News in Brief 15 August 2019

Africa:

Angola: Faster gaming - Angola Cables announced on 8 August that its submarine cable routes, in particular SACS, will facilitate access to Angola's first online gaming portal, QwattiSports. The new gaming portal will feature tournaments on different platforms including consoles, mobile games and of course computers. Angola Cables' Product Manager, Chrysostom Mbundu, said: "Given the robust and combined IP network and the many agreements we have in place with leading CDNs and points of presence at major telecommunications centers, users will benefit from a greater online experience and lower latency while playing." Mbundu concluded: "The platform will also have a strong impact on the empowerment of the Angolan gaming industry and reduce the distance for users in the Southern Hemisphere, giving African players the opportunity to compete with very good pings around the world".

Angola: State stake sales - The Privatisation Programme now includes eight telcos, the Jornal de Angola has reported. As well as Angola Telecom (AT), the list now includes MSTelcom, Net One, Unitel, TV Cabo Angola, Multitel, Angola Cables and Angola Comunicacoes e Sistemas (ACS). Shares in telephone directory publisher ELTA and postal operator ENCTA are also to made available. Telegeography notes MSTelcom is a subsidiary of Sonangol (also in the programme) and fixed-wireless broadband operator Net One is a subsidiary of MSTelcom. MSTelcom is also the holder of a 25 percent stake in mobile market leader Unitel. Cable/fibre operator TV Cabo Angola is 50 percent owned by AT, and the latter also owns a 30 percent stake in corporate data services provider Multitel. BCI-Bank of Commerce & Industry is a fellow shareholder in Multitel with a 20 percent holding, and the bank is also in the programme. Angola Cables is 51 percent owned by AT, with Unitel (31 percent) and MSTelcom (9 percent) also holding stakes in it. Partly-state-owned ACS is a B2B broadband provider based in Luanda.

Cameroon: Arresting moment - Former Director General of the Agence Regulation des Telecommunications (ART), Jean-Louis Beh Mengue, has been detained in Kondengui Prison in Yaounde overnight on 7 August. The ex-DG is accused of misappropriation of funds estimated at several billion XAF. Mengue was dismissal in June 2017, and is reported to have been regularly summoned to the TCS (the Special Criminal Court), which deals with economic crimes. He had been forbidden to leave the national territory. Mengue headed ART for 18 months.

Egypt: Done deal - Veon has said that 1.91 billion shares of Global Telecom were validly tendered and accepted for purchase in its mandatory tender offer ended on 7 August. This gives Veon 98.24 percent of Global Telecom's total outstanding equity. The total purchase price for the shares is EGP 9.725 billion (USD 586.2 million), reflecting the offer price per share of EGP 5.08. The comprehensive restructuring of Global Telecom as announced on 26 June will continue, including progressing with both the delisting of Global Telecom from the Egyptian stock exchange and the offer to acquire substantially all of Global Telecom's operating assets in Algeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Egypt: VR/AR apps - Telecom Egypt and Huawei are to cooperate on VR and AR applications, as well as establishing a joint technology training centre and an innovation lab that will help developers conduct test operations on telecom networks, and train young people, engineers, and technicians in the field. Huawei will provide the software, hardware, and ICT training courses, whilst TE will equip the lab. Huawei will provide training programmes for Egyptian youth, in collaboration with the training institutes and affiliates of the ICT ministry, including the Information Technology Institute (ITI), the National Telecommunication Institute (NTI) and the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA).

Ghana: Mobile money growth - The value of mobile money interoperability transactions reached GHS 217 million (USD 40.2 million) in the first six months of 2019, according to data from the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlements Systems. This represents a 756 percent increase from what was recorded for 2018. In terms of volume, more than 2.5 million transactions were completed for the first half of 2019. The MMI platform recorded more than 4.4 million transactions in its first year of operation. There were some 96,907 transactions in its first month, after which public usage of the cross-network platform grew strongly to 422,275 transactions in December 2018 and 502,873 in May.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Guinea: Mobile money costs cut - MTN Guinea announced on 8 August 2019 the cutting of tariffs by some 30 percent on Mobile Money transactions. According to MTN's Manager of Business Intelligence, Sory Keita, said: "MTN has found that in Guinea there is a need for agent transfer for the population .... our tariffs [are now] lower than the other tariffs of transactions on the Guinean market. This mainly concerns the rates of remittances, i.e. transfers via Mobile Money MoMo." MTN's Marketing Director in Guinea, Cheikh Tidiane Thiandoume, said: ".... we intend to increase financial inclusion in the Republic of Guinea. In addition, we want to make sure that any inhabitant of Guinea wherever he is on Guinean territory has the possibility to have a Mobile Money account (MoMo) and to be able to withdraw his money without much expense."

