News in Brief 17 July 2019

Africa:

Algeria: Tunisian options - Mobilis is offering pre-paid subscribers travelling to Tunisia the choice of two voice and data roaming add-ons, in partnership with Tunisie Telecom and Orange. For DZD 500 (USD 4.17), customers benefit from 15 voice minutes (covering calls to Mobilis numbers and incoming calls) plus 250 MB of data, valid for 10 days. The allowance increases to 60 minutes and 500 MB of data with the higher-tier DZD 1,200 (USD 10) add-on, valid for 15 days.

Cameroon: Connections considered - President of the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC), Professor Daniel Ona Ondo has said on 5 July in Douala that it is struggling with its integration. The President noted: 'with the weakest infrastructure network and the low rate of intra-community trade, less of 3 percent against an average of 10 percent for the other Regional Economic Communities on the continent, the regional integration hardly to become the engine of the growth and the development of the economies of the Economic Community of the States of Central Africa'. Delegates from the Member States, officials from the Community institutions and technical and financial partners have therefore targeted ten so-called integrative projects. In the telecommunications sector, Cameroon's interconnection project with the CEMAC countries is under active consideration, the cost of which is estimated to be some XOF 5 billion (USD 8.6 million).

Cameroon: Plan players meeting - A consultation between Cameroon and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa for the implementation of the 'Digital Cameroon 2020 Strategic Plan' was launched by the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications of Cameroon, Minette Libom Li Likeng on 4 July 2019 in Yaounde. The meeting brought together all the players of the technological community at the premises of the ECA in the Lake District in Yaounde.

Chad: Cable commissioned - President Idriss Deby Itno has inaugurated a new fibre optic cable in the capital N'Djamena. The 1,204 kilometre Huawei-built cable connects N'Djamena and Adre, the eastern city bordering Sudan, and will reduce the digital divide in the country, according to the President. According to Chad’s Ministry of Posts and New Information and Communication Technologies, telecoms accounts for 3.5 percent of GDP, while the number of subscribers of mobile network operators is around the 7 million mark.

Chad: Digital reduction - The first Chad-Digital digital forum opened on 11 July 2019. During the meeting, the Minister of Posts, Information and Communication Technologies, Idriss Saleh Bachar noted said that '...remarkable progress has been made to reduce the digital divide in Chad and to arrive accordingly.' 1998 when the market was liberalised, two private mobile operators and 18 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) launched their activities. Between 2014 and 2015 nine laws relating to the postal and electronic communications sector were adopted. The government has a programme to build multimedia community centres in the 23 provinces, the first three of which have been implemented in Mongo, Abeche and Amdjarass;

Djibouti: PoP re-homed - Sparkle, the international services arm of the Telecom Italia Group, has announced a deal to move its Djibouti Point of Presence (PoP) into the Djibouti Data Centre (DDC), the first Tier 3 carrier-neutral data centre in East Africa with direct access to all major international and regional cable systems connecting the European, Middle Eastern and Asian markets with Africa. Sparkle said the decision to convert DDC into its IP hub for expansion to East and South Africa will also strengthen the performance of its global Tier-1 IP transit service Seabone, providing connectivity to local and international OTTs, ISPs and content and application providers. It will also be offering DDoS mitigation and cleaning services as well as virtual NAP solutions under the portfolio of services available via DDC.

Chad: Digital reduction - The first Chad-Digital digital forum opened on 11 July 2019. During the meeting, the Minister of Posts, Information and Communication Technologies, Idriss Saleh Bachar noted said that '…remarkable progress has been made to reduce the digital divide in Chad and to arrive accordingly. to the new telecommunications company'. Since 1998 when the market was liberalised, two private mobile operators and 18 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) launched their activities. Between 2014 and 2015 nine laws relating to the postal and electronic communications sector were adopted. The government has a programme to build multimedia community centres in the 23 provinces, the first three of which have been implemented in Mongo, Abeche and Amdjarass; has granted 3G and 4G licenses; set-up the Telecommunications Market Observatory; and inaugurated 930 km Kome - N'Djamena fibre segment. Mobile penetration is reported to have risen to 48 percent. However, Internet access has been disrupted for more than a year.

