News in Brief 5 June 2019

Africa:

Africa: eShop launch - DHL is to expand its eCommerce platform into 9 additional African markets, bringing the total to twenty. In May DHL Africa eShop was launched, bringing over 200 UK and US retailers online. The platform operates using startup MallforAfrica.com's white-label fulfillment service, Link Commerce, and payment methods include local fintech options such as Nigeria's Paga and Kenya's M-Pesa. As Mall for Africa CEO Chris Folayan said at the time: "That's what our service does. It takes care of that whole ecosystem to enable global eCommerce to exist, no matter what country you're in." DHL has been a logistics partner of Mall for Africa since 2015. In 2018 the companies worked together to roll out MarketPlaceAfrica.com, an online shopping Website that enables select artisans to sell goods in DHL's 220 delivery countries.

Africa: IPO filing - Airtel Africa has filed its registration statement for listing on the London Stock Exchange with the aim of raising USD 1 billion to reduce its parent's debt. The IPO would include new shares and result in a free float of at least 25 percent. The registration document was submitted to the UK Financial Conduct Authority for approval so the listing can go ahead. Airtel Africa earlier raised USD 1.25 billion from six global investors including SoftBank Group, Warburg Pincus and Temasek Holdings, valuing the company at USD 4.4 billion.

Africa: Partnership extended - Huawei and the African Union have signed a 3-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) to consolidate their ICT cooperation, building on an agreement signed in February 2015. The primary aim is to strengthen the partnership in broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, 5G and artificial intelligence (AI). The MoU provides new opportunities for the various African Union departments to share Huawei's experience in ICT project management and delivery in support of continental ICT development in Africa, including cybersecurity, e-health, e-education and other related applications.

Algeria: Pilgrim plan - Mobile network operator Mobilis has announced a new roaming plans for pilgrims visiting the Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia. The Omra Mobily Roaming Plan is available on the Mobily network in Saudi Arabia and can be activated by pre-paid customers over the USSD menu, online or the Mobispace app. The offer includes 200 MB and ten minutes of calls to Mobilis or incoming for DZD 1,200 (USD 10) and 500 MB and 20 minutes of calls for DZD 1,950 (USD 16.24).

Angola: Zap knuckles wrapped - The Communications Institute (Inacom) has concluded that pay-TV operator Zap must reimburse uses updating the price of its services from 1 June. Zap will have to reimburse affected customers the amount overcharged in the period 26 February to 31 May 2019. The operator must guarantee users a choice between getting the difference back and a discount on their next payment. Zap has also been fined for unilaterally altering the prices of its satellite TV service.

Global: Submarine stake sale - Huawei has decided to sell its majority stake in Huawei Marine Networks, its joint venture with Global Marine Systems of the UK, the South China Morning Post has reported. The joint venture, in which Huawei holds 51 percent, lays submarine ducts for Internet cables. The stake will now pass to Hengtong Optic-Electric, a Jiangsu-based optical-cable manufacturer, Hengtong said in a stock exchange filing. Hengtong added, however, that the deal has not yet been finalised and could still change. No financial details were disclosed. Huawei's move comes after last month's US ban on doing business with the company. Huawei Marine is involved in building some 90 submarine cable projects from the Pacific to the Atlantic, laying over 50,000 kilometres of cable, according to the company's Website. It contributed a net profit of CNY 115 million (USD 16.6 million) in 2018, according to Huawei's annual report.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Kenya: OTT tax - The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is formulating a tax for Over the Top (OTT) non-resident organisations, including Netflix and Hulu, and other subscription-based services that charge users on a monthly basis, ITWeb has reported. Policy unit manager, Githinji Gathirwa, told an online forum that the Authority will prepare guidelines for the new tax. On 3 May the KRA warned digital operators and 'all individuals who sell products through e-commerce platforms' to declare their revenue and pay the tax due. KRA said some taxpayers engage in online business but that they do not file returns or pay taxes on the transactions.

