News in Brief 8 January 2020


Africa: International focus - IHS Holding Limited has signed an agreement with affiliates of Goldman Sachs and Centaurus Capital LP to purchase Brazilian infrastructure solutions provider, Cell Site Solutions - Cessao de Infraestruturas SA (CSS), based in Sao Paulo. CSS has some 2,290 towers and other sites in Brazil, Peru and Colombia. The company's four solutions, Build To Suit (BTS), Collocation, Distributed Antenna Systems and Small Cells, will complement and improve the IHS offer with the aim of bringing increased connectivity to emerging markets. CSS is to be fully integrated into IHS as will its management team and its entire staff. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Chad: Roaming free - The Council of Ministers on 19 December 2019 adopted the draft decree abolishing roaming charges on communication in the G5 Sahel area. Heads of state of the G5 Sahel reached agreement at the Niamey summit in Niger in February 2018. Subsequently, a resolution abolishing roaming charges was formulated and adopted at the Council of Ministers on 29 October 2019.

Ghana: 4G enhancements - Vodafone Ghana has said that it will construct a robust network to satisfy the needs of its Internet subscribers, NewsGhana reported. Vodafone said it would invest in more sites in different parts of the country to support 4G. Head of corporate communications, Gayheart Mensah, said the company planned to add 100 sites in 2020 after challenges following the launch of the 4G. Mensah added that the Vodafone Foundation has made over 100 charitable donations to patients that were unable to pay their bills at various hospitals. Vodafone Ghana has also supported over 2,000 women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education to bridge the sex gap.

Kenya: More content - StarTimes Media has introduced the Love Nature and Smithsonian documentary channels. StarTimes started broadcasting the second series of the 'Nira' popular local drama on 26 December 2019 on its Rembo TV local content channel, as well as the Emmy Award-winning soap opera 'Queen of Flow' on Novela E Plus channel. It is continuing its bouquet upgrade campaign, where for every monthly subscription made on the Nyota bouquet, subscribers can access Basic bouquet for the initial two weeks. Subscribers enrolling to Basic get an automatic upgrade to Classic for the first two weeks at no extra cost. Nova bouquet subscribers on the satellite television platform can upgrade to Smart bouquet for the first two weeks. Smart bouquet subscribers are upgraded to Super bouquet. Super subscribers access ten extra days for every monthly subscription made.

Kenya: Spam destination - Mobile subscribers received the third-highest number of spam SMS in the world per user, data from Truecaller, the smartphone caller-identification platform, has found, Business Daily reported. A subscriber receives an average of 102 spam messages per month compared to 114 SMS for a subscriber in South Africa and 119 for one in Ethiopia. Kenya has entered the top 20 of affected countries since Truecaller started sharing the data in 2017. Some 8.6 billion spam SMS globally were recorded coming from 199 million spam numbers. Other African countries in the top 20 spammed countries were Nigeria (65 SMS per month per user), Tunisia (28), Egypt (26), Morocco (23) Algeria (22) and Ghana with 18.

Nigeria: Lagos PoP - Italy's Sparkle announced in mid-December the expansion of its African backbone with a new Point of Presence (PoP) in Lagos, Nigeria. Located at Medallion, Nigeria's largest carrier-neutral data centre, the Lagos PoP is fully interconnected with Sparkle's global Tier-1 IP transit service Seabone, providing high-speed Internet connectivity to local and international OTT's, ISPs, Content and Application Providers to support the uptake of social media, ecommerce, online music, games and videos in the country. DDoS service and the Virtual NAP solution complete Sparkle's portfolio of services offered via the Lagos PoP. The facility adds to the existing points of presence in Egypt, Tunisia, Tanzania and Djibouti.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Nigeria: Satellite approvals - The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has developed Commercial Satellite Communications Guidelines for the telecoms industry as part of its functions under the Nigerian Communications Act NCA-2003, CommunicationsWeek reported. The NCC said it has issued Landing Permits to 55 Space Stations providing coverage of the Nigerian territory. This list of authorised Space Stations with permits to provide coverage over Nigeria is available here.

Tanzania: Executive moves - Two members of Vodacom Tanzania's board of directors, Andries Delport and Till Streichert, have resigned. Delport will leave on 14 May, and Streichert on 20 June 2020. The statement did not give a reason for their departure. The moves follow the resignation of chairman Ali Mfuruki who left at the beginning of December to focus more on his other business interests. Margaret Ikongo was named as interim chair from 1 December.

Tunisia: Retail non-compliance - Instance Nationale des Telecommunications de Tunisie (INT) has ruled against Orange, which has been found guilty of marketing a new retail offer without the required approval. Orange has been told to comply with its obligations with regards to the 'Pack Smartphone Sanza', which bundles a Sanza smart feature phone and a promotion offering up to 25 GB of mobile data. Orange failed to comply with INT's validation procedure, which applies to all consumer retail offers.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Middle East:

Afghanistan: Collusion challenge - The US District Court for the District of Columbia is to hear a complaint for violation of the anti-terrorism act filed on behalf of US service members, civilians and their families killed or wounded in Afghanistan in the period 2009 and 2017. It is alleged that a number of Western businesses supported the Taliban by making payments to ensure the protection of their infrastructure. Six groups are named, including MTN and certain subsidiaries, including MTN Afghanistan. MTN is reportedly reviewing the report and is consulting advisers, but is of view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and will defend its position as and when necessary.

