News in Brief 10 July 2019


Africa: Money growth - Orange Africa & Middle East unit has announced a weekly transaction value of EUR 1 billion (USD 1.12 billion) on its Orange money service. Since its launch in 2008 in Cote d'Ivoire, the service has signed-up some 120 million customers in 19 African countries. In the last quarter of 2018, it generated EUR 90 million (USD 101.0 million), three times more than in the same period two years ago. As soon as the banking license is granted, it will launch a full-fledged bank in Africa according to Alioune Ndiaye, CEO for Orange Middle East and Africa.

Africa and Middle East: Upgraded status - MTN Group's wholesale infrastructure company GlobalConnect is now an operating company (Opco) of the group. Headquartered in Dubai, UAE, it will continue to be led by CEO Frederic Schepens. MTN GlobalConnect was established in 2017 as the main driver and commercial vehicle for the consolidation of MTN's international and national major wholesale activities. The operational structure of GlobalConnect was revised, resulting in its establishment as an Opco. The new company offers complete backbone network in Africa as well as solutions for fixed connectivity and international mobile services.

Cameroon: Registration rules - The three mobile operators have been fined a combined XAF 3.5 billion (USD 5.99 million) by the Agence Regulation des Telecommunications (ART) for failing to comply with SIM registration rules. Jeune Afrique reports that Orange Cameroon was fined XAF 1.5 billion (USD 2.57 million), and market leader MTN and Viettel (Nexttel) were each fined XAF 1.0 billion (USD 1.71 million). The three have also been instructed to improve the quality of services within a month.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Better broadband - A delegation from Konnect Africa, the African subsidiary of Eutelsat, arrived on 2 July 2019 for a 3-day working visit to enhance the success of its operations, which it launched on 28 November 2018. The delegation comprised Executive VP for Global Broadband Services, Beatrice Beau; Broadband Global Vice-President, Jean-Claude Tshipama; Africa Broadband Chief Executive Officer, Philippe Oliva; Director Eutelsat group, Philippe Baudrier; Sales Manager Broadband Global and Marketing Director Broadband Global, Sarah Perez. It met with its trading partners. Beau said: "Congo is a big country, but unfortunately it does not have broadband Internet everywhere. And our goal is to cover the entire territory within twelve to thirteen months."

Egypt: Mobile money - Telecom Egypt has partnered with Banque Misr to launch mobile money operations under its banking banner, WE. The new service will carry out traditional remittance and savings activities, with international remittances in the longer term. 32.8 percent of the Egyptian adult population has a mobile money account.

Equatorial Guinea: New regulators - Newly appointed ORTEL Technical Director, Candido Muatetema Baita, and Deputy Technical Director. Gema Obiang Mangue, formally took up their responsibilities on 4 July at a ceremony presided over by the Delegate Minister of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications, Joaquín Elema, the Equatorial Guinea Information and Press Office reported. The appointments were originally confirmed in Decree number 48/2019, of 22 May.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Ghana: Dodgy devices detected - The government, through the Ministry of Communication, intends to develop a system that will be able to track and switch off all stolen phones, MyJoyOnline reported. The Ministry is currently setting up a Central Equipment Registry, and will be able to detect and track the unique International Mobile Equipment Number for all smartphones in the country. Every user will be required to register their phone to enable tracking in the event of theft. The Minister of Communication, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful is awaiting cabinet approval, with the aim that the system will be ready for use by the end of 2019. Owusu-Ekuful is reported to have said that it will be able to detect the entry to the country of unauthorized phones.

Ghana: Points mean prizes - MTN Ghana has launched a mobile money promotion offering ten cars and 1,000s of prizes. The promotion runs until 31 August, with 1,000 prizes every month for three months, including Hyundai cars, Samsung UHD smart TVs and e-cash of up to GHS 3,000 (USD 550). Winners accumulate points during the month to win any of the prizes by undertaking transactions from their wallet to merchants for retail payments, transferring from their wallets to other wallets and purchasing data and airtime, paying bill, etc.

