News in Brief 8 August 2019

Africa:

Algeria: CEO named - Ooredoo Algeria has appointed Nikolai Beckers as CEO effective 3 August. Beckers has previously served as CEO of Bakcell and Romtelecom.

Angola: Pay-TV price rises - Pay-TV operators TVCabo and Zap are to increase prices by 13 percent, Menos Fios reported. The new rate cards for TV and Internet packages will be effective from 1 September. According to the operators, the price hike is based on an agreement reached with regulator Inacom in March 2019.

Cameroon: Digital evolution - Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) now has a 25 percent national coverage rate according to the Minister of Communication and Media, Sidi Tiemoko Toure. The Minister noted: "To date, [DDT] 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". To facility the switchover, the government has reduced the tax burden on the equipment required, and has capped prices. The maximum price of the MPEG-4 decoder, DVB-T2 is set at XAF 10,000 (USD 16.93), and the UHF antenna is set at XAF 6,000 (USD 10.16). In total, the user will have to pay a maximum of XAF 16,000 (USD 27.09) to access the TNT signal.

Cameroon: School fees - Mobile network operator Orange Cameroon has been removed from the list of operators selected for the payment by electronic means of tuition fees in public secondary schools in Cameroon Minister of Secondary Education Pauline Nalova Lyonga said in a statement. With the exception of Orange, the government is reported to have renewed the contract of the other three companies selected last year; namely MTN Cameroon, Campost and Express Union, the lebledparle newsportal reported. According to a report by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (Minpostel) on telecoms in Cameroon, the penetration rate of mobile telephony was 83 percent in 2016. Payment of fees for the 2019-20 school year started on 5 August 2019, with the school year starting on 2 September 2019 and ending on 31 July 2020.

Cameroon: Training facility - Camtel and the University of Yaounde signed a partnership deal last week for the construction of a Centre for Innovation and Training in Artificial Intelligence adapted to Digital, cio-mag reported. Rector Professor Maurice Sosso, at the signing ceremony students and young teachers will have 'the opportunity to take full advantage of technological and scientific opportunities that are generated by the Digital activation of Camtel's innovation centre in the field of artificial intelligence'. The value of the centre is put at XAF 1.3 billion (USD 2.2 million). Camtel intends to train at least 100 students in the first year of operation, of which 25 percent of these will benefit from a full scholarship fully supported by the structure, its partners and the University of Yaounde through its polytech engineering school.

Equatorial Guinea: Fibre accord - On 26 July 2019 a working session was held between the Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications with a delegation from Gabon. The aim of the meeting was to negotiate agreements for the connection of fibre networks, as well as the free movement of people and goods between the two countries. The Equatorial Guinean Transport Minister, Ovono Ondo, for his part, thanked his Gabonese counterpart, Rigobert Ikambouayat Ndeka, for visiting to Equatorial Guinea, and said that it is expected to sign a memorandum in September for the framework agreement, after the approval of the Head of State, according to the Information and Press Office of Equatorial Guinea.

Ghana: CIO named - MTN Ghana has named Bernard Acquah as the Chief Information Officer responsible for managing IT Strategy, Budgets, Applications, Network, Hardware and Management of MTN's large IT team. Prior to taking up post he was the CIO of Vodafone Ghana, and brings to MTN Ghana significant experience in Technology and Finance and Banking related roles from his work at Citigroup, Credit Suisse, UT Holdings, WestLB AG, Goldman Sachs, Mint Global and Abbey National, in addition to over 6 years at Vodafone Ghana.