Ghana: Streamlined payments - A new payment method is to be launched in 2019 using universal QR codes. Vice President Bawumia said the payment system will enable Ghana to move further towards being a cashless society. In future retailers will only need a mobile phone or just a 'yam phone'. According to Bawumia, the universal QR CODE platform is expected to be launched by the fourth quarter of 2019.

Kenya: Census contracts - The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has signed the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Moi University for the supply of some 164,700 digital tablets worth KES 470.5 million (USD 4.5 million) to conduct this year's national population census, Business Daily reported. KNBS Director-General Zachary Mwangi said that the two universities will supply the agency with the tablets which will then be outfitted with tracking software, questionnaires and area maps. The tablets will also get solar chargers for remote, off-grid areas. Moi University will produce 40 percent of the gadgets while JKUAT will assemble the remaining 60 percent. 135,000 enumerators will be employed with 27, 000 content supervisors and 2,700 ICT supervisors.

Kenya: Space collaboration - Kenya is readying to work with China's space agency in order to advance its satellite technology, Xinhua reported. The Kenya Space Agency's space engineer Charles Maina Mwangi told the news agency that Kenya is seeking international partners who have expertise and knowledge in the scientific field. In 2018 Kenya launched a local-developed nanosatellite from the international space station. Kenya is also cooperating with Italy in space science. Mwangi said that the Kenya Space Agency is still in its infancy and has yet to develop all frameworks and hence the need to collaborate with international partners. The satellite technology will be used immediately for precision agriculture, forecasting of disasters as well as environmental conservation. It also aims to generate revenues from commercial space missions.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Lebanon: Reduced roaming - Alfa and Touch and their counterparts in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have agreed to reduce the cost of voice and data roaming services both in Lebanon and the GCC countries, Businessnews reports. The decision, which takes immediate effect, reduces roaming costs close to rates offered in Lebanon, according to the Ministry of Telecommunications. The aim is to encourage tourists from the Gulf to visit Lebanon and to facilitate communications services for Lebanese expatriates residing in GCC countries, with users able to use their own SIM.

Mayotte: Faster fibre - Roads users have been advised that fibre deployment work began at the start of July 2019 in Mamoudzou commune for the following sites: Doujani, Passamainty, Kaweni 1 and 2 colleges, M'gombani, on the Kaweni vocational high schools, Mamoudzou 'bamana', Mamoudzou Nord, on the PMI Kaweni and CMS M'TSAPERE. This work is planned within the context of the design, implementation, operation and maintenance (CREM) contract of the public network to implement fibre communication. Five telephone exchanges in the South are being digitalised. The network was built with financial support of the French State as part of the Plan France Very High Throughput (THD) and Europe (FEDER) for a budget of EUR 6 million (USD 6.7 million). The aim is to provide broadband for all in 2020 with speeds reater than 8 Mbit/s and a very high speed of 30 Mbit/s plus by 2021-22. The final phase will continue until 2021 will directly connect 55 priority sites across the island directly to fibre (all colleges, high schools, PMIs, as well as the University and a zone of economic activity).

Mozambique: More capital 4G - Vietnamese-owned Movitel has launched 4G services, with initial coverage limited to the capital city of Maputo, according to @Verdade. Rival Vodacom switched on its own LTE network in September 2018.

Nigeria: Better data plans - MTN Nigeria is cutting the prices of all its data plans and offerings, just two weeks after launching 4G+. CMO Rahul De said users now get up to 30 percent more data for 30-day plans. De said that they would also get up to 100 percent incremental volume for weekly data plans and 25 percent incremental volume for daily plans. Introductory offers include prices starting at NGN 50 (USD 0.14) for a 50 MB bundle or NGN 500 (USD 1.38) for 2 GB, and a 100 percent bonus on data purchases for four months. De said that data bundles were also available via all bank mobile apps, mobile banking channels or by USSD. A 1.5 GB 30-day bundle will now cost NGN 1,000 (USD 2.75), a 2 GB 30-day plan will cost NGN 1,200 (USD 3.30) and 3.5 GB also for 30 days costs NGN 2,000 (USD 5.50).

