News in Brief 26 June 2019

Africa:

Angola: ICT investment - Vice President Bornito de Sousa said on 18 June 2019 that the investments in telecommunications will remain 'strong' and already constitute a 'benchmark' in sub-Saharan Africa. The Vice President was representing the President at the opening of the Angotic Angola 2019 Forum. The government is undergoing a substantial programme of modernisation in the framework of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), preparing for the arrival of 5G, after the consolidation of 3 and 4G.

Angola: Small-scale satellites - The first satellite made in Angola was launched in Cabo Ledo, on 19 June 2019, on the occasion of Angotic, the international ICT fair held 18 - 20 June in Luanda. Branded 'Cansat', the mini satellite is the result of collaboration between the Office of Management of the National Space Programme (GGPEN) of the Ministry of Telecommunication and Technology Information (MTTI), the Space Science department applied research (DCEPA), and several students. The small-scale vehicle was created for educational purposes and is the end product of a one-month course taught by GGPEN and the DCEPA. With the aid of an FAA helicopter, the minisatellites, coupled to a parachute, were launched at an altitude of about 500 meters and, through the sensors installed on them, grounded students recorded in real time the information sent by the computers in a species of 'earth station'.

Algeria: Web blocking - The Web hosting company Smart Solutions Hosting (SSH) has denounced the blocking of its services by Algeria Telecom. SSH wrote in a release: "... the IP addresses of several of our servers have been blocked one by one by Algeria Telecom, an unacceptable blockage against which we will not be silent, we tried to many times to contact Algeria Telecom, by phone, email, and moving ourselves at their level, for now we still have not received a concrete answer to our problem, which is likely more political than anything else, in view of the large number of information Websites that were blocked the same day. "SSH noted that it hosts 'thousands' of local Websites, including banks, insurance companies, universities, large corporations and others, all of whom have access to Websites and email.

Benin: SIM sales - On 17 June 2019 Special Prosecutor of the Court for the Suppression of Economic Crimes and Terrorism (CRIET), Gilbert Togbonon, called on network operators MTN and Moov to end the sale of pre-registered SIM cards. Togbonon noted: "In any case, operators of GSM networks will be held accountable for the violation of legal requirements as a result of their negligence to ensure the perfect completion of formalities for the registration of users of GSM products."

Cameroon: Equipment audit - The Agence Regulation des Telecommunications is to bar unauthorized telecommunications equipment. ART's Director-General Philemon Zoo Zame has warned: "any terminal equipment intended to be connected, directly or indirectly, to a network open to the public can not be placed on the Cameroonian market…" The equipment concerned are telephones, smartphones, digital tablets, broadcast transmitters, TV transmitters, earth station equipment, telematic equipment, Wi-Fi equipment and set-top boxes. ART is to undertake a census of equipment and materials so that it can gauge the volumes of equipment in circulation, and identify unapproved equipment.

Ethiopia: Internet interruption - An Internet outage has been acknowledged by Ethio Telecom (ET). In a statement on 18 June 2019, Ethio Telecom said: "We sincerely extend our apologies to our customers for the inconvenience [that] occurred." ET said that since 10 June Internet services had been interrupted intermittently. ET said: "…we have extended the validity period of unused mobile packages and Premium unlimited mobile service. Additionally, for fixed broadband internet service customers, we have also exempted the monthly fee for the interrupted period." Reports had suggested that the eight-day measure was in the light of ongoing national examinations. The government and operator have yet to disclose the cause of the outage.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Ghana: Faster Internet - AirtelTigo has contracted Huawei Technologies for a USD 30 million network modernisation project intended to provide a faster Internet experience. Work will initially be carried out in the Greater Accra region between June and October 2019 before being extended to other areas. According to AirtelTigo's CTO, Warren Fletcher: "This further investment by AirtelTigo in our technology and infrastructure is an indication of our commitment to ensuring international standard network quality and improved internet experience for our customers." AirtelTigo was formed by the merger of Bharti Airtel's Ghana operation and Millicom International Cellular's Tigo Ghana in October 2017. The new company, a 50/50-owned joint venture, and completed integration of its networks in December 2018.