South Africa: More mobile numbers - Telkom Mobile has been granted a new number range according to MyBroadband, citing an email sent to business partners. The new range is situated within the 068 number group, and spans 068 numbers from 000 0000 to 599 9999. Telkom now has access to the 061, 065, 067, 068 and 081 number ranges.

South Africa: National network - The South African National Research Network (SANReN) has selected the Adva FSP 3000 platform in combination with Adva ALM fibre monitoring for its high-capacity national research and education network. Featuring Adva's dynamic ROADM technology and QuadFlex line cards optimized for maximum flexibility and efficiency, the system will bring high-bandwidth connectivity to universities and research institutions. Key features include flexgrid with colourless and directionless ROADM technology. The SANReN's fibre plant will be monitored in real time by the Adva ALM. Adva's Elite partner NEC XON is also playing a role in the project, ensuring that the technology is successfully tested, implemented and maintained.

another fine mess for african telecoms

South Africa: Post-paid packages - MTN South Africa has updated its Made for Me contract packages, with Anytime and Night Express data, additional minutes, and limited-time launch offers, MyBroadband reported, which will be available to all new customers from 1 June as a promotional offer. All subcribers who sign-up for a Made for Me contract will receive 20 GB of one-off Anytime data and a 14 GB Entertainment Pass valid for 30 days. Customers will also receive a free MTN Entertainment Pass ranging from 2 GB to 14 GB, depending on which package they select, every month for the rest of 2019. The Entertainment Pass data can be used on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Showmax, DStv Now, Deezer, and Simfy Africa.

South Africa: Telkom towers - Telkom South Africa requires an equity partner to assist with the construction of 2,000 additional towers. It may also sell some of its 1,332 properties to raise the cash, CEO Sipho Maseko told Bloomberg. Telkom combined towers and real estate into a new unit called Gyro as part of a restructuring in 2017. The book value of the company's property portfolio is between ZAR 10 - 12 billion (USD 694.7 - 833.6 million), the CEO added.

South Africa: WhatsApp rate rise - Mobile network operator Cell-C said that it will increase the price of its 1 GB WhatsApp data bundle, which lasts for 30 days, from ZAR 20 (USD 1.39) to ZAR 29 (USD 2.01) from 5 June, MyBroadband reported. The operator said that the pricing is determined by several factors and it is now necessary to increase the price by 45 percent.

Tunisia: 5G survey - The Instance Nationale des Telecommunications (INT) has started preparations for the launch of 5G networks. INT has announced a tender - for the second time - for a study on the technical and economic conditions of launching 5G in the country. The specifications can be obtained after 3 June 2019 by completing the form at: http://www.intt.tn/upload/files/AO1_2019.doc and emailing it to spm@intt.tn. Tenders must be sent to the INT, by registered post, or delivered to INT's offices.

Uganda: International Bandwidth increases - The country’s international Internet bandwidth reached 96.89 Gbps by June 2018, up 57 percent increase compared to 61.59 Gbps in June 2017 according to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). The UCC reported a total (inbound plus outbound) international bandwidth of 96.89 Gbps in June 2018, compared to 75.88 Gbps in December 2017; 61.59 Gbps in June 2017; 49.98 Gbps in December 2016; 41.70 Gbps in June 2016; 35.75 Gbps in December 2015; 31.223 Gbps in June 2015; 26.97 Gbps in June 2014, and 25.68 Gbps in June 2013. This total international bandwidth includes both inbound and outbound. UCC previously reported a total international bandwidth of 7.73 Gbps in its 2011-12Annual Market Report. The UCC reported a downlink (inbound) bandwidth of 3.61 Gbps and an uplink (outbound) bandwidth of 4.12 Gbps in its 2010-11 half year report, a total bandwidth (inbound plus outbound) of 7.73 Gbps.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Pep talks - Batelco Talks has been launched by Batelco to foster a learning environment and encouraging staff to participate in the exchange of knowledge. The first session dealt with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Bahrain: Roaming extensions - Zain Bahrain has concluded new deals supporting Global Data Roaming add-ons, which are now available in 84 countries with 125 roaming partners, including Azerbaijan, Tunisia and Kazakhstan. Roaming add-ons start from BHD 5 (USD 13.18) and have validity of up to a month. The service includes controls that automatically only select partner networks supporting roaming add-ons. If the user selects manually a network which is not part of the partner list, then the data roaming will not connect, and there will be no usage.