Mauritius: Peering forum - The tenth Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) is to be held at the Intercontinental Hotel, Balaclava, from 20-22 August 2019. The forum was created to address the fact that most of Africa's local Internet traffic is exchanged outside the continent. At the same time, Africa imported over 99 percent of the Internet traffic consumed, which created an 'Internet Transit Deficit'. Internet Society's Africa Regional Bureau Director, Dawit Bekele, explained: "AfPIF has contributed considerably in changing the Interconnection environment in Africa over the last 10 years. Locally traffic exchanged traffic has increased from less than 1 GB to close to 800 GB today." African IXP Association Co-Coordinator, Kyle Spencer, said 'our target is to localize 80 percent of Africa's Internet traffic by 2020, and I believe we're well on our way. Packet Clearing House reports that Africa currently sees the highest growth of domestic bandwidth production in the world, registering a 92 percent increase from 410 Gbps to 786 Gbps within the last 12 months - and our Internal industry benchmarking data corroborates this."

Namibia: LTE launches - Paratus Namibia has completed the initial phase of its LTE roll-out plan with the launch of LTE in Walvisbay and Swakopmund. Paratus has invested in its own mobile network to privide an alternative to current offerings it said. The infrastructure is independent, from end-to-end and not reliant on any other service provider. Paratus has deployed its own fibre network in Walvisbay and Swakopmund and can also provide Wimax services in both towns.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Niger: Telecom towers assessment - A workshop on the validation of environmental and social impacts of telecom tower operations was held 7 - 10 August and brought together 50 executives from the Ministry of the Environment. In his opening remarks, Secretary General of the Environment, Urban Sanitation and Sustainable Development, Allassane Makadassou, noted that the operation of the towers by Eaton Towers Niger will contribute to significantly improved quality of the various communication systems in the country. However, he noted: that: "Despite the many benefits and opportunities that are certainly expected from the implementation of Eaton towers Niger's activities, we must not lose sight of the negative effects on the biophysical and human environments." The documents to be submitted to the Ministry of the Environment will provide Eaton with a five-year environmental certificate and the establishment of a company programme monitoring committee.

Nigeria: Costs capped - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has capped the amount mobile network operators can charge for a USSD session at NGN 4.89 (USD 0.01) starting in September, the New Telegraph reported. Currently MNOs negotiate the cost with financial service providers to determine what users pay for mobile USSD transactions. The NCC said it had calculated the cost of the network components used to provide the service to determine the provisioning cost for USSD services.

Nigeria: Tower failures - The Nigerian Communications Commission says that it has identified abandoned telecommunication masts and towers located throughout the country. The failure by their owners to maintain the structures over long periods of time has resulted in their technical failure and vandalism. The NCC noted that some of the towers are being used to host illegal broadcast equipment. The NCC has therefore required the owners of the abandoned masts and towers to rehabilitate, commence usage or dismantle and remove the masts/towers from the relevant locations within 90 days of the publication of the notice, on 9 August. The NCC has published a list of 693 towers it considered met the criteria.

Rwanda: Senior tower appointment - The new Managing Director of IHS Towers Rwanda is Cyrille Lavoisier Kemayou; his appointment was taken up on 25 July 2019. IHS Rwanda started operations in December 2013 and owns and operates the majority of telecommunication towers in the country. Prior to his appointment, Kemayou was Commercial and Corporate Services Manager at IHS Towers Cameroon from December 2012. For six years, he was in charge of the social responsibility of MTN Cameroon.

