News in Brief 19 June 2019


Africa: Pricing plotted - Airtel Africa has set a price range of GBP 0.80 - 1.00 (USD 1 - 1.25) per share for its initial public offering (IPO) on the London Stock Exchange. Airtel said this implies a market capitalisation of GBP 3.01 - 3.62 billion (USD 3.8 - 4.6 billion), excluding an over-allotment option. The IPO will see it float 595.2 - 744.0 million new shares, raising a total of GBP 595 million (USD 748.7 million), including the over-allotment option. Airtel will also list its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange alongside the London IPO. At least 25 percent of the stock is expected to be freely floated immediately following the IPO. Shares are expected to begin trading on 28 June and the final pricing will be announced the same day.

Algeria: Cloud gateway - Ooredoo Algeria has contracted Nokia to modernise its network by deploying a virtualised mobile gateway and so facilitate a migration of core network elements to the cloud and support next generation mobile equipment. The deployment allows the operator to service growing data demand and provide new services such as Internet of Things (IoT), in addition to enhanced broadband. The solution is now in commercial service. With the Nokia AirFrame data centre product, Ooredoo Algeria will be able to support applications that demand low latency.

Angola: Stake bids - Isabel dos Santos is reported to be one of two bidders for Oi's 25 percent stake in mobile operator Unitel, in which she already indirectly controls a 25 percent share. A rival bid for Oi's Unitel stake is said to come from Sonangol, which also holds an existing 25 percent Unitel share via MSTelcom, with the bids reportedly in the region of USD 850 million - USD 1 billion, according to Angola 24 Horas. dos Santos has also tabled a EUR 1.2 billion (USD 1.4 billion) bid for holding company PT SGPS, which owns 25.6 percent of Oi plus veto rights for strategic decisions, AllAfrica reported.

Botswana: Boundless broadband - Mascom Wireless has launched MySurf Unlimited Internet, which includes a router, three SIM cards (one for data and the others for voice), unlimited data on 4G/3G, a free monthly VoD subscription to MyPlay services, plug-and-play feature and no installation fees. A one-off BWP 435 service fee applies with three packages starting from BWP 375 per month for a 2 Mbps service. MySurf is a triple play product.

Botswana: On-target datacentre - Orange Botswana says construction of its data centre is ahead of schedule by some 3 percent, Mmegi reported. The project is 27 percent complete, and is expected to be completed by the end of October 2019. The centre will offer a high level of availability, with enhanced power supply and robust services. Head Technical Director, Gobe Mbayi, said Orange is constructing the data centre at the Botswana Innovation Hub.

Cape Verde: Sal pilots - Mobile network operators CV Movel and Unitel T+ are piloting the first 4G LTE networks on the island of Sal, Sapo Noticias reported. The pilots coincide with the African Beach Games, and so enabling participants and visitors to access high speed mobile data services. The pilot project was authorised by the Agencia Reguladora Multissectorial da Economia (ARME) and will run until 30 June 2019.

Cote d'Ivoire: Presidential pep-talk - The President HE Alassane Ouattara on 13 June 2019 met Orange's Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard. Richard underlined the significant investment made by the Group in the country to correct the issues faced by the group last year. The Secretary General of the Presidency Patrick Achi and the Chief of Staff, Fidele Sarassoro also attended the meeting.

Ghana: MoMo decade - MTN Mobile Money has marked its 10th anniversary in Ghana. General Manager for MTN Mobile Financial Services, Eli Hini, said it had less than 100,000 subscribers just 6 months after launching, but now had some 14 million. Hini noted that it started with 9 partner banks and now has 18, with some 124,000 agents. By the end of 1Q 2019 it had recorded some 411 million transactions on the MoMo platform. In July 2009 it offered two main services, namely Money Transfer and Airtime Purchase. Now it provides providing 6 major categories including money transfers, payments, investments and banking options. The service currently provides employment for 129,000 people.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Ghana: Mobile momentum - A World Bank report has concluded that Ghana is the fastest growing mobile money market in Africa. According to the report, mobile phone penetration created opportunities for expansion of financial services and increased the role of non-financial institutions as much as e-money issuers, making Ghana the fastest growing African mobile money market. The '4th Ghana Economic Update' focuses on financial sector development and financial inclusion, and concluded that this dynamic development indicated the potential of digital financial services and payments to further enhance financial inclusion in Ghana. The Ghana Business News noted that Dr. Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director in Ghana, at the report launch said Ghana’s economy has had a turnaround over the past two years.