Kuwait: 5G ready - Zain Kuwait has declared its network is fully ready for the commercial launch of 5G services with national coverage. This follows the granting by the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) of a 5G licence to Zain. CITRA has specified the 3.5 GHz C-band for 5G in Kuwait. The new licences are part of the country's preparations for the 'regional corridor' telecom project. The project aims to make Kuwait a hub for data and digital content by linking international submarine cables between the East and West regions.

Kuwait: Carbon concerns - Zain Group has published its eighth annual sustainability report: 'Time to Act'. The report expresses Zain's view that urgent action is required to address pressing issues including climate change; developing inclusive products and services; investing in building up communities; and addressing the ills of child abuse. Zain operates a programme to assess the environmental impact of its core business activities while setting targets to reduce its carbon footprint, minimize the waste it produces, and promote greater environmental awareness. Commenting on the 2018 report, Zain Group Vice-Chairman and CEO, Bader Al-Kharafi said: "Our reports go beyond being an academic or philosophical exercise, and within them we identify real problems that are afflicting the world and offering up real solutions on how to go about making in-roads into overcoming them."

Turkey: Cloud management - QNB Finansbank Finansal Hizmetler has contracted Vodafone Turkey to manage QNB efinans' cloud infrastructure and operations. The deal covers virtual resources, data security, IT and network security, professional services, and data centre processing, Vodafone said.

United Arab Emirates: 5G is go - Etisalat has announced that it is now offering a 5G network for 5G-enabled smartphones. Subscribers can now access 5G on ZTE Axon 10 Pro, the first available 5G device from Etisalat, from Marina mall in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Mall. Subscribers can also opt to buy with flexible Smart Pay plans on a 12, 18 or 24-month contract starting from only AED 241 (USD 65.59). The 5G network is available for all Etisalat post-paid, pre-paid, consumer and business customers using 5G devices.

United Arab Emirates: AI-enabled bank - The Emirates NBD bank is using AWS machine learning services to create a personalized retail customer banking experience. Emirates NBD will also utilize AWS data analytics, Internet of Things, Natural Language Processing and other advanced technologies as part of its ongoing efforts to better engage with customers and simplify banking. Emirates NBD is continuing to invest in AWS as its preferred provider for machine learning workloads.

United Arab Emirates: Data banking - Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), which operates under the du brand, has renewed its partnership with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (Adib) to provide data centre services. du is to continue to deliver advanced network solutions with increased operational and network efficiency that will further enhance the service experience of Adib customers, in addition to providing innovative M2M solutions and managed connectivity services. Adib will benefit from du's Data Centre infrastructure which is supported by high-speed connectivity, resilience and redundant links.

United Arab Emirates: Huawei assurances - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has met with Huawei officials following the various developments relating to Google. Huawei said that its products in the local market, including its warehouse stock, will not be affected by the recent developments. All apps and their security updates on Google Play are available without any issues. The TRA stressed that all vendors and manufacturers of telecom devices have to protect the consumers' rights and provide all related services to maintain the stability of the UAE telecom market.

United Arab Emirates: Roaming bundle - Mobile operator du is offering a roaming bundle of unlimited calling and 2.5 GB of data for AED 300 (USD 81.66) for seven days. It is available for 47 countries including the GCC, UK, US, European destinations and Egypt. Post-paid mobile subscribers can subscribe by sending the SMS U to 5102.