News in Brief 3 July 2019

Africa:

Algeria: ICT defence - The national ICT monitoring body charged with the prevention of offenses related to information and communication technologies is now under the wing of the Ministry of National Defence. The unit, a legal entity with financial autonomy, was previously under the control of the Ministry of Justice, was reassigned under a presidential decree dated 6 June 2019.

Egypt: Client centre - IBM has expanded its operations in the Middle East and Africa with the opening of an innovation and industry client centre and a marketing services centre in Cairo. The centres focus on advanced technologies including AI, digital, security, blockchain and hybrid cloud and display live demos for IBM systems including customer proofs of concept for key industries including government, telecom, banking and others.

Egypt: Google planning - Minister of ICT, Amr Talaat, held talks with a delegation from Google Middle East and North Africa (MENA), headed by Google MENA's Managing Director, Lino Cattaruzzi. They discussed Google's strategic plans in Egypt and Africa, as well as enhancing cooperation in technological innovation, entrepreneurship and artificial intelligence (AI). The Minister shared the legislative package that the ministry prepared during the last period to stimulate investment in the Egyptian ICT sector. Talaat showcased the major projects and programmes implemented by the ministry to create an enabling environment for innovation and qualify ICT staff, to match industry needs and educational system outcomes, to keep up with the global technological developments.

Kenya: Gender agenda - Mobile network operator Safaricom has been inducted as the fourth member of the highest governing body of the Unstereotype Alliance chaired by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the UN Women executive Director. The alliance is aimed at identifying, challenging and addressing stereotypes that exist in advertising and marketing. Safaricom chief customer officer Sylvia Mulinge will join the council as vice chairman. Safaricom is the first African organisation invited to join the Leadership Council and will joins other global brands such as Facebook, Alibaba Group, Johnsons & Johnsons, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Diageo among others.

Kenya: LTE latest - Safaricom has launched Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Video over LTE (ViLTE) services. The services are immediately available nationally to any Safaricom subscriber with a VoLTE-supporting 4G device and a 4G-enabled SIM card, and will be offered at no additional cost compared to standard calls. VoLTE users can simultaneously make calls and browse at 4G speeds; previously 4G users saw their data sessions drop to 3G speeds when on calls. Calls on VoLTE can be distinguished by the 'HD Calling' symbol which appears when a VoLTE call is in progress. Customers can also tell when they are on VoLTE by the 'VoLTE' symbol in their status bars.

Kenya: Oppo opportunity - Oppo Mobile Kenya, in partnership with online retailer Jumia, has officially launched the Oppo A1K mobile devices in the Kenyan market. Jumia Kenya will exclusively sell the A1K series online for two weeks before the phones are offered in retail stores. The Oppo A1K 2019 is available for KES 12,999 (USD 126) and comes with a 4000mAh battery.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Mali: Ministerial meetings - The Minister of Communication, Yaya Sangare, and members of his Cabinet, visited the Autorite Malienne de Regulation des Telecommunications/TIC et des Postes on 24 June 2019. The Director General of AMRTP, Cheick Sidi Mohamed Nimaga, welcomed the group before the Minister and his delegation visited all the technical departments. During the visit Minister Sangare asked the regulator to lower telecommunications costs, and to ensure that all citizens have universal access to the full range of telecommunications services within the national territory, including the regions of Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao. The Minister informed Nimaga that he had met with the directors of Sotelma-Malitel and Orange Mali to discuss the return of their service in the named regions on 25 June 2019.

Morocco: Continental content - Broadcaster Al Maghriba has launched on the Arabsat -5C satellite, giving it DTH reach across Africa. SNRT-owned Al Maghriba transmits in Arabic, Amazigh and French and targets Moroccan expats with a bouquet wholly focused on home-grown content. Arabsat-5C at 20 degrees East and is designed to serve the African broadcasting market.

Nigeria: Enhanced 4G - MTN Nigeria has launched 4G+ in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt using a combination of the recently acquired 800 MHz spectrum and 2600 MHz spectrum. The added spectrum and advanced systems will enable speeds of up to 200 Mbps. The 4G+ service is immediately available and users need MTN Standard 4G SIM (upgrades available in stores nationally) and a compatible device.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Nigeria: Hylas coverage - Avanti Communications has been awarded the first landing permit by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the Hylas 4 satellite. NCC's Director for Spectrum Administration, Austin Nwaulune, highlighted the NCC's mandate to foster the deployment of communications services to grassroots, to create economic growth and development.

Nigeria: Local loan - A five-year loan agreement has been signed with Nigerian banks ahead of its listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange by 4 July by Airtel Nigeria. The loan is available for a period of 180 days from the acceptance of the offer and has a tenure of five years including a two-year moratorium on the principal amount. The funding will be used for the development and acquisition of new networks and the expansion or improvement of existing networks.

South Africa: Staff skills - MultiChoice South Africa has commenced the consultation process to realign its customer care (call centre) and walk-in-centres. MultiChoice said that the two will be realigned in response to the changing behaviour of its customers, who are increasingly adopting new self-service and digital technologies to engage with the company. Multichoce has started a consultation process with 2,194 of its staff, saying that there are new roles available for multi-skilled employees able to enhance the customer experience. The first consultation meeting will be facilitated by an independent commissioner from the CCMA.

South Africa: Subscriber sponsorship - Google has started rolling out channel memberships for YouTube in, allowing users to support creators by signing up to donate ZAR 39.99 (USD 0.80) per month to their favourite channels.

