Telecoms in Africa – August 2103

August 1st, 2013, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Compiled by Matthew White

IHS raises US$522-million to build more cellphone towers

African cellular telephone tower operator IHS Towers has reportedly raised US$522-million in debt and equity to continue expansion of its business across the African continent. A new US$242-million commitment came from an undisclosed Asian fund and previous investors including Wendel Group, Emerging Capital Partners and Investec Asset Management. Coupled with another $280-million in debt financing from the International Finance Corp, the telecom infrastructure developer said it is well capitalised for the next phase of its growth. IHS Towers said it will use the money to finance construction of more than 1000 towers in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon; investing in solar power and energy-efficient upgrades to towers as well as financing expansion into new markets. IHS has 8500 towers in its portfolio and has built more than 3000 for its clients since its launch in 2001.

Vimpelcom set to sells sub-Saharan assets

New-York listed telecoms group Vimpelcom has reportedly agreed to sell two of its sub-Saharan assets for about US$100-million, and is bidding for Pakistani mobile operator Warid Telecom. Vimpelcom, which has operations in Russia, Italy and various emerging markets, put some African assets on the block last year to focus on larger markets and cut its debt. It is now said to have reached an agreement to sell Telecel Global, which includes Vimpelcom’s Burundi and Central African Republic units, to Neil Telecom, an emerging market-focused telecoms venture. The deal is subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Mobile Money generates more than than 11 000 jobs in Kenya

Mobile Money, a payment solution developed by Vodafone that was introduced into Kenya in March 2007 for mobile-phone customers who do not have bank accounts, has generated more than 11 000 jobs, according to the Communications Commission of Kenya. The commission says uptake of mobile money has expanded, with subscriptions increasing by 10,1% to reach 23,2-million at the latest count. This growth is attributed to convenience and the value-added services of facilitating payments for goods and services.

Zambia’s Africonnect budgets US$7-million in under-served areas

Zambian Internet services provider Africonnect says it will spend about
US$7-million to expand connectivity throughout under-served regions of the country in the next 18 months. MD Matt Madzima said his firm is growing its businesses rapidly, focusing on delivering high-quality products and service to its customers throughout the ten provinces.

East African banks hard hit by cyber crimes

East African banks have lost more than US$50-million through cyber crimes, according to Boniface Kanemba, president of the Tanzanian chapter of ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association) a non-governmental organisation. Announcing a three-day seminar to educate stakeholders on appropriate control measures, he said research conducted in 2012 by Deloitte & Touche revealed that not only have the banks lost this amount, but the loss rate is likely to increase as most of them have failed to implement systems to curb cyber crimes.

Zimbabwe telecoms disrupted in run-up to election

While Zimbabwe’s elections appeared to be “free and fair”, according to the head of the country’s Election Commission, Rita Makarau, other observers are dubious, particularly given the disruption to telecoms during campaigning. Information and media project said its bulk messaging service was blocked by the country’s telecoms regulatory body. When text messages kept bouncing back, the project’s content manager contacted mobile service provider Econet and was told the Posts & Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe had issued the directive to block the messages. In another disruptive move, Econet Wireless, which has more than 8-million subscribers, severed its mobile interconnection with the second largest operator Telecel, claiming that the latter had not renewed its operating licence, and that Econet was consequently obliged by law to sever ties. The result was that in the days leading up to the election millions of Zimbabweans using these different services could not connect to each other.

Ethiopia signs first half of major network expansion deal

State-owned monopoly Ethio Telecom (ET) signed half of a US$1,6-billion network expansion deal with Chinese telecoms company Huawei. ET initially announced that the deal was to be signed with Huawe and another Chinese company, ZTE, but the latter’s part of the deal has apparently been delayed; no reasons for the delay have been given. The project calls for the country to be divided into eleven infrastructural zones, and to provide Addis Ababa with fourth-generation (4G) technology with browsing speeds of 100 mps. It will also enable 3G services across the rest of the country. According to ET, the project, which is to be completed before the end of next year, will increase mobile service capacity from 23-million, its current limit, to 50-million.

Nigeria’s Borno state blacked out in wake of Boko Haram attacks

Telephone services in Nigeria’s Borno state had not been restored by early August, following President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration of a state of emergency in north-eastern Nigeria on 14 May following an insurrection by militant Islamist group Boko Haram that has so far caused an estimated 10 000 deaths. The Nigerian military initially ordered network operators to switch off base stations in the affected states to make communication among Boko Haram members difficult in a bid to impair the planning and execution of attacks. Telephone services have been restored to Yobe and Adamawa states, but Borno remains blacked out. On a brighter note, Federal Minister of Communications & Technology Omobola Johnson says the government’s mobile broadband plan aims to provide telecoms access to 80% of the country’s population, while fixed broadband would provide access to the remaining 20% by 2017.

Rwandans take to e-tax platform despite problems

More than 77% of targeted taxpayers have already started using Rwanda’s e-tax platform despite the lack of enthusiasm that characterised the exercise at the beginning. Commissioner for domestic taxes Celestin Bumbakare said all the targeted big taxpayers and small-and-medium enterprises have registered on the e-tax platform, while 30% of the very small businesses have got e-tax accounts.


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