Kenya: Safe pair of hands - Safaricom’s board has appointed Michael Joseph as acting CEO following the death of Bob Collymore on 1 July. Joseph is currently the chairman of Kenya Airways and previously served as the CEO of Safaricom. The board said Joseph will hold this position until a permanent appointment is made. It added that it was confident that during this transition, Joseph would provide the necessary guidance and leadership.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Liberia: School fees - Lonestar Cell MTN is working with Liberian-owned technology group Mwetana and the University of Liberia (UL) to enable students to pay their fees via MTN Mobile Money, The New Dawn reported. The University has transitioned from manual to digital registration of students. Lonestar said that the platform has removed hurdles that students from government-owned schools faced in paying their tuition and other fees initially, noting that over 20,000 senior high students have paid their fees through MTN Mobile Money.

Mauritius: Most mature - Mauritius remains the most mature African telecoms market, according to BuddeComm Telecoms' Maturity Index. Algeria and South Africa are now ranked second and third, having displaced Ghana and Tunisia's respective. The index is released annually.

Mozambique: Boxes targeted - The Autoridade Reguladora das Comunicacoes de Mocambique (ARECOM), in coordination with operators and other institutions, has taken action to stop the use of SIM boxes and to hold offenders accountable. In Chimoio, capital of the province of Manica, ARECOM noted that there have been cases of SIM box use.

Niger: Capital 4G - Airtel Niger has launch LTE services in the capital Niamey. It said that services will be expanded to the regional capitals and other main cities in due course. In April 2018 the government awarded Airtel a 4G licence for XOF 12 billion (USD 20.6 million), including additional spectrum in the 1800MHz and 800MHz frequency bands.

Nigeria: 4G+ kicks-off - MTN Nigeria's 4G+ service is now available in Lagos, Abuja, and Port-Harcourt. MTN 4G+ uses 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.

Nigeria: Digital chief - MTN Nigeria has named its first chief digital officer (CDO) as Srinivas Rao, to head its recently created digital services division. Rao will be responsible for MTN's digital strategy and will lead the next level of design, planning and deployment of digital services and channels for customers and partners. Rao brings knowledge and expertise from working with MTN operations in the Middle East and Africa. He spent the last 8 years leading one of MTN's largest operations in its technology development, product innovation and digital transformation programme.

Nigeria: Type approval threatened - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has expressed concern over an influx of substandard phones and other telecom devices into Nigeria, CommunicationsWeek reports. The NCC's Executive Vice Chairman, Umar Danbatta, said that such devices are responsible for a low quality of service and associated hazardous health effects. Danbatta told a forum in Lagos that that NCC is empowered to carry out Type Approval of all communications equipment for use in Nigeria. He added that the Commission will establish and enforce standards for all telecom equipment in operation in Nigeria to ensure that it operates seamlessly and safely within the Nigerian telecom environment.

Rwanda: New CFO - Mark Nkurunziza has been named as MTN Rwanda's new Chief Financial Officer, succeeding Lily Zondo, who has served since 2016. Prior to joining MTN Rwanda, Nkurunziza was CFO for six years at the Rwanda Development Board and as finance manager at RwandAir from 1998 to 2004. He also worked for MTN as a senior financial manager between 2004 and 2012.

Senegal: Regulatory head named - The new Director-General of the Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications et des Postes has been named as Abdoul Ly. The appointment has been made by President Macky Sall, and replaces Abdou Karim Sall, who has been promoted to the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. The post was vacant for two months. He was Managing Director of ABM Technologies, an integrator of IT solutions specializing in the sale of equipment, maintenance and monitoring of IT assets.

Senegal: SIM service - UAE-based Workz Group, a mobile and IoT products provider, has opened a new office in Dakar, Senegal, to serve the West African telecoms market, strengthening the firm's presence in Africa. Workz currently serves 100 clients, including over 25 African network operators. It plans to provide its certified telecoms products such as SIM cards, embedded SIM chips and scratch cards from its Dubai production facilities to the West African market.

South Africa: Home-made movies - Pay-TV operator Multichoice is readying to produce 52 movies and 29 dramas in 2020 in order to increase its overall local offering, Business Insider reports. It also plans to step-up its percentage of total general entertainment spends on local content to 45 percent by 2020, up from 40 percent in 2019. Showmax and DStv Now subscriber numbers had doubled in the past financial year, so that those services combined are now considerably bigger than Netflix in South Africa. The actual numbers were not provided. DStv Now and Showmax are free services offered to all top-tier DStv subscribers, while Netflix uses a paid subscription model.

