Telecoms in Africa – April 2012

April 10th, 2012, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Compiled by Matthew White, Iona Press Services


Ghana tops, SA lags in broadband download speed

Ghana tops the African log for broadband download speed with an average of 5,16 Mbps, according to the results of a survey conducted by Ookla, a global leader in broadband testing. Kenya is second with 4,98 Mbps and Angola third with 4,53 Mbps. Rwanda has an average speed of 3,29 Mbps, and Zimbabwe 3,05 Mbps. South Africa trails with a dismal 2,98 Mbps.

Nigeria seizes bank equipment from Benin

In a move that has cross-border implications, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confiscated telecoms equipment, belonging to a branch of Ecobank in neighbouring Benin for alleged breach of NCC’s frequency regulation. Ecobank Transnational is the leading independent regional banking group in West and Central Africa with a presence in numerous countries. NCC¹s Reuben Muoka said officials visited the bank as part of the agency’s enforcement drive. He said that many institutions, especially banks, are guilty of using frequencies without authorisation. “At this particular bank, we found that apart from the fact that they are using this frequency illegally, they have also affected another licenced operator’s frequency. This is the kind of thing that NCC frowns at because we want a sanitised communication space.”

Kenya acts to contain damage from fibre cuts

To combat continuing service degradation following damage to the TEAMS submarine cable, the government of Kenya is to commission a system of fibre-optic rings that will carry communication traffic in the event of a network disruption. Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said that should the cable be severed, communications will be re-routed automatically around the failed area by way of the redundant ring, thus ensuring that connectivity is not affected. In the four weeks following the cutting of the cable by a ship dragging its anchor off Mombasa in late February 2012, the country experienced at least five cable cuts, which have negatively affected business operations. While some of these cuts have been accidental due to ongoing construction work, it is feared that some may be as a result of sabotage. This has heightened calls from industry players for government to fast track enactment of a law to criminalise such acts.

Namibia’s new licences set to change telecoms landscape

New service- and technology-neutral licences issued to three telecoms service providers by regulator CRAN are set to revolutionise the country’s telecoms landscape, say experts. The licences enable AfricaOnline, MTC and WTN to offer a variety of services using the latest technology. Barney Harmse, group CEO of WTN, a telecoms provider with operations in twelve African countries, said that as a result WTN will be the first company in Namibia to roll out 4G rollout on a national scale.

Rwanda gets third telecoms operator

The era of telecoms duopoly in Rwanda has ended with the arrival of competition to incumbents MTN and Tigo in the form of Bharti Airtel. Prime Minister Dr. Pierre Damien Habumuremyi welcomed the country’s third telecom operator, describing it as a boost to the government’s development agenda. The government has set sights on having at least 8-million Rwandan mobile phone subscribers and 5-million internet users by 2016. Current statistics indicate that Rwanda has a 41,6% mobile penetration rate, according to the latest figures from the national regulator, Rura. Airtel Rwanda is a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, which is headquartered in India, and which has a presence in 19 Asian and African countries, including Rwanda’s neighbours Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Tunisiana wins tender for 3G and landline licence

Tunisian telephone company Tunisiana has won an auction organised by the Tunisian Ministry of Communication Technologies for a new telecoms licence. This follows the withdrawal of the only other bidders, Orange and Iliad, which reportedly failed to meet the Ministry’s requirements. With more than six million subscribers, Tunisiana has 65% of the local market. Until now, however, it has not had a licence to provide landlines or a high-speed 3G wireless network. Previously, only Tunisie Telecom and Orange had licences for 3G. Minister of Communication Technologies Mongi Marzoug said the granting of the licence will reduce the digital divide by improving coverage of telecoms services and access to them.

Warid to invest another US$25-milion in Uganda

Following its investment of US$25-million in network expansion and improvement in Uganda last year, a top official has revealed that Warid Telecom will invest a similar amount this year. Warid CEO Sriram Yarlagadda made this announcement at a function to mark the handover of the running of its call-centre operations to Indian-based Spanco BPO in moves to cut costs on non-core business areas. A new joint company Spanco Raps Uganda will manage all Warid’s outsourcing and call-centre operations, including all inbound calls.

Africonnect launches “fastest” internet service in Zambia

Zambian internet service provider Africonnect has launched 4G technology on its network, and now claims to provide the fastest internet service in the country. At a function to mark the launch, Communications Minister Yamfwa Mukanga said the government is committed to working with the industry on pricing and reviewing taxes on ICT, and was looking forward to the significant number of new jobs that could be created in the sector.

MTN gets extended licences in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire

MTN has been awarded a universal licence in Benin and a 3G licence in Cote d’Ivoire. The company promises that subscribers in both countries will begin to enjoy world-class connectivity. The granting of a universal licence makes MTN the first company in Benin allowed to provide subscribers with mobile services using any technology within the defined agreed frequency range without additional fees. It includes 3G, 4G, long term evolution (LTE) technology, wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) outdoor as well as the use of voice over internet protocol (VoIP). MTN Cote d’Ivoire CEO Wim Vanhelleputte said that access to the WACS submarine cable will upgrade connectivity for Ivoirians to international standards.

231 Tanzanian villages to get telecoms links

The government of Tanzania has earmarked 231 villages for a pilot project of Communication for All Fund (CAF) aimed at facilitating telecoms services to areas with low business penetration. The project will be implemented by the China International Telecommunication  Construction Corporation. On completion it will be managed by Tanzania Telecommunication.


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