News in Brief 1 May 2019

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'Africa & Middle East Telecom Briefing' will be taking a short break and will return to your in-box on Wednesday 8 May 2019.

Africa:

Africa: Soccer season - The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has granted the FTA rights to the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) for the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament due to take place from 21 June to 19 July. CAF had originally launched a tender seeking an agency to commercialise the terrestrial free-to-air rights in the region to the African Cup of Nations as well as a range of other competitions from 2019 to 2023. These included qualifying competitions for the 2021 and 2023 Cup of Nations; the 2020 and 2022 African Nations Championship; and the 2020 and 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations, amongst others. CAF said the AUB's offer was retained, subject to ''certain conditions''.

Benin, Cote d'Ivoire: Power solutions - General Electric (GE) is planning to install and upgrade energy supply systems in Benin and Cote d'Ivoire. GE Renewable Energy will build two new energy distribution systems in Benin and upgrade three substations in Cote d'Ivoire. Agreements have been secured with both countries to upgrade their systems. GE Renewable Energy's Grid Solutions president and chief executive in South Africa Lazarus Angbazo said: "With only 45 percent of electrification rates in many countries in the region, it is critical to develop an end-to-end solution to increase energy access and foster economic development." Benin has to import 85 percent of its energy from abroad and the first project there will be the design and provision of an advanced distribution management system (ADMS), software which allows the management of multiple energy systems, on behalf of local energy provider Societe Beninoise d'Energie Electrique (SBEE). The second will be the overhaul of the Cotonou National Distribution Control Centre's substations and telecommunications set-up. In Cote d'Ivoire GE is refurbishing substations in Ferke, Man and Taabo, which provide power to the north, west and central regions, respectively. In a statement, the secretary general of local energy provider CI-ENERGIES, Bile Gerard Tanoe, said: "With about 90 percent of the country's population having access to electricity and the growing demand for energy, limited distribution systems cause a total energy loss of approximately 20 percent annually. There is a need to rehabilitate and strengthen the country's grid infrastructure. This project will improve the power capacities of Ferke, Man and Taabo substations to help mitigate total energy losses and provide the reliability needed to limit the total unavailability of these critical substations." At the start of 2019 Cote d'Ivoire received Africa Finance Corporation funding for a hydroelectric power station.

Cote d'Ivoire: Training focus - A delegation from Roland Berger, led by the former French Secretary of State for Digital and Innovation, Axelle Lemaire, visited Cote d'Ivoire on 25 April 2019, Agency Ecofin reported. The delegation met with Vice-President Daniel Kablan Duncan, in the presence of the Minister of the Digital Economy and Post, Claude Isaac De, and offered the firms expertise in digital development and innovation. Lemaire told the Fraternite Matin newspaper that the meting focused on training, especially the training of the youngest, to meet the need for coders, developers, Web designers, mobile apps, etc.

Egypt: Internet packages - Orange Egypt has launched its new Home Internet portfolio with VDSL packages at up to 100 Mbps. The first phase was launched in Cairo and Alexandria and will be expanded nationally shortly. New bundle pricing start at EGP 300 (USD 17.43) per month. Speeds of 50 Mbps and 25 Mbps are being offered from EGP 160 (USD 9.30) per month. Orange is teaming up with e-commerce group Jumia so that users to shop online for any of the new Home VDSL packages.

Egypt: Network improvements - Two MoUs have been signed by Telecom Egypt and Huawei. The first is to prepare TE's network to be 5G-ready and both parties will plan and implement 5G trials, asses use cases and evaluate new 5G revenue streams, with the first trial to be mounted in Cairo Stadium in June. The second will see TE and Huawei establish a partnership to test WDM 400G transmission equipment on TE's network. This is designed to sustain traffic growth and lower the cost per bit in fibre transmission.

Ghana: QoS consultation - The National Communication Authority (NCA) has advised manufacturers and importers of telecommunication equipment to have their products and devices officially checked and certified before distributing them, the Ghana News Agency reported. The NCA gave the advice in Tamale at a public consultation workshop for stakeholders and consumers on the Draft Quality of Service (QoS) Regulations 2019. NCA's Director General, Joe Anokye, in a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Director-General, Technical Operations, Henry Kanor said the Electronic Communication Act (2008) would improve the operation and performance of interconnected networks and enable the NCA to implement a QoS framework. The NCA's Northern Zonal Manager, Abukari Iddrisu, said the draft Regulations were necessary as consumers complain poor service provided by service providers. Kwame Gyan, Deputy Director for the Consumer and Corporate Affairs at the NCA said the draft QoS regulations, if approved, would help the NCA update and upgrade on the various Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) developed by the service providers.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Ghana: Rising bases - MTN Ghana's subscriber base grew to 20.8 million in 1Q19 from 18.8 million in the same period in 2018. The active data subscriber base rose to 14.3 million from 6.7 million in 2018 and the number of active mobile money subscribers was 9.9 million, up from 8.4 million. Service revenue rose by 21.9 percent year-on-year with voice revenue up 20.3 percent, data revenue up 22.3 percent and MFS revenue up 51.0 percent. EBITDA growth was 38.6 percent and the EBITDA margin expanded by 5.9 percentage points to 47.9 percent. The unaudited condensed consolidated financial statements were prepared on an IFRS 16 basis adopted on 1 January. On a normalised IAS 17 basis, the EBITDA margin would have remained flat at approximately 42 percent.

