Telecoms in Africa – July 2013

July 15th, 2013, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

Compiled by Matthew White, Iona Press Services

Liquid Telecom signs with Ekinops for network expansion

Liquid Telecom has chosen Ekinops, a leading supplier of next-generation optical transport equipment, for its new long-haul DWDM network across South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Liquid’s new optical network spans more than 2500 km, and carries multiple 10 Gbps wavelengths. It can scale to support 100 Gbps services. Liquid, a subsidiary of the Econet Wireless Group, has built Africa’s largest fibre network; it runs from the north of Uganda to Cape Town. In total, it spans more than 13 000 km and runs through Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Etisalat to increase its investment in Tanzania

Abu Dhabi-based mobile network giant Etisalat plans to invest further to expand the operations of its Zantel Tanzania subsidiary. Essa AlHaddad, chairman for Africa of the Etisalat Group, said its partnership with Zantel has been very fruitful. “Zantel has been able to revolutionise mobile communication in Tanzania by introducing various innovative platforms which have improved Tanzanian lives tremendously.” The amount of new investment has not been disclosed.

Zambia sues mobile phone companies over “poor service”

The Zambia Information & Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has sued three mobile-phone service providers for alleged poor service delivery to customers. The regulator says the institution of criminal proceedings against Airtel Networks Zambia, MTN Zambia and Zamtel. is intended to protect the public interest in a situation where the three are failing to meet minimum standards of quality service provision. The companies are facing two counts each.

PPP to boost rural Nigerian network

Phase3 Telecom, which boasts of operating and maintaining the largest private fibre-optic network in West Africa has announced a partnership arrangement with the Nigerian Communications Commission to extend fibre infrastructure to rural communities. The head of the company’s business solutions and sales, Otuya Okecha, said the move will speed up the realisation of federal government’s “vital initiatives” targeted at addressing infrastructure needs in rural areas.

Power shortages “hamper development of ICT”

Inadequate electricity supply in many African countries is a major reason behind the uneven development of ICT on the continent, according to Tanzania’s chief secretary, Ombeni Sefue. Speaking during the Global 2013 Smart Partnership Dialogue in Dar es Salaam, he said promoting the use and adoption of ICT to boost social transformation and economic development is a crucial task, and that energy unavailability is a major challenge in most African countries. “ICT is an important area that could create jobs and also ensure life improvements to the majority of people in African countries and the world at large. We need more investments and research related activities aimed at promoting the sector,” he said. Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who founded the Global Smart Partnership Dialogue, said African countries need to create a conducive environment to attract investors as this will increase employment and lead to economic growth.

Kenya to put third digital-signal licence out to tender

The Communication Commission of Kenya is set to announce the tender for a third broadcast digital-signal distributor licence after nearly two years of deadlock with local media owners. The Media Owners Association will, however, have to compete with other local investors. The first digital-distributor licence was given to Signet, a subsidiary of the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation. Chinese company Pan African Network group got the second licence, a decision that did not go down well with local media companies that participated in the tender process.

Morocco to invite bids for 4G service licences

The National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT) of Morocco is to invite bids for fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone licences by year’s end. Agency officials say they expect 4G services to go live next year. ANRT chief Azzeddinne al Mountassir Billah said the aims of adopting 4G for mobile phones are firstly to maintain the growth of this sector and secondly to improve service quality. This is the latest step in a ten-year national plan to build up Morocco’s broadband services and make digital connections throughout the kingdom super-fast.

Malawi MPs give go-ahead for “Spy Machine”

Telecoms operators in Malawi have lost ground in their three-year fight against the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra) over the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms), which, putatively, is designed to prevent customers from being overcharged. Macra bought Cirms, which has been dubbed the “Spy Machine”, from US-based Agilis International at a cost of US$6,8-million. But ever since the acquisition, operators have been protesting, claiming it will infringe on the public’s right to privacy. While a court ruling is pending, Parliament has given Macra the go-ahead to install the machine. Telecoms operators argue that using the call tracking equipment is a violation of the rights of users of their services, and will compromise the obligation and duty they have to their subscribers.

New satellite will bring broadband to rural Africa

A newly launched satellite system that aims to bring high-speed internet to remote communities could have a big impact in rural Africa by speeding up economic and social development, say its backers, which include Google and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. O3b – for “Other 3-billion” – was launched from French Guiana. The system goes “live” later this year when eight satellites will enter a lower orbit to provide a faster connection. Founder Greg Wyler says the “Other 3-billion” are the people on the planet without access to fast internet. “This will enable everybody, and it will be a cascading effect, but it enables everybody in these societies to become economically relevant to the rest of the world.” O3b satellites will provide internet coverage anywhere within 45° of latitude north and south of the equator.

Ghana’s mobile data subscriptions drop over “poor service”

Ghana’s National Communications Authority says the total number of data subscribers in the country decreased by more than 2,2% (from 8 895 430 to 8 696 434) between March and April this year, a fact that telecoms industry watchers attribute to poor services provided by the country’s six telecom service providers. The situation is exacerbated by the growing use of WhatsApp Messenger, an application that allows unlimited free text-messaging between users, according to industry commentator Jacob Lamptey. “This app is doing to mobile phone operators what VoIP did to landline operators.”


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