News in Brief 4 December 2019

Africa:

Africa: Internet offering - Pay-TV operator Multichoice is to make available its new IPTV service to external testers by the end of its financial year in March 2020, the company's Connected Video CEO Niclas Ekdahl told TechCentral. It has apparently made significant progress in developing the 'dishless' offering which has been tested internally. It previously said it hoped for a commercial launch by the end of 2019. MultiChoice already offers a streaming service called DStv Now but is tied to having a subscription to the DTH service. It will continue to offer the satellite service after launching the Internet-only service, Ekdahl said.

Algeria: Reduced rates - Algeria Telecom has revised its ADSL Internet pricing downward, with effect from 1 December. The new rates apply to IDOOM ADSL and IDOOM Fiber residential subscribers with a bit-rate of 4 mbps and 8 mbps respectively. The 4 Mbps rate is DZD 2,599 (USD 21.54) per month, down from DZD 3,200 (USD 26.52); 8 Mbps is now DZD 3,599 (USD 29.83) per month, compared to DZD 5,000 (USD 41.44). Existing users will benefit from the new rates when they top-up.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: Vendor visits - On 26 November 2019, Tunisia-based Hayatcom, a subsidiary of the Tawasol group, demonstrated to the Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and New Information and Communication Technologies, Augustin Kibassa Maliba, its ability to support the country in the realization of the advanced telecom infrastructure required for its digital transformation, Agence Ecofin reported. Hayatcom's General Manager, Moez Mlika, who accompanied Tunisia's Ambassador to the DRC, Bouzekri Rmili, told the Minister that the company he manages is specialized "in the construction of telecom networks, be it optical fibre, GSM, towers and the installation of 3G/4G telecommunications equipment". The visit followed one by Varioedge France Sarl, a subsidiary of the Polish company Varioedge, which specializes in the design, installation, production and distribution of construction of electricity networks and telecommunications. Its Business Manager, Jordan Sosin met with Minister Maliba on 20 November.

Gabon: 9-digit extension - The Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes (ARCEP) has decided to extended the transition period for the implementation of the new 9-digit numbering regime by three months. ARCEP's President Lin Mombo told L'Union in an interview: "In order to allow subscribers to take over the new telephone numbering, a transitional period of three months is planned, during which the new numbering and the old numbering will coexist, only for voice telephony and SMS services, as well as for the national plan that international. For other services, including money transfer and mobile payment services, the use of new nine-digit numbers is mandatory."

Ghana: Contractual compensation - Mobile network operator Globacom has paid USD 1 million to the Ghana Football Association following arbitration. The operator was the headline sponsor of the Ghana Premier League four seasons ago, but was unable to fulfil its part of the deal, and consequently cancelled the contract prematurely. Consequently the Ghana FA (GFA) sought legal redress. The GFA reported that its account was credited on 27 November. 10 percent of the total payment was paid as legal charges to the Lawyer that the Normalisation Committee contracted to pursue the payment.

Ghana: Tax regroup - The mobile network operators have stopped deducting the 9 percent Communication Service Tax (CST) upfront on airtime and data on 26 November, Ghanaweb has reported. This follows a directive from the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication to cease the deductions, after the chamber agreed with the government to apply the tax as a price increase instead. The chamber said there would be a reconfiguration of its systems to accommodate the commercial and technical requirements. It added that operators will notify their subscribers on the completion of the exercise and provide transparency on the adjusted tariffs of their products and services.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Kenya: Compact content - Two news stations have been removed by MultiChoice Kenya from its Compact bouquet. Bloomberg and CNBC Africa will now only be available on the Compact Plus and Premium packages after a content overhaul for DStv and GOtv offerings on 13 November. In September DStv cut its monthly subscription rates by between 5 and 30 percent to boost its numbers.

Kenya: Digital mail box deal - Safaricom and the Postal Corporation of Kenya are partnering to supply digital Post Office Boxes to more than 5 million customers. Safaricom's customers can visit MPost online and register for a Post Office Box linked to their mobile number. The service costs KES 300 (USD 2.90) annually. Users can choose which Post Office to pick their deliveries from, by keying the Postal Code of the particular branch, and can also change their preferred Post Office at no additional cost. Customers using the service will receive their mail at no cost, as with a traditional box, and will also get an SMS notification whenever they have mail to be collected, which will be held for seven days.