Kenya: Data centre developments - The Kenyan and Chinese governments have signed a KES 17.5 billion (USD 171.9 million) deal to develop the Konza Data Centre and smart cities facilities project to be undertaken by Huawei. The scheme was conceived in 2017 by the Ministry of ICT and Huawei, and entails the development of infrastructure including the National Cloud Data Centre, Smart ICT Network, Public Safe City and Smart Traffic Solution, and Government Cloud and Enterprise Service. The project is part of Konza Techno City, a Vision 2030 flagship project started in 2008 and aimed at developing technology-intensive and high-tech industries in ICT, biotechnology and e-commerce. Phase I of the project is expected to create over 17,000 jobs and contribute an estimated KES 90 billion (USD 884 million) to the Kenyan economy.

Kenya: Medical outreach - Using its high-speed fibre network, Liquid Telecom Kenya has facilitated telemedicine at the Aga Khan Hospital, Mombasa. Liquid has connected the main hospital in Mombasa to seven of its outreach centres in the coastal region. The roll-out started in August 2018 and provides online consultations and diagnostic services. The network has also facilitated the provision of e-learning courses for Continuous Medical Education (CME) and Continuous Nursing Education (CNE) between the main hospital and outreach clinics. It also enables public hospitals such as Rabai, Tsangansini and Mariakani to exchange knowledge and discuss medical case management.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Kenya: Senior opportunity - Safaricom's Chief Executive Bob Collymore is to step down in August for health reasons, but the government's demand that he should be succeeded by a Kenyan has delayed the announcement, Reuters reported citing two company sources. Collymore was on a medical leave for nine-months in late 2017, and has now said that he wants to step down, according to the sources. Collymore told Reuters on 29 April he was still in discussions with the board. Safaricom, which is 35 percent owned by Vodacom, controls about 62 percent of Kenya's mobile market, with 30 million subscribers.

Mauritius: International Internet increasing - International Internet bandwidth capacity stood at 150.98 Gbps at the end of 2018, according to the Information and Communication Technology Authority of Mauritius (ICTA). This was 57 percent more than compared to an international Internet bandwidth of 96.3 Gbps in 2017; 42.5 Gbps in 2016; 21.305 Gbps in 2015; 17.077 Gbps in 2014 and 11.921 Gbps in 2013.

Morocco: Improved protection - Orange Cyberdefense has officially opened its first African subsidiary in Morocco, Agency Ecofin reports. The subsidiary will allow users to securely initiate their digital transformation. Orange Maroc's Managing Director, Yves Gauthier, said Orange wants to assure itself a leadership position in the security sector to Morocco. Orange Cyberdefense's CEO, Michel Van Den Berghe, said that in the long-term it will be a regional hub to serve clients in other African countries such as Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire. The entity is expected to employ some 50 experts by the end of 2020. Emmanuel Cheriet, director of Orange Cyberdefense Morocco, said it will rely on the capacity of the global Security Operations Centres Orange has to ensure real-time monitoring.

South Africa: Cell-C chart-topper - The 2019 South African Telecommunications Sentiment Index for 2019 has been published by BrandsEye. The report ranks Cell-C top for fastest customer response and most positive sentiment among consumers using social media. It was shown to have the fastest response time on social media and the lowest share of unanswered complaints. Consumers had to wait 16 hours on average to receive a reply to their complaints on Twitter, the report said. Cell-C took two hours to reply to Twitter complaints, making it the provider to respond to the most customers with the fastest time. Cell-C had the lowest percentage of unhappy consumers following their interventions. The industry average was a net score of -45.3 percent, with Cell-C and MTN having the least-worst sentiment at -36.9 percent and -38.4 percent respectively. Vodacom and Telkom had the worst sentiment overall, with Vodacom having the least favourable view with a net score of -53.5 percent, and Telkom with -49.7 percent. The index is based on an analysis of over 538,000 social media posts made between December 2018 and March 2019.