South Africa: Latest LGs - LG has launched two new smartphones, the premium G8S ThinQ and the mid-range Q60, ITNewsAfrica reported. The LG G8S ThinQ was launched on 8 July in Mirror Black and will be priced from ZAR 11,999 (USD 846). LG's mid-range Q60 device is available now through Vodacom, MTN, and Cell-C in Moroccan Blue and is priced from ZAR 3,699 (USD 261).

South Africa: Mars acquired - Global IT and managed services provider Logicalis Group has acquired Mars Technologies, an IT services business, with offices across South Africa employing 76 staff. Mars Technologies was founded in 1998 in East London, Eastern Cape, with headquarters in Cape Town. It delivers managed IT services ranging from the remote monitoring of networks and servers, managed desktop, anti-virus, cloud backup, and printers, to full outsourcing, with a strong offering to small and mid-market enterprises.

South Africa: Staff sessions - MultiChoice South Africa has officially informed staff in its customer care (call centre) and walk-in centres that it is starting a consultation process as part of the strategic realignment of its customer service delivery model. In a statement, MultiChoice said it completed its first engagement with relevant stakeholders on 28 June. It said it was encouraged by the attendance of all players, including trade union representatives from the Communications Workers' Union (CWU), Media Workers' Association of South Africa (MWASA), and the Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU), as well MultiChoice's own Work Place Forum (WPF). It has agreed to respond to the various representatives on 1 July.

South Africa: Streaming sport - A streaming service for sports fans in South Africa has been introduced by YouTube, ITWeb reported. Users can stream a variety of sports, including basketball, rugby, cricket and football events such as the 2019 NBA Finals, Women's World Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, UEFA Champions and Europa leagues, Absa Premier League and La Liga. YouTube content partnerships head Dayo Olopade said there was a 70 percent increase of views for sports and fitness content on YouTube across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2018, with content garnering more than 61 billion views. Sports content will be available on the respective channels of the sport rights owners and will be available to all YouTube users.

Swaziland: Money campaign - The number of MTN Eswatini mobile money subscribers now stands at 612,463. Corporate communications manager Mandla Luphondvo said it would host its Mobile Money month in August to raise public education through different media platforms. MTN Mobile Money was launched in 2011.

Tanzania: Registration progress - At least 69 percent of mobile subscribers have already registered their SIM cards in the ongoing exercise that requires fingerprint identification, reports the Daily News. Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Atashasta Nditiye said the response of mobile subscribers was good, lauding the National Identification Authority (NIDA) for easing the registration process. The registration of SIMs is taking place in both the mainland and Zanzibar.

Tunisia: Space stirrings - Telnet, a local firm, is partnering with Russia's Sputnix and GK Launch Services to deploy a constellation of 30 satellites to serve Tunisia's IoT sector by 2023. Telnet's CEO Mohamed Frikha said that not only would the project contribute to the creation of new space technologies and telecommunications solutions to meet the needs of the global market, but was expected to prepare the ground for the development of a Tunisian space industry.

Uganda: Mobile money momentum - The volume of mobile money transactions has hit UGX 80 trillion (USD 21.4 billion) in 10 years from launch, according to the Finance State Minister in charge of Planning, David Bahati, speaking at the Africa Blockchain Conference. In 2009 the Bank of Uganda introduced mobile money payment system with a business model that required a partnership between a mobile money operator and a commercial bank. Last week MTN told the Daily Monitor that its mobile money platform had transacted some UGX 30 trillion (USD 8.0 billion) since it started operations 10 years ago.

West Africa: Power project - Eutelsat Communications has contracted with Global Technologies for C-band capacity on its Eutelsat 10A satellite to provide connectivity and communications for the West Africa Power Pool Project (WAPP). Global Technologies was awarded the telecoms part of the project and will leverage the Eutelsat 10A satellite's dedicated coverage of West Africa to monitor the main power distribution sites across the region.

Zimbabwe: Resignation reported - NetOne's Mobile Financial Services (MFS) unit Managing Director, Nkosinathi Ncube, has resigned with immediate effect, the Zimeye news site reported. Ncube reportedly departed on 2 July.