Tunisia: Digital dollars - The World Bank has granted Tunisia two loans valued at USD 175 million to finance projects in digital transformation and economy. The first, worth USD 75 million, will improve access to financing for innovative start-ups and SMEs. The second, worth USD 100 million, targets digital transformation for user-centred services. It will support an approach in promoting public administration technology with a view to improve social protection and education systems. The aim is to ensure that vulnerable populations (including low-income groups, rural women, illiterates and the disabled, etc.) have access to these services.

Uganda: Cloud offering - BringCom, a connectivity provider, in partnership with science and technology investor Imprimatur Capital and European edge cloud software company GIG Technology, have launched AfriQloud. The new platform will provide local and international customers with a secure distributed edge cloud service, at what are described as internationally competitive rates. AfriQloud is targeting African incubators and tech hubs, setting-up the edge cloud in cities which host a high number of start-ups and developers. Now operational in Uganda, AfriQloud will extend its coverage to other countries in 2019.

Zimbabwe: Bank launch - Standard Chartered bank has launched its 'Digital Bank' banking App digitizing 70 common service requests. The launch in Zimbabwe marks the start of Phase Two of the bank's 'Africa roll' initiative that will also see it launch in Zambia and Botswana after being launched in Cote d'Ivoire, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana in 2018. Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe claims to have a high digital penetration with 88 percent of clients using mobile banking, 72 percent online banking and 92 percent using the Debit Card. Mobile is the lead form of access to the national payments system with 6 million active subscribers in Zimbabwe.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Rewards relaunched - Batelco has launched its new Batelco Rewards loyalty programme designed for both post- and pre-paid (SimSim) subscribers. Post-paid users will collect points once their bills are paid in full and before their due date, whilst pre-paid subscribers will be able to earn points based on their usage. The programme allows the transfer of points to a cash balance in the account of the subscriber. The Rewards Programme is designed for all mobile subscribers and consists of 3 tiers, where customers can be promoted from Silver to Gold or Platinum based on the number of points collected.

Oman: 5G potential - Ericsson, in collaboration with Oman Telecom Authority and Omantel, hosted an event on 5G connectivity. The demos showed how 5G capabilities such as low latency and high data rates, combined with AR, can enable new real-time applications and services. The roadshow was held 26-27 June in Muscat.

Oman: Coastal coverage - 4G network coverage has been enhanced by Ooredoo Oman to give coverage in new areas along the coast including Al Faizah, Shaat and Hoota Beach. More than seventeen popular locations and areas in the Dhofar region are included from the start of the Khareef festival, resulting in almost a tripling of 4G network capacity in those areas. Ooredoo has deployed a third LTE carrier on the 2600 band to facilitate for higher speeds and a better Internet experience.

Oman: Global partnership - Tyntec has signed an exclusive partnership with Ooredoo Global Services. Tyntec will provide A2P SMS services for a number of Ooredoo Group's operating companies. Tyntec is also providing Ooredoo with a safe way to monetize its extensive network and meet subscriber needs to interact with businesses in the same way they do with their friends and family. The first roll-out will start in 2Q19, when all international A2P SMS traffic to Indosat Ooredoo, Ooredoo's operating company in Indonesia, will come from Tyntec. This will replace all other existing cross-border A2P SMS providers. Tyntec will continue its roll-out to additional markets by working with Ooredoo's operating companies in Myanmar, Oman and Tunisia.

Oman: Pilgrimage packs - Ooredoo Oman is offering a data bundle for pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah. A daily Passport with 1GB of data costs OMR 4 (USD 10.36), a two-day Passport gives ten minutes of roaming minutes and 200 MB of data for OMR 5 (USD 12.95), or weekly Passport Weekly with 30 roaming minutes and 2 GB of data for OMR 10 (USD 25.90). For those travelling to Saudi Arabia, Ooredoo is offering 7GB of data and 30 minutes for OMR 10 (USD 25.90) valid for 10 days when activating the Saudi Passport. Customers must manually select Saudi Telecom Company (STC) or Mobily.

Oman: Reseller sale - Omantel has acquired a 40 percent stake in Majan Telecommunication (Renna Mobile) for OMR 5 million (USD 12.9 million). A definitive share purchase agreement was signed with Integrated Telecommunications Oman (TeO), the parent of Renna Mobile. Established in 2007, Renna was the first mobile reseller to launch services in Oman, and currently holds the highest market share among mobile resellers in Oman. The move comes two months after Ooredoo announced that it had signed a deal with mobile reseller Friendi Mobile to provide mobile services to Friendi customers.

Saudi Arabia: Nokia 5G - Zain Saudi Arabia has commissioned its 5G network using Nokia's end-to-end portfolio. Under a three-year deal, thousands of 5G sites are being deployed. The deal introduces 5G using 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz band spectrum, along with massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (Umimo). In addition, the deal will introduce E-Band microwave in certain areas to allow for ultra-high-capacity backhaul networks.

United Arab Emirates: Payment service - Etisalat and Noor Bank have launched eWallet which is being provided by fintech firm Digital Financial Services, a joint venture established between Etisalat and Noor Bank, and regulated and licensed as a retail payment service provider by the central bank of the UAE. eWallet will register customers, from individual users to business entities, who can share money through individual to individual transfers, merchant purchases, bill payments and salary payments, among the additional services to be rolled out in due course.

United Arab Emirates: Security strategy - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has unveiled the national cyber security strategy. The strategy was developed based on the analysis of more than 50 sources of indicators and international publications, in addition to working with a team of international experts and benchmarking with 10 leading countries in cyber security systems. The strategy is intended to deliver 60 initiatives on five pillars. The pillars include cyber security laws and regulations to address all types of cybercrimes, secure existing and emerging technologies and support protection of SMEs by developing essential cyber security standard for SMEs, mandating cyber security implementation certification for government suppliers, and building a one-stop portal to enable SMEs to implement the standards.