Nigeria: Edo call centre - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has completed an emergency communication centre in Edo. NCC's director of special duties department, Oluwatoyin Asaju said the centre was designed for response to 112 emergency calls and to direct each call to the appropriate agency. He noted that the state government needed to take over management of the centre as well as the deployment of representatives of the various security agencies to the centre before it could be commissioned.

Nigeria: Financial messaging - Hollaport Technologies has launched a mobile phone application to provide financial inclusion alongside messaging services. Hollaport founder, Kabiru Rabiu said the app will ease financial transactions for smartphone; the app is available on the Google Playstore and the iOS Appstore. Users can send and receive money using their phone contacts. Other features include airtime top-up; payments for cable, electricity and data subscription; and a paycode system that enables recipients to withdraw cash from an ATM without a card or bank account.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Nigeria: ICT innovation - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has commissioned a research steering committee on ICT innovation, the Vanguard reported. The committee will drive innovation and manufacturing in the telecoms sector. Executive vice-chairman of the NCC, Umar Danbatta said that innovation all over the world is what drives social and economic transformation.

Nigeria: Listing lift-off - Airtel Africa has completed its listing on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, in a flotation that valued the mobile operator at NGN 1.36 trillion (USD 374.4 billion). This is the bourse's third-largest stock by market capitalization, Reuters reported. Airtel offered shares in its African unit three weeks ago via a London IPO and said it would dual list in Nigeria, its biggest market in Africa. It listed the shares at NGN 363 (USD 1) each in Lagos.

Nigeria: Rising star - A new report released by the Internet World Statistics places Nigeria among the top 20 Internet users globally. In 'Top 20 Internet Countries Statistics 2019' released on 31 May 2019, the Chief Executive Officer of Spectranet Limited, Ajay Awasthi said Nigeria ranked seventh among the top 20 Internet countries, placed behind China, which topped the list with India, USA, Brazil, Indonesia and Japan taking second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth positions respectively. Nigeria, with a population of 200 million people, has over 111 million Internet users and recorded growth of some 55,716 percent, representing the increase in the number of Internet users between the years 2000 and 2019. Internet Service Provider (ISP) Spectranet has launched 4G LTE Internet service in Nigeria, and Awasthi noted that there had been a significant shift in usage behaviour from day time tonight time driven by Youtubers, online bloggers and other online entrepreneurs. There are 4.1 billion Internet users in the world as at December 2018. This is compared to 3.9 billion Internet users in mid-2018 and about 3.7 billion Internet users in late 2017. Europe is a runner up with 16.8 percent of all Internet users.

Nigeria: Strategic partnership - Subex, a telecom software provider, has signed a strategic partnership with Rhino Niger Networks. Subex's technical expertise will be leveraged with Rhino's local presence and knowledge of the local and regional market in general. Subex said the partnership is based on complementary competencies and will enable Subex to strengthen its presence in Nigeria and other African markets. Rhino Niger Networks offers digital services covering assurance, fraud prevention, and network data governance among others.

South Africa: Free Netflix - Telkom South Africa is offering certain new and existing customers a three-month, standard Netflix subscription valued at ZAR 417 (USD 30) via a voucher, Mybroadband reported. It can be used to stream TV and films on two devices at the same time in HD. To qualify, existing subscribers must be on an eligible product, such as ADSL/Fibre 4 Mbps or faster, Freeme 5GB or higher plans and all SmartBroadband (LTE) plans. The promotion is also available to new customers who sign up for a SmartBroadband Wireless service with 5 GB, 10 GB, 20 GB, 50 GB or 100 GB, or for freeMe with 5 GB, 10 GB, 20 GB or Unlimited for 24 months.

