News in Brief 15 January 2020

Africa:

Africa: Six-fold growth - SVoD revenues are forecast to reach USD 1.06 billion by 2025, six times the 2019 total of USD 183 million, according to a forecast by Digital TV Research. It predicts 9.72 million SVoD subscriptions by 2025, up from 2.68 million at end-2019. South Africa will remain the leader with 3.24 million subscriptions by 2025, with Nigeria coming second with 2.14 million. According to the study, the top six platforms accounted for 86 percent of the region's SVoD subscribers by end-2019, with this proportion to climb to 94 percent by 2025. Netflix will add 3.6 million subscribers to reach 5 million by 2025. Disney Plus is not expected to start until 2022, but is predicted to have 1.37 million paying subscribers by 2025.

Chad: Rates cut - The 18 percent excise duty on Internet access rates have been dropped with effect from 1 January 2020, as per the Finance Act 2020, according to Agence Ecofin. Consequently mobile operators have revised their Internet plans to show the new, lower prices. Airtel's rate for 200 Mb to has fallen to XAF 400 (USD 0.68)nfrom XAF 500, and for 1 Gb from XAF 1,500 to XAF 1,200, whilst Tigo's 50 Mb mobile plan costing XAF 250 has fallen to XAF 200. Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) reports that Chad has the most expensive Internet rates in the region, while Cameroon has the most affordable prices.

Congo Brazzaville: Regulatory review - The 17th seminar of the Reseau Francophone de la Regulation des Telecommunications (FRATEL) is to be held in Brazzaville, at the Radisson Blu M'Bamou Palace hotel, on 2 - 3 April 2020 with the theme "What tariff regulation for wholesale products?". This meeting is organized by the Fratel 2020 coordination committee and the Agence de Regulation des Postes et des Communications. The seminar is to address the various tariff obligations imposed by the regulatory authorities to remedy the power of certain operators (asymmetric regulation) or to all operators (symmetrical regulation).

Egypt: Cloud service centre - Avaya is to launch a global centre to provide its services in all the countries in which it operates, besides localising its cloud-based technologies, software and products. Minister of ICT, Amr Talaat, held a meeting with Nidal Abou-Ltaif, president for Avaya International in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific, to discuss cooperation in training and technological products to support digital transformation in Egypt. Talaat said his ministry is interested in cooperating with major international companies specialising in smart technology, stressing the importance of cooperation with Avaya.

Ghana: New numbers - MTN Ghana has added a new network code (059) to its existing codes, as allotted by the National Communication Authority. MTN Ghana's existing codes are (024), (054) and (055).

Ghana: Roaming relief - MTN Ghana has waived roaming charges for its subscribers when they visit some of the countries where the Group currently operates, namely Afghanistan, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Congo, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, and South Sudan. The operator has just launched the MTN HelloWorld initiative which allows its mobile customers to enjoy the same tariffs they have in Ghana. The move follows the announcement by the Ministry of Communications that Ghanaians will soon enjoy free mobile roaming services when they visit ECOWAS member countries.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Ghana: Smart City funding - Ghana-based tech company Celltel Networks has appointed local finance company Ed & Co Capital as financial advisors for the USD 500 million Ghana Smart Cities project. The project aims to provide an affordable national Wi-Fi network in collaboration with local government institutions and other strategic and relevant government agencies. It is scheduled to start in 2Q 2020. An MoU has been signed by the two companies in Accra. Celltel founder and executive chairman Prince Kofi Kludjeson said the scheme will provide affordable Apple handheld devices, laptops on subscription and flexible payment terms to enable more people to buy Apple devices on instalments.

Kenya: Manager named - Kendi Ntwiga Nderitu has been named as Microsoft's manager for its local operations. Ntwiga had previously served as the General Manager of the East, West and Central Africa Cluster for Check Point Software before joining Microsoft. Her career has included roles at Oracle, HP and Intel, where she led business strategies throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Ntwiga is the founder of She-Goes-Tech, an initiative to mentor girls and women who are pursuing STEM careers. Her new role includes the creation of strategies, building plans, allocation of resources and establishment of priorities and supervising engagements.

Mozambique: Funding required - State-owned telco Mocambique Telecom (TMCEL) needs USD 200 million to implement a number of projects during 2020 according to the head of the state asset management body Instituto de Gestao das Participacoes do Estado (IGEPE) as cited by local newspaper Noticias cited IGEPE president Ana Coanai. The president did not give further details of the projects to be completed in 2020. Funding will come from bank loans. TMCEL was created in January 2019 following the merger of Telecomunicacoes de Mocambique (TDM) and its wholly owned mobile subsidiary mCel.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Nigeria: Enhanced entertainment - MNO 9mobile is collaborating with Nextsat TV to provide video and audio entertainment, reports CommunicationsWeek. Content will include output from the Nigerian music industry, the Nigerian Professional Football League, Kannywood (Hausa cinema), Nollywood and other providers. Subscribers of Nextsat TV will have several viewing options, including dish decoder, mobile/Over-the-Top (OTT), Pay Per View, Video On Demand and e-Gaming.