South Sudan: Money launch - NilePay has partnered with Zain South Sudan to launch the first licensed mobile money service in the country under the NilePay Mobile Money banner. It rivals platforms created by MTN Uganda and Kenya's M-Pesa. NilePay Mobile Money said that it intends to offer the active two million mobile users a versatile and secure mobile payment solution that is easy to scale and provides a seamless customer experience.

Sudan: Price surge - The price of Internet subscription packages have risen some 15 percent. Radio Dabanga reported that Internet users were not informed before the price hike, as required by the Sudan Communications and Information Commission regulations, but received an automated message notifying them of the change. Some 5 million of the 42 million population are thought to have Internet access. The Internet was shut down between 10 June until 9 July on the orders of the ruling Transitional Military Council, citing 'national security' following the violent break-up of the sit-in in Khartoum on 3 June. A number of Consumer Protection Associations are reported to be in the process of filing lawsuits against telcos. Internet subscribers who paid in June but did could not gain access due to the blockade are being compensated, according to reports.

Togo: Regulatory re-housing - The new headquarters of the Autorite de Reglementation des secteurs des Postes et Telecommunications (ARTP) was inaugurated 7 August 2019 by Prime Minister Komi Selom Klassou. The building will also house the equipment and staff of the National Agency of Spectrum and Radio Frequencies (RSNA). It has an area of 6,200 square metres, with a footprint of 1,100 square metres on seven levels. ARTP's Director General, Abayeh Boyodi, said the new facility was part of the sectorial policy for the period 2018-2022, as expressed in the National Development Plan (PND). The construction and equipment of the building was completed in 60 months at a total cost of XOF 2.2 billion (USD 3.8 million), funded by ARTP.

Zimbabwe: Increased content - Mobile network operator TelOne's has extended the offering on its DEOD platform with the addition of new free TV channels, just two months after the introduction of the local content catalogue, Zollywood, Techzim reported. Twelve news, entertainment and other channels are now available free to users. Eight new entertainment channels were added to the pay-TV section as well, bringing the full channel offering to 27 channels. The new channels include Al Jazeera Africa News, TRT World, France 24, Russia Today, Deutche Welle, God TV, Hope Channel, SBN, Inspiration TV, KayaTV and RT Documentaries.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Best of both- Batelco has launched a new mobile package combining the best of post- and pre-paid (SimSim) plans. Mazeej was designed to provide greater flexibility and control of mobile usage. Subscribers will get 8GB of data as well as 500 minutes across all local operators. For any additional minutes, data or other services, users may top up the same line with a pre-paid SimSim voucher.

Israel: Satellite success - Space Communication has confirmed the successful launch of the AMOS-17 satellite from Cape Canaveral to the 17 degrees east orbital position. Built by Boeing Satellite Systems International, the 6.5-tonne high-power, HTS satellite was designed specifically to meet Africa's communication demands, and will provide extensive C-Band HTS, Ka-band and Ku-band capabilities. AMOS-17 is scheduled to start commercial operations later in 2019.

Lebanon: Accommodation audit - The Court of Audit has asked the Ministry of Telecommunications to provide the paperwork relating to the purchase of a USD 75 million building for mobile operator 'touch', the Daily Star reported. Established in 2004, touch (formerly known as mtc touch) is the leading mobile telecoms and data operator with a market share standing at 53 percent. Touch is managed by Zain Group.

Saudi Arabia: Real-time experience - Zain KSA and Nokia have demonstrated a 5G-enabled VR advanced use case in Mashaer and the Holy Mosque area in Mecca. Visitors can experience the Hajj remotely, as if they are present on site. As part of the high-resolution 360-degree video experience, feeds are transmitted to room-size displays enabling viewers to be immersed in the experience. Zain's 5G network is used to send the video feeds from cameras deployed in multiple locations to cover the Hajj events in real time, utilizing the extreme mobile broadband capability for content delivery and the low latency for the real-time camera control. 

United Arab Emirates: Technology training - Etisalat Academy has launched the GCC's first accredited Service Automation Framework (SAF) Training Centre in partnership with APMG and Etisalat Group. The Centre provides step-by-step guidance for the design and delivery of automated services, and aims to deliver training courses and certification services. The Academy offers the framework by which any organisation can automate its services, 'go digital' and enable them to offer self-service technologies to their clients.