News in Brief 1 August 2019

Africa:

Algeria: Price competition - Ooredoo Algeria's revenues fell 3 percent to QAR 1.3 billion (USD 350.4 million) in the first half of 2019 compared with QAR 1.4 billion for the same period in 2018, hit by the depreciation of the Algerian Dinar. It said there was intense price competition and weak consumer confidence, political uncertainty and economic instability. EBITDA was QAR 459 million (USD 123.7 million), down from QAR 557 million (USD 150.1 million) in 1H 2018. Ooredoo Algeria said it is expanding 4G coverage to 58 percent of the population in 48 wilayas, supporting the more than doubled data traffic and preparing its business to capture future growth.

Cameroon: Professional platform - MTN Cameroon launched MTN Fusion, a collaboration platform between the operator and companies. It brings together MTN's current and future partners to provide greater value to its professional and business clientele. New services will be identified that MTN Business can tailor for each client group, whether start-ups, SMEs, multinationals, non-governmental organisations, public or para-public enterprises.

Cape Verde: African first? - The Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Olavo Correia, said that Cape Verde aims to be one of the first African countries to implement 5G technology, according to Jornal Economico. The government is counting on the support of China and, in particular, Huawei, with which a strategic medium-term agreement was established to make Cape Verde a digital nation and to gradually introduce 5G. He was speaking at a 5G workshop organised by Huawei and the regulatory agency ARME in Praia.

Cote d'Ivoire: Digital coming - The government estimates there is a 25 percent national coverage rate for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT). According to Minister of Communication and Media, Sidi Tiemoko Toure, has said: "to date, the TN covers 25 percent of the national population. By 17 June 2020, we will cover 100 percent of the territory. Operators selected for the deployment of DTT will make their signals available by the end of 2019". The Minister added that the analogue signal will be on 17 June 2020, and the government has reduced the tax burden on domestic digital equipment, and has capped prices in the markets. The maximum allowed price of the MPEG-4 decoder, DVB-T2 is set at XOF 10,000 (USD 17.12), and a UHF antenna is set at XOF 6,000 (USD 10.27). In total, the user will have to pay a maximum of XOF 16,000 to access the digital signal.

Egypt: Research vehicle - A mini-satellite has been consigned to the International Space Station, where it will be put into orbit next week, MENA news agency reports citing a senior Egyptian official. The CubeSat was completely designed, built and tested in Egypt, said Mohamed Zahran, chief of the National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences. Egypt cooperated with the Japanese Space Agency to test the satellite before it was shipped to the US, where it was launched 27 July among other items by a Falcon-9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Zahran added. The satellite has a mass of 1 kg and cost around EGP 1 million (USD 60,200) and is for research purposes. Another satellite of the same kind is to be launched within two months.

Kenya: Seats filled - Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Joe Mucheru, has appointed four members to the board of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA). According to a gazette notice, Mahmoud Mohamed Noor, Paul Muraguri Mureithi, Laura Chite and Jackson Kiprotich Kemboi were appointed. The CA's board comprises a chairman appointed by the President, seven members appointed by the cabinet secretary, ministry of ICT, and principal secretaries from ministries of ICT, the National Treasury and that of the Interior Ministry. The four will serve for a three-year term effective from 18 July.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Malawi: Payment partnership - Multichoice Malawi and FDH Bank have partnered so that subscribers of DStv and GOtv accounts can pay their fees through the bank's platforms. Subscribers will be able to pay their subscription fees through the bank's 52 service centres, 92 ATMs, over 200 Banki Pakhomo agents and mobile phones. The payment system will be accessible to customers and non-customers of the bank at no cost.

Nigeria: Duo of devices - Airtel Nigeria has introduced two affordable 4G smartphones, the Airtel Diva for NGN 20,000 (USD 55) and Airtel Top Notch for NGN 23,000 (USD 63.33). Purchasers can benefit from the Airtel Double Data offer, which provides a 100 percent bonus data on every bundle from NGN 500 (USD 1.38) and above. After buying the Airtel Diva or Airtel Top Notch, they should insert their Airtel SIM card and text the keyword, 'get' to shortcode '141'. Both devices are dual SIM with the first SIM slot locked to the Airtel network.

Nigeria: Showmax streaming - A new Video on Demand service has been launched by Showmax for NGN 2,900 (USD 8) per month, streaming Nigerian television shows and films, international hit series, Hollywood blockbusters, and a Big Brother Naija partnership with live streaming and exclusive new BBNaija shows. Showmax said the partnership with Big Brother Naija will include streaming of the Sunday night evictions, and two new BBNaija shows that are exclusive to Showmax. Showmax offers a two-week free trial under which viewers can cancel within the first fourteen days and pay nothing.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Senegal: Centre construction - The Ministry of Telecommunications has said that it plans to construct digital centres in each of the country's 45 departments, Agence Ecofin reported. Minister Ndeye Ticke Ndiaye Diop said the project will bring administrative services closer to the public, save time and money. Citizens will be able to pay their taxes, request a birth certificate, driving licence, building permit or criminal record certificate, among other things. A total of 700 administrative services and procedures should be accessible to the public by 2025 according to the State IT Agency (ADIE). The agency says the first centres will be installed in Louga, Saint-Louis, Thies, Kaolack and Fatick.

