News in Brief 16 October 2019

Africa:

Angola: Dominant player - The Ministry of Finance, and head of the ARC Research and Conduct Department, Eduardo Tchamba, made the comment at a seminar on the 'Competition Legal Regime', the Jornal de Angola reported. Tchamba noted that the two active operators, Unitel and Movicel, divide the market unevenly, which therefore degenerates into a form of monopoly. The Minister observed: "…one operator leads 80 percent of the square and the other only 20 percent. Therefore, it is a very unequal share, being visible that only one of them dominates the market".

Cape Verde: Favourable climate - Isabel dos Santos has already invested some USD 100 million in Cape Verde since 2012. dos Santos said: "We have already made investments…first in telecommunications and then in finance," in the panel 'Economy 3.0 The Future of Cape Verde and the role of Portugal', at a Conference organized by Lusa on the economy. CVTelecom's president, Jose Livramento, stressed Cape Verde's good indicators in the use of technology, namely in mobile data connections, with a mobile penetration rate of 60 percent but stressed that there are still challenges to overcome, noting: "In the competitiveness report of the World Economic Forum, we are in 132nd place out of 141, and one of the penalizing elements is the capacity for innovation; the informality of the economy and poverty are obstacles to business development."

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Tower failure - A pylon belonging to Orange collapsed on 6 October 2019 in Uvira in the East. According to Orange DRC's Deputy General Manager, Denis Banlier, the pylon fell on the enclosure of the convent of the Sisters Poor Clares. It hit five sisters were hit by the pylon, two of whom subsequently died. An investigation was opened by the authorities to determine the cause.

Gambia (The): Illegal operations - Last week the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) detained a man who was illegally in possession of GSM operating materials at Fajara. The materials included different types of antennas including Wi-Fi and SIM card gateways including SIM cards for Senegal, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. PURA's legal licensing enforcement manager, Ya Amie Touray, explained that their staff has been monitoring the operations of the individual. The haul included 382 Orange and 64 Tigo SIM cards from Senegal; 355 cards from Sierra Leonean SIM cards, and 257 for Africell and 1 Gamcel SIM card.

Ghana: Electric fibre - The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) is to venture into telecommunications and Internet service provision, ITWeb reported. ECG Managing Director, Samuel Boakye-Appiah, said that the company would use its network to install fibre in collaboration with telcos and that its infrastructure would be used to offer data and Internet services. ECG is to investigate the possibility of reusing its power infrastructure assets to run its telecom business. The company will then develop a blueprint for the initiative. Boakye-Appiah said that the move is in line with the government's digitisation agenda.

Ghana: Money collaboration - Western Union has collaborated with AirtelTigo Money (ATM) to allow subscribers to receive international money transfers via Western Union directly into their AirtelTigo Money mobile wallets. Western Union's Head of Network - Africa, Mohamed Touhami El Ouazzani, said: "Our aim is to offer seamless money transfers for all. This means reaching out to customers across all channels including mobile. “We are excited with this collaboration with AirtelTigo Money, delivering on our pledge to expand more digital and physical channels for money transfers to provide choice and more convenience for customers."

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Kenya: 2G phase-out - Safaricom has said that 4G is not to be replaced by 5G in the near future. It said that 4G still has a long way to go in terms of technological advancements, BusinessDailyAfrica reported. However, Safaricom Network Director James Maitai has said that it will start phasing out the 2G network, noting: "We would wish to improve our services to the most advance technology in the market and this is what the company envisions." Maitai added that the telco is investing heavily in the 4G network since it is efficient and better: "At the moment, we are not seeing 5G to be a customer-oriented product, however this might change."

Kenya: Run marked - Safaricom is revamping its mobile money platform M-Pesa logo to pay homage to marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge for the next seven days. Acting CEO Michael Joseph said the move demonstrates Safaricom's commitment to be 'part of Kenyans way of life'. Kipchoge, 34, ran the 42-kilometre distance in Vienna Austria in under two hours and under controlled conditions. Safaricom also provided free YouTube live streaming to watch the challenge.

Liberia: Nationwide betting - Lonestar Cell MTN has collaborated with Winner's Incorporated to launch the first ever Mobile Money (MoMo) betting platform in the country. Lonestar Cell MTN's MoMo head, Prince Chesson, said that the betting platform will enable people in and beyond Monrovia to do their betting from home.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Mauritius: Fibre divestment - Talkpool is divesting its operations in Mauritius after Huawei sought a partner to help it deploy a fibre network on the island in 2016. Since the primary fibre deployment, Talkpool's business in Mauritius has been in decline and it has concluded that it is too small and does not offer Talkpool sufficient potential for it to retain a majority stake. Revenue in Mauritius was close to zero at the end of 2Q19, resulting in a loss. It announced that it was considering restructuring or selling off certain subsidiaries with low financial or strategic contributions to the group in August. The majority of Talkpool's shares have been bought by the local company manager for a nominal price.

Rwanda: Forward planning - Mara Group founder Ashish Thakkar Mara Phone has said that the firm is currently in talks with a number of countries, including Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and the United States to export and sell its smartphones that are manufactured in Rwanda. Mara Phones is planning to open a second plant in South Africa. Officially launched on 7 October, the Mara X and Mara Z smartphones sell for USD 130 and USD 190 respectively. It was noted that devices that are currently only available at the Kigali business centre will shortly be available in ten new outlets that will open in Kigali and across the country.

South Africa: 4G city coverage - MTN South Africa announced on 10 October that it had achieved 4G population coverage of 95 percent. MTN SA's CEO Godfrey Motsa sid the operator has much bigger plans for the future: "Our network is constantly evolving to handle increased demand and functionality. Digital access, that can drive financial inclusion, empowering and enabling SMEs, jobs growth and broad community development, among many others." MTN SA's microwave link network serves over 70 percent of businesses, while the fibre to the business (FTTB) network spans over 18,000 kilometres and has a capacity to serve over 30 percent of the business community. In addition, MTN SA has eight data centres and 30 regional data centres.