Ghana: Continental aspirations - Zeepay is aiming to reach more than 150 million mobile money wallets in 20 African countries as it partners global remittance providers to transfer money directly to these mobile money wallets. Zeepay's Managing Director, Andrew Takyi-Appiah, speaking at the launch of Ria2Mobile in partnership with Ria Money Transfer and GT Bank in Accra, said: "We are grateful to GT Bank and RIA for such a wonderful opportunity to do more through this initiative. Such opportunities are what have made it possible for Zeepay to reach over 150 million mobile money subscribers across 20 countries in Africa and become a household name in remittance termination on the continent." Zeepay said the Ria2Mobile service, which enables Ria customers globally to send money directly into beneficiaries' mobile money wallets in Ghana, was part of an initiative launched by GT Bank and Ria in 2017 that enabled users to receive remittances straight into their GT Bank accounts. Markets to be targeted include Cameroon, Guinea, Mozambique, Rwanda, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania and Nigeria.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Global: Tower growth - American Tower has raised its full-year guidance after reporting upturns in revenue, tenant billings, AFFO and profits for the second quarter. Revenue increased by 6.1 percent year on year to USD 1.89 billion, with property revenue up 5.7 percent to USD 1.85 billion. In the second quarter American Tower spent some USD 43 million to acquire 256 communications sites and other related assets, primarily in international markets.

Kenya: Content channel investment - StarTimes Kenya is to invest KES 200 million (USD 1.93 million) to launch with local content production. CEO Andy Wang said Rembo TV will air content developed by Kenyans for Kenyans. The company is working with over 30 local content developers on the development of Rembo TV, an entertainment channel with a focus on reality shows targeting women and around 60 percent Kiswahili content, 30 percent English and 10 percent vernacular. Wang said that Rembo TV will be available also in Tanzania and Uganda.

Kenya: Discounted subscriptions - In August and September Safaricom is offering a 50 percent discount on new Safaricom Home fibre subscriptions. The company is also looking to extend its fibre coverage to more than 15,000 additional homes over the next two months. Some of the areas to be covered include parts of Kisumu and Thika, Kizingo in Mombasa, and Kinoo, Komarock and Ruaka in Nairobi. The service currently reaches more than 300,000 homes, with more than 107,000 customers connected in Nairobi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu, Nakuru, Nyeri and Thika.

Kenya: M-Pesa investment - Safaricom has invested some KES 407 million (USD 3.9 million) in its international mobile money transfer business as part of its efforts to expand the usage of the M-Pesa platform. The investment was made through Instaconnect, a subsidiary which the firm acquired in 2010 and which previously provided content services. The international money transfer business was rolled out through Instaconnect and additional capital injected by acquiring assets worth KES 397 million (USD 3.8 million) and a cash transfer of KES 10 million (USD 96,000), Safaricom said in its latest annual report. Safaricom said that M-Pesa Global handled KES 101 billion (USD 966 million) or a third of all diaspora remittances into the country in the year ended March.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Liberia: Solar systems payments - MTN Liberia and Mercy Corps have launched a mobile money payment mechanism for solar home systems, The Observer reported. PayGo enables households to buy solar systems and pay in installments instead of upfront payment. So far, partner private sector distributors have installed over 1,100 pay as you go systems. The new service will allow users to make monthly repayment amounts on a 30-day cycle. This initiative was made possible under the EU-funded Light Up Liberia programme.

Kenya: Fraudsters fired - Safaricom has sacked 31 fraudulent staff in the year ended March 2019, the Business Daily reported citing the company's annual report. This compares to the 43 it sacked a year earlier. Safaricom said that the risk of not detecting a material misstatement resulting from fraud is higher than for one resulting from error, as fraud may involve collusion, forgery, intentional omissions, misrepresentations, or the override of internal control. In the period it investigated a total of 43 fraud cases and issued two disciplinary warnings. It also reported fifteen cases to law enforcement agencies.

Kenya: KRC railroaded - Telkom Kenya has gone to court to compel Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC) to settle a KES 217 million (USD 2.1 million) bill for services rendered from the 1980s until 2007, Business Daily reported. Telkom had supplied Public Switched Telephone Network and Data Services. In 2017, Telkom obtained a judgment against KRC for KES 217 million together with interest and is seeking intervention after attempts it made to recover the amount have failed, despite several requests since July 2018. KRC says it sought to appeal, which it was allowed to by the Court of Appeal. It says Telkom has made its demands whilst knowing that an appeal was being mounted.

