News in Brief 11 September 2019


Africa: Regional executive - Ian Ferrao has been appointed as Airtel Africa's regional director of its East Africa operations. Ferrao has more than twelve years of experience in senior management roles in Africa, and prior to joining Airtel Africa, he was CEO of Vodacom Tanzania, CEO of Vodacom Lesotho and Chief Commercial Officer at Vodacom Business Africa.

Angola: Angolan awards - Angola Cables has won two categories in the Global Brands Magazine 2019: 'Best Global Telecommunications Network Operator' and 'Data CEO of the Year'. The later was awarded to engineer Antonio Nunes, who has been in the driving seat since the inception of the company. The awards were announced at a gala dinner in South Africa.

Benin: Digital stability - President Patrice Talon announced on 5 September 2019 a cabinet reshuffle in which Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou retained the digital portfolio, and so occupies one of the three priority areas on which the government intends to develop its economic recovery strategy. Some 2,000 km of fibre is now deployed in 67 of the 77 municipalities. The cybersecurity National Security and Information Systems Agency (ANSSI) is now functioning. A national data centre is under construction.

Ghana: Money movements grow - In the first half of 2019 mobile money transactions totalled some GHS 140 billion (USD 25.6 billion) according to the Bank of Ghana. This is a 34 percent increase from the 1H 2018 figure of GHS 104 billion (USD 19 billion). The report covers major payment systems including cheque payments, direct debit and direct credit. Cheques declined in both volume and value. Data on mobile money interoperability saw an increase in value from GHS 212 million (USD 38.7 million) between May and December 2018, to GHC 217 million (USD 39.6 million) from January to June 2019.

Liberia: Bundle bonus - Lonestar Cell MTN has launched the MTN X5 offer, providing subscribers with up to five times the value of the bundles they buy. To take advantage of the offer, customers should top up, dial star 555 hash and select the bundle they want. New subscribers can buy a new SIM for LRD 100 (USD 0.48). The new SIM comes with USD 0.50 cashback credit in their MoMo wallet, which can be used to buy airtime. Customers also get 400 percent airtime bonus every time they recharge using MoMo. The bonus is valid for 48 hours after each recharge. The deal was announced as the LTA called time on 'three days free calls' promotions, claiming they had created a price war.

Morocco: Mobile money launch - Inwi has launched mobile payment services. According to North Arica Post, Inwi Money has launched less than a year after the Central Bank approved mobile payment services. Users will be able to proceed to pay and transfer money without visiting a bank agency. The service enables users to receive money transferred nationally and internationally on their phones. They can also send money to other users via their phones.

State of Digital - Angola: February 2018

Nigeria: Upgrade promotion - MultiChoice Nigeria has announced the return of its 'Step Up' campaign aimed at DStv and GOtv customers from 2 September to 31 October. It incentivises customers to subscribe to a higher tier package and get upgraded to the bundle above that. The campaign initially ran from 15 January to 15 April. MultiChoice Nigeria's Chief Customer Officer, Martin Mabutho, said DStv customers currently on the Access package, but who choose to pay NGN 4,000 (USD 10.91) for the Family package, will get boosted to view programmes on the Compact package. Customers currently on the Family package but who choose to pay NGN 6,800 (USD 18.55) for the Compact package, will be given the Compact Plus package. Compact customers who pay NGN 10,650 for Compact Plus package will, in turn, get Premium package programming.

Nigeria & South Africa: Damage condemned - MTN Group remains opposed to any form of xenophobia and damage to property and expressed growing concern about the situation in its markets, especially in Nigeria and South Africa. MTN confirmed in a statement that over the last day four MTN outlets in Nigeria have been attacked and it has closed some stores in Johannesburg. MTN's stores and service centres in Nigeria have been closed as a precaution. The operator said it remains committed to ensuring a peaceful, harmonious and respectful relationship with all its stakeholders across Africa.

Senegal: Calls cut - The government has imposed restrictions on outgoing calls in the public administration to cut public spending, with effect from 1 September, Agence Ecofin has reported. The State Information Office (BIG) has said that the subscriptions of civil servants have been reviewed with mobile operators and "only incoming calls are maintained until 30 September before the lines are fully terminated." Decree 2019-1310 of 14 August 2019 fixed a flat-rate monthly allowance for mobile telephony charges for certain State employees.

another fine mess for african telecoms

South Africa: Big mobile deal - Big Deal is the new September promotional offering from Telkom South Africa, MyBroadband reported. The deal offers FreeMe 20GB at a discounted rate of ZAR 499 (USD 33) per month on a 24-month contract. This provides 20 GB of mobile data, as well as 62 GB of extra, specific-use data for certain applications, as well as 3,000 on-net minutes and 1,500 any-net minutes. The extra data bundle comprises 2 GB for WhatsApp for calls and messages, 10 GB for music streaming, and 50 GB for video streaming. The deal is SIM-only. Music and video streaming data can only be used on platforms compatible with the Telkom LIT offering, including Netflix, Showmax and YouTube. This offer is available until 30 September.