Ghana: Subscriber up-sell - MTN Ghana aims to attract 20 million users to its Mobile Money service in the next three years; it currently has more than 14 million. MTN Mobile Financial Services' General Manager, Eli Hini, said that the objective was register all of its subscribers to register for the mobile money service. Hini said MTN Mobile Money had some 124,000 agents in Ghana and between 2016 and 2018 about GHS 139 million (USD 25.7 million) had been paid as interest to about 10 million mobile money customers.

Kenya: Merger in months - Telkom Kenya CEO Mugo Kibati has said that it is still pursuing a merger deal with Airtel, although further details have not subsequently provided. Kibati in an interview at the NTV Kenya studio, told Techweez: "The merger talks are still progressing. Before we announced the development, we had been in discussions with Airtel for a while. We have since moved to the next phase by engaging the regulators for approval". The CEO added that the approval process will be concluded in the next few months.

Morocco: State stake sale - The Treasury sold 6 percent of Maroc Telecom on 17 June 2019, shortly before the close of the stock market. The sale was carried out as announced at the price of MAD 127 (USD 13.07). The terms of the sale of the remaining 2 percent are also known with two tariffs planned: MAD 117.70 (USD 12.11) for employees of the Maroc Telecom group, and MAD 125.30 (USD 12.89) for all others. Subscriptions will run from 26 June to 5 July with the possibility of early closing on 2 July.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Namibia: Fibre for Gobabis - Paratus Telecom has launched its enterprise and consumer fibre packages in Gobabis. Paratus is offering capped and uncapped packages starting from NAD 620 (USD 42) for 100Mbps and NAD 785 (USD 53) for 10 Mbps. Paratus recently completed a national fibre project, connecting the WACS landing station in Swakopmund eastward to the border of Botswana and various towns en route, including Gobabis. Paratus has already earmarked other towns en route, utilising a range of access technologies including fibre, fixed LTE, mobile LTE and microwave solutions. The operator is to also offer a range of satellite services for clients who are not in a coverage area.

Niger: Fibre workshop - The government commissioned additional studies on the Trans-Sahara Dorsal (DTS) fibre project in 2018, which is being jointly financed by the State and the African Development Bank (ADB). The Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy organized a two-day workshop to consider the findings of the study conducted by SOFRECOM on 12 June in Niamey. The studies have focused on three components: the development of a strategic plan for the implementation of the telecom sector policy; the implementation of an integrated management system for the electronic identification of persons and the establishment of a national data centre. The chief of staff of the Minister in charge of Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, M Idrissa Issoufou, opened the workshop in the presence of several personalities including the Secretary General of the Ministry of the Interior.

South Africa: Man management - Mobile network operator Cell-C has named Juba Mashaba as its Chief Human Resources Officer with effect from 1 June 2019. He joins Cell-C from Aveng where he served as an Executive Director and Director of HR since 2007. Before that, he was Head of Human Resources at both Arcelor-Mittal (South Africa) and Simba (Pty) Ltd, a division of PepsiCo International.

South Africa: Streamed sports - Showmax has officially launched its sports offering after a week-long trial. The price of its subscription service will remain unchanged at ZAR 99 (USD 6.67) per month, or ZAR 49 (USD 3.30) per month for DStv Compact and Compact Plus subscribers, and free to DStv Premium subscribers. The service provides magazine shows and highlights clips and can also live-stream games. Showmax is branching out and adding recorded and live sports to its line-up of TV serials, films and children's shows. The move into live streaming is a first for Showmax in Africa.

South Africa: Successful trial - Vast Networks has been operating a trial Wi-Fi offload service for MNO Vodacom for some months. Vast claims that after several months of trialling the Wi-Fi offload service, Vast's venue Wi-Fi offload service is claimed to be delivering faster speeds than cellular, and in some cases up to ten times faster. The trial is live at about a dozen venues representing a selection of venue types including malls and restaurants. MNOs can now set a threshold for when they allow handoff to Wi-Fi to occur.

South Sudan: Fibre launch - A new metro fibre-optic cable has been inaugurated in the capital Juba. Vertigo Communication’s Managing Director Deng Biar Deng, said the fibre-optic cable will support the government in extending services to post-conflict communities: "The metro ring will enable institutions to tap into the infrastructure we have laid to enhance the tools of education." The development comes less than a month after the government launched its own international voice gateway. Vertigo is a Juba-based ICT company.

Zambia: Growing base - The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has reported the number of mobile subscribers as rising to 15.7 million in 1Q 2019 from 15.5 million in 4Q18, to give a 90.3 percent mobile penetration rate. The increase is attributed to the expansion of networks by mobile operators, competition and by a population that is more digitally aware. Internet users rose to 10.2 million from 9.8 million, representing a 58.9 percent penetration rate.