Nigeria: Tax take - MTN Nigeria has paid some NGN 1.7 trillion (USD 4.7 billion) in taxes to the government, BusinessDay reported. In 4Q 2019 it launched its mobile money service MoMo Agent under its Y'ello Digital Financial Services (YDFS) subsidiary.

South Africa: Centre construction commences - Africa Data Centres (ADC) has started the construction of its latest facility in Midrand, Johannesburg, which is due for completion in 2021. ADC currently has five data centres at major regional hubs including Midrand, Town, Nairobi, Harare and Kigali. ADC's Group Development Director, Xavier Matagne, at said that the new centre will provide users the flexibility they need from a co-location facility. Matagne noted that certain elements of the project are to be built on site. However, items such as the critical plant rooms are prefabricated, and brought to the site.

Uganda: Toll of taxation - Taxes levied on Internet service are the biggest challenge to achieving digital inclusion and low data costs according to Airtel Uganda. The Monitor reported Managing Director VG Somasekhar as saying that the telecom sector has attempted to cut prices but achieving affordability and digital inclusion remains difficult due to the current tax regime. Taking account of VAT, Excise Duty and Over the top Tax (OTT), Internet access taxes now account for 50 percent of the cost. In 2018 the government implemented a social media tax of UGX 200 per day with a target to collect at least UGX 24.6 billion every quarter. This saw a reduction in Internet revenues and an increase in the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).

Middle East:

Bahrain: Cloud Interconnect - Batelco is now offering Google Cloud Interconnect, adding it to the range that includes AWS Direct Connect and Microsoft Express Route. Among the benefits are reduced network costs, increased bandwidth throughput, and a more consistent network service than internet-based connections. Google Cloud Interconnect provides users with direct physical connections between their on-premises network and Google's network, allowing the transfer of large amounts of data and resulting in cost efficiency as it does not require the purchase of additional bandwidth over the public internet. Other benefits are low latency and highly available connections.

Israel: Cellcom CEO - Cellcom Israel has appointed Avi Gabbay as CEO, effective 19 January 2020. Gabbay held a variety of leadership posts in Israel's politics from 2014 to September 2019, including as the Minister of Environmental Protection, the chairman of the Havoda (labor) Party and a member of the Israeli Parliament. He was one of the founders of the Kulanu Party and from 2013 to 2015 also served as the chairman of the board of the Appleseeds non-profit organisation. In the period 1998 to 2013 Gabbay served in various roles in the Bezeq Group, including Bezeq's CEO (2007-2013), Bezeq International (Bezeq's subsidiary)'s CEO (2003-2007), VP Economics and Strategy and VP Human Resources. From 1994 to 1998 Gabbay served in various positions in the Budget Division of the Israeli Ministry of Finance.

Kuwait: Drone accreditation - Zain Group has said that its Zain Drone subsidiary has received ISO 9001:2015 certification with respect to its Quality Management System, and consequently it is the first drone services provider in the region to be so recognised.

Qatar: 5G device - Vodafone Qatar has launched the Huawei 5G Mobile Wi-Fi Pro, which can convert 5G signals to Wi-Fi signals, and share 5G with existing phones and other devices even if they are not 5G-enabled. The device costs QAR 1,799 (USD 494) from selected Vodafone Qatar retail stores and its online shop.

Qatar: TV app expansion - Ooredoo Qatar's One entertainment service is now available on the Ooredoo TV App. The application gives subscribers access to more than 60 television channels at home or on their mobile device at no extra cost. Live channels and on-demand entertainment are available, and content in several languages including Arabic, English, Hindi and Urdu.

Saudi Arabia: 5G device offering - Zain KSA is offering 5G network services through MiFi devices, and claims to be providing 'competitive packages' that leverage the MiFi devices' special features, including the ability to service more than sixteen users connected to the same device, and one USB user. It is offering the devices free of charge with the 5G unlimited Internet bundle at a cost of SAR 349 (USD 93) per month for 24 months. The 5G speed via the MiFi device is 1.65 Gbps. It can be used as a wireless charger for most mobile phones, including Huawei, Samsung and Apple.

Saudi Arabia: Family tracking - Virgin Mobile KSA has launched the 'Family Tag' device, which is fitted with a SIM to track relatives. It is available at Virgin Megastore for SAR 160 (USD 43) and the SAR 30 per month subscription fee is waived for the first month. Users need to download the Virgin Mobile App on a mobile device to start using Family Tag. The mapping can be transferred from one device to another and follows subjects on the map. Geo-fencing provides a warning when the specified person moves, whether outside or inside a certain location. Voice calls can be made to the person with a single touch.

Turkey: Airport offering - Turk Telekom is offering a free Internet service to all the visitors to Istanbul Airport. It is offering an hour of free Wi-Fi service which can be used by everyone, whether Turk Telekom subscribers or not. Users have to connect via the IGA Wi-Fi network, and thereafter can purchase paid packages. These are available in two different options; all day or a package offering 2 hours of usage. A mobile team provides continuous technical support.