News in Brief 23 October 2019

Africa:

Algeria: Gigabyte consumption - The national operator Algerie Telecom (AT) has developed its network and external links to offer a significant data flow, with the country on average consuming some 2.85 billion Gigabits per month, and a daily volume of 9.5 million Gigabit, the bourse-dz Website reported. The average Internet speed in Algeria is 1.1 terabits per second. In the year ending 30 September Algeria consumed some 25.66 billion Gigabits on all Networks; these volumes passed through the four AT links with external networks.

Cameroon: Frequent prizes - MTN Cameroon has launched its 2019 end-of-year promotion from 15 October to 5 January 2020, with prizes of a new car every week and XAF 5,000 (USD 8.40) in cash every five minutes. Any subscriber to a voice or data bundle of at least XAF 250 or carries out MTN MoMo transactions of at least XAF 5,000 can participate. Winners are the first to subscribe to a bundle of XAF 250 or do a MoMo transaction of at least XAF 5,000 within the five minutes concerned. A weekly draw will made for a Toyota Rush with all subscribers with a bundle of at least XAF 250 or who have done a MoMo transaction of at least XAF 5,000 being entered.

Cape Verde: Increased investment - Macau Bringbuys Web Technology is to increase its investment in the ICT sector. Cabo Verde TradeInvest's President, Ana Lima Barber, (the public investment promotion agency) the proposed investment now stands at more than USD 40 million and is focused on building a cloud computing centre, offshore data centre, training facilities and incubators. She said that the 5-year investment already has a business plan and only needs to be approved by the authorities. The projects are the result of an agreement signed between Cabo Verde TradeInvest and the Chinese company at the 12th meeting of Entrepreneurs for Economic and Commercial Cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries, held from 21 - 22 June 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Cote d'Ivoire: Tax tracking - A draft law to set-up a system for monitoring the electronic telecommunications flows of operators has been adopted by the members of the National Assembly's Committee on Research, Science, Technology and the Environment (CRSTE), Agence Ecofin reported. According to the Fraternite Matin newsportal, the regulatory text was proposed on 12 June at the Council of Ministers by the President of the Republic, Alassane Ouattara, and has yet to be examined in plenary. Minister of the Digital Economy and Post Office, Mamadou Sanogo said the system will be deployed shortly and will combat tax fraud, whilst ensuring operators pay the right tax.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Egypt: Payment project - E-commerce company Jumia is to open a technology centre that will hire and train a team of developers and engineers for electronic payments to synchronize its development with its e-payment solution Jumia Pay. The ultimate aim is to contribute to the multiplication of online payment methods to provide a more user-friendly, comfortable and secure shopping experience. Jumia Egypt's CEO, Hesham Safwat, said the choice of Egypt to host the centre is a result of "Egypt's market leadership in digital transformation and financial inclusion".

Ghana: Registration readiness - The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications is ready to work with the Ministry of Communications to prevent the problems that necessitated the government's directive to re-register all SIM cards. The chamber's CEO, Ken Ashigbey, welcomed the directive, as it would curtail the use of mobile phones for criminal activities. He said the industry endorsed it even before it received the regulatory directive from the National Communications Authority (NCA). Phone users have until June 2020 to re-register their SIMs. The valid ID cards to be used for the re-registration include driving licences, SSNIT cards, passports and the Ghana Card.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Ghana: Tax impact - From 1 November MultiChoice Ghana will raise the prices of all its subscription packages following the increase in the communication service tax. The tax was introduced in 2008 at a rate of 6 percent but in the mid-year budget a 50 percent increase in the CST rate was announced. The extra tax is ear-marked for fighting cybercrime as well as creating a robust eco-system where users of electronic communications services feel safe. A Compact Plus Package for a monthly subscription of GHS 205 (USD 37.64) will cost an extra GHS 5 when the CST hike takes effect.

Kenya: Airtel outage - Airtel Kenya has fully restored services after suffering a major network outage from the evening of 15 October to around 19.00 hours on 16 October. Airtel said calls and SMSs were intermittent during the outage but that data services were available. Airtel will be fined by the Communications Authority if it is found that the outage was caused by an operator-induced fault. Outages caused by factors beyond the control of an operator, technically known as force majeure, would not usually attract sanctions. Operators can be fined for up to 0.2 percent of their revenues.

Kenya: Connectivity programme - Kakamega County will shortly benefit from wireless Internet connectivity in educational institutions as well as urban and rural administrative offices. ICT hubs are to also be provided. Two projects were entrusted to Comservice Kenya Ltd and Ahadi Africa Digital Project, with a service agreement being signed between the two companies and the county authorities. County ICT and E-government Manager, George Lutomia, said Kakamega "is the largest rural county with a population of over 2 million and will therefore benefit enormously from digital resources." The Ajira Digital programme is a government initiative launched by the Ministry of ICT to empower more than a million young people to access digital employment opportunities. It aims to position Kenya as a prime work destination for multinational enterprises, and to encourage local businesses and the public sector to create digital work.