Zimbabwe: Steaming service suspended - Econet Wireless has de-activated customers using its streaming service Kwese Iflix, TechnoMag has reported. The service provider for Kwese Play is no longer supporting the devices for technical reasons, forcing the Econet family to drop the service, with users in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Uganda disconnected on 3 July. Kwese Play, which was launched in 2018, is Econet's Roku-powered streaming platform that uses the Internet to deliver entertainment. In a separate development Econet's satellite TV service Kwese is reported to have been placed into administration the South African newspaper Business Day reported. CEO Joseph Hundah said the company was in talks with creditors and appointed accountants Ernst & Young to manage the process. Kwese's free-to-air business was seen to be too small to sustain the financial burden of its satellite operations, which led to the decision to negotiate with creditors, whilst struggling with the foreign currency restrictions in Zimbabwe. Econet will continue to operate its free-to-air business outside Zimbabwe.

Middle East:

Afghanistan: SIM law enforcement - The Afghanistan Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (ATRA) claims to have confiscated some 234,105 SIM cards sold in contradiction of the Telecom Act and SIM registration procedures. ATRA said in a 4 July statement that the violating companies are to be investigated and then fined. ATRA says that it has also taken strict action with regard to detection and confiscation of SIM boxes and consequently 512 SIM boxes have been recovered from a variety of locations with their operators arrested.

Bahrain: 5G device - Batelco has launched the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3, the first 5G network supported device in Bahrain on 3 July 2019. The Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 was tested on Batelco's 5G network by a professional gamer who commented on the speed of the device when connected to Batelco 5G network, as well as its practicality to use digital applications including social media apps, streaming services and online games as it features a large screen with fast mechanism to switch between apps. Batelco CEO Mikkel Vinter said: "We will also provide our customers with as a variety of different 5G devices over the next few months to cater for our customer needs and preferences."

Kuwait: Carrier billing - Viva Kuwait has launched direct carrier billing with the Middle East's SVOD entertainment platform, StarzPlay. Viva's post- and pre-paid subscribers can now purchase films and TV shows without a credit card, with all purchases charged directly to the customers' monthly bills or pre-paid accounts.

Qatar: Cloud cyber security - Ooredoo Qatar has partnered with Akamai to offer enhanced cloud-based corporate ICT cybersecurity services to its corporate customers. Ooredoo, using Akamai's intelligent platform, provides business customers, particularly in the media, banking and e-commerce markets, with secure, cloud-based services, including content delivery, applications, websites and security services. Ooredoo can offer high-end cybersecurity services including Web Application Firewall (WAF), bot management, client reputation, identity management and malware protection.

Qatar: Customer centre - Vodafone Qatar has inaugurated its Al Sadd call centre which will provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week customer service over all its contact channels. It will manage the inquiries and requests from consumer and enterprise customers.

Saudi Arabia: CTC corrals complaints - Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has published a rating index for telcos in terms of complaints received in 1Q 2019. The total number of complaints dropped 8 percent year-on-year in the quarter, Argaam reported. STC accounted for the largest number of complaints about mobile services, while Mobily recorded the highest number of complaints in terms of fixed line services.

United Arab Emirates: 5G device - Du is to launch the 5G-enabled Huawei Mate 20 X on 18 July with pre-orders being taken from 4 July. The Huawei Mate 20 X will be available at AED 145 (USD ) per month on a 24-month contract. Du customers who sign up for a Huawei Mate 20 X between 4 July and 17 July will receive a free Huawei Watch GT.

United Arab Emirates: Cloud enhancements - Etisalat Digital is collaborating with Microsoft as its strategic partner to provide digital solutions using Microsoft Cloud services. This coincides with the official launch of Microsoft's cloud regions in the UAE, to offer cloud-based services including Azure, Office 365, and ExpressRoute, as well as data residency options for customers. Etisalat Digital is collaborating with Microsoft as a cloud solutions provider, offering integrated connectivity with Microsoft ExpressRoute as well as private cloud services using Azure Stack.

United Arab Emirates: Data plans banned - The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) has instructed mobile network operators Etisalat and du to discontinue their 'pay-per-use data' plans unless this is 'explicitly requested' by the subscribers. Data-on-demand is offered by both Etisalat and du to allow their respective subscribers to pay by the minute access to mobile data. Etisalat has told subscribers that pay-as-you-go data has been blocked from 1 July 2019. TRA earlier announced a new regulatory framework for early termination fees for service contracts provided by licensees. The amendment provided for the deduction of one month's fee for early termination of the service contract. The contract termination fee was one month's fee multiplied by the number of months remaining on the contract. These amendments have been already applied to the new contracts for mobile phone services, and TRA will apply these amendments to other service contracts shortly.