Kenya: Hawking ban - The Communications Authority (CA) is proposing new regulations under which SIM card hawkers would face six months in gaol, a KES 300,000 (USD 2,900) fine or both, the Daily Nation reported. The registration by agents of SIM cards would be streamlined, with telcos compelled only to employ registration agents whom the CA has licensed. Henceforth operators and registration agents would be required to sell and register SIM cards only in formal retail outlets even during promotions, and must ensure that there is no hawking of SIM registration services. The CA has directed telcos to set up a portal through which they will submit quarterly reports for access by the authority which will include data on new registered subscribers and those disconnected.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Kenya: Seasonal discounting - Safaricom is offering discounts for the festive season of up to 45 percent on various smart devices and accessories. The offers run till 5 January 2020, and include the Neon Ray 4G smartphone for KES 2,999 (USD 29) plus 500 Bonga points. The offers include smartphones, headphones, power banks, cables, device chargers and memory cards. By September 2019 Safaricom had sold over 600,000 Neon smartphones.

Nigeria: Better bundles - MultiChoice Nigeria has launched five new packages curated for the Nigerian market, and is revamping GOtv Max. From 1 December there will be three new DStv packages, namely DStv Confam, DStv Yanga and DStv Padi. GOtv subscribers will have the option of the new GOtv Jolli and GOtv Jinja bundles. These will include recently launched channels such as Da Vinci, TNT Africa and Real Time.

Nigeria: Delegation received - A Telecom Italia Sparkle (TIS) delegation was received in audience on 20 November 2019 by Nigerian Communications Commission's (NCC) Executive Commissioner, Adeleke Adewolu. Introduced by Tarek Chazli, Deputy Head of Mission of the Italian Embassy in Abuja, the delegation comprised Stefano Olivieri, Sales Manager, Africa and Middle East at TIS; and Dindam Killi, Senior Partner at Aluko & Oyebode (consultants at TIS). Sparkle would like to be a player in the Nigerian market, and has already positioning itself as a player in the Italian, Brazilian, Burundian, Tanzanian, and other markets. TIS provides IP, cloud, data centre, mobile and voice solutions.

Nigeria: Soccer success - 9mobile is partnering with Next TV and the League Management Company (LMC) to broadcast and produce Nigeria Professional Football League output. LMC chairman Shehu Dikko said the broadcast deal with Next TV would allow the free flow of investment into the NPFL with a five-year projection of some USD 200 million. He said Nigeria is going to go beyond OTT and would ensure the delivery of quality content for the NPFL. Acting director of marketing at 9Mobile, Layi Orafowokan said it would provide its subscribers with an exclusive bundle for access to the OTT platform.

South Africa: Attractive lock-ins - MTN South Africa is offering Black Friday Mega Deals from 29 November to 2 December. Price cuts are being offered for its SIM-only 30 GB MTN Sky package as well as the MTN Made For Me S, M, L and XL specials. The deals will only be available on a 24-month contract and are subject to device and SIM availability, RICA registration and credit vetting. Pay-as-you-go deals and MTN Business deals are available, too. Promotion value for YouTube and Anytime Data plus MTN-to-MTN minutes are provided every month for the first six months of the contracts.

South Africa: MVNO latest - Financial services provider Clientele has launched an MVNO under the 'Clientele Mobile' brand. The service, which is being offered via an undisclosed 'leading' network operator, will target existing users of the company's services, which include life cover, hospital cover, legal cover, personal loans and investment solutions. Clientele says it is the first South African insurer to introduce a mobile service.

South Africa: New executive - MultiChoice South Africa new executive head of corporate affairs is Reggy Moalusi. Moalusi has extensive experience in the media industry after holding roles as a journalist at publications such as the Mail and Guardian and Sunday World and subsequently Editor-in-Chief of both the Sunday Sun and Daily Sun. His experience also spans corporate roles such as content director and media ddviser for clients such as Standard Bank and Exxaro.

South Africa: Southern outpost - Ireland-based telecoms carrier IP Telecom is opening a new office in Cape Town to extend its services. The office will officially open in February 2020, with IP Telecom aiming to offer VoIP products and services to enterprises.

Tanzania: Prize draw - A competition to promote Tigo Pesa deposits with prizes worth more than TZS 500 million (USD 215,827) is being run during this festive season. The 'Kishindo Cha Funga Mwaka' campaign offers grand prizes of TZS 20 million, TZS 15 million and TZS 10 million (USD 8,600; 6,500 and 4,300). It will also give, eight winners TZS 5 million (USD 2,160) each week, and there will be eight daily winners of TZS 1 million (USD 430). Users have to make a payment into their Tigo Pesa accounts (Cash In) from any Tigo Pesa agent, bank or other network to be automatically entered.

Tunisia: Attractive handsets - Orange Tunisia is offering the Apple's iPhone 11/Pro/Pro Max through its retail channels. Its existing post-paid customers upgrading to the iPhone 11 (64 GB) will be able to at a preferential price, in line with its established loyalty programme that rewards current subscribers when new smartphones become available. The one-off cost of the handset for the existing base is TND 1,699 (USD 590) without a plan, rising to TND 3,599 (USD 1,250) for other subscribers.