South Africa: Summer promotion - MTN South Africa has launched its Summer YouTube Contract Promotion, offering new and existing customers 20 GB of YouTube data and up to 30GB of Anytime one-off data when they sign up for or upgrade to selected price plans, MyBroadband reported. The data is valid for the first 30 days of the subscriber's contract. YouTube data will only be used when the YouTube videos are played, and will not work for standard Web browsing or other media platforms. The promotion runs until 31 January 2020.

Sudan: Texting revenue - Sudatel Telecom Group (STG) and Etisalat's Emirates Data Clearing House (EDCH) have announced a soft launch of the A2P messaging initiative. Sudatel said that the menace of aggregators routing international SMS as if they were local messages has led to huge losses at mobile operators, as their network resources are used for free or at low charging rates. With EDCH's SMS Monetisation product, this is checked and telcos see visible incremental revenue.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Peak Internet - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has recorded Internet penetration in Bahrain at 99 percent, which is concluded showed increasing affordability. The TRA's latest telecommunications services residential market survey report found that 99 percent of respondents said they use WhatsApp and YouTube, 95 percent use Instagram and Facebook and 90 percent use Snapchat. According to the report, almost all respondents have a mobile phone service, but the rate users having two or more mobile SIM cards is falling, dropping to 16 percent in 2018 from 38 percent in 2017. This reflects the developments in mobile telephony packages such as the introduction of new and comprehensive packages as well as the significantly increasing use of mobile data. The main reason stated by respondents for having more than one SIM card was to have separate ones for business and personal use. The survey found that 16 percent of households have a fixed line. The TRA said 85 percent of respondents were satisfied with telecom services in Bahrain.

Bahrain: SD-WAN solution - Batelco has selected Nokia's Nuage Networks' SD-WAN 2.0 to support cloud connectivity, automation and digital modernisation for enterprise customers in Bahrain and beyond. This will provide simplified management of, and dynamic support for, cloud and IoT applications. The SD-WAN services permit the use of cloud and IoT-driven business applications, and allow users to manage their entire corporate networks, including branches, data centres and public cloud, from a single dashboard.

Jordan: Fibre installer - The Jordan Fibre Optics Company has launched its official operations, with a capital of JOD 40 million (USD 56.4 million), after completing all licensing procedures, Petra reported. The company is to install an over-ground fibre network in the service areas of the Jordan Electric Power Company (JEPCO). JEPCO's Chairman Issam Bideir said that the company will build a fibre-optic grid that can cover all JEPCO areas to provide advanced services. JEPCO owns 51 percent of the entity and Umniah owns 49 percent, Petra added.

Oman: Partnership packages - Omantel has partnered with Microsoft and BPS to provide new ICT products and services. The offerings will be available to individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) via bundle and standalone packages from Omantel digital channels, including its online store and mobile application. Products include Microsoft's Office 365.

Saudi Arabia: Workforce management - STC is working with Honeywell to deploy productivity services to digitise day-to-day operations for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that employ mobile workforces. STC will create industry-specific productivity-as-a-service (PaaS) bundles that combine handheld industrial mobile computers and mobile printers with data connectivity and voice plans. The bundles will be offered on a monthly subscription basis to private and public sector entities, including ministries, to support field service, maintenance, inspection and logistics. The collaboration will also help customers with large mobile workforces to migrate their existing handheld devices to the Android OS before Windows OS is discontinued in December.

Turkey: Internet infrastructure - Turk Telekom is to start using Lifemote analytics in homes in 2019, with a full roll-out planned to start in 2020. In order to fully comply with Turk Telekom requirements, Lifemote undertook a full integration of its system in the private Turk Telekom cloud earlier in 2019. Working with Turk Telekom, Lifemote will continue building integrated interfaces of WiFi Analytics to deliver insight into all aspects of Turk Telekom home Internet infrastructure. Currently Lifemote analytics proactively informs Turk Telekom systems about Quality of Experience problems each home user experiences during the day, such as those caused by poor software configuration, limited signal coverage, congested WiFi and old or faulty hardware.

United Arab Emirates: Cloud services - The Security Industry Regulatory Agency (SIRA) has chosen Du as the cloud service provider of choice, following the government entity's decision to enact the Dubai Pulse platform for hosting its e-services portal. Du will supply SIRA with support for Web, application, database and shared services. Implementation was completed in 3Q 2019.

United Arab Emirates: Contactless travel - The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is to launch a mobile version of its Nol transit card in 2020, CommsMEA reported. Passengers will be able to use their NFC-enabled smartphones to travel on the metro, tram, bus and maritime public transportation services. The card will be launched in 3Q20 and in later stages, all the functions of the current Nol card will be added to it. NFC transit ticketing has been available in Dubai since 2013 but has been restricted to Nol card holders who have a contract with local mobile network providers. The new system will allow travellers to load a digital-only Nol virtual card onto their NFC smartphone, add credit to their account from their phone and then use it to pay their fares.

United Arab Emirates: Free connectivity - Du has signed with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to provide free Wi-Fi on public buses, marine transit modes and in air-conditioned bus shelters. Du will provide its WiFi UAE services free of charge for passengers of Dubai Bus, inter-city bus and Expo buses.

United Arab Emirates: Municipality MoU - Du has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ajman X, representing the Ajman municipality, to collaborate on 5G, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT) development under the UAE 5G Innovation Gate (U5GIG) programme, with the aim of achieving early adoption from 2020. They will also create an open platform for research and development geared towards standardising these developments in the UAE.