Zimbabwe: Debt reduction programmes - The Chronicle reports that Telecel Zimbabwe it’s now aiming to clear its licensing obligations of USD 137.5 million owed to the government by 2020. In 2013 Telecel reached agreement with the Postal Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) to pay its fees in instalments, after the POTRAZ sought to cancel its licence. Telecel missed its payment schedule last year and in 2017, and now owes some USD 93.5 million, having missed repayments of USD 15 million in 2017 and USD 20 million in 2018. Telecel CEO Angeline Vere it had been weighed down by the harsh economic conditions but was working to comply with regulatory requirements. Of the three mobile operators in Zimbabwe, only Econet Wireless has paid for its licence in full. NetOne, like Telecel, has also a payment plan agreed with POTRAZ and its debt is to be cleared by 2027.

Middle East:

Afghanistan: Customs connectivity - ATRA Finance and Admin Vice-Chairman Saed Bilal Hashemy has met with the Customs Deputy Finance Minister Abdullah Raqeebi to discuss the connection and equipment of customs posts with ICT. Hashemy was quoted as saying that ATRA had allocated some AFN 375 million (USD 4.7 million) for national customs connectivity and equipping with ICT. ATRA noted in its release that the funding is on hand while ATRA is funding several other projects regarding connectivity, Internet and ICT equipment provision in respect with software and hardware in the current year.

Afghanistan: Illegal imports - ATRA has recently impounded illegal telecom equipment, including Signal Boosters and Frequency Repeaters. Following complaints from telcos and citizens, ATRA's supervising team has taken action on identifying and collecting the equipment from Kabul, Heart, Khust and other provinces.

Afghanistan: Single commercial platform - Mobile network operator Roshan has selected Matrixx Software's Digital Commerce platform to support its nearly 6 million subscribers. The Matrixx digital commerce platform brings together traditionally separate network and IT functions into a single platform including product design and lifecycle management, customer engagement, service delivery and monetisation.

Bahrain: New CEO named - Viva Bahrain has named Nezar Banabeela as CEO, replacing Mohammed Al Khushail, who had been acting CEO since the start of 2019 following the departure of Ulaiyan Al Wetaid to the STC Group. Banabeela has over ten years in the telecom sector with STC Group and Viva Bahrain, where he held various posts, including chief of the enterprise and wholesale sector.

Israel: eSIM enablement - Mobile network operator Pelephone has deployed Amdocs eSIM-enabled devices, starting with the Apple Watch. This follows Apple's formal certification of the Pelephone offering supported by the Amdocs eSIM platform. This provides a two-sided software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering in which service suppliers get access to original equipment manufacturers' (OEM) products already integrated, and OEMs can reach the largest consumer base globally. The platform comes pre-integrated with the leading eSIM databases, enabling simple and fast integration into a service provider's network and IT systems. Once deployed, service providers can quickly offer their customers any new device that becomes available, with no additional back-end software updates or integration.

Oman: Extended fibre - Three new areas, namely Sur Al Hadeed-Al Seeb, Amerat Extension (Phase 1) and Telal Al-Qurum Compound, now benefit from Ooredoo's Super Fibre Home Internet. Users can now obtain service at up to 1 Gbps and limitless usage from OMR 28 (USD 73) a month. The associated plans offer unlimited fixed Ooredoo minutes, discounts on global call rates, and faster download speeds.

Oman: Streamed songs - Ooredoo Oman’s subscribers can now listen to unlimited streaming of their favourite music services without consuming their mobile data after it introduced a zero-rated offering for its AL7ANI service. The service provides access to more than 60 million songs in English, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, French and other languages. For OMR 3 (USD 7.77) per month, post-paid subscribers can stream unlimited music without affecting their data plan, and pre-paid customers can do so for OMR 2 (USD 5.18) per day.

Qatar: Carrier billing - Subscribers of Vodafone Qatar can now pay for App Store, Apple Music and iTunes purchases across Apple devices using carrier billing, providing 'a safe, secure and versatile payment method to meet Qatar's growing demand for digital entertainment'. Once 'Carrier Billing' has been selected on the user’s device, all future purchases with that Apple ID will be automatically charged as part of the monthly carrier bill or directly deducted from the customer’s pre-paid account.

United Arab Emirates: Airport first - Etisalat claims to be first mobile operator in the MENA region to provide 5G coverage inside an international airport. Abu Dhabi's new international airport Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) is to be the first terminal in the region to benefit from 5G connectivity, based on C-Band. Etisalat is expanding its 5G footprint with the installation of 1,000 mobile sites by the end of 2019.