Kenya: Pole etiquette - A 14-day notice has been issued to companies and individuals that are illegally locating telecom cables on electricity distribution poles to offer Internet and communication services to households and businesses by Kenya Power. The utility noted that such activities are a breach of Kenya Power's wayleave trace and safety clearances. In some locations they have caused fires that have damaged third party property. There has also been an increase in cases of injuries and fatalities recorded involving third party personnel operating in close contact with live power lines, as well as disruptions in power supply.

Mauritius: ICT imports - As from 1 October 2019 all applications for the importing of ICT equipment are to be made solely on an online Web portal of the ICT Authority prior to customs clearance. This is in line with the provisions of the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2019 promulgated on 25 July 2019. The portal is intended for licensed dealers importing ICT equipment as well as individuals and companies importing equipment for their own use.

South Africa: Exchange improvements - Internet Exchange Operator (INX-ZA) has embarked on a major upgrade of the Johannesburg Internet Exchange Point (JINX), a multi-site community-run centre, following a fibre donation by Dark Fiber Africa (DFA). The INX-ZA Management Committee said that this upgrade will enable JINX to take advantage of WDM technologies, dramatically improving the capacity of its core network. WDM technologies will turn a single fibre link into almost unlimited network capacity. According to Prenesh Padayachee, a member of the INX-ZA committee, the donation from DFA will help "propel JINX into the next technological support". In view of the benefits that the upgrade of the fibre infrastructure offers to South Africa's Internet Exchange Point and its various components, Prenesh Padayachee expressed the hope that other fibre suppliers will also make improvements to connectivity solutions.

South Africa: Producer petitioned - MultiChoice's DStv subscribers have signed a petition after DStv announced it was to drop three popular channels, MyBroadband reported. DStv announced recently that it is discontinuing History, Crime + Investigation and Lifetime at the end of October. They have been available to DStv Premium and DStv Compact Plus subscribers but the contract term for the channels, provided by A+E Networks, ends on 1 November. DStv subscribers have started a petition on Change.org in support of A+E Networks, to convince MultiChoice to review its decision.

Zimbabwe: Domestic offering - Fixed line operator TelOne is reported to be considering the launch of an LTE-based home Internet service. TechUnzipped reports that the new service will be branded TelOne Blaze and will offer download and upload speeds up to 15Mbps. TelOne does have a mobile licence, and it is expected that it will utilise infrastructure of another operator. Competitor Econet has rolled out an LTE-based mobile network and also offers a TD-LTE fixed-wireless service under the name WiBroniks.

Middle East:

Israeli: Spotify for subscribers - Partner Communications is collaborating with music streaming company Spotify, Globes has reported. Subscribers will be able to download the Spotify app to their Partner TV receiver; currently Partner TV has some 170,000 subscribers. The app has been pre-loaded on the set-box and Partner is offering Spotify Premium to subscribers for a free three-month trial, after which there will be a monthly fee of ILS 19.90 (USD 5.67).

Qatar: IoT platform - Ooredoo Qatar has launched a new Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity management solution for corporates, dubbed IoT Connect Smart Control which will allow organisations manage their mobile devices and network connectivity. It provides tools to automatically monitor SIM usage and IoT device connectivity, generate alerts and take action on critical events. It offers a new IoT Device Lock, which can alert or control the IoT SIM based on the type or change of an IoT-enabled device. This builds on the recent launch of the IoT Connect Single SIM solution, which can enable organisations to automatically set, monitor, and limit data allowances for individual mobile devices.

Saudi Arabia: Growing cover - Zain KSA is now offering 5G services nationally via its Huawei-powered network. Initially, Zain 5G services are available to 5G customer premises equipment (CPE) subscribers. Users who opt for the SAR 349 (USD 93) per month subscription can get 5G service and one 5G CPE for free by signing up for 24 months. The first phase of the 5G network covers more than 20 cities and is supported by 2,000 5G towers, making it the largest regional 5G network. It will be expanded by the end of 2019 to cover more cities, with 2,600 5G towers. The coverage map is available here.

United Arab Emirates: SA 5G call - Etisalat has completed the first end-to-end 5G Standalone (SA) call in the UAE and therefore claims to be the first operator in MENA to achieve this milestone. This follows a test conducted in the 3.5 GHz band with spectrum of 100MHz. Using a standalone smartphone, a throughput of over 1.5 Gbps was achieved in download speed and 200 Mbps in upload speed. Standalone 5G does not use 4G LTE for any control functions of 5G, unlike non-standalone (NSA) 5G. The major advantages of standalone 5G will be in the enterprise arena, as lower latencies can be achieved and network slicing is possible.

United Arab Emirates: Upwardly mobile - The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2019 issued by the World Economic Forum shows the ICT sector in the UAE making significant progress in global rankings from the 6th to 2nd ranking. The UAE remains the first globally in the mobile broadband subscriptions index, in addition to the second position in mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions. The UAE advanced to fourth place in fibre Internet subscriptions, and fifth in the rate of Internet users. The UAE advanced 35 places in Fixed-broadband Internet subscription, reaching the 27th position globally. The UAE also advanced from 25th to 2nd position globally in the Telecommunication Infrastructure Index (TII), the global competitive index issued by the United Nations in 2019.