News in Brief 27 November 2019

Africa:

Africa: Master distributorship - WANdisco has signed a distribution contract worth USD 3 million with Afrian IT firm Micro-D. WANdisco's patented Fusion platform will be deployed across key African enterprises. The contract covers is for 3 years and can be expanded as Micro-D leverages its network of resellers across Africa taking advantage of high-growth use-cases including machine learning and AI.

Africa: Broadband satellite - Satellite Internet provider Eutelsat is to launch its Konnect telecommunications satellite by mid-January 2020. The launch will be from the Kourou Space Centre in Guyana. It will offer broadband Internet access services up to 100 Mbps to individuals and businesses in Africa. Public Wi-Fi kiosks will be established through which Internet access will also be marketed in the form of vouchers that can be paid for by mobile phone. Konnect is a multi-beam satellite weighing 3.5 tonnes, the construction of which was entrusted to Thales Alenia Space in 2018, and is the first to use the new Spacebus Neo platform and will provide 75 Gbps of capacity. It will operate in Ka band.

Algeria: Payment app - Algeria Telecom has launched its E-Payment Customer Area mobile application, with the intention of improving its service reloading and payment of invoices. Algeria Telecom said in a press release: "With this new application available in Arabic and French, the reloading of Idoom ADSL, Idoom fiber and Idoom 4G LTE accounts, as well as the payment of fixed Idoom telephone bills can be done at any time and safely via the customer's smartphone." The app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

Burkina Faso: Missing team - The Xinhua News Agency reported that a team of service providers involved in the deployment of the National Backbone Telecommunications Project (PBNT) was missing with effect from the morning of 22 November on the Ouo-Sideradougou axis in the Cascades region in western Burkina Faso. The Ministry of Development of the Digital Economy and Posts conformed that the 'highest authorities' have been informed; however they were subsequently reported to have been found "safe and sound".

Gabon: Seasonal selections - Canal + is reported to have lowered the price of its HD decoder to XAF 5,000 (USD 8.39), down from XAF 10,000 (USD 16.78) and offers all channels for 15 days to all its subscribers. The promotional runs from 21 November to 25 December 2019. In addition, for any re-subscription, subscribers will benefit from 15 days offered to the formula ALL CANAL + from 21 November to 31 December 2019. Ten new channels have been added to the CANAL + bouquets since October. These include Trace Afrikora, RTNB (National Radio and Television), M6 International, Ludikids, Automoto, ITV, NCI, CRTV Sport and Sunu Yeuf.

Ghana: Popular coverage - aYo Intermediaries Ghana Limited claims to now have some two million subscribers on its insurance product known as Recharge with Care, following launch of the product in April 2018. From June to October 2019, 800,000 customers subscribed, increasing the number of participating customers from 1.2 million customers to two million. aYo Ghana's Country Head, Francis Gota, thanked its partners, particularly MTN Ghana and Metropolitan Life Insurance Ghana for their continuous support.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Kenya: Sales office - Anam Technologies has opened its Anam Africa Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. By partnering with MTN, Orange and Sinch Anam, it has already secured 22 networks in 19 African countries including Egypt, Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco and the DRC. Building on its operational presence in Egypt and Nigeria, the new Kenyan office will focus on Sales & Managed Services to support partners and the growing African customer base. Anam supplies messaging solutions focused on A2P revenue growth, security and groupwide efficiencies. Anam provides a range of specialist services utilising firewalls, hubs, reporting and visualization technologies to drive revenue, deliver efficiencies and eliminate fraud for mobile operators. The office will be headed up by Steve Bannon, who joined the Anam Group two years ago.

Kuwait: SD-WAN service - Fortinet has been chosen by Ooredoo Kuwait, a part of Ooredoo Group, to provide it with SD-WAN managed services. Fortinet Secure SD-WAN will allow Ooredoo's existing and new enterprise customers to achieve accelerated connectivity, transport mode independence, and increased application performance while benefiting from tightly knit SD-WAN and advanced security features, Fortinet said. Ooredoo Kuwait itself is deploying Fortinet's Secure SD-WAN across its retail branches and will serve as a reference for customers wishing to follow suit.