Tunisia: Digitally training - Orange has launched a digital centre in Tunis where it will provide free training in a new coding school, as well as support for local start-ups via its Orange Fab accelerator and Digital Ventures programmes. The facility will also house the group's FabLab Solidaire initiative, which makes digital equipment such as 3D printers available to students and entrepreneurs via a network of workshops. Orange plans to launch more digital centres in Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Jordan, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone by the end of 2019. From 2020 onwards, similar facilities are to open in Morocco, Egypt and other countries in the Middle East and Africa regions. Working as a network, they will closely collaborate with local entities in the public sector. In Tunisia, the training programme draws on the partnership with twenty-seven universities supporting the initiative.

Middle East:

Oman: Celebrity chat - Ooredoo Oman has launched StarTalk so that subscribes can chat live with celebrities. The new service can be activated by dialling a short code via SMS. The first live chat is on 1 May 2019 with Bollywood superstar Kareena Kapoor. Subscriptions are via IVR on 1550 at a cost of OMR 0.0100 (USD 0.03) per day for the daily pack or OMR 0.0500 (USD 0.13) per week for the weekly pack. Users can also sign up by SMS by sending STARDP for the daily pack or STARWP for the weekly pack to 1550.

Oman: Top-up bonuses - Ooredoo Oman is offering 20 percent bonus credit valid for seven days with ever top-up of OMR 5 or 10 made through its application. New and existing users can use this credit for several services, including to making calls, purchasing data bundles, or other subscriptions. The Ooredoo App allows customers to subscribe to bundles, pay their bills, manage their Nojoom loyalty points, and opt in to value-added services.

Qatar: Domestic 5G - Vodafone Qatar is making 5G commercially available with the launch of Vodafone GigaHome, a new residential Internet service. GigaHome covers every size house with guaranteed Wi-Fi in every room, using a hub powered by its GigaNet network, including fibre and 5G. There are no installation fees or charges for moving to a new house. In March Vodafone announced that it was doubling the speed of all its existing customers' home fibre Internet for free.

Qatar: 5G overhaul - Vodafone Qatar has contacted Huawei to significantly expand and enhance its entire wireless network infrastructure including a 5G roll-out. Huawei will provide its end-to-end 5G solutions. Vodafone Qatar has already deployed 5G in several locations across the country and marked several milestones, and has made 5G commercially available with the launch of Vodafone GigaHome, a fixed-wireless home broadband service.

Qatar: Meeting of mobile minds - The Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) held a meeting with the visiting delegation from the GSM Association (GSMA) in Doha. The GSMA presented an overview of GSMA's industry programmes such as Future Networks, Identity and the Internet of Things as well as the advocacy initiatives such as bringing the views of the policymakers closer, promoting sustainable investment in the mobile sector, in addition to the role of mobile telecommunications in the economic and social development and topics related to spectrum. The CRA provided an overview on some of the regulatory instruments that are being developed in accordance with the new government legislation as well as some of strategic plans related to spectrum and telecommunications infrastructure, which are in line with Qatar National Vision 2030.

Qatar: Smart cloud for SMEs - Ooredoo Qatar has a new agreement with Smart Management IT Solutions that will allow Ooredoo to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) access cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Ooredoo will offer Smart's Wallpost cloud-based ERP product to its SME business customers. Wallpost offers a suite of integrated mobile friendly applications that can be used to assemble, store, manage, and interpret data from a company's operational activities. Wallpost provides real-time decision-making on company, project, and employee performance statistics. The service is securely hosted in Ooredoo's Qatar Data Centre.

Saudi Arabia: 3G wind down - STC is to permanently close down its 3G network by 2020, reports Mubasher. This decision is in line with the DARE Strategy it adopted to expand its top line, create value with greater efficiencies, and prepare for the future as part of the Saudi Vision 2030. Earlier in 2019 the operator announced that it has endorsed 600 locations for the 5G network. However, STC will keep the 2G network operational for users to access voice services and send text messages.

Saudi Arabia: Taxing 5G test - Mobily has undertaken 5G site tests with Ericsson in Mecca around the Haram area, reaching speeds in excess of 1 Gbps. The Haram area is claimed to have one of the highest concentrations of mobile users globally.

Turkey: Interactive platform - Turk Telekom (TT) has selected Alticast's AltiPlatform-Web middleware to provide its interactive viewing platform that will enable OTT services and web-based applications. Compliant with HTML5 and OIPF standards, the platform is built on an expandable universal application framework which comprises scalable elements including advanced video services. TT plans to deploy its Next-Gen set-top boxes to 3.6 million subscribers, as well as to new subscribers in Turkey, by the beginning of 3Q19.

United Arab Emirates: New plans - Etisalat has lauched its new WaselGo pre-paid line with data roll-over, flexi-minutes and three favourite numbers, including 500 minutes per number. The new offering includes four weekly plans; small, medium, large and extra-large, and priced from AED 10.50 (USD 2.86) per month. Users can move between the four weekly plans, with roll-over data applied even then. WaselGo will also have end-to-end account management features.