Kenya: M-Pesa expansion - Safaricom is to focus on expanding its M-Pesa mobile financial services business outside Kenya, Reuters has reported. Interim CEO Michael Joseph said that he will lead the company until the board finds a permanent CEO. Joseph is a board member and served as CEO until 2010, when Bob Collymore took over. Collymore had told Reuters in May that Safaricom and Vodacom would buy the intellectual property rights of M-Pesa from Vodafone for KES 1.4 billion (USD 13.4 million) so that they could expand the service in Africa. M-Pesa now serves more than 22.6 million people in Kenya. Joseph also said he would work on the data business to achieve a better balance between consumption and revenue growth.

Maldives: 5G launched - Network operator Dhiraagu has commercially launched 5G service in selected areas of the following 3 regions: Male, Villimale, Hulhumale and Velana International Airport; Addu City, Hithadhoo, as well as Haa Dhaalu Atoll, Kulhudhuffushi. Users in these locations who have 5G compatible devices will be able to access the service with no additional data charges and without needing to replace their existing Dhiraagu SIMs. The 5G service is available for Huawei Mate 20X (5G) phones on Dhiraagu Network; Huawei was the operator's major partner in this project.

Nigeria: NCC fines - The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has fined Airtel Nigeria and 9mobile some NGN 127 million (USD 349,000), CommunicationsWeek reported citing the commission's latest enforcement report. Airtel paid NGN 122 million (USD 335,000), for disconnecting another operator from its network without the NCC's approval as well as billing subscribers for value added services after the latter had activated full Do-Not-Disturb messages. 9mobile was found to have subscribed eleven lines on full DND to VAS. Although both Airtel Nigeria and 9mobile reportedly claimed to have technical challenges in disconnecting affected numbers, the Commission imposed a fine of NGN 5 million (USD 13,700) each on the operators.

South Africa: Community services - The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) has announced that it will lift the moratorium on applications for class community sound broadcasting service licences and applications for radio frequency spectrum for community broadcasting. ICASA said this is in line with the new Community Broadcasting Services Regulations. ICASA has to now publish an invitation to apply by submitting a pre-registration notice; decide on the pre-registration notice within 90 days from the closing date for submission; and if it is satisfied that the applicant meets the requirements for a licence, it will inform the applicant in writing. The applicant may then apply for the community broadcasting service licence within 30 days. ICASA will publish an invitation for prospective applicants to submit a pre-registration notice and list of available frequencies in each district and local municipality as per the Terrestrial Broadcasting Frequency Plan 2013, within three months of the publication of the notice.

South Africa: Corporate affairs appointment - MultiChoice Africa has appointed Reatile Tekateka as executive head of corporate affairs with effect from 1 August. Tekateka is reporting to Hennie Visser, CEO of MultiChoice Africa. She holds an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration from the same institution. Tekateka gained experience in a career of more than thirteen years in media, financial services and mining.

South Africa: Tower thefts - MTN South Africa has seen a rise in battery theft and vandalism involving its towers. MTN's GM of Network Operations, Ernest Paul, said that MTN had some 733 batteries stolen from its sites across the country in April. The worst areas are currently Soweto, Tembisa, Vereeniging and Parktown. MTN recorded 125 incidents of battery theft last week, up from 74 the week before. To replace batteries at 100 sites is estimated to cost well over ZAR 10 million (USD 675,000) and then several more millions would be required to cover the costs of fixing the damage done to the towers.

Uganda: Money momentum - The value of mobile money transactions in the three months to December 2018 grew by 21.1 percent to UGX 18 trillion (USD 4.84 billion) from UGX 14.8 trillion (USD 4.0 billion) in September 2018, according to a report released by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). The report, published by the Daily Monitor, said the balance on customer accounts grew 17.4 percent to UGX 338 billion (USD 90.8 billion) from UGX 288 billion (USD 77.4 million). The number of transactions rose by 12.8 percent from the third quarter. Mobile money transfers are recovering after the government imposed a new tax on the service. There was also an increase in the number of agents from 163,082 in January to 184,529 in December 2018.