Kenya: App updates - Mobile network operator Safaricom has rolled out its M-Pesa Pin In App authentication to all users after a successful staff pilot phase which stated on 20 March. The service will be available in a menu that has been enhanced to allow users to reverse money sent to a wrong number in the last confirmation screen. There is also a phonebook autofill.

Kenya: Motorcycle money - Visa, the KCB Bank Kenya and the Boda Boda Safety Association of Kenya (BAK) are working to digitise payments for motorcycle transport operators. A three-month pilot project will see where 100 Boda Boda (motocycle) riders will be enabled for Visa on mobile so that they can make and receive payments. Visa on mobile is now live in Egypt, Ghana, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania. There are plans to launch in Uganda, Zambia and other countries in Africa in the near future.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Mali: Charges challenged - The consumer rights oranisation Reseau Malien des Consommateurs du Secteur des Telecommunications (RECOMATEM) has initiated legal proceedings against mobile network operators Orange Mali and Malitel. The case was filed in the Court of the Commune IV on 18 June 2019. According to RECOMATEM's president Dr Adama Traore, Orange Mali and Malitel have exploited consumers, without censure by the authorities, and specifically the charges for Voice Mail, which is charge-free in the sub-region, according to Traore.

Mauritius: Cloud conference - Liquid Telecom is hosting the 'first of its kind' cloud conference in Mauritius on 27 June 2019 at Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa. It is being organised in partnership with Microsoft to help local businesses improve their understanding and use of cloud services to improve productivity and growth, whilst reducing costs and improving efficiencies. Azure Accelerator is a unique cloud learning platform that provides business and IT leaders to engage one-on-one with Liquid Telecom and Microsoft cloud experts. The conference will cover Cloud Fundamentals, Digital Transformation, Business continuity, Security and Compliance and will explore the manage IT resources in the cloud.

Nigeria: Towers targeted - The Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is to commence demolishing Globacom and 'other defaulters' masts in a number of locations CommunicationsWeek has reported. The demolition will affect some banks and financial institutions which erected high structures within the navigable airspace against the authority's regulatory requirements. The NCAA has said that it will demolish a total of 8,805 masts. NCAA spokesman Sam Adurogboye said the regulatory authority had no choice as the 30-day ultimatum given to the tower owners involved had expired. Prior to the expiration of the ultimatum, letters of reminder were sent to all the affected organisations to obtain Aviation Height Clearance (AHC) for their masts. The NCAA earlier warned all GSM providers and telcos not to violate safety regulations. NCAA reiterated that it will continue to apply the requisite sanctions for violation of the regulations.

Rwanda: IXP hub - The African IXP Association, in association with the Internet Society, has signed an agreement with the Rwanda Internet Community and Technology Alliance (RICTA) to set-up an administrative secretariat in Kigali. This follows the call for proposals designed to aid the African IXP Association develop its governance structure and administrative capacity in order to more effectively manage its growing portfolio of activities. There will be bi-annual membership meetings, training workshops, regional benchmark reports, and an annual conference known as the African Peering and Interconnection Forum. The Association was established in 2012.

South Africa: Must-carry regs mulled - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is to undertake an inquiry into the Must-Carry Regulations to gauge their effectiveness and whether they require an amending. These are the findings of the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) process which commenced in September 2018 following a number of complaints from the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Licensee. The issue in question concerns a provision that states that 'a Subscription Broadcasting Service (SBS) Licensee is required to carry the television programmes of a PBS licensee at no cost to the SBS Licensee'. ICASA started a consultative process that included issuing questionnaires directed to the PBS licensee, SBS licensees, other broadcast service licensees as well as the general public. The RIA report emphasized ICASA's initial position in the regulations that the PBS licensee would deliver the signal to the SBS at its own cost (the cost of producing its content in a readable format to the SBS licensee); and that the SBS licensees would incur the cost of broadcasting such as transmission costs, which include (amongst others) fibre contribution costs and satellite capacity costs.