South Africa: Mobile insurance - MTN South Africa is to offer Sanlam group financial services through its digital platforms, ITWeb reorted. Sanlam is the largest African insurer and will offer its insurance products on MTN's mobile app, Website and USSD platforms. MTN will provide the platforms, payment system and clientele distribution, while Sanlam will provide the insurance products, regulatory compliance and capital. Sign-up will be done via any device attached to the MTN network.

South Africa: Spectrum shortage - Rain's mobile network quality has deteriorated over the last three months, with the average download speed declining from 21.62Mbps to 17.91Mbps according to MyBroadband Insight's Q2 2019 Mobile Network Quality Report, which was last released this week. The report showed a strong improvement by MTN, Vodacom and Telkom, with the average download speed in South Africa rising from 24.20Mbps in 1Q19 to 25.67 Mbps in 2Q19.

Sudan: Internet restored - The network operators have started the restoration of mobile Internet access, weeks after service was officially cut off, Al Jazeera reported. The ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) cut access after government forces opened fire on demonstrators at a peaceful sit-in in Khartoum on 3 June, and killing more than 100 people. As previously reported, a court ordered that services should be restored after lawyer Abdelazim al-Hassan launched a legal suit. The restoration was limited to fixed lines, and further action was required for 3G and 4G mobile services to be restored. The court issued its second order on 9 July to Zain, MTN and Sudani to restore services.

Zimbabwe: DNS consultation - The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has said that it will review the current Domain Name System (DNS) framework. In an advertisement the regulator said the review will address several weaknesses in the current framework and to achieve full alignment with international entities in the DNS arena. The objectives will be to create a framework which is future proof and which will allows the benefits from using the .zw namespace; ensure a strong uptake of .zw domains; ensure sustainability in the management of .zw Domains; and simplify registration of .zw domains to encourage rapid adoption. Public inputs or comments to the DNS Framework are invited by 9 August.

Middle East:

Iraq: Expansion for Ericsson - MNO Asiacell has selected Ericsson to expand its network coverage and enhance end-user experience. Ericsson will provide network design and optimisation and expand services in order to deliver better user experience and ensure efficient handling of traffic during mass events. The agreement presents a continuation of a long-term partnership to enhance Asiacell's network performance. Ericsson will also offer 24-hour network monitoring, problem restoration and performance enhancement services.

Israel: Google acquisition - Cloud storage specialist Elastifile has been acquired by Google for an undisclosed sum. In a blog post, Google CEO Thomas Kurian said Elastifile's team will join Google Cloud upon completion of customary closing conditions by the end of the year. Kurian said that Google's teams intend to integrate Elastifile with Google Cloud Filestore. The company recently launched Elastifile File Service on Google Cloud Platform, and customers such as Appsbroker, eSilicon and Forbes now use the latest Elastifile solutions on GCP. CTech put the value of the deal at around USD 200 million.

United Arab Emirates: 5G devices - Etisalat start selling the Huawei Mate 20 X at its stores on 12 July, and started taking reservations for the 5G smartphone on 1 July. Etisalat customers can now access services at up to 1 Gbps and with latency of around 1 millisecond. The device retails for AED 3,523 (USD 960), or opt for Smart Pay plans on a twelve, 18, or 24-month contract starting from AED 153 (USD 42). Customers purchasing the device with a new or existing prepaid account can dial star 056 hash and receive a deal of the day such as 1 GB for three months, 3 GB for two months or 10 GB for one month.

United Arab Emirates: Local content - Starz Play, a subscription video-on-demand (SVoD) service, is due to launch its first Arabic original series based in the UAE, Arabian Business. CEO Maaz Sheikh said that the series will be sensitive to regional cultural values following the backlash following Netflix's controversial Jordanian series Jinn, which included intimate scenes, alcohol consumption and vulgar language. Starz Play has a market share in the region at 29 percent of subscriptions and 32 percent of revenue, according to the IHS Markit Pay TV & Online Video Report for MENA for 2019. It has 1.2 million users in MENA.