Mali: Staff stake strike - On 20 November agents of mobile network operator Orange Mali were reported to be on strike for 48-hours, the latest action initiated by trade union Ostom. Staff are demanding the revaluation of their shareholding from 4.5 to 10 percent. Ostom claims that workers had engaged company management 'for months', in addition to embarking on peaceful action, including the wearing red armbands. It is being argued that the stake held by staff is small in comparison with the stakes held by staff at similar companies including Malitel, where workers control about 10 percent of the company.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Nigeria: No change - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has yet to act on the directive issued by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami on the reduction of data costs as issued in August, The Nation has reported. Pantami directed the NCC to address the issue of frequent data depletion and overpriced data subscription. He also set Key Performance Indicator (KPI) targets for Chief Executive Officers under the Ministry and promised to sanction them if they failed to deliver. He re-issued the directive in November. However it is suggested that the Minister’s directive cannot be implemented as the NCC has no powers to determine the price of data for consumers under Section 108-110 of the Nigerian Communications Act. A report by UK-based price comparison website Cable, showed that Nigerian telcos supposedly offer some of the cheapest mobile data subscription rates in Africa with an average price of USD 2.22 for 1 Gigabyte (GB), but is still not affordable for many in a country where 94 million people live on less than USD 1.90 a day.

South Africa: ICT training - Liquid Telecom South Africa is working with the Eastern Cape Provincial Government to open Innovation and Digital Skills Centres in East London and Mthatha in 1Q 2020, in order to train young people. Liquid Telecom SA's CEO Reshaad Sha, said the centres will develop entrepreneurship by enabling people to learn up-to-date digital skills. The centres will provide access to Liquid Telecom's 21C Skills pan-African development platform. They will also supply access to cloud platforms for entrepreneurs to contact investors and accelerator programmes. LT added that it had implemented programmes for 93 students in the Eastern Cape covering ICT. It has also awarded 20 bursaries to students through the Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu Universities for the 2020 academic year.

South Africa: Openet office - Openet opened two new offices in Canada and South Africa with new premises in Johannesburg to be headed by sales director Hugh Muller. It provides digital BSS technology to tier one Canadian operator, such as Bell. It has a strategic ambition to further grow its African footprint. As a highly valued provider of BSS to Orange Egypt and Inwi Morocco, Openet is keen to provide improved coverage across the southern continent, where it is already working with Liquid Telecom and a large group operator.

Tanzania: Financial forum - A forum organized by Vodacom Tanzania to look into trends and developments shaping the mobile money industry in Africa was attended by representatives from more that eight countries. The telco also released its Future-Proofing Mobile Financial Services report at the workshop. The report, the first of Vodacom's Public Policy Series, demonstrates how mobile money is driving economic growth and empowering lives through financial inclusion. Vodacom said Sub-Saharan Africa has seen rapid growth in mobile money operations and innovations, enabling broad based participation and access to financial services. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to the ten economies globally where more adults now have mobile money accounts than with a financial institution.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Gaming library - Zain Bahrain has launched its Zain games gaming platform, offering over 1,000 popular games compatible with iOS, Android and Windows operating systems. Content includes global brands such as Disney, Sega, Bandai, and Capcom. Users can sign up for a daily all-you-can-play bundle offer subscription for a fixed cost rate of BHD 0.100 (USD 0.26).

Iran: Internet restoration - The Internet is reported to being gradually restored after a national closure to calm demonstrations over fuel price increases, Reuters reported, citing local agencies and residents. The Revolutionary Guards said that order had returned, according to state TV reported. News agency Fars, quoting the National Security Council that ordered the shutdown, said web connectivity had been approved 'for some areas and, according to reports so far, fixed line Internet has been restored in Hormozgan, Kermanshah, Arak, Mashhad, Qom, Tabriz, Hamadan and Bushehr provinces, and parts of Tehran'. The unrest started on 15 November after petrol prices were increased by some 50 percent.

Israel: Rapid replacement - Mobile network operator Partner Communications said that the board had confirmed the appointment if Osnat Ronen as Chairman. She replaces Adam Chesnoff who resigned earlier in the week. Ronen has been a board director for 10 years already at Partner, nominated by the Israeli founding shareholders. Ronen also serves on the boards of Fox-Wizel and Discount Capital Underwriters and was one of the founders of Wecheck. In addition, she was a general partner of Viola PE and served in various senior positions in the Leumi Le Israel BM group, including as the deputy CEO of Leumi Partners Ltd.

Israel: Reporting offences - Bezeq Israel has said that the State Attorney General has decided to indict former controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch for bribery and reporting offences in Bezeq's reports, among other things. In a brief statement, the company said this followed the State Prosecutor's notice of indictment on 2 September.

Qatar: Entertainment service - Vodafone Qatar has a new entertainment service called GigaTV, offering regional and international content for the whole family using a set-top box. Viewers can watch live TV channels, catch-up and on-demand content such as films from major studios, exclusive Vodafone serials and children's programmes. The GigaTV app allows access via mobile devices. Vodafone Qatar has partnered with OSN to provide GigaTV customers with nineteen premium channels at no additional cost. Users can also subscribe to OSN's premium content as well. Customers who sign up by 18 February 2020 can get a free one-month subscription to the OSN El Farq package worth QAR 249.