Sudan: Diverse directives - Zain Sudan has been ordered to restore Internet services, after access was cut off in early June when security forces dispersed protesters in central Khartoum. Reuters reports that a lawyer who filed his own case against Zain over the military-ordered blackout. The Khartoum District Court ordered Zain to 'immediately restore Internet services to the country'. Zain told the court that it had been ordered verbally by 'high authorities', thought to be the regulator, to disable the service. The military removed ruler Omar al-Bashir from office in April.

Uganda: Connected libraries - Airtel Uganda is to provide free unlimited Wi-Fi to 19 public libraries following the launch of Airtel 4G. The Jinja and Kampala public libraries are the first, with the service launched on 18 June.

Zimbabwe: Charges dropped - The government has withdrawn the criminal charges against Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRZ) Director-General Gift Machengete, who was accused of violating the Procurement Act, NewsDay reported. Charges of criminal abuse of office were also dropped two months ago. Prosecutor Michael Reza announced the decision to drop the charges before plea, but did not provide reasons to the court. The move came after the Special Anti-Corruption Unit (Sacu) dumped the same case before referring it to the National Prosecution Authority after it was postponed on several occasions, throwing into doubt whether the matter could proceed. Machengete had his application for exception of the charges also dismissed after he challenged the validity of the charge on grounds that the facts the state relied upon did not disclose the offence.

Middle East:

Iran: Gap fillers - Russia is planning to export ICT products to Iran. The decision was taken during the first meeting of the ICT working group of both countries. The working group also included representatives from Rostelecom and TTK. The products will include information security, Smart City and e-government systems.

Kuwait: 5G is go - Ooredoo Kuwait has commercially launched 5G. At an event Ooredoo demonstrated the network's ability to support video games which require fast data speeds, in addition to a live feed in 4K Full HD of drone footage of the event, and a speed test corner with devices equipped to utilize the new network capacity. Subscribers can sign-up to 5G broadband plans with a free Huawei router, including 500 GB for KWD 45 (USD 148) per month and 1 TB at KWD 65 (USD 213) per month over an annual contract. The router supports speeds up to 2.3 Gbps and can support up to 64 users.

Lebanon: Government WAN - The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication has launched GovNet, intended to improve the efficiency of government ministries, agencies and commissions in public service delivery, The Observer reported. Minister Cooper Kruah said the platform is a secured and dedicated wide area network that connects ministries, agencies, and commissions for minimal cost. The Minster said an Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) database will see improved tax revenue and improved tax administration, and enhanced budget management and expenditure, and support the National Biometric Registry.

Nigeria: No attack - MTN Nigeria has said that server outages on 15 June were not a result of a suspected cyber attack, ITWeb reported. MTN Nigeria's General Manager for Corporate Affairs Omasan Ogisi, said that the cause was a local technical issue with the server, which saw the erroneous allocation of data to a few subscribers. The issue was quickly detected and resolved, and the incorrectly allocated data reversed on all affected accounts.

Qatar: Passport expansion - Vodafone Qatar's Passport Pack now covers 119 countries, with fifteen new countries added in June, including Nigeria, Zambia, Singapore, Philippines, Tunisia, Tanzania, Canada, Vietnam, Mexico and Mozambique. The Pack allows subscribers to enjoy 1GB of data and 100 minutes of roaming calls for QAR 100 (USD 27.24) per week. Vodafone Bill Manager automatically activates Vodafone Passport Pack for all post-paid users as soon as they are roaming in one of the enabled countries. Pre-paid customers can activate the Passport through the My Vodafone App.

Saudi Arabia: 5G flagged off - The STC Group has launched 5G commercial services, claiming to be the first operator to do so in the Kingdom. CEO Nasser Sulaiman Al Nasser said the launch coincides with the introduction of commercial services a few days ago by Viva Kuwait, whilst Viva Bahrain is also in the process of launching 5G service.

Turkey: New posting - Muhterem Kaan Terzioglu has joined Veon Group's management board. Terzioglu previously served as Turkcell's CEO from April 2015 until March 2019, and currently serves as a board member of several international institutions and organisations. He previously served on the GMSA board for three consecutive terms and on the advisory board of the World Economic Forum Center for Fourth Industrial Revolution.