Zimbabwe: Boards named - The government has appointed boards for the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Transmedia Corporation and Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) with immediate effect. The Minister for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa, said that the appointments followed consultations with President Mnangagwa. The ZBC board will be chaired by Josaya Tai. Transmedia's board will be chaired by Ambassador Mary Mubi. The BAZ board chair will be announced in due course.

Middle East:

Bahrain: e-recycling - Zain Bahrain has launched its e-Waste Recycling Initiative with the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) and Crown Industries to promote and manage recycling of electronic waste. This follows Zain's first and second mobile phone and e-waste recycling campaigns in 2011 and 2015. A large drop box is available at Zain's headquarters for staff to place any unwanted or expired electronic waste. The e-waste drop box is collected daily by Crown Industries,who will then export the items to different parts of the world to be recycled according to international standards.

Israel: IBC investment - Cellcom has said that it has completed its investment in Israel Broadband Corporation (IBC) and the sale of its fibre-optic infrastructure in residential areas to IBC. Cellcom paid ILS 55 million (USD 15.6 million) for its indirect stake in IBC, the majority of which is to be indirectly provided as a shareholder loan to IBC. Cellcom received ILS 180 million (USD 51.0 million) for its independent fibre-optic infrastructure in residential areas which was financed entirely through shareholder loans indirectly provided to IBC by the company and Israel Infrastructure Fund (IIF) each in the amount of ILS 90 million. As a result of the transactions, Cellcom's net cash increased by ILS 35 million (USD 9.9 million).

Kuwiat: Hajj offer - Viva Kuwait has announced its special Hajj offer for post-paid subscribers during the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. From 2 to 16 August, they can enjoy free unlimited Internet, by sending H1 to 102. Viva announced another offer for both post and pre-paid subscribers, for KWD 12 (USD 39), that grants them unlimited data, SMS and calls to Kuwait and inside KSA, by sending H to 102, on STC's network in Saudi Arabia.

Kuwait: Security services - Zain Kuwait has selected Fortinet as the preferred vendor of providing managed CPE and Secure SD-WAN for its new managed security services offering for SMEs. Zain is a Fortinet managed security service provider (MSSP) partner. The new services feature a wide range of capabilities, including a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) with full cyber security capabilities, integrated WiFi access point and LTE network connectivity to support customers throughout Kuwait. Customers can also benefit from the integrated SD-WAN capabilities of FortiWiFi, combining full SD-WAN functionality with full security.

Qatar: Passport packs - Ooredoo Qatar's Qatarna Packs and Ooredoo Passport services are now available in Lebanon. Qatarna customers traveling to Lebanon can use up to 100 GB roaming data. Other customers can activate an Ooredoo Passport for use during their stay. A new Ooredoo passport is automatically activated once allowances have been used up. If users forget to activate an Ooredoo Passport before they travel, an Ooredoo Passport will automatically be activated once roaming charges reach QAR 100 (USD 27.45).

Turkey: Turkcell translation - A10 Networks has said that Turkcell has adopted its virtualised carrier-grade network address translation (CGNAT) platform to better support existing services and prepare its infrastructure for 5G enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), as well as residential subscribers. The vThunder CGN platform supports up to 100 Gbps in a single virtual machine. The vThunder CGN platform also provides increased security to protect the services and infrastructure.

United Arab Emirates: Magic device - Honor has launched the Honor 20 Pro, with a 111 DxOMark rated quad-camera with a wide aperture of f/1.4 and Ultra-High ISO sensitivity of up to 204,800. It is priced at AED 1,999 (USD 544) and comes with 256 GB storage (no microSD support), 8 GB of RAM and Kirin 980 processor. The device runs Magic 2.1, Honor's own UI skin that works on top of Android 9 Pie and looks identical to Huawei's EMUI. The phone started selling on 2 August.