South Africa: Amazon openings - Amazon Web Services (AWS) has over a hundred vacancies as it plans to launch its Africa Region division in the first half of 2020, BusinessTech reported. The group has had a presence in Cape Town since 2004. A year ago the group had just over 50 vacancies listed but this has since more than doubled to 118 posts. Openings include software developers, support engineers, infrastructure managers, UX designers, data scientists and security experts. Many of the posts require multilingual professionals, speaking Dutch and German, and cover work on its different systems including AWS, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and E2M. All positions are located in Cape Town, and Amazon is offering a comprehensive relocation package.

South Africa: New MD named - Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has appointed President Ntuli as the Managing Director for HPE South Africa with effect from 1 August. Ntuli has joined HPE South Africa from Dimension Data MEA, where he held the position of regional executive of sales for South-East Africa. Before Dimension Data, he had six years at HPE leading the Servers business unit and holding various sales manager roles.

Zimbabwe: COO steps down - Econet Wireless has announced that its Chief Operating Officer, Fayaz King, will be taking up a new role at the United Nations at the end of September. Econet CEO Douglas Mboweni commended King, who joined Econet in 2015, for his contribution to the business, saying he had distinguished himself very well as a colleague and a professional. King will be taking up the role of deputy executive director for field results and innovation at the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Zimbabwe: Platform extension - Mobile network operator TelOne has expanded its Discovery Digital to twelve news, entertainment and inspiration channels, which are available for free to customers, and eight new entertainment channels added to the Pay TV section, The ZimbabweSituation reported. The free channels are Al Jazeera, Africa News, TRT World, Russia Today, France 24, Deutsche Welle, God TV, HopeChannel, SBN, Inspiration TV, KayaTV and RT documentaries. These are in addition to the Zollywood collection of domestic films added to TelOne's DEOD platform in April.

Zimbabwe: Solar solutions sought - Econet Wireless is seeking some USD 60 million from global financial markets to make its infrastructure renewable energy-compliant as it seeks to build resilience from power shortages, the New Zimbabwe reported. Econet experienced an outage on 20 July, which saw its mobile money system, Ecocash, directly affected. Econet said the cost of fuel had risen some 500 percent while the local currency has lost 900 percent in value to date.

Middle East:

Israel: Impaired Pelephone - Bezeq has said that it may have to write down the value of its mobile subsidiary Pelephone, by some ILS 800 - 1.1 billion (USD 227 - 312 million). Bezeq noted that, as part of the preparation of its financial statements for 2Q 2019, the Pelephone board had held a meeting 'regarding indications of a decline in value and the multi-year forecast ….'. As a result, Bezeq said it was making the announcement regarding a possible impairment of Pelephone's value after considering the cash flow forecast. It did though add that the figures provided is an 'initial internal estimate', and said that an external valuation will be carried out, 'as a result of which it is possible that the impairment on the company's books will be different and even materially different'.

Middle East & Africa: Regional expansion - Vivo is to target the Middle East and Africa and is to launch its latest Y series smartphones in the region. Vivo's products are now available in UAE and Morocco, with Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to follow in the next few months. The Y12, Y15 and Y17 provide a different balance of design, photography features and performance. They have an 89 percent screen-to-body ratio, AI triple camera and Magical Color Fusion. Its latest V15 Pro is the first model after the NEX to incorporate an elevating front camera.

Oman: Enhanced pack - Ooredoo Oman's Visitor Packs now offer tourists and business travellers to Oman extra data, particularly during the Khareef season. From 24 July until 22 October, the pre-paid mobile SIM for OMR 5 (USD 13) has been upgraded to give 4 GB of data, 50 minutes of international and local calls and 50 SMS, valid for ten days. Visitors staying longer, the OMR 10 (USD 26) pack provides 10 GB data, 50 minutes of international and local calls and 50 SMS, valid for fifteen days. The Visitor Packs are available to buy at Salalah Airport and from Ooredoo outlets.

Qatar: Increased content - Ooredoo Qatar has doubled the number of channels on the Zee Family Package without increasing rates. The package from the Indian subcontinent now includes seventeen channels instead of the previous nine, with no change to the monthly subscription of QAR 35 (USD 9.55). New channels include WION, Zee Talkies HD, Zee Marathi HD, Zee Yuva, Zee Bangla, Zee Bangla Cinema, Zee Telugu, and Zee Kannada.

Qatar: Steady subscribers - Ooredoo Qatar's revenue fell slightly to QAR 3.7 billion (USD 997.4 million) in the first six months to 30 June compared with QAR 3.9 billion (USD 1.1 billion) in the same period of 2018 due to a fall in handset sales, while EBITDA rose to QAR 2.1 billion (USD 566.1 million) from QAR 2.0 billion (USD 539.1 million) in 2018. Subscriber numbers remained stable at 3.3 million. The EBITDA margin rose to 57 percent from 51 percent in 2018. EBTIDA improvements were driven by a successful and ongoing cost optimisation programme and a more favourable product mix and IFRS 16 impact.

Saudi Arabia: Lite device launch - Huawei Saudi Arabia has started selling the upgraded Huawei P30 lite 48 MP edition with 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. It is available with a gift box bundle for SAR 1,099 (USD 293) in authorised retailers in Saudi Arabia.