Tunisia: Self-care chatbot - Orange Tunisie has launched its new 'Djingo el Damdoum' chatbot, developed in collaboration with Hexastack, a local start-up belonging to the Orange Fab accelerator programme. Available via Facebook Messenger, the chatbot will help subscribers perform a range of self-care tasks, such as topping up credit and purchasing mobile add-ons. It will also be able to direct customers to an Orange shop, as well as giving them access to information including the weather forecast and the latest football news. Orange has also highlighted the chatbot's ability to interact with both Arabic and Latin characters, describing the service as '100 percent Tunisian'.

Uganda: International transfers - Airtel money service has offered an international money transfer service from 14 November. The service is being offered in partnership with Stanbic bank as partnering financial institution and has been endorsed by Bank of Uganda. Users can send funds across borders to Tanzania and Malawi from the Airtel money wallets and receive funds from many other countries; it said that more countries will be added to the platform. Managing director V.G Somasekhar, said: "We are launching what not Airtel needs but what Ugandans need", adding that the service will be supported by the 650 Airtel money branches. Users will not be charged nor taxed for receiving money regardless of where the money is coming from. Charges would only apply at the point of withdrawal reflecting the recent 79 percent reduction in Airtel money cash withdrawal. Users sending money will be charged against a tiered tariff at competitive rates across the market ranging between UGX 900 - 58,000 (USD 0.24 - 15.56).

Zambia: Broadcasting D-G - Malolela Lusambo has been named as the new Director-General of the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) board effective 1 December. ZNBC chairman Mulenga Kapwepwe said the board selected Lusambo for his 28 years of experience in the media industry. Lusambo was formerly ZNBC's director of engineering and technical services.

Zimbabwe: Fees cut - NetOne has introduced zero-rating for all OneMoney transactions except for the statutory 2 percent tax and card swipe charges. CEO Lazarus Muchenje said there will be no transaction fees when subscribers send money, regardless of the amount. The promotion is set to run from 25 November to 31 December. Muchenje noted that there have been challenges with mobile money and failure to access cash.

Middle East:

Iran: Home focus - The ICT sector is expected to be less dependent on imports and more self-reliant by 2021, thanks to the expansion of domestic production units, IRIB News reported. Industries minister Reza Rahmani said that within two years, infrastructure for information and communication technology will mostly be localised, curbing an annual capital flight of over USD 10 billion. The Minister said that the importation of more than 1,500 communication products has been stopped over the past few years, as they can be produced by local manufacturers using domestic equipment and technology in line with strengthening domestic manufacturers and increasing the share of Iran-made products in the field. He said the role of locally made devices in the field is expected to expand, making the ICT sector independent of foreign sources.

Middle East: Safe surfing - Orange Jordan has launched The Gift, a new awareness campaign with the slogan "we all have great power, we all have great responsibility". The Gift aims to highlight the safe, secure and responsible use of the Internet on all devices to protect users of all ages and interests. CEO Thierry Marigny said that modern technologies provide immense opportunities for users, but at the same time, many responsibilities for better use.

Qatar: Virtual fitting room - Vodafone Qatar and Spanish smart systems specialist JogoTech have partnered to modernise the Qatari retail sector. Vodafone Qatar will exclusively offer retailers JogoTech's digital fitting room system JogoRoom, which links a retailer's Website to their physical store. The digital fitting room uses an IoT digital mirror, which allows a shopper to scan the barcode on clothes tags in the fitting room and then contact shop floor staff from the mirror, through a digital watch, to request different sizes or colours. Items added to the shopping trolley can be paid for from the customer's mobile phone without the need to leave the fitting room. The system provides retailers with critical analytics, stock control and in-store management facilities, such as the ability to assign requests from the fitting rooms to different zones on the shop floor, or to different assistants' digital watches.

Saudi Arabia: ICT spend - Government bodies are expected to spend some USD 2.13 billion on information and communication technologies (ICT) in 2020, a 6.1 percent increase on the anticipated spend for 2019, according to a study by IDC. The state ICT spending in Saudi Arabia will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.4 percent over the 2018 - 2023 period, outperforming the overall enterprise market's CAGR of 4.7 percent. IDC's upcoming Saudi Arabia Government Congress 2019 will explore market developments on 10 December in Riyadh.

United Arab Emirates: Charge free fixes - The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) has clarified that local mobile network operators Etisalat and du are not permitted to collect any fees from customers for technical visits, Khaleej Times reported. No service charge is to be levied for technical visits to fix weak or disrupted services. This encompasses all telecommunication services, such as mobile phones, fixed lines and Internet connections. The TRA said that it had received multiple complaints from customers who experienced disruptions in services despite paying their dues, being asked to pay AED 100 (USD 27) for technical visits to have the network disruptions fixed for no fault of their own, the report added.