Bahrain: Fibre out-fitting - A strategic partnership has been signed by Zain Bahrain with Amlak to provide state-of-the-art fibre optic services to Amlak's new residential development Burj Al Saya located in Busaiteen, northern Muharraq. Zain Bahrain will supply, install, test and commission the state-of-the-art fibre service solutions for the new residential building. Amlak recently announced the Burj Al Saya residential development featuring two twin towers comprising of 128 apartments, a two-storey parking building, and 13 retail units on the ground floor. Zain Bahrain recently launched its fibre broadband service.

Bahrain: New name - VIVA Bahrain is henceforth to be known as stc Bahrain. Speaking at the launch event, CEO Engineer Nezar Banabeela stressed that the rebranding will further contribute to achieving the company's vision to lead the digital transformation in Bahrain. Since launch in 2010, stc Bahrain is credited with investing some BHD 700 million (USD 1.84 billion) in infrastructure and resources. It claims to be the first local telco to offer speeds of up to 42 Mbps for broadband subscribers, and the first to officially launch 4G LTE, and now having the largest 4G network infrastructure in Bahrain. It also launched the first 5G network.

Iran: Internet interrupted - The government is reported to have started restricting mobile Internet access in several provinces ahead of calls for demonstrations on social media at the end of 2019, Reuters reported citing the ILNA semi-official news agency. The demonstrations relate to fuel price hikes. The ILNA quoted an informed source at the Communications and Information Technology Ministry as saying mobile Internet access to overseas sites was blocked by 'security authorities' in Alborz, Kurdestan and Zanjan provinces in central and western Iran and Fars in the south.

Israel: Resignation received - Cellcom Israel's CEO Nir Sztern has told the board of his intention to resign as CEO in the near future, at a date yet to be determined. Consequently, the board has nominated a committee to oversee the selection of a new CEO. Chairman Ami Erel will now manage the CEO transition, as well as provide executive oversight of the execution of Cellcom's operations and its restructuring plan during the transition period.

Jordan: Digital services - Zain Jordan has contracted Comviva for a digital business management suite. This includes the Digital Services Delivery Platform (DSDP 2.0) and Comviva's expertise in business operations and digital content. The DSDP 2.0 platform provides a mediating layer between Zain Jordan and digital service providers, specialising in various content formats such as caller ring-back tones, videos, games, music and live streaming. The single layer for service integration makes it easier for content providers to integrate services in Zain's growing digital ecosystem.

Oman: Fibre expansion - Qurum 18 & 29 are the latest areas to benefit from Ooredoo's extended Super Fibre Home Internet service. Users in these areas can now access speeds of up to 1Gbps with unlimited usage plans starting from OMR 28 (USD 73) a month. Users can also benefit from unlimited fixed Ooredoo minutes, discounts on global call rates and higher download speeds. Residents in areas with new coverage can order via WhatsApp by sharing their ID and location to 95103000 or calling the Fibre team on 1514. Super Fibre is already available throughout Oman including Al Ansab, Shabeyat Boushar, Al Khuwair South - Commercial Area, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), old Al Amerat, Saa'dah in Salalah, Al Mussanah, Al Khuwair, Ruwi, Darsait, Al Hail, Al Mawalih, Al Khoud, Al Mabaila, Al Manuma, Al Seeb Jadida, Hayy Al Saruj, Sur Al Hadid, Al Seeb Wadi Al Luwami, Ras Al Hamra, the Tilal Complex, Al Ghubra, Al Hambar and Al Athaiba Al Shamaliya. On 6 January the service was also extended to Ruwi City Centre.

Turkey: Home-built solution - Turkcell has launched the YaaniMail email provider. Created in-house by the company's R&D group, YaaniMail is available for users regardless of operators, country or devices, and is also available for corporate customers. It offers users advanced security features and data generated on the platform is securely stored at Turkcell's data centres. It is targeting 2 million registered users by the end of 2020, YaaniMail offers both mail and calendar services, and Turkcell customers will access personal emails without consuming data. Corporate customers will benefit from the licensing fees in local currency and support from YaaniMail teams. Built on Turkcell's infrastructure, YaaniMail is tightly integrated with Turkcell's cloud storage platform Lifebox and authentication service Fast Login.

United Arab Emirates: Final offer? - Etisalat, which has a 26 percent stake in the Pakistan Telecommunication Company (PTCL), has offered USD 267 million to settle a decade-old dispute, The Express Tribune reported. The offer is one-third of the total outstanding dues amounting to USD 800 million. If the offer is accepted, the total value of the privatisation transaction would be reduced from USD 2.60 billion to USD 2.07 billion.