South Africa: Faster fibre roll-out - Vox Telecom has agreed to buy out Investec as part of a ZAR 2 billion (USD 134 million) recapitalisation of the company, TechCentral reports. Vox CEO Jacques du Toit revealed that Metier Private Equity and Vox Telecom's management are also part of the transaction. The group will then look to accelerate its fibre roll-out outside the main cities and to the country's small businesses. The executive said: "Based on the current growth rate that Vox is experiencing, the majority of our shareholders decided not to sell the business - Additional investment will be focused on accelerating our growth strategies." Investec was part of a group that bought Vox for ZAR 452 million (USD 29.7 million) in 2011, and owns a third of the company.

South Africa: Home bundles - MTN South Africa has launched a fixed LTE home Wi-Fi 120 GB data deal for ZAR 399 (USD 26.21) per month or 210 GB for ZAR 599 (USD 39.34) per month effective from 1 September. Users signing-up for or upgrading to the MTN Made For Home 60 GB data plan will receive 120 GB along with the Huawei B612 router, 50 GB of Anytime Data, 50 GB Night Express Data, and a 20 GB video streaming bundle. Signatories for new accounts or upgrades to the MTN Made For Home 120 GB data plan will receive 210 GB data along with the Huawei B612 router, 80 GB of Anytime Data, 80 GB of Night Express Data and a 50 GB video streaming bundle. In the first month users will benefit from an extra 20 GB of promotional data and the 14 GB Entertainment Pass valid for 30 days. The Entertainment Pass includes social and content streaming data.

South Africa: Rebrand - STEM is the new name for connectivity provider XDSL; XDSL pioneered DSL as a service. STEM offers a range of connectivity services, including business and enterprise fibre, MPLS and multi-branch, voice and cloud services, and fibre-to-the-home. MyBroadband reported that as part of its rebranding campaign, it is running an enterprise fibre special offer, providing 200 Mbps Internet, six international fibre routes and a comprehensive SLA for ZAR 8,999 (USD 590) per month for three years.

South Africa: Thin phone - Tecno Mobile has introduced its 4G smartphone Spark 3 Pro retailing at ZAR 2,499 (USD 164) in selected stores. The device comes with an 8MP front camera and Al Bright feature for selfies located in the notch as the top of the 6.2-inch screen. The device is 5.75mm thick.

South Africa: World first - Vodacom Business, Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) and Altron are partnering to provide connectivity and Wi-Fi with new Toyota and Lexus models. The Toyota Connect hub will be housed within the MyToyota app, and TSAM is the first manufacturer in South Africa to offer a mobile app that is fully integrated, and claims to be the first in the world to offer the convergence of Wi-Fi and connectivity in one package throughout the model range. From 1 September, all new Toyota and Lexus models sold in South Africa will come with in-car Wi-Fi, including 15 GB of free data and connectivity features courtesy of Toyota Connect, an extension of the MyToyota app. Through its Netstar subsidiary, Altron jointly designed the bespoke technology platform with Toyota which enables Internet of Things (IoT) services such as telematics and fleet management.

Sudan: QoS queried - The Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority of Sudan's Director-General, Al-Sadiq Jamal Al-Deen invited the senior executives of the three MNOs to a meeting on 3 September 2019 to discuss Quality of Service, Agence Ecofin reported. Currently, there are some 30.29 million mobile subscribers and mobile penetration stands at 72 percent. The D-G also asked the telcos to develop plans for renewal and development of communication services to complete the transition to 4G.

Tanzania: Self-help SIM management - Vodacom Tanzania and Flickswitch have launched a SIM manager, a mobile connectivity management platform for companies looking to provide Mobility and Internet of Things (IoT) services to their customers on the Vodacom Tanzania network. Vodacom SIM Manager provides a mobile eco-system that gives businesses in Tanzania with large scale communication needs access to self-help online SIM management tools. Customers can self-provision mobile numbers and build their own monthly packages by setting up smart Top-Up rules.

Uganda: Money rates cut - MTN Uganda has reduced the mobile money fees on-net cash transmission by up to half with effect from 7 September 2019. The fee for sending UGX 500,001 - 7,000,000 is now UGX 1,500, down from UGX 2,200, while sending UGX 5,001 - 500,000 is now between UGX 500 and 1,300. The charges for sending to other networks and withdrawing are unchanged. 87 percent of all mobile money to/from bank transactions are reported to be facilitated by MTN Mobile Money. The move follows a call by Bank of Uganda Deputy Governor Dr Louis Kasakende in August, noting that mobile money charges for sending monetary value within the same network in Uganda are currently about double the applicable rate in Kenya and Tanzania. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) put the national mobile subscriber base at 23.3 million at the end of September 2018.

Zimbabwe: Inflationary data - Data tariffs have been increased by Econet Zimbabwe for the second time in a month, Zimtechreview reports. The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) allowed for a 100 percent increase in voice tariffs four weeks ago and comes with changes in the network's data packages. Users will get a 250 MB daily bundle for USD 3.50, against USD 6.50 for 180 MB.

Middle East:

Bahrain: Samsung in stock - Viva Bahrain now has stocks of the new Samsung Galaxy Note10 available in store and online. This offers 256 GB and 512 GB worth of built-in storage, with the ability to add an additional 1 TB of external storage. Customers purchasing the device will also receive an additional 100 GB for 10 months and BHD 50 (USD 132) cashback on Viva Cash, and up to BHD 275 (USD 728) discount when they trade-in their old device. The device is available on 18 and 24 month contract starting from BHD 12 (USD 32).

Israel: Sabag steps down - Cellcom Israel's Vice President for Marketing, Yoni Sabag has resiged after eight years in office. Sabag will continue to serve until his replacement is found. During his tenure, Cellcom Israel led breakthrough marketing and advertisement campaigns, which included launching the Cellcom TV service and creating a leading television service.

Lebanon: Youth empowerment - Zain Group is to support the Mentor Arabia Foundation, the regional branch of Mentor International. The mission of Mentor Arabia is to empower Arab children and youth through policies, capacity development, advocacy, knowledge and partnerships. The two will jointly develop strategic partnerships with relevant entities and stakeholders; network with entities and organizations that are effective in the field of youth empowerment; and coordinate the various implementation phases of the joint programmes. Zain Group and Mentor Arabia will also look to advocate their endeavours through various media and social media platforms and create fundraising opportunities for Mentor Arabia to scale up the number of program beneficiaries.

Qatar: Device deal - The Samsung Galaxy Note10 is now available at certain Vodafone stores and online. Customers purchasing it will also receive a Galaxy Tab 8.0 2019 LTE worth QAR 579 (USD 158) free of charge in a deal exclusive to Vodafone. Customers will also get a 20 percent discount for six months when they sign up for any Red Plan and up to 24 GB of free data for three months. The Galaxy Note10 comes in Aura Glow, Aura White and Aura Black. The price of the device is dependent on memory size.

Saudi Arabia: Nurturing Nokia - The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Nokia to set up a global centre for software development and support in the country. The Nokia Bell Labs research unit and a Nokia repair centre for base station HW modules will service Saudi Arabia initially, and potentially the GCC at a later stage. It will also develop training and internships for students and new graduates. Nokia will work with MCIT and Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) on 5G and IoT and their applications using Nokia standards.

United Arab Emirates: NEC executive named - NEC has appointed Baher Ezzat as its new Managing Director for the Middle East. Based in Dubai, the appointment was effective from 21 July and reflects NEC Enterprise Solutions' ambition for growth in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Ezzat joins NEC from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) where he was most recently Middle East regional general manager and head of Vertical Sales in Europe South.

United Arab Emirates: Samsung deals - Etisalat is now offering the Samsung Galaxy Note10 at its business centres and retail stores, and can be bought using Smart Pay plans on a twelve, eighteen or 24-month contracts starting from AED 145 (USD 40). Device rentals will be offered for free up to four months to Etisalat subscribers who buy it on a 24-month Smart Pay plan in 2019, so that they do not start paying until January 2020. Reservations were first taken on 8 August. The standalone price for the standard Galaxy Note10 is AED 3,332.38 (USD 907.11), while the Galaxy Note10+ costs AED 3,808.57 (USD 1,036.74). Subscribers purchasing it with a new or existing pre-paid account can dial star 056 hash and receive the deal of the day, which might be 1 GB for three months, 3 GB for two months or 10 GB for one month.