News in Brief 8 August 2018

Africa:

Africa: Gender gap - The GSMA's Mobile Gender Gap in 2018 research found that women in Sub-Saharan Africa are 14 percent less likely to own a mobile handset, 20 prcent less likely to use mobile money and 34 percent less likely to use the Internet.Sub-Saharan Africa's average gender gap in terms of mobile ownership and mobile internet use is second only to South Asia. The Report estimates that the commercial opportunity for mobile operators in closing the gender gap across low and middle income countries worldwide stands at USD 15 billion.

Burkina Faso: Aspiring Orange - Orange has targeted 10 million subscribers by 2020. Orange Burkina Faso's General Manager Ben Cheick Haidara, said: "Orange is now the market leader, both in terms of subscribers and revenues." In two years it has added more than 3 million additional customers, bringing its total base to 8.5 million.

Cote d'Ivoire: Collaborative deals signed - On 27 July 2018 in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso signed four cooperation agreements in the fields of audiovisual, the digital economy, of youth and women, the TICMag Website reported. The cooperation agreement in the areas of digital economy and post will allow parties to share experiences and to interconnect electronic communication infrastructures. The audiovisual sector deal focuses on co-production, training and cinematographic and audiovisual exchanges.

Ghana: Interest payment - MTN Ghana on 2 August said it had paid out some GHS 98.9 million (USD 20.6 million) interest to mobile money customers after the Bank of Ghana approved the payment to subscribers in September 2016. MTN's Mobile Financial Services General Manager Eli Hini said it had over 9 million active subscribers; 100,000 agents and over 50,000 merchants, as well as 17 partner banks. The comments were made at 'Digitizing Payments in Ghana - The Role of Mobile Money' convened at Kasoa New Market, in the Central Region.

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Ghana: IPO completed - MTN completed its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on 31 July 2018. It is offering 35 percent of its shares to the public to complete the regulatory processes after it secured a 4G spectrum licence. MTN was targeting an estimated GHS 3.5 billion (USD 728.5 million). MTN’s Chief Finance Officer Modupe Agbolade Kadri told CitiNews that it did not know the level of subscription, and that when the IPO closes, it will have to engage the Bank of Ghana with regard to what it can repatriate and the associated mechanics. Meanwhile CEO of MTN, Selorm Adadevoh has dispelled assertions that the company is planning not declare dividends.

Ghana: Open-ended bundles - Mobile operator AirtelTigo is to launch data bundles with 'no expiry' for new and existing pre-paid customers. The 'Big Time Data Bundles' are offered for GHS 1, 2, 5 and 10 (USD 0.21, 0.42, 1.04 and 2.08). The bundles will allow access to social media platforms. The bundles are available to pre-paid users only. AirtelTigo's Director of Market Growth, Pius Owusu-Tuffour, said that research has shown that there has been a substantial boost in data usage among its customers.

Mozamibque: Directors appointed - Following the merger of Mozambican Telecommunications Companies (TDM) and, Mozambique Cellular (Mcel) due to their poor financial performance 13 new directors were sworn in on 31 July, the Opais Sapo news site reported. The new members will support the Board in the process of restructuring and merging TDM and Mcel.

Nigeria: Data monitor - Glomobile's subscribers can now estimate their monthly Internet data usage on online activities, using the Glo Data Calculator in real time. In a press statement said 'customers will determine the total number of data they require within the month based on their data calculation on the website and app thus making budgeting easy.' Subscribers will choose monthly data entries, followed by details of various online activities including emails sent and received per day, and hours of streaming music (Music, Apple Music and others in Minutes/Day) to calculate usage. It will also measure hours of surfing the Web (Shopping online, news and others, in minutes/day), use of social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram in minutes/day), hours of streaming non-HD and high-definition videos (Youtube, Netflix and others in minutes/day), as well as time spent online gaming (Candy Crush, Scrabble etc in minutes/day).

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Namibia: Debtors deadline - Telecom Namibia said from 12 August that it would suspend all overdue service accounts. Affected services cover mobile phones, fixed lines and data services. Customers failing to pay the bill by the deadline will have their services suspended temporarily. Defaulters include Government Ministries, Hospitals, Institutions of Education, State Owned Enterprises, Embassies, Construction companies, VIP's, SMEs and Individual Residential users.

Nigeria: Mobile money relaunch - mCASH was relaunched on 31 July by the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems' with the participation by all major mobile telcos and sixteen banks. mCASH is a mobile payment system for making low-value retail payments designed to extend e-payment options to low-income buyers and sellers who deal in cash which was first launched in 2016. The USSD-based service delivers funds to merchants' accounts based on USSD technology.

South Africa: Banking realignment - Absa Group has launched WhatsApp banking. Reuters has reported that the bank has devised a growth strategy to regain market share in retail banking at home and double sales across the continent from 6 to 12 percent after the bank's separation from Barclays PLC. Separately, Societe Generale is reported to be in talks with Absa about selling its local unit as the French bank prepares to pull out of South Africa, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

South Africa: Data protection - Vodacom is reported by The Daily Maverick to have paid some ZAR 1.25 million (USD 95,000) to settle a legal battle with Paul O'Sullivan after handing over his personal information without his permission. He claimed to have spent some ZAR 2 million on legal fees after Vodacom gave his personal information to a firm of attorneys representing Krejcir in 2014. Vodacom said in May 2017 that it had released 'certain information under a lawfully-issued subpoena, as it was obliged to do so in terms of Section 179 of the Criminal Procedure Act'.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

South Africa: Demand management - The sale of fixed-wireless 4G LTE products have been 'temporarily suspended' by Rain via its partner ISPs, in order to 'better manage capacity' on its network, TechCentral has reported. Rain sells fixed LTE services via Internet Solutions (IS), a division of Dimension Data. ISPs that have launched fixed-wireless broadband products on the back of the Rain network include Web Africa, Axxess, M-Web, Vox Telecom and Afrihost. Rain CEO Willem Roos said that the network was still being rolled-out with new towers to increase both coverage and capacity.

South Africa: Financial appointment - Huge Telecom has named Robert Burger as its Director of Finance with effect from 1 August 2018. Huge Telecom is a 100 percent owned subsidiary of JSE-listed Huge. Burger is a chartered accountant and a commercial and financial executive who was previously employed by Vodacom. He set-up the Vodacom commercial credit division and successfully ran the multi-billion rand commercial credit portfolio for six years, an also headed up the Vodacom Business finance function.

South Africa: Flexible card - Standard Bank has launched Africa's first virtual card ecosystem, whilst partnering with Samsung to enable the Samsung Pay wallet for customers with compatible smartphones. The virtual card is accessible through the bank's mobile app, where it can be created and topped up with cash on an ongoing basis. The card can be a Standard Bank card or a co-branded card with one of its ecommerce partners, including Takealot, Travelstart and Zando.

South Africa: LT explores LTE - Liquid Telecom (LT) is exploring partnerships to make the most of its spectrum, and enhance its LTE network and wireless product offerings, reports Mybroadband. CEO Reshaad Sha said it was looking at variousartnership models but could not reveal which companies it is talking to, but it is likely to include a mobile operator. LT has spectrum in the 850 MHz, 1.8 GHz, and 3.5 GHz bands, and will focus on fixed products in the consumer and SME market. It is also exploring a service provider model with both its LTE and fixed connectivity products.

another fine mess for african telecoms

Middle East:

Bahrain: Complaint handling - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) held a workshop regarding its Consumer Dispute Regulations as applied to network operators, with particular reference to compliance and enforcement. The TRA stressed the importance of complying with the measures, and in the case of a failure of an operator to comply; the regulator may impose fines up to BHD 50,000 (USD 132,000). Subscribers no longer have to wait 60 days to submit a dispute to the TRA. Instead, they can submit a dispute after the exhaustion of the telecoms operator’s procedures for dealing with complaints in accordance with the Code of Practice.

Bahrain: Deadline reminder - Batelco has reminded its customers with SIM cards to register before the specified deadlines. Post-paid users must register before 2 September and pre-paid by 2 March 2019. The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) SIM-card Enabled Telecommunications Services Registration Regulation came into effect on 12 July 2017. The regulation governs the registration of both pre and post-paid SIM cards for all mobile operators. Bahraini nationals require a valid ID (CPR/Smartcard); GCC nationals valid GCC national ID or valid Bahraini ID (CPR/Smartcard); Non-Bahraini or non-GCC nationals a valid passport or valid Bahraini ID (CPR/Smartcard); Commercial/ government entities a copy of valid commercial registration (CR), authorisation letter and valid ID (CPR/Smartcard) for the authorised signatory of the entity.

Jordan: Centre coordination - Orange Jordan has launched a digital umbrella for its national group of Orange Digital Centres. CEO Thierry Marigny said that Orange Jordan has striven to achieve the King's vision as a knowledge society, and is in line with its five-year 'Essentials 2020' strategy, which aims to provide national Internet access. A number of agreements have been signed with various parties to equip ten digital centres in different governorates.

Oman: Dominance review - The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is to undertake a review of the market and identify constraints to competition, as well as prevent abuse of dominant position by operators. The Muscat Daily reports that the regulator is commissioning a consultancy project to assist in a 'Market Review' with consultants invited to submit proposals for the subject tender by 28 August. The consultant will review all previously defined markets (retail and wholesale) and propose the introduction of new markets, where required, for fixed, mobile and data services. The Market Definition and Dominance Decision of 2013 is also due to be revised in 2018.

Oman: Super SIM - Ooredoo Oman has issued an enhanced digital SIM for its New Shababiah prepaid plan. For OMR 3 (USD 7.77) until 1 November. Subscribers can get 1 GB of data, 50 local voice call minutes, and Endless WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, and Facebook Messenger. Users in Muscat and Barka can obtain the SIM using the Ooredoo Oman app for home delivery.

Turkey: Gamers welcomed - Vodafone Turkey has partnered with Zynga and Netcom Media to offer the Vodafone Game Pass (Vodafone Oyun Pass) weekly add-on. This provides access to Zynga's most popular 4 game applications for a week without using any MBs. Vodafone is also giving subscribers 45,000 virtual coins that they can use for in-game purchases. Vodafone's 'Vodafone Pass' packages cost from TRY 3 (USD 0.62) per week.

United Arab Emirates: AI alliance - The government and Invest India have signed a MoU for the India-UAE Artificial Intelligence Bridge which is dedicated to supporting discussion and exploring options for both countries to grow their artificial intelligence economies, Emirates News Agency reported. The partnership aims to generate an estimated USD 20 billion in economic benefits during the next decade. A UAE-India AI Working Committee (TWG) will be convened between the UAE's Ministry for Artificial Intelligence, Invest India and Startup India which will meet once a year with the mandate to increase investment in AI start-ups and research activities in partnership with the private sector.

United Arab Emirates: MIMO trial - Etisalat and Ericsson have completed a live on-air trial of the Ericsson Radio System with massive MIMO technology. Massive MIMO has enabled the launch of the Antenna Integrated Radio (AIR) 6468 on the Etisalat UAE network. The trial was conducted in the dense and high-traffic urban environment of Dubai Marina.

United Arab Emirates: SAS renewed - Etisalat Group subsidiary Ebtikar Card Systems has said that its advanced production centre in Ajman has successfully renewed its security accreditation scheme (SAS) certification with the GSMA. The certification confirms that Ebtikar's UICC card production and personalization processes, as well as its entire site operations, meet the GSMA's standards for security and data protection. Ebtikar was established in 1996 and its services include OS development, standalone applications, SIM management and solutions.

Device developments:

Qatar: Budget busters - Vodafone Qatar has launched three low-budget Oppo smartphones. The Oppo F7, A83 Pro and A71K are priced at QAR 1,249, 649 and 499 (USD 339, 176 and 135) respectively. New and existing subscribers will also receive up to 7 GB of free data and free accessories such as a phone case and screen protector. The Oppo F7 has a 25 MP selfie camera and notch display, facial recognition and the latest Android OS. It has 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal storage. The Oppo A83 Pro has a 5.7-inch HD+ LCD display and a single 13 MP rear camera sensor with an LED flash while at the front, there is an 8 MP camera for selfies. It is a dual-SIM phone and the storage is expandable up to 256 GB. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and a Micro-USB port, and can unlock the screen using facial recognition. The Oppo A71K screen size is 5.2 inches and it weighs 137 grams. It has 16 GB of internal storage and the primary camera has a 13 MP sensor and the selfie snapper has a 5 MP sensor. The device supports a dual nano-SIM card slot and it also features a Face Unlock.