Algeria Post, Algeria Telecom Satellite, Mobilis, Ooredoo and Djezzy. Workers are demanding improvements in their working conditions and social rights, and according to Elmoujahid, these include respect of collective agreements, internal rules of each company, court decisions and the cessation of the abuse of power against the workers and their representatives.

Cote d'Ivoire: Smart feature phone - MTN has launched its feature phone dubbed MTN Smart for XOF 16,900 (USD 29). The MTN Smart hosts two SIM cards and offers all the basic features of a smartphone: 3G internet access, WiFi connection, Facebook mobile applications, Whatsapp, Instagram, Youtube, Google Maps, etc. It has a camera, Bluetooth and a music player. MTN Cote d'Ivoire's CEO Freddy Tchala said: "With the commercialization of MTN Smart, access to digital services is becoming a reality for everyone. In this, we realize our promise, that of being always ready for our clients." The phone ships with 1 GB of Internet per month for 6 months and Facebook and Whatsapp unlimited for 6 months.

Gabon: Cuts compensated - Airtel's subscribers had problems connecting on 12 and 13 April 2019, particularly obtaining Internet access, sending or receiving of calls and mobile money services, digitalbusinessafrica reported. Airtel Gabon said that this loss of service was due to a technical incident with its connection to the Libreville optical fibre. The operator apologised in a press release, saying: 'section of its fibre optic power cable [was cut] during paving work by a Public Works Company located in Angondje' in the north of Libreville. After the restoration of its network, Airtel Gabon informed subscribers that 'packages and other unused bonuses will be reimbursed'. However Airtel again experienced further disruptions last week. This was attributed to the free credit gifted to its subscribers to compensate them for the previous Internet disruptions. Airtel allocated to all its customers either XAF 9,000 (USD 15.42) or a fixed rate of one hour of calling to be used between 17 and 18 April 2019 until noon. Subscribers were still being notified of the bonus late on 17 April, which then saw high traffic volumes generated as subscribers attempted to take advantage of the extra airtime.

Ghana: Capacity crunch - MTN Mobile Money subscribers last week were unable to perform simple tasks such as sending money to other networks. The Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) confirmed that the challenges faced by MTN users were related to capacity issues that are in the process of being resolved. GhIPSS' Chief Executive Archie Hesse, said: "What we have found out is that there are some minor capacity challenges which we working on." MTN's General Manager for Mobile Money Services, Eli Hini, said: "We have not done anything on our side to make customers life uncomfortable...we'll continue to work to make the platform very convenient for our customers."

Ghana: New MTN money menu - The menu on the MTN MoMo platform has been revised, in order to improve the user experience. The new menu has been deployed from 7 April, and groups the various services offered on the under six main headings namely: Money Transfer, MoMoPay & Pay Bill, Airtime & Bundle, Allow Cash Out, Financial Services and My Wallet. The MTN MoMoPay and Pay Bill option facilitates all forms of payment to merchants and other service providers that receive payments on the platform, as well as transactions with service providers such as banks, insurance companies and investments and trade which have been categorized under Financial Services. MTN's Mobile Money was launched in 2009 and there are currently over 13 million registered subscribers on the platform, with 112,000 active agents.

Kenya: New appointment - Telkom Kenya has appointed Steve Okeyo as its new Managing Director for its mobile division, replacing Amer Atwi, who is leaving Telkom after three years. Okeyo is the former director for regional sales and operations at Safaricom, where he led various teams to deliver customer growth and revenue, apart from being a trustee of the Safaricom Foundation. Prior to this, Okeyo was director for sales force effectiveness at Lafarge in Paris.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Kenya: New numbers sought - Airtel Kenya is to offer a new mobile number prefix if the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) gives its approval, Techweez reported. The operator has already exhausted its 0730 to 0739, 0750 to 0756 and 0785 to 0789 prefixes. The new codes are expected to be 0100, 0101 and 0102.

Liberia: Orange Total top-up - Total cards can now be topped-up directly from a phone, through Orange Money, the Daily Observer reported. Head of Orange Money, Zaza Mulbah said at the launch on 11 April: "By using Orange Money to refill their Total top-up cards, customers no longer have to commute to the Total headquarters to make payments which is a hassle for many." Orange services have previously been available at Total stations under the Orange Total POS moniker.

Madagascar: New MD - The new Managing Director of Airtel Madagascar is Eddy Kapuku, replacing Maixent Bekangba. During a press conference on 17 April said that he plans to make products and services developed by Airtel the spearhead for the revitalization of the Malagasy economy. He said: "And we offer the possibility of developing, securing and facilitating income-generating activities, both in rural and urban areas, thanks to a wide coverage throughout the country as well as a service specifically dedicated to mobile money: Airtel Money." With a population of almost 26 million, only 12 percent have access to fixed and mobile Internet.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Maldives: Fibre expansion - Telecoms operator Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu) has extended its fibre broadband network to 58 islands across the Maldives. Consequently the fibe-to-the-home (FttH) network covers 75 percent of all households. Dhiraagu added that its IPTV service is available on 52 islands, representing household coverage of 72 percent. Dhiraagu's CEO & MD, Ismail Rasheed, said that digitisation and transformation are at the heart of this expansion.

Nigeria: Re-registration requested - Airtel has recently called on its subscribers to complete a further stage of its Know Your Customer (KYC) exercise. It originally undertook the initial KYC programme about three years ago, as requested by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Airtel is the third largest operator in Nigeria, with 44.9 million subscribers and 25.9 per cent market share as at February 2019. Airtel invited subscribers to update their details before 30 March 2019. Airtel's Director of Corporate Communications, Emeka Oparah, said it was responding to a directive from the NCC. However Oparah added that on checking some of these parameters it had discovered that some data had not been properly captured, and in particular, the photographs originally supplied as part of the registration process. Other operators are also affected.

Senegal: Bill reduction programme - President Macky Sall has asked Prime Minister Mahammed Dionne to propose no later than 1 August 2019 on a regulatory framework for the usage and payment of telephone bills by the public administration. This instruction, formulated at the Council of Ministers on 17 April 2019, is part of the measures taken by the government to further reduce and rationalize the current administrative expenses. In 2014 the state adopted a modern fixed and mobile system used only by the administration, and developed by the State Computer Agency (Adie). It has also signed an agreement with Sonatel for preferential rates.

Sudan: Satellite launched successfully - The Sudatel Telecom Group, through its subsidiaries Sudasat and Hajar Group, in partnership with Canar Telecom, viewed the launch of Arabsat 6A satellite at orbital position 30.5 on 11 April 2019. The satellite includes four Ka-band transponders which Sudasat will use to provide broadband communications and broadband services across the Sudan to Internet providers, VSAT subscribers and mobile network operators. It also provides multi-purpose solutions for commercial and government sectors. Arabsat 6A has a high capacity and provides digital broadcasting, telecommunications and internet services to the customers in Sudan. The satellite has been launched successfully from Cape Canaveral, Florida this month.

Tanzania: Report rejected - The government has declined to authorize the publication of the International Monetary Fund's report on the state of the nation's economy. Under Article IV of its Articles of Agreement, the IMF is authorized to inspect the economic, financial and exchange-rate policies of its members to ensure a smooth-running international monetary system. On 18 March 2019 the IMF board said in an emailed statement that the authorities have not consented to publication of the staff report or the related press release. Tanzanian President John Magufuli vowed to fight corruption and government inefficiency. In 2019 he negotiated a bigger stake for the state in Bharti Airtel's local unit after insisting the telecommunications provider acquired its initial stake irregularly.

Togo: Mobile money - In 2017 there were some 38.13 million mobile money transactions, almost twice that recorded in 2016 corresponded to an amount of XOF 394.3 billion (USD 626.7 million) in 2017, against XOF 263.1 billion (USD 451.2 million) the year before. The data was disclosed in the BCEAO's latest annual report on digital financial services across the WAEMU. The rise in the number of transactions follows an increase in the number of mobile money subscribers, from 1.44 million in 2016 to 2.98 million in 2017. In the WAEMU, Cote d'Ivoire has the highest rate of mobile money transactions, capturing 37.9 percent of all transactions recorded in the union, against a 5.92 percent share for Togo.

Middle East:

Afghanistan: Council resurrected - President Ghani has approved the establishment of the Afghanistan High Council of Telecommunications and Information Technology (AHCTIT) reports Bahktarnews reported. The draft regulation has four chapters and 28 articles. The aim of re-establishing of the council is to achieve the standard and sustainable development of information technology and telecommunications programmes throughout the country. The council will be held by the President and the Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology will be its CEO.

Oman: Ooredoo offers - Ooredoo Oman's Nojoom programme aims to make Monday's more memorable. Members can redeem their loyalty points for telecoms benefits and bill payments through the Ooredoo Oman App. There are exclusive 'Buy One, Get One Free' deals to spend time with friends and family at shops, spas, restaurants and leisure centres, among others. New partners include Lino's Coffee, Richoux, Tamrah, Mooyah Burger, Ayadina, Nespresso, Engym Zone, V-Kool, Bluzion Oman, Shoe Palace and Al Hareef Store.

United Arab Emirates: Cloud migration - Etisalat OneCloud enables digital transformation at DBA Group (Darwish bin Ahmed & Sons). DBA Group will be migrating its entire IT infrastructure to Etisalat OneCloud. The project is underway with the operations of two major DBA subsidiaries, Saif bin Darwish and AHI Carrier, having already migrated to Etisalat OneCloud. DBA Group Chairman, Abdulla Darwish Al Ketbi, said: "Our partnership with Etisalat is long and varied like IoT solutions, managed data networks, Digital security etc." The solution offers a wide range of cloud solutions designed to fulfil the security, performance and data location needs of UAE enterprises. This end-to-end managed cloud solution includes infrastructure-as-a-service, managed security services, managed backup, managed